Daily Archives: August 5, 2018

August 5: Patterns and Prophecies

Isaiah 9:1–10:19; Luke 3:1–38; Job 3:1–16

Luke sees the events surrounding Jesus’ life through the lens of Isaiah. For Luke, Jesus’ life is Isaiah’s prophecy made tangible and complete. Jesus is the anticipated Messiah, prophet, and savior. Even John the Baptist’s role in Jesus’ life is based on Isaiah’s prophesy. Luke repeats the metaphor of “the wilderness” from Isaiah—used by the prophet to describe the time when the Israelites would come out from their captivity in Babylon—to cast John the Baptist as a central figure in God’s work.

The wilderness metaphor doesn’t originate with Isaiah. He uses it to represent the second time God’s people entered the land He promised them (the term originally comes from the time when the Israelites roamed the wilderness after the exodus). Luke quotes Isaiah in casting John the Baptist as “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight! Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be leveled, and the crooked will become straight, and the rough road will become smooth, and all flesh will see the salvation of God’ ” (Luke 3:4–6; quoting Isa 40:3–5). For Luke, the smoothing of the rough road represents a change in the spiritual landscape, and the flesh that sees the salvation of God means the message is not just for the Jewish people but for all people—including Luke himself.

Luke builds upon this connection by identifying Jesus as the child that is prophesied in Isaiah (Luke 1:26–28):

“For a child has been born for us; a son has been given to us. And the dominion will be on his shoulder, and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His dominion will grow continually, and to peace there will be no end on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and sustain it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will do this” (Isa 9:6–7).

Luke is adept at the art of connecting the Testaments. He tells us directly that he’s quoting Isaiah, and in doing so, he illustrates that God works by building current events on the foundation of past events. Those events form the basis of prophecy—God’s way of telling us both what He has done and what He will do in times to come.

Although the way God works is too great for us to comprehend, He allows us to see patterns in His work; we just need to look for them and believe they are there. If we focus on God’s works and the echoes and harmonies between them, our perspective on the events of our lives changes dramatically. We glimpse the reality that God is not only at work in today’s matters, but He is also using them to prepare and signify the events that are to come. The patterns are as important as the events, as God uses both to reveal Himself to us.

What patterns are you noticing in your life? How do you think God is working and will continue to work through you?

John D. Barry[1]


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

August 5 Languages Without Love

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).

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Love distinguishes true communication from useless chatter and meaningless noises.

Paul begins his discourse on love by stating the futility of languages without love. The Corinthians were enamored with the showy spiritual gifts, apparently to the neglect of those they deemed less spectacular (see 1 Cor. 12:12–31). One of the gifts they prized most highly was tongues, which was the Spirit-given ability to declare God’s truth in a language unknown to the speaker but known to others who heard.

Tongues were a sign to provoke unbelieving Jewish people to consider the gospel (1 Cor. 14:21–22). Its first occurrence was on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit enabled those assembled in the upper room to proclaim the mighty deeds of God in the native languages of the Jews gathered in Jerusalem at the time (Acts 2:4–11).

The “tongues of angels” Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13:1 isn’t the gift of tongues, as some suppose. He was simply using an exaggeration to emphasize his point, saying in effect, “If I had the ability to communicate with angels, it wouldn’t do any good without love.”

In Paul’s day, the worship of Cybele and Dionysus, two pagan gods, included speaking in ecstatic languages accompanied by blaring trumpets, smashing gongs, and clanging cymbals. I believe Paul was drawing from that well-known practice to say that whenever Christians attempt to minister apart from the Spirit and His love, it’s no different than a pagan rite. It may look and sound like the real thing, but it’s meaningless and useless for any spiritual benefit.

You should take advantage of every opportunity to minister your spiritual gifts to others. But as you do, be sure it’s with love, in the energy of the Spirit, and in accordance with God’s Word. Then you’ll have maximum impact as Christ uses your efforts for His glory.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to convict you whenever you attempt to exercise your spiritual gifts without love.

For Further Study: Read Romans 12:1–21. ✧ What does Paul say about spiritual gifts? ✧ How are Christians to express brotherly love to one another?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 230). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Google Makes Merkel Its ‘Leader of the Free World’ — The Gateway Pundit

Google, the world’s leading search engine, has pushed a false fact — that Frau Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, is now the “Leader of the Free World” a position or title typically accorded to the US President, at least since the end of WWII.

Is she?

Frau Merkel, the longest serving leader in Europe, and her CDU/CSU party was narrowly reelected with only 33% of the vote and 218 seats, in a turgid campaign, to an unprecedented fourth term. But the election was truly a setback for her party, which needed a coalition with the Socialists to form a grand coalition to form a weak government.

Her growing opposition, given her self-created immigration debacle, is the ascendant populist Alternative for Democracy (AfD) who won13% of the vote (87 seats) and came in third. This is hardly the stability of the past, let alone leader of all of Germany — let alone the wider world.

Truthfully, what we are witnessing in Germany is perhaps more akin to a Fourth Reich, which Germany could not win, in the last war by other means.

Indeed, there is sufficient reason to believe that Merkel’s overly dominant Germany is the real reason for the demise of the critical and long-lasting transatlantic alliance and the fallout over the UK Brexit.

This is not leadership but sabotage.

The German Strafgesetzbuch (or Criminal Code) in § 86a outlaws the “use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations.” This concerns Nazi symbolism in particular and is part of the denazification efforts following the fall of the Third Reich.

The law specifically prohibits the distribution or public use of symbols of unconstitutional groups-–in particular, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting (salutes). While such memorabilia is verboten in modern Germany, right below the surface you find all of the sentiment, authoritarianism and haughtiness of its’ ugly past.

And who is to blame? Google’s self-nominated leader of the free world.

German culture is an odd combination of pride and penance. Germans cannot resolve their deep inner conflict, which is submerged and crosses generational lines, even if they do not or cannot mention Mein Kampf or the Hitler name.

Germany may appear uncomfortable in its own skin, as well it should. The tormented minds — adrift between schmerz and angst — exhibit a high degree of what psychoanalysts used to refer to as ‘repression;’ Except that it is not all that repressed any longer.

Today Merkel’s strident Germany is the decidedly dominant reunited bullying European power—in every sense of the term. It can’t help itself. But a world leader it is not.

