Daily Archives: April 22, 2018

April 22: Judging Gifts

Joshua 9:1–10:15; 2 Corinthians 10:9–18; Psalm 50

Comparing our gifts to those of the person sitting in the next cubicle or pew is dangerous work. Judging ourselves by this standard denigrates or inflates the gifts we’ve been given, leading to either ungratefulness or pride. Because the assessment method is faulty, we will always miss the mark of success—even if we’re successful.

Paul had been called by God to minister to the Gentiles (see Acts 9:15). When others in the Gentile community questioned his authority, Paul boldly defended his calling. He also pointed out the measure by which these leaders judged their gifts: each other. They were undermining Paul’s authority based on his lack of verbal abilities (2 Cor 10:10). Paul was undeterred by this because he knew his calling: “But we will not boast beyond limits, but according to the measure of the assignment that God has assigned to us” (2 Cor 10:13).

If we judge our gifts and calling by comparison, we serve the idol of our own pride. But this doesn’t mean we should take them for granted. Instead, we are called to live for God: “The one who boasts, let him boast in the Lord” (2 Cor 10:17).

Thankfulness is the first step to using our gifts for God’s glory. In Psalm 50, the psalmist acknowledges that everything is from God—a reason to sacrifice our own pride. God says, “The world and its fullness are mine” (Psa 50:12). But He does delight in the sacrifice of a thankful heart: “Offer to God a thank offering, and pay your vows to the Most High” (Psa 50:14–15).

We’ll always come up short if we judge by comparison; there will be someone who is smarter or more gifted than we are. But by thanking God for our gifts (and for others’ gifts), and asking Him for guidance in developing them, we can use them appropriately—not for our own gain, but to further His kingdom.

Are you judging your gifts by comparison? How can you judge your life in the light of God’s purposes?

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.

April 22 Risking True Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

✧✧✧

True peace exists only where truth reigns.

People often define peace as the absence of conflict, but God sees it differently. The absence of conflict is merely a truce, which might end overt hostilities but doesn’t resolve the underlying issues. A truce simply introduces a cold war, which often drives the conflict underground, where it smolders until erupting in physical or emotional disaster.

James 3:17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.” Godly wisdom, purity, and peace go hand in hand. Peace is wisdom in action and is never established at the expense of righteousness. Peace brings righteousness to bear on the situation, seeking to eliminate the source of conflict and to create right relationships. Feuding parties will know true peace only when they are willing to admit that their bitterness and hatred are wrong and humbly seek God’s grace to make things right.

Some people equate peacemaking with evading issues, but true peace can be very confrontational. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” That may seem to contradict Matthew 5:9, but it doesn’t. Jesus knew that sinful people have to be confronted with the truth before they can experience peace. That can be a painful and difficult process because people usually have a hostile reaction to the gospel before they finally embrace it. Even believers will sometimes react negatively when confronted with God’s truth.

Being a Biblical peacemaker has its price. You can expect to upset unbelievers who openly oppose God’s Word, as well as believers who compromise its truth for the sake of maintaining “peace” among people of differing doctrinal persuasions. Some will call you narrow-minded and divisive for dealing with controversial issues. Some will misunderstand your motives or even attack you personally. But that’s been the path of every true peacemaker—including our Lord Himself. Take heart, and be faithful. Your efforts to bring peace show that you are a child of God.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God for the boldness never to compromise His truth. ✧ Pray for those you know who are suffering for the sake of the gospel.

For Further Study: Read Luke 12:51–53, noting how the gospel can bring division even among families.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 125). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

APRIL 22 GLORIOUS CONTRADICTIONS

The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me.

Galatians 2:20

God has revealed so many glorious contradictions in the lives and conduct of genuine Christian believers that it is small wonder that we are such an amazement to this world.

The Christian is dead and yet he lives forever. He died to himself and yet he lives in Christ.

The Christian saves his own life by losing it, and he is in danger of losing it by trying to save it.

It is strange but true that the Christian is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strongest. When he gets down on his knees thinking he is weak, he is always strong.

The Christian is in least danger when he is fearful and trusting God and in the most danger when he feels the most self-confident.

He is most sinless when he feels the most sinful, and he is the most sinful when he feels the most sinless.

The Christian actually has the most when he is giving away the most; and in all of these ways, the Christian is simply putting into daily practice the teachings and example of Jesus Christ, his Savior and Lord!

Heavenly Father, the biggest contradiction is that I am a sinner and You are sinless. Yet You have redeemed me by Your death and resurrection. I praise You, Lord.[1]


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

TIME 100 List: Liberals Outweigh Conservatives 14 to 4 – Christian Research Network

(Kyle Drennen – NewsBusters) “Singer Cher touted the “humility” and “grace” of openly gay Olympic skater Adam Rippon, who made headlines for his repeated attacks against Vice President Mike Pence.”

On Thursday, TIME magazine released its annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people, spanning across politics, entertainment, music, and sports. Predictably, the reliably liberal publication featured 14 glowing profiles of liberal activists, politicians, entertainers, and athletes, but only managed to find four conservative figures to highlight, one of which was a nasty hit piece.   View article →

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April 22, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Christ

“Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (4:20–26)

Having been convicted of her sin and need for forgiveness, and having repented and agreed with Jesus’ indictment, the woman wondered where she should go to meet God and seek His grace and salvation. Since Jesus was obviously a prophet of God, she reasoned that He would know, so she said, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Her comment highlighted one of the major points of contention between Jews and Samaritans. Both believed that under the old covenant God directed His people to worship Him in a specific location (cf. Deut. 12:5; 16:2; 26:2). The Samaritans, accepting only the Pentateuch as canonical, chose Mount Gerizim. It was at nearby Shechem that Abraham first built an altar to God (Gen. 12:6–7), and it was from Mount Gerizim that the Israelites proclaimed the blessings of obedience to God’s commandments (Deut. 11:29). The Jews, accepting the complete Old Testament canon, recognized that God had chosen Jerusalem as the place where He was to be worshiped (2 Chron. 6:6; cf. Pss. 48:1–2; 78:68–69; 132:13).

Jesus’ unexpected reply was that the issue would soon be irrelevant. In the near future, true worship would take place neither in this mountain (Gerizim) nor in Jerusalem. During the Jewish revolt against Rome a few decades later (a.d. 70), the temple at Jerusalem would be destroyed, and thousands of Samaritans would be slaughtered on Mount Gerizim. More significantly, the new covenant renders all external ceremonies and rituals, whether Jewish or Samaritan, obsolete.

However, at the time of Jesus’ dialogue with the woman, the Jews were right and the Samaritans wrong since the new covenant had not yet been initiated. Thus Jesus said, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” Because they rejected most of the Old Testament, the Samaritans lacked the full revelation that it contained. There is a twofold sense in which salvation is from the Jews; first, the revelation of salvation came first to them and then to the rest of the world (Rom. 3:1–2; 9:3–5); and, second, the source of salvation—namely, the Messiah—was Himself a Jew (Rom. 9:5).

