Daily Archives: December 15, 2018

Be a true worshipper of our Lord

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, *said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into…

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DECEMBER 15 WHERE IS THE AWE?

But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

—Isaiah 41:8

Yes, Abraham was lying face down in humility and reverence, overcome with awe in this encounter with God. He knew that he was surrounded by the world’s greatest mystery. The presence of this One who fills all things was pressing in upon him, rising above him, defeating him, taking away his natural self-confidence. God was overwhelming him and yet inviting and calling him, pleading with him and promising him a great future as a friend of God!

This is God’s way and God’s plan. This is God!

As we examine the nature of believing faith in our day, we find ourselves asking, “Where is the mystery? Where is the reverence, the awe, the true fear of God among us?” MMG021-022

Where, indeed, Oh Lord, is the awe and fear of Your power? Restore it to Your people and bring us to our knees before You, we pray. Amen. [1]


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

When Christmas Doesn’t Feel Merry — Biblical Woman

It’s the most wonderful time of the year With the kids jingle belling And everyone telling you be of good cheer It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings When friends come to call It’s the hap-happiest season of all {1}

or it doesn’t feel that way.

I glance up from the kitchen table and spy the Christmas tree across the room. It’s been a ROUGH day. I’m discouraged by how my sinful tendencies and the frailty of life impact my family at this time of year.

I’ve never heard anyone say it, but have felt it profoundly: “I (sometimes) just don’t feel Christmas-y.” This feeling can mean so many things: I’m not feeling the emotions that are supposed to go along with this holiday. I don’t feel worthy to participate in the celebrations and gifts. I hurt, but Christmas doesn’t have room for my pain with the bright lights and happy songs.

There’ll be parties for hosting Marshmallows for toasting And caroling out in the snow

It’s the most wonderful time of the year There’ll be much mistltoeing And hearts will be glowing When loved ones are near It’s the most wonderful time of the year {1}

Maybe your heart aches, too. We miss loved ones. We struggle under the weight of sin, carrying the guilt around like a blanket. Maybe the engagement ring we’ve been hoping for (and the young man to go with it) still hasn’t shown up. Our arms are still empty and our heart cries out for a baby. Maybe our marriage is struggling; there isn’t “peace on earth” in our home.

Maybe we or someone we love has been given a disability or debilitating illness. This could be our first year without a parent, spouse, or child because of death or relational collapse. Maybe a history of abuse, injury, or trauma colors over the bright lights of mirth. MAYBE it’s “just” hormones leaving you feeling grumpy and not in the mood for lights, tinsel, and Christmas cookies.

My dear Sister, I have no idea the trials or struggles that you face this year as we put up decorations, consume copious amounts of sugar, and choose the perfect present. But I want you to know you are not alone, and you are not outcast because you don’t feel “Merry and Bright.”

Christmas is especially for the heart that doesn’t feel joyful. 

Our ache dims the glitter and glamor allowing the light of the Savior to shine through. Suffering allows us to feel our need for the Savior in fresh ways. When I don’t feel worthy of the specialness and gifts that come in the holiday season, the truth of the Gospel becomes more real.

I desperately need my Savior.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel

that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. {2}

The celebration of Jesus’ birth is beautiful, because He is beautiful. My weakness, frailty, and woundedness cannot harm the message of the season. Instead it allows me to feel again the wonder of Emmanuel, God with us. I am not worthy of His gift. Nothing in me brought about Christmas, and nothing in me gives the holiday its splendor.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death’s dark shadows put to flight. {3}

In those moments where I don’t feel Christmas-y, God has given me hope. My joy and affection for Him can grow stronger in this time of year, even if I feel ostracized from the merriment that is “supposed” to be the daily experience.

I want to share a few practical thoughts with you:

Accept the reality of brokenness.

Our ache in this season stems from the brokenness. We feel the weight of fractured relationships, abuse, trauma, death, loss, uncertainty, illness, caregiver overload and exhaustion. We live in a sin-scarred world.

A natural tendency is to gloss over suffering and sin, hoping a coating of royal-icing and glitter will distract us from the pain underneath. We think that if we distract ourselves with Hallmark movies and caroling, maybe we won’t feel the ache deep in our hearts. Maybe we’ll be able to enjoy the festivities without having to look beneath the surface.

My Sister, stop – at least for a moment. Look at your pain and your suffering (no matter how “trivial”) directly. Call it what it is. Recognize that we were created for paradise. Our souls know this. We long for it intensely, especially when refrains of “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” drift through the air.