The Iron Chancellor (who is referred to as Mutti in German or Mom) is trying to push all of Europe around. You see Germany is no longer a defeated, reluctant, insignificant power. Instead, it lurks mightily now as it strove to do in 1939. Its invasion over these past few years just takes other forms. But do not be misled it is all the same — an invasion.

Ironically, Germany is also the biggest NATO laggard at 1.2 percent of GDP, even though it has the most robust economy on the continent and a huge current account surplus of over $285 billion, the largest in the world. In effect, American taxpayers, by paying so much (70 percent of the current NATO budget) are subsidizing European, and particularly the German welfare state. Such free riding can’t continue and we need to read them, as President repeatedly has, the riot act and not just about cheating on Volkswagen emissions.

Germany nunc has realistically become the dangerous Ubermencsh that Wagner proclaimed. This is what `Google calls leadership? History called it something else.

It is most noteworthy how stubborn Mrs. Merkel adroitly played her anti-American card throughout her tedious campaign. She said: ”Europe must stay united because it cannot fully count on the US.” Her former Socialist, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel (a Putin crony), said in no uncertain terms that Trump is,“a threat to peace and prosperity.”

Germany wants to be on a collision course with Trump’s United States—politically, socially and economically, even if it is a weakling militarily. It is also clear that it is totally dependent on Russian energy. In fact, Germany’s former Socialist Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, is the very chairman of Russia’s Gazprom. Trump exposed this risky business at the last NATO meeting.

While notable German magazines (Der Spiegel and Die Stern) despicably portray a severed Trump head on their covers—Germany marches to its own and dangerous drumbeat trying to drag the entire EU along. Merkel calls the shots and has said she wants an integrated, unified and federal EU with Germany at the helm and always benefitting from the euro currency play. In all honesty, that’s what the euro is — a German ploy for its own export led growth. Trump exposed that as well.

Did you know that Merkel was in fact born Angela Kazmierczak and is part Polish? Her grandfather was a Ludwig Kazmierczak, born 1896 in Poznan – then part of the German Reich. The family was proud of its Polish roots. After WWII however they changed their name and moved. She ended up residing in the DDR—the Soviet part of (East) Germany, where she was raised speaking Russian, as a pacifist Lutheran pastor’s daughter.

Merkel’s values are therefore very divided—as was Germany itself. She embodies in ways the dark soul of Germany’s anguished history. But underneath the boring demeanor is a will to power—a German ambition to reign supreme over all of Europe.

Maybe Google should have listed her for what she truly is—a European tyrant.

Gone are the common Atlantic values of the past. Peace, security and economic growth are sacrificed for raw German ambition camouflaged in European clothing.

Germany is in effect becoming a defacto bully. What it could not win militaristically in the last war it is nonetheless achieving in a not so secret attempt to takeover Europe and all its institutions, money, and culture, using the façade of the EU as its Trojan horse.

Decades ago a cabinet minister to Margaret Thatcher named, Nicholas Ridley, was forced to resign after has said the EU was “a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe.” He went on to lament that giving up sovereignty to that body was as bad as giving it up to Hitler. Back then such language caused shock—today it is as obvious as Wiener schnitzel und apfel strudel.

In turns out the British television series SS-GB may not be so fictitious after all. In that plot it is November 1941, nine months after a successful German invasion of Britain. Winston Churchill has been executed. King George is a prisoner and has not been seen in public for some time. His wife and his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret escaped, while the Duke of Windsor, who had earlier abdicated as Edward VIII, is in exile. A British government in exile exists but is not recognised. Swastikas furl in the wind all over London—the Germans run things.

Fast-forward in time to non-fiction, today Merkel is now the leader of the world? Really? Which world? She can barely run Germany. . Before it is too late the US and UK, Europe too, has to step up and call Germany what it is. Merkel is a threat to freedom not its leader.

The transatlantic alliance in this century demands honesty and burden sharing as well as common principles and purpose. If Germany is not on board it can go it alone, realizing the US will no longer pay for it, defend it, protect it, or watch idly as it transforms the continent into a German panzer-like machine and puppet state to which it dictates orders.

European nations of freedom should come to their own conclusions but America cannot appease or deny reality any longer. We have a leader and he has taken on the challenge even if the likes of techno-giant, Leftist Google deny it.

Google needs to fix its algorithms lest we all see what they are—just another form of anti-Trumpism.

via Google Makes Merkel Its ‘Leader of the Free World’ — The Gateway Pundit

BOOM! Rep. Darrell Issa: If Twitter, Facebook Are Going to Politic Through Algorithm – They May Start Getting Regulated by FEC (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) was on with Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures this morning.

What an explosive interview!

First Darrell Issa told Maria Bartiromo that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Barack Obama were intimately involved in the Trump Spygate scandal. Issa said Obama was hoping to use the information after the election to punish the Trump campaign and Trump supporters. “They got a special prosecutor under false pretenses.”

During their discussion Rep. Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, also said Congress was calling for an investigation of Twitter and other social media.

THIS IS A HUGE DEVELOPMENT!

Issa said it was time to start regulating Twitter and Facebook for their algorithms that censor and shadow ban conservative users and content.

Rep. Darrell Issa: One of the challenges is these entities have special benefits, if you will, of being immune from, if you will the rest of the responsibility the rest of the media has. That can be taken away. In the case of Twitter and these others, to be honest, if they’re going to politic through algorithm they could well come under the Federal Election Commission. They could be considered to in fact be making an in-kind donation. They could have to register what those dollars are.

For right now what we want to do is we want to get them to admit the truth which is it doesen’t seem logical that when they come up with a new algorithm it only seems to affect Republican conservatives such as Jim Jordan and the like. It is the reason that both the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight Committee are trying to schedule on the first day back a hearing with Twitter to give them an opportunity to explain how this anomaly that only seems to affect conservatives.

This is great news for conservatives and the country!

Via Sunday Morning Futures:

THIS IS A HUGE DEVELOPMENT!

It’s been widely reported by this website that Facebook has eliminated the traffic to top conservative websites in the United States.

A Gateway Pundit June study of top conservative news outlets found that Facebook has eliminated 93% of traffic to top conservative websites.

