Daily Archives: April 14, 2018

April 14: Tearing Down to Build Up

Deuteronomy 28:1–68; 2 Corinthians 7:2–7; Psalm 41

It’s difficult to take rebuke, especially when it’s unsolicited. We feel exposed and embarrassed when our sin is brought to light. And if we don’t have the humility to accept rebuke, the experience can leave us at odds with the brave soul who assumes the task.

For Paul, who rebuked the Corinthians, news of their love was a relief and comfort to him: “But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted among you, because he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more” (2 Cor 7:6–7).

We form community when others challenge us and encourage us to live for God. While community can fulfill our social needs, it’s this common purpose that draws us together. When we take rebuke graciously and seek forgiveness from God, it forges the bond of community. When we rebel, or when we’re sensitive and prideful, it creates a rift. Because the Corinthians felt sorrow for their sin and expressed concern for Paul, it solidified their relationship. And it comforted him and brought him incredible joy during conflict and trial.

Surprisingly, the rebuked person often has to be intentional about extending love and comfort to the one who brings the rebuke. Paul tells the Corinthians to “make room for us in your hearts” (2 Cor 7:2). We should do the same for those in our community. Not all people possess Paul’s zeal and boldness, so we should prepare ourselves to graciously accept correction when it comes—solicited or not. Reaching out to those around us and letting them know we appreciate their rebuke will help build up a community that is authentically following Jesus.

Do others approach you about your sin? If you haven’t been rebuked recently, how can you make yourself more approachable?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Who are heirs with Christ?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:16-17 (NASB) 

Even through as Christians we are justified and are under no condemnation (Romans 8:1) it is also clearly taught in God’s Word that Christians are to live lives of repentance from the works of the flesh. However, there are some who take the Doctrines of Grace and separate them from the great teachings of the Puritans such as John Owen, John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, Jonathan Edwards, et cetera that made it clear that in this life Christians are required to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Those who are doing this are antinomians in that they teach those…

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April 14 Following Christ’s Example

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

✧✧✧

Mercy is compassion in action.

Mercy is not a human attribute. It is God’s gift to those who seek Him. Psalm 103:11 says, “As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (kjv).

The verb form of “merciful” appears many times in Scripture and means “to have mercy on,” “to aid the afflicted,” “to give help to the wretched,” or “to rescue the miserable.” In general it refers to anything you do to benefit someone in need. The adjective form is used only twice—here in Matthew 5:7 and in Hebrews 2:17, which reads, “[Christ] had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” Christ Himself is both the source and illustration of mercy.

Christ modeled mercy throughout His earthly ministry. He healed the sick and enabled the crippled to walk. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and speech to the mute. His redeeming love embraced sinners of all kinds. He wept with those in sorrow and comforted the lonely. He embraced little children and the elderly alike. His mercy was compassion in action!

Despite His abundant mercy, Jesus received no mercy from His enemies. They hated Him without cause, accused Him falsely, beat Him, nailed Him to a cross, spat upon Him, and cursed Him. Even then He sought mercy for them, praying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Some have paraphrased Matthew 5:7 to say that if you show mercy to others, they will show mercy to you. Now, that might happen in some isolated incidences, but in this jaded world that’s not often the case—as Jesus’ life clearly demonstrates. Many Christians have incurred slander, rebuke, lawsuits, and even death for their noble efforts. Jesus didn’t guarantee merciful treatment from others. His emphasis was that God shows mercy toward those who show mercy to others.

Don’t ever be reluctant to show mercy to others—even when they misunderstand or mistreat you. God will use your kindness for His glory and will reward you accordingly.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise Jesus for being willing to suffer death that you might receive mercy. ✧ Is there someone you might show mercy to today in some tangible way?

For Further Study: Read John 5:1–18. ✧ How did Christ demonstrate mercy to the sick man? ✧ How did the Jewish religious leaders react?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 117). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Drop in U.S. Catholic Church Attendance Under Pope Francis Sharpest in Decades

(Thomas D. Williams – Breitbart) Catholic church attendance in the United States fell by six percent between the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the sharpest drop in decades, a new Gallup poll has revealed.

An average of 39 percent of U.S. Catholics attended church weekly during the heart of the Francis papacy, from 2014 to 2017, Gallup found in a survey released April 9, which represents a significant drop from the 45 percent of Catholics who attended weekly Mass from 2005 to 2008, in the early years of the Benedict pontificate. View article →

ReadOur Research Paper on Roman Catholicism

Source: Drop in U.S. Catholic Church Attendance Under Pope Francis Sharpest in Decades

Syria intercepted many of 100+ missiles launched at its civilian, military objects

The majority of rockets fired in Syria by the UK, US, and France were intercepted by Syrian air defense systems, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Russian air defense units were not involved in repelling the attack.

