Daily Archives: January 18, 2020

January—18 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the Lord; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even.—Numbers 28:3, 4.

Pause, my soul, over the scriptural account of this solemn transaction! Think how infinitely important in the sight of Jehovah was, and is, that vast sacrifice of the Lamb of God, “slain from the foundation of the world,” which every day, morning and evening, the Lord commanded to be set forth in an offering made by fire. With what exactness the Church observes this daily rite of oblation! How scrupulous were all true Israelites in this service! and how fully did it proclaim to them the doctrine, that “without shedding of blood there was no remission!” Who that reads the solemn precept, and remarks the strictness of Israel in their obedience to it, but must be struck with this conviction? And who can for a moment doubt but that the whole was performed by faith in the Lamb of God, which, in after ages, did away all the penal effects of sin by the sacrifice of himself? Pause again, my soul! Hath this daily sacrifice ceased, as the prophet Daniel declared it should?—Dan. 9:27. Is the lamb of the morning and the lamb of the evening now no more? And wherefore? Because the thing signified being accomplished, the sign is needed to minister no longer; the substance being come, the shadow is for ever done away. And shall not thy morning and thine evening act of faith be expressly exercised upon this one Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world? Did the faithful Israelite, at nine in the morning, and three in the evening, (the hours of those daily sacrifices,) offer the lamb by faith in the promised Redeemer? And shall not the believing followers of the blessed Jesus have their hours of commemoration in spiritual acts of praise and faith, upon the bleeding body of Him who, by the one offering of himself, once offered, hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified? Yes, thou precious Lamb of God! I would pray for grace to see thee in every act of faith, in every offering of prayer, every ordinance, every means of grace, and all the rites of religious worship. I would behold thee through the whole of the Bible as the one thing, the only thing signified. I would trace the sweet, the blessed, the soul-comforting, soul-strengthening, soul-transforming subject, until, from the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, I followed the Lamb whithersoever he went; until I beheld thee, as the beloved Apostle saw thee, the Lamb, as it had been slain, in the midst of the throne, still wearing on thy glorified body the marks of our redemption. And there, precious Jesus, should my eyes fix, and my heart centre all her joys, because also in this exalted state thou art still the Lamb. Thy glory and thy power have made no change of nature, though of place. Thou art the Lamb of God, and the Brother of thy people still. The eternal efficacy of thy blood and righteousness, and the everlasting love in thine heart towards thy redeemed, is the same. As in person, so in office, thou art Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Amen.[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 21–22). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

Rejoice in Hope — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

“…And rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2

God, You are glorious! Because of who You are, I have hope in what You have promised to do—my future truly is as bright as the light upon Your face that reflects it, as sure as the words upon Your lips that proclaim it, as powerful as the strength of Your right hand that performs it.

I am confident there are desirable things ahead because You are good; there are perfect things ahead because You are without fault; there are abundant things ahead because You are generous; there are undefiled things ahead because You are holy; there are amazing things ahead because You are wondrous, there are huge things ahead because Your heart is so big.

I live in hope and I am happy in hope. I hope in what is true, in what is best, in what is everlasting. My hope is anchored in what a loving, caring God can be to His child.

You bring a hope to my heart that will not be dashed upon the rocks of broken covenants, unintended assurances, or misguided intentions. My hope is secure in the character of Your faithfulness. It will not be disappointed, but will see its final reward.

‘Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’ Romans 5:1-5 NKJV

By Roy Lessin
Used by Permission

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via Rejoice in Hope — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

January 18 Streams in the Desert

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” (2 Cor. 2:14.)

GOD gets His greatest victories out of apparent defeats. Very often the enemy seems to triumph for a little, and God lets it be so; but then He comes in and upsets all the work of the enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says, “turns the way of the wicked upside down.” Thus He gives a great deal larger victory than we would have known if He had not allowed the enemy, seemingly, to triumph in the first place.

The story of the three Hebrew children being cast into the fiery furnace is a familiar one. Here was an apparent victory for the enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going to have a terrible defeat. We have all been in places where it seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We can imagine what a complete defeat this looked to be. They fell down into the flames, and their enemies watched them to see them burn up in that awful fire, but were greatly astonished to see them walking around in the fire enjoying themselves. Nebuchadnezzar told them to “come forth out of the midst of the fire.” Not even a hair was singed, nor was the smell of fire on their garments, “because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort.”

This apparent defeat resulted in a marvelous victory.

