Daily Archives: August 21, 2019

August 21 Unshakable Peace

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:18–28

Key Verse: Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

The Lord has only good plans in store for your life. You may go through difficult times, but God promises to use every trial to build “good” into your life (Romans 8:28). When Satan tells you to worry, God has the opposite in mind. He wants you to trust Him and to experience His peace on a daily basis.

How do you gain and retain the true peace of God?

  • Recognize your dependence on God. The heart that finds its identity in Jesus Christ is a heart of peace. The person who rushes here and there to solve his own problems quickly can become a person of strife and worry. Take responsibility for your actions, but let God have the reins to your life.
  • Pray. The enemy cannot defeat you when you are on your spiritual knees before God in prayer. This is the true pathway to unshakable peace.
  • Trust God. When thoughts of fear invade your mind, tell the Lord what you are feeling and claim His presence as your protection and shelter.
  • Focus only on God. Don’t cling to negative thoughts. Set the focus of your heart on God and His possibilities. When God views your life, He sees only potential. You can live life to the fullest because Christ is alive in you and all things are under His control.

God, I am totally dependent upon You. I trust You. I focus my mind on You. I will live this day in unshakable peace.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 244). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 21 The Abiding Life

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:1–11

Key Verses: Romans 8:5–6

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

A favorite childhood Bible song has lines such as these: “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see,” and “Oh, be careful little feet where you walk.” Children can do body motions along with the music to help them remember the words.

The message may seem childishly simple, but it’s equally valid for adults. You need to be careful what you see and where you go. Why?

According to Romans 8:5–6 (nasb), “Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”

In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian decides not to heed the warning to stay on the path. The beautiful green grass beside the path is so soft and inviting, so much better on the feet. Little does he know that when he steps into its lushness, he has set foot in the deceptive By-path Meadow. It isn’t long until he ends up a prisoner of the Giant Despair in Doubting Castle.

Letting your focus wander can have the same negative consequences. Setting your mind is a process of deliberate thought. Many times when you get up in the morning, your mental direction is not steered toward the Lord. That is why you must make the conscious decision to center your daily mental activity on spiritual concerns.

Master, I often detour through By-path Meadow and end up in despair and doubting. Establish my thoughts on You. Give me a spiritual mind, focused on the things of Your Holy Spirit.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 244). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 21 – The divine promise | Reformed Perspective

“Them I will drive out from before the children of Israel.” – Joshua 13:6

Scripture reading: Joshua 13:1-7

With Joshua 13, a very different section of the book begins, the division of the now conquered Promised Land. One Bible commentator described the difference between the first half and the second half of this book as the difference between watching an action-packed war movie and going to the register of deeds office to read through the descriptions of land surveys! Yet even here in the division of the land, we can learn much from God’s Word.

With this chapter, Joshua’s work for the Lord takes a much different turn. His role as Israel’s military general is finished and his role as the Lord’s “Registrar of Deeds” begins. The boundaries for the 12 tribes within the Promised Land need to be settled because there are still small pockets of Canaanite resistance left which need to be eliminated. All the main fortified cities have been destroyed. The coalitions of pagan kings have been eliminated, so there is no need for the whole army of Israel to remain together. But each tribe needs to eliminate the small enclaves of pagan people that yet remain within their borders.

It is about these last remnants of unbelievers that God gives His promise, “Them I will drive out from before the children of Israel.” What reassuring words for His people to hear. In the power of this promise, Israel can move forward confidently. May this promise give you confidence as you go forth in your life. God has promised. He is faithful. He will watch over your life.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank the Lord for His faithfulness shown to each new generation. Praise Him for His watchful eye shown to you. Ask Him to use you mightily for Him this day.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois. This picture adapted from one adapted by Malus Catulus and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Source: August 21 – The divine promise

August 21 The King of the Jungle

Scripture reading: Luke 8:1–15

Key verse: Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

There is a reason that the lion is labeled “king of the jungle.” It combines speed, power, and stealth that are difficult to overcome.

How does a lion attack? It uses whatever means necessary to bring down its prey. In certain situations, the lion needs speed to catch its kill. Sometimes it needs power in a monumental battle. Amazingly for a creature so large, the lion is expert at the element of surprise. It can sneak and bring down prey without warning. It then bites around the prey’s throat, suffocating the life out of it.

The Bible says Satan is like a lion. He is expert at timing his temptations and attacks on us. He will sneak up on us and bring us down when we least expect it, and in areas we thought we had best fortified.

Yet we are not helpless in our confrontations with the enemy. Jesus gives us our ammunition when we’re under assault. Consider His admonition to His sleepy disciples when He prayed in the Garden the night before His execution: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).

You are to be alert for the prowling lion. Keep watching. You are to know for a certainty that temptation will befall you, and you are to pray a God-centered prayer for His deliverance. The king of this world’s jungle is no match for the King of kings.

Keep me from temptation, Lord. Keep me alert and watching. Deliver me from the snare of the enemy.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 244). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

16 Charles Spurgeon Quotes That Will Stir Your Zeal for Prayer — ChurchLeaders

In 57 years, Charles Spurgeon pastored one of the largest Protestant megachurches in the world (he knew all 6,000 members by name), directed a theological college, ran an orphanage and oversaw 66 Christian charities. His life was full of wisdom and intentionality. Hopefully, these Charles Spurgeon quotes can inspire you and give you wisdom.

8 Charles Spurgeon Quotes About Prayer

Charles Spurgeon quotes

Frequently the richest answers are not the speediest . . . A prayer may be all the longer on its voyage because it is bringing us a heavier freight of blessing. Delayed answers are not only trials of faith, but they give us an opportunity of honoring God by our steadfast confidence in Him under apparent repulses.”


“If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”


“Until the gate of hell is shut upon a man we must not cease to pray for him. And if we see him hugging the very doorposts of damnation, we must go to the mercy seat and beseech the arm of grace to pluck him from his dangerous position. While there is life there is hope, and although the soul is almost smothered with despair, we must not despair for it, but rather arouse ourselves to awaken the Almighty arm.”


Charles Spurgeon quotes

“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.”


“The fact is, the secret of all ministerial success lies in prevalence at the mercy-seat.”


Chalres Spurgeon quotes“A prayerful church is a powerful church…”


“I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this, the measure of the intensity of your prayer.”


“Earnest intercession will be sure to bring love with it. I do not believe you can hate a man for whom you habitually pray. If you dislike any brother, Christian, pray for him doubly, not only for his sake, but for your own, that you may be cured of prejudice and saved from all unkind feeling.”


8 More Charles Spurgeon Quotes About Prayer

“All our libraries and studies are mere emptiness compared with our closets. We grow, we wax mighty, we prevail in private prayer.”


Charles Spurgeon quotes“We shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.”


“Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the Kingdom. If you may have everything by asking in His Name, and nothing without asking, I beg you to see how absolutely vital prayer is.”


Chalres Spurgeon quotes

“If a church is to be what it ought to be for the purposes of God, we must train it in the holy art of prayer. Churches without prayer-meetings are grievously common. Even if there were only one such, it would be one to weep over. In many churches the prayer-meeting is only the skeleton of a gathering: the form is kept up, but the people do not come. There is no interest, no power, in connection with the meeting. Oh, my brothers, let it not be so with you! Do train the people to continually meet together for prayer. Rouse them to incessant supplication. There is a holy art in it. Study to show yourselves approved by the prayerfulness of your people. If you pray yourself, you will want them to pray with you; and when they begin to pray with you, and for you, and for the work of the Lord, they will want more prayer themselves, and the appetite will grow. Believe me, if a church does not pray, it is dead. Instead of putting united prayer last, put it first. Everything will hinge upon the power of prayer in the church.”


Charles Spurgeon quotes

“Neglect of private prayer is the locust which devours the strength of the church.”


“I have not preached this morning half as much as I have prayed. For every word that I have spoken, I have prayed two words silently to God.”


“I always give all the glory to God, but I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering from the first to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession.”


Charles Spurgeon quotes

“The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of His absence will be slothfulness in prayer.”


via 16 Charles Spurgeon Quotes That Will Stir Your Zeal for Prayer — ChurchLeaders

NY Times Piles Hate on America with the 1619 Project — Christian Research Network

“The reason Donald Trump is hated and despised and feared is not just the Washington establishment. It is the worldwide globalist establishment. So in response to Trump, the New York Times, a leader in this globalist, “Let’s take America down a peg or two ’cause America doesn’t deserve her status” crowd has their new agenda that America’s true founding was when slaves first arrived, and everything that happened thereafter is basically criminal. The United States is a criminal state that has achieved its unwarranted power and prosperity on the backs of people of color.”

(Rush Limbaugh show transcript)  RUSH: We have some follow-ups from yesterday. I spent a lot of time, as you recall, yesterday on the New York Times attempting to rewrite American history and the founding of America as dating to 1619 when the slave trade arrived in North America. You talk about the state of modern-day journalism.

And not only is the New York Times basically now preparing a series — it’s not even correct to say series of essays. The New York Times’ daily existence from now through Election Day 2020 will be devoted to the idea that all American greatness and exceptionalism is rooted in slavery. And the story that they ran yesterday is so chock-filled with lies about slavery, not just here, but in Great Britain — and the timing. It is all fake news.

Erick Erickson did some historical research and wrote a piece about it that I’m gonna be quoting from later just nuking the entire New York Times story yesterday.


RUSH: Okay. Yesterday I spent a lot of time, because it was a giant See, I Told You So. The New York Times has moved on to a new hoax. They have moved on to a new narrative. Every narrative — and it’s the end of journalism officially. The New York Times announced that there is no more journalism in the New York Times. There is simply agenda orientation and narrative advancement. And the New York Times has decided that America was not officially founded in 1776. And the Revolutionary War had nothing to do with America’s independence.

America was actually founded in 1619. And, by the way, we’re coming up on the 400-year anniversary, you see. And what happened in 1619 is the first African slaves arrived for sale in what is now Virginia. And so the New York Times and their new premise, their new narrative is that the United States is a gigantic fraud. That the real story of the United States that’s taught is bogus. That America’s true past is one of immorality, injustice, racism, bigotry, homophobia.

The premise is that everything great about America, American exceptionalism, all of America’s great achievements are essentially illegitimate because they would not have happened without slavery. This is the New York Times’ new premise. They preceded all this with a series of tweets six days ago saying that their project from now through the 2020 election would be to demonstrate that not a single American achievement would have happened were it not for the evil of slavery. And, therefore, everything about the United States is illegitimate.

I made a big deal about it because it was a giant See, I Told You So. This has been a message I have been conveying to you in this audience for years about the left’s true intent. The transformation of America as Obama described it, the eight years of Obama were indeed a plan designed to make Americans believe that the greatness of America was not justified, that it was indefensible, that all of the great economic prosperity the American people have enjoyed was not really legitimate because it was so ill-gotten in so many ways.

So the Obama people came up with this new term “the new normal.” “The new normal” is a steady declining economy that needs to be expertly managed, that Americans’ expectations need to be lowered, that the central ingredient of the American dream, that children will do better than their parents, is over.