Remember: The Gospel starts at the beginning, in the Fall (Genesis 2-3), when everything unraveled in an instant, tearing away true life from the souls of Adam and Eve (and thereby all of us). Yet, in that moment, God answered, promising a Messiah, a Savior would come to reorder the world, and to create everything anew (Gen 3:15).

To bask in the richness of the Gospel this Christmas, allow yourself to acknowledge the sin-scared-ness of the world and your own soul – don’t gloss over the pain throwing tinsel and glitter till it shines.

Allow yourself grieve.

We are created for beautiful perfection and harmony. Our bodies long for an Eden we cannot create. Grieve with me the groaning of creation as it waits (Rom 8:22). Give yourself permission to let yourself feel the pain.

Take time away from the hustle and bustle to let yourself grieve the things you’ve lost (whether expectations, dreams, hopes, or persons). You don’t have to live there all season, but let yourself feel it. Mourn the effects of sin throughout all of life and the sin in your life.

Embrace repentance.

I already feel so weighed down at times with “mom guilt” (“wife guilt,” “good Christian girl guilt,” “the I-should guilt”) being told I’m doing anything more wrong seems like a crushing blow. I don’t want to look my idolatry and sin in the face and speak its name aloud. So, I struggle with repentance and being reminded of my sin.

Yet, our experience of joy depends upon our humble, willing repentance of the tiny (and large) idols plaguing our every-moment. Our hearts need to repent, because the woman who is forgiven much, can then love Jesus much (Luke 7:47). If we keep our sin in secret and do not expose it to the light (Eph 5:8-14), our heart’s desire for the Lord will grow stagnant and stale. God absolutely delights in saving and sanctifying sinners – fortunately, that is exactly what we are! (1 Timothy 1:15; 2:4)

Rejoice!

Lastly, rejoice! The words for joy/rejoicing, in the Psalms, signify a shout and a delight focused on God’s works or attributes {4}. The process of rejoicing means we choose to fix our affections on the truth of Gospel riches, not our fallible feelings. Therefore, your lack of feeling Christmas-y will not itself dampen the depth of the Gospel experience in Your life. The Holy Spirit will meet you where you are. Ask the Spirit to remind you of a Scripture you can grasp onto. Memorize it, meditate upon His richness so you can rejoice in Him.

God is working in us the hope of Glory, increased by our recognition of the brokenness surrounding our earthly home. As we wait in the already-not-yet of the Gospel promises, while mourning the effects of sin, we can find honest gladness in the Jesus. Thereby, rejoice! Even when tears stream down our faces, and our hearts long for all things to be made new! {5}

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel. {2}

Endnotes:{1} “The Most Wonderful TIme of the Year.” Songwriters: Eddie Pola and George Wyle, © Demi Music Corp. D/B/A Lichelle Music Company (1963)

{2} “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” (Representative Text) Latin Title: “Veni, veni Emmanuel.” Translator: John Mason Neale (1851). © Public Domain. ( https://hymnary.org/text/o_come_o_come_emmanuel_and_ransom )

{3} “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” (Baptist Hymnal 1991 #76)

{4} Examples of the Hebrew words for joy/rejoicing from Psalms (not exhaustive): Samach : “joy, happiness”Renanah: “shout(ofjoy)” Sason : “Jubilation”

Roa’ : “Raise a war-cry, shout out” Siys: “Gladness, delight”(Source: Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000).)

{5} Being able to feel multiple feelings at once is a sign of significant emotional maturity, not insincerity (Dan B. Allender, The Wounded Heart. NavPress (1990), p.133). Jesus was both the most joyful man (Psalm 16:8-11; Prov 8:30-31; John 16:20-22; Heb 12:2) while “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3, ESV).

via When Christmas Doesn’t Feel Merry — Biblical Woman

Another good reason to develop discernment

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

We’ve been commissioned by Jesus to share His Gospel with everybody and make disciples with those who convert. (Matthew 28:16-20).

And we do. But… There are some people, especially those close to us, who refuse to hear it, but we keep trying, for the sake of their eternal souls.

On the other hand we are told,

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6).

