Daily Archives: October 27, 2019

October 27 Obstructions to Overcome

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 5:6–10

Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Yesterday we discussed the important concept of seeking God’s best in our life decisions, which requires accepting God’s way and listening to His voice. Today, let us consider some common, potential obstructions that could stand in the way of receiving His best.

A primary inhibitor to wise decisions is taking our eyes off God. Many times, when unforeseen obstacles or trials enter our lives, we place our focus on the problem instead of the ultimate solution—God’s wisdom. It is in these times that we must not look at our shortcomings and inabilities. We must also avoid comparing ourselves to others. Instead, in our state of weakness, we must call upon the strength of the Lord. God has said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 nasb).

Another set of roadblocks we are likely to encounter are detours from Satan. The enemy will do everything in his power to lead you away from God and into a foolish decision. Therefore, we must discard ungodly counsel and be keenly aware of his conniving schemes. The Bible says that Satan is “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We must pray for protection and rely upon the discernment of the Holy Spirit in order to avoid disaster.

It is wonderful to know that we can count on the Lord Jesus Christ to help us overcome these obstacles to wise decision making. When our trust is in Him, He will guide our paths according to His will, and we will experience His best.

Dear Lord, remove every obstruction. Help me keep my focus on You, resist comparing myself to others, and avoid detours from Satan. Give me the discernment of the Holy Spirit.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

October 27 Life’s Most Important Activity

Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:1–6

Key Verse: Exodus 3:4

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

God got Moses’ attention in a spectacular way. Moses was going about his daily business when he saw the bush consumed in flame, yet not being consumed: “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’ ” (Ex. 3:4 nasb).

You’ve heard this story many times before, but have you ever noticed that Moses “turned aside to look”? In other words, he stopped what he was doing and moved his focus in a different direction—the direction of God. When he did, he was rewarded with a special, life-changing encounter.

You can have a time of meeting with God, too, by entering His presence in prayer and by reading His Word. Remember, Jesus lives in you through the power of the Holy Spirit, so His presence is always with you. However, you have active fellowship with Him as you meditate on His words to you.

Meditation quiets your spirit. God told Moses to be mindful that he was standing on holy ground. Moses was so awed and reverent that he followed God’s command to remove his shoes.

Meditation enlarges your view of God. Moses walked away with a new mission and a sense of God’s huge purposes for His people. You will discover more about God’s purposes for you when you turn aside to worship Him.

Dear Lord, quiet my spirit. Enlarge my view of Your omnipotence. Give me a new mission and sense of purpose as I wait before You.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

October 27 The Real Thing

Scripture reading: John 14:1–17

Key verse: Psalm 25:5

Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation;

On You I wait all the day.

The most potent hearing aid known to man is the Holy Bible. It is the standard of truth against which you can test every message that comes your way.

Making a decision on an issue important to you can be extremely difficult. Sometimes it may seem as if you are hearing two or more voices, all of which make seemingly good points but also tug you in different directions. In these times you must learn to discern the voice of God.

You can apply several principles to what you’re hearing to gauge whether it is of God, but the most basic is whether the message conflicts with Scripture. God won’t tell you to do something that counters what He already has recorded for all mankind.

Therefore, the best way to know God’s voice is to get to know Him. Spend time in His Word and soak in His truths. You must know God’s Word before you can differentiate God’s instructions from the messages that Satan or your flesh is sending you.

Do you know how investigators are trained to recognize counterfeit money? They don’t spend all of their time trying to keep up with the latest technological advances in creating false money. Instead, they first and foremost diligently study the original, the real thing. Then, held against the standard, the fake stuff stands out.

I want to know You better, Lord—and in so doing, learn to walk in Your will and Your ways.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

World leaders praise al-Baghdadi’s death, warn fight not over, #resistance rages at Trump for talking to Russia | RT USA News

President Donald Trump cheered the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but not everyone was in a celebratory mood. World leaders were cautiously optimistic, while the anti-Trump #resistance raged as usual.

On Sunday morning Trump revealed that the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) mastermind had met his demise the night before, detonating a suicide vest as American special forces entered his compound in northwestern Syria. The self-proclaimed caliph of a genocidal terrorist organization that once reigned over much of Iraq and Syria, Baghdadi’s death was greeted with triumph by Trump, and cautious celebration from world leaders.

Also on rt.com

How the operation to kill ISIS head al-Baghdadi unfolded (PHOTOS)

“The death of Baghdadi is an important moment in our fight against terror, but the battle against the evil of Daesh is not yet over,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, using a pejorative name for Baghdadi’s organization. Likewise, French Defense Minister Florence Parly hailed the “early retirement for a terrorist, but not for his organisation.”

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu were equally congratulatory, with both vowing to assist the US in future counter-terrorist operations.

Also on rt.com

Russian MoD doubts Trump’s announcement of killing ISIS chief al-Baghdadi, rejects claims it assisted US forces in op

Russian officials were more skeptical, with the chairman of the upper house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachyov cautioning that the death of Baghdadi had been incorrectly announced five times in the past, and warning that “countering terrorism is a much more difficult task than the physical destruction of its leaders.”

Back in Washington, partisan politics entered the fray. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) demanded that the House be briefed on the raid, and complained that “the Russians, but not top congressional leadership were notified.” 

Russian forces were warned of the raid so that the Americans could fly low through Syrian airspace they control, Trump claimed, although Moscow said there were no US coalition airstrikes in the Idlib area on Saturday and US aircraft were not flying.

Whatever the case, American and Russian forces in Syria have maintained several “deconfliction” lines of communication, and one might assume warning other armies in the area is the right thing to do to avoid inadvertent clashes.

As for Trump opting not to inform Pelosi and the Democrats, he said he wanted to avoid leaks to the media.

“There’s no country in the world that leaks like we do,” he said, “and Washington is a leaking machine.”

Nevertheless, the anti-Trump crowd hammered the president for “indicating that he trusts Russia with this information more than congressional Democrats,” as the Washington Post wrote. The Post also complained that Trump mentioned Russia in his speech before he mentioned the American intelligence community, as did the Twitter #resistance.

Among other bones picked by the #resistance was Trump’s insistence that Baghdadi’s death was a bigger moment than the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, under Barack Obama’s leadership.

CNN’s Jake Tapper, meanwhile, blasted Trump for delaying the start of his news conference by 20 minutes, while Obama started his on time. Par for the course for CNN.

Baghdadi’s death will be mourned by few in America, yet some disagreed with Trump’s graphic depiction of the jihad chief’s final moments, which he said were spent “whimpering and crying and screaming.” According to some, the IS leader, who oversaw genocide, execution, rape and forced religious conversion, deserved a little more respect.

Also on rt.com

‘He died like a dog, like a coward!’ Trump describes GRAPHIC death of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi

James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Obama, told CBS that Trump “piling humiliation” on Baghdadi after his death was inappropriate.

“If you look back at the Bin Laden raid, we treated his body with respect that is due under Islam,” Winnefeld continued, referring to the unceremonious burial at sea given to the 9/11 mastermind following his death at the hands of a Navy SEAL team.

“I think this is what Dems will settle on,” journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote. “Obama’s boasting of killing Bin Laden was done with elegance, class and dignity, while Trump’s was tacky, crass and unpresidential. What else do they have? It’s kind of a metaphor for the general contempt for Trump.”

Source: World leaders praise al-Baghdadi’s death, warn fight not over, #resistance rages at Trump for talking to Russia

‘My hair color was proof of guilt’: Maria Butina talks her arrest, the NRA, and Senate testimony (FULL INTERVIEW) | RT World News

Accused of spying and jailed in the US, Russian student and gun rights activist Maria Butina has told RT about her ordeal, from staring down a dozen armed FBI agents at her door to how Hollywood cliches served as proof of guilt.

Arrested in July 2018, Butina spent eight months in custody, most of it in solitary confinement, before eventually pleading guilty in December. Meanwhile US media telling juicy stories about her that later proved false.

“They just took some Hollywood clichés and made me the scapegoat,” she said. “The color of my hair and my features served as proof of guilt. That’s the way it should be, because we see it this way in the movies.”

Also on rt.com

‘Guard said he’d ‘f**k each and every one of us’ – released gun activist Butina recalls humiliation in US prison

Butina testified for eight hours to the Senate Intelligence Committee, where she was grilled by lawmakers on her contacts with the NRA. While prosecutors later viewed her dalliances with the NRA as an attempt to work her way into Republican circles, Butina herself told RT she was more interested in its work campaigning for gun rights that she wanted expanded in Russia, and decried how the organization has become “overly politicized,” and focused on supporting political candidates, instead of “self-defense rights.” 

Despite her ordeal, Butina believes good relations between Russia and the US would eventually be built “on the foundation of friendship between people, between students.” 

Watch or read her full exclusive interview to RT where she talks about all the facts and speculation of her saga.

RT’s Dmitry Leontiev: Maria, hello. I’m very happy you’re here, because it could have been very different. As far as I know, you could have faced five years in prison.

Maria Butina: Initially, it was 15.

Leontiev: 15?

Butina: Yes, then they cut it down to five. At first, the idea was that I would be given the time I spent on remand and then return home. However, it didn’t go as I expected, I was given a longer sentence.

Leontiev: Let’s start from the very beginning. What were you doing in the US? Why were you there?

Butina: I was studying. I enrolled in a master’s degree at a university in Washington to study international relations. After I obtained a work permit, and I was invited to work at the university as an assistant professor. And then, two days later, I was arrested.

Leontiev: Frankly speaking, I know you were not just studying, right? You were a political activist of sorts.

Butina: Yes, that’s true, but these two things do not contradict each other. I can tell you that when you come to study international relations, it’s only natural to do something practical in this area too. I always had a lot of respect for the US, and I still have. And I also love my home country dearly. So, I thought it only reasonable to do something for the sake of friendship between the two countries, to try to improve relations and engage in civic diplomacy.

Also on rt.com

‘Like a bad Hollywood flick with allegations as surreal as Alice in Wonderland’ – Russia’s Butina on US arrest

Leontiev: Is that still the case?

Butina: I still want to do that. There are good and bad people, it’s the same everywhere. I believe that the American people should really start paying attention to what is happening in their country. But there are good people there, I know this, so I think that good relations between Russia and the US will eventually be built on the foundation of friendship between people, between students – thanks to student exchange programs and religious affinity, too. That’s exactly what I was basically doing, building bridges between the countries though shared interests in gun rights, and I thought that everything would be OK. Unfortunately, the US authorities had been busy disrupting such activities, probably they don’t want peace.