Suppose that these three men had lost their faith and courage, and had complained, saying, “Why did not God keep us out of the furnace!” They would have been burned, and God would not have been glorified. If there is a great trial in your life today, do not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you more than conqueror, and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. Let us learn that in all the hard places God brings us into, He is making opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His name.

Life of Praise.

“Defeat may serve as well as victory

To shake the soul and let the glory out.

When the great oak is straining in the wind,

The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk

Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.

Only the soul that knows the mighty grief

Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come

To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.”[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 20–21). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

H.O.P.E. — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.”  Psalm 62:5

As Christians, we are called to hope. Not wishful thinking, imagining things, or pining for better days. Hope. Hope is not a pipe dream or a fairy tale. It is a strong action instead of a reaction. When we choose to hope we:

H – Heed His Word.
Hang onto encouraging verses in Scripture in times of trouble, stress or doubt. Recall His promises, read, mark and memorize helpful verses, and repeat them often.

O – Obey.
Sometimes we have to do things simply because someone in authority says so. If we can trust God and obey, then in hindsight we may look back and see more clearly why He told us.

P – Pray.
Instead of fretting, if we can drop to our knees and lay it at the cross we will find an inner peace which, as Paul states, surpasses our understanding. Much better than jogging in a hamster wheel of worry and churning it over and over in our minds. Pray, lay it down, walk away.

E – Expect.
The more we rely on God’s promises and His timing, then experience will show us things work out for the best when we “let go and let God” handle it.

So pry your fingers off the situation and relax. Have faith that God will see you through it, and claim that promise.

Father God, let us always choose to hope in You instead of fretting, or getting stressed over things we have no control over. Replace our qualms with quiet, our fears with faith, and our worries with wisdom.  Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove
Used by Permission

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via H.O.P.E. — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

January 18th The D. L. Moody Year Book

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness at the start for ever and ever.—Daniel 12:3.

HOW empty and short-lived are the glory and the pride of this world! If we are wise, we will live for God and eternity; we will get outside of ourselves, and will care nothing for the honor and glory of this world. In Proverbs we read: “He that winneth souls is wise.” If any man, woman, or child by a godly life and example can win one soul to God, their life will not have been a failure. They will have outshone all the mighty men of their day, because they will have set a stream in motion that will flow on and on forever and ever.[1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (p. 18). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

The New Age Christian—An Accepted Oxymoron — Christian Research Network

It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether.

(Ray Yungen) The current popularity with meditative contemplative mysticism presents a very perplexing challenge for evangelical Christianity. We are now encountering the New Age or Aquarian Christian. This term describes someone who remains in his or her home church and professes the Christian faith but has also incorporated various aspects of the New Age or Aquarian mindset into his or her life….

New Age author David Spangler was very optimistic about the possibility of this integration when he wrote, “The point is that the New Age is here . . . it builds itself and forms itself in the midst of the old.”1

What has fueled the momentum of this trend is the buffet-style dining approach that has become a hallmark of American religious sensibilities in the last thirty years—you take what you want and leave the rest. Americans are picking and blending religions as if they were ordering espressos: pick your espresso blend, but you still get coffee—pick your spiritual path, but you still get God. Whatever suits your spiritual tastes, you bring together. The result is hybrid New Age spirituality. View article →

Research

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Discernment

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via The New Age Christian—An Accepted Oxymoron — Christian Research Network

Is There A Climate Change Cult? — TheWeeFlea.com

Of all the articles I have written for Christian Today – this is the one that I am most concerned about – not just because of the inevitable reaction (which I do not seek) but because I hope, more than in any other article, that in this one I am wrong.  I see something happening which is profoundly disturbing.  It would be good if my sight was wrong.  Feel free to let me know what you think…

climate change
(Photo: Unsplash/Herson Rodriguez)

Climate change is real. Human beings contribute to climate change. There are other factors involved with climate change. Human beings can do something about the human aspect but nothing about the rest. We don’t control the winds, waves, the sun or the temperature.

It seems strange that even in Christian circles there are those who consider it almost blasphemous to make this last point. Just as strange as those who think that looking after the planet is somehow anti-Christian!

The BBC and St David

I suspect that in 2020 we are going to be hearing even more about climate change than we heard about transgender issues in 2019. The BBC have announced that 2020 is going to be their year of climate change and to kick us off they started with their former director, Sir David Attenborough, headlining the news with his apocalyptic warnings that the end is nigh.