How do we know when to stop sharing the Gospel with someone who refuses?  How many times do we share it? After all, we are supposed to forgive seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:20-22). Do we share it that many times with the reluctant hearer? How do we know when to leave the peson who refuses aside? This is hard to do when it’s your…

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Is There More Than One Way to Interpret Scripture? — Growing 4 LifeGrowing 4 Life

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me this question: How do I respond to those who say we can interpret scripture however we want? She had been talking with someone and they had claimed that there are many interpretations to scripture and people just interpret the Bible however they want to make it fit with their viewpoint. While the second half of that sentence is true (people try to make the Bible say whatever they want), it is the first part of this sentence that I want to examine today: Is there more than one interpretation?

This is a great battle in Christendom today because almost all false Gospels rely on the answer to this question being yes. If we desire to stick to the traditional view of the Word, we will often have to deal with people saying to us: Well, that’s your interpretation.

So let’s take a look at this so that, hopefully, we will be a little more prepared the next time someone makes a statement like this.

If you write a letter to someone, does it have one meaning? Or are there several?

When you were in high school or college, did your teacher claim that there was more than one interpretation of the Iliad and the Odyssey? Or Shakespeare? To any other literary source?

They did not. Because there isn’t.

While there may be principles and applications that we can find under the surface of any written work, there is never a completely different meaning.

But for some reason, people use an argument they would never use for any other written work. If we remember that the Holy Bible is God’s very word, inspired and inerrant, then we can understand their need to have more than one interpretation. For this is how a rebellious man can do a work-around and still call himself a Christian.

And we can see—as we have seen in the past few years—that the Bible can be twisted to mean anything anyone wants if we disregard the normal approaches to understanding written documents.

2 Timothy 2:15 counsels us to correctly handle the Word of Truth. This then would lead us to the understanding that there is a right and a wrong way to interpret scripture.

John MacArthur puts it this way in regards to scripture interpretation: “You can be right and I can be wrong or I can be right and you can be wrong or we can both be wrong. But we can’t both be right.”

Exactly.

We have a grave responsibility to use proper hermeneutics to figure out what each passage’s proper interpretation is. (Hermeneutics is the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the text of the Bible.)

I am almost finished with Roy Zuck’s Basic Bible Interpretation (one of the resources I will recommend below) and he says this:

“Interpreting the Bible is one of the most important issues facing Christians today. It lies behind what we believe, how we live, how we get on together, and what we have to offer the world.”

Interpreting the Bible correctly is key.

So how can we be sure that we interpret the Bible correctly? What are the steps? First, there are some qualifications for us:

  1. We must be regenerated. We read in I Corinthians 2:14 that the natural man cannot understand the things of God. So in order to interpret and study scripture correctly, we must be saved. Not only does God open our spiritual eyes upon our salvation but it is also at this time that we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper in all things, including scripture interpretation (John 14:26).
  2. We must be humble. If we come to the scriptures with a proud heart we will severely limit our capability in understanding God’s Word (Proverbs 16:5). A proud heart leads to an unwillingness to surrender our will to the Father’s. Instead, we find ourselves looking for scripture to promote our ideas and our agendas. This has led to many a wrong interpretation.
  3. We must be reverent and sober-minded. If we have a lackadaisical and careless attitude towards the Holy Word of God (2 Timothy 3:15) we will have the same attitude in interpreting it.
  4. We must be willing to obey all that we read. Ahhh. So now we get to the heart of the matter. We must be willing to obey. If we take a look at almost any twisting of God’s Word or false system that uses Bible verses, what do we see? We will always see obedience to only part of God’s Word. Usually, the parts that elevate, bless, or otherwise make their lives easier. The parts that are hard, that are negative, or that require one to look and be different than the world are soundly ignored. Scripture can only be interpreted correctly if we are willing to obey it in full. (Psalm 119:1-16)
  5. We must approach the scriptures with sound judgment and reason. We must seek to be objective rather than subjective. We must try, as best we can, to come without prejudice or preconceived notions.
  6. We must pray. We must ask the Lord to give us insight and lead us to the correct understanding of what we are studying. We must recognize that, in and of ourselves, we are helpless and hopeless. We need His help and guidance for all things.