Leontiev: After all what happened, do you think it is possible for relations between Russia and the US to improve?

Butina: Of course. I think that what happened to me, and how Russia is generally depicted in the US, has really nothing to do with Russia per se, they just picked a scapegoat. And especially now with all those petty games the Republicans and Democrats are playing for power. The establishment has nothing to do with people or with democracy, the politicians are just fighting for power and that’s why they need a foreign threat, an enemy. Who could make an ideal enemy? So, they picked Russia and now Russia is blamed for everything, even though there are no grounds for any of the accusations. And then they thought, let’s take some student – like myself – and put her behind bars, and say she is responsible for everything. That is just absurd. If I were a US national, I would be offended to hear something like that, that my own government treats me like that. Do they think I really don’t understand anything? That I cannot choose a candidate on my own, and I need Russian interference to help me make a choice? It’s just ridiculous.

© Sputnik/Vitaliy Belousov

Leontiev: This may sound naïve, but do you think this would have happened if the political climate had been more settled after Trump became president?

Butina: Certainly, political climate is one thing, and the other thing is racism. I regret to say it, but there is racism in the US. And it’s getting stronger. Look, if I belonged to any other ethnic group – not Russian – there would be no case. Today, however, if you are Russian and you are in the US, there is reason to be worried. And I am living proof.

Leontiev: Let’s talk about your arrest. How did it happen? And what did they charge you with at first?

Butina: That was a terrible day, it’s hard for me to recall what happened. My friend and I, we were about to move after I got a job. All our things were already packed up. And then I heard this wild banging on the door, so my friend went to see what it was and didn’t come back. I became nervous, and then I heard someone saying my name, ‘Maria, come in’. I slowly came up to the door, it was around the corner. I opened it to see some 12 FBI agents in full gear, with assault rifles. They told me to step out from the apartment and handcuffed me, asking whether I had anything I could use to hurt them. What? A copybook maybe? That’s how I was arrested, and until yesterday I was behind bars, today [October, 26] was my first sunrise in a free world.

Leontiev: What did they accuse you of initially, espionage? What?

Butina: I was never charged with espionage, that was simply speculation. The media blew it all out of proportion in their stories, perhaps because of how I looked and some fantasy they made up. Maybe they’ve seen too many Hollywood movies and thought this is how a spy should look. I don’t know, maybe they were just too thick.

Leontiev: Am I right saying that you testified before Congress behind closed doors, and those hearings lasted for some eight or nine hours. Congressmen were asking you questions and telling you to provide thousands of papers. What was all that about?

Also on rt.com

‘It was very hard to bear’: Maria Butina recalls how US media smeared her on TV & prison guards gathered to watch it

Butina: When the investigation started, the Senate Intelligence Committee sent me a request asking whether I would like to talk about my activities in relation to the National Rifle Association, the National Prayer Breakfast and why I visited it, as well as my ties with Alexander Torshin. And I said OK, no problem. The next day, I called up Mr. Torshin and…

Leontiev: Was that before your arrest?

Butina: Yes. So I told him about that letter and asked him what he thought I should do. I just wanted to hear his personal advice, because I do respect him and he is an old friend of mine, a very good friend and a mentor too. That’s why I asked him. And he said, Maria, give them all the documents, we are not doing anything wrong. We only want peace and friendship to prevail. And that’s the truth. I don’t know why they decided to search my place. I had given all the documents to the Senate two weeks prior to that. I gave it all voluntarily to show that I’d done nothing wrong, I had nothing to hide.

Leontiev: What were they asking you? Eight hours is a lot of time.

Butina: They asked me about everything I had been doing in the US. How I enrolled in that program and what was the purpose of the visit of NRA representatives to Russia.

Actually, after my home was searched, I didn’t change any passwords on my computer, didn’t delete any files. That’s because, again, I had done nothing wrong. I handed over all the documents voluntarily. So, I really don’t know why they needed to arrest me. If it was just because I didn’t register, then they could have simply fined me for that and that’s it. Why such cruelty, for what?

Leontiev: Right after your arrest, the US media said that a note was found after the police search. And supposedly you wrote that note, it read, “How to respond to an FSB offer of employment.” What was that note?

Butina: I didn’t write that note.

Leontiev: Oh, I see.

Butina: It was my friend who wrote that down, that’s first. Second, I can only guess what he meant by that. As far as I can tell by the conversations we had… listen, if my work eventually transformed into something more serious, then maybe it could have attracted some interest. But history is never hypothetical, it knows no ifs. The Russian security services were not interested in my activities in the US. Period. How can a note like that be considered proof? Especially if it wasn’t even mine. I really don’t understand how it could have become evidence in my case.

Read more

New twist in Butina case possible after FBI informant denied she posed threat to US – lawyer to RT

Leontiev: Now, the note was not the only thing that happened to you. Your story unraveled during the premiere of a movie about Russian female spies starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Butina: Regrettably

Leontiev: Spies who are ready to use sex for promotions, new contacts and a chance to reach high-profile US officials. This was the image the mainstream media exploited along with the Attorney General’s office, which had to apologize later, right? What was your response to these allegations?

Butina: They should be embarrassed. The US positions itself as a country that protects women’s rights. They should be ashamed of their behavior. They just made the allegations based on my looks. I have a great family. I am proud of it. Both of my grandmothers are teachers. We share the same name. I have nothing to do with these sex stories. What about my life? How do I live on? Yes, they apologized. But what about me now?

I was extremely surprised and saddened that the judge did not do anything about it. The only statement by the judge was, “It took me five minutes to realize that the communications you have submitted as proof are messages between friends” – back in Russia. It had nothing to do with the US.

It was completely absurd.

I thought she would defend me, defend my honor and my dignity, because she was also a woman.

They could have accused me of being anybody – a foreign agent or whatever…

But those allegations.

As if they didn’t know they were lying.

They knew it. They saw the messages. They realized it was a deliberate lie to keep me detained without any chance of bail.

What do I do now with my reputation?

Bottom line: It is a disgrace for the US.

Leontiev: Do you agree it was done on purpose to create an image for the US audience, that the public is familiar with?

Butina: Absolutely. They just took some Hollywood clichés and made me the scapegoat. The color of my hair and my features served as proof of guilt. That’s the way it should be, because we see it this way in the movies.

It was click bait and made for good headlines on TV. If you remove the sex for money hype, the case itself is pretty boring. Was I a foreign agent or not? That’s all bureaucratic, not really exciting. They added flames to the story. I saw with my own eyes that there is no justice in the US.

More than 90 percent of defendants plead guilty to avoid a jury, because they know they will be convicted. What kind of justice are we talking about?

Also on rt.com

US not bad but justice system broken: Butina talks about ‘terrifying’ solitary confinement, vows to fight for inmates’ rights

Leontiev: One of the most celebrated newspapers in the US, the New York Times, said you were the person who was supposed to organize a meeting between Trump and Putin… What would you say to that?

Butina: They think too much of me… Absolutely not. The only thing I did vis-à-vis Trump was ask him a question at a conference, and he initially wasn’t even meant to be there.

It was an annual Libertarians conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was interested in the event as a person who shares these views. Trump made a surprise visit and I had a chance to ask a question – and lo and behold – I asked him a question about Russia.

Simply because I am a Russian.

I don’t know why everyone was so surprised. There’s nothing strange about that.

I am often asked, ‘Why did you ask him about sanctions?’ I did it because I think trade is the foundation for good relations between countries. That’s been true for thousands of years. Trade has always been a solid foundation to improve ties. So it was natural that I asked him about the sanctions.

First and foremost, it affects the people of both countries.

Leontiev: Did you ever consider using legal means to force top US TV channels to change their narrative? And are you considering it now – or you have other matters to deal with now?

Butina: I am looking at possible options. My return to Russia is not the end of the story. It is just the beginning for me. It’s not right to just get over it and think it’s all in the past.

It’s not fame I want in this life. I must now become a voice for those who are unduly accused or maltreated. I feel I have to do some human rights campaigning. As for my personal case, I need to discuss it with my family first.

I think there will be a decision very soon.

Butina embraces her father Valery Butin upon arrival at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia, October 26 © Sputnik/Vitaliy Belousov

Leontiev: You signed a plea deal. We were watching the case very closely, just like all of Russia. Some lawyers said the prosecutors might not have enough evidence to prove your guilt. Why then take a plea bargain?

Butina: Imagine you are in a foreign country, away from your parents… you have no contact with your family. You are locked up in solitary confinement. It’s very cold and you sit on the floor. You might be facing a 15-year sentence. I thought about how old I was going to be and whether my parents were going to be alive when that day came. And then you find out, that according to statistics, in the US about 98% of defendants who face a jury get convicted. So the chance of you losing is, well, quite high. Besides, who would have been judging me? I would have faced a jury in Washington – the people who watch CNN, the people who have already been fed this narrative, and with those people, it wouldn’t have mattered what I was being accused of. I would have been on trial for being Russian. I would have been sentenced to 15 years. So I believe I made the only right decision. There was no other way.

Leontiev: You said you were put in solitary confinement. Why? Is that standard procedure? Or did they deem you dangerous in some way?

Butina: No, it’s not standard procedure. I don’t know why they had to be so cruel. I tend to think – this is just conjecture – that maybe they were trying to break my will or something like that, learn some secrets. But I didn’t have any secrets. I think that when we started those briefings, as they call them, with the prosecutors, they understood everything after the first or second talks. They had all my computers, which they still do, and all of my papers. I hadn’t deleted anything, and they searched through everything. There was nothing there. But they couldn’t admit there was nothing. They had to justify why the US tax payers paid for this show. So they did.

Leontiev: So this was a way to apply pressure?

Butina: Yes, of course. No doubt about it.

Leontiev: Would you be willing to go back to the US now? Or ever?

Butina: Well, first of all, I can’t go to the US now – I’m not allowed to.

Leontiev: So it’s out of the question, then.

Butina: Yes, in light of my hideous crime, trying to build bridges between the two countries – I’m being sarcastic here, of course – I’m not allowed to set foot in the US for 10 years. It’s forbidden. And, you know, I would’ve refrained from going there at this point, because right now the attitude towards Russians is not great. I’m living proof of that.

Leontiev: Tell us about how you met Mr Torshin? Was he the one who sent you to America? What role did he play in all this?