For all the heresy hunters out there I am not a ‘denier’, but I hope I am allowed to question St David. His statements at time are treated as Holy writ, even though he is not a climate scientist. His statement about Australia was for example simplistic and inaccurate. The current bushfires we are experiencing are made worse by climate change but they have not been caused solely by it. The major reason is the Indian Ocean Diploe, which may or may not have been affected by man made climate change.

Mind you, he did point out the elephant in the room – China. If Australia could miraculously become carbon neutral tomorrow, in worldwide terms China would make up for that in less than three months with it’s new coal power plants and continued industrial development.

I suspect that what we will NOT get from the BBC in 2020 is a year of balanced reporting on the climate and the different views that people hold. If you question the current climate change doctrine you will be labeled a heretic and banned. Welcome to Climate Pravda.

Cry Wolf

I am using the religious language deliberately because one of the things that greatly bothers me is the way that this whole debate has been moved away from science into the realms of philosophical and even religious belief. The extremist approach taken ironically means that the ‘cry wolf’ approach could easily result in the wolf being let in the door. We’ve been here before. I’ve lived long enough to remember that we were going to run out of food in 1975; in the 1980s, we were promised the next ice age; in the 1990s, we were told that many nations would be under water by 2010; and who can forget Al Gore solemnly telling us that the Arctic would be ice-free by 2013?!

But this current climate scare is much more serious – not just because I suspect that this time there is more truth to it – but also because of the reaction, which in some quarters has become hysterical to cultish proportions. In fact, I am seriously beginning to fear that a significant number of humans (especially our young) are in danger of being sucked into what could be described as the climate change cult.

How do Cults Work?

Religious cults tend to attract the young, well-educated middle class. I’ve yet to meet a working-class Moonie! The cults use a process of indoctrination (which they, of course, call education) and coercive persuasion to reform our thinking and practice. What the education system in the West is turning into (and what the BBC is promising) is exactly this process, where no alternatives are allowed.

And children are useful frontline troops for those who seek influence and power. How can you criticize an earnest teenage autistic Swedish girl without appearing to be nasty? From the Queen to the Pope, everyone feels obliged to praise ‘the courageous, inspirational’ young people. But there is enormous danger in using children to do adults’ work. The little Green Brigades, led and fed by their teachers and the media, could end up being as harmful as Mao’s little Red Brigades.

Cults tend to be apocalyptic. They instil fear, what Jonathan Haidt calls ‘catastrophising’. The media love stories about Australia burning, koalas dying and tennis stars being choked by smoke. But today in NSW we had significant rain – I doubt that that will make the headlines unless it results in floods. All of this suits those who are bearing their 21st century equivalent of the old street doomsday preacher’s placard, ‘the end is nigh’!

If the belief on which you base your life is that the end is nigh, then when evidence suggests that might not be the case, it’s in your self-interest to ignore or dismiss that evidence. There was a small but interesting example of this kind of thinking in an article this week in the Sydney Morning Herald. Instead of rejoicing in the fact that much needed rain had arrived, the article lamented that this would lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Why? Because the grass would grow, cattle would get fed instead of being killed, and therefore there would be more greenhouse gas! To the catastrophists – we are doomed if we don’t get rain, we are doomed if we do. The only thing that can save us from doom is when we buy into their ideology and of course buy their products. There’s money in ideology.

Cults have an unshakeable faith in their own doctrines and never allow them to be questioned. Those who dare to so will soon find themselves disfellowshiped and ostracized from public society. I know that even in writing this article I will be subject to a storm of abuse and threats. Cults of course can be based on truth but they turn complex issues into simplistic memes, laced with fundamentalist certainty.

Because of this apocalyptic certainty, cults often justify and encourage extreme action. With the climate cult there is the danger that this will go mainstream. I’ve just finished watching the Netflix series, ‘Occupied’, which has as its disappointing ending (spoiler alert) the former Norwegian Prime minister urging people to, for the sake of the planet, “attack the energy companies, forget democracy, do what you have to”.

Eco terrorism will become a thing in the next few years. The New Zealand Mosque shooter, as well as being anti-Islam, also had some ‘Green’ motivations. Describing himself as an ‘eco-fascist’, he wrote in his manifesto; “Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation, save the environment”, “the natural environment is [currently] industrialized, pulverized and commoditized”, “green nationalism is the only true nationalism”.

If you think this is a joke, consider this message posted today:

” I honestly and truly believe that if all humans were removed from the planet it would look after its self very well thank you. Let Mother Nature do her thing.” It’s not a large leap to go from ‘human beings are the problem’ to ‘let’s get rid of “excess” human beings’!