Facebook began eliminating conservative content after the 2016 election.

Here are the full results from our study.

We have another study on Facebook censorship coming out in the coming weeks.

Report: Facebook Eliminates 93% of Traffic to Top Conservative Websites by Jim Hoft on Scribd

via BOOM! Rep. Darrell Issa: If Twitter, Facebook Are Going to Politic Through Algorithm – They May Start Getting Regulated by FEC (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

The New York Times’ Major Story On Bill Hybels and Pat Baranowski, the Woman he ‘Groomed’ and ‘Groped’ for Years

Pat Baranowski (The New York Times)

After the pain of watching her marriage fall apart, Pat Baranowski felt that God was suddenly showering her with blessings.

She had a new job at her Chicago-area megachurch, led by a dynamic young pastor named the Rev. Bill Hybels, who in the 1980s was becoming one of the most influential evangelical leaders in the country.

The pay at Willow Creek Community Church was much lower than at her old job, but Ms. Baranowski, then 32, admired Mr. Hybels and the church’s mission so much that it seemed worth it. She felt even more blessed when in 1985 Mr. Hybels and his wife invited her to move into their home, where she shared family dinners and vacations.

Once, while Mr. Hybels’s wife, Lynne, and their children were away, the pastor took Ms. Baranowski out for dinner. When they got home, Mr. Hybels offered her a back rub in front of the fireplace and told her to lie face down.

Stunned, she remembered feeling unable to say no to her boss and pastor as he straddled her, unhooked her bra and touched her near her breasts. She remembered feeling his hands shake.

That first back rub in 1986 led to multiple occasions over nearly two years in which he fondled her breasts and rubbed against her. The incidents later escalated to one occasion of oral sex. Ms. Baranowski said she was mortified and determined to stay silent.

“I really did not want to hurt the church,” said Ms. Baranowski, who is now 65, speaking publicly for the first time. “I felt like if this was exposed, this fantastic place would blow up, and I loved the church. I loved the people there. I loved the family. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. And I was ashamed.”

Mr. Hybels denied her allegations about her time working and living with him. “I never had an inappropriate physical or emotional relationship with her before that time, during that time or after that time,” he said in an email.

Since the #MeToo movement emerged last year, evangelical churches have been grappling with allegations of sexual abuse by their pastors. A wave of accusations has begun to hit evangelical institutions, bringing down figures like the Rev. Andy Savage, at Highpoint Church in Memphis, and the Rev. Harry L. Thomas, the founder of the Creation Festival, a Christian music event.

Ms. Baranowski is not the first to accuse Mr. Hybels of wrongdoing, though her charges are more serious than what has been reported before.

In March, The Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today reported that Mr. Hybels had been accused by several other women, including co-workers and a congregant, of inappropriate behavior that dated back decades. The allegations included lingering hugs, invitations to hotel rooms, comments about looks and an unwanted kiss.

The accusations did not immediately result in consequences for Mr. Hybels. At a churchwide meeting where Mr. Hybels denied the allegations, he received a standing ovation from the congregation.

The church’s elders conducted their own investigation of the allegations when they first surfaced four years ago and commissioned a second inquiry by an outside lawyer, completed in 2017. Both investigations cleared Mr. Hybels, though the church’s two lead pastors have since issued public apologies, saying that they believe the women.

In April, Mr. Hybels announced to the congregation he would accelerate his planned retirement by six months and step aside immediately for the good of the church. He continued to deny the allegations, but acknowledged, “I too often placed myself in situations that would have been far wiser to avoid.” The congregation let out a disappointed groan. Some shouted “No!”

In many evangelical churches, the pastor is the superstar on which everything else rests, making accusations of harassment particularly difficult to confront. A pastor such as Mr. Hybels is a conduit to Christ, with sermons so mesmerizing that congregants rush to buy tapes of them after services.

In the evangelical world, Mr. Hybels is considered a giant, revered as a leadership guru who discovered the formula for bringing to church people who were skeptical of Christianity. His books and speeches have crossed over into the business world.

Mr. Hybels built a church independent of any denomination. In such churches, there is no larger hierarchy to set policies and keep the pastor accountable. Boards of elders are usually volunteers recommended, and often approved, by the pastor.

But the most significant reason sexual harassment can go unchecked is that victims do not want to hurt the mission of their churches.

“So many victims within the evangelical world stay silent because they feel, if they step forward, they’ll damage this man’s ministry, and God won’t be able to accomplish the things he’s doing through this man,” said Boz Tchividjian, a former sex crimes prosecutor who leads GRACE, an organization that works with victims of abuse in Christian institutions.

“Those leaders feel almost invincible,” said Mr. Tchividjian, a grandson of Billy Graham who has consulted with some former staff members accusing Mr. Hybels of wrongdoing. “They don’t feel like the rules apply to them, because they’re doing great things for Jesus, even though their behavior doesn’t reflect Jesus at all.”

Click here to continue reading…

SOURCE: Laurie Goodstein
The New York Times

Source: The New York Times’ Major Story On Bill Hybels and Pat Baranowski, the Woman he ‘Groomed’ and ‘Groped’ for Years

The FBI Conspired with the DNC and Hillary Against Trump

Article Image

The FBI Conspired with the DNC and Hillary Against Trump

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Politics is dirty business, notably in money-controlled America, especially when media scoundrels operate as press agents for one presidential candidate over the other.

The DNC and Hillary campaign hired former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to produce his dodgy dossier on Trump – filled with spurious accusations and allegations, including phony accusations of Russian US election interference.

No Russiagate investigation was warranted. No special counsel should have been appointed. What continues endlessly is more evidence of Washington’s hugely corrupted swamp.

Former FBI director James Comey whitewashed Hillary’s criminality, failing to hold her accountable – serious wrongdoing enough to send ordinary people to prison with stiff sentences.

Ordinary Americans are held to one standard, privileged ones another, justice whatever powerful figures want it to be. Rule of law principles don’t matter.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz found evidence of FBI “willingness” to damage Trump’s presidential campaign when James Comey served as director.

In response to the IG report, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said it “destroyed the credibility of the Department of Justice and the FBI.”