Jesus’ point was that, under the new covenant, the place of worship will not be an issue, but rather the nature of worship. “An hour is coming,” Jesus informed the woman, ‘and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” Spirit does not refer to the Holy Spirit but the human spirit. Worship must be internal, not external conformity to ceremonies and rituals. It must be from the heart. Truth calls for this heart worship to be consistent with what Scripture teaches and centered on the incarnate Word. The worship of neither the Samaritans nor the Jews could be characterized as being in spirit and truth, even though the Jews had a more complete understanding of the truth. Both groups focused on external factors. They conformed outwardly to regulations, observed rituals, and offered sacrifices. But the time had arrived, since the Messiah had come, when true worshipers would no longer be identified by where they worshiped. True worshipers are those who worship the Father in spirit and truth. Paul calls them “the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). It is such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers by sovereignly drawing them to Himself (6:44, 65).

The phrase God is spirit is the classic biblical definition of the nature of God. Despite the heretical teaching of false cults, God is not an exalted man (Num. 23:19), “for a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). He is “the invisible God” (Col. 1:15; cf. 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:27), who “dwells in unapproachable light [cf. Ps. 104:2], whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16; cf. Ex. 33:20; John 1:18; 6:46). Had He not revealed Himself in Scripture and in Jesus Christ, God would be utterly incomprehensible.

Because God is spirit, those who would truly worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. True worship does not consist of mere outward conformity to religious standards and duties (Isa. 29:13; 48:1; Jer. 12:1–2; Matt. 15:7–9), but emanates from the inner spirit. It must also be consistent with the truth God has revealed about Himself in His Word. The extremes of dead orthodoxy (truth and no spirit) and zealous heterodoxy (spirit and no truth) must be avoided.

Still unable to fully comprehend what Jesus was telling her, the woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” She was still confused, but expressed her hope that one day the Messiah (whose coming the Samaritans also anticipated, based on Deut. 18:18) would clarify all of these vexing religious questions.

The story reached its powerful, dramatic climax in Jesus’ reply, “I who speak to you am He.” He had avoided such a forthright declaration to the Jewish people (cf. Matt. 16:20), because of the crassly political and militaristic expectations they had for the Messiah; they hoped for someone who would lead a revolt to throw off the yoke of the hated Romans (cf. John 6:15). The faith of this Samaritan woman, on the other hand, was not obstructed by such self-styled misconceptions (as her response in v. 29 indicates). The word He is not in the original text. Our Lord actually said, “I who speak to you am.” Here is another one of the “I am” statements that are so common in this gospel (cf. 8:58). Twenty-three times our Lord says, “I am,” and seven times adds rich metaphors (cf. 6:35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5).

Jesus’ words must have rocked the woman to the core of her being. The man who just a few minutes earlier had made a simple request for a drink of water now claimed to be the long-awaited Messiah. Unlike Nicodemus, she knew nothing of any signs and miracles Jesus had performed. But merely because of what He knew about her the woman did not doubt the veracity of His claim. That was great, God-given trust. Indeed, she went and proclaimed it in her village, a fact that strongly suggests that she had genuinely come to saving faith.

Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well illustrates three nonnegotiable truths about salvation. First, salvation comes only to those who recognize their desperate need for spiritual life they do not have. Living water will be received only by those who realize that they are spiritually thirsty. Second, salvation comes only to those who confess and repent of their sin and desire forgiveness. Before this promiscuous woman could embrace the Savior, she had to acknowledge the full weight of her iniquity. And, third, salvation comes only to those who embrace Jesus Christ as their Messiah and sin bearer. After all, salvation is found in no one else (cf. 14:6; Acts 4:12).[1]


How to Worship God

John 4:23–24

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Christian worship is the most momentous, the most urgent, the most glorious action that can take place in human life.”

These words by the noted Swiss theologian Karl Barth undoubtedly find an echo in the hearts of all who truly know God and earnestly desire to serve him, regardless of their opinion of Barth’s theology. But in spite of the obvious truth that the worship of God is an important and even urgent imperative for Christians, it is a sad fact that in our day much that passes for worship is not worship at all, and many who sincerely desire to worship do not always know how to go about it or where to begin. “What is worship anyway?” some ask. “Who can worship? Where can one worship? How does one worship?” ask others.

One Bible student has written: “Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold ‘right opinions,’ probably more than ever before in the history of the church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the ‘program.’ This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.”

Are these words true, even in part? Are the questions I have just repeated genuine? If so, there is an answer for them all in the words of Jesus. Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24).

Worship is Essential

Before we begin to look at these words in detail, however, we must first of all see that worship itself is an important subject and that these are important verses for dealing with it.

There are several ways of showing this. For instance, in Philippians 3:3 the apostle Paul speaks of worship as one of the three great marks that reveal the presence of the new nature within the Christian. He writes: “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” Most Christians would quickly acknowledge the last of these points. It is a question of holding to the true gospel. Many would also think highly of the second point, for joy is important. It is a mark of the Spirit, according to the fifth chapter of Galatians. I strongly suspect, however, that not many think of the worship of God as a mark of the presence of the new nature within. Yet in this verse it is included along with the other essentials.

Another way of making this point is to note that there are three great “musts” in John’s Gospel. The first “must” occurs in 3:7, where Jesus says, “you must be born again.” The second “must” is in verse 14 of the same chapter. There Jesus says, “The Son of Man must be lifted up.” The verses we are studying give us the third “must,” for they tell us that all who worship God “must worship in spirit and in truth.” These three great doctrines—the necessity for the new birth, the necessity of Christ’s death, and the necessity of true worship—belong together.

Perhaps it is not even irrelevant to point out that this is the major passage in which John deals with the nature and necessity of worship, for of the thirteen uses of the words “worship” or “worshiper” in John’s Gospel, ten of them occur in this section, and it is only here that worship is actually discussed and defined.

Spiritual Worship

What is worship? Part of the answer is to be seen in the fact that if you and I had been living in England during the days of the early formation of the English language, between the period of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, we would not have used the word “worship” at all. We would have said “worth-ship,” and we would have meant that in worshiping God we were assigning to God his true worth. Philologically speaking, this is the same thing as “praising” God or “glorifying” his name.

If someone should ask the two most important questions that follow from that definition, however—namely, “What is God’s true worth?” and “How do we become aware of it?”—we are immediately brought to the heart of Christ’s words to the Samaritan woman. For Jesus said that those who acknowledge God’s true worth must do so “in spirit and in truth.” In other words, they must do so “in truth” because truth has to do with what his nature is, and they must do so “in spirit” because they can only apprehend it spiritually.