Cults are, of course, anti-democratic and anti–freedom. A letter in the Sydney Morning Herald this week, headlined ‘The Revolution Begins Here’, argued that now was the time for a benevolent dictatorship in order to deal with climate change. In the years to come, I suspect democracy will be disabled and authoritarianism enabled in the name of ‘saving the planet’.

Cults tend to benefit the rich and powerful – those who do the controlling, rather than the controlled. Rebecca Long- Bailey in her message seeking support for her bid to become leader of the Labour party stated that she wanted to take power from the rich and powerful. One of my greatest fears is that the climate change debate will result in precisely the opposite. It is the poor who will bear the brunt of carbon taxes and lost jobs the most – not the rich. It is the corporations who will make themselves richer and more powerful. As with all cults, follow the money and you will get to the heart of the matter.

The Whole Truth

Not all those who believe that climate change is affected by human behaviour, and that we should do something about it, belong to the climate change cult – but many do. We should no more allow our belief in climate change to cause us to accept the apolcalyptic climate change cult than we would allow our belief in Christianity to accept any of the various cult spin-offs from Christianity.

A little truth is a dangerous thing. We need the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Which is why I look to the One who is The Truth – and not to any current zeitgeist ideology. Sometimes those who say they trust in God are mocked. The mockers think that such faith leads to inaction and fatalism. It is precisely the opposite. It is because we trust in God and believe his promises that we do what we can to look after His creation. That’s why Christians of all people should take climate change, with all its complexities, seriously. Far better the life of faith and hope, than the life of fear, misery and anger that the catastrophists seek to impose upon us.

David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney and blogs at www.theweeflea.com

via Is There A Climate Change Cult? — TheWeeFlea.com

Open Doors Warns of the ‘Rise of the Surveillance State’ as North Korea Tops Watch List Again — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Imagine facial recognition technology to get into a house of worship and surveillance cameras inside.

Or a “social score” system that awards points for good citizenship — and deducts them for sharing one’s faith, leading to penalties such as limiting where parents can send their children to school.

It’s not the plot of a blockbuster dystopian film or “Left Behind” novel.

It’s the dawning reality for people of faith in China as described by David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA.

This year, the Christian watchdog organization is highlighting the “rise of the surveillance state” and its impact on Christians and Muslims in China along with its 2019 World Watch List, released Wednesday (Jan. 15).

That’s because it could have “wide implications for the future,” Curry said.

“What they’re doing is creating a roadmap of persecution. This is a blueprint that they will sell and use in other countries,” he said.

The organization’s report notes that an estimated 1 million Uighur Muslims have been detained in China.

And while it seems impossible for the country to detain its 90 million Christians, the report said, it could monitor them using developing technology, going digital with religious persecution. Already, there are areas in China installing cameras and facial-recognition technology in state-controlled Three Self Patriotic Movement churches and testing a Social Credit System.

Still, China is not among the top 10 in Open Doors’ ranking of the countries where Christians faced the most persecution for their faith in 2019. It’s ranked No. 23.

North Korea leads the organization’s annual World Watch List for the 18th straight year, “because they, of course, control every element of life and church, and Christians are the number one enemy of the state,” Curry said.

The rest of the lineup remains largely unchanged from last year, with Eritrea and Sudan flip-flopping spots.

Those 10 countries where Open Doors reports Christians are most persecuted include:

  • North Korea
  • Afghanistan
  • Somalia
  • Libya
  • Pakistan
  • Eritrea
  • Sudan
  • Yemen
  • Iran
  • India

The spread of Islamic extremism, one of the main trends Open Doors noted in the report accompanying its watch list, has held many of those countries in place, according to Curry.

Click here to read more.
Source: Religion News Service

via Open Doors Warns of the ‘Rise of the Surveillance State’ as North Korea Tops Watch List Again — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

What Christians Should Know About Intelligence & Washington Politics — Capstone Report

Did anyone notice the recent column in the Washington Post extolling the virtues of America’s intelligence community? Well, if you missed it, then you missed a comical attempt to cast opposition to Donald Trump as virtue.

From the Washington Post: “It is a hoary cliche, but no less true, that the function of the intelligence community is to speak truth to power, regardless of how unpalatable the truth may be. If analysts fear they may come under criminal investigation for judgments the president does not like, our nation will be less safe.”