Butina: No, no one sent me to the US. I have always respected Mr. Torshin as a more experienced friend and a mentor. We met at a demonstration in support of gun rights. He has always been in favor of the right to carry guns, and I respect him for it. It hasn’t always been a popular stance – never popular, really – but he has consistently advocated for gun rights regardless. He has never sent me anywhere, of course. He had traveled to the US long before I did, and he needed no help from me. So our relationship was that of a mentor-student basis, and I have a great deal of respect for him. I don’t know what has been happening to him recently, since we haven’t been in touch. I hope he’s well, and I hope we’ll have a chance to talk.

Butina is welcomed by her father Valery Butin and Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova upon her arrival at Sheremetyevo International Airport on Saturday, October 26 © Sputnik/Vitaliy Belousov

Leontiev: Your activism regarding the Second Amendment and that we need to have something like that in Russia, how did it come about?

Butina: It came from my family. My dad taught me how to handle a gun, and this interest of mine grew into an NGO to protect the rights of people who found themselves in situations that required self defense. It’s important to me, and my views on the issue haven’t changed. I’ll tell you what – the curious thing is, on the second day after my arrest, Russian diplomats came to me, even though gun rights have never been on the official Russian government agenda, even though I have never been a pro-Kremlin activist. The people from the Embassy came, and they supported me every day, they fought for me every day, just because I was a Russian national. I’m very proud of that.

Leontiev: Considering the complex environment we have, is it realistic to have a law similar to the Second Amendment in Russia? Even in the US, many people believe that it causes more murders and facilitates mass violence. Especially considering school shootings.

Butina: Unfortunately, this happens in Russia as well. Let’s be clear, our organization has always advocated self defense weapons to be legal, namely pistols and revolvers. Today, unfortunately, we are only allowed long-barrel firearms, which obviously cannot be carried for self defense purposes, and traumatic guns, which, sadly, tend to feature a lot in crime reports. I believe that those who are fighting crime on the front line – I mean people first and then the police – should be able to use real firearms in self defense situations. I think that can be done in Russia, we are in no way inferior to those countries that allow it.

Also on rt.com

US prison sentence for Butina a ‘travesty of justice’ – Putin

Leontiev: Are you ready to continue your work?

Butina: Absolutely. Our organization is headed by a great person. By the way, my organization and my colleagues supported me, they wrote letters and no one abandoned me. I am very grateful for that. The head of our organization supported and defended me too. I think I should let him continue to represent our organization. And of course, I will support them. However, due to what happened, the focus of my work will certainly shift.

Leontiev: You won’t be working with the NRA?

Butina: I was expelled from the NRA. An official notification was sent to me – to my lawyers – saying that now that I have a criminal record, the NRA Charter requires to discontinue my membership, so I was officially expelled. So the NRA dodged that bullet.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., April 28, 2019. © REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Leontiev: Most Russians maybe have a stereotype of the NRA. What is the organization really like? What are the members like and who runs it?

Butina: There are all sorts of people there… Overall, the NRA is a great organization, I mean… I’ll put it this way: it’s very successful in terms of campaigning for gun rights. But there is one thing I want to say – and the fact that I was expelled speaks to that, too – it has become overly politicized. While I believe that an organization campaigning for gun rights, for self defense rights… you know, like me in Russia, it should be balanced in terms of politics, because it is more about general civil rights. Whereas the NRA today basically supports political candidates. And that’s exactly why they cannot just focus on gun rights anymore, and it’s a pity – because when I joined the NRA, when I went to the United States, I looked up to them, I came to see how they built it. And I wanted to see this American dream, you know, I was like a moth to a flame, attracted to all these great things. And unfortunately, now I don’t know the answer – where is life great for people? It seems to me America is not the answer.

Leontiev: The American dream turned into a nightmare.

Butina: Yes, it did.

Source: ‘My hair color was proof of guilt’: Maria Butina talks her arrest, the NRA, and Senate testimony (FULL INTERVIEW)

October 27, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

1. “O give thanks unto the Lord.” The exhortation is intensely earnest: the Psalmist pleads with the Lord’s people with an “O,” three times repeated. Thanks are the least that we can offer, and these we ought freely to give. The inspired writer calls us to praise Jehovah for all his goodness to us, and all the greatness of his power in blessing his chosen. We thank our parents, let us praise our heavenly Father; we are grateful to our benefactors, let us give thanks unto the Giver of all good. “For he is good.” Essentially he is goodness itself, practically all that he does is good, relatively he is good to his creatures. Let us thank him that we have seen, proved, and tasted that he is good. He is good beyond all others; indeed, he alone is good in the highest sense; he is the source of good, the good of all good, the sustainer of good, the perfecter of good, and the rewarder of good. For this he deserves the constant gratitude of his people. “For his mercy endureth for ever.” We shall have this repeated in every verse of this song, but not once too often. It is the sweetest stanza that a man can sing. What joy that there is mercy, mercy with Jehovah, enduring mercy, mercy enduring for ever. We are ever needing it, trying it, praying for it, receiving it: therefore let us for ever sing of it.

“When all else is changing within and around,

In God and his mercy no change can be found.”[1]

136:1 The second half of Ps 136:1 is repeated verbatim throughout the psalm.

Give thanks to Yahweh While thanksgiving and praise are closely related in the Psalms, thanksgiving is usually connected to something God has done, while praise is based on God’s excellence and character.

loyal love The Hebrew word used here, chesed—which refers to God’s covenantal love (see note on 25:10)—is rooted in His commitment to Israel that developed in a series of promises given to Israel’s great leaders.

Mercy Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words

Chesed Word Study

endures forever The Hebrew expression used here, le’olam, conveys the unceasing nature of God’s commitment over the course of Israel’s history.[2]

136:1 his steadfast love endures forever. God’s mercy is His devotion to His people, to whom He is freely bound by the pledge of His own grace in His covenant. See theological note “God Is Love: Divine Goodness and Faithfulness” on next page.[3]

136:1 In Jewish tradition this psalm is referred to as “The Great Hallel,” in contradistinction to “The Lesser Hallel” (Ps. 113–118). Cf. 113:1, note. It is also somewhat similar toPs. 135. The Lord’s mercy (hesed, Heb., denoting “covenant love and faithfulness”) is mentioned in all 26 refrains.[4]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 120-150 (Vol. 6, p. 204). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 136:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 857). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ps 136:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Sunday’s Hymn: Saviour Like a Shepherd Lead Us — Rebecca Writes


Saviour, like a Shepherd lead us,
Much we need thy tend’rest care;
In thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, thine we are.

We are thine; do thou befriend us,
Be the Guardian of our way;
Keep thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear the children when they pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and pow’r to free:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Let us early turn to thee.

Early let us seek thy favor;
Early let us do thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Saviour,
With thy love our bosoms fill
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Dor­o­thy A. Thrupp


Other hymns, worship songs, or quotes for this Sunday:

via Sunday’s Hymn: Saviour Like a Shepherd Lead Us — Rebecca Writes

William Lane Craig lectures on the moral argument at Georgia Tech


Making sense of the meaning of atheism Making sense of the meaning of atheism

This video has 3 parts, as well as questions and answers in individual clips.

For those who cannot watch the video, you can read this essay by Dr. Craig which covers exactly the same ground as the video. The essay is for Christians already familiar with basic apologetics.

Part 1 of 3:

Part 2 of 3:

Part 2 of 3:

Here’s a quick couple of quotes from the essay for those who cannot watch:

If there is no God, then any ground for regarding the herd morality evolved by homo sapiens as objectively true seems to have been removed. After all, what is so special about human beings? They are just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively…

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October 27 The Word of the Lord

scripture reading: 1 Kings 17
key verse: 1 Kings 17:2

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying …

When we think of Elijah, we usually focus on his exceptional faith in God. Such believing faith is not the exclusive domain of prophets or disciples. Every Christian is called to live and walk by faith.

Notice how many times the phrase “the word of the Lord” occurs in 1 Kings 17. Elijah’s mighty deeds are repeatedly preceded by this pronouncement.

For believers today, “the word of the Lord” is not delivered by angels or dreams or given orally. Rather, God’s word is His revelation of truth in the Bible. Scripture is filled with the same divine significance that Elijah experienced when he heard “the word of the Lord.”

Your faith is anchored in the eternal principles of God’s Word whose Author is the Holy Spirit. That should bring an awesome sense of reverence and new anticipation as you approach this supernatural communication of God.

As such, it is the cornerstone for life–changing faith. Believe the Word, and you are saved from sin’s penalty. Believe the Word, and you can be delivered from sinful strongholds. Believe the Word about any issue, attribute, or problem, and your faith in His truth will work miracles in your life.

Heavenly Father, what a privilege that the God of the universe should communicate to me! Thank You for Your Word, which guides and directs my life.[1]


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

12 Songs for Reformation Day — Michelle Lesley

Reformation Day is Thursday, October 31. Next week we’ll be celebrating all week with Reformation-focused articles. Here’s a little taste to help us get ready!

Originally published October 27, 2017

Reformation Day, October 31, is the annual observance of the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Celebrate the day with these songs showcasing each of the Five Solas of the Reformation, or use them as a guide for your Reformation Sunday worship set. Soli Deo Gloria!

Sola Scriptura

Scripture alone – not church traditions, the teachings of man, or extra-biblical revelation – is what we base our beliefs and worship practices on.

O Word of God, Incarnate

The B-I-B-L-E


Solus Christus

There is salvation in no other name but that of Christ alone.

In Christ Alone

The Church’s One Foundation


Sola Gratia

We are saved by God’s grace alone, not by any merit or righteousness of our own.

Grace Alone

Grace Greater Than Our Sin


Sola Fide

We are not saved by good works, by by faith alone.

On Faith Alone I Stand

Let Us Plead for Faith Alone – Sola Fide


Soli Deo Gloria

To God alone be the glory for our salvation!

Soli Deo Gloria

Glorious is Thy Name

Reformation Hymn

A Mighty Fortress is Our God


What’s your favorite Reformation Day song?

I have not exhaustively vetted these musicians and songwriters. please make sure to examine against scripture any of them you choose to follow and make sure they are doctrinally sound.