This is what Obama and his acolytes told the American people. Economic growth in excess of one, one and a half percent should never, ever be expected. He even had a name for this, “the new normal.” America in decline, a decline that we deserved, by the way, a rollback in prosperity and power that we deserved because it was achieved in inhumane, illegitimate ways.  View article →


Trump–Russia Collusion

via NY Times Piles Hate on America with the 1619 Project — Christian Research Network

August 21, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The General Instruction

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (6:18)

The four alls introduce the five emphases Paul makes regarding the general character of the believer’s prayer life: the variety, the frequency, the power, the manner, and the objects of prayer.

the variety of prayer

Proseuchē (prayer) refers to general requests, while deēsis (petition) refers to those that are specific. The use of both words points to the idea that we are to be involved in all kinds of prayer, every form of prayer that is appropriate. Scriptural precept and allowance suggest we may pray publicly or privately; in loud cries, in soft whispers, or silently; deliberately and planned or spontaneously; while sitting, standing, kneeling, or even lying down; at home or in church; while working or while traveling; with hands folded or raised; with eyes open or closed; with head bowed or erect. The New Testament, like the Old, mentions many forms, circumstances, and postures for prayer but prescribes none. Jesus prayed while standing, while sitting, while kneeling, and quite probably in other positions as well. We can pray wherever we are and in whatever situation we are in. “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray” (1 Tim. 2:8), Paul said. For the faithful, Spirit-filled Christian, every place becomes a place of prayer.

the frequency of prayer

The Jewish people of Paul’s day had several prescribed times for daily prayer, but the coming of the New Covenant and the birth of the church brought a new dimension to prayer as it did to everything else. Jesus said, “Keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place” (Luke 21:36). Among other things, the earliest Christians in Jerusalem “were continually devoting themselves … to prayer” (Acts 2:42). The God-fearing Cornelius, to whom the Lord sent Peter with the message of salvation, “prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2). In many of his letters Paul urged his readers to regularly devote themselves to prayer (Rom. 12:12; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17). The apostle assured Timothy, his beloved son in the Lord, that he prayed for him “night and day” (2 Tim. 1:3). The early church knew the importance of prayer, and God honored their prayers, even when faith was sometimes weak—as in the case of those who were praying for Peter’s release from prison but did not believe Rhoda when she reported that he was knocking at the door (Acts 12:12–15).

David said, “Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice, … God will hear and answer” (Ps. 55:17, 19). There is no time when we do not need to pray and no time when God will not hear our prayers. In many ways prayer is even more important than knowledge about God. In fact, only through a regular and sincere prayer life can God’s Holy Spirit add spiritual wisdom to our knowledge. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “our ultimate position as Christians is tested by the character of our prayer life.” A person may be a Bible school or seminary graduate, a pastor or a missionary, but his deep knowledge of and relationship to God are measured by his prayer life. If knowledge about God and the things of God do not drive us to know Him more personally, we can be sure that our true motivation and commitment are centered in ourselves rather than Him. Jesus’ deepest prayer for His disciples was not that they simply know the truth about God but that “they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Studying and learning God’s Word in the right spirit will always drive the believer to know Him more intimately and to commune with Him more faithfully in prayer.

To pray at all times obviously does not mean we are to pray in formal or noticeable ways every waking moment of our lives. Jesus did not do that, nor did the apostles. And it certainly does not mean we are to devote ourselves to ritualistic patterns and forms of prayer that are recited mechanically from a prayer book or while counting beads. That amounts to no more than the “meaningless repetition” that characterizes pagan worship (Matt. 6:7).

To pray at all times is to live in continual God consciousness, where everything we see and experience becomes a kind of prayer, lived in deep awareness of and surrender to our heavenly Father. To obey this exhortation means that, when we are tempted, we hold the temptation before God and ask for His help. When we experience something good and beautiful, we immediately thank the Lord for it. When we see evil around us, we pray that God will make it right and be willing to be used of Him to that end. When we meet someone who does not know Christ, we pray for God to draw that person to Himself and to use us to be a faithful witness. When we encounter trouble, we turn to God as our Deliverer. In other words, our life becomes a continually ascending prayer, a perpetual communing with our heavenly Father. To pray at all times is to constantly set our minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).

The ultimate purpose of our salvation is to glorify God and to bring us into intimate, rich fellowship with Him; and to fail to come to God in prayer is to the deny that purpose. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also,” John said, “that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Our fellowship with God is not meant to wait until we are in heaven. God’s greatest desire, and our greatest need, is to be in constant fellowship with Him now, and there is no greater expression or experience of fellowship than prayer.

the power of prayer

The most important and pervasive thought Paul gives about prayer is that it should be in the Spirit. This supreme qualification for prayer has nothing to do with speaking in tongues or in some other ecstatic or dramatic manner. To pray in the Spirit is to pray in the name of Christ, to pray consistent with His nature and will. To pray in the Spirit is to pray in concert with the Spirit, who “helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26–27). As the “Spirit of grace and of supplication” (Zech. 12:10), the Holy Spirit continually prays for us; and for us to pray rightly is to pray as He prays, to join our petitions to His and our will to His. It is to line up our minds and desires with His mind and desires, which are consistent with the will of the Father and the Son.

To be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18) and to walk in His leading and power is to be made able to pray in the Spirit, because our prayer will then be in harmony with His. As we submit to the Holy Spirit, obeying His Word and relying on His leading and strength, we will be drawn into close and deep fellowship with the Father and the Son.

the manner of prayer

Whenever he prays, the believer should be on the alert with all perseverance and petition. Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray (Matt. 26:41; Mark 13:33; cf. Luke. 18:1). Paul counseled the Colossians to “devote [themselves] to prayer” (Col. 4:2). The Greek verb behind “devote” (proskartereō) means to be steadfast, constant, and persevering. It is used of Moses’ faithful endurance when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt (Heb. 11:27). To be devoted to prayer is to earnestly, courageously, and persistently bring everything in our lives before God.

The parables of the persistent neighbor and the importunate widow were both told by Jesus to illustrate the manner in which His followers should pray. At the end of the first parable He said, “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9). At the end of the other parable He explained, “Now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily” (Luke 18:7–8).

To dispersed and persecuted Christians in the early church, Peter wrote, “Be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7). To pray in the right manner is to pray sensibly, with our minds and our understanding as well as our hearts and spirits. “I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also” (1 Cor. 14:15), Paul said.

To pray in the right manner also involves praying specifically. “Whatever you ask in My name,” Jesus promised, “that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13). God answers prayer in order to put His power on display, and when we do not pray specifically, He cannot answer specifically and thereby clearly display His power and His love for His children. To pray, as young children often do, “God bless the whole world,” is really not to pray at all. We must think about particular people, particular problems, particular needs, and then pray about those things specifically and earnestly, so that we can see God’s answer and offer Him our thankful praise.

Most Christians never get serious about prayer until a problem arises in their own life or in the life of someone they love. Then they are inclined to pray intently, specifically, and persistently. Yet that is the way Christians should always pray. Sensitivity to the problems and needs of others, especially other believers who are facing trials or hardships, will lead us to pray for them “night and day” as Paul did for Timothy (2 Tim. 1:3).

Because the greatest problems are always spiritual, our greatest prayer concern and concentration—whether for ourselves or for others—should be for spiritual protection, strength, and healing. It is certainly appropriate to bring physical needs before our heavenly Father, but our greatest focus should be for spiritual needs—for victory over temptation, for forgiveness and cleansing of sins already committed, for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, and for believers to have greater dependence on Him. The context of Paul’s call to prayer is that of spiritual warfare, and the Christian’s prayer should, above all, be about that warfare. Our greatest concern for ourselves and for other believers should be for victory in the battle against the enemy of our souls. Our deepest prayers for our spouse, our children, our brothers and sisters, our fellow church members, our pastor, our missionaries, and all others would be that they win the spiritual battle against Satan. Examining the prayers of Paul throughout his epistles yields the insight that he prayed for the spiritual well-being of the people of God (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 1:4–7; Phil. 1:9–11; Col. 1:9–11; 2 Thess. 1:11–12).

Many years ago a saint of God prayed:

O Lord, in prayer I launch far out into the eternal world, and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs over all evils on the shores of mortality. Time, with its amusements and cruel disappointments, never appears so inconsiderate as then. In prayer, O God, I see myself as nothing. I find my heart going after Thee with intensity, and I long with vehement thirst to live with Thee. Blessed be the strong winds of the Spirit that speed me on my way to the new Jerusalem. In prayer all things here below vanish and nothing seems important but holiness of heart and the salvation of others. In prayer all my worldly cares and fears and anxieties disappear and are as little in significance as a puff of wind. In prayer my soul inwardly exalts with thoughts of what Thou art doing for Thy church, and I long that Thou shouldest get Thyself a great name from sinners returning to Thee. In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life to taste the heavenly joys. Entering into the eternal world I can give myself to Thee with all my heart forever. In prayer I can place all my concerns in Thy hands to be entirely at Thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own. In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers, sinners, the church, Thy kingdom, with greatest freedom and brightest hope as a son to his Father and as a lover to his beloved. And so, O God, help me to pray always and never to cease.

the objects of prayer

Elsewhere Paul commands us to pray for unbelievers, for government leaders, and for others, but here the focus is on all the saints. It is only saints, Christian believers, who are involved in the spiritual warfare for which God provides the armor Paul has just been describing and who are able to pray in the Spirit.

It is not inappropriate to pray for ourselves any more than it is inappropriate to pray for physical needs. But just as the Bible primarily calls us to pray about spiritual needs rather than physical, it primarily calls us to pray for others rather than ourselves. Even when he was concerned about his own needs, Paul does not mention that he prayed for himself but that he asked other believers to pray on his behalf, as he does in the next two verses (Eph. 6:19–20). The greatest thing we can do for another believer, or that he can do for us, is to pray. That is the way the Body of Christ grows spiritually as well as in love. When one member of the Body is weak, wounded, or cannot function, the other members compensate by supporting and helping strengthen it. Samuel said to the people of Israel, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23). With God’s own Holy Spirit to indwell us and help us even when we do not know how to pray (Rom. 8:26), how much more do we as Christians sin against God when we fail to pray for fellow saints?

The spiritually healthy person is devoted to the welfare of others, especially fellow believers. On the other hand, the root of both psychological and spiritual sickness is preoccupation with self. Ironically, the believer who is consumed with his own problems—even his own spiritual problems—to the exclusion of concern for other believers, suffers from a destructive self-centeredness that not only is the cause of, but is the supreme barrier to the solution of, his own problems. Usually such selfishness isolates him from the other believers, who if they were intimately involved in fellowship with him, would be regularly praying for his spiritual welfare.

Praying for others with sincerity and perseverance is, in God’s immeasurable grace, a great blessing and strength to our own souls. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reported that before the outbreak of the Spanish civil war that country was experiencing such an epidemic of neuroses that psychiatrists could hardly handle them all. But the war, terrible and destructive as it was in most respects, had the unexpected effect of “curing” many of Spain’s thousands of neurotics. When they became concerned about the welfare of their families, friends, and country instead of their own, their neuroses disappeared and hospitals and clinics were almost emptied of such cases. “These neurotic people were suddenly cured by a greater anxiety,” an anxiety that reached beyond their own selfish welfare. (The Christian Soldier [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977], pp. 357–58.)[1]

18. Praying always with all prayer. Having instructed the Ephesians to put on their armour, he now enjoins them to fight by prayer. This is the true method. To call upon God is the chief exercise of faith and hope; and it is in this way that we obtain from God every blessing. Prayer and supplication are not greatly different from each other, except that supplication is only one branch of prayer.

With all perseverance. We are exhorted to persevere in prayer. Every tendency to weariness must be counteracted by a cheerful performance of the duty. With unabated ardour we must continue our prayers, though we do not immediately obtain what we desire. If, instead of with all perseverance, some would render it, with all earnestness, I would have no objection to the change.

But what is the meaning of always? Having already spoken of continued application, does he twice repeat the same thing? I think not. When everything flows on prosperously,—when we are easy and cheerful, we seldom feel any strong excitement to prayer,—or rather, we never flee to God, but when we are driven by some kind of distress. Paul therefore desires us to allow no opportunity to pass,—on no occasion to neglect prayer; so that praying always is the same thing with praying both in prosperity and in adversity.