Let me explain that a bit further. Many persons have been led astray in thinking that when Jesus spoke of “spirit” in this verse he was speaking of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe that this is the case. There is a sense, of course, in which we only come to worship God after the Holy Spirit has been at work in our hearts moving us to do so. But in this verse Jesus is not speaking of that. He is speaking of spirit generally (without the definite article), not the Holy Spirit, and he is teaching that in the age he was inaugurating by his death and resurrection the place of worship would not matter, for a man or a woman would not worship merely by being in the right place and doing certain right things. He would worship in his spirit, which could be anywhere.

I can make this even clearer by placing it in the context of the three parts of man’s nature. Man is a trinity. He has a body, soul, and spirit. Jesus is saying that nothing is true worship of God except what takes place in man’s spirit.

Many people worship with the body. This means that they consider themselves to have worshiped if they have been in the right place doing the right things at the right time. In Christ’s day the woman thought this meant being either in Jerusalem, at the temple there, or on Mount Gerezim at the Samaritans’ temple. In our day this would refer to people who think they have worshiped God simply because they have occupied a seat in a church on Sunday morning, or sung a hymn, or lit a candle, or crossed themselves, or knelt in the aisle. Jesus says this is not worship. These customs may be vehicles for worship. In some cases they may also hinder it. But they are not worship in themselves. Therefore, we must not confuse worship with the particular things we do on Sunday morning.

In addition, however, we must not confuse worship with feeling, for worship does not originate with the soul any more than it originates with the body. The soul is the seat of our emotions. It may be the case, and often is, that the emotions are stirred in real worship. At times tears fill the eyes or joy floods the heart. But, unfortunately, it is possible for these things to happen and still no worship to be there. It is possible to be moved by a song or by oratory and yet not come to a genuine awareness of God and a fuller praise of his ways and nature.

True worship occurs only when that part of man, his spirit, which is akin to the divine nature (for God is spirit), actually meets with God and finds itself praising him for his love, wisdom, beauty, truth, holiness, compassion, mercy, grace, power, and all his other attributes. William Barclay has written on this point, “The true, the genuine worship is when man, through his spirit, attains to friendship and intimacy with God. True and genuine worship is not to come to a certain place; it is not to go through a certain ritual or liturgy; it is not even to bring certain gifts. True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, who is immortal and invisible.”

Liturgy

Incidentally, the truth that we are to worship God in spirit also has bearing upon the question of the various types of liturgy used in Christian churches, for it means that, with the exception of liturgical elements that suggest wrong doctrine, there is no liturgy that in itself is either inherently better or worse than another. For any given congregation, one type of service will presumably be more valuable than another. But the decision regarding what that type of service will be ought to be arrived at—not by asking whether one likes emotional or nonemotional hymns, extemporaneous or read prayers, congregational responses or silence—in short, whether one prefers Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Congregational, or Quaker services—but by asking how effective the service is in turning the attention of the worshiper away from the service itself to God. In this respect an order of worship is to be evaluated on the same basis that we use to evaluate the preacher.

In thinking through this particular issue I have been helped by the concepts of C. S. Lewis. Lewis was a member of the Church of England and was accustomed to various forms of what we generally call a “liturgical” service. Nevertheless, Lewis did not plead for liturgy. He asked merely for what he called “uniformity,” on the grounds that “novelty” in the worship service at best turns our attention to the novelty but may actually turn it to the one who is enacting the liturgy.

Lewis wrote, “As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.” We should pray that God will use any form of church service in which we happen to be participating to that great and essential end.

Worship in Truth

Finally, we need to notice that the true worship of God is a worship not only in spirit but in truth. What does that mean? What does it mean to worship God “in truth”?

First, it means that we must approach God truthfully, that is, honestly or wholeheartedly. That is what Jesus was referring to in a negative way when he said of the people of his day, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. … they worship me in vain” (Matt. 15:8–9). According to Jesus, no worship is true worship unless there is an honesty of heart on the part of the worshiper. We must not pretend to worship. We must worship truthfully, knowing that our hearts are open books before God.

Second, we must worship on the basis of the biblical revelation. This is also implied in the verses I have just quoted. For the verse that begins “They worship me in vain” immediately goes on to condemn those who have substituted “rules taught by men” for the doctrines of Scripture. “Your word is truth,” says the Scripture (John 17:17). So if we are to worship “in truth,” as God commands us to do, our worship must be in accord with the principles and admonitions of this book.

When the Protestant Reformation first took place under Martin Luther in the early sixteenth century and the doctrines and principles of the Word of God, long covered over by the traditions and encrustations of ceremony of the medieval church, again came forth into prominence, there was an immediate elevation of the Word of God in Protestant services. Calvin particularly carried this out with thoroughness, ordering that the altars (long the center of the Latin mass) be removed from the churches and that a pulpit with a Bible upon it be placed in the center of the building. This was not to be on one side of the room, but in the very center, where every line of the architecture would carry the gaze of the worshiper to the Book that alone contains the way of salvation and outlines the principles upon which the church of the living God is to be governed.

Finally, to approach God “in truth” also means that we must approach God Christocentrically. This means “in Christ,” for this is God’s way of approach to him. Jesus himself signified this when he said to his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). This is a difficult point for many to accept, of course. But it is precisely because of the difficulty that God has taken such pains to teach that this is the way of approach to him. We see this even in the Old Testament in the instructions given to Moses for the design of the Jewish temple.

What was the original tabernacle? It was not an edifice of great beauty or permanence. It had no stained-glass windows, no great arches. It was made of pieces of wood and animal skins. Nevertheless every part of it was significant. The tabernacle taught the way to God. Take that tabernacle with its altar for sacrifice, its laver for cleansing, its Holy Place, and its Holy of Holies, and you have a perfect illustration of how a person must approach God. The altar, which is the first thing we come to, is the cross of Christ. It was given to teach that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins and to direct attention to the Lamb of God who should come to take away the sins of the world. The laver, which comes next, is a picture of cleansing, which Christ also provides when we confess our sins and enter into fellowship with him. The table of shewbread, which was within the Holy Place, speaks of Christ as the bread of life. The altar of incense is a picture of prayer, for we grow by prayer as well as by feeding on Christ in Bible study. Behind the altar of incense was the great veil, dividing the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. This was the veil torn in two at the moment of Christ’s death to demonstrate that his death was the fulfillment of all these figures and the basis of the fullness of approach to the Almighty. Finally, within the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant with its mercy seat upon which the high priest placed the blood of the lamb once a year on the Day of Atonement. There, symbolized by the space above the mercy seat, was the presence of God into whose presence we can now come because of the great mercy of God revealed in the death of Christ for us.

There is no other way to come to God. To come through Christ—the Christ of the altar, laver, shewbread, incense, veil, and mercy seat—is to come in truth. He is the truth. You must come in God’s way and not in any way of human devising.