Everyone knows that most of the intelligence community are hard workers doing a good job. However, there are a few bad apples. And one shouldn’t forget that the intelligence community has its own unique worldview—and agenda. In fact, no less a person than America’s greatest diplomat tells us that.

Henry Kissinger warned that the intelligence community tends to err on the side of the Washington Establishment. In other words, they tell the elites what the elites want to hear.

In his White House Years Kissinger writes, “CIA analyses were not, however, infallible. Far from being the hawkish band of international adventurers so facilely portrayed by its critics, the Agency usually erred on the side of the interpretation fashionable in the Washington Establishment.”

So, if it is fashionable to say Orange Man Bad, well, there will no doubt be a few in any Washington agency willing to echo that sentiment.

And while intelligence workers try their best, they often are guilty of group think. Again, we turn to Kissinger for a vivid account of one such example—way back in 1973. Kissinger writes in Diplomacy, “In 1973, Egypt and Syria went to war against Israel. Both Israel and the United States were taken completely by surprise, demonstrating how preconceptions often shape intelligence assessments. The American assessment was so dominated by the belief in vast Israeli superiority that all Arab warnings had been dismissed as bluff.”

And one last little tidbit from Kissinger about both the State Department and the CIA. Of Richard Nixon, Kissinger wrote, “Even more than the State Department, Nixon considered the CIA a refuge of Ivy League intellectuals opposed to him.”

This problem of the Washington Elite fighting a president is nothing new. It grew out of the sense of moral superiority of the Anti-War Movement of liberals in the 1960s. It continues today, in an even more open form against Donald Trump. What Evangelical Christian voters should know is history—that the establishment fought Nixon’s efforts to settle the Vietnam War with honor. Today, the Washington Establishment battles Trump on everything from Culture War issues of religious liberty to foreign policy.

That’s what Christians must know about intelligence and politics—it is all political.

via What Christians Should Know About Intelligence & Washington Politics — Capstone Report

Chinese Christians Use Recorded Services and ‘Walking Worship’ to Avoid Government Oppression — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

“Walking worship” is what the pastor calls it. After the Chinese government destroyed his underground church in Beijing, the congregation resorted to a new thing.

“Without any place to worship, because any place we gather is not safe,” Xiang En told Baptist Press Wednesday (Jan. 15), “we used a kind of unique form of worship in the church history. We call it ‘walking worship,’ WW.” The church multimedia team records a weekly audio file of an entire service, from the call to worship to the benediction, and safely distributes it to congregation members.

“When we were walking on the street, the park, even in the wilderness, actually we were listening to an audio record of our Sunday service … in that one-hour audio file,” Xiang said. “We just listen, we cannot speak out loud, we cannot sing out loud, and we cannot gather in outdoor spaces to worship because any organized gathering in public space will be seen as a threat to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) in China.”

“Xiang” is a pseudonym for the pastor who moved to the United States in January 2019, after China closed his church. He spoke to BP by phone in an interview arranged by international religious freedom advocate Open Doors upon the release of the 2020 World Watch List of the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians to live. China ranks 23.

In closing Xiang’s church, China employed technological surveillance, included in a method Open Doors identified Wednesday as a growing trend in religious persecution.

“In March 2018, the government officers … wanted to install facial recognition cameras inside our sanctuary on the pulpit to watch our congregation,” Xiang said. “Of course, we refused that unreasonable demand, but they still installed a facial recognition camera in the lobby of our church building, because we rented a whole floor of an office building.”

The floor was formerly a nightclub, Xiang said, but the church transformed it into a sanctuary to worship God.

“Through that camera, the government officers can collect private data of our church members, where they’re working, where their children [are] going to school, where the elders are going to hospital, where they’re living, every private data they can collect,” Xiang said. “And then they can hunt down every single church member to threaten them, to intimidate them and to prevent them from going to our church.

“On Sept. 9, 2018,” Xiang said, “hundreds of policemen raided our church, smashed our church building and put our fulltime ministers, our senior pastor under custody, and took away all of our church property and shut down the church.”

While China’s house church system is modeled after early churches in Rome, Xiang said, walking worship is emerging as perhaps a better option in the midst of current persecution.

“Probably the more reputable question the Chinese churches should ask is, ‘Could we do even better than the early church, with the church model?’” Xiang told BP. “We need to be brave, but at the same time we need to be innovative. We need courage, but at the same time we really need wisdom to face the persecution, the situation nowadays.”

Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press

via Chinese Christians Use Recorded Services and ‘Walking Worship’ to Avoid Government Oppression — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network