On Friday, the agency released heavily redacted documents in response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit – revealing it paid Steele as a “confidential human source (CHS), along with funding provided by the DNC and Hillary’s campaign, saying:

“CHS confirmed to an outside third party that CHS has a confidential relationship with the FBI. CHS was used as a source for an online article.”

It “revealed (its) relationship with the FBI as well as information (it) obtained and provided to FBI. On November 1, 2016, CHS confirmed all of this to the handling agent.”

“At that time, handling agent advised CHS that the nature of the relationship between the FBI and CHS would change completely, and that it was unlikely that the FBI would continue a relationship with the CHS.”

“Additionally, handling agent advised that CHS was not to operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.”

On Friday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said “(t)he anti-Trump Russia ‘investigation’ had Christopher Steele at its center, and his misconduct was no impediment to using information from his Russia intelligence collaborators to spy on the Trump team. The corruption and abuse is astonishing.”

Last January, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes’ memo revealed explosive Russiagate abuses, a scheme to delegitimize Trump’s electoral triumph and bash the Kremlin.

It named former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, along with former FBI Director James Comey as culpable parties to the scheme.

The FBI primarily used Steele’s dodgy dossier to collude with the DNC and Hillary’s campaign against Trump.

Russiagate should be called Hillarygate, FBIgate and DOJgate.

It should be terminated straightaway, culpable high-level parties held fully accountable for their criminal activity.

Source: The FBI Conspired with the DNC and Hillary Against Trump

AUGUST 5 GIVING CHRIST HIS PLACE

That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:11

Christianity at large and the Church, generally speaking, are afflicted with a dread, lingering illness that shows itself daily in the apathy and spiritual paralysis of its members.

How can it be otherwise when twentieth-century Christians refuse to acknowledge the sharp moral antithesis that God Himself has set between the Church, as the Body of Christ, and this present world with its own human systems?

The differences between the churchly world and the followers of the Lamb are so basic that they can never be reconciled or negotiated. God has never promised His believing people that they would become a popular majority in this earthly scene.

I wonder how many believers would join me in a clear-cut manifesto to our times? I want it to be a declaration of our intentions to restore Christ to the place that is rightfully His in our personal lives, in our family situations and in the fellowship of the churches that bear His name.

Are we willing to demonstrate the standards of godliness and biblical holiness as a rebuke to this wicked and perverse generation?

Lord, though the Church and the world often collide, I pray that each member of the Body of Christ will be so full of integrity that many unsaved people in the world will be pointed to Jesus Christ.[1]


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

August 5, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

86:2 I am a godly man. David, though recognizing his sinfulness (v. 1), insisted that by the grace of God he had not broken his covenant with the Lord.[1]


86:2 I am faithful The word chasid used here describes those who are pious and faithful to God. It is related to the word chesed (see Ps 132:9 and note).

your servant The psalmist identifies himself as Yahweh’s servant (eved, in Hebrew; see vv. 3, 4, 16), possibly indicating a special relationship with Yahweh beyond general submission (compare Deut 34:5; Josh 24:29).

my God Although the psalmist uses several terms for God, he only uses the Hebrew term elohay here and in Psa 86:12. The statement attah elohim levaddekha (“you alone are God”) in v. 10 may convey the same idea. See 84:3 and note.[2]


86:2 who trusts in you. The psalmist recognizes his own inability, but he knows where true strength lies.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 86:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 86:2). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 812). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

August 5 Undaunted Faith

Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.”—Matt. 9:1–2

Christianity’s most distinctive message is the truth that God can forgive sin. The essence of the gospel is that Christ’s atoning death can free people from the penalty of sin. If Jesus can heal diseases and disabilities, He can surely provide cleansing for the consequences of sin. The men who brought the paralytic to the Lord undoubtedly believed this very strongly.

Those with crippling disabilities have always had to endure social stigma and neglect. But in the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day and much earlier, the stigma was especially pronounced because everyone believed chronic ailments stemmed directly from someone’s sin. Bildad told Job, “If your sons sinned against Him, then He delivered them into the power of their transgression” (Job 8:4; cf. 4:7; John 9:1–2).

The paralytic here likely had the same understanding concerning sin and disease, thus he was determined at any cost to see Jesus for forgiveness and a resultant physical healing. Christ saw the determination of his faith as his friends worked through the crowd to get the paralytic in front of Him. That aggressive approach revealed their hearts of faith. In all his physical ugliness and spiritual neediness, the man threw himself upon Jesus’ mercy.

The paralyzed man came to the Lord in true humility and poverty of spirit, which God requires of all seeking hearts (Matt. 5:3). Jesus sometimes healed people of little faith, but He was especially willing to heal those of great faith, as with the men and his friends.

ASK YOURSELF

Why does God choose to work through our faith? Why would He want to include our cooperation as part of His healing activity? What might He be requiring of you as He deals with a certain need in your life?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 226). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

Christianity Has Historical Presence in Saudi Arabia

ICC Note: Independent studies affirm that Christianity has a historical presence in Saudi Arabia that predates Islam, as evident by a hidden 7th  century monastery in the east. These studies contradict the Saudi narrative. Some wonder if the liberalizing efforts of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman will lead to an opening up of the country for Christianity. Although the Prince has taken some positive symbolic steps, such as hosting foreign Christian clergy at home, no specific changes have been made.   

08/05/2018 Saudi Arabia (The Economist) –  FOR a generation the Saudi antiquities authority has kept it under wraps. The ruins remain out of bounds behind metal gates and wire fencing. A guard shoos the curious away with threats of arrest. But if independent studies are correct, tucked in the dunes and palms near the eastern oilfields lies a 7th-century monastery, the existence of which suggests that Islam once tolerated church-building in Arabia.

Muhammad bin Salman, the modernising crown prince, has defied clerics by allowing cinemas, open-air pop concerts and even female drivers in his puritanical kingdom. But approving churches for the 1.4m Christians in Saudi Arabia risks breaking one taboo too many. “Elsewhere it’s no problem, but two dins, or religions, have no place in the Arabian peninsula,” says a senior prince, reciting a purported saying of the Prophet Muhammad. Churches were expunged by the first community of Muslims 14 centuries ago, he insists.