Reformation Day, 2019 (Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon Quotes)

Here [in Romans 3:1–20] the question arises: How can a person be justified without the works of the Law, or how can it be that justification does not flow from our works? For St. James writes: “We see how that by works a man is justified, and and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). So also St. Paul: “Faith . . . worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6); and: “The doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13). To this we reply: as the Apostle distinguishes between the law and faith, the letter and grace, so also he distinguishes between the works resulting from these. He calls those deeds “works of the Law” that are done without faith and divine grace, merely because of the law, moved by either fear of punishment or the alluring hope of reward. By works of faith he calls those deeds which are done in the spirit of (Christian) liberty and flow from love to God. These can be done only by such as are justified by faith. Justification, however, is not in any way promoted by the works of the Law, but they rather hinder it, because they keep a person from regarding himself as unrighteous and so in need of justification. When James and Paul say that a man is justified by works, they argue against the false opinion of those who think that (for justification) a faith suffices that is without works. Paul does not say that true faith exists without its proper works, for without these there is not true faith. But what he says is that it is faith alone that justifies, regardless of works. Justification therefore does not presuppose the works of the law, but rather a living faith which performs its proper works, as we read Galatians 5:67.

By the law is the knowledge of sin (3:20). Such knowledge of sin is obtained in two ways. First, by meditation (of the Law), as we read in Romans 7:7: “I had not know lust except the law had said, thou shalt not covet.” Secondly, by experience, namely, by trying to fulfill the Law, or we may say, through the Law as was assure to fulfill its obligations. Then the Law will become to us as occasion to sin, for then the perverted will of man, inclined to evil, but urged by the Law to do good, becomes all the more unwillingly and disinclined to do what is good. It hates to be drawn away from what it loves; and what it loves is sin, as we learn from Geneses 8:21. But just so, man, forced by the Law and obeying it unwillingly, sees how deeply sin and evil are rooted in his soul. He would never notice this, if he did not have the Law and would not try to follow it. The Apostle here only mentions this though, since he intends to treat it more fully in Chapters 5 and 7. Here he merely meets the objection that the Law would be useless if its works could not justify.

—Martin Luther, Luther’s Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1954), 59–60.

Accordingly, [David], after he states, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament shows forth the works of his hands, the ordered succession of days and nights proclaims his majesty” [Ps. 19:1–2 p.], then proceeds to mention his Word: “The law of the Lord is spotless, converting souls; the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones; the righteous acts of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts; the precept of the Lord is clear, enlightening eyes” [Ps. 28:8–9, Vg.; 19:7–8, EV]. For although he also includes other uses of the law, he means in general that, since God in vain calls all peoples to himself by the contemplation of heaven and earth, this is the very school of God’s children. Psalm 29 looks to this same end, where the prophet—speaking forth concerning God’s awesome voice, which strikes the earth in thunder [v. 3], winds, rains, whirlwinds and tempests, causes mountains to tremble [v. 6], shatters the cedars [v. 5]—finally adds at the end that his praises are sung in the sanctuary because the unbelievers are deaf to all the voices of God that resound in the air [vs. 9–11]. Similarly, he thus ends another psalm where he has described the awesome waves of the sea: “Thy testimonies have been verified, the beauty and holiness of thy temple shall endure forevermore” [Psalm 93:5 p.]. Hence, also, arises that which Christ said to the Samaritan woman, that her people and all other peoples worshiped they knew not what; that the Jews alone offered worship to the true God [John 4:22]. For, since the human mind because of its feebleness can in no way attain to God unless it be aided and assisted by his Sacred Word, all mortals at that time—except for the Jews—because they were seeking God without the Word, had of necessity to stagger about in vanity and error.

—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), 1.6.4.

We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark eras, whose names breathe terror in our foemen’s ears. We have dire need of such. Whence will they come to us? They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the church, and will come in due time. He has power to give us back again a golden age of preachers, and when the good old truth is once more preached by men whose lips are touched as with a live coal from off the altar, this shall be the instrument in the hand of the Spirit for bringing about a great and thorough revival of religion in the land.

—Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography, Vol. 1: The Early Years, 1834–1859, comp. Susannah Spurgeon and Joseph Harrald (Banner of Truth, 1962), v.

Source: Reformation Day, 2018

Five Solas In One Hymn — The Outspoken TULIP

This coming Thursday marks 502 years since Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses challenging certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church. His simple act officially launched the Protestant Reformation, which restored God’s Word and basic Gospel principles to Christianity.

Five Latin phrases summarize the core values of Reformation theology:

  • Sola Fide, by faith alone.
  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
  • Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

As evangelicals, we celebrate these precious Five Solas as the foundational principles of Biblical Christianity. So, looking forward to Reformation Day on Thursday, let’s listen to a beautiful modern hymn praising the Lord through these Five Solas.

via Five Solas In One Hymn — The Outspoken TULIP

Sunday Word of the Week: Immanence — The End Time

Last week the word was Transcendence. God is apart from His creation, different from it. This week the word is Immanent or Immanence,

God’s immanence refers to His presence within His creation. (It is not to be confused with imminence, which refers to the timing of Jesus’ return to earth.) A belief in God’s immanence holds that God is present in all of creation, while remaining distinct from it. In other words, there is no place where God is not. His sovereign control extends everywhere simultaneously. Source GotQuestions

Immanence: God’s presence and activity within the creation and human history. Source: Biblical Doctrine, MacArthur/Mayhue, p 931

God is so majestic! Mysterious! How can He be both apart from His creation, and present within it?! At the same time? It shows who our God is. It’s why I chose these two words one after the other to demonstrate His essential otherness.

One other notion that is important to emphasize.

Pantheism and deism twist many people’s view of how God relates to His creation. Pantheists believe that everything is God or is a part of God, making Him equal with His creation and unable to act upon it. Deists hold that God is distinct from His creation but deny that He plays an active role in it. Contrary to these and other false views of God, the Bible says that God is both different from His creation and actively upholding it.

We must not stress His immanence at the expense of His transcendence, and vice versa.

That they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, (Acts 17:27).

Note: Modern pantheism is seen in William P. Young’s The Shack, Oprah Winfrey’s promotion of Eckart Tolle, and in Ann Voskamps’s book One Thousand Gifts as an offshoot of pantheism, panentheism. It is easy to twist both immanence and transcendence, either by direct twisting or omitting one in favor of the other. It is why it is important to learn these terms so we retain a balanced view of God.

via Sunday Word of the Week: Immanence — The End Time

27 october (preached 17 february 1861) 365 Days with Spurgeon

None but Jesus

“He that believeth on him is not condemned.” John 3:18

suggested further reading: Hebrews 12:5–11

You are never liable as a believer to punishment for your sins. You will be chastised on account of them, as a father chastises his child; that is part of the gospel dispensation; but you will not be smitten for your sins as the lawgiver smites the criminal. Your Father may often punish you as he punished the wicked, but never for the same reason. The ungodly stand on the ground of their own demerits; their sufferings are awarded as their due deserts. But your sorrows do not come to you as a matter of desert; they come to you as a matter of love. God knows that in one sense your sorrows are such a privilege that you may account of them as a boon you do not deserve. I have often thought of that when I have had a sore trouble. I know some people say, “You deserved the trouble.” Yes, my dear brethren, but there is not enough merit in all the Christians put together, to deserve such a good thing as the loving rebuke of our heavenly Father. Perhaps you cannot see that; you cannot think that a trouble can come to you as a real blessing in the covenant. But I know that the rod of the covenant is as much the gift of grace as the blood of the covenant. It is not a matter of merit; it is given to us because we need it. But I question whether we were ever so good as to deserve it. We were never able to get up to so high a standard as to deserve so rich, so gracious a providence as this covenant blessing—the rod of our chastening God.

for meditation: When disciplined by his heavenly Father, the Christian is experiencing a beatitude (Job 5:17; Psalm 94:12)!

sermon no. 362[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 307). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

27 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Loving as Christ Loved

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25

suggested further reading: Matthew 19:1–12

Now let husbands consider well what they owe to their wives: that they should be as dear to them as their own lives. Even so, they will not reach the perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ but follow a great way behind him.

For their part, wives must bear in mind that since God’s will is that marriage should be a type of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, they will be much too ungrateful if they do not submit themselves as God calls them to their husbands. At the same time, Paul means to magnify God’s goodness toward us and the love that Jesus Christ has borne us in saying that he gave himself for us. Therefore, let us acknowledge that Christ’s love comes to us by the free mercy of God his Father, and that our Lord Jesus Christ had respect to nothing but our miseries when he showed himself so merciful in helping us.

If we keep these things in mind, we shall be moved as husbands and wives to obey each other without disputing. Then, too, we shall be set afire to glorify God and acknowledge with our mouth and by our whole life how much we are indebted to him. In this we show that God not only has released us from condemnation and drawn us out of death but also has condescended to give us his well-beloved Son as a pledge of his love. Jesus Christ has willingly become the pledge and ransom to acquit us before God, so that the devil also might not have anything against us. For Satan is our adversary, and we are subject to him until our Redeemer sets us free from the devil’s bondage.

for meditation: If Christ has forgiven the sins of his people, how can they refuse to forgive the sins of others, especially of their spouses? Christian husbands must remember how much they have been forgiven, and be forgiving of their wives. In addition, they should be willing to sacrifice themselves for their wives, just as Christ did. A healthy marriage is founded in Christ. Husbands, are you reflecting Christ in your marriage by leading your wife in love and submitting to God?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 319). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

E Church 10.26.2019- Wade Burleson: Too Much Distraction — The Wartburg Watch

Autumn by the Lake

A Prayer of Confession from the Worship Sourcebook:

God of mercy, you sent Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost.
We confess that we have strayed from you and turned aside from your way.
We are misled by pride, for we see ourselves pure when we are stained and great when we are small.
We have failed in live, neglected justice, and ignored your truth.
Have mercy, O God, and forgive our sin.
Return us to paths of righteousness through Jesus Christ, our Savior.

A Prayer from John Wesley

O merciful Father, do not consider what we have done against you;
but what our blessed Savior has done for us.
Don’t consider what we have made of ourselves,
but what He is making of us for you our God.
O that Christ may be “wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption”
to every one of our souls.
May His precious blood may cleanse us from all our sins,
and your Holy Spirit renew and sanctify our souls.
May He crucify our flesh with its passion and lusts,
and cleanse all our brothers and sisters in Christ across the earth.

Scripture: Psalm 1 NIV. Bible Gateway

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Wade Burleson-Too Much Distraction from Emmanuel Enid on Vimeo.


A Prayer from Augustine of Hippo:

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Guard me, O Holy Spirit, that I myself may always be holy.

via E Church 10.26.2019- Wade Burleson: Too Much Distraction —

October 27, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

Happy Are the Meek


Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. (5:5)

Like the first two beatitudes, this one must have been shocking and perplexing to Jesus’ hearers. He taught principles that were totally foreign to their thinking.