For all saints. There is not a moment of our life at which the duty of prayer may not be urged by our own wants. But unremitting prayer may likewise be enforced by the consideration, that the necessities of our brethren ought to move our sympathy. And when is it that some members of the church are not suffering distress, and needing our assistance? If, at any time, we are colder or more indifferent about prayer than we ought to be, because we do not feel the pressure of immediate necessity,—let us instantly reflect how many of our brethren are worn out by varied and heavy afflictions,—are weighed down by sore perplexity, or are reduced to the lowest distress. If reflections like these do not rouse us from our lethargy, we must have hearts of stone. But are we to pray for believers only? Though the apostle states the claims of the godly, he does not exclude others. And yet in prayer, as in all other kind offices, our first care unquestionably is due to the saints.[2]

18 Abandoning the metaphor of the soldier’s equipment, Paul now instructs the believers to engage in prayer “on all occasions” and “with all kinds of prayers and requests.” The formidable nature of the battle against the evil powers underscores the need for prayer. Prayer is a key weapon in the battle; it gets more attention in Paul’s summary than the other weapons do. Yoder Neufeld, 305, observes, “Prayer is ‘militarized’ and drawn into the struggle with the powers.” Paul employs the common verb for prayer, proseuchomai (GK 4667), which means “to petition the deity.” The tense of the verb “pray” is present: believers are to keep on praying. “All kinds of prayers and requests” (the two terms are roughly synonymous) should accompany this continual praying. They ought to pray “on all occasions” or at every appropriate time (kairos, GK 2789); recall Paul’s use of kairos in the phrase “making the most of every opportunity” (5:16). And they ought to pray “in the Spirit,” suggesting prayers that are consistent with the Spirit’s desires and are energized by the Spirit. Schnackenburg, 282, puts it well: “Our human praying only achieves power and effectiveness in the strength of the divine Spirit.”

What is more, believers ought to pray in a continually watchful mode (“be alert”); alertness ought to rouse their prayers into action. Jesus also connected these ideas: “Be always on the watch, and pray” (Lk 21:36). Who knows what will require urgent prayers and petitions? The enemy will not let up. Watch and pray! This alert praying should be accompanied by, literally, “all perseverance” (en pasē proskarterēsei [GK 4675], NIV, “keep on”). This noun, another hapax, means “firm persistence” (BDAG, 881). Do not be quitters; discipline yourselves in prayer.

Finally Paul adds an object for their prayers: “for all the saints.” “Saints” comprise God’s people—those who belong to him (see commentary at 1:1; 15; 2:19; cf. 1 Co 1:2). Perhaps to counter the normal tendency to pray mostly for their own concerns, Paul reminds his readers that they need to remember the entire body of Christ in their prayers. Pray for other believers, particularly those in the thick of the spiritual battles.[3]

18  This paragraph is closely similar to its counterpart in Col. 4:2–5, but neither passage can be shown to be dependent on the other. Both reflect a common situation, existing at the time and place of writing.

There is no obvious separation in the Greek text between this exhortation to prayer and the immediately preceding encouragement to resist spiritual foes. The imperative “pray” (in our rendering above) renders the participle “praying” in the Greek.84 This might be a further instance of the imperatival use of the participle; but, so far as the construction goes, “praying” (with the following “keeping awake”) seems to belong to the series of participles dependent on the imperative “stand” at the beginning of v. 14 (“having girt,” “having shod,” “having taken up”).

Praying “in the Spirit” means praying under the Spirit’s influence and with his assistance. “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also,” says Paul (1 Cor. 14:15), by way of response, it appears, to some who believed that to pray in a “tongue” unintelligible to speaker and hearers alike was to pray “in the Spirit.” It is no criterion of the power of the Spirit that the person praying does not understand his own prayer. On the other hand, there are prayers and aspirations of the heart that cannot well be articulated; these can be offered in the Spirit, who, as Paul says, “himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26).

Both in his own practice and in that of his converts and others, Paul insists on the necessity of constant prayer—praying “at every time” (as the literal rendering is here). “Pray without ceasing,” the Thessalonian Christians are exhorted (1 Thess. 5:17), while Paul himself repeatedly assures his readers of his unremitting prayer for them (cf. Col. 1:3). Here the general word for prayer is used, together with “supplication,” the word emphasizing the element of petition or entreaty in prayer.

As in Col. 4:2, the importance of watchfulness, keeping spiritually alert, is stressed. A different word for keeping awake is used here—the same word as appears in a similar exhortation in Luke 21:36, where Jesus, warning his disciples of the impending crisis, urges them to “keep awake at all times, praying that you may prevail … to stand before the Son of Man.” The eschatological note is not explicitly prominent in Colossians and Ephesians, but it can be discerned wherever watchfulness and perseverance92 are enjoined.

The readers have already been commended for their love “to all the saints” (Eph. 1:15); one way of continuing to show this love is to persevere in making supplication for them.[4]

6:18 / Although the military imagery continues into this verse—arm yourselves and be alert—the prayer to which the readers are summoned should not be taken as a seventh piece of the Christian’s armor. God has given his splendid armor to the believer, but the “putting on” and the utilization of that armor in battle calls for discipline in prayer in the Spirit. According to Stott, “Equipping ourselves with God’s armor is not a mechanical preparation; it is itself an expression of our dependence on God, in other words, of prayer” (p. 283).

The prayer that the believers are admonished to utter has some significant qualities about it. First, it is to be unceasing: pray … on all occasions. The Christian warrior, although heavily armed, can only stand firm against the enemy through the agency of prayer. Praying is done in the Spirit. To do so is not to be transposed into some ecstatic or euphoric condition beyond the senses but to live in the realization that the Spirit is the believer’s helper (5:18) and intercessor (Rom. 8:15, 16, 26, 27). “It is an approach to God relying not on our own piety, but on the help which God in his Spirit offers to us” (Mitton, p. 228).

The Greek, and most English translations (rsv, niv), employ the two expressions prayers (proseuchē and “supplication” or requests (deēsis). Most commentators feel that “prayer” always addresses God, whereas “supplication” may be used to address either God or humankind. The gnb “asking for God’s help” takes the Greek as a request to God and not as intercession on behalf of human beings.

Second, prayer is to be intense. Be alert and always keep on praying. In other words, maintain a spirit of watchfulness and perseverance. A Christian warrior must not be caught off guard. This exhortation toward constancy and watchfulness in prayer and the Christian life is common to the nt (Luke 18:1; Rom. 12:12; 1 Cor. 16:13; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Pet. 5:8). But since this phrase falls between two other exhortations, it is not entirely clear where “perseverance” (keep on praying) belongs. Should it go with the idea of praying constantly with all alertness, or does it relate to the following phrase, in which believers are summoned to intercede for others? Beare suggests that alertness refers to the believer’s spiritual conflict but that this, in turn, leads to “persevering intercession on behalf of all his comrades in the fight” (p. 746).

Third, prayer is unlimited. Always keep on praying for all the saints. Since all believers are involved in a spiritual battle, prayer must transcend its narrow individualism and encompass the entire body of Christ. As members of an army, believers must manifest a concern for all who are fighting along with them. Here the apostle’s concerns are not unlike those in 1 Peter, where, in a similar context of warning his readers about the devil, Peter writes: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (5:9).[5]

18. alwaysGreek, “in every season”; implying opportunity and exigency (Col 4:2). Paul uses the very words of Jesus in Lu 21:36 (a Gospel which he quotes elsewhere, in undesigned consonance with the fact of Luke being his associate in travel, 1 Co 11:23, &c. 1 Ti 5:18). Compare Lu 18:1; Ro 12:12; 1 Th 5:17.

with all—that is, every kind of.

prayer—a sacred term for prayer in general.

supplication—a common term for a special kind of prayer [Harless], an imploring request. “Prayer” for obtaining blessings, “supplication” for averting evils which we fear [Grotius].

in the Spirit—to be joined with “praying.” It is he in us, as the Spirit of adoption, who prays, and enables us to pray (Ro 8:15, 26; Ga 4:6; Jud 1:20).

watching—not sleeping (Eph 5:14; Ps 88:13; Mt 26:41). So in the temple a perpetual watch was maintained (compare Anna, Lu 2:37).

thereunto—“watching unto” (with a view to) prayer and supplication.

withGreek, “in.” Persevering constancy (“perseverance”) and (that is, exhibited in) supplication are to be the element in which our watchfulness is to be exercised.

for all saints—as none is so perfect as not to need the intercessions of his fellow Christians.[6]

Ver. 18.—With all prayer and supplication praying. The metaphor of armour is now dropped, but not the idea of the conflict, for what is now insisted on is of the most vital importance for successful warfare. Though prayer is virtually comprehended in most of the previous exhortations, it is now specifically enjoined, and in a great variety of ways; “all prayer and supplication,” equivalent to every form of it, e.g. ejaculatory, secret, spoken, domestic, social, congregational. At all seasons. No period of life should be without it—youth, middle life, old age, all demand it; no condition of life—adversity, prosperity, sunshine, desolation, under sore temptation, under important duty, under heavy trial, under all the changing circumstances of life, personal, social, Christian. See the hymn—

“Go, when the morning shineth;

Go, when the noon is bright;

Go, when the day declineth;

Go, in the hush of night.”

In the Spirit; for true prayer is spiritual, and it is not true prayer unless by the Holy Spirit the heart is filled with heavenward longings and aspirations, changing our prayer from cold form to heartfelt realities. The ordinary habit of the soul should be prayerful, realizing the presence of God and looking for his grace and guidance. And watching thereunto; that is, “towards” spirituality, against formality, as also against forgetfulness and neglect of prayer. Perhaps also the idea of watching for the answer is involved, as you wait for an answer when you have despatched a letter. In all perseverance; this being very specially needed to make prayer triumphant, as in the case of the Syro-phœnician mother, or in that of Monica, mother of Augustine, and many more. And prayer for all saints; this being one of the great objects for which saints are gathered into the “one body” the Church, that they may be upheld and carried on, in warfare and in work, by mutual prayer, kept from slips and infirmities, and from deadly sins, and enabled one and all to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called.”[7]

18. by means of all prayer and supplication,

praying at all times in the Spirit,

and with a view to this, being on the alert in all perseverance and supplication,

for all the saints.

In his own power the soldier can do nothing against so great a foe. Hence, as he takes and puts on each piece of his armor and as he makes use of it in the battle he must pray for God’s blessing.

  1. The Variety of Prayer: “all prayer and supplication”

The apostle makes a special point of it that the soldier’s communion with his General—the believer’s fellowship with his God—should not be of just one kind. Some people are always asking for things. Their entire prayer-life consists of that. But prayer—the first word is very general—should include not only cries for help but also confession of sin, profession of faith, adoration, thanksgiving, intercession. Moreover, prayer-life should be definite, not just “O Lord, bless all that awaits thy blessing,” which is a big order, but “supplication” or “petition” for the fulfilment of definite needs, a request for specific benefits. This means that the man who prays should become acquainted with concrete situations all over, at least not limited to his own contracted horizon, situations in connection with which help is needed. He should set aside, perhaps, today to stress this need, tomorrow to remember another.

  1. The “when” and the “where” of Prayer: “at all times … in the Spirit.”

Prayer in time of “great calamity” or “catastrophe” has long been in vogue. For many people, however, “Thanksgiving Day” comes just once a year. It is the day set aside by the national government. The apostle admonishes the addressed to take hold on God “at every occasion.” “In all thy ways acknowledge him” (Prov. 3:6).

As to the “where” of prayer, it is not to be confined either to “Jerusalem” or to “this mountain” but should always be “in (the sphere of) the Spirit,” that is, “with his help” and “in harmony with his will” as revealed in the Word which he inspired.

  1. The Manner of Prayer: “being on the alert in all perseverance and supplication.” Cf. Col. 4:2.

Those who are not “alert” but listless and indifferent to what is going on in their homes, in the streets of their city, in their state or province, in their country, in their church, in their denomination, or in the world at large will have a very restricted prayer-life. Those who do not know the will of God because they devote so little time to the study of the Word will fail to harvest the fruits of prayer. Those who do not know the promises cannot be expected to “go to the deeps of God’s promise” in their devotions. They will not partake of a deep and satisfying communion with God. Consequently, they will perhaps pray now and then only. There will be no “perseverance” and little “supplication” (petition for definite benefits).

  1. The Indirect Objects of Prayer: “for all the saints”

Christ during his sojourn on earth evaluated intercessory prayer (“prayer for others”) very highly, as is shown by many incidents (Matt. 9:18–26; 15:21–28; 17:14–21; etc.). So did Paul. The heart of our Great Intercessor who not only intercedes for us but actually lives in order to do so (Heb. 7:25) is deeply touched by such petitions! Thus the fellowship of saints is kept alive and real.

In this fellowship of prayer the Jewish convert must not forget the Gentile convert, the old must not ignore the young, the free must not neglect those in bondage, nor vice versa. It must be prayer “for all the saints.” With God there is no partiality.