Now that we know how we should personally approach the scripture, let’s take a brief look at the best way to interpret the scripture—

  1. It should be interpreted literally. This means that it should be interpreted in its most natural form. If you pick up a letter from a friend, you are not looking for hidden meanings or allegories. You are reading it and taking it for what it means.
  2. It should be interpreted in context. This means we take some time to study the entire passage, we determine the author and who they were writing to, we find out why they were writing to that group or individual. We must study the verses surrounding the favorite verse. We must find out all we can about the context of the passage. It is only after studying these things and understanding the context that we can then look for principles to apply to our own lives.
  3. It should be interpreted with regard to its historical understanding. In the recent years, we have so many “new interpretations”. Tossing tradition and rules out the window has led to a completely different kind of Christianity. But Paul makes it clear that we should pay attention to what has been historically taught when he writes this in 2 Thessalonians 2:15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

Dividing God’s Word rightly takes work. I believe whole-heartedly that much of the error and heresy we see in the church today is due in great part to people not being willing to learn the Word for themselves. I find myself talking to more and more people who want to base their interpretation of scripture on how they feel (I just can’t believe in a God who…) or on what they have been taught by a teacher (But my teacher says…)

Whenever these two things become our guidelines we are in grave danger. Feelings have their place, after all they were created by God. They are not evil. And teachers can be most helpful to us. They can make us think and they can open our eyes. But we must, in a mature and objective manner, take responsibility for our own learning of the scriptures. We must leave milk behind us and feed on meat, always growing in our knowledge of the Word (Hebrews 5:13).

I hope that this has been helpful. There is so much that could be said regarding this subject and I feel like I have been woefully inadequate in what I have written here–like I barely scratched the surface. I will add some resource links below for those of you who would like to study this subject in a deeper way.

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES:

Principles of Interpretation by Pastor Dean Good

Got Questions: What is Biblical Hermeneutics?

Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy B. Zuck

via Is There More Than One Way to Interpret Scripture? — Growing 4 LifeGrowing 4 Life

President Trump Gives Shout Out to Bill Kristol and Weekly Standard — After Its Collapse — The Gateway Pundit

It appears our president is not a huge Bill Kristol fan?

President Trump gave a shout out to The Weekly Standard after it shuttered its doors on Friday.

It’s not the first time President Trump has attacked Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard.

“He’s a real lightweight.”

The Weekly Standard did not like Donald Trump.

The Weekly Standard did not like Donald Trump supporters

The Weekly Standard shut its doors on Friday.

via President Trump Gives Shout Out to Bill Kristol and Weekly Standard — After Its Collapse — The Gateway Pundit

Republican Bill Kristol Bet His Whole Career On Hating Donald Trump, Now His Weekly Standard Magazine Is Bankrupt And Closing After 23 Years — Now The End Begins

 

The Weekly Standard, the magazine that espouses traditional conservatism and which has remained deeply critical of President Donald Trump, will shutter after 23 years, its owner Clarity Media Group announced Friday morning. The magazine will publish its final issue on December 17.

One by one they have all fallen in the path of the oncoming Trump Train. Donald Trump beat out 16 seasoned Republican candidates, defied the Hillary Clinton machine, and mocked the entire fake news media that had assembled against him to take him down. Bill Kristol, editor of the Conservative Weekly Standard magazine, was one of those Republicans who decided to assist the Liberals in taking down Trump. His plan, only two years old, has not aged well at all.

A Washington staple for almost a quarter century, the Weekly Standard magazine featuring the opinions of thought leader Bill Kristol, seemed rock solid. Kristol a frequent guest on the political talk shows and very well respected. Then in 2016, Kristol decided that Donald Trump didn’t deserve to be the president of the United States, and made it his mission to stop him. But in the end, it was Bill Kristol who got stopped.

Kristol was a darling of the fake news Liberal-bias talk shows like ABC, MSNBC, CNN, Morning Joe and all the others. They loved have on a Republican of his stature who was happy to bash Trump and make endless predictions about his coming demise. But all of Kristol’s predictions, all of them, ended in brilliant failure, and now his magazine has as well.

The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine critical of Trump, to shutter after 23 years

FROM FAKE NEWS CNN: The announcement came after the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Hayes, met privately with Ryan McKibben, the chief executive and chairman of Clarity Media Group, a media holding company owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz.

“For more than twenty years The Weekly Standard has provided a valued and important perspective on political, literary and cultural issues of the day,” McKibben said in a press release. “The magazine has been home to some of the industry’s most dedicated and talented staff and I thank them for their hard work and contributions, not just to the publication, but the field of journalism.”