Jesus’ audience knew how to act spiritually proud and spiritually self-sufficient. They were proficient in erecting a pious facade. They actually believed that the Messiah was coming soon and would commend them for their goodness. He would, at last, give the Jewish people their rightful place in the world—a position above all other people, because they were the chosen of God.

They eagerly anticipated that the Messiah would deal gently with them and harshly with their oppressors, who for nearly a hundred years had been the Romans. After the Maccabean revolution that freed them from Greece, the Jews had a brief time of independence. But Rome’s rule, though not as cruel and destructive, was much more powerful than that of Greece. Since 63 b.c., when Pompey annexed Palestine to Rome, the region had been ruled primarily by puppet kings of the Herodian family and by Roman governors, or procurators, the best known of which to us was Pilate.

The Jews so despised Roman oppression that sometimes they even refused to admit it existed. One day as He taught on the Mount of Olives, Jesus had one of His strongest exchanges with the Pharisees. When He said “to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,’ ” the Pharisees’ response was strange. “We are Abraham’s offspring,” they said, “and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You shall become free?’ ” (John 8:31–33). The fact was, of course, that Israel’s history was one of repeated conquest and oppression—by Egypt, Assyria, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, and, at that very time, Rome. Apparently pride would not allow those Pharisees to acknowledge one of the most obvious facts of their nation’s history and of their present situation.

All Jews hoped for deliverance of some sort, by some means. Many were expecting deliverance to come through the Messiah. God had directly promised the godly Simeon “that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ,” that is, the Messiah (Luke 2:26). Simeon’s expectation was fulfilled when he was given the privilege of seeing the true Messiah as an infant. Others, however, such as the Pharisees, expected the Messiah to come with great fanfare and a mighty show of supernatural power. They assumed He would miraculously throw off the yoke of Rome and establish a Jewish state, a revived theocracy and holy commonwealth that would rule the world. Others, such as the materialistic Sadducees, hoped for change through political compromise, for which they were despised by many fellow Jews. The monastic Essenes, isolated both physically and philosophically from the rest of Judaism, lived largely as if Rome and the rest of the world did not exist.

The Zealots, as their name implies, were the most vocal and active proponents of deliverance. Many of them expected the Messiah to come as a powerful, irresistible military leader who would conquer Rome in the same way that Rome had conquered them. They were not, however, waiting passively for their Deliverer, but were determined that, whenever and however He might come, they would do their part to make His job easier. Their numbers, influence, and power continued to grow until Rome brutally attempted to crush Jewish resistance. In a.d. 70 Titus totally destroyed Jerusalem and massacred over a million Jews. Three years later Flavius Silva finally succeeded in his long siege against the stronghold at Masada. When Jewish rebelliousness continued to frustrate Rome, Hadrian swept through Palestine during the years 132–35 and systematically destroyed most of the cities and slaughtered the Jews living there.

In Jesus’ day the aggressive, rebellious Zealots were not many in number, but they had the sympathy and moral support of many of the people, who wanted Rome to be overthrown, however it was done.

Consequently, in whatever way various groups of people expected the Messiah to come, they did not anticipate His coming humbly and meekly. Yet those were the very attitudes that Jesus, the one whom John the Baptist had announced as the Messiah, was both teaching and practicing. The idea of a meek Messiah leading meek people was far from any of their concepts of the messianic kingdom. The Jews understood military power and miracle power. They even understood the power of compromise, unpopular as it was. But they did not understand the power of meekness.

The people as a whole eventually rejected Jesus because He did not fulfill their messianic expectations. He even preached against the means in which they had put their hope. They first rejected, then hated, and finally killed Him because, instead of approving their religion He condemned it, and instead of leading them to independence from Rome He disdained revolutionary acts and offered a way of even greater subservience.

In their minds Jesus could not possibly be the Messiah, and the final evidence was His crucifixion. The Old Testament taught that anyone hanged on a tree was “accursed of God” (Deut. 21:23), yet that is exactly where Jesus’ life ended—ignominiously on a cross, and a Roman cross at that. As He hung dying, some of the Jewish leaders could not resist a last taunt against His claim to be Savior and Messiah: “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we shall believe in Him. He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God’ ” (Matt. 27:42–43).

In the early days of apostolic preaching, the death and resurrection of Christ were the greatest hindrances to belief in the gospel. The ideas were foolishness to Gentiles and a stumbling block to Jews (1 Cor. 1:23). The gospel was foolishness to those Gentiles who considered the body to be inherently evil and thought it absurd that the Savior of the world not only would allow Himself to be killed but would come back from the dead in bodily form. To the Jews the gospel was a stumbling block because the idea of the Messiah dying at all, much less on a cross, was unthinkable. How could a Messiah who taught for a few years, accomplished absolutely nothing as far as anyone could see, and then was rejected by the religious teachers and put to death be worth believing in? (cf. Acts 3:17–18).

But rejection of Jesus started long before His crucifixion. When He began the Sermon on the Mount by teaching humility, mourning, and meekness, the people sensed something was wrong. This strange preacher could hardly be the deliverer they were looking for. Great causes are fought by the proud, not the humble. You cannot win victories while mourning, and you certainly could never conquer Rome with meekness. In spite of all the miracles of His ministry, the people never really believed in Him as the Messiah, because He failed to act in military or miracle power against Rome.

The Jews were not looking for the Messiah that God had told them was coming. They disregarded such parts of His Word as Isaiah 40–60, which so clearly and vividly portrays the Messiah as the Suffering Servant as well as the conquering Lord. They could not accept the idea that such descriptions as, “He has no stately form or majesty.… He was despised and forsaken of men.… He was oppressed and He was afflicted … like a lamb that is led to slaughter … that He was cut off out of the land of the living,” and “His grave was assigned with wicked men” (Isa. 53:2–3, 7–9) could apply to the Messiah, to the coming great deliverer of the Jews.

Jesus’ teaching seemed new and unacceptable to most of His hearers simply because the Old Testament was so greatly neglected and misinterpreted. They did not recognize the humble and self-denying Jesus as the Messiah because they did not recognize God’s predicted Suffering Servant as the Messiah. That was not the kind of Messiah they wanted.

The Meaning of Meekness

Gentle is from praos, which basically means mild or soft. The term sometimes was used to describe a soothing medicine or a soft breeze. It was used of colts and other animals whose naturally wild spirits were broken by a trainer so that they could do useful work. As a human attitude it meant being gentle of spirit, meek, submissive, quiet, tenderhearted. During His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus was hailed as the coming King, though He was “gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matt. 21:5). Paul lovingly referred to the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1) as the pattern for his own attitude.

The essential difference between being poor in spirit and being meek, or gentle, may be that poverty in spirit focuses on our sinfulness, whereas meekness focuses on God’s holiness. The basic attitude of humility underlies both virtues. When we look honestly at ourselves, we are made humble by seeing how sinful and unworthy we are; when we look at God, we are made humble by seeing how righteous and worthy He is.

We again can see logical sequence and progression in the Beatitudes. Poverty of spirit (the first) is negative, and results in mourning (the second). Meekness (the third) is positive, and results in seeking righteousness (the fourth). Being poor in spirit causes us to turn away from ourselves in mourning, and meekness causes us to turn toward God in seeking His righteousness.

The blessings of the Beatitudes are for those who are realistic about their sinfulness, who are repentant of their sins, and who are responsive to God in His righteousness. Those who are unblessed, unhappy, and shut out of the kingdom are the proud, the arrogant, the unrepentant—the self-sufficient and self-righteous who see in themselves no unworthiness and feel no need for God’s help and God’s righteousness.

Most of Jesus’ hearers, like fallen men throughout history, were concerned about justifying their own ways, defending their own rights, and serving their own ends. The way of meekness was not their way, and therefore the true kingdom was not their kingdom. The proud Pharisees wanted a miraculous kingdom, the proud Sadducees wanted a materialistic kingdom, the proud Essenes wanted a monastic kingdom, and the proud Zealots wanted a military kingdom. The humble Jesus offered a meek kingdom.

Meekness has always been God’s way for man. It is the way of the Old Testament. In the book of Job we are told that God “sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety” (5:11). Moses, the Jews’ great deliverer and law-giver, “was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). The Jews’ great King David, their supreme military hero, wrote, “He [the Lord] leads the humble injustice, and He teaches the humble His way” (Ps. 25:9).

Meekness is the way of the New Testament. It is taught by Jesus in the Beatitudes as well as elsewhere and is continued to be taught by the apostles. Paul entreated the Ephesians to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love” (Eph. 4:1–2). He told the Colossians to “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). He told Titus to remind those under his leadership “to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:1–2).

Meekness does not connote weakness. The word was used in much extrabiblical literature to refer to the breaking of an animal. Meekness means power put under control. A person without meekness is “like a city that is broken into and without walls” (Prov. 25:28). “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32). An unbroken colt is useless; medicine that is too strong will harm rather than cure; a wind out of control destroys. Emotion out of control also destroys, and has no place in God’s kingdom. Meekness uses its resources appropriately.

Meekness is the opposite of violence and vengeance. The meek person, for example, accepts joyfully the seizing of his property, knowing that he has infinitely better and more permanent possessions awaiting him in heaven (Heb. 10:34). The meek person has died to self, and he therefore does not worry about injury to himself, or about loss, insult, or abuse. The meek person does not defend himself, first of all because that is His Lord’s command and example, and second because he knows that he does not deserve defending. Being poor in spirit and having mourned over his great sinfulness, the gentle person stands humbly before God, knowing he has nothing to commend himself.

Meekness is not cowardice or emotional flabbiness. It is not lack of conviction nor mere human niceness. But its courage, its strength, its conviction, and its pleasantness come from God, not from self. The spirit of meekness is the spirit of Christ, who defended the glory of His Father, but gave Himself in sacrifice for others. Leaving an example for us to follow, He “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:21–23).

Though He was sinless, and therefore never deserved criticism or abuse, Jesus did not resist slander or repay injustice or threaten His tormentors. The only human being who did no wrong, the One who always had a perfect defense, never defended Himself.

When His Father’s house was profaned by moneychangers and sacrifice sellers, “He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables” (John 2:14–15). Jesus scathingly and repeatedly denounced the hypocritical and wicked religious leaders; He twice cleansed the Temple by force; and He fearlessly uttered divine judgment on those who forsook and corrupted God’s Word.