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APRIL 14 ARE WE MIRED DOWN?

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot.

Revelation 3:15

God will speak to us if we read and study and obey the Word of God! But when He does speak, we should speak back to Him in prayer and devotion. Otherwise, we are among the Christians who are mired down right where we are.

Many in our congregations have grown older and yet are not one inch farther up the mountain than on that day when the sun first arose on them in conversion. In fact, some are not even as far advanced along the way with God as they were a few years ago.

If these things are true, I can only conclude that there are “common” Christians, men and women who no longer hear the Lord speaking to them as they should.

Can they really think that this halfway Christian life is the best that we can know?

In the face of what Christ offers us, how can we settle for so little?

It is a tragedy of our time that so many are settling for less than the Lord is willing to give!

Dear Lord, sometimes my spiritual life seems like a world-class roller-coaster ride! I want to keep growing in my relationship with You, Lord.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Why Francis Schaeffer Matters:The Role of the Church in Cultural Transformation – Part 9

Veritas et Lux

Francis Schaeffer believes that the church has a heavy responsibility to promote community.  He holds that the first step in comprehending Christian community is understanding the individuals who make up the community.  The reason: The individual is important to God.  He adds, “I am convinced that in the twentieth century people all over the world will not listen if we have the right doctrine, the right polity, but are not exhibiting community” (The Church At The End Of The Twentieth Century, 64).

He stresses “existential living in the community.”  The horizontal relationships must all be rooted in the vertical, namely, a relationship with God.  He holds that the primary responsibility is developing community within the church.  He does not minimize the importance of reaching out to the lost but contends the community of the faithful must come first.

We Must Practice Purity

Schaeffer expresses his passion for maintaining…

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Why Francis Schaeffer Matters: The Responsibility of the Church in Post-Modern Culture – Part 8

Veritas et Lux

Francis Schaeffer has an extremely high view of the church and great expectations as any Christian should.  He details some solemn responsibilities that the church of Jesus Christ must consider.

We Must Adhere to the New Testament Boundaries for the Local Church

Schaeffer’s primary assertion is that Scripture mandates eight specific norms for the New Testament church (The Church At The End Of The Twentieth Century, 51-60).  The first norm: Local congregations are to exist and should be made up of Christians.   Schaeffer would have clearly opposed the so-called seeker sensitive movement that is so prevalent in the church today.  While he believed that the church ought to evangelize the lost, he would have had real problems with the present day fascination of catering to the non-believer.

Second, Dr. Schaeffer believed these congregations ought to meet in a special way on the first day of the week.  He…

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Why Francis Schaeffer Matters: The Church in Culture – Part 7

Veritas et Lux

The Church in Modern Culture

Francis Schaeffer’s view of the church in modern culture is multifaceted yet cuts straight to the point.  He does not mince words or play clever evangelical games.  He believes one major problem with Christians is that they see things in bits and pieces.  They have failed to see that modern man’s despair has come to fruition because of a shift in worldview.  He contends that Christians should begin to think in terms of the big picture.  They should have a view of spiritual reality that is authentic and covers all areas of life.  Indeed, the Lordship of Christ covers all life and all life equally.

The Church in Postmodern Culture: Marks of Postmodernism

It is interesting to note that Dr. Schaeffer may have been the first to write in-depth about post-Christian culture.  It is important to understand Schaeffer’s view on culture in order to understand…

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Why Francis Schaeffer Matters: His Approach to Apologetics – Part 6

Veritas et Lux

cropped-schChristian Apologetics: Two Purposes

Francis Schaeffer’s holds a rather basic view concerning apologetics.  He explains there are two purposes of Christian apologetics.  “The first is defense.  The second is to communicate Christianity in a way that any given generation can understand” (The God Who Is There, 151).