As for Trump, Bill Kristol seemed almost in denial over his rise. Between July 2015 and late January 2016, Kristol declared at least 11 times by a New York magazine count, that Trump had peaked. “You’ve been wrong, the Republican establishment has been wrong!” an exasperated MSNBC host Joe Scarborough barked at him in October after one such prediction. But Kristol was unmoved. “Sticking with my prediction,” he tweeted less than two months later. “Trump will win no caucuses or primaries, and will run behind Ron Paul 2012 in IA and NH.” Two months after that, Trump won the New Hampshire primary and began his steamroll over his 16 GOP rivals. source

Employees were told at an all staff meeting, which CNN obtained an audio recording of, that they would be paid through the end of the year, and that afterward they would receive severance which would range in scale depending on factors like seniority. To receive severance, however, employees would need to sign a strict non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement.

“I know it’s an emotional day, but I want to tell you don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy,” McKibben told employees in the meeting.

Employees were also told to clear out their desks by the end of the day. People familiar with the matter said that the email addresses of employees were already in the process of being shut off.
When employees raised questions during Friday’s meeting, McKibben told them, “I’m not going to take questions. This isn’t a press conference.”

The closing of the magazine represents a broader shift in conservative media. Outlets on the right that are critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone, while media organizations on the right supportive of the President have flourished. READ MORE

via Republican Bill Kristol Bet His Whole Career On Hating Donald Trump, Now His Weekly Standard Magazine Is Bankrupt And Closing After 23 Years — Now The End Begins

FBI Releases Heavily Redacted Russia Dossier Document Comey Used to Brief Trump, Obama — The Gateway Pundit

Dossier author Christopher Steele

Late Friday night, the FBI released a heavily redacted Christopher Steele document that James Comey used to brief then-President elect Donald Trump and former President Obama.

The document, first obtained by Politico through a FOIA lawsuit, shows the FBI describing Steele as an “FBI source” who was working for “private clients,” which is a flat out lie being that he was working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC.

Republicans have long argued that the FBI relied heavily, if not solely on Christopher Steele’s uncorroborated Russia dossier to launch an investigation into the Trump campaign and went to great lengths to conceal it was funded by Hillary and the DNC — The FBI even hid this information from the FISA judges.

The 2-page document further proves Republicans have been right all along.

On January 6th, 2017, just days before Buzzfeed would publish the 35-page Russia dossier in full, James Comey traveled to the Trump Tower to brief then-President elect Donald Trump on the Steele dossier and he hid the fact that Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for the fraudulent document.

Comey lied to Trump’s face and told him not to worry about the dossier and only disclosed the salacious parts in the document claiming Trump had a wild night with prostitutes in Moscow — Comey told Trump he was not under investigation. Comey said this after the dossier had already been used to obtain the initial FISA warrant on Carter Page.

The two-page heavily redacted memo labeled “Annex A” does not identify Christopher Steele and keeps his name redacted:

“An FBI source [redacted] volunteered highly politically sensitive information [redacted] on Russian influence efforts aimed at the US presidential election,”

“The source is an executive of a private business intelligence firm and a former employee of a friendly intelligence service who has been compensated for previous reporting over the past three years. The source maintains and collects information from a layered network of identified and unidentified subsources, some of which has been corroborated in the past. The source collected this information on behalf of private clients and was not compensated for it by the FBI.”

“The source’s reporting appears to have been acquired by multiple Western press organizations starting in October.”

So who were these unidentified sources that Christopher Steele used?

The FISA warrant applications only disclosed that Christopher Steele was working for a person who opposed Donald Trump, there was no information given to identify Steele was being paid by Hillary Clinton, Fusion GPS or the DNC.

Steele was officially fired by the FBI on November 1st of 2016 over his contacts with the media which violated protocol for “confidential human sources,” however, Steele continued to provide intel through DOJ official Bruce Ohr who was acting as a backchannel.

Watch: In February, Jay Sekulow talks about a secret meeting Comey had with Susan Rice, Barack Obama and Sally Yates ONE DAY before he briefed Trump on the dossier.

Screenshot of FBI document — Page One:

Page two is completely redacted:

via FBI Releases Heavily Redacted Russia Dossier Document Comey Used to Brief Trump, Obama — The Gateway Pundit

December 15 God with Us

For there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Luke 1:45

Isaiah 7:14 says, “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” That virgin’s name was Mary.

The name Immanuel, however, is the key to this verse—and the heart of the Christmas story. It is a Hebrew name that means literally, “God with us.” It is a promise of incarnate deity, a prophecy that God Himself would appear as a human infant, Immanuel, “God with us.” This baby who was to be born would be God Himself in human form.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth![1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 376). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.