But Jesus did not once raise a finger or give a single retort in His own defense. Though at any time He could have called legions of angels to His side (Matt. 26:53), He refused to use either natural or supernatural power for His own welfare. Meekness is not weakness, but meekness does not use its power for its own defense or selfish purposes. Meekness is power completely surrendered to God’s control.

The Manifestation of Meekness

The best way to describe meekness is to illustrate it, to see it in action. Scripture abounds with instructive accounts of meekness.

After God had called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans to the Promised Land and had made the marvelous unconditional covenant with him, a dispute about grazing lands arose between the servants of Abraham and those of his nephew Lot. All the land of Canaan had been promised to Abraham. He was God’s chosen man and the Father of God’s chosen people. Lot, on the other hand, was essentially a hanger-on, an in-law who was largely dependent on Abraham for his welfare and safety. Besides that, Abraham was Lot’s uncle and his elder. Yet Abraham willingly let Lot take whatever land he wanted, thus giving up his rights and prerogatives for the sake of his nephew, for the sake of harmony between their households, and for the sake of their testimony before “the Canaanite and the Perizzite [who] were dwelling then in the land” (Gen. 13:5–9). Those things were much more important to Abraham than standing up for his own rights. He had both the right and the power to do as he pleased in the matter, but in meekness he gladly waived his rights and laid aside his power.

Joseph was abused by his jealous brothers and eventually sold into slavery. When, by God’s gracious plan, he came to be second only to Pharaoh in Egypt, he was in a position to take severe vengeance on his brothers. When they came to Egypt asking for grain for their starving families, Joseph could easily have refused and, in fact, could have put his brothers into more severe slavery than that into which they had sold him. Yet he had only forgiveness and love for them. When he finally revealed to them who he was, “he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it” (Gen. 45:2). Then he said to them, “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.… Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (vv. 5, 8). Later he told them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (50:19–20). In meekness Joseph understood that it was God’s place to judge and his to forgive and help.

Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating some Hebrew slaves; faced up to Pharaoh to demand the release of his people; and was so angry at the orgy that Aaron and the people were having around the golden calf that he smashed the first set of tablets of the Ten Commandments. Yet he was called “very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Moses vented his anger against those who harmed and enslaved his people and who rebelled against God, but he did not vent his anger against those who abused him or demand personal rights and privileges.

When God called him to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses felt completely inadequate, and pleaded, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11). After God explained His plan for Moses to confront Pharaoh, Moses again pleaded, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (4:10). Moses would defend God before anyone, but he did not defend himself before God.

David was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to replace Saul as Israel’s king. But when, in the cave of Engedi, he had the opportunity to take Saul’s life, as Saul often had tried to take his, David refused to do so. He had such great respect for the king’s office, despite that particular king’s wickedness and abuse of him, that “David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. So he said to his men, ‘Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed’ ” (1 Sam. 24:5–6).

Many years later, after David’s rebellious son Absalom had routed his father from Jerusalem, a member of Saul’s family named Shimei cursed David and threw stones at him. When one of David’s soldiers wanted to cut off Shimei’s head, David prevented him, saying, “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him. Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day” (2 Sam. 16:5–12).

By contrast, King Uzziah, who began to reign at the age of sixteen and who “did right in the sight of the Lord,” and “continued to seek God” (2 Chron. 26:4–5), became self-confident after the Lord gave him great victories over the Philistines, Ammonites, and other enemies. “When he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense” (v. 16). Uzziah thought he could do no wrong, and arrogantly performed a rite that he knew was restricted to the priests. He was so concerned with exalting himself and glorying in his greatness, that he disobeyed the God who had made him great and even profaned His Temple. As a consequence “King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the Lord” (v. 21).

Of the many examples of meekness in the New Testament, the greatest other than Jesus Himself was Paul. He was by far the most educated of the apostles and the one, as far as we can tell, that God used most widely and effectively. Yet he refused to put any confidence in himself, “in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). He knew that he could do all things, but only “through Him who strengthens me” (4:13).

The Result of Meekness

As with the other beatitudes, the general result of meekness is being blessed, being made divinely happy. God gives the meek His own joy and gladness.

More specifically, however, the gentle … shall inherit the earth. After creating man in His own image, God gave man dominion over the whole earth (Gen. 1:28). The subjects of His kingdom are going to come someday into that promised inheritance, largely lost and perverted after the Fall. Theirs will be paradise regained.

One day God will completely reclaim His earthly domain, and those who have become His children through faith in His Son will rule that domain with Him. And the only ones who become His children and the subjects of His divine kingdom are those who are gentle, those who are meek, because they understand their unworthiness and sinfulness and cast themselves on the mercy of God. The emphatic pronoun autos (they) is again used (see vv. 3, 4), indicating that only those who are meek shall inherit the earth.

Most Jews thought that the coming great kingdom of the Messiah would belong to the strong, of whom the Jews would be the strongest. But the Messiah Himself said that it would belong to the meek, and to Jew and Gentile alike.

Klēronomeō (to inherit) refers to the receiving of one’s allotted portion, one’s rightful inheritance. This beatitude is almost a direct quotation of Psalm 37:11—“But the humble will inherit the land.” For many generations faithful Jews had wondered, as God’s people today sometimes wonder, why the wicked and godless seem to prosper and the righteous and godly seem to suffer. Through David, God assured His people, “Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there” (v. 10). The wicked person’s time of judgment was coming, as was the righteous person’s time of blessing.

Our responsibility is to trust the Lord and obey His will. The settling of accounts, whether in judgment or blessing, is in His hands and will be accomplished exactly in the right time and in the right way. In the meanwhile, God’s children live in faith and hope based on the certain promise, the divine pronouncement, that they shall inherit the earth.

Paul both warns and assures the Corinthians, saying, “So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor. 3:21–23). Because we belong to Christ, our place in the kingdom is as secure as His.

It is also certain “that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9). One day the Lord will take the earth from the hands of the wicked and give it to His righteous people, whom He will use “to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishment on the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute on them the judgment written” (Ps. 149:7–9).

Our inheritance of the earth is not entirely future, however. The promise of the future inheritance itself gives us hope and happiness now. And we are able to appreciate many things, even earthly things, in ways that only those who know and love the Creator can experience”.

In the beautiful words of Wade Robinson,

Heav’n above is softer blue,

Earth around is sweeter green;

Something lives in ev’ry hue

Christless eyes have never seen!

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,

Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know,

I am His and He is mine.

Nearly a century ago George MacDonald wrote, “We cannot see the world as God means it in the future, save as our souls are characterized by meekness. In meekness we are its only inheritors. Meekness alone makes the spiritual retina pure to receive God’s things as they are, mingling with them neither imperfection nor impurity.”

The Necessity for Meekness

Meekness is necessary first of all because it is required for salvation. Only the meek will inherit the earth, because only the meek belong to the King who will rule the future kingdom of the earth. “For the Lord takes delight in His people,” says the psalmist; “he crowns the humble with salvation” (Ps. 149:4, NIV). When the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom, “He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matt. 18:2–4).

Meekness is also necessary because it is commanded. “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility” (Zeph. 2:3). James commands believers, “Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Those who do not have a humble spirit are not able even to listen rightly to God’s Word, much less understand and receive it.

Meekness is necessary because we cannot witness effectively without it. Peter says, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15). Pride will always stand between our testimony and those to whom we testify. They will see us instead of the Lord, no matter how orthodox our theology or how refined our technique.

Meekness is necessary because only meekness gives glory to God. Pride seeks its own glory, but meekness seeks God’s. Meekness is reflected in our attitude toward other children of God. Humility in relation to fellow Christians gives God glory. “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (Rom. 15:5–7).[1]

God’s Gentlemen

Matthew 5:5

Some time ago I heard of a person who had been converted to Christianity because, as he said, he needed “an easy religion.” I was amused by the incongruity of his statement. An easy religion! If he wanted an easy religion, he should not have become a Christian. As it was, he was a little like a bartender at a Methodist Sunday school picnic or a comedian at a funeral—he had come to the wrong place.

The preceding studies on the Sermon on the Mount should already have made this fact clear. Christ’s statements are intended to teach, among other things, that the kind of life he requires actually is impossible for men. And it remains impossible until men first come to Christ acknowledging that they cannot live it and asking him to live it in them. The poor in spirit are blessed, not the proud. And the comfort Christ promises is for those who first mourn for their sin and for the sin of others. At this point, however, Jesus makes his description of the happy life even more difficult, for he goes on to show that the way of blessing is also through meekness. He says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). According to Jesus it is the meek—not the haughty, forward, arrogant, or aggressive—whom God blesses.

A Difficult Statement

This third beatitude must have been received in shocked silence by Christ’s listeners. But they could not have been much different from the people we know today. To most men and women the association of an earthly inheritance with meekness seems incredible. The world associates happiness with worldly possessions, and it believes that the way to gain them is through ability, strength, hard work, self-assurance, and at times, even through self-assertion and conquest. The religious leaders of Christ’s day sought happiness through a materialistic and militaristic kingdom. Christ’s statement would have been a shock to them. We seek it through homes and their contents, success and the praise of men for it, power and the stature it confers. So it is a shock to us also. Against all these outlooks on life and these ambitions Jesus teaches that meekness must be a characteristic of those who are to share his kingdom.

Moreover, the other biblical writers say this also. James writes that meekness is to characterize our initial response to God’s truth: “Wherefore, put away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21 nsb). Peter says that Christians are to witness to others in a spirit of meekness: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15 nsb). Paul lists meekness as one of the fruits of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23 nsb). Several times Paul speaks of meekness as the spirit of mind in which one was to deal with problems in the early Christian congregations (Gal. 6:1; 1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Cor. 10:1), and in Colossians he writes, “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering” (Col. 3:12 nsb).

Taken together these verses teach that meekness is a characteristic by which God promises to bring blessing in the lives of Christians and through them to others, and that it is not a natural characteristic in man but is the result of the supernatural working of God’s Spirit.

What Is Meekness?

Now we shall never get far in understanding Christ’s statement until we realize that in the Bible meekness does not mean what most people think it means. It does not mean spiritlessness. It does not mean weakness or indolence or cowardice. Actually, it is compatible with high spirits, courage, and great strength.