Schaeffer begins his approach to apologetics by pointing out that every non-regenerate person enters the discussion with a set of presuppositions.  Some have taken the time to analyze their presuppositions.  Most have not.  But each non-regenerate person is caught in the horns of a dilemma because it is impossible to be consistent in logic or practice.  This holds true along the whole spectrum of people.  Every person whether a University student, housewife, businessman or disgruntled teenager is stuck and boxed in by the logic of his or her presuppositions.  Thus, Schaeffer writes, “You are facing a man in tension, and it…

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Why Francis Schaeffer Matters: Epistemology – Part 5

Veritas et Lux

schaeffer 5The Importance of Presuppositions

Dr. Schaeffer’s epistemology is integral to his approach to apologetics and may be described simply as follows: First, one must understand that pagan thought endorses a belief in the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system.  Propositional and verbal revelation is nonsense in this scheme.  Christian epistemology stands in stark contrast to the non-Christian worldview.  The presupposition of Christianity begins with the God who is there.  God is the infinite-personal Being who has made man in His image.  God made man a verbalizer in the area of propositions in his horizontal communications with other men.  Thus God communicates to us on the basis of verbalizations and propositions by means of the written Word of God (He Is There And He Is Not Silent, 326-327).

Thus the Christian epistemological system brings three things together in a unified whole; the unified field of knowledge that…

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Hollywood Ignores Christian Films, Success

Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America

Hollywood loves money, and the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. But faith-based films typically do extremely well at the box office and they don’t seem to care. It doesn’t add up. What does Hollywood love more than money? Mockery, perversity, and rebellion perhaps?

If you haven’t seen the new movie, I Can Only Imagine based on the #1 song by Christian band MercyMe, make sure you bring enough Kleenex. It’s a true story of forgiveness and redemption, and one memorable line from the movie’s main character is:

“My dad was a monster, and I saw God transform him.”

It took Bart Millard ten minutes to write the song “I Can Only Imagine,” but as Amy Grant said at the time, “It didn’t take you ten minutes, Bart; it took a lifetime.”

Many people can relate to life’s ups and downs; in some…

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April 14, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Silence

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (8:1)

As the rightful heir to the universe, the Lamb took the scroll (the title deed to the earth) from the Father’s hand (5:7). As He unrolled it and broke the first six seals, divine judgments were poured out on the earth. But when He broke the seventh seal a unique response occurred: there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. A review of the visions up to this point makes it clear that John had heard a good deal of noise in heaven. Emanating from God’s throne were “sounds and peals of thunder” (4:5). “The four living creatures … [did] not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come’ ” (4:8), while the twenty-four elders added their song of praise (4:11). In 5:2 John heard a “strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?’ ” In response to the Lamb’s taking of the title deed to the earth (5:5–7), first the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders (5:9–10), then an innumerable host of angels (5:11–12), and finally all of creation (5:13) joined in praising God. When the Lamb opened the first seal, John “heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, ‘Come’ ” (6:1)—as he would when the second (6:3), third (6:5), and fourth (6:7) seals were opened. With the opening of the fifth seal came the cries of the martyrs for vengeance (6:9–10), while the breaking of the sixth seal brought the loud roar of a powerful earthquake (6:12). In the interlude between the sixth and seventh seals, an angel “cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads’ ” (7:2–3). Later in that interlude John saw

a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they [cried] out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (7:9–13)

But after all that loudness, as the full fury of the final judgments is about to be released, silence falls on the heavenly scene. The implication is that when the judgment about to happen becomes visible as the seventh seal is broken and the scroll unrolled, both the redeemed and the angels are reduced to silence in anticipation of the grim reality of the destruction they see written on the scroll. The half an hour of silence is the calm before the storm. It is the silence of foreboding, of intense expectation, of awe at what God is about to do.

And silence is the only proper response to such divine judgment. In Psalm 76:8–9 the psalmist wrote, “The earth feared and was still when God arose to judgment.” Habakkuk declared, “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him” (Hab. 2:20). “Be silent before the Lord God!” exhorted Zephaniah, “for the day of the Lord is near” (Zeph. 1:7). Zechariah 2:13 commands, “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.”

While eternal heaven has no time, the apostle John who is seeing the vision does. Each minute of that half hour of silence must have increased the sense of agonizing suspense for John. Heaven, which had resounded with loud praises from the vast crowd of redeemed people and angels, became deathly still. The hour of God’s final judgment had come—the hour when the saints will be vindicated, sin punished, Satan vanquished, and Christ exalted. The greatest event since the Fall is about to take place and all heaven is seen waiting in suspenseful expectancy.[1]


Opening of the Seventh Seal (8:1)