Excavation at Jubail and other sites along the eastern coast suggests otherwise. Chroniclers record the existence of a synod in a diocese called Beit Qatraye, near Jubail, in 676AD, more than 40 years after the Prophet’s death. Moreover, the peninsula’s six other countries all have churches. Qatar, which follows the same Wahhabi school of Islam as Saudi Arabia, let one be built a decade ago. Bahrain did so in 1906. This year it broke ground on Our Lady of Arabia, a new cathedral.

Saudi exceptionalism matters because the kingdom is home to Islam’s holiest sites and is the prime propagator of the faith. In October Prince Muhammad said he wanted Saudi Arabia to be “open to all religions, traditions and people around the globe”. But off the Saudi coast in Bahrain, Camillo Ballin, the Catholic bishop of Northern Arabia, complains that nothing has changed for Saudi Arabia’s Christians. Private prayer is tolerated, but the public display of Christian symbols is not. Communion in a country that bans wine is problematic. Priests sneak in as cooks or mechanics to tend to their flocks.

[Full Story]

Source: Christianity Has Historical Presence in Saudi Arabia

AUGUST 5 THE DEVIL NEVER FORGIVES THOSE WHO ESCAPE BONDAGE

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?…

ACTS 5:3

As we move farther on in the Christian life we may expect to encounter increased hostility from the enemy of our souls. Although this is seldom presented to Christians as a fact of life it is a very solid fact indeed as every experienced Christian knows, and one we shall learn how to handle or stumble over to our own undoing.

If Satan opposes the new convert he opposes still more bitterly the Christian who is pressing on toward a higher life in Christ. The Spirit-filled life is not, as many suppose, a life of peace and quiet pleasure. It is likely to be something quite the opposite.

Satan hates the true Christian for several reasons. One is that God loves him, and whatever is loved by God is sure to be hated by the devil. Another is that the Christian, being a child of God, bears a family resemblance to the Father and to the household of faith.

A third reason is that a true Christian is a former slave who has escaped from the galley, and Satan cannot forgive him for this affront. A fourth reason is that a praying Christian is a constant threat to the stability of Satan’s government. The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God.

Satan never knows from what direction his danger will come. Who knows when another Elijah will arise, or another Daniel? or a Luther, a Finney or a Booth?[1]


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

Sunday Word of the Week: Heresy

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.


Heresy

Two weeks ago in the previous Word of the Week, I’d posted about Orthodoxy. In the religious context, Orthodoxy means truth or doctrine, that is accepted and widely held the global church. Heresy is a teaching or belief that stands in opposition to the orthodox teaching, so much so that to believe it, one essentially declares himself not a Christian. Here is Matt Slick at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry to explain.

Heresy
by Matt Slick

Heresy is a false teaching. It is a belief or idea that is in contradiction to orthodoxy. In the context of Christianity, heresy is that which deviates from standard biblical teaching. Examples of heresy would be polytheism, a denial of the…

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The Christians as the Romans Saw Them: Superstituious, Obstinate, Depraved, and Foolish

Given my chosen field of study, namely “Christian Origins,” I am often asked by students and attendees at my lectures whether there are any reference to Jesus and the early “Christian” movement outsidethe New Testament. The following references, from a diverse collection of Roman writers around the time of the Emperor Trajan (98-117 CE), are quite fascinating–as much for the dismissive and disdainfulattitudes toward emerging Christianity they reflect as the insights they provide into the movement itself.1 I encourage my students, first and foremost, to read their primary sources, so I wanted to provide my blog readers with some of the texts we regularly study in my Christian Origins class.

These sources are well worth a careful reading and I have put in italics some of the key words and phrases that are most reflective of elite Roman attitudes toward the movement at this time. First and foremost the Christian movement is classified as a depraved and  superstition–the Latin term superstitiois commonly used in the period to describe a new and unlawfulcult without official sanction of the Roman Empire. The emperor Domitian had previously persecuted the Christians, classifying them as a superstitio Iudaicagiven its historical roots as a Jewish movement, which is acknowledged by several of these writers, especially Tacitus and Lucian.

The Christians, much like the Jews, are charged with hatred of the human race, reflecting their “turning from idols to serve a living and true God,” as Paul phrases things (1 Thessalonians 1:10). This sort of religious segregationfrom common expressions of Greco-Roman piety–from swearing allegiance to the Roman Gods and to the Emperor to participation in activities associated with pagan temples–effectively marginalized those adherents to “Christ as a god” from the rest of society.

The Christians are also suspected of what the Romans classify as abominations–typically rumors about sexual immorality and “eating and drinking the body and blood of their god.” These texts reflect the Roman concern with the appeal and popularity of the movement. They see it as spreading like a contagiousdisease among the naive and foolish classes. Most of all, at least in the estimation of Pliny the Younger, who is an “ambassador at large” for the Emperor Trajan, the Christians are guilty of obstinacyin that even when they are offered a generous pardon for their participation in the cult of Christianity they refuse to recant or budge from their stubbornness.

Suetonius, Life of Claudiusxxv 4 (Cf. Acts 18.2)

… since the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Emperor Claudius] expelled them from Rome.

Suetonius, Life of Nero xvi

In his reign many abuses were severely punished and repressed, and as many new laws were instituted; a limit was set upon spending; public banquets were reduced; the sale of cooked food in taverns was forbidden, except for vegetables and greens, while formerly every kind of food was available; punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a set of men adhering to a novel and mischievous superstition; he put a stop to the wild activities of the charioteers, who for a long time had assumed the right of ranging at large and cheating and robbing for amusement; the actors and their companies were banished.

Tacitus, Annales xv. 44

But all human efforts, all the emperor’s gifts and propitiations of the gods, were not enough to remove the scandal or banish the belief that the fire [summer, 64 C.E.] had been ordered. And so, to get rid of this rumor Nero set up as culprits and punished with the utmost cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for the moment this pernicious superstitionbroke out again, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome, the place where everything that is sordid and degrading from every quarter of the globe finds a following. Thus those who confessed (i.e.. to being Christians) were first arrested, then on evidence from them a large multitude was convicted, not so much for the charge of arson as for their hatred of the human race. Besides being put to death they were made objects of amusement; they were clothed in hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others were set on fire to illuminate the night after sunset. Nero threw open his grounds for the display and put on a show at the circus where he mingled with the people dressed like a charioteer and driving about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, evens towards these men who deserved the most exemplary punishment since it was felt they were being killed, not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.