Up to this point the apostle has said very little about his own physical circumstances. He is not a complainer. He has made brief mention of the fact that he was writing as a prisoner (3:1; 4:1), and has also urged the Ephesians “not to lose heart” over what he was suffering for them (3:13). But that was all; and even in the given passages he was thinking not of himself so much as of the welfare of those addressed.[8]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 378–383). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 340–341). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 169). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (pp. 411–412). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (pp. 290–291). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 358). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Ephesians (p. 260). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[8] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, pp. 280–282). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Popular, But False…Do Not Be Deceived — Christian Research Network

“Just because a speaker sounds good to you does not mean he is speaking the truth. Do not trust your heart. God’s Word tells us the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. As fallen, sinful human beings, we will always seek validation and permission for our wicked, sinful desires. Many will come, even in God’s name, to grant such permission and soothe our consciences, and such people will be very popular. But do not be deceived.”

(Rob Pue – Rapture Ready)  I remember watching Christian-based movies back in the 1970s and ‘80s having to do with the end times. They were not very well done, and I found one aspect of these movies to be a little bit hard to grasp. They always showed Christians under great persecution….

Society had changed so much that Christians were now portrayed as haters – as a dangerous faction that had to be done away with.  Christians were, in fact, HATED because they were perceived as being hateful. They were attacked in the streets, churches were burned, some were hauled off to concentration – or “re-education” camps.  Many had to worship secretly in private homes, and even these home meetings were made illegal.

At the time, I could not understand how such a scenario could possibly happen in America, even though Scripture warns about persecution in the last days. But today, I realize these scenes portrayed in movies a generation ago were not so preposterous, but instead, prophetic.

Indeed, how quickly things have turned around. Today, in our age of unbridled tolerance, everything is readily accepted, and no one is willing to judge right and wrong or declare moral absolutes. No one, that is, except the Bible-believing Christian. In a world that seeks not just acceptance, but celebration of any act, any lifestyle, it is only the Scripture-studying Christian who recognizes a law higher than man’s; it is only the Christian, seeking to proclaim God’s Word, that represents a thorn in the side of the sinner.

The tide has turned, and the direction is irreversible. Those who hold to the Scriptures cannot, at the same time, turn a blind eye to sin and evil. We can’t look at the great wickedness of abortion and ignore it. We can’t watch the militant efforts of the homosexual lobby to indoctrinate even our children into an aberrant lifestyle, and look the other way. We can’t, in good conscience, watch in silence as millions embrace the demonic religion of evolution, as they declare the existence of a Creator to be a fairytale of the ignorant. And as we seek to obey the Great Commission, we cannot help but speak out, and share our faith in our Savior with a world heading full speed down the road to hell.  View article →


Rick Warren

Rob Bell

Joel Osteen

Pope Francis

WATCH OUT!  Apostasy Alert

CRN changed Rob Pue’s title: Popular, But False.

via Popular, But False…Do Not Be Deceived — Christian Research Network

SBC Leader and Mike Bickle Explain Why Fake Miracles Are Okay — Christian Research Network

In the video provided, Mike Bickle—who was a member of the Kansas City Prophets and a “General” in the New Apostolic Reformation, discusses the apostasy of several prominent ex-Christian celebrities. But it’s about halfway through the video that it gets really interesting.

(JD Hall – Pulpit & Pen)  An up-and-coming Southern Baptist leader in the Missouri Baptist Convention sat down to do a video with two leaders in the International House of Prayer (IHOP) cult in Kansas City, Missouri. The three men, including the SBC pastor, discussed why fake miracles and ‘exaggerations’ in the charismatic movement are “worth it.”

Malachi O’Brien is the pastor of the Church at Pleasant Ridge in Harrisonville, Missouri in the Kansas City Area. This isn’t the first time the SBC pastor has affiliated himself with the Kansas City cult; the two have partnered for years. We wrote about O’Brien in the 2016 post, Is Ronnie Floyd Trying to Merge the SBC with IHOP? Floyd had used his presidency at the SBC to appoint O’Brien—even in spite of his partnering in every conceivable way with the charismatic, mind-melding, dangerous cult—the president of the influential denominational Committee on Committees.

O’Brien is a Southern Baptist’s Southern Baptist, and still influential in state denominational life. He was nominated as Second VP for the SBC in 2016. And then, he actually won, as you can see in the photos below.    View article →


Mike Bickle


New Apostolic Reformation

via SBC Leader and Mike Bickle Explain Why Fake Miracles Are Okay — Christian Research Network

August 21, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled new rules that would allow officials to detain migrant families indefinitely while judges consider whether to grant them asylum in the United States.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been scrambling to stem the tide of rising anger in Farm Belt states after its decision this month to allow numerous oil refiners to mix less ethanol into their gasoline, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his administration was considering potential tax cuts on wages as well as profits from asset sales, and sought to play down market anxieties that the world’s top economy could be heading for a recession.

Italy is struggling to form its 67th government since World War Two. The fate of its latest political crisis will be determined by five politicians and a comedian, an eclectic group riven by personality clashes as well as deep political differences.

The presidents of Rwanda and Uganda signed a pact in Angola’s capital aimed at ending a long-running rivalry that flared up into a dispute this year and forced them to close their border.

Ten of thousands of people have fled to Syria’s border with Turkey in the last few days as the Syrian army advanced further into the opposition’s last major stronghold, residents.

A U.S. military MQ-9 drone was shot down in Yemen’s Dhamar governate, southeast of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, the second such incident in recent months.

Survivors of the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre on Wednesday released a sweeping gun-control plan that would ban assault-style rifles and take other steps in hopes of halving U.S. firearms deaths and injuries.

If Iran’s oil exports are cut to zero, international waterways will not have the same security as before, its president said on Wednesday, cautioning Washington against upping pressure on Tehran in an angry confrontation between the longtime foes.

A major bank warned on Wednesday that weeks of protests in Hong Kong could hit the economies of the Chinese-ruled city and mainland China itself as hundreds of demonstrators held a sit-in at the subway site of a midsummer mob attack.

U.S. home sales rose more than expected in July, boosted by lower mortgage rates and a strong labor market, signs the Federal Reserve’s shift toward lower interest rates was adding support for the economy.

A parliament spokesman said on Wednesday that China’s legal position on marriage will not change, remaining between a man and a woman, despite pressure from activists.

AP Top Stories

Forest fires in the Amazon are generating smoke that can be seen from space and may have caused a daytime blackout more than 1,700 miles away in the country’s largest city.

Spain on Tuesday deployed a naval patrol boat to pick up migrants on a charity rescue boat that has been stranded off Italy’s Lampedusa island for days after numerous people jumped overboard in a desperate bid to swim ashore.

After previous political rallies that ended in violence, police in Portland, Oregon, earned praise Monday from outside observers for using a natural barrier – the city’s Willamette River – to keep dueling protesters apart during a weekend far-right rally and large counter-demonstration that included a subset of masked and black-clad anti-fascists.

The Palestinian Authority has banned all LGBTQ political organizing in the West Bank in response to the news that a pro-LGBTQ advocacy group was planning to hold a gathering for its members at the end of the month.

The United States will take every action it can to prevent an Iranian tanker sailing in the Mediterranean from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of U.S. sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Tuesday.

Japan has upgraded its estimate of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability in an upcoming annual Defense White Paper, saying it seems Pyongyang has achieved the miniaturization of warheads, the Yomiuri newspaper said in an unsourced report on Wednesday.

Hundreds of masked protesters staged a sit-in late Wednesday to mark one month since a mob attack by suspected triad gang members pushed the city deeper into political violence.

Commissioners in Nevada’s rural Lincoln County have voted to pre-sign an emergency declaration ahead of the “Storm Area 51” raid event that’s so far drawn more than 2 million RSVPs on Facebook.

Homophobia has risen in European countries that do not legally recognize same-sex relationships, while acceptance of gay and lesbian people has jumped in states where they can marry, research released on Wednesday showed.

Russia and China warned Tuesday that a new US missile test had heightened military tensions and risked sparking an arms race, weeks after Washington ripped up a Cold War-era weapons pact with Moscow.


Venezuela’s embattled President Nicolás Maduro said he had been in talks with the Trump administration for months, even as the US ramped up its sanctions.

Nepalese authorities have banned single-use plastics in the Everest region in a bid to cut down on waste left by climbers. Authorities recently cleared 11 tons of rubbish from Mount Everest.


In the remote Nevada county that’s home to the Area 51 military base have drafted an emergency declaration and a plan to team resources with neighboring counties and the state ahead of events next month tied to the “Storm Area 51” internet drive.

A jury in Arizona has awarded a former Planned Parenthood director $3 million in a lawsuit prompted by her wrongful termination.

Mid-Day Snapshot · Aug. 21, 2019

The Foundation

“The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.” —George Washington (1789)

Dems Feign Backing Away From Medicare for All

The unpopularity of Sanders’s socialist health plan has Democrats realizing that it’s not a winning policy.

Is Facebook’s Audit Merely Window Dressing?

The social-media giant is making changes to address conservative complaints of bias.

Dems Use Mass Shootings as Pretext for Gun Confiscation

The renewed push for an “assault weapons” ban is both wrong and mendacious.

More Americans Have Negative View of College

Pew finds Republicans and Independents are souring on institutions of higher learning.

Trigger Warnings

Today’s “woke” “progressives” would never invite Martin Luther King to speak at a college.

Video: Trump’s Deregulation

John Stossel says President Trump has cut a lot of regulations — but increased some others.

Video: You Can’t Fix Other People, but You Can Fix Yourself

Want a better life? Want to make the world a better place? Take responsibility.

Today’s Opinion

Marc A. Thiessen
If Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Can Boycott Israel, Why Can’t Israel Boycott Them?
Ben Shapiro
The Media’s Intersectional Embrace of Anti-Semitism
John Stossel
Trump’s Promise
Gary Bauer
Planned Parenthood Exposes Itself
Walter E. Williams
What Will They Learn at College?
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Wednesday Top News Executive Summary

Denmark trip postponed, mixed gun-control signals, March for Our Lives “Peace Plan,” and more.

Wednesday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Piers Morgan, Peter King, Kamala Harris, AOC, and more.

Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

News – 8/21/2019

Is Rashida Tlaib Actually a Jew?
“I do not know what Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother knows or does not know. But I would advise Rashida to have a serious talk with her grandmother about her family’s history. There are indications that there may be some surprises for the congresswoman.” This means that Rashida Tlaib, may in fact be Jewish according to Halacha (Jewish law).

Jeffrey Epstein and the Truth of the Bible
No Escaping Judgement. These words may have seemed irrelevant to Epstein at the height of his powers. He was incredibly wealthy. He was the friend of presidents and leaders. He was surrounded by beautiful women. Yet the words of Scripture always come to pass, sooner or later. As Moses said almost 3,500 years ago, “you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23, NIV). Either in this world or the world to come, our sins will catch up with us, and we will give account — unless, of course, we have truly repented before God and received forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.

Netanyahu to Pay Arabs to Leave Israel as Commanded in Numbers 33:51
A recent report cited an anonymous source in the Netanyahu government as saying there are efforts underway to eradicate Palestinian aggression by encouraging, even paying them to leave. Ridding Israel of its inhabitants is a direct commandment to the Jewish people that is outlined in Numbers 33:51.The commandment to kick out the nations dwelling in the land applies to Gentiles who do not abide by the 7 laws of Noah. And according to many rabbis, since Muslims in Israel believe in murder, they do not qualify as Noahides.

Arab MK Admits: Palestinians Use ‘Prayers’ on Temple Mount as Precursor to Violence
In a revealing interview on Israeli television, an Arab MK described Muslims prayers as a precursor to violence, stated that the entire Temple Mount is a mosque, and denied that Israel has any sovereignty over Judaism’s holiest site.

Iran-Backed Rebels Down US Drone in Yemen
Iran-backed Houthi rebels reportedly took down a United States MQ-9 Reaper drone on Wednesday in Yemen, Reuters reported. Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sari told Al-Masirah TV, the group’s media arm, the American drone was taken down by Houthi air defenses in the Dhamar governate, just southeast of the rebel-controlled capital, Sanaa.