Commentary

1 After the long interlude of ch. 7, the sequence of the opening of the seals is resumed by the opening of the final or seventh seal. This action provides both a conclusion to the seals and a preparation for the seven trumpets. The praises ordinarily heard uninterruptedly in heaven (4:8) now cease in order to allow the prayers of the suffering saints on earth to be heard: “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Even heaven’s choirs are subdued to show God’s concern for his persecuted people in the great tribulation (8:4; cf. Lk 18:2–8). A Jewish teacher states, “In the fifth heaven are companies of angels of service who sing praises by night, but are silent by day because of the glory of Israel,” i.e., that the praises of Israel may be heard in heaven (cited in Charles, 1:223). But in John’s view, heaven is quieted not to hear praises but to hear the cries for deliverance and justice of God’s persecuted servants (6:10). Most interpreters, however, understand the silence to refer to the awesome silence before the great storm of God’s wrath on the earth (cf. Hab 2:20). A kind of Sabbath pause might be thought of here. (The relation between the seals, trumpets, and bowls is discussed at 8:6.)[2]


The seventh seal (8:1)

With God having sealed his people, we are ready for the Lamb to open the seventh and last seal. What will it be? Another horse and rider? Not quite. Are you ready for this?… The seventh seal is silence. Absolute silence in heaven for half an hour! That is the seventh seal.

It may seem strange, but stop and think about the ground we have covered. The sixth seal consisted of God bringing devastating and crushing judgement on the wicked, but that judgement will not strike his own. They are safe because God has sealed them.

What is the proper response to the judgement of the wicked and the salvation of the righteous? Is it not to stand in awe? And that is precisely what we have in the seventh seal—the silence of awe as God’s people contemplate the holy justice of God burning against the wicked and realize that they would have been recipients of it as well had it not been for Christ.

Having come to the end of the opening of the seven seals, we may capture their meaning and message by thinking of them as answers to a question and to an objection raised by the Christians in the seven churches:

Question: Why is our world as it is?

Seals 1–4: Because God has sent and continues to send certain horsemen into the world.

Objection: But some of our people are dying!

Seal 5: They are OK.

Seal 6: The wicked will be judged.

Seal 7: The righteous will be at rest.[3]


The Seventh Seal: ‘The Rest is Silence’ (8:1)

Seal 6 covered the end of history; and though we have learnt to beware of treating the sequence of John’s visions as the historical sequence of the events they portray, it is hard to imagine that Seal 7 would cover anything other than the events which follow the end of history. When Seal 7 is actually broken open, however, there is silence—a silence which confirms our interpretation of Scene 2. For in this scene Christ is revealing to John what will be the experience of the church in the world; so concerning what will happen after the end of the world, he naturally at this point has nothing to say. There is a seventh Seal; that is, there is another world to come; but the revelations dealing with it are reserved for later Scenes. Meanwhile we are to learn that the church need never expect to be preserved from the common ills of mankind, as long as this world endures; but that God is still on the throne, Christ is still at the centre of all things, and his people are indestructible.

So begins a half-hour of silence. In terms of actual history and eternity, half an hour is nothing. But in terms of a drama depicting them, it is a lengthy interval, in which John can meditate on Scene 2 before Scene 3 begins.[4]


8:1 Jesus the Lamb opened the seventh seal on the scroll, just as he had broken the other six (6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12). What happened next is best described as a “dramatic pause”—silence in heaven for about half an hour. This surely mesmerized John. The living creatures, the elders, and all the angels—who had without ceasing praised God from the beginning of their creation—now fall silent, perhaps for the first time. Something major is about to happen This is the eerie calm before the storms of judgment blow.

John will not describe his vision in terms of the Judgment Scroll because the heavenly scene shifts from this point on. What he sees and hears better described as angels blowing trumpets rather than as reading the contents of a scroll. Another way to think about this is that the seven trumpet judgments (and seven bowl judgments of chapter 16) are what is written on the scroll. After the seventh seal is broken, the scroll unrolls to reveal its contents[5]


1. And when he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

The seventh seal follows the sixth one and is separated by the interlude of chapter 7. The two seals have a common purpose, namely, the portrayal of God judging the unbelievers. Notice that the sequence of the first four seals pictures horses and their riders. The fifth seal reveals the souls under the altar asking God to avenge their spilled blood. And the sixth seal depicts the wicked calling on the mountains and the rocks to cover them from the wrath of God and the Lamb. The seventh seal is a continuation of the sixth seal, but now there is a period of silence “either preceding or following the final judgment.”

Throughout the Apocalypse, John contrasts the bliss of the saints in heaven and the horror of the wicked when the wrath of God strikes them. This contrast is evident in the second half of the preceding chapter that describes the lot of the redeemed (7:9–17) and in the verses that reveal the lot of God’s enemies on the Judgment Day (6:12–17).