The first clue to the biblical meaning of meekness lies in the discovery that the word it translates was one of the great words in Greek ethics. The word is praus, and it is defined with great care in Aristotle’s work on ethics. For Aristotle the virtues of life were always defined as the mean between an excess of the virtue and a deficiency in it. For instance, courage is a virtue because it is the mean between cowardice (which is a deficiency in courage) and foolhardy actions (which result from too much). Generosity is the mean between stinginess and a profligate waste of one’s resources. To Aristotle meekness was also a virtue because it was the mean between excessive anger and the inability to show anger at all. He describes as meek the man “who is angry on the right occasion and with the right people and at the right moment and for the right length of time.”

On the basis of this definition it would be possible to translate the beatitude fairly as Barclay does in his excellent commentary on Matthew: “Blessed is the man who is always angry at the right time, and never angry at the wrong time.” And we could look to the example of Jesus Christ for insight into such a controlled and righteous anger.

Barclay adds, “If we ask what the right time and the wrong time are, we may say as a general rule for life that it is never right to be angry for any insult or injury done to ourselves; that is something that no Christian must ever resent; but that it is often right to be angry at injuries done to other people. Selfish anger is always a sin; selfless anger can be one of the great moral dynamics of the world.” Thus does Aristotle provide part of the picture.

A second sense of the word comes from the fact that praus also was used of animals to designate those that had been domesticated. These were animals who had learned to accept control by their masters and who were therefore properly behaved. By extension, the word was then used of persons who also knew how to behave. And the word came to refer to those who were of the upper classes because they were well-mannered, balanced, or polite. This sense of the word “meek” is far better preserved in English by the related word “gentle” from which we get our compounds: gentlefolk, gentlewoman, and gentleman. Gentleness is a soft and loving behavior, the opposite of awkwardness or rudeness. In this sense the Christian is also to be meek. He is to be loving, well-mannered, polite, balanced, and well-behaved. He is to be God’s gentleman.

A final sense of the word “meek” comes from the fact that in biblical language the word is used most often to indicate a subservient and trusting attitude before God, and this makes meekness generally a vertical virtue rather than a horizontal one. It is the characteristic that makes a man bow low before God in order that he may stand high before other men; it makes him bold because he knows that his life has been touched by God and that he comes as God’s messenger.

I believe that this was the primary sense in which Christ used the word “meek” in this beatitude, because the beatitude itself is quoted from a context in which that thought is prominent. I know that someone will say, “What? I thought Jesus originated the Beatitudes, that he made them up.” Well, it is true that he did make most of them up, but not this one. This beatitude actually comes from the thirty-seventh psalm. And it comes at the end of a long list of commands that encourage a person to place his trust in God. The psalmist writes:

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

He then closes the section by saying:

A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.

Psalm 37:3–7, 10–11

Who then are the meek according to the thirty-seventh psalm? They are those who trust in the Lord, who delight themselves in the Lord, who commit their way unto the Lord, who rest in the Lord. It is these who are happy, according to Jesus Christ; and it is these who shall inherit the earth.

The Meekest Man

All of this is illustrated in a remarkable story from the Book of Numbers. One sentence embedded in the midst of the story tells us that the main character was, in God’s sight, the meekest man who ever lived. The man was Moses. And the sentence says, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3 nsb). The story is about a rebellion against Moses led by Miriam, his sister, and Aaron, his brother, the first high priest of Israel.

This is the story. When Moses had fled from Egypt forty years before God used him as the deliverer of his people, he had gone to Midian where he had settled and married Zipporah, the daughter of Reuel, a priest of Midian. Zipporah was of the same stock as the other Israelites and had borne children to Moses. But she had died by the time of the story recounted in the twelfth chapter of Numbers, and Moses was marrying another wife. This new wife was a Cushite, a name given to the inhabitants of ancient Ethiopia. And the point of the story lies in the fact that the Cushite was black. She was not a Semite. And those who were closest to Moses, his sister and brother, felt that the stock of Israel was being compromised by the mixed marriage.

I have noticed in preparing this study that not all of the commentators on Numbers are willing to accept this understanding of the story; in fact, most of them simply ignore the girl’s racial characteristics. But we have every reason for believing that this was the case and that the rebellion was based purely on racial prejudice. Some conservative commentators would dismiss this view on the grounds that the people of Israel were later forbidden to marry among the Canaanites, who inhabited the land of Canaan before their conquest under Joshua. But this was later, and it was based in the debased religion and sexual malpractices that characterized the people of the land (Exod. 34:16). At this time there were no such injunctions. Joseph had married an Egyptian girl, Asenath, the daughter of an Egyptian priest. And many persons of other oppressed nations had left Egypt with Israel at the Exodus and presumably were incorporated into the newly emerging nation (Exod. 12:38). It was one of these whom Moses married, and it seemingly was against her racial characteristics and skin color that Miriam and Aaron rebelled. The Bible says, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?’ they asked. ‘Hasn’t he also spoken through us?’ And the Lord heard this” (Num. 12:1–2).

Now if there are still doubts about this interpretation of the story these should be dispelled by the sequel. For God gave a punishment to Miriam, the instigator, that was frighteningly appropriate to her prejudice. The Bible says, “At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, ‘Come out to the Tent of Meeting, all three of you.’ So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When both of them stepped forward, he said, ‘Listen to my words: When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?’ The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them. When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow” (Num. 12:4–10).

In other words, God said to Miriam, “You’re brown, this girl is black; and you think white is better. All right, have more of it.” So she became a leper, as God used the incident to teach that there was to be no racial prejudice in Israel.

As we come to the end of the story we find that Moses prayed for Miriam, and she was healed. But we ask, “What was the conduct of Moses through the incident? What was the conduct of the man whom God says was the meekest man who ever lived? Did he fight back? Did he seek to defend himself against his accusers?” Not at all. Moses submitted himself to God. That was his meekness. He bowed low before God and was vindicated. Thus, in this response Moses became a forerunner in conduct of Jesus Christ, “ ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22–23). Meekness of this sort will take off its shoes before the burning bush, yet will obey God by walking up to the mightiest ruler of the day and demanding, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go’ ” (Exod. 5:1).

To Inherit the Earth

The second beatitude goes on to teach that the meek “shall inherit the earth.” What does this mean? Well, it is not a promise that the children of God will own oil wells, or blocks of downtown Manhattan, or orchards in southern California. It is a promise for the future.

Yet there is a sense in which the meek shall inherit the earth now. For the meek man is the man who is satisfied and is therefore content. Paul was such a man. He owned very little, yet he spoke of himself as “possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6:10). He wrote to the contentious Corinthians: “So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Cor. 3:21–23). With such a spirit I can cross the Alps, gaze upon the Bay of Naples, visit a museum, cross the wide expanses of the American continent, attend a concert, listen to the teaching of the Bible, or do anything else, and I can know that these things are mine as much as they are anyone’s. And I can thank God for the people who maintain them for me.

At the same time I can know that Christ’s promise has a future reference also, for it falls in line with Paul’s reminder that “the saints will judge the world” (1 Cor. 6:2). You shall judge the world if you are a Christian, for you are God’s heir and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. There may be sorrow now. There may be suffering. But when Jesus returns, we shall reign with him (2 Tim. 2:12).

Now you may be saying, “All that is wonderful, but for me it is in the area of fantasy. It is a beautiful thought, but it is not possible. I am not meek, and I shall never become meek by any amount of effort.” The answer is that of course it is impossible by your own effort. This characteristic is not in man. But it can be created in a man by Jesus. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29). Jesus can do what you think is impossible. He can teach you meekness, and you will find rest to your soul.[2]

5 This beatitude and those in vv. 7–10 have no parallel in Luke. It would be wrong to suppose that Matthew’s beatitudes are for different groups of people or that we have the right to half the blessings if we determine to pursue four out of the eight. They are a unity and describe the norm for Messiah’s people.

The word “meek” (praus, GK 4558) is hard to define. It can signify absence of pretension (1 Pe 3:4, 14–15) but generally suggests gentleness (cf. 11:29; Jas 3:13) and the self-control it entails. The attempt to understand a “meek” person to be nonviolent and law-observant (Michel Talbot, Heureux les doux, car ils hériteront la terre: (Mt 5:4 [5]) [Paris: Gabalda, 2002]) is unconvincing in its methods and doctrinaire in its conclusions. The Greeks extolled humility in wise men and rulers, but such humility smacked of condescension. In general, the Greeks considered meekness a vice because they failed to distinguish it from servility. To be meek toward others implies freedom from malice and a vengeful spirit. Jesus best exemplifies it (11:29; 21:5). Lloyd-Jones (Sermon on the Mount,1:65–69) rightly applies meekness to our attitudes toward others. We may acknowledge our own bankruptcy (v. 3) and mourn (v. 4). But to respond with meekness when others tell us of our bankruptcy is far harder (cf. Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 43–44). Meekness, therefore, requires such a true view about ourselves as will express itself even in our attitude toward others.

And the meek—not the strong, aggressive, harsh, tyrannical—will inherit the earth. The verb “inherit” often relates to entrance into the promised land (e.g., Dt 4:1; 16:20; cf. Isa 57:13; 60:21). But the specific OT allusion here is Psalm 37:9, 11, 29, a psalm recognized as messianic in Jesus’ day (4QpPs 37). There is no need to interpret the land metaphorically, as having no reference to geography or space; nor is there need to restrict the meaning to “land of Israel” (see Notes). Entrance into the promised land ultimately became a pointer toward entrance into the new heaven and the new earth (“earth” is the same word as “land”; cf. Isa 66:22; Rev 21:1), the consummation of the messianic kingdom. While in Pauline terms, believers may now possess all things in principle (1 Co 3:21–23; 2 Co 6:10) since they belong to Christ, Matthew directs our attention yet further to the “renewal of all things” (19:28).[3]

5 “Meek,” like “poor in spirit,” speaks not only of those who are in fact disadvantaged and powerless, but also of those whose attitude is not arrogant and oppressive. The term in itself may properly be understood of their relations with other people; they are those who do not throw their weight about. But “meek,” as well as “poor,” is used to translate ʿanāwîm in the Psalms, where the emphasis is more on their relationship with God. It is the ʿanāwîm who according to Ps 37:11 will inherit the earth (or “land”) when the “wicked” who have oppressed them have been cut off. They are further described in Ps 37:7–9 as “those who wait for the Lord” instead of fretting and scheming to right their own wrongs. In echoing this psalm so closely Jesus clearly intended to promise a reversal of fortunes such as the psalm envisages, but whereas the “inheriting of the land” in the psalm seems to be understood in terms of earthly reversal, the overall tone of these beatitudes does not encourage us to interpret his words here quite so literally (see above p. 164). Cf. Isa 61:7 where the “poor” and “mourning” of 61:1–3 (see on vv. 3–4) are promised inheritance of the land; if the promises to them in the first two beatitudes apply to the kingdom of heaven, the same should presumably apply to their inheritance. There is a general tendency in the NT to treat OT promises about “the land” as finding fulfillment in non-territorial ways, and such an orientation seems required here too. The focus is on the principle of reversal of fortunes rather than on a specific “inheritance[4]

The Bliss of the God-Controlled Life

Matthew 5:5

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’

In our modern English idiom, the word meek is hardly one of the honourable words of life. Nowadays, it carries with it an idea of spinelessness, subservience and mean-spiritedness. It paints the picture of a submissive and ineffective person. But it so happens that the word meek—in Greek praus—was one of the great Greek ethical words.