An Inexhaustible God

The wonder of Christian worship is that when we come to God in the way which he has established, we find him inexhaustible and discover that our desire to know and worship him further is increased. Bernard of Clairvaux was one who knew this. He wrote toward the middle of the twelfth century:

Jesus, thou Joy of loving hearts,

Thou Fount of life, thou Light of men,

From the best bliss that earth imparts

We turn unfilled to thee again.

We taste thee, O thou living Bread,

And long to feast upon thee still;

We drink of thee, the Fountainhead,

And thirst our souls from thee to fill.

When we so come, when we worship in that way, we find ourselves approaching what the compilers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism rightly described as the chief end of man. The catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” It answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.[2]


True Worshipers

John 4:23–26

“The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23)

The word seeker has come to play a large role in Christianity today. Increasing numbers of churches identify themselves as “seeker-friendly” or “seeker-sensitive.” Their conviction is that people are seeking after God, but that the church has erected barriers of tradition and culture that keep them away. Their remedy is to remove these barriers by presenting a contemporary image to these seekers and offer them a style of worship that appeals to their tastes.

Although we want to remove all false barriers to worship, there are problems with this approach. Most importantly, its main premise flies in the face of the Bible’s teaching. Romans 3:11 declares, “No one seeks for God.” People might be seeking the benefits of a relationship with God—peace, harmony, joy, and freedom from fear—but they are not seeking God himself. Yet God really is what they need, and they will never possess God’s blessings without a saving relationship with him. The main problem with seeker-friendly worship, therefore, is that however popular it might be, it can involve a disastrously effective combination: people come to church not looking for God, and when they arrive God is not there to be found.

If people are not seeking after God, then what hope is there that people will be saved? The answer is that while sinners do not seek God, God is seeking sinners. Jesus explained, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus is still in the world today seeking sinners, through the powerful working of his Holy Spirit. Moreover, God the Father is seeking. Jesus said, “The Father is seeking … people to worship him” (John 4:23). This is the great hope for people today, and why the church must not abandon biblically centered worship for its secular replacement. God is seeking worshipers through Jesus Christ. God is drawing people, and such people, in consequence, are looking for God when they come to church. Therefore, our goal is not to present an appealing worldliness or secular packaging, but to present God biblically in his saving glory so that those whom God is seeking will find him in his church.

Worship in Spirit

How should we worship God? That was the question the Samaritan woman asked Jesus, either to avoid more personal matters or out of a sincere interest. Her question had mainly to do with the right place for worship. Should it be on Mount Gerizim, where the Samaritans worshiped, or on Mount Zion in Jerusalem? Jesus answered that “the important question is not where people worship God but how they worship him.” His coming as the world’s Savior made this all the more true. Jesus’ next statement to the woman is one of the most important about worship in the New Testament: “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.… God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24).

The key statement is “in spirit and truth.” First, let us consider worship in spirit. It is clear that Jesus does not refer to the Holy Spirit, since he uses no definite article, but to the human spirit. Our worship of God must not be merely external but spiritual and inward. It has always been the case, in both the Old and New Testaments, that true worship is a matter of the heart and not of mere actions. James Montgomery Boice explains: “[Jesus] is teaching that in the age he was inaugurating by his death and resurrection the place of worship would not matter, for a man or woman would not worship merely by being in the right place and doing certain right things. He would worship in his spirit, which could be anywhere.” Boice elaborates:

Many people worship with the body.… In our day this would refer to people who think they have worshiped God simply because they have occupied a seat in a church on Sunday morning, sung a hymn, or lit a candle, or crossed themselves, or knelt in the aisle. Jesus says this is not worship.

Rightly understanding worship “in spirit” will help us to sort through some of the heated debates regarding worship today. Some people think a contemporary worship style is more spiritual because it is more likely to include bodily involvement or emotional displays. By spiritual they mean spirited. But we can be physically and emotionally excited without engaging our spirit toward God. On the other side, people think that preserving timeworn practices and church traditions is more spiritual. But one can engage in the most reverent acts, yet not offer himself spiritually to God. What, then, is spiritual worship? Boice answers: “True worship occurs only when that part of man, his spirit, which is akin to the divine nature (for God is spirit), actually meets with God and finds itself praising him for his love, wisdom, beauty, truth, holiness, compassion, mercy, grace, power and all his other attributes.”

One of the greatest examples of worship in spirit took place not in a great cathedral, but in a jail in the Roman city of Philippi. The congregation had only two members, the apostle Paul and his helper Silas. Their preaching had caused a riot, so they were beaten with rods and placed in stocks. We can imagine their conversation, having been exposed to such suffering as a result of faithful ministry. Whatever they said, they decided that the best thing to do was to worship God. Luke tells us, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25). I do not know what kind of singing voices they had, but their hearts made sweet music in heaven. As a result, “there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken” (16:26). If we want to shake our world, an important step is for us to worship God in spirit, with hearts that sincerely praise him with great rejoicing.

Worship in spirit must be sincere and God-directed. Perhaps our greatest problem today is that we come to church worshiping ourselves—wanting mainly to get something out of it for ourselves—instead of worshiping God. An example of this took place in the time of the prophet Zechariah. In an earlier generation, Jerusalem had been destroyed and the people had gone into captivity, all as God’s chastening judgment for their sins. But God had been faithful to his promise to restore a remnant and rebuild the temple on Mount Zion. As this project neared completion, a delegation arrived from nearby Bethel, asking whether they could stop fasting and weeping. A series of fasts had developed during the exile, to mark the occasion of various catastrophes: the start of the siege, the breaching of the city’s walls, the burning of the temple, and the murder of their governor. Now that God had restored them to blessing, they wanted to stop fasting. God answered them, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?” (Zech. 7:5). In other words, all along their worship had been for their own benefit. It was not done unto God, for his pleasure and for his glory, out of love for God and trust in him. This is what God cares about. Unless our worship is offered in sincerity to him, God rejects it, saying, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies” (Amos 5:21). Despite all the elaborate show of these Jewish fasts, all the loud laments and showy tears, God simply asks, “Was it for me, even me?” He asks the same thing of our worship today.

Worship in spirit must be sincerely offered in praise and thanksgiving to God. A. W. Pink comments, “Worship is a redeemed heart occupied with God, expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving.” This principle not only condemns all self-centered worship, but also ennobles everything we do that is truly unto God. It means that the mother who toils in the weary labor of raising children, unnoticed and unlauded by the world, if she does it for Christ, with gratitude to God and a desire for his pleasure, has her ministry accepted with God’s highest commendation. The same is true for the man who labors in obscurity, treating people with dignity and working above the call of duty simply unto the Lord. Whenever and wherever God can say, “It was for me,” this is the spiritual worship that he seeks.

Worship in spirit is necessary because only it accords with God’s spiritual nature. “God is spirit,” Jesus said. Therefore, Leon Morris explains, “the worship brought to him must be essentially of a spiritual kind.” Jesus said that we “must” worship in spirit and truth. This is not merely an option, but a requirement for worshiping God. This is the fourth must that we have encountered in John’s Gospel. Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), and “the Son of Man [must] be lifted up” (3:14). This means that worship in spirit can be offered only by those cleansed by Christ’s blood and born again by his Spirit. Now, Jesus adds, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (4:24).