“The opening of the seventh seal, however, cannot follow the sixth in chronological sequence, because the content of that seal portrayed the final day of wrath (6:12–17).” The message of both seals relates to the same event, namely, the judgment of the wicked.

The structure of Revelation shows an ever-increasing, spiraling emphasis on the coming judgment. John pictures the wicked meeting their end when they face the wrath of God (6:17). Then in the interlude of chapter 7, he portrays the sealing of the 144,000 who, triumphing over their tribulation, enter the presence of God. Chapter 8 begins with a period of silence in heaven that is awe-inspiring with reference to God judging his enemies. God hears the ascending prayers of the saints and punishes the wicked. This theme occurring again and again imparts a telescopic structure to the Apocalypse. The recurring theme of the Judgment Day appears at the end of every cycle of the seven churches, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven plagues.

“The unity of John’s book, then, is neither choronological nor arithmetical, but artistic, like that of a musical theme with variations, each variation adding something new to the significance of the whole composition. This is the only view which does adequate justice to the double fact that each new series of visions both recapitulates and develops the themes already stated in what has gone before.”

And last, the background to the silence in heaven in the presence of God comes from the Old Testament prophets (Hab. 2:20; Zech. 2:13). That silence expressed in human terms of cosmic time, “half an hour,” is not an empty period but is a time of the outpouring of God’s wrath. The time references that John mentions have little relevance in Revelation, because not chronological time but the abiding principle of time is significant. The silence observed in heaven is an awed hush while God executes justice.[6]


8:1The seventh seal on the scroll (5:1) is opened, finally allowing it to be unrolled. Silence in heaven for about half an hour seems to mark a brief but significant break between the unsealing of the scroll (6:1–8:1) and the trumpet judgments (8:6–11:19). This silence is broken only by a heavenly offering and “the prayers of all the saints” (vv. 3, 4). It is, however, the eerie silence before the storm as all of heaven awaits the coming judgment.[7]


the opening of the seventh seal (8:1)

8:1. The opening of the seventh seal is a most important event, confirmed by the fact that there was silence in heavenfor about half an hour after it was opened. The contents of the seven trumpets indicate that they differ from the seven seals. W. Graham Scroggie states, “The trumpets, therefore, do not double back over all or some of the seals, but lie under the sixth seal, and proceed from it” (The Great Unveiling, p. 111). He also holds that the bowls of the wrath of God (chap. 16) “do not double back over the seal and trumpet judgments” (p. 112).

C.A. Blanchard holds the same position: “The series of three sevens are really included in one series of seven, that is, the seven trumpets are included under the seventh seal and the seven bowls are included under the seventh trumpet, so that we have in fact a single series in three movements” (Light on the Last Days, p. 58). The seventh seal accordingly is important because it actually includes all the events from 8:1 through 19:10.[8]


8:1 — When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Some of God’s judgments and works are so awesome that the only appropriate response is reverent silence. “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence fore Him” (Hab. 2:20).[9]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1999). Revelation 1–11 (pp. 236–238). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 668). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Ellsworth, R. (2013). Opening Up Revelation (p. 67). Leominster: Day One.

[4] Wilcock, M. (1986). The message of Revelation: I saw heaven opened (p. 84). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Easley, K. H. (1998). Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 142). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Vol. 20, pp. 264–266). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1745). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[8] Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 950–951). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[9] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Re 8:1). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 04/14/2018

Alex Malarkey, Who Disavowed ‘Boy Who Came Back From Heaven’ Story, Sues Tyndale House Publishers   Apr 13, 2018 02:11 pm

Alex Malarky Photo Credit: YouTube/Screenshot CAROL STREAM, Ill. — A now 20-year-old Alex Malarkey, who in 2015 publicly disavowed the best-selling story “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”—a book that claims he died and went to Heaven—is suing his publisher over the matter. Malarkey says that the tale was fabricated by his father, and is “highly…

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Teacher Sues Christian School After Contract Not Renewed Following Out of Wedlock Pregnancy   Apr 12, 2018 10:59 am

Photo Credit: Concord Christian School KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee teacher has sued the Christian school at which she was formerly employed on allegations that her contract was not renewed because she became pregnant out of wedlock. Tabatha Hutson has been a teacher at the Baptist-based Concord Christian School in Knoxville since 2011. Last year, while…

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Man Who Confessed to Murdering Mother, Friend Claimed Before Killing Self: ‘Nothing Happens After Death’   Apr 11, 2018 05:53 pm

