Daily Archives: April 26, 2018

April 26: Bitter and Betrayed

Joshua 16:1–17:18; 2 Corinthians 11:24–33; Psalm 55

The betrayal of a loved one can shake our world. It can make us feel vulnerable and used, and if we’re not careful, it can cause us to be bitter and suspicious toward others. The psalmist in Psalm 55 experiences such a betrayal from a friend who feared God: “We would take sweet counsel together in the house of God” (Psa 55:14).

The psalmist agonizes over how he was deceived: “The buttery words of his mouth were smooth, but there was battle in his heart. His words were smoother than oil, but they were drawn swords” (Psa 55:21). How does someone move beyond a violation of trust? Instead of growing bitter, the psalmist puts his trust in Yahweh: “Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved” (Psa 55:22).

Similarly, in 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the church in Corinth about his sufferings. Among Paul’s lashings, stonings, shipwrecks (three of them), and robbings, he also lists “dangers because of false brothers” (2 Cor 11:26). He suffered anxiety because of the churches (2 Cor 11:28).

Paul adds to this list by discussing a force of oppression over him. He states that he prayed for his “thorn” to be taken from him (2 Cor 12:8). However, the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, because the power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). This reshapes Paul’s perspective on suffering: “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in calamities, in persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). By submitting to Christ, Paul relied less on himself and more heavily on God. As a result, God’s grace and power was manifested within him.

Betrayal causes bitterness that can poison our hearts. But, like Paul, we should use trials as an opportunity to submit more fully to God, and to show others His work in us.

How are you holding onto bitterness? What would God have you do instead?

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 26 Paying the Price of Righteousness

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10).

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There is a price to pay for being a Kingdom citizen.

Unlike many today who try to make the gospel palatable for reluctant sinners, Jesus made it clear that following Him had its price. Rather than acceptance, fame, prestige, and prosperity, you can expect rejection and persecution. That’s not a popular approach to evangelism, but it’s honest. Also, it ensures that no one will try to enter the Kingdom on the wrong basis.

Jesus wanted His hearers to count the cost of discipleship. He knew that many of them would be disowned by their families and excommunicated from the Jewish synagogues. Many would suffer persecution or martyrdom at the hands of the Roman government. They needed to count the cost!

Persecution did come to those early Christians. The Emperor Nero smeared many of them with pitch, crucified them, and then burned them to light his garden parties. He condemned Christians for refusing to worship him as a god and blamed them for the burning of Rome in a.d. 64. Christians were also accused of cannibalism because Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56). They were also said to be revolutionaries because they believed that God would one day destroy the earth.

The world’s animosity toward Christians hasn’t changed. You might not face the severe persecutions the first-century believers faced, but you will be persecuted (Phil. 1:29). Even new Christians often face difficulties. If they refuse to join their former friends in sinful activities, they might be rejected. If they work for a dishonest boss who expects them to participate in or condone his evil practices, they might be fired or have to quit their jobs. That might bring extreme financial hardship to their families.

God won’t always shield you from persecution, but He will honor your integrity and give you strength to endure any trial that comes your way. Praise Him for His all-sufficient grace!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for those you know who are suffering hardship for Christ’s sake. ✧ Ask God for the wisdom and strength to face persecution with integrity and unwavering faith.

For Further Study: Read James 1:2–4 and 1 Peter 5:10. ✧ What purpose does suffering serve? ✧ How should you respond to suffering?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 129). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Liberals Urge Nation To Respect Minorities’ Opinions Until Those Opinions Contradict Them — The Babylon Bee

U.S.—After legendary hip-hop artist Kanye West expressed his support for President Donald Trump on Twitter, igniting a firestorm of controversy, liberals reminded the nation that everyone needs to respect minorities’ opinions until the exact moment those opinions contradict their own. Progressives confirmed they are totally passionate about listening to and supporting people of color, but…

via Liberals Urge Nation To Respect Minorities’ Opinions Until Those Opinions Contradict Them — The Babylon Bee

APRIL 26 THE WALK OF FAITH

Enoch walked with God…for God took him.

Genesis 5:24

There are spiritual lessons for every Christian believer in the life of godly Enoch, seventh generation from Adam through Adam’s third son, Seth.

We are impressed that he could resist the devil and find fellowship with his Creator God, for he lived in a worldly society headed for destruction.

Enoch’s daily walk was a walk of faith, a walk of fellowship with God. The Scriptures are trying to assure us that if Enoch could live and walk with God by faith in the midst of his sinful generation, we likewise should be able to follow his example because the human race is the same and God is the same!