Worship in Truth

What does it mean, then, to worship in truth? The first thing it must require is a right conception of who we worship. The first commandment says: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). This requires us to know who God is: to know what is and is not true about him. If we have false or ignoble thoughts about God, we cannot worship him in truth. Some people think of God as distant and unloving: they cannot worship him in truth. Others think of God as their chummy friend or a “cosmic bellhop” who awaits their summons. They, too, cannot worship God in truth. One of the great problems in worship today is a lack of awareness of God’s holiness. Hebrews 12:28–29 exhorts, “Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Kent Hughes observes, “A wrong conception of God is the root of idolatry,” and it is also a cause of all false worship.

Worship in truth requires a right conception of whom we worship, but also of how we are to worship him. It requires right methods that are taught by God’s Word. All through the Bible, we find people worshiping God sincerely but according to their own ideas of worship—and they are rejected by God. The first was Cain, who failed to bring a blood sacrifice for his sins and thus was turned away. Nadab and Abihu brought “unauthorized fire” into the Lord’s house, and they “died before the Lord” (Num. 3:4). Perhaps the most significant example of false worship is the golden calf made by Aaron at the people’s request, while Moses was away on the mountain with God. It is important to know that the name Yahweh was inscribed on the golden calf: this idolatrous feast was offered to “the Lord” (Ex. 32:5). The Israelites sought to worship the true God in a false way, according to their own designs, and God was angered with great fury.

In forbidding idols, the second commandment attacks all unbiblical methods for worship. The first commandment warns against worshiping a false god; the second warns against worshiping the true God falsely. John Calvin explains: “This then is the rule, as to the right worship of God, that men … are only to give ear to God, and to follow what he commands. But when men’s presumption intrudes, so that they devise a new mode of worship, they then depart from the true God, and worship mere idols.… In religion nothing is to be attempted by us, but we are to follow this one law in worshipping God—simply to obey his word.” In Reformed theology, we refer to this as the regulative principle, which states that Scripture is to regulate our worship. Ligon Duncan explains, “There must be scriptural warrant for all we do. That warrant may come in the form of explicit directives, implicit requirements, the general principles of Scripture, positive commands, examples, and things derived from good and necessary consequences.” This principle stems from a humility before God that admits that we are not wise enough or holy enough to safely invent new methods of worship. Realizing this, we worship God only in the way he has taught us; we offer the true God true worship by obeying his Word.

We have an epidemic of golden calves in the church today. People want to worship God according to their own desires and wisdom. Well-meaning evangelists have employed emotional manipulation through altar calls. Today, we see an increasing reliance on drama and even comedy routines in the place of teaching God’s Word. Another rapidly growing secular method is the use of video clips. According to one study, the number of churches using video grew 625 percent from 1999 to 2004, with 29 percent of churches in America now showing video at least once a month. The problem with drama, comedy, and video is not merely that they are new and innovative, but that they are in opposition to the Bible’s teaching about worship. Since the medium always dictates to the message, this shift has led to an emphasis on emotionally appealing stories in the place of proclaimed sacred truth. The fact that the Bible tells us, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17), seems not to have slowed this secularizing trend.

How does this happen? The answer is found in the explanation Aaron gave when Moses berated him for allowing the golden calf. Aaron said, “You know the people, that they are set on evil” (Ex. 32:22). In other words, “The people don’t like a biblical approach to worship. They don’t enjoy prayer and Bible reading and serious preaching. They want something more lively, so I gave it to them.” The question, therefore, for churches and pastors today is whether we will worship popularity or whether we will worship God. We will explain our worship practices either by saying, with Aaron, “You know how people are,” or by saying, “We know how God is and what he desires.”

Worship in truth requires a right conception of God and a biblical approach to worship. Finally, we should note that it requires thought. Kent Hughes argues, “Worship is not a mindless activity. It includes mental interaction with the truth about God.” This does not mean that worship is merely an intellectual experience, with no effect on the emotions, will, and affections. Far from it! But the trajectory of biblical worship is light shining through the mind to warm the heart. It is truth and not sentiment that sets us free (John 8:32). Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (17:3). Paul appealed to us to offer God “spiritual worship,” and he explained this by saying, “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). In Hebrews 8:10, God promises, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts.” God wants his law written on our hearts—Christianity is heart-religion!—but to do this, he first puts it into our minds.

Worship in Christ

The conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman concludes with a dramatic exchange that has everything to do with worship: “The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things’ ” (John 4:25). Jesus responded with words that changed her life and that thunder at the heart of all true worship: “Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he’ ” (4:26).

The Greek text makes clear what is obscured in most English versions: Jesus did not say, “I am he,” but simply, “I am.” We might better render this: “I who speak to you, I am.” This was, of course, the answer given to Moses at the burning bush when he asked God to give his name: “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I am has sent me to you” ’ ” (Ex. 3:14). This is where we get the name Jehovah or Yahweh—it means “I am” and signifies God’s eternal, self-existent being. The voice that Moses heard from the bush this Samaritan woman now heard from Jesus, and with it came an unveiling of his divine majesty. Leaving her water jar, she ran to tell others, marveling, “Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:28–29).

This says to us that just as Moses came to the burning bush, so also we must come to God in Jesus Christ. Our worship must be in spirit, it must be in truth, and it must be in Christ. Jesus is the true Revealer of God, so we must come to him to find God. It is “through him” that we have “access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18).

This is why Jesus told the woman that true, spiritual worship was being made possible by his coming. Before Jesus came, a Samaritan could not know or worship God without going to Jerusalem and the temple. Even there, only the priests could go inside, and even they could not see God. The priests served before the golden lampstand, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense—all of which were symbols of Christ. The only person who really met with God was the high priest, and on only one day of the year, the Day of Atonement.

The high priest came before the ark of the covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments. The law condemned him and the nation, so God provided what was called the mercy seat. This was a tray where the blood of the sacrifice could be spread, so that God’s wrath was turned aside and the people were restored to his favor. In one of the more important verses in the whole Old Testament, God told Moses, “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat … I will speak with you” (Ex. 25:22). The Greek word for mercy seat is hilasterion; Paul uses this very word for Christ’s atoning work on the cross. He writes, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:23–25, my translation). The word for propitiation is hilasterion. “God set forth Christ Jesus to be the mercy seat, where the blood is offered and where sinners may come to meet with God.”