Photo Credit: Mississippi Department of Public Safety EAST RIDGE, Tenn. — A Tennessee man who confessed on social media to murdering his mother and a friend on Sunday claimed before killing himself that “nothing happens after death, but if there is a Hell, I’m going to be in the lake of ice at the bottom.” Casey Lawhorn, 22, had shared a number of posts on…

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University Student Senator Reads Scripture to Peers After Voting Against Funding for Homosexual Grad Ceremony   Apr 07, 2018 09:02 pm

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — A student senator at Western Kentucky University recently read Scripture to his peers after voting against a proposal to fund a special ceremony for homosexual and transgender graduates. While the student Senate ultimately voted 28-5 in favor of providing $250 for the “lavender graduation ceremony,” Dallas McKinney was among the few who said…

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Ohio Pastor No Longer Allowed to Offer Lunchtime Bible Study at School Following Complaint   Apr 09, 2018 09:22 am

WINTERSVILLE, Ohio — An Ohio pastor will no longer be allowed to offer a voluntary lunchtime Bible study for students at a local middle school after one of the nation’s most conspicuous professing atheist organizations submitted a letter of complaint to the school district. An attorney for the Indian Creek School District has submitted a letter to the…

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Sen. Cory Booker, Who Once ‘Married’ Homosexuals as Mayor, Asks Trump Nominee: ‘Do You Believe That Gay Sex Is a Perversion?’   Apr 13, 2018 03:09 pm

WASHINGTON (Fox News) — During his secretary of state confirmation hearing, CIA Director Mike Pompeo refused to say whether he thinks same-sex relationships are a “perversion” when pressed multiple times and said he stood by his earlier views against gay marriage. Referencing a past speech Pompeo gave, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked the former Kansas…

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Federal Judge Orders Houston to Pay Pastor’s Attorneys’ Fees in Homosexual ‘Spousal’ Benefits Challenge   Apr 11, 2018 11:52 pm

Photo: Public Domain Pictures/George Hodan HOUSTON, Texas — A U.S. district judge appointed to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan has rejected another effort from the City of Houston to have a case regarding “spousal” benefits of homosexual government workers decided in federal court rather than by state judges, and has ordered the City to pay the…

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Parkland Student Who Was Shot Five Times Shielding Classmates Goes Home From Hospital   Apr 07, 2018 01:02 pm

Photo Credit: NBC News/Screenshot PARKLAND, Fla. — A 15-year-old Parkland student who was shot five times on Feb. 14 while placing his body against the classroom door to prevent shooter Nikolas Cruz from entering has now gone home from the hospital—being the last of the 17 injured to do so. Anthony Borges suffered gunshot wounds to the lungs, abdomen and…

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‘Saving Grace’: Newborn Placed Inside Safe Haven Box at Indiana Fire Station   Apr 11, 2018 12:26 pm

Photo Credit: NBC5 Chicago/Screenshot MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — A newborn baby with her umbilical cord still attached was placed inside of a safe haven box at an Indiana fire station on Sunday, and is now safe and being cared for at a local hospital. Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mick Pawlik says that first responders’ pagers went off at…

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South Carolina Church Vandalized, Teenage Suspects Captured on Surveillance Footage   Apr 08, 2018 07:30 pm

INMAN, S.C. — Two teenage boys are believed to have vandalized a South Carolina church on Wednesday, smearing food throughout the kitchen and throwing knives into the wall. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” Brad Atkins, the pastor of Lake Bowen Baptist Church, told WSPA-TV. Atkins entered the church on Thursday to find chocolate sauce, caramel,…

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Wretched Radio 04/13/2018

WR2018-0413

•Your questions answered
•What is the Book of Enoch?
•Yoga pants and the Church
•Can a man cleared of false charges divorce his absentee wife?
•Is online tithing wise?
•Todd had a bad honeycrisp apple
•Martin Luther King’s influence on Barack Obama
•Knife murders in the UK are worse than gun violence in New York
•Syrian Refugees and the aid-baptism relationship
•Can evangelists give away gifts to gain a hearing?
•When does a good thing become an idol?Download Now (right click and save)

The post 04/13/2018 appeared first on Wretched.

God is holding on to you

(Warren Peel – Gentle Reformation)  Over and over again God reassures his people that he is holding on to us by his right hand. In Isaiah 41.10, for example: ‘…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ That is a wonderful promise to comfort us—our heavenly Father will not let us go. Even if we might try to break free of his grip and let go of him, he is holding on to us tightly and keeping us safe.

