Daily Archives: May 16, 2018

May 16: Dysfunctional Problem-Solving

1 Chronicles 3:1–4:23; 1 Timothy 3:8–16; Psalm 77:1–20

When I locate a problem, I often fixate on it. I think that if I analyze it enough, I can solve it. This is a problem when I come to difficult issues that require someone else’s expertise. Stubbornly, I want to figure out the problem myself. I want to be self-sufficient. When God is the only one who can solve my problem, I’ve just created an impossible scenario.

When the psalmist hit troubling times and questioned the things that were accepted truths in his life, he didn’t seek his answer from anyone but God. When he felt far from God and questioned all he had taken for granted, the questions he asks are close to those in our own hearts: “Why God? Have you removed your favor?” (Psa 77:7). “Has your steadfast love ceased forever?” (Psa 77:8). “Do your promises end?” (Psa 77:8).

It would have been tempting to dwell on his personal experiences to answer these questions. But instead, the psalmist turns to study God’s redemptive work. This seems counter-intuitive to us, but we find this practice throughout the psalms. Why doesn’t the psalmist simply address the problem at hand? He knew that to understand God’s work in the present, he had to look to the past. He had to consider God’s work in humanity—His wonders of old, mighty deeds, holy ways, and power among the peoples. Ultimately, though, the psalmist looks to God’s work of redemption in the exodus from Egypt. He needed a backward glance—a look at God’s faithfulness to His people in the past.

We have an even greater redemptive story than the exodus. When things seem to go wrong, when we question God’s plan for our life, we can look back to Christ’s work on the cross. We’re not leaving our story for another one when we do this; instead, we’re acknowledging Christ’s ongoing work in our lives through the Holy Spirit. His work sets our entire life in perspective.

When life seems complicated, don’t try to be self-sufficient. When your emotions dictate otherwise, take a backward glance at the cross and reckon in your mind and heart what is already true of God’s love for you. There has never been such a testament of His love. Then take a faithful step forward, trusting in Him.

How are you trying to be self-sufficient? How are you taking a backward glance at the cross and stepping forward in faith?

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.

May 16 Friendship Evangelism (Philip)

The twelve apostles included “Philip” (Matt. 10:3).


Friendships can provide the most fertile soil for evangelism.

Philip was probably a fisherman who was acquainted with Peter, Andrew, James, John, Nathanael, and Thomas prior to their all becoming disciples. We first meet him in John 1:43–46, which says, “The next day [after Jesus encountered Peter and Andrew], He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him, of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. … Come and see.’”

Those brief verses reveal two things about Philip. First, he had a seeking heart. Apparently he and Nathanael had studied the Scriptures in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming. When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” Philip was ready. Jeremiah 29:13 describes such a person: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Second, he had the heart of an evangelist. The first thing he did after his own conversion was to lead Nathanael to Christ. Imagine his joy as he told his friend about the One for whom they had searched so long!

I believe friendships usually provide the best context for evangelism because you’re introducing Christ into an already established relationship of love, trust, and mutual respect. After all, it’s only natural to share the joy of your salvation with someone you love.

I pray that your joy overflows to those around you and that they are drawn to Christ because of your testimony.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Do you have unsaved friends? If so, be faithful in praying for their salvation and asking the Lord to use you as an instrument of His grace. If not, ask the Lord to bring unsaved people into your life so you can tell them about Christ.

For Further Study: The Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well spoke of Him not only to her friends but also to the entire city. Read John 4:1–42. ✧ What analogy did Jesus use in presenting the gospel to her? ✧ How did Jesus describe true worshipers? ✧ What was the reaction of the city people to the woman’s testimony?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 149). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

The State of the Bible 2018: Five Types of Bible Readers — Bible Gateway Blog

The State of the Bible 2018 research—commissioned by American Bible Society (@americanbible) and conducted by Barna Group (@barnagroup)—reveals trends in how often Americans are reading the Bible, their perceptions around the Bible, and how much impact the Bible has on their choices, relationships, and lives overall.

[Select a Bible Reading Plan that’s right for you from Bible Gateway]

We’ll unpack the research in the weeks ahead. To begin, here are the five categories in which the survey takers are placed in the report:

Bible Centered (9% of the population) More often than not, Bible Centered adults are
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  • married men from the Baby Boomer generation
  • are 51 years of age on average
  • attend church weekly
  • attend Protestant churches
  • and reside in the South.

Most do not have children under 18 at home. Four out of five Bible Centered adults (80%) use the Bible every day, while the remainder read it several times a week (16%) or once a week (3%).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Latest Bible-Related Research]

State of the Bible 2018 chart: Scripture Engagement by Age

[Read Bible Gateway Blog posts that Introduce You to the Bible]

Bible Engaged (17% of the population) On average, Bible Engaged adults are 4 years younger than those who are Centered, at 47 years old. Like Bible Centered adults, Engaged

  • are more likely to be married
  • attend a Protestant church
  • are weekly church attenders
  • and reside in the South.

More women than men are in the Engaged category. Three in 10 Engaged adults (30%) use the Bible every day, and another 59% read it at least weekly.

Bible Friendly (15% of adults) Adults in this category average 44 years of age. Men are just as likely as women to be in this group, and they’re just as likely to be married as they are single. Half are non-practicing Christians, that is, they call themselves Christian but either don’t attend church at least once a month or don’t consider their faith very important. They’re just as likely to attend a Catholic church as they are a Protestant church. Just under half (47%) attend church weekly. While only 8% use the Bible every day, just under half use it once a week (47%), compared to 21% who use it monthly, and 24% who use it at least once a year.