Because of this, a new answer is given to the Samaritan woman’s question about where to worship. “On this hill or in Jerusalem?” she asked. Jesus answered, “I am.” As Moses was called to the burning bush, Jesus now calls us to himself as the true place of worship. Wherever we are, we may come directly to God through faith in Christ. Have you put your faith in Jesus? Have you admitted your sin, as the high priest did each year on the Day of Atonement, and come to Jesus to be forgiven by his blood, shed for you? Until you come to Jesus as a sinner seeking forgiveness, a rebel offering surrender, and God’s creature come to worship by the one way he has made for us—the blood of Christ—you never can and never will worship in spirit and in truth. You can never know God truly and never experience his spiritual blessings. But if you come to Christ in faith, and come to God through the mercy seat that is his cross, you are free to worship God and be filled with his presence. William Cowper put it this way:

Jesus, where’er your people meet,

there they behold your mercy seat;

Where’er they seek you, you are found,

and ev’ry place is hallowed ground.

God is seeking worshipers, through Jesus Christ, who come in spirit and truth. Those who do come find him their chief delight. He promises, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.… I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:10, 12).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 148–150). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 294–299). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Phillips, R. D. (2014). John. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (1st ed., Vol. 1, pp. 253–261). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

04/22/18 His Wondrous Works

READING: Psalm 78

“. . . tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the Lord.”

Psalm 78:4

The psalmist understood something I’m not sure we North American believers understand well enough: we need to make sure our children know our spiritual history. Here’s how the psalmist expressed this mandate in Psalm 78: “We will not hide them [God’s works] from their children, but will tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, his might, and the wondrous works he has performed” (Psa. 78:4). In fact, the Hebrews were to teach their children, who would then teach the next generation “so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep his commands” (Psa. 78:7). In that way, future generations would not be like their fathers, who had been “a stubborn and rebellious generation” (Psa. 78:8).

Here are some of the things I wonder if our children and grandchildren know:

  • stories of other ancestors who were believers
  • when and how we became believers
  • when and where we were baptized
  • the sweetest experience we ever had with the Lord
  • the toughest struggle of our spiritual walk
  • significant times of answered prayer
  • how we live out our spiritual disciplines

There is so much we can tell our children and grandchildren! I fear, though, that we seldom get to these stories. We talk about everything else—and I’m grateful for any real conversation between generations—but we don’t take the initiative to talk about what God has done in our life. Most of us need to hear this word again from the psalmist: “We will not hide them from our children.”

ACTION STEPS: 

  • In prayer, meditate on God’s great works in your life.
  • Perhaps by using something from the list above, tell somebody what God has done in your life.

PRAYER: “Father, I commit to telling my children and grandchildren about Your wondrous works.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Psalms 81, 88, 92, 93

Source: 04/22/18 His Wondrous Works

April 22 Power To Do

I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations. You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground — those that I have set apart as unclean for you. You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. Lev 20:24b-26

Note how carefully God identifies himself with each one of these instructions. He signs his name, as it were, after each one. He gives us a practical admonition and then says, I am the LORD your God. The name he uses here is his covenant name: I am Jehovah. That is, I am the Living One, the Eternal One, the Sufficient One. I am the God who is Enough. That is what Jehovah means.

What is God trying to impart to us by this format? Two things are involved. The first is authority. This underscores something very important. It is that we must discover how to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and error, on the basis of what God says — if we are in relationship to him. There is a different standard for the people of God.

This is very practical, because God is reality. What God says and what he sees and how he looks at life is the way life is. If you look at it in some other way, then you are being unrealistic. You are out of step with reality and are trying to live according to an illusion, a fantasy, a figment of your imagination. Such ideas and standards may be widespread. There may be lies which are believed sincerely and devotedly by people around you and which govern their way of living. But God is saying, Not for you. Not for my people. I am your God, and I am telling you the truth, the way life is, what will hurt you and what will not. So believe me, because I am the LORD your God.But he is not only authority; he is also resource. This is the second reason why he gives his name right along with each command. He says, Do this, or don’t do that: I am the LORD your God. What does he mean? He means, I am available to you. I am the strength by which you can do what I command. I never tell you to do something without making available to you the power to do it.Have you discovered what Paul discovered and recorded for us in Romans 7 — that you cannot do all the things you’d like to do and know you ought to do, that you want to but somehow cannot? This is the way Paul puts it, from his own experience: I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… (Romans 7:18-20) If you feel that way, God understands that. It is the most common problem of life. What you are lacking is power, the power to respond. You must learn that there is another source of power, that you can reckon on the God who is there, the God who is available to you. And that is why God signs his name this way several times. Here is something to do, or not to do: I am the LORD your God — standing here, available to you, ready for you to draw upon my strength. When you start drawing on it you can do, or not do, what I command by the power of an available God, the God who is Enough. I am Jehovah.Father, help me to see that simply being moral, being fair to someone else and treating them as they treat us, is not the level of life upon which you expect me to live. Your level is much higher. I am to be loving in return for evil. I can do that only by the grace that is in you, Lord Jesus. Help me to obey you in this and to expect to see your life at work in me.

Life Application
What are two important and essential ways in which Jehovah God is made available to His people, so that we may live by His realistic Truth about life? Are we trusting His Authority and the Resource of His indwelling Presence and Power?
Related Message
For more on this portion of Scripture read the message:
Power to Do

Democrat bill to ban public expression of Biblical morality passes California assembly

WINTERY KNIGHT

Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like individual liberties Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like individual liberties

I hate California, and would never live there. I would never pay money to Sacramento Democrats to waste it on their secular, socialist priorities.

California is banning the free speech rights of Christians. That’s not my headline, that’s sensible David French in National Review:

[…][T]he California State Assembly is set to vote on a bill that would actually — among other things — ban the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality.

Yes, ban the sale of books.

Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in “a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”

The bill then defines “sexual orientations change…

View original post 789 more words

CultureWatch: California’s Ugly Anti-Christian Bigotry

California is quickly becoming America’s most Christophobic state. And at the same time, it is becoming the most pro-homosexual state. Sure, there are plenty of the other 49 states in competition with California to take out this ‘honour.’ But as has often been said, California is a land of fruits and nuts, so we expect this sort of thing to especially take place there.

The latest outrage taking place there is California Assembly Bill 2943, which will effectively clamp down on all attempts to help those who are not happy with their same-sex attractions. You can see the bill here: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB2943

If it passes in the Senate and becomes law, it will be a major blow to religious freedom and to those who want help in their sexual journey. This is not the first time the state has pushed such things. Back in 2012 California passed legislation declaring it illegal for minors to receive any help for same-sex attraction, even if they and their parents wanted help.

This bill would take things even further, banning adults from getting the help they so desperately may seek. David French helps us to understand just what this nefarious bill is all about:

Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in “a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”

The bill then defines “sexual orientations change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” (Emphasis added.)
http://www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/california-progressives-launch-another-attack-on-free-speech/

This is real scary stuff folks. It is certainly an all-out war of freedom of speech and religious freedom. And it is an attack on the very core of Christian beliefs: the idea that Jesus Christ is able to radically change a person’s life. Not only can an individual be set free from various wrong actions, but desires can also be changed by God’s grace.