Beyond that, Enoch reminds us that the quality and boldness of our faith will be the measure of our preparation for the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. We walk by faith as Enoch did, and although it is now twenty centuries after Christ’s sojourn on earth, we hold firmly to the New Testament promise that our risen Lord will return to earth again!

Lord, the example of Your servant Enoch is a reminder to me that it is possible to be godly in the midst of a perverse generation. Help me to remain faithful to You and Your ways, O Lord.[1]


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

Publishers stop printing Hybels’ books amid allegations of inappropriate behavior – Religion News ServiceReligion News Service

(RNS) — Several publishers have suspended printing books by former Willow Creek Community Church pastor Bill Hybels as the Chicago-area megachurch he founded more than 40 years ago investigates allegations of his inappropriate behavior toward women.
— Read on religionnews.com/2018/04/26/publishers-stop-printing-hybels-books-amid-allegations-of-inappropriate-behavior/

OPCW Investigators Found ‘No Evidence’ of Chemical Weapons at Syrian Facilities Bombed by US – PaulCraigRoberts.org

OPCW Investigators Found ‘No Evidence’ of Chemical Weapons at Syrian Facilities Bombed by US https://russia-insider.com/en/opcw-investigators-found-no-evid
— Read on www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/04/26/opcw-investigators-found-no-evidence-chemical-weapons-syrian-facilities-bombed-us/

CA Bill Against Gay Conversion Could Ban Christian Books, Speech — Christian Research Network

(Michael W. Chapman – CNSNews) The California House recently passed legislation (AB 2943) that says “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” is a fraudulent business practice, and if it passes in the Senate and becomes law, it could result in certain books, speakers, and conferences being banned, including the…

via CA Bill Against Gay Conversion Could Ban Christian Books, Speech — Christian Research Network

April 26, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

45 “Blessed” describes the happy situation of those God favors. Elizabeth gave the blessing Zechariah’s muteness prevented him from giving. See vv. 68–79 for the blessing he later pronounced on the infant Jesus. Luke uses the blessing Elizabeth gave Mary to call attention to Mary’s faith.

The way in which v. 45 supplements v. 42 is noteworthy. In v. 42, Mary is called the “blessed” one because of her maternal relationship with her son Jesus. In v. 45, however, Mary is recognized to be truly “blessed” because of her faith in and obedience to God. The same contrast is developed later in the Lukan material. In 8:19–21, for example, Jesus redefines family relationship in terms of one’s faith in and obedience to God: “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (v. 21).[1]


45. And blessed is she who believed,

Because there will be a fulfilment of the words

Spoken to her by the Lord.

Although the rendering “And blessed is she who believed that there will be,” etc., is also possible, the first translation has the following in its favor:

  1. The positive assurance that God is going to fulfil his promises to Mary is a more solid ground, a more valid reason, for calling her “blessed” than her own subjective faith in the fulfilment of these promises.
  2. “Blessed is she who believed” is a richer expression than “Blessed is she who believed that,” etc. The first rendering more definitely than the second describes Mary as a woman of faith.
  3. “Blessed is she who believed” is in line with “Blessed are those who, though not seeing, are yet believing” (John 20:29). See also Gen. 15:6 (cf. Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6, 9; James 2:23).
  4. As to conciseness of phraseology, the beatitude “Blessed is she who believed” is also more in line with the familiar beatitudes of Luke 6:20 f., cf. Matt. 5:1 f.
  5. Finally, the construction, “Blessed is she who believed,” describes more adequately than does its alternative what had been Mary’s reaction to Gabriel’s message.

That reaction, it will be recalled, had been: first, alarm and astonishment (verse 29); then, an earnest request for an explanation (verse 34); and finally, the complete surrender that characterizes the person who lives by the rule, “Trust and obey” (verse 38). For the rest, see the note on verse 45 on p. 99.

As to … “there will be a fulfilment,” etc., note the following: the words of the Lord (via Gabriel) recorded in 1:31a, 35a (unique conception) had already been fulfilled, and the promises contained in 31b, 32, 33, 35b (still largely unfulfilled) were going to be realized, as the rest of the Gospels, etc., abundantly prove.

What deserves special attention is this outstanding fact, namely, that in Elizabeth’s entire exuberant exclamation (verses 41b–45) envy never raises its head. Elizabeth was, after all, much older than Mary (cf. 1:7, 18, 36 with 2:5). Yet this aged woman is deeply conscious of her own unworthiness and genuinely rejoices in the joy of her much younger relative!