Pliny, Letters to Trajan, X, 96. (Re: Christians in Bithynia; Province in Asia Minor)

It is a rule, Sir, which I inviolably observe, to refer myself to you in all my doubts; for who is more capable of guiding my uncertainty or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials of the Christians, I am unacquainted with the method and limits to be observed either in examining or punishing them. Whether any difference is to be made on account of age, or no distinction allotted between the youngest and the adult; whether repentance admits to a pardon, or if a man has once been a Christian it avails him nothing to recant; whether the mere profession of Christianity, albeit without crimes, or only the crimes associated with it are punishable–in all these points I am in great doubt.

In the meantime, the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were Christians; if they confessed it I repeated the question twice again, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. For whatever the nature of their creed might be, I could at least feel no doubt that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy deserved punishment. There were others also, taken in by the same infatuation, but being citizens of Rome, I directed them to be taken away.

These accusations spread (as is usually the case) from the mere fact of the matter being investigated and several forms of the mischief came to light. A placard was put up without any signature, accusing a large number of persons by name. Those who denied they were, or had ever been Christians, who repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered adoration, with wine and frankincense, to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose, together with those of the gods, and who finally cursed Christ–none of which acts, it is said, those who are really Christians can be forced to do–these I thought it proper to discharge. Others who were named by that informer at first confessed themselves Christians and then denied it; true, they had been of that persuasion but they had quit it, some three years ago, others many years, and a few as much as twenty-five years ago. They all worshiped your statue and the images of the gods and cursed Christ.

They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt; or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it is their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. Even this practice, however, they had abandoned after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your orders, I had forbidden political associations. I judged it so much the more necessary to extract the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses, but I could discover nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition. I therefore adjourned the proceedings, and sought immediately your counsel. For the matter seemed to me well worth referring to you especially considering the numbers endangered. Persons of all ranks and ages, of both sexes, are and will be involved in the prosecution. For this contagious superstitionis not confined to the cities only, but has spread through the villages and rural districts; it seems possible, however, to check and cure it. It appears now that the temples, which had been almost deserted, will be frequented and the sacred festivals, after a long general demand for sacrificial animals, which for some time past have met with few purchasers. It is easy to imagine what multitudes may be reclaimed from this error, if a door be left open to repentance.

97 (Trajan’s reply)

The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those denounced to you as Christians is extremely proper. It is not possible to lay down any general rule which can be applied as the fixed standard in all cases of this nature. No search should be made for these people; when they are denounced and found guilty they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not by worshiping the gods he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance even though he may have formerly incurred suspicion. Information without the accuser’s name inscribed must not be admitted in evidence against anyone, as it is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and by no means agreeable to the spirit of the age.

Lucian, Perigrinus, 11ff.

It was then that he [Perigrinus] learned the wondrous lore of the Christians by associating with their priests and scribes in Palestine. And–how else could it be? He made them all look like children; for he was prophet, cult-leader, head of the synagogue, and everything, all by himself. He interpreted and explained some of their books and even composed many, and they revered him as a god, made use of him as a lawgiver, and set him down as a protector, next after that other, to be sure, whom they still worship, the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world.

… The poor wretches have convinced themselves first and foremost, that they are going to be immortal and live for all time, in consequence of which they despise death and even willingly give themselves into custody, most of them. Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brothers of one another, after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods, and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws. Therefore they despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property–receiving such doctrines traditionally without any definite evidence. So if any charlatan or trickster able to profit from them comes along and gets among them, he quickly acquires sudden wealth by imposing upon simple folk.

Galen, De pulsuum differentiis, ii & iii

One might more easily teach novelties to the followers of Moses and Christthan to the physicians and philosophers who cling fast to their schools.

. . . in order that one should not at the very beginning, as if one had come into the school of Moses and Christ, hear talk of undemonstrative laws, and that where it is least appropriate.

Galen, fragment in Arabic quotation

If I had in mind people who taught their pupils in the same way as the followers of Moses and Christteach theirs–for they order them to accept everything on faith–I should not have given you a definition.

Source: The Christians as the Romans Saw Them: Superstituious, Obstinate, Depraved, and Foolish

August 5 Entering the Gate

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.

Titus 3:5

When you enter the narrow gate of salvation, you must do so alone. A turnstile perhaps best represents the concept of the narrow gate. Just one person at a time—with no baggage—can pass through a turnstile. God has ordained that people enter His kingdom singly, not in groups. You can’t ride in on the coattails of your church, your family, or your friends, no matter how godly those people are.

God’s gate is so narrow that you must go through it not only alone but naked. You can’t go through the gate clothed in sin and self–will. As the hymn writer said, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” That’s the way of the cross, which is the gospel. And the gospel is the narrow gate, which involves self–denial. Jesus said, “‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it’” (Matt. 16:24–25).[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 238). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

U.S. absolutely right to impose sanctions on Turkey for refusing to release Evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson. Please pray for a breakthrough. Here’s the latest on case that highlights a NATO member’s turn to the dark side.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Erdogan-behindpodium(Jerusalem, Israel) — Readers of this column know I have been warning for years that Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Erdogan is taking his country steadily, even aggressively, away from its long-time alliance with the West and into the arms of Russia and Iran. (for examples, see here, here, here,here, and here.)

After years of denial by the Obama administration that there was any serious problem, Washington is finally beginning to pay attention to Erdogan’s march to the dark side. 

  • On July 26, President Trump warned Erdogan (pronounced, “Air-do-wahn”) to immediately release American Evangelical Christian Pastor Andrew Brunson from a Turkish prison or face “large sanctions.” 
  • The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!”

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August 5, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

Spiritual Exertion

And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (13:23b–24)

Christ’s invitation was radically different from those commonly used today. His message was not that God loves everyone unconditionally and desires to connect with sinners and fulfill all their personal dreams and ambitions. Nor was His goal to manipulate people into making a shallow commitment to Him. Jesus’ words are sobering, threatening, and frightening enough to produce panic in the heart of a penitent, thoughtful soul. They also serve to banish halfhearted seekers who are unwilling to surrender unconditionally to His lordship (cf. Luke 14:33).