This is one way of picturing the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Every true believer will inevitably make it safely home to glory because the Lord is preserving him or her. We persevere because he preserves us; we keep on going because he goes on keeping. The two halves of Psalm 63.8 reflect the two sides of the doctrine of perseverance: ‘My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.’ Our souls go on clinging to God in faith because his right hand is upholding us. View article →

Source: God is holding on to you

CultureWatch: On Dealing with Idols

We all have our idols, and we all must deal with these idols. An idol is anything which commands our attention and loyalty over and above the one true God. We are too sophisticated to bow down before carved statues and graven images today, but we are just as idolatrous as our pagan forebears.

As A. W. Pink put it, an idol is “anything which displaces God in my heart. It may be something which is quite harmless in itself, yet if it absorbs me, if it be given the first place in my affections and thoughts, it becomes an ‘idol’. It may be my business, a loved one, or my service for Christ. Anyone or any thing which comes into competition with the Lord’s ruling me in a practical way, is an ‘idol’.”

There is nothing difficult about the manufacture of idols. It comes readily to us. As Calvin said, “Every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols.” And again, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”

The Old Testament speaks plenty to the issue of idolatry, and how to deal with idols. In a word, it says we are to deal with them harshly. There is to be no compromise here, no softly softly approach. We are to be ruthless and severe in our opposition to idols.

And since idolatry did involve so many statues and graven images back then, actually destroying those idols was part of the response of God’s people. That is how God told his people to deal with idols. Plenty of passages speak to this. Since I am reading through Kings right now, let me confine myself just to some of the references found there on how Israelites were to deal with idols.

Godly kings and prophets were as one in how to deal with idols. Consider the godly King Asa. We read about his resolute opposition to idols in 1 Kings 15:11-13:

Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done. He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley.

Consider how Elisha the prophet and King Jehu dealt with the evil and idolatrous King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. In 2 Kings 9:6-7 we read this:

Then the prophet [Elisha] poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’s servants shed by Jezebel’.”

And that is what he did. In 2 Kings 10:1-17 we read about how Ahab’s family was killed. And in 2 Kings 10:18-36 we read about how the ministers of Baal were all killed. Verses 25-28 say this:

As soon as Jehu had finished making the burnt offering, he ordered the guards and officers: “Go in and kill them; let no one escape.” So they cut them down with the sword. The guards and officers threw the bodies out and then entered the inner shrine of the temple of Baal. They brought the sacred stone out of the temple of Baal and burned it. They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day. So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel.

And for this God praised Jehu: “The Lord said to Jehu, ‘Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation’” (2 Kings 10:30).

That is some pretty severe action taken against idolatry and the idolaters. Another faithful king was Jehoiada. In 2 Kings 11:17-18 we read about the actions he took to deal with idols:

Jehoiada then made a covenant between the Lord and the king and people that they would be the Lord’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

Finally consider another great king – Josiah. After finding the Book of the Law and coming under great conviction, he took hardcore steps to deal with all the idolatry in the land. We read about this in 2 Kings 23:1-20. After Josiah renewed the covenant, he took strong action. We read about just part of this in verses 4-7:

The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people. He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.

As is apparent, the people of Israel were not to pussyfoot around with idols. They were not to tolerate them or put up with them. They were to strictly and sternly deal with them. Christians are also to deal harshly with idols today. However, let me offer two caveats on how we are to go about this.

First, I am not saying we should go around blowing things up today. What we find in the Old Testament is primarily the kings or prophets of Israel dealing with idols in their own land. We are not in that place today. But at the very least, we need God’s attitude on these idols. The Apostle Paul is a good example of this.

When he walked through the idol-filled Athens, we read about what he thought of it all: “Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible. While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:15-16).

We too should be greatly grieved and bothered by what grieves the heart of God. He loves us too much to allow us to continue in our idolatry. This is as true of Christians as of non-Christians. As C. S. Lewis put it, “Images of the Holy easily become holy images – sacrosanct. My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast.”

Second, what I am especially saying here is that Christians should be ruthless with idolatry, primarily in their own lives. The obvious place to begin is with ourselves. That is where we must start as we engage in search and destroy missions against idolatry.

And if we are honest and open before God, we will know that we have plenty of such idols to deal with in our own lives. As John exhorted us: 1 John 5:21, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” Individuals and churches both need to heed this warning.

All this is not to say we cannot and should not call out the idols of our age. We should speak out against them of course. But our role is not to try to physically tear them down (eg., seeking to demolish the MCG or other sporting shrines). Our role as Christians is to be salt and light in society.