Putin’s Mercenaries Are Using Syria as a Training Ground
Wagner Group is only the latest advance in Russia’s flirtation with private warfare. While not the first state to engage in foreign adventures with mercenaries, Russia is setting a dangerous new trend—namely, using mercenaries solely for combat rather than for logistical and peripheral support of their armed forces. Such aggressive intervention adds a new façade to Putin’s power abroad. “Russia’s intervention in Syria has served several of [Putin’s] interests,” explains analyst Joshua Yaffa. “It saved the Assad regime from defeat, holding off the spectre of a regime change, and secured Russia an undeniable and influential role in the geopolitics of the Middle East”.

6.0 magnitude earthquake 91 km from Lata, Temotu, Solomon Islands
UTC time: Tuesday, August 20, 2019 13:03 PM Your time: 2019-08-20T13:03:53Z Magnitude Type: mww USGS page: M 6.0 – 87km SE of Lata, Solomon Islands USGS status: Reviewed by a seismologist

President Trump: We Won’t Sacrifice Gun Rights to ‘Slippery Slope’
President Trump suggested Democrats have given up any defense of the Second Amendment and pledged that he will not allow Americans’ gun rights to be swept away on the “slippery slope” of gun control.

Epstein’s Former Cellmate Begs Judge For Transfer To Another Jail
In his request for transfer, the 51-year-old Tartaglione said he was told there would be a “price to pay” if he talks about Epstein’s death. “The clear message Mr. Tartaglione has received is that if he conveys information about the facility or about [Epstein’s] recent suicide, there will be a price to pay,” reads the letter from Barket.

Pope Francis In Rome On Thursday Blasphemously Declared That Mary Is The ‘Gate Of Heaven’ Even Though The Bible Declares That Only Jesus Christ Is
Just when I think that Pope Francis cannot possible double-down any further on his blasphemous worship of Mary, he goes and show me just how serious he is about idol worship. During the Roman Catholic Feast of the Assumption on Thursday, he confidently declared that the door, or the gate, to getting into Heaven is not Jesus Christ, but Mary.

Russia, U.S. agree Israel can strike Iranian targets in Iraq – report
Israel has struck Iranian targets in Iraq at least three times over the past few weeks after Russia and the United States gave the green light… According to Western sources, Moscow and Washington have agreed that Israel’s strikes in Iraq and Syria are “vital to ensure Israeli security” and that Israel should be allowed to continue to track Iranian activity in Syria and Iraq…

PA President Mahmoud Abbas fires all advisers, demands back bonuses
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas fired all his advisers “regardless of their title or ranking,” the Palestinian News Agency Wafa reported on Monday. Furthermore, Abbas also abolished “the decisions and contracts related to them,” and suspended “the rights and privileges they received in their capacity.”

Danon to UNSC: Ramallah following Tehran in seeking Israel’s destruction
The Palestinian Authority is following Tehran in seeking to destroy the Jewish state, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. “As Tehran openly calls for Israel’s destruction, Ramallah uses other means to undermine the Jewish State’s right to exist,” Danon said.

Kashmir: Pakistan to seek International Court of Justice ruling
Pakistan has said it will take the Kashmir dispute to the International Court of Justice. The move comes after India revoked the special autonomous status of the part of Kashmir that it administers. Pakistan reacted to that decision by cutting trade and transport links, and expelling India’s ambassador.

Syrian migrants in Turkey face deadline to leave Istanbul
Thousands of Syrian migrants have until Tuesday to leave Istanbul or face expulsion from Turkey’s biggest city. Authorities have told unregistered migrants to return to the province they are registered in, as part of a bid to relieve pressure on the city. But some Syrians told the BBC many were being deported to Idlib, inside Syria, where fighting is escalating.

Venezuela crisis: President Maduro admits secret talks with US
Venezuela’s embattled President Nicolás Maduro said he had been in talks with the Trump administration for months, even as the US ramped up its sanctions. The US is one of more than 50 nations which do not recognise Mr Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. It imposed sweeping sanctions earlier this month aimed at increasing pressure on President Maduro to step down.

Mexico judge approves recreational cocaine for two users
A Mexican judge has granted two people the right to recreational cocaine use, in the first ruling of its kind, the organisation behind the cases said. The court said it would allow both claimants to “possess, transport and use cocaine” but not sell it, according to Mexico United Against Crime (MUCD). MUCD, which seeks to end the country’s “war on drugs”, called the ruling a “historic step”.

Facebook to stop stalking you off-site – but only if asked
Facebook is drawing back the veil to show what data it collects on users. Many may not like what they see. A feature in settings called Off-Facebook Activity will show all the apps and websites that send information about you to Facebook, which is then used to target ads more effectively.

The weird, repeating signals from deep space just tripled
Scientists suddenly have a whole lot more data on one of the strangest and most recent mysteries in the cosmos, so-called fast radio bursts. First discovered in 2007, these fleeting blasts of radio waves originate thousands, millions or even billions of light-years from Earth. FRBs have influenced the design of new radio telescopes like the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME).

Trump says White House discussing gun legislation; Democrats say talks low-level
President Donald Trump said…his administration was in “meaningful” talks with Democrats about gun legislation after the latest mass shootings, but congressional aides downplayed the discussions as low-level and not very productive. Democrats have accused Trump of reversing course after he initially voiced support for tougher background checks following the latest shootings to rock the United States…

China could win military conflict in Indo-Pacific region even ‘before America can respond’, think tank warns
A new study by a think tank warns the U.S. has lost its military supremacy in the Indo-Pacific region, with China being able to launch and win a military conflict even before American forces are able to respond.

The Extinction Of Christians In The Middle East
“Threats to pandas cause more emotion” than threats to the extinction of the Christians in the Middle East…

Kentucky Denies Planned Parenthood Abortion License, Says it Broke the Law
The administration of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday declined to grant a license to Planned Parenthood to perform abortions at its Louisville clinic, asserting it previously violated state law by performing illegal abortions.

Russia, China accuse U.S. of stoking tensions with missile test
Russia and China accused the United States on Tuesday of stoking military tensions by testing a ground-launched cruise missile, but the foreign ministry in Moscow said it would not be drawn into an arms race.

China Wants To Build A Grains “Superhighway” In Argentina 
“China is already our principal buyer of soybeans. For them to also have control over navigation would give them a very strong stance in negotiating prices.” 

Germany Is About To Sells Its First Ever Zero-Coupon Ultra-Long Bond
It’s not quite a zero coupon perpetual sovereign bond just yet… but it may have to do.

Democratic presidential candidates talk God, faith and Trump as primaries near
Democratic presidential hopefuls are talking about prayer and their journeys of faith as the 2020 primaries near, making appeals to crucial voting blocs.

Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian Tchividjian prepares to launch independent church after affairs
As he gets ready for the fall launch of his unaffiliated The Sanctuary church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, who was stripped of his preaching credentials in 2015 due to extramarital relationships with former congregants, says they were all “consensual” and not an abuse of power.

San Francisco homeless stats soar: city blames big business, residents blame officials
In the summer of 2019, Fox News embarked on an ambitious project to chronicle the toll progressive policies have had on the homeless crisis in four West Coast cities: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore. In each city, we saw a lack of safety, sanitation and civility. Residents, the homeless and advocates say they’ve lost faith in their elected officials’ ability to solve the issue. Most of the cities have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at the problem only to watch it get worse. This is what we saw in San Francisco.

Headlines – 8/21/2019

Netanyahu willing to stand up to Trump on peace plan, says official

Danon: Israel part of the solution in the Middle East – Israel ready to partner with Arab nations to build better future for all

Hamas spokesman: Al-Aqsa is under attack

Arab MK calls Israeli efforts to encourage Gaza emigration ‘ethnic cleansing’

U.S. scraps West Bank conference over Palestinian protests

Likud joins far-right appeal to bar Arab parties from running in election

Trump says Jews who vote Democrat show ‘great disloyalty’

Jewish groups: Trump spreads anti-Semitic trope by accusing Jews of ‘disloyalty’

Furious Democrats take aim at two ambassadors for Tlaib-Omar fiasco

Trump ‘doesn’t buy’ Tlaib’s tears, claims she ‘hates Israel and all Jews’

Netanyahu asked US lawmakers in June to condemn Tlaib, Omar for BDS support

Rep. Ilhan Omar throws support behind LGBTQ Palestinian group

Terror assessment report warns of attack risk at planned Holocaust memorial

Ukrainian Jewish man, 70, undergoes circumcision in honor of Netanyahu visit

Netanyahu and Ukraine president discuss possible Israeli mediation in Russia conflict

Report: US, Russia gave Israel green light to strike Iran in Syria, Iraq

Explosion rocks arms depot of Iran-backed militia near Baghdad

Netanyahu hints Israel behind strikes on Iraq, says Iran not immune anywhere

Are airstrikes on Shi’ite militias in Iraq new front?

Islamic State, Al-Qaeda Hunker Down to Rebuild in Weaker Nations

Pompeo confirms ISIS is regaining strength

Pompeo: ‘We’ll prevent Iranian tanker from delivering oil to Syria’

Pompeo warns anyone who ‘touches’ Iran tanker risks US sanctions

Pompeo: ‘New turmoil’ if U.N. arms embargo on Iran lifted in 2020

Australia to join US military effort to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz

Israeli, US special forces practice ship takeovers amid high tensions in Gulf

Iran has most advanced missile technology in Middle East, IRGC general claims

Trump asserts he could win Afghanistan war ‘in a week’ without ‘using nuclear’

Washington ‘ready’ to conclude talks with Taliban: US envoy

Death toll from Afghan wedding blast rises to 80: Officials

At least 2,300 detained in locked-down Indian-ruled Kashmir

Big questions linger as Russia shares radiation data

U.S. Tests Missile With A Range Prohibited By Now-Abandoned Treaty

Russia, China accuse U.S. of stoking tensions with missile test

Simulation Shows The Devastating Impact Of A Nuclear War Between The US And Russia

Study confirms that, yes, a nuclear war between the US and Russia would be the end of days

China could win military conflict in Indo-Pacific region even ‘before America can respond’, think tank warns

Indonesian president calls for calm after violent protests in West Papua

Indonesia sends more police to Papua, curbs internet speed amid tension

Italian premier resigns, blames deputy for political crisis

Trump cancels visit with Denmark PM after she rebuffs ‘absurd’ idea of US buying Greenland

US tariffs on China could cost American households $1,000 per year, JPMorgan says

Truckers voted for Trump in droves. Now they say his trade war is ‘killing’ their ability to make a living.

Trump says White House discussing gun legislation; Democrats say talks low-level

White House pushes back after NRA claims Trump said universal background checks off the table

Federal health officials were ordered not to post about mental health after Trump linked it to shootings: report

23 towns in Texas were hit by possibly the largest-ever ransomware attack, in what could be the first coordinated cyberattack of its kind

Area 51 events in Nevada prompt emergency crowd planning

Scientists finally know how big earthquakes start: with many smaller ones

Puget Sound Seismic Tremor Event Has Begun, Seismologists Say

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Lata, Solomon Islands

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Naze, Japan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Saumlaki, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Pondaguitan, Philippines

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 22,000ft

Sangay volcano in Ecuador erupts to 19,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 17,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Karymsky volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 12,000ft

Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia erupts to 10,000ft

Underwater eruption near Fonualei Island, Tonga

The hurricane season has been rather quiet. Will it last?

Tropical Storm Chantal forms over North Atlantic

Tropical depression forms, Taiwan to China and Japan remain on alert for potential impacts from strengthening storm

Amazon fires: Record number burning in Brazil rainforest – space agency

Ebola Continues to Spread in Congo, Stoking Regional Tension

Urgency for vaccine grows as virus ravages China’s pigs

America’s first generic abortion pill, explained

It’s Official: Planned Parenthood to Lose $60 Million under Trump Pro-Life Rule

Kentucky Denies Planned Parenthood Abortion License, Says it Broke the Law

Chinese gene firm clones cat, sparking wide consumer interest

Apostasy Watch Daily News

Why are so many Americans ready to trade away their freedom?