Compared to the rampant easy believism that underlies much of modern evangelism Jesus’ invitation, which calls for strenuous exertion from the penitent sinner, seems almost heretical. It is true that salvation is solely by God’s sovereign grace. No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:44, 65), nor can anyone know the Father except those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him (Matt. 11:27). Those who are dead in their sins can be saved only by God’s grace, not their own efforts (Eph. 2:1–10; Titus 3:3–5). Yet salvation is not apart from the will of the sinner. As noted above, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles called for sinners to repent, and that is the church’s message as well. Paul told the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens that “having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30; cf. 26:20). Those commands make it clear that sinners are responsible for the choices that they make, and will be held accountable for not repenting and believing in the Savior.

Strive translates a form of the verb agōnizomai, from which the English word “agonize” derives. It is used only here in the Synoptic Gospels. The word means “to fight” (John 18:36; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7), “to compete” in an athletic contest (1 Cor. 9:25), or “to struggle” (Col. 1:29; 4:12; 1 Tim. 4:10). The fight or struggle in view here is one of self-denial that produces real repentance. “If anyone wishes to come after Me,” Jesus said, “he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Then He added the paradoxical statement that “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (v. 24). The message of the gospel is not self-fulfillment, but self-denial. Faith in Christ costs the sinner his selfish goals and desires, and may separate him from his family (Luke 14:26), possessions (Mark 10:17–22), even his life (John 12:25). But those who lose those ephemeral earthly things will gain in this life blessings, and in their eternal reward infinitely more.

The requirement that sinners enter through the narrow door further indicates the intensity of the struggle (cf. Matt. 7:13–14). The door is a tight fit, requiring those who enter through it to strip themselves of their personal baggage. It is also made hard to find by the many deceptive voices luring the unwary and undiscerning to the broad gate that leads to hell. Therefore many will seek to enter and will not be able.

The Lord brings salvation only to a heart marked by the repentance that always accompanies true saving faith. Quoting from Isaiah 40:3–4, John the Baptist described true repentance: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every ravine will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be brought low; the crooked will become straight, and the rough roads smooth’ ” (Luke 3:4–5). In my commentary on that passage in an earlier volume of this series I wrote,

The words of Isaiah’s prophecy quoted here also serve as an analogy of the repentance John preached. The wilderness pictures the sinful heart, and repentance involves bringing to light the deep, dark things of the heart, pictured by filling in the ravines, and humbling human pride, depicted in the imagery of bringing low the mountains and hills. The crooked, deceitful, devious perverse things must be made straight, and any other rough places in the heart, whether self-love, love of money, love of the world, the lust of the flesh, indifference, or unbelief, must be smoothed out. Only then will the truly repentant see the salvation of God. (Luke 1–5, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 2009], 211. See also the discussion of true repentance in chapter 18 of that volume.)[1]


24 “Make every effort” is ἀγωνίζομαι (agōnizomai, GK 76), a word often used in an athletic or military context. It does not imply working for salvation but rather earnestness in seeking it (cf. its use regarding prayer in Col 4:12). While this verse focuses on the present aspect of kingdom participation as well as individual personal responsibility, other verses in the Lukan corpus should also be noted in providing a balanced view of Luke’s soteriology. For a discussion that reads this verse in the light of 16:16—a verse that focuses on the eschatological work of God—see H. Giesen, “Verantwortung des Christen in der Gegenwart und Heilsvollendung: Ethik und Eschatologie nach Luke 13:24 und 16:16,” Theologie der Gegenwart 31 (1988): 218–28.[2]


13:24 / Make every effort to enter through the narrow door: This suggests that entry is not gained without a struggle. Compare 2 Esdras 7:11–14: “For I made the world for their sake, and when Adam transgressed my statutes, what had been made was judged. And so the entrances of this world were made narrow and sorrowful and toilsome; they are few and evil, full of dangers and involved in great hardships. But the entrances of the greater world are broad and safe, and really yield the fruit of immortality. Therefore unless the living pass through the difficult and vain experiences, they can never receive those things that have been reserved for them” (rsv). Lachs (p. 146) cites the following rabbinic parallel: “It is like the one who sat by a crossroad and before him were two paths of which one was smooth to start with, and ended in thorns, and the other was thorny to start with but became smooth” (Sipre Deut. 53 [on Deut. 11:26: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse”]).[3]


13:24. Jesus confirmed their fears. The wide gate of Pharisaism made provisions for so many people who tried to carry out the tradition’s laws. It apparently paid little attention to the attitude of the heart as long as the ritual actions of the hands were clean. The only gate to heaven, however, is narrow. Many will try and fail. They think they know the secret entryway but they do not. Their way of religious righteousness does not work. They must know Jesus, who is the only way to heaven. They must seek to hear, understand, and practice his word. This is the way of entry. Jesus’ emphasis was on those who fail rather than those who succeed and how they succeed.[4]


23b, 24. He said to them, Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Jesus handled this question as he had handled Peter’s (12:41, 42). He did not give a direct answer, but did something far more important and necessary: he told the inquirer, and also the entire assembled multitude—note plural “you”—that everyone should strive to enter through the narrow door.

The verb to strive, as it occurs in the original, has given rise to our English verb to agonize. It places us not on the battlefield but in the arena or in the wrestling-ring. The struggle is fierce. Our opponents are Satan, sin, self (the old, sinful nature).

To strive means to exert oneself to the full, to strain every nerve in our struggle with these opponents.

The narrow entrance door mentioned here reminds one of Matt. 7:13, 14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and many are those that enter by it. For narrow is the gate and constricted the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

The words, “Many … will seek to enter and will not be able,” are an earnest warning to all to leave the ways of wickedness and unconcern at once and to accept the Savior and the salvation he offers as a free gift. On the other hand, these words were not meant to scare God’s children. They do not mean that entrance into the palace of salvation is only for those who are without sin. All those who struggle—in obedience to the command, “Strive to enter”—will enter.