How can this complete absence of the begrudging attitude be explained? The answer is found in 1 Cor. 13:4: “Love does not envy.” Is not this a good reason for calling this poem “Elizabeth’s Song of Love”?[2]


1:45 Mary’s faith contrasts with the doubt of Zacharias. Blessed is she who believed: Mary’s response of faith was exemplary. She was simply waiting on God to bring His promises to fulfillment.[3]†


1:45 — “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

What would have happened had Mary not believed Gabriel’s words? Would she have disqualified herself to be the mother of Jesus? The fact is she did believe, and God did fulfill His word in her.[4]


[1] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 64). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 97–98). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1250). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Lk 1:45). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

Urgent Need for Discernment Among Evangelicals — Christian Research Network

Photo credit: 8:28 Ministries (Robert Nelson – Reformation Charlotte) “It is in this hour that the evangelist needs doctrinal discernment. A preacher must be ready to tear down these false gospels that oppose the true gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be equipped as Paul says In 2 Corinthians 10:4-6.” I am sending you out like sheep…

via Urgent Need for Discernment Among Evangelicals — Christian Research Network

APRIL 26 TODAY, ASK GOD TO REMOVE EVERY FALSE TRUST

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

JEREMIAH 17:9

Many of us have become extremely skillful in arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications.

We arrange things so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it!

We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him!

To many, Christ is little more than an idea, or at best an ideal: He is not a fact! They talk as if He were real and act as if He were not.

We can prove our faith by our committal to it—and in no other way!

Any belief that does not command the one who holds it is not a real belief: it is a pseudo belief only. And it might shock some of us profoundly if we were brought suddenly face-to-face with our beliefs and forced to test them in the fires of practical living!

What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God!

Today is the best time to invite God to remove every false trust, to disengage our hearts from all secret hiding places, and to bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether we actually trust Him. This is a harsh cure, but it is a sure one![1]


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

6 De-churching Trends — Paul Tautges

One of the least obvious—and yet most tragic—changes Christianity has experienced in the past fifty years is the diminishing of the centrality of the local church in the life of many Christians. The Lord’s Day, once considered a special day dedicated to the worship and service of God, is now treated like any other day…

via 6 De-churching Trends — Paul Tautges

April 26 Jesus and Non-retaliation: Dignity

Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.—Matt. 5:39b

God has created every human being in His image, and therefore He demands that we treat one another with basic respect, dignity, and consideration. But in a sinful world, this will not always happen, so believers can expect to suffer persecution simply because of their basic testimony (cf. Matt. 10:16–23; John 15:18–16:3). This leaves one inevitable issue to deal with: how should Christians respond to ridicule, insult, or physical abuse.

The Lord Jesus, of course, is the perfect example of how to behave when personally attacked. When the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers physically abused Him and mocked Him prior to His crucifixion, He did not react in words or actions (Matt. 26:67–68). As Jesus hung from the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Peter summarizes well how we should respond in view of Christ’s example:

When you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:20–23)

ASK YOURSELF

When have you succeeded in practicing this kind of self-control and restraint? What happened as a result? Even if it left you feeling misunderstood and stepped upon, what value did you experience from obeying what Jesus has commanded?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 125). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

Discernment: What is it and how should it be used? 2-Part Study

The End Time

discernment1

Discernment (“discerning of spirits”, 1 Corinthians 12:10) it is a gift that the Holy Spirit gives for the edification of the body (1 Corinthians 14:12).

Now, discernment is also a skill that all Christians should employ. Each individual believer is supposed to test the spirits so that one can see if what one is learning is good or untrue. (1 John 4:1, Acts 17:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:21).

However, some Christians have been given ‘an extra dose’ of discernment if you will, in the form of the Spirit’s gift. Sadly, many churches dismiss the existence of this gift as expired. Other churches just ignore the gift and its operation in the church. Others over-rely on the gift and see evil spirits around every corner and wind up focusing on demons instead of Jesus.

It is my stance that the gift of discernment is a permanent, edifying gift (as opposed to a…

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April 26 Proclaiming Victory

He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

1 Peter 3:19

Christ went to preach a triumphant sermon before His resurrection Sunday morning. The term for “preached” in today’s verse refers to making a proclamation or announcing a triumph. In ancient times, a herald would precede generals and kings in the celebration of military victories, announcing to all the victories that were won in battle.