Send What? What kind of revival is this?

The Temple’s Destruction in Revelation

Hillsong Worship Leader in Hospital After Suffering Brain Aneurysm at Church

Malaysia bans controversial Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik from giving talks

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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther

August 21 The Teacher

scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6–16
key verse: Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.

The most vital area of truth into which the Holy Spirit guides you is the knowledge of God Himself. His holiness, love, faithfulness, wrath, judgment, mercy, grace, patience, power, and numerous other attributes are unveiled for you. Without the Spirit’s aid you could never see God for who He is.

The Spirit also reveals the truth about humankind. The Spirit of God convicts the unbeliever of sin and the estrangement from God. The Holy Spirit underscores human depravity and the desperate need for a Savior. Apart from the Spirit’s enlightenment, you are blinded by pride and conceit. After you become a Christian, the Spirit continues His ministry of conviction and illumination, not to condemn, but to enlighten and correct.

In addition, the Holy Spirit highlights God’s truth about His specific instructions for living. He clearly shows you the pattern for family harmony, the proper motives for business, the guidelines for getting along with neighbors and enemies, and the principles for ethical and moral conduct. Let the Holy Spirit guide you into His truth for your special need today.

Holy Spirit, guide me in the way of truth today. Reveal it; teach it; apply it. I submit to Your instruction.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

21 august (1859) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Faith illustrated

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

suggested further reading: Hebrews 6:13–20

Joab, when he fled from the sword of Solomon, laid hold on the horns of the altar, thinking that surely when he had laid hold on the altar he was safe. His was vain confidence, for he was dragged from the horns of the altar and slain. But if you can lay hold on the horns of the altar of God, even Christ, you are most surely safe, and no sword of vengeance can ever reach you. I saw the other day a remarkable picture, which I shall use as an illustration of the way of salvation by faith in Jesus. An offender had committed a crime for which he must die, but it was in the olden time when churches were considered to be sanctuaries in which criminals might hide themselves and so escape. See the transgressor—he rushes towards the church, the guards pursue him with their drawn swords, all athirst for his blood, they pursue him even to the church door. He rushes up the steps, and just as they are about to overtake him and hew him in pieces on the threshhold of the church, out comes the Bishop, and holding up the crucifix he cries, “Back, back! Stain not the precincts of God’s house with blood! Stand back!” and the guards at once respect the emblem and stand back, while the poor fugitive hides himself behind the robes of the priest. It is even so with Christ. The guilty sinner flies to the cross—flies straight away to Jesus, and though Justice pursues him, Christ lifts up his wounded hands and cries to Justice, “Stand back! Stand back! I shelter this sinner; in the secret place of my tabernacle do I hide him; I will not suffer him to perish, for he puts his trust in me.”

for meditation: We should never be ashamed to be seen hiding behind Jesus (Mark 8:38).

sermon no. 271[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 240). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Wednesday Briefing August 21, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com


 Is Drag Queen Story Hour A Cultural Crisis or Not? The Massive Restructuring of the Entire Moral Universe in America


 What’s New in California? A Ban on Plastic Water Bottles and a Human Defecation Crisis


 Leading Companies Seek ‘Brand Safety’ in Advertisement Placement






What Will California Ban Next?, by Andy Kessler


21 AUGUST 365 Days with Calvin

Finding Blessing in Death

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

suggested further reading: Revelation 21:1–9

Paul here repeats what he has said respecting the confidence of the pious; they are far from breaking down under the severity of the cross and from being disheartened by afflictions. Rather, in those they are made more courageous. For the worst of evils is death, yet believers long to attain death as the commencement of perfect blessedness.

The word and in this verse may be regarded as equivalent to because, thus reading, “Nothing can befall us that can shake our confidence and courage, since death (which others so much dread) is to us great gain (Phil. 1:21). For nothing is better than leaving the body, for in it we may attain close fellowship with God and may truly and openly enjoy his presence. In the decay of the body, we lose nothing that belongs to us.”

Observe here that true faith begets not merely contempt of death but even desire for it. On the other hand, a token of unbelief is when the dread of death predominates in us above the joy and consolation of hope. True believers desire death, not as if they would by an importunate desire anticipate their Lord’s day, for they willingly retain footing in their earthly station so long as their Lord may see it good for them. They would rather live to the glory of Christ and “die to themselves” (Rom. 14:7) than live for their own advantage. The desire for death, of which Paul speaks, springs forth from faith. It is not at all in variance with the will of God.

We may also gather from these words of Paul that souls, when released from the body, live in the presence of God. For if by being absent from the body they have God present with them, they surely live with him.

for meditation: The Bible does not speak much about the intermediate state of man—that is, our state between death and when Christ resurrects our bodies at his Second Coming. But Paul confirms for us that our souls shall indeed be present with the Lord. That means more to believers than anything else. To be with the Lord, without the conflict of sin, ought to be our crowning desire. It ought to make us welcome death. Today, meditate on what this entails, and thank God for the intermediate state even as we long for the day when our entire man—soul and body—shall serve the Lord in perfection forever.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 252). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Famous Christians Are Losing Their Faith…and So Should You If Your Faith Is in Them — Randy Alcorn’s Blog

When we contemplate what feels like an avalanche of Christians declaring—whether through their actions or words or both—their loss of faith in Jesus and God’s Word, we should realize that for every leader who loudly denies Christ there are thousands of less well-known Christians who are doing the same. (Note: this will be a longer blog than usual because I don’t want to interrupt the flow.)

If I could share just one message in light of the high-profile Christians who have recently made public announcements renouncing their faith, it would be this: you should lose your faith…if it is in anyone other than Jesus. And you should forsake and reject any worldview, no matter how attractive and seductive and popular and affirming, that is not in concert with the worldview of God’s Word.

Read Ephesians 1:3-13. As you do, ask yourself, “Do I have any grounds for placing my absolute faith in anyone or anything other than the person and work of Jesus Christ, as predestined by the Father and accomplished by the Holy Spirit?” Seriously, read this passage now. If you never make it back to this blog post, that’s fine. Because God never promises my words won’t return empty, but He does promise that about His words (Isaiah 55:11).

Ephesians 4:4-6 says, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” What does this passage say about Christian writers, preachers, musicians, athletes, and celebrities? Absolutely nothing. Only God is worthy of our trust, faith, and hope.

Jesus Alone Is Worthy

Every time another Christian leader falls morally or declares he no longer believes in Jesus, it causes a crisis of faith for many believers. I’ve had people say, “I don’t know what to think anymore. That man led me to Jesus. He baptized me!” But God has always used people with wayward hearts and motives to proclaim the Gospel, and the Gospel is still the Gospel and Jesus is still Jesus.

Paul says, “The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:17-18).

Surprise, sadness, disappointment, and grief are natural and appropriate responses when someone we admire falls morally or otherwise abandons their faith in Jesus. However, if our faith is shaken when this happens, it reveals something wrong about our faith in the first place. Both Scripture and church history clearly state that many will turn away from Christ, even many who because of their gifts and oratorical or musical skills find themselves on platforms where people associate their name with that of Jesus.

First Timothy 4:1-2 is one of many such passages: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” So if people were NOT turning from Jesus it would suggest the Bible isn’t true. However, it is true, and they are turning away from Jesus. But there is only one Jesus, only one ultimately worthy object of our faith.

Christ Is the Chief Shepherd

Forty-two years ago, Nanci and I were part of starting a brand-new church, which we are still part of today. When I was a pastor at Good Shepherd Community Church, we often said, “There is only one Good Shepherd, and He is not on our staff.” We recognized Jesus was above and around and in us and worked through us, but anyone who thought their pastors were Jesus were preparing for nothing but disappointment.

We emphasized the importance of plural ministry in which no one man is elevated in such a way as to make the church rise and fall with that man. We believed that if one man becomes too prominent, his weaknesses will go unchecked and the church will become weak where he is weak. No single leader’s weaknesses can destroy a church when there is a true team of pastors and leaders, and a number of people have an equal voice and rely on unanimity or at least consensus.

In the early years of our church we preached from I Peter 5, where it says pastors/elders are to “Shepherd God’s flock that is under your care,” with the reminders that pastors are only under-shepherds, the flock is not ours but God’s, and we should not be “lording it over those entrusted to you.” Then it calls Jesus “the Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4), who is Lord of the under-shepherds and will reward them for faithful service in caring for His flock. “Chief” means head or lead or senior, and shepherd means pastor. So we would say “Jesus is our head pastor, our senior pastor. This church belongs to no man but the God-man.”

None of us were at the top of the chain of command—Jesus was! Leaders are first and foremost sheep and only secondarily shepherds. Any church governing board that is listening to, elevating, or glorifying one human voice is setting up both the pastor and the church to fail and fall. Many pastors in America and around the world need true accountability in their spiritual, moral, financial, and inter-personal relationships not only with laypeople in the church, but also with other pastors and staff members.

Is your faith dependent on Randy Alcorn, Josh Harris, Marty Sampson (of Hillsong), or anyone else—including John Piper, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, Joni Tada, Beth Moore, Max Lucado, Greg Laurie, David Platt or _______ (fill in the blank, including any of your pastors or family members)? If so, then you should lose your faith before it’s too late. Having cleared away the rubble of human idols, we should embrace the only worthy object of our faith, King Jesus. That’s building our lives on the rock of divine strength, not the sand of human weakness. Only Jesus Christ can bear the weight of our absolute trust. (We like to both worship and crucify Christian leaders. But often the former leads to the latter.)

Those who thought Bill Hybels and James MacDonald, and hundreds of leaders who preceded them, were worthy objects of faith have been shown to be misguided. And they were just as misguided before those leaders fell than after they did. If our faith is grounded in anyone other than the triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—let’s repent of the sin of idolatry and turn back to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Then and only then can we put in perspective the tide of Christian leaders who are turning away from Him and the truth of His Word.

Suffering Will Reveal the Object of Your Faith

We all fall on tough times. Nanci and I have had a number of them and are facing another one right now. A lot of bad theology often surfaces when we face suffering, and I don’t doubt this may be a factor for the recent leaders who’ve rejected the Christian faith. When people lose their faith because of suffering, it suggests a weak or nominal faith that didn’t account for or prepare them for evil and suffering. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Imagining that God should always make our paths smooth sets us up to resent God and even lose our faith when our lives don’t go as we want. That’s another faith we should lose—to be replaced with faith in the God of sovereign grace and truth who doesn’t keep us from all difficulties but promises to be with us in all difficulties.

Any faith not based on the truth needs to be lost—the sooner, the better. I’ve noticed many who grew up in privilege end up citing the sufferings of people elsewhere in the world as their basis for rejecting Christ. Yet when I’ve interviewed people who have endured what to most of us would be unimaginable suffering, they embrace the Christian faith more passionately than we who live in relative comfort and ease. Many people who have endured deep hardship turn toward God in their suffering, not away from Him. They’ve found that no one else but Jesus can bear the weight of their trust, just as He bore the weight of their suffering on the cross.

For those who lose their faith, whether expressed publicly or gradually and privately, there is normally suffering and disillusionment in their background. Suffering and evil exert a force that either pushes us away from God or pulls us toward Him. But if personal suffering gives sufficient evidence that God doesn’t exist, then surely I shouldn’t wait until I suffer to conclude He’s a myth. If my suffering would one day justify denying God, then I should deny Him now in light of other people’s suffering.

Believing that God exists is not the same as trusting the God who exists. A nominal Christian often discovers in suffering that his faith has been in himself, his church, family, career, or social network, but not in Christ. As he faces evil and suffering, he may find his beliefs shaken or even destroyed. But genuine faith—trusting God even when we don’t understand—will be made stronger and purer. I have seen this in my own life and Nanci’s, and that of many family and friends.

Be forewarned. If your faith is based on lack of affliction, it’s on the brink of extinction and is only a frightening diagnosis or a shattering phone call away from collapse. Token faith will not survive suffering. Nor should it.