State of the Bible 2018 chart: Bible Use Among the Five Engagement Segments

Bible Neutral (5% of adults) interact with the Bible sporadically. More than half (55%) use the Bible at least three or four times a year, 23% use it once a month, and the remaining 21% use it at least one a week or more. They’re younger than other engagement segments, with an average age of 38 and more likely to be men than women. Two-thirds are not practicing Christians, and another one in six (16%) are non-Christians or aren’t affiliated with any faith group. While 42% attend church weekly, more than one-third are unchurched (38%).

Bible Disengaged (54% of the adult population): The largest segment of the population is defined as Bible Disengaged. Those in the Bible Disengaged category don’t necessarily have hostile or negative feelings toward the Bible, but may simply be indifferent. A majority of the Bible Disengaged don’t interact with the Bible at all. 91% use the Bible on their own once or twice a year or less. The Disengaged are primarily classified by their infrequent interaction with the Bible and its minimal impact on their lives.

The average age is on par with Bible Engaged adults at 46. Bible Disengaged are more likely to be

  • Gen X
  • unmarried
  • without children under 18 at home
  • and reside in the suburbs.

They’re roughly split between non-practicing Christians (46%) and non-Christians (48%); few are practicing Christians (6%). They’re largely unchurched (73%), and a small 10% report using the Bible at least three to four times a year. Three in five (60%) say they never engage with the Bible on their own, while 22% use it less than once a year.

via The State of the Bible 2018: Five Types of Bible Readers — Bible Gateway Blog

In Midst of Arab Invasion of Israel, Baptists Denounce Israel — Pulpit & Pen

The State of Israel has had to defend its border in recent days, as the radical terrorist group, Hamas, has tried to find weaknesses in the Israeli defensive lines and infiltrate the nation to kill Jews. Centered in the region known as Gaza, which was occupied by Egypt until 1967 and by Israel from 1967 to 2005, Hamas-backed Palestinians attempted to breach the Israeli border fence, lobbed improvised explosives at Israeli soldiers, fired into Israel with firearms, and burned tires to create a smokescreen for invaders to cross into Israel undetected. In response, Israel has defended its sovereign boundaries against attack, and has killed more than 60 Palestinians who were either attempting unauthorized entry into Israel or who were providing aid and support to those attempting entry. Set off in anger after President Donald J. Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem (many Palestinians deny Israel’s right to exist, let alone choose its own capitol), the attack on Israel led to the deadliest period of border conflict since 2014.

In response, Baptists in the United States have issued a statement condemning violence on the part of…Israel. Apparently missing the news that it was the Palestinians who were the violent aggressors and Israel who was defending its border with great restraint, the Baptists’ statement called for evangelicals to “reject theologies that justify oppression and violence” toward Palestinians.

The Baptist group that made the statement is the primarily African American Baptist “denomination,” The Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community. “Lott Carey” says on its website that its goal is to “be a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, ecumenical community engaged in the Christian witness around the world.” The organization was founded in 1897 as the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Society, named after an African slave born in 1780 who came to faith in 1807 and later led the first Baptist missionaries back to evangelize Africa. For several decades, Lott Carey has primarily focused on matters relating to Social Justice. In 2016, they led an effort to combat consumer debt, claiming that credit card companies and lenders were trying to “enslave” minority groups.

The second sentence of the statement accused the United Nations forming the State of Israel in 1948 due to the influence of “Zionism.” The statement goes on to say that Lott Carey sent a team of “Pilgrims” to Palestine in February of 2017 and witnessed the “injustices” perpetrated upon the Palestinian people by the hand of Israel. The statement continues to say that American media is unfairly portraying the Palestinians.

The mainstream media in the United States inadequately reports these stories. Consequently, great atrocities go unnamed and unnoticed in America. Instead, we receive mostly propaganda that depicts Palestinian people as aggressive, antagonistic actors with irrational and unfounded hatred for Israeli people.

Instead, the Baptist group says, the Palestinian people are longing for justice and suffering under tyranny. The statement reads, “The Palestinians are, with the exceeding generosity of United States taxpayer funding, been systematically disenfranchised and oppressed by the policies of the Israeli state.”

Later in the statement, the group compares Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to Jim Crow laws in the United States prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

The Israeli government imposes a system of injustice similar to Jim Crow laws in the United States that discriminated against African Americans until the mid-1960s and the Apartheid system of racial discrimination against “Black” and “Colored” people in South Africa that ended in 1994. Many of the young Palestinians endure tensions and angst seen today in many African-American youth who live in fear of violence from law enforcement personnel who are supposed to protect and serve but who are held to little or no accountability when they harass, injure or murder innocent people. The message of both groups is the same: “STOP KILLING US!”

You can read the Baptist statement here. 

via In Midst of Arab Invasion of Israel, Baptists Denounce Israel — Pulpit & Pen

Hamas Terrorist At Gaza Border Surprised To Hear Media Describe Him As Peaceful Protester — The Babylon Bee

GAZA STRIP—A member of militant terror group Hamas who had been attempting to breach the Israeli border after the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem confessed he was surprised to hear dozens of U.S. media outlets describe him as a “peaceful protester,” sources confirmed. The aggressive “soldier of Allah,” who has declared he will not…

via Hamas Terrorist At Gaza Border Surprised To Hear Media Describe Him As Peaceful Protester — The Babylon Bee