That’s what Jesus went to do—not to preach the gospel but to announce His triumph over sin, death, hell, demons, and Satan. He didn’t go to win souls but to proclaim victory over the enemy. In spite of the unjust suffering they subjected Him to, He could declare ultimate victory over sin and death for you and me.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 131). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

Global religious freedom commission cites 28 key nations for ‘ongoing downward trend’ – Religion News ServiceReligion News Service

(RNS) — Commissioners traveled to a dozen countries to assess religious freedom conditions, prioritizing religious prisoners of conscience, blasphemy laws and the connections between women’s equality and freedom of belief.

— Read on religionnews.com/2018/04/25/global-religious-freedom-commission-cites-28-key-nations-for-ongoing-downward-trend/

April 26, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

10:19 / Antithetic. Careful speech is an ideal in all cultures. The value of careful speech and appropriate silence is delineated in Ecclesiastes 9:13–18 and Sirach 20:1–7. Verses 19–21 are unified by the topic of speech. Human nature being what it is, garrulousness leads to all kinds of blunders.[1]


10:19 The more we talk, the greater is the probability of saying something wrong. Compulsive talkers should beware! The lust for incessant conversation often leads to exaggeration, breaking of confidences, and associated sins. Trying to top someone else’s joke often mushrooms into off-color stories.

The man who exercises self-control in his speech is wise. He saves himself from embarrassment, apologies, and outright sin.[2]


10:19. Constant talking will eventually lead to sin and get a person into trouble (cf. “chattering” in vv. 8, 10; also note Jas 3:2–8). This is obviously folly because the ability to keep silent is wise (cf. Prov. 11:12).[3]


10:19 Wisdom is to restrain the tongue, since much speech risks sin. Cf. Ps 39:1; Jas 1:26; 3:2–8.[4]


10:19 In many words Restraint in speech is advocated throughout Proverbs. While a fool’s speech leads to ruin (18:6–7), keeping quiet can help avoid trouble (21:23). A fool’s silence may even make the fool seem wise (17:28).[5]


10:19 True wisdom includes control of one’s words and care in one’s communication (Eccl. 5:1–7; James 1:19). The verse does not demand silence but rather encourages caution, teaching the continuous discipline of the tongue. Communication is to be economical, using a few well-chosen words (15:23, 28; 16:23, 24; 17:7; 18:13; 25:11, 28; 29:11). Praise is to be freely given because it refines and edifies (27:21), but talebearing is to be strictly avoided because it wounds and tears down (18:7, 8). Personal pride blocks communication (16:18), but mutual transparency and openness enhance it (18:4). Nothing is as effective in building a relationship as is communication one with another (24:3, 4).[6]


[1] Murphy, R. E., & Carm, O. (2012). Proverbs. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (p. 51). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 815). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Buzzell, S. S. (1985). Proverbs. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 927). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Pr 10:19). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 10:19). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Pr 10:19). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 26 The Resurrection: Motive for Salvation

“What will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?”

1 Corinthians 15:29

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The fact of the Resurrection often is a powerful testimony to draw people to saving faith in Christ.

The apostle Paul knew that believers who face death with joy and hope can present powerful testimonies to unbelievers. The prospect of life in Heaven and a reunion with loved ones is a strong motive for people to hear and receive the gospel. When believers die, their spirits go immediately to be with the Lord. And one day in the future their glorified bodies will rejoin their spirits, and Christians will worship and enjoy God for all eternity.

First Corinthians 15:29 uses the term “baptized” to refer to those who were testifying that they were Christians. Although the mere act of baptism does not save a person, anyone who is an obedient Christian will be baptized. In Paul’s day, the church assumed that any believer would have been baptized, and people were not baptized unless the church was confident their profession of faith was genuine.

“The dead” in 1 Corinthians 15:29 could also include believers, those who have died and whose lives were persuasive testimonies to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. People were being saved (baptized) in Corinth because of (“for”) the faithful witness of deceased believers.

The Resurrection is still a powerful incentive to salvation. In my years as a pastor I have seen people come to Christ after the death of a believing spouse or parent. Those husbands and wives, sons and daughters could not bear the thought of never seeing their loved one again. Those converted survivors were unknowingly touched and changed by the reunion hope that already sustains believers. That hope, based on the promise of resurrection, upheld David after the death of his infant son: “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:23).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord’s forgiveness for times when your testimony has been weak and the resurrection hope in your life has not been evident.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 22:23–33. What did the Sadducees’ hypothetical story demonstrate about their belief concerning resurrection? ✧ How important was the doctrine of resurrection to Jesus? ✧ To what did He appeal in correcting the Sadducees?[1]


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