God’s Word Should Be Our Greatest Influence

In every case someone moves away from faith in Jesus, I think it’s accurate to conclude they’ve been listening to the wrong voices—voices which have served the purposes of the one Jesus called the Father of lies. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

The devil’s lies are convincing. They roll off his tongue as he speaks them through so many cool people, so many popular slogans, so many trendy causes. His lies are hypnotically credible because they soak into us, and we fail to counter them with heavy doses of the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus told us in that same John 8 passage the only thing that can defeat the devil’s lies: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). When we stop holding to God’s truth, that’s when we start falling away from Jesus and sound doctrine. As Satan’s lies roll down the hillsides of our mind they become a landslide that produces an ultimate avalanche of apostacy. And this isn’t helped by all the professing Christians who applaud the “honesty” and “transparency” and “courage” of those denying Christ, as though they are doing something virtuous by rejecting the Son of God who came down to rescue us from the bondage of sin.

I would encourage you to think in terms of your life trajectory and the major influences you’re letting speak into your life. First Timothy 4:16 says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (NIV).

I don’t know John Cooper, lead singer of the Christian rock band Skillet. But I thoroughly agree with what he recently said about believers needing to stop looking to “worship and thought leaders” as if they/we have an inside track to biblical truth or as if people should have faith in us:

Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once “faces” of the faith are falling away. And at the same time they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?) as they announce that they are leaving the faith. I’ll state my conclusion, then I’ll state some rebuttals to statements I’ve read by some of them. Firstly, I never judge people outside of my faith. Even if they hate religion or Christianity. That is not my place and I have many friends who disagree with my religion and that is 100% fine with me. However, when it comes to people within my faith, there must be a measure of loyalty and friendship and accountability to each other and the Word of God.

My conclusion for the church (all of us Christians): We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or “relevant” people the most influential people in Christendom. (And yes that includes people like me!) I’ve been saying for 20 years (and seemed probably quite judgmental to some of my peers) that we are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word. I’m not being rude to my worship leader friends (many who would agree with me) in saying that singers and musicians are good at communicating emotion and feeling. We create a moment and a vehicle for God to speak. However, singers are not always the best people to write solid bible truth and doctrine. Sometimes we are too young, too ignorant of scripture, too unaware, or too unconcerned about the purity of scripture and the holiness of the God we are singing to. Have you ever considered the disrespect of singing songs to God that are untrue of His character?

I have a few specific thoughts and rebuttals to statements made by recently disavowed church influencers…first of all, I am stunned that the seemingly most important thing for these leaders who have lost their faith is to make such a bold new stance. Basically saying, “I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it…therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people in to my next truth.” I’m perplexed why they aren’t embarrassed? Humbled? Ashamed, fearful, confused? Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?

Read the rest of John’s post.

Let me close with some other verses from God’s Word for us to ponder:

“Now this is what the parable means. The seed is God’s word.  The ones on the path are the people who listen, but then the Devil comes and takes the word away from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.  The ones on the stony ground are the people who joyfully welcome the word when they hear it. But since they don’t have any roots, they believe for a while, but in a time of testing they fall away.  The ones that fell among the thorn bushes are the people who listen, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries, wealth, and pleasures of life, and their fruit doesn’t mature.  But the ones on the good soil are the people who hear the word but also hold on to it with good and honest hearts, producing a crop through endurance” (Luke 8:11-15).

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6).

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:11-14).

For more related perspectives from Randy, see his books Truth, If God Is Good, and Face to Face with Jesus.

Photo credit: Ben White via Christianpics.co

via Famous Christians Are Losing Their Faith…and So Should You If Your Faith Is in Them — Randy Alcorn’s Blog

Looking For Truth in All the Wrong Places — Grace to You Blog

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. One of our previous blog series, Looking for Truth in All the Wrong Places, stronglyemphasizes those doctrines. The following entry from that series originally appeared on June 7, 2017. -ed.

We’ve all had strange dreams from time to time. Sometimes the details are so confused and convoluted you can scarcely believe your mind concocted them in the first place. And no matter how vivid the dream appeared, you likely wouldn’t base something as insignificant as your lunch order—much less your life—on those bizarre mental images. Sadly, the same is not true for many professing believers in the church today.

James Ryle says he awoke from a strange dream one night and heard the Lord tell him, “I am about to do a strange, new thing in My church. It will be like a man bringing a hippopotamus into his garden. Think about that.” [1] James Ryle, Hippo in the Garden (Lake Mary, FA: Creation House, 1993), 259.

Ryle did think about it and concluded God was telling him He was going to “[return] the power of His prophetic word by His Holy Spirit into churches that (presumptuously) no longer have any place for it.” [2] Hippo in the Garden, 261.Ryle adds this: “Not only is the hippo in the garden the unusual thing God will do prophetically within His church, but it also heralds His release of a prophetic voice into the world through His church, bringing in a great last-days harvest.” Ryle quotes Acts 2:17–21 and then says, “A vast prophetic movement inspired by the Holy Spirit within the church in the midst of the world resulting in an evangelistic ingathering—that is the ‘hippo in the garden.’” [3] Hippo in the Garden, 262.

In other words, Ryle says the spirit of prophecy will come like a lumbering beast upon the whole church, making revelatory prophecy commonplace and ushering in a new wave of revival. When this happens it will seem as unlikely and out of place—and disruptive—as a man taking a hippo for a walk in a neatly manicured garden. Ryle is convinced God gave him this prophecy.

Ryle, pastor of Boulder Valley Vineyard Fellowship in Boulder, Colorado, is no stranger to dreams and visions [Ryle passed away in 2015, Ed.]. A few years ago Ryle said the Lord revealed to him in a dream the secret of the Beatles’ success: they received a special anointing from God. According to Ryle, God told him, “they were gifted by My hand; and it was I who anointed them, for I had a purpose, and the purpose was to usher in the Charismatic renewal with musical revival around the world.”

Unfortunately, John, Paul, George, and Ringo squandered the sacred anointing on fame and riches. “The four lads … went AWOL and did not serve in My army”—Ryle says he heard God say. “They served their own purposes and gave the gift to the other side.” According to Ryle, the Lord’s plan was thwarted, so He withdrew the anointing in 1970. Ryle says God has told him He is about to release that same anointing again. This time He plans to use Christianmusicians. [4]James Ryle, “Sons of Thunder,” (Longmont, CO: Boulder Valley Vineyard tape ministry), preached 1 July 1990. Thousands listen breathlessly as Ryle recounts his prophetic message.

Ryle regularly has dreams, sees visions, and hears messages he insists come from God. “I dreamed I was literally inside the Lord,” he writes of one such incident. “I had the ability to look through His eyes and to see what He was seeing—without being seen.” [5] Hippo in the Garden, 128. Ryle recounts these dreams and visions with remarkably detailed interpretations. He is thoroughly convinced they all contain prophetic truth from the Lord.

Ryle does not claim to be unique. He believes all Christians who will listen can hear the voice of God through dreams, visions, and personal prophecies. “God will speak to us as He spoke to Jesus,” he declares. [6] Hippo in the Garden, 36.“We are not merely to look back and sigh at how wonderful it must have been to hear God’s voice and be led by His Spirit. No! God speaks to us today.” [7] Hippo in the Garden, 38. Elsewhere he writes, “God is a supernatural being and surely speaks through supernatural means. I refer to the audible voice of God, divine manifestations of His presence, angelic encounters and similar phenomena.” [8] Hippo in the Garden, 190. According to Ryle, all those phenomena are supposed to be happening today—and willhappen to anyone who is receptive enough.

Ryle believes the Bible is the infallible record of God’s pastspeaking, but he doesn’t seem to believe the Bible alone is a sufficient word from God for today. He suggests that believers who do not listen for fresh words from God daily are missing an important source of spiritual sustenance:

Jesus taught us to pray that our Father would give us each day our daily bread. Since He declared that man should not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God, doesn’t this imply that He wants us to hear His voice every day of our lives? I think so. [9] Hippo in the Garden, 39.

Ryle even offers some hermeneutical principles for dream interpretation: “Be committed to researching the symbols and sayings of the revelations given. . . . Don’t ever force an interpretation, trying to make it fit a predetermined opinion or desire,” and so on. [10] Hippo in the Garden, 149-150. Good advice for people studying Scripture. But are we supposed to exegete our dreams that way?

Ryle says yes. He tells his readers, “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God still speaks audibly to His people today. My prayer is that you will hear His voice for yourself; that will be proof enough.” [11] Hippo in the Garden, 199. Much of his book is filled with instructions for people who want to hear the voice of God.

James Ryle is illustrative of a growing number of pastors and church leaders who claim they receive truth directly from God. Ryle is perceived by many as something of an expert in this type of “revelation.” His teaching is peppered with “truths” drawn not from the Scriptures but from his own dreams and visions. The Beatles’ anointing, the hippo in the garden, a pig on a billboard, a rhino in a field, visions of Popeye and Olive Oyl, an angel with a vat of acid, dreams about the Colorado Buffalo football team’s success—these are the “revelations” about which Ryle writes and preaches. “The Word of God” is much broader to him than Scripture, encompassing his own dreams, visions, words of prophecy, and “personal revelations”—Scripture verses taken out of context and applied like fortune-cookie messages. [12] Hippo in the Garden, 77. “The Bible is not an end in itself,” he claims; “rather, it is the God-given means to an end.” [13] Hippo in the Garden, 74.

James Ryle represents a growing movement that is propagating extrabiblical revelations from God as the key to renewal in the church. Thousands of churches worldwide have embraced this new movement. People everywhere are listening for—and believe they can hear—the voice of God.

Whether There Be Prophecies, They Shall Fail

It is not at all hard to find examples from church history of groups and individuals who believed God was speaking directly to them apart from Scripture. But surely in two thousand years of history the quest for this kind of personal prophecy has never been as widespread and as pervasive as it is today.

Church history also reveals that since the canon of Scripture was closed, virtually every “prophet” who ever spoke a “thus saith the Lord” has been proved wrong, recanted, or gone off track doctrinally. And since the apostolic era, every movement that has depended heavily on extrabiblical prophecy has ultimately digressed from the true faith, usually falling into serious corruption or heresy.

This is precisely why the sufficiency of Scripture—sola Scriptura—is such a crucial doctrine. If the written Word of God truly is able to give us all the wisdom we need for complete salvation, and if it is able to make us adequate, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15–17)—then is there really any necessity for additional “prophecies” in the life of the believer? Does God need to say more to us than He has already said? This is a question advocates of modern prophetic revelation would do well to ponder carefully.

What More Can He Say Than to You He Hath Said?

It seems particularly unfortunate that there would be such an affinity for subjective “revelations” in an era when the average “born-again Christian” is so ignorant of the objective revelation God has given us in the Bible. When knowledge of Scripture is at such an ebb, this is the worstpossible time for believers to be seeking divine truth in dreams, visions, and subjective impressions.

The quest for additional revelation from God actually denigrates the sufficiency of “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). It implies that God hasn’t said enough in the Scriptures. It assumes that we need more truth from God than what we find in His written Word. But as we have repeatedly seen, the Bible itself claims absolute sufficiency to equip us for every good work. If we really embrace that truth, how can we be seeking the voice of God in subjective experiences?

In short, I reject modern revelatory prophecy because the New Testament canon is closed and Scripture is sufficient. Elsewhere I have delved into some of the biblical and theological arguments against continuing revelation. In this context my concerns have to do with reckless faith and the dearth of biblical discernment. Here I am primarily concerned with the extreme subjectivity that is introduced into doctrine and daily life when Christians open the door to private messages from God.

So in the days ahead, rather than focusing on theological and biblical reasons for believing that prophecy has ceased, I want to highlight some of the dangers we face when we treat any kind of subjective impression as if it were a message from God. This is a vital issue for the church today, and a key component of true discernment.

(Adapted from Reckless Faith.)

via Looking For Truth in All the Wrong Places — Grace to You Blog

Quick Shot Responses to “There is No Such Thing as Sin” (Cold-Case Christianity S5E21) — Cold Case Christianity

In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner offers a number of brief, rhetorically powerful responses to the objection: “There is No Such Thing as Sin.” Isn’t the concept of “sin” simply a matter of opinion? Why should I accept what Christianity says about “sin”? Isn’t “sin” just a notion leveraged by Christians to justify their need for a Savior? These Quick Shot responses are designed to help you remove intellectual obstacles when talking about God with your friends and family members. They are also available on the Cold-Case Christianity Phone App so you can access them as you are interacting with others.