Aristotle has a great deal to say about the quality of meekness (praotēs). It was Aristotle’s fixed method to define every virtue as the happy medium between two extremes. On the one hand there was the extreme of excess; on the other hand there was the extreme of defect; and in between there was the virtue itself, the happy medium. To take an example, on the one extreme there is the spendthrift; on the other extreme there is the miser; and in between there is the generous person.

Aristotle defines meekness, praotēs, as the balance between orgilotēs, which means excessive anger, and aorgēsia, which means excessive angerlessness. Praotēs, meekness, as Aristotle saw it, is the happy medium between too much and too little anger. And so the first possible translation of this beatitude is:

Blessed are those who are always angry at the right time, and never angry at the wrong time.

If we ask what the right time and the wrong time are, we may say as a general rule for life that it is never right to be angry for any insult or injury done to ourselves—that is something that no Christian must ever resent—but that it is often right to be angry at injuries done to other people. Selfish anger is always a sin; selfless anger can be one of the great moral dynamics of the world.

But the word praus has a second standard Greek usage. It is the regular word for an animal which has been domesticated, which has been trained to obey the word of command, which has learned to respond to the reins. It is the word for an animal which has learned to accept control. So the second possible translation of this beatitude is:

Blessed are those who have every instinct, every impulse, every passion under control. Blessed are those who are entirely self-controlled.

The moment we have stated that, we see that it needs a change. It is not so much the blessing of those who are self-controlled, for such complete self-control is beyond human capacity; rather, it is the blessing of those who are completely God-controlled, for only in his service do we find our perfect freedom and, in doing his will, our peace.

But there is still a third possible side from which we may approach this beatitude. The Greeks always contrasted the quality which they called praotēs, and which the Authorized Version translates as meekness, with the quality which they called hupsēlokardia, which means lofty-heartedness. In praotēs, there is the true humility which banishes all pride.

Without humility we cannot learn, for the first step to learning is the realization of our own ignorance. Quintilian, the great Roman teacher of oratory, said of certain of his scholars: ‘They would no doubt be excellent students, if they were not already convinced of their own knowledge.’ No one can teach people who know it all already. Without humility there can be no such thing as love, for the very beginning of love is a sense of unworthiness. Without humility there can be no true religion, for all true religion begins with a realization of our own weakness and of our need for God. True humanity can only be reached when we are always conscious that we are the creatures and that God is the Creator, and that without God we can do nothing.

Praotēs describes humility, the acceptance of the necessity to learn and of the necessity to be forgiven. It describes the only proper attitude to God. So, the third possible translation of this beatitude is:

Blessed are those who have the humility to know their own ignorance, their own weakness, and their own need.

It is this meekness, Jesus says, which will inherit the earth. It is the fact of history that it has always been those who possess this gift of self-control, those with their passions, instincts and impulses under discipline, who have been great. Numbers says of Moses, the greatest leader and the greatest law-giver the world has ever seen: ‘Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth’ (Numbers 12:3). Moses was no milk-and-water character; he was no spineless creature; he could be blazingly angry; but he was a man whose anger was on the leash, only to be released when the time was right. The writer of Proverbs has it: ‘One whose temper is controlled [is better] than one who captures a city’ (Proverbs 16:32).

It was the lack of that very quality which ruined Alexander the Great, who, in a fit of uncontrolled temper in the middle of a drunken debauch, hurled a spear at his best friend and killed him. We cannot lead others until we have found our own direction in life; we cannot serve others until we have put aside self; we cannot be in control of others until we have learned to control ourselves. But those who give themselves into the complete control of God will gain this meekness, which will indeed enable them to inherit the earth.

It is clear that this word praus means far more than the English word meek now means; it is, in fact, clear that there is no one English word which will translate it, although perhaps the word gentle comes nearest to it. The full translation of this third beatitude must read:

o the bliss of those who are always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time, who have every instinct, impulse and passion under control because they themselves are god-controlled, who have the humility to realize their own ignorance and their own weakness, for such people can indeed rule the world![5]

5. Blessed the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. There is very little difference between being “poor in spirit” and being “meek.” Nevertheless, there is a slight distinction, namely this, that the first designation describes the man more as he is in himself, namely, broken-hearted; whereas the second pictures him more definitely in his relation to God and the fellowman.

What is said here about the meek individual is an echo of Ps. 37:11 (see also verses 22, 29, 34 of that same psalm). In order therefore to learn what is meant by the expression “the meek” we do best to derive the content of this concept from that psalm. It describes the person who is not resentful. He bears no grudge. Far from mulling over injuries received, he finds refuge in the Lord and commits his way entirely to him. All the more does he do this because he has died to all self-righteousness. He knows that he cannot claim any merit before God (cf. Ps. 34:18; 51:17). Since God’s favor means everything to him he has learned to take joyfully “the plundering of his possessions, knowing that he has a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb. 10:34). Yet meekness is not weakness. Meekness is not spinelessness, the characteristics of the person who is ready to bow before every breeze. It is submissiveness under provocation, the willingness rather to suffer than to inflict injury. The meek person leaves everything in the hand of him who loves and cares.

The blessedness of those who are meek consists in this, that “they shall inherit the earth.” In a sense they inherit it even now, and this for several reasons: a. by not paying undue attention to enriching themselves but rather to doing their duty before God and fulfilling their task on earth; in other words, by first and most of all seeking God’s kingdom and his righteousness, “all these things” (food, clothing, etc.) are graciously bestowed upon them as an extra gift (Matt. 6:33). The law of indirection is by no means a dead letter. b. Their very meekness makes them a blessing to their fellowmen, some of whom will bless them in return (Mark 10:30; Acts 2:44, 45; 16:15; Phil. 4:18). c. They may possess only a small portion of this earth or of earthly goods, but a small portion with God’s blessing resting upon it is more than the greatest riches without God’s blessing.

Except in a very formal or legal sense, does a man whose soul is racked by the fear of the coming judgment really possess his earthly goods? Does he possess them in the sense of enjoying them? Of course not! It is not he who has them: they have him! A comparison of two passages from the book of Isaiah shows who are really the ones that inherit the earth:

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee” (26:3).

“There is no peace, says Jehovah, for the wicked” (48:22). Not the men of the world but the meek are those who know that Rom. 8:28 is true. Therefore, they, and they alone, are the ones who possess the earth.

But the most complete fulfilment of the promise is reserved for the future, when at Christ’s return in glory the meek will inherit the new heaven and earth, the rejuvenated universe from which every stain of sin and every remnant of the curse will have been removed and in which righteousness will forever dwell (Rev. 21:1 ff.).

To inherit the earth indicates the following:

  1. By grace the citizen of the kingdom has a right to this possession;
  2. He will certainly receive it as an inalienable treasure;
  3. He will not need to—cannot even—earn it himself.[6]

5:5. The “gentle” or meek are those who are powerful, but who have the maturity and grace to use their power for constructive rather than destructive purposes. The term Matthew used here is much misunderstood. Meekness is not weakness. Quite the opposite; it is “strength under control.” Southern horse breeders used to have a phrase—”the meekest horse wins the race.” The meek horse is the one who has most responded to his training. All his obvious and inherent strength is harnessed and brought under focused control. Moses was referred to as “more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). This is hardly a description of weakness when you consider the incredible personal strength required to lead over a million people on a camping trip through the wilderness for forty years.

The inheritance of the earth here looks ahead to reward in the coming kingdom reign with Christ, which will be the grand climax of history. Notice that future rewards, hinted at here, will be a consistently recurring theme throughout Matthew’s Gospel. Note the progression thus far. Jesus’ kingdom servants are those who: (1) recognize they are spiritually bankrupt; (2) are deeply sorrowful for it; and (3) have begun to respond humbly to their trainer. (Old Testament parallels for the concept of meekness-gentleness include Ps. 37:7–11; Isa. 57:15.)[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 167–176). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2002). The Sermon on the Mount: an expositional commentary (pp. 31–36). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 163–164). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 166–167). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[5] Barclay, W. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (Third Ed., pp. 110–114). Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 271–272). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 59). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

October 27 – Chosen, not choice — Reformed Perspective

…”For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you...” – Deuteronomy 7:6-8

Scripture reading: Acts 13:13-52

“Tis not that I did choose thee, for, Lord this could not be; this heart would still refuse thee, hadst thou not chosen me.” Now that we know the glory and grace of God in Jesus Christ, it seems incredible that we would ever refuse One so gracious and kind. Yet, such is the depravity of the human heart that we would have.

The stream of God’s grace can be traced back to before the creation of the world. From all eternity the God of our salvation selected from the human race some who would be recipients of eternal life. And it’s that eternal choice which leads some to choose to believe in Christ when they hear the gospel of salvation. That explains why the Gentiles in Acts 13:48 embraced the gospel. They were “appointed to eternal life.” The elect are chosen by God, but not because they are choice people; they are selected but not because they are select. God chose those He wanted to choose because He loved them. And if you ask why He loved them, the answer is because He did.

This truth of unconditional election not only magnifies the glory of God, but it also offers unspeakable comfort to unbelievers and believers.  If salvation were based on justice or merit, no unbeliever could have hope that he might be saved. Since salvation depends on God’s eternal good pleasure, everyone who knows Christ can know as well that his salvation is secure. God will never stop loving us because God never started loving us since from all eternity God had set his affection upon us.

Suggestions for prayer

Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus that He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Pray that God’s sovereign election would make us humble before His majesty and before others.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta.

via October 27 – Chosen, not choice — Reformed Perspective