Another misconception must be removed. The command, “Strive to enter,” does not imply that salvation is, after all, the product of human exertion and not of grace. It is all of grace, enabling grace. The true situation is described in Phil. 2:12, 13, “With fear and trembling continue to work out your own salvation, for it is God who is working in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”[5]


13:24 The Lord answered a speculative question with a direct command. He told the questioner to make sure that he himself would enter through the narrow gate. When Jesus said to strive to enter through the narrow gate, He did not mean that salvation requires effort on our part. The narrow gate here is new birth—salvation by grace through faith. Jesus was warning the man to make sure that he entered by this door. “Many … will seek to enter and will not be able” when once the door is shut. This does not mean that they will seek to enter in by the door of conversion, but rather that in the day of Christ’s power and glory, they will want admission to His kingdom, but it will be too late. The day of grace in which we live will have come to an end.[6]


13:24 — “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

Not all roads lead to God. Not all doors open to heaven. Jesus insisted He was the only doorway to Paradise, the only way to the Father (John 10:7; 14:6; see also Acts 4:12).[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2013). Luke 11–17 (pp. 218–220). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] 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. 238). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (p. 212). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, p. 223). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, p. 706). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1424). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Lk 13:24). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

August 5 Do You Remember?

The word of the Lord came to me: Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: This is what the Lord says: I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:1-3

This is part of the first message of Jeremiah to the nation of Judah. It highlights for us what God has to say to someone who has begun to drift away from him. Have you ever had that problem? I find there are times in my life when, without even realizing it, I have begun to lose some of the fervor and the joy and the peace which marks the presence of God in my life, flowing through my life as it ought.

The tragic thing about that condition, as so exemplified in the nation of Judah, is that this can happen, but nobody knows what is wrong. That was happening to Judah. They really blamed God for the whole thing. That is what most of us do, too. Judah said it was God’s fault, that he did not keep his promises, did not deliver them when he ought to, did not keep them from their enemies as he promised. They were charging God with gross misconduct and with inability to keep his promises.

So God has something to say to this nation. What does he say? The first thing he says is call them to look back and reflect on what life was like when you first began a love relationship. God says, I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me. In marital counseling I have dealt with couples who have been married twenty-five or thirty years but who are having difficulties. They are tense, angry, upset, and sometimes they will not even speak to one another. I have had to sit down with couples like that and try to find a way to begin a healing process. Long ago I learned the best way is simply to say, You know, before we start, I need to get acquainted with you a little bit. Tell me something about yourselves. How did you meet, and where? You can feel the atmosphere soften, and their hearts begin to expand a bit, as they think back to the days when they were not angry or upset, but were in love, and as they remember what that meant. Half the battle is won when you can get couples thinking back to what it was like when they first knew each other.

Do you remember those first days in the relationship between you and the Lord — the wonder of love, and the joy of it? What the prophet is bringing out here is that at such a time, the loved one is the chief priority of life. No other relationship is more important than yours with him, or his with you. He is preeminent in your affection. This is what God is wanting you to recall. This is the first thing God says to a heart which has begun to drift — Remember, remember — what it was like when you were secure in my affections, separate unto me, like Israel, holy to The Lord and exclusively his. Remember that you are the first fruits of his harvest. Remember that you are safe — I protect you. Do you remember your first days?

Thank you, Father, for the way you call me back to my first love with you.

Life Application

‘The bride eyes not her garments but her dear Bridegroom’s face.’ Have we become so self-consumed we have lost our focus on our Bridegroom? Do we need to return to our first-love?

The Way Back


Source: Listen to Ray

August 5 Loving Money Focuses on the Temporal

“For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.”

1 Timothy 6:7

✧✧✧

Temporal concerns must not crowd out the believer’s focus on eternal things.

In Charles Dickens’s memorable story A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge learns through a series of dreams that life consists of far more important values than his selfish preoccupation with business and finance. In essence, Scrooge learns a lesson that reminds us of Jesus’ sobering question, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Dickens’s story also dovetails well with today’s verse, which reminds us how a temporal focus on greed robs us of an eternal perspective.

People who are enslaved to money–love spend all their time dealing with what is locked into time and space. They overlook and ignore that which has eternal value. Also, such people seem oblivious to the warning that “riches are not forever” (Prov. 27:24) and to the old expression that hearses do not pull trailers.

The Old Testament further instructs us of the fleeting nature of money and material possessions. Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (1:21; see also Eccles. 5:15).

Jesus taught the disciples much about how foolish it is to focus on temporal wealth (see Matt. 6:19–21). Perhaps His sternest warning is in the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:15–21). In it God condemns the smug self–confidence the man placed in his abundant crops: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (vv. 20–21).

A scenario like the rich man’s is much more probable in today’s materialistic societies. Perhaps that’s why Jesus’ parable is still so relevant and a potent reminder that any obsession with temporal riches, which causes us to miss God’s eternal riches, is the height of folly.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that today, in the midst of your normal responsibilities, God would keep your primary focus an eternal one.

For Further Study: Read Acts 19:18–41. How did many of the new converts demonstrate their commitment to the eternal over the temporal? ✧ In contrast, what did the anxiety of some of the unbelieving Ephesians lead to? Why? ✧ How was the disturbance finally brought to an end?[1]


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

08/05/18 No King like Him — ChuckLawless.com

READING: 2 Kings 23

“. . . there was no king like him who turned to the Lord.”

2 Kings 23:25

There was no one like him in his walk with God.

That’s quite a statement to make, but that’s exactly the biblical summary of Josiah’s life: “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him” (2 Kgs. 23:25). Josiah was not a perfect man, yet not even David himself fulfilled the role of godly king like he did.

He called his people back to the Word and led them in obedience to that Word. He commanded them to observe the Passover again like they had not done “from the time of the judges who judged Israel through the entire time of the kings of Israel and Judah” (2 Kgs. 23:22). He confronted evil and took dramatic steps to eradicate it from the land. His obedience did not stay God’s ultimate judgment on the people, but he himself is still remembered as a significant light in that darkness.

We, too, live amid darkness, and we can assume that God’s judgment will ultimately fall on nations that have rejected Him. God’s call to us, however, remains: we are to follow Him completely—even if we stand as one of the first to follow Him.

ACTION STEPS:

  • Evaluate whether your life exhibits commitment to God in spite of how others live.
  • Serve God with all your heart and soul and strength.

PRAYER: “God, help me to stand faithfully for You no matter how dark the world becomes.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Habakkuk 1-3

via 08/05/18 No King like Him — ChuckLawless.com