Be sure to watch the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast on NRBtv every Monday and Saturday! In addition, here is the audio podcast (the Cold-Case Christianity Weekly Podcast is located on iTunes or our RSS Feed):

via Quick Shot Responses to “There is No Such Thing as Sin” (Cold-Case Christianity S5E21) — Cold Case Christianity

August 21, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

† 25:9 — “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us.”

Throughout the Bible, God promises to act on behalf of those who wait for Him. In the act of waiting, we demonstrate that we believe the promises of God and that we trust Him to fulfill them all.[1]

9. And it shall be said. The verb אמר (āmăr) is indefinite, “He shall say;” but as the discourse does not relate to one or another individual, but to all in general, I chose to render it in a passive form. This is an excellent conclusion; for it shews that God’s benefits are not in any respect doubtful or uncertain, but are actually received and enjoyed by men. The Prophet declares that the banquet, of which he formerly spoke, (verse 6,) will not in vain be prepared by God; for men shall feast on it, and possess everlasting joy.

Lo, this is our God. That joyful shout, which he declares will be public, is the actual test and proof, so to speak, of the experience of the grace of God. This passage ought to be carefully observed; for the Prophet shews that there will be such a revelation as shall fix the minds of men on the word of God, so that they will rely on it without any kind of hesitation; and if these things belong, as they undoubtedly do belong, to the kingdom of Christ, we derive from them this valuable fruit, that Christians, unless they are wanting to themselves, and reject the grace of God, have undoubted truth on which they may safely rely. God has removed all ground of doubt, and has revealed himself to them in such a manner, that they may venture freely to declare that they know with certainty what is his will, and may say with truth what Christ said to the Samaritan woman, “We worship what we know.” (John 4:22.) Having been informed by the gospel as to the grace offered through Christ, we do not now wander in uncertain opinions, as others do, but embrace God and his pure worship. Let us boldly say, “Away with all the inventions of men!”

It is proper to observe the contrast between that dark and feeble kind of knowledge which the fathers enjoyed under the law, and the fulness which shines forth to us in the gospel. Though God deigned to bestow on his ancient people the light of heavenly doctrine, yet he made himself more familiarly known through Christ, as we are told; “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared him.” (John 1:18.) The Prophet now extols that certainty which the Son of God brought to us by his coming, when he “sheweth to us the Father.” (John 14:9.) Yet, while we excel the ancient people in this respect, that the reconciliation obtained through Christ makes God, as it were, more gracious to us, there is no other way in which God can be known but through Christ, who is “the pattern and image of his substance.” (Heb. 1:3.) “He who knoweth not the Son, knoweth not the Father.” (John 14:7.) Though Jews, Mahometans, and other infidels, boast that they worship God, the creator of heaven and earth, yet they worship an imaginary God. However obstinate they may be, they follow doubtful and uncertain opinions instead of the truth; they grope in the dark, and worship their own imagination instead of God. In short, apart from Christ, all religion is deceitful and transitory, and every kind of worship ought to be abhorred and boldly condemned.

Nor is it without good reason that the Prophet employs not only the adverb Lo, but the demonstrative pronoun This, in order to attest more fully the presence of God, as, a little afterwards, by repeating the declaration of certainty and confidence, he expresses the steadfastness that will be found in those who shall worship God through Christ. It is certain that we cannot comprehend God in his majesty, for he “dwelleth in unapproachable light,” (1 Tim. 6:16,) which will immediately overpower us, if we attempt to rise to it; and therefore he accommodates himself to our weakness, gives himself to us through Christ, by whom he makes us partakers of wisdom, righteousness, truth, and other blessings. (1 Cor. 1:30.)

This is Jehovah. It is worthy of observation that, when he calls Christ the God of believers, he gives to him the name “Jehovah;” from which we infer that the actual eternity of God belongs to the person of Christ. Besides, since Christ has thus made himself known to us by the gospel, this proves the base ingratitude of those who, not satisfied with so full a manifestation, have dared to add to it their own idle speculation, as has been done by Popery.

We have waited for him. He expresses the firmness and perseverance of those who have once embraced God in Christ; for it ought not to be a temporary knowledge, but we must persevere in it steadfastly to the end. Now, Isaiah speaks in the name of the ancient Church, which at that time had its seat, strictly speaking, among the Jews alone; and therefore, despising as it were all the gods that were worshipped in other countries, he boldly declares that he alone, who revealed himself to Abraham, (Gen. 15:1,) and proclaimed his law by the hand of Moses, (Exodus 20:1, 2,) is the true God. Other nations, which were involved in the darkness of ignorance, did not “wait for” the Lord; for this “waiting” springs from faith, which is accompanied by patience, and there is no faith without the word.

Thus he warns believers that their salvation rests on hope and expectation; for the promises of God were as it were suspended till the coming of Christ. Besides, we ought to observe what was the condition of those times; for it appeared as if either the promise of God had come to nought, or he had rejected the posterity of Abraham. Certainly, though they looked very far, God did not at that time appear to them; and therefore they must have been endued with astonishing patience to endure such heavy and sharp temptations. Accordingly, he bids them wait quietly for the coming of Christ; for then they will clearly perceive how near God is to them that worship him.

The same doctrine ought to soothe us in the present day, so that, though our salvation be concealed, still we may “wait for the Lord” with firm and unshaken hope, and, when he is at a distance, may always say, Lo, here he is. In times of the greatest confusion, let us learn to distinguish him by this mark, This is he. As to the words, though he says, in the past tense,2 “We rejoiced and were glad in his salvation;” yet the words denote a continued act; and, a little before, he had said in the future tense, “He will save us.” The meaning may be thus summed up, “Christ will never disappoint the hopes of his people, if they call on him with patience.”[2]

9 Once more we hear a song of praise (cf. 24:14–16; 25:1–5), wonderfully expressing that joy in God that comes when patient trust finds its reward in consummated salvation. Its ideas and language are thoroughly characteristic of Isaiah, and various parts of the verse are paralleled in many different parts of the book (e.g., 8:17; 12:1–6; 30:18; 33:22; 35:1–4, 10; 40:9; 49:25–26; 52:7–10; 60:16; 65:18).[3]

9 Delitzsch is probably correct when he sees the reference to removing the reproach from God’s people (v. 8) as the immediate stimulus for this song. Although it had seemed impossibly long at the time, eventually the “waiting” will have been shown to be worth it all, and the song will burst forth (Rev. 6:9–11; 7:9–12). This connection with v. 8 may also explain the use of Moab to symbolize the nations, just as Malachi was to use Edom later (Mal. 1:2–5). It was particularly these neighboring nations which had taunted Judah for her apparently ineffectual trust in Yahweh. They had reproached Judah, but in the last day, the reproach would be all theirs (Ezek. 36:6–7).

Again, as in v. 1, the personal element is strong. God has shown himself faithful to his people and the response is seen in a deep sense of affinity. Ultimately, this is what the whole Exodus had been about: “You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Exod. 29:45, 46, etc.). But somehow that vision had gotten lost in the intervening years, so that Ezekiel and Isaiah had to look for it to be reinstated by the deliverance from the Exile (Ezek. 36:28). And perhaps Isaiah is saying here that it will not be completely realized until the final deliverance.

we waited for him expresses a fundamental element of the OT, and the Isaianic, concept of trust. It is the kind of confident expectation that is willing to put the times in God’s hands and to believe in spite of a long interval. This kind of trust has forsaken that manipulation which seeks instant gratification, and it has demonstrated the reality of its commitment to God by refusing to make him vindicate himself according to a human timetable. When such confident expectation is satisfied, the result is, as here, jubilation, for the one who waits has proven the sovereignty of God. That jubilation springs from the certainty that God can save. What a relief and a delight that is, for without a sovereign deliverer, we are merely pawns of a cruel chance.[4]

9. And it shall be said in that day, &c.—“After death has been swallowed up for ever, the people of God, who had been delivered from the hand of death, shall say to the Lord, Lo, this is our God, whom unbelievers regarded as only a man” [Jerome]. “The words are so moulded as to point us specially to the person of the Son of God, who ‘saves’ us; as He vouchsafed to Israel temporal saving, so to His elect He appears for the purpose of conferring eternal salvation” [Vitringa]. The Jews, however, have a special share in the words, This is our God (see on Is 25:6).

we have waited—“Waited” is characteristic of God’s people in all ages (Ge 49:18; Tit 2:13).

we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation—compare Ps 118:24, which refers to the second coming of Jesus (compare Ps 118:26, with Lu 13:35).[5]

Ver. 9.—It shall be said; literally, one shall say; i.e. the redeemed generally shall thus express themselves. We have waited for him. During all the weary time of their oppression and persecution, the godly remnant (ch. 24:13–15) was “waiting for the Lord,” i.e. trusting in him, expecting him to arise and scatter his enemies, wondering that he endured so long the “contradiction of sinners against himself” (Heb. 12:3), but content to abide his determination of the fitting season for coming forward as their Avenger, and now quite satisfied that he has avenged them in his own good time and in his own good way. We will be glad and rejoice (comp. Ps. 118:24 and Cant. 1:4).[6]

25:9. In that day (cf. 24:21), the day when the believing remnant will be delivered, they (the saved ones) will affirm their trust in the Lord, who saved them. In response they will say let us rejoice and be glad in the salvation He provided. Meanwhile, in Isaiah’s day, believers in Judah were to rejoice in the Lord’s salvation.[7]

25:9 Note the change from “my God” (v. 1) to our God. This verse is the faithful’s song of praise. Be glad and rejoice may be rephrased as “be exceedingly happy.” Salvation is deliverance from constraint, whether it is falling into a pit (Ps. 40:2) or the constraint of sin and death.[8]

25:9 Lord for whom we have waited. To wait for God entails an ultimate trust in Him, not becoming impatient when His timetable for final salvation differs from ours (cf. 26:8; 33:2; 40:31).[9]

25:9 Behold. See 24:1. At last, the realization of the forward-looking faith that patiently waited for a renewed society and a renewed earth (cf. the expectation in 40:9–11). this is our God. An expression of wholehearted identification with him (cf. Ex. 29:45–46). we have waited. Salvation is worth the wait, and is even worth the reproach of Isa. 25:8. Salvation is his entirely, God’s alone, from first to last (cf. Ex. 14:13; 15:2; Ps. 68:19–20; 98:2–3).[10]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Is 25:9). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Vol. 2, pp. 200–203). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Grogan, G. W. (2008). Isaiah. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 628). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Oswalt, J. N. (1986). The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39 (pp. 465–466). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 458). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1910). Isaiah (Vol. 1, p. 401). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[7] Martin, J. A. (1985). Isaiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1074). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 833). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[9] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 25:9). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[10] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1284). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

08/21/19 What Can Man Do to Me? — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Psalms 56-60, Romans 11:1-32

Today, I’m thinking of the persecuted church around the world. I admit that I’ve never even come close to walking in their shoes, and I’m almost embarrassed to speak of them as if I have some understanding of their battles. Nevertheless, I especially think of them as I read the words of the psalmist in Psalm 56.

The writer of the psalm apparently faced threats and attacks from his opponents. It was as if they were lurking everywhere, pursuing him and seeking to catch him in their snares. The psalmist’s refrains in this song, however, remind us of his hope:

  • “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psa 56:3-4)
  • “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psa 56:10-11).

It’s the question, “what can man do to me” that captures my attention. The answer to that question might seem frightening, in the sense that other men could, in fact, kill us for our faith; on the other hand, we also know that no enemy can take our life apart from God’s allowing that to happen in accordance with His divine plan. The worst man can do to us is kill us – in which case, God receives us into eternal life. Faithfulness to death leads to eternal reward.

Thus, we no longer need to fear what “mere mortals” can do to us when we learn to live with eternity in mind

PRAYER: “Lord, help me and my brothers and sisters around the world to live without fear today.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Psalms 61-66, Romans 11:33-12:21

via 08/21/19 What Can Man Do to Me? — ChuckLawless.com