But a bill like this would effectively criminalise any such help offered to a person, certainly any that involves the sale of any goods or services. So a Christian counsellor who offers a nominal fee for his clients would be denied doing what he does. And of course any books or resources would also be banned from sale in such cases.

Given that the Bible itself obviously has so much to say on these issues, then it becomes apparent that it too may have to be banned, at least in connection with helping those who want out. Of course lefties, and the leftist Snopes “fact checker,” are claiming there is nothing to fear here. But they are simply seeking to deceive us.

Quite to the contrary, this is draconian legislation, and there is plenty to fear, including seeing books and Bibles eventually banned. As Robert A. J. Gagnon has just recently written on this:

Sure, it is virtually impossible that the state of California will immediately attempt to ban the sale of the Bible itself. Not even the hard Left in California has that kind of chutzpah. But citations of Bible verses in the context of declaring homosexual practice and transgenderism to be morally debased could indeed get one into serious trouble with the law if it comes in the context of selling or advertising a product or service….

The salient point is that there is nothing in the bill that would prevent the state from outlawing all religious or moral instruction that seeks to change homosexual behavior and transgender identity. The only limitation on the state is its own self-policed chutzpah regarding “LGBTQ” coercion.

Read the bill. It says: “This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act…. ‘Sexual orientation change efforts’ means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex…. The following unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer are unlawful: …. (28) Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”

There is no religious exemption. There is no restriction to mental health professionals. There is not even a restriction to claims about changing a person’s sexual orientation or transgender feelings in whole or part. The bill is quite clear that any “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions,” are included in the ban on attempts to change a person’s “sexual orientation.”

So you would be violating the law if you advertise that Christ can empower people not to engage in homosexual practice or not to identify as “gay” or “transgender” because such behaviors and self-identities are morally wrong, or if you offer to engage or actually engage in efforts to persuade people of Christ’s power to transform in this area, you will be in violation of California AB 2943, at least so long as your advertising or efforts involve an exchange of money for goods or services.

Consequently, all of the following could be treated as violations of the law if California Assembly Bill 2943 passes the state senate and is signed into law by the Gov. Jerry Brown: Selling religious or secular books (pamphlets, videos, audios, etc.), holding conferences, teaching courses in a college or seminary where tuition is paid, giving a speech at a paid venue, counseling people for a fee, or perhaps even posting online articles in a site that requires a paid subscription, in which it is asserted (in whole or part) that it is morally wrong for people to engage in homosexual practice or identify as “gay” or “transgender.” There is certainly nothing in the bill that exempts such practices from prosecution by the state. We have learned that when it comes to “LGBTQ” matters what is exempted is not exempted for long and what is not exempted has no exemption. If you haven’t figured this out by now, you haven’t been paying attention.

As my lawyer friend Greg Teufel notes: “Of course they would not immediately apply it so broadly [as to ban the Bible]. But the day after of the bill becomes effective, try this and see what happens: Set up a booth with a big sign that says ‘You don’t have to stay gay’ with Bibles for sale. Explain to anyone that asks that if they buy the Bible, in it they will find the way to reduce and resist all manner of sinful impulses and temptations, including same sex attraction and same sex sexual behavior. Plus they can attend your Bible study class, for a fee, where you promise to explain more about what the Bible has to say about sin and how change is possible. Add that, ‘I know scientists may refuse to believe it, but all things are possible with God.’ Then have someone make a complaint about it, and see what happens. Wanna bet what would happen?”

This is the latest step in California’s war against freedom, against faith, and against family. We all should be shocked and horrified at just how far down the gurgler California is going. The rainbow juggernaut continues to roll on, crushing anything in its path.

[1274 words]

The post California’s Ugly Anti-Christian Bigotry appeared first on CultureWatch.

California Gender Bill: Another Attack on Religious Freedom | National Review

David French warns about legislation making its way to law in California. “Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in ‘a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer’ that advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in ‘sexual orientation change efforts with an individual’.”

A California bill would criminalize conservative speech about gender. How Democrats hate social conservatives.
— Read on www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/california-progressives-launch-another-attack-on-free-speech/

Enthusiasm for Censorship Has Deep Roots Among Liberals – LifeZette

Silencing the voices of those who disagree with them has become the weapon of choice for many on the Left in America, especially on college campuses

Are the Left’s demands to ban so-called hate speech on college campuses a passing trend that conservatives can wait out? When shouting campus protesters hold signs that read, “We condemn freedom of speech that hurts other people’s feelings,” should conservatives take this seriously?

They should. The call to regulate offensive speech has deep intellectual roots on the Left. In fact, much evidence suggests that such regulation is necessary to bring about many of Left’s political and moral goals. Conservatives can better grasp where this trend is going by turning to some of its more articulate proponents.

The post Enthusiasm for Censorship Has Deep Roots Among Liberals appeared first on LifeZette.

Church of The Donald – Politico

Never mind Fox. Trump’s most reliable media mouthpiece is now Christian TV.

By RUTH GRAHAM

A generation ago—even a few years ago—. . . Christian TV was largely the province of preachers, musicians, faith healers and a series of televangelism scandals. Politicians were leery of getting too close. To establishment evangelicals, not to mention the rest of America, Christian TV was hokey at best, and disreputable at worst.

But in the past two years, largely out of view of the coastal media and the Washington establishment, a transformation has taken place. As Christian networks have become more comfortable with politics, the Trump administration has turned them into a new pipeline for its message.

“This dance between administration politics and televised religion is new, and is built on a connection between Trump’s message and the Christian TV worldview that runs deeper than it might first appear. It also offers a different kind of answer to the puzzle of why an impious man who can barely manage to pay lip service to actual Christian belief earned a higher percentage of the white evangelical vote than predecessors including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush—and why, if anything, his bond with those voters appears to be growing stronger.”

“Trump has appeared 11 times on CBN since his campaign began; in 2017 alone, he gave more interviews to CBN than to CNN, ABC or CBS.

“Having White House officials regularly on screen gives new legitimacy to media organizations that have long felt looked down upon.”

“If you look at his evangelical advisory council, it’s people with media connections. … That’s a weird slice of the evangelical world.”

Read more: Church of The Donald

APRIL 22 A BLESSING: THE UNCHANGING FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.

HEBREWS 13:8

It is a gracious thing in our relationship with the heavenly Father to find that He loves us for ourselves and values our love more than galaxies of new created worlds.

The added blessing is to discover His faithfulness for what He is today we shall find Him tomorrow, the next day and the next year!

Actually, the fellowship of God with His redeemed family is beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul.

He is not sensitive nor selfish nor temperamental. He is not hard to please, though He may be hard to satisfy. He expects of us only what He has Himself first supplied.

He is quick to mark every simple effort to please Him, and just as quick to overlook imperfections when He knows we meant to do His will. Surely He loves us for ourselves!

Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom. These friends serve God grimly, as the elder brother did, doing what is right without enthusiasm and without joy, and seem altogether unable to understand the buoyant, spirited celebration when the prodigal comes home. Their idea of God rules out the possibility of His being happy in His people!

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with, the sum of all patience, the essence of kindly goodwill![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

April 22 Jesus on Divorce

It was said, “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce”; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.—Matt. 5:31–32

Jesus no more approves of divorce than did Moses (cf. Matt. 19:6). Adultery, another reality God never condoned, is the only reason under the law that allows for dissolving of a marriage, with the guilty party to be put to death (Lev. 20:10). Because Jesus mentions this here and again in Matthew 19:9, God must have allowed divorce to replace execution as the penalty for adultery at some time during Israel’s history.

Divorce is never commanded; it is always a last resort, allowed when unrepentant immorality has exhausted the patience of the innocent spouse. This merciful concession to human sinfulness logically implies that God also permits remarriage. Divorce’s purpose is to show mercy to the guilty party, not to sentence the innocent party to a life of loneliness. If you are innocent and have strived to maintain your marriage, you are free to remarry if your spouse insists on continued adultery or divorce.

Jesus does not demand divorce in all cases of unchastity (immorality, primarily adultery in this context), but simply points out that divorce and remarriage on other grounds results in adultery.

Our Lord wants to set the record straight that God still hates divorce (Mal. 2:16) and that His ideal remains a monogamous, lifelong marriage. But as a gracious concession to those innocent spouses whose partners have defiled the marriage, He allows divorce for believers for the reason of immorality. (Paul later added the second reason of desertion, 1 Cor. 7:15.)

ASK YOURSELF

How could you be an encouragement to a couple whose marriage is on the verge of collapse? How could you show Christ’s mercy to those who have been wounded the greatest?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 121). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 22 Purposeful Suffering

The forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever.

Hebrews 6:20

Christ’s purpose in gathering up our sins on the cross and enduring the darkness of death was to open the way to God. The apostle Peter said that Christ died “that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). God demonstrated that truth symbolically by ripping the Temple veil from top to bottom, opening the Holy of Holies to immediate access by all worshipers (Matt. 27:51). As priests, all believers now may come into the presence of God (1 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 4:16).

The Greek verb translated as “He might bring” (1 Pet. 3:18) states the purpose of Jesus’ actions. The verb was often used when someone was being introduced. The noun form of the word refers to the one making the introduction. In Jesus’ day, officials in the ancient courts controlled the access to the king. Once convinced of a person’s right of access, the official would introduce that person into the king’s presence. And that’s exactly the function Jesus performs for us now. As He said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). He came to lead us into the Father’s presence.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 127). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

April 22, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

11 At the time of the exodus, God had seen the affliction of his people and had heard their groanings (Ex 2:24; 6:5). The people in exile were not unlike those in Egypt. They too groaned for the moment of their deliverance and prayed that the Lord would rise up and deliver them with his strong “arm” (cf. Ex 15:16). The fate of the exiles is likened to that of prisoners (cf. 102:20; Isa 42:7; 49:9; 61:1) who are “condemned to die.”[1]


79:11 doomed to die. A prayer for the preservation of the prisoners awaiting execution in the enemy’s dungeon.[2]


79:11 the groaning of the prisoner Although the psalmist has not yet mentioned exile or captivity, this verse indicates that God’s people find themselves in captivity away from the land of Israel. This exile occurred ca. 586–539 bc.[3]


79:11 the prisoners. The writer knows that God has a special place in His heart for the oppressed and vulnerable, so he reminds Him of those who need Him (9:18 note).[4]


79:11 In a wordplay, the groans of the prisoners evoke God’s “avenging of blood” (see v. 10). Those condemned to die literally reads “sons of death.”[5]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 611). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 79:11). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 79:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 808). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[5] Warstler, K. R. (2017). Psalms. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 889). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

April 22 The Church Testifies to the Resurrection

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand.”

1 Corinthians 15:1

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The true church has consistently testified to the power of the Resurrection.

Kenneth Scott Latourette observed in his History of the Expansion of Christianity: “It was the conviction of the resurrection of Jesus which lifted his followers out of the despair into which his death had cast them and which led to the perpetuation of a movement begun by him.”

This statement was true for the church at Corinth, even with its many problems. The apostle Paul opens his well–known chapter on the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 by implicitly affirming the Corinthians’ testimony to that doctrine. Simply by receiving the gospel and having their lives transformed, the believers at Corinth demonstrated the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. And that resurrection is what empowered the gospel. Paul did not need to explicitly remind the Corinthians of Christ’s rising to life until verse 4, “He was raised on the third day.” The apostle was confident at the outset that the Corinthians had already believed in the truth of the Lord’s resurrection.

The fact that the Corinthian church continued to exist, though beset with problems of immaturity and other weaknesses, was a solid witness to the power of the gospel of the risen Christ. Only a living Savior could have converted some of the hardened sinners of Corinth—extortioners, idolaters, the sexually immoral—into a community of the redeemed. Paul was concerned and distressed about many of the things that did and did not happen in the church at Corinth, but he did not hesitate to call the core group of members there “brethren.”

In spite of many challenges from skepticism, persecution, heresy, and unfaithfulness, the church through the centuries has continued to testify to the reality of Christ’s resurrection. The true church celebrates that truth often, not just on Easter Sunday. Actually, because the church gathers on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week (when Jesus rose), we remember the Resurrection every week. Praise the Lord for that reminder the next time you worship on the Lord’s Day.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that His church was faithful in the past to testify to the truth of the Resurrection.

For Further Study: Read Acts 4, and list some things that suggest a testimony to the power of the Resurrection.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

APRIL 22 ALL ARE RECIPIENTS

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

—Lamentations 3:22

All men are recipients of God’s mercy. Don’t think for a minute that when you repented and came back from the swine pen to the Father’s house that mercy then began to operate. No, mercy had been operating all the time…. So, remember that if you hadn’t had the mercy of God all the time, stooping in pity, withholding judgment, you’d have perished long ago. The cruel dictator is a recipient of the mercy of God. The wicked murderer is a recipient of the mercy of God. And the blackest heart that lies in the lowest wallow in the country is a recipient of the mercy of God….

All men are recipients of the mercy of God, but God has postponed the execution, that is all. When the justice of God confronts human guilt then there is a sentence of death, but the mercy of God—because that also is an attribute of God, not contradicting the other but working with it—postpones the execution.

Mercy cannot cancel judgment apart from atonement. When justice sees iniquity, there must be judgment. But mercy brought Christ to the cross. I don’t claim to understand that. I’m so happy about the things I do know and so delightedly happy about things I don’t know. AOG085-087

Lord, when I realize how much we deserve Your judgment, I am once again in awe of Your great mercy. Thank You for the message of the cross. Amen.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.