We should be speaking prophetically against the idols of our day, be it power, or success, or sex, or greed, or materialism, or what have you. We are to share God’s heart on the idols all around us, pointing people to a better way – to the one true and living God.

So we begin by being ruthless with the idols in our own hearts, and then we have a prophetic ministry in showing a needy world where our loyalty and devotion should lie. And the only way we can really spurn false gods and useless idols is when God breaks through in our life. As R. C. Sproul put it:

Loving a holy God is beyond our moral power. The only kind of God we can love by our sinful nature is an unholy god, an idol made by our own hands. Unless we are born of the Spirit of God, unless God sheds His holy love in our hearts, unless He stoops in His grace to change our hearts, we will not love Him… To love a holy God requires grace, grace strong enough to pierce our hardened hearts and awaken our moribund souls.

[1617 words]

The post On Dealing with Idols appeared first on CultureWatch.

April 14 Nature or Nurture?

The Lord said to Moses, Say to the Israelites: A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Lev 12:1-3

That text certainly reminds us of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. In fact, that Baby came into the world to deal with the very problem which made this chapter necessary. God is not against childbirth, nor against babies. Nor is human birth essentially an inherently unclean event. There is nothing wrong with birth, nor with sex. But these requirements were given to the people of God in order that we might remember a most basic and fundamental fact: that since the fall of Adam every human being born into this world is born into a fallen race.

There is no way by which man in his natural condition is ever going to be able to solve the basic, fundamental problems of human relationships. We are born into a condition that is tainted and twisted. Someone has thrown a monkey wrench into the human machinery, right at the very beginning, and it simply doesn’t operate as God intended. God impresses this upon his people by this restriction, this reminder that something connected with birth is unclean. The fact that a mother was unclean for a week after the birth of a male child (two weeks for a female child), and that she had to go through another thirty-three days of purifying after that, provided an opportunity for her and her whole family to be reminded forcefully that the baby was born with a tainted nature. The circumcision of the male baby was an additional reminder that something needs to be removed from the life inherited from Adam.

This is very important because it makes a difference in the way a child is trained. If you think that babies are born absolutely innocent, you will raise your child in quite a different way than if you believe the truth about them. They need guidance and training and help in handling this twisted nature. The world, of course, forgets about this principle. They want to pretend that babies are innocent, and that if you just leave them alone and give them opportunity to express themselves, they will grow into whole, fulfilled persons. So God teaches his people right from the beginning that there is a problem here which must be handled and cannot be ignored.

Thank you, Lord for always teaching me according to reality. Thank you that two thousand years ago you sent a baby into the world, born of a woman, who would bring cleansing for all my sin.

Life Application

The Bible begins at our birth for our tutorial for life, with reminders of our fallenness and carefully prescribed procedures for recovery, again, beginning at childbirth. How awesome that the Son of God was born of woman, on our behalf!

Related Message

For more on this portion of Scripture read the message:
Dealing with the Leprosy of Life

04/14/18 My Help is in the Lord

By Chuck Lawless on Apr 14, 2018 01:30 am

READING: Psalms 121, 123-125, 128-130

“Our help is in the name of the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 124:8

The psalmist in psalm 124 begins with such a simple truth that I almost stumbled over it in my reading today. It really is simple: if the Lord weren’t with the Hebrews, they would have been in trouble. They would have lost battles to their enemies. The waters – perhaps the Red Sea or the Jordan River – would have swept back over them. Indeed, the Hebrews had escaped snares only because their help was in “the name of the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psa. 124:8).

This psalm makes me consider how my life would be different if the Lord were not on my side. I cannot know for certain, but these things come to mind:

  • I would be living in my sin, destined for judgment.
  • I would be caught in sin, finding no victory over the struggles of my heart.
  • I would have no one to hear me and help me when I cry out under the strains of life.
  • I would have no church family to walk beside me, encourage me, and pray for me.
  • I would not be forgiven.
  • I would have no purpose in life.
  • I would have no hope.

I could continue to list so many things that would be different if “the Lord had not been on [my] side” (Psa. 124:1), but I don’t have to do that. He loves me, guards me, and forgives me. He is on my side. Blessed be His name!

ACTION STEPS: 

  • Think about how your life would be different if God weren’t with you.
  • Praise God for the way He cares for you.

PRAYER: “I lift my eyes to You, Lord, and focus on You. Thank You for being on my side.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Catch up and review

Source: 04/14/18 My Help is in the Lord