Daily Archives: January 29, 2020

January—29 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

He shall not speak of himself.—John 16:13.

I have found, in times past, a very great blessedness in this short but sweet account which Jesus gives of the gracious office of the Holy Ghost; and therefore I would make it the subject of my present evening meditation. I find what the Lord Jesus said concerning the blessed Spirit, in this most delightful part of his divine ministry, to be true. For, look wherever I may through the Bible, it is of Jesus only the Holy Ghost is continually speaking, and not of himself. And hence, by the way, I learn how to form a most decided testimony of the faithful preachers of the word. For if God the Holy Ghost, in his glorifying the Lord Jesus, is never found to be speaking but of Jesus, surely all his faithful servants, who act by his authority, and are commissioned and ordained by him to the work, will never preach themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. And how blessed is it to be taught of Jesus, by the Holy Ghost! It is astonishing, when we take into one mass of particulars the agency of the Holy Ghost in his glorifying the Lord Jesus, to observe the patience, the compassion, the tenderness and love, which that blessed spirit manifests in the Church of Jesus, in holding up to their view, and in bringing home to their heart, the person, work, character, and relations of Jesus! How sweetly and effectually doth he speak of him, plead for him, and win over the affections to him, by his saving light, his illuminating grace, and persuasive arguments in the heart! It is the Holy Ghost that takes of Christ, and the things of Christ, and makes both appear lovely and desirable in our eyes. It is his blessed work to bring about the gracious union, when, as the Bridegroom of his Church, God the Spirit represents him in his beauty, and persuades the soul of the sinner to receive him and accept him as her maker and her husband, to whom she is betrothed for ever! And from whom, but the Holy Ghost, do those sweet influences arise from day to day, and from one degree of grace to another, by which the life of the believer in Christ is kept up, maintained, and carried on in the soul, from the first beginning of the spiritual life until grace is consummated in eternal glory. Oh! Lord the Spirit! I beseech thee, glorify my adorable Redeemer in my poor, cold, and lifeless heart, and sweetly lead over the whole of my affections to all-precious Jesus, that I may live upon his glorious person, and feel my interest in his great salvation increasingly precious. And oh, thou holy Lord! keep alive, I beseech thee, thine own saving and powerful influences in my heart, that I may never—never by sin—quench thy divine flame, nor grieve the Holy Spirit, whereby I am sealed unto the day of redemption.[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, p. 34). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

6 life-giving truths from the New Testament — Southern Equip

1. The kingdom of God is central to Jesus’ ministry.

The synoptic Gospels make it immediately apparent that the kingdom of God is central to Jesus’ teaching. When Jesus referred to God’s kingdom, he had in mind God’s saving power, the fulfillment of his saving promises.

The kingdom can be explained in terms of the “already – not yet.” The kingdom was inaugurated in Jesus’ ministry but not yet consummated. It had arrived, but the full salvation and judgment promised had not yet come to pass.

Not Yet

The kingdom is a future reality, an end-time kingdom wherein God will fulfill his saving promises. This is made evident from the Lord’s Prayer, in which believers are to pray, “Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2). Jesus also speaks to the disciples of the day when he will come “in his kingdom” (cf. Luke 23:51), which clearly refers to the future fulfillment of the kingdom promise. There is a sense, of course, in which God always and invariably rules as king over all. When Jesus spoke of the future coming of the kingdom, he was not referring to God’s sovereign reign over all of history, for God has always ruled over all that occurs. The coming of the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed designated something new, a time when God’s enemies would be demonstrably defeated and the righteous would be visibly blessed.

Already

The kingdom is also a present reality. The kingdom is present in Jesus’ ministry in that the saving promises of the kingdom (i.e., the saving rule of God) had dawned with his coming. In other words, the Old Testament promises of a new covenant and a new creation and a new exodus were beginning to be fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus understood the presence of the kingdom as evidenced in his exorcisms, his miraculous signs and preaching (Luke 4:16–30), and his person (Luke 17:20–21).

Perhaps the most remarkable feature in Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom is the role that he envisions for himself. The kingdom has come in his person. He is the king and judge, deciding both who enters the kingdom and who is excluded from it (Matthew 25:31–46). The Father will deny access to the kingdom to those who deny Jesus before others, whereas those who confess Jesus will be inducted into God’s presence. Jesus saw his return as the event that commences the eschatological kingdom.

2. John loves “life.”

One of the primary themes in John’s Gospel is life. The synoptic Gospels emphasize the fulfillment of God’s promises by speaking of the kingdom of God, but in John the focus is not on God’s kingdom but on eternal life. The two notions are remarkably similar. John particularly emphasizes that this life is available now for those who believe in Jesus, while conversely those who do not put their trust in Jesus stand under God’s judgment even now.

Life in John is not an abstract entity but rather is rooted in John’s Jewish worldview. Life belongs to the age to come, which is inaugurated by the resurrection. What is remarkable in reading John is his emphasis on the gift of life now. He does not focus on the future age when the resurrection will occur. He fixes his gaze on what believers in Christ possess even now through faith in Jesus as the Christ. The gift of life in the present age is available only because Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).

John anchors the believer’s enjoyment of life to the resurrection of Jesus Christ in history. The life of the age to come has dawned because Jesus of Nazareth has risen from the dead. In the resurrection of Jesus, the coming age has invaded the present age. Life has penetrated where only death reigned. Light has dawned where darkness shrouded all. Truth has arrived to conquer falsehood. John impresses upon the reader the presence of life now because the resurrection of Jesus in history shines in the darkness (John 1:5), demonstrating his victory over the ruler of the world (John 12:31) and over the power of death.

3. Believers are “in Christ.”

Jesus Christ is so pervasive in Paul’s letters that it is difficult to know where to begin. One of the most significant elements in Paul’s Christology is his teaching about being “in Christ.” Union with Christ, or participation with Christ, is surely one of the fundamental themes of his theology. Believers who were in the old Adam and the old age are now members of the new age inaugurated in Christ, and they are in Christ rather than in Adam.

Because believers are in Christ, they:

  • Are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17, cf. Eph 2:10).
  • Are sons of God (Gal 3:26).
  • Enjoy the blessing of Abraham (Gal 3:14).
  • Possess God’s covenantal promises.
  • Need not fear condemnation (Rom 8:1).
  • Are sanctified (1 Cor 1:2).
  • Enjoy the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 3:9).
  • Have been freed from the power of sin and death (Rom 8:2; Gal 2:4).
  • Possess every gift (1 Cor 1:4).
  • Are complete in Christ (Col 2:10).
  • Are one in Christ with other believers (Gal 3:28; cf. Eph 2:14–16).

The notion of union with Christ points to a high Christology, for every spiritual blessing belongs to believers because of their participation in Christ.

4. The Son ushers in the age of the Spirit.

A remarkable feature of the New Testament witness is the role of the Spirit in God’s saving work in Christ. The Spirit is the eschatological sign that the new age has arrived, that the new creation has become a reality. The saving work of God in Christ is implemented through the work of the Spirit. The great saving events that commenced with the coming of Jesus Christ signaled that the age of the Spirit had arrived. Indeed, the blessing that God has promised to the whole world has arrived with the gift of the Spirit.

The giving of the Holy Spirit is tied to the ministry, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ. New Testament writers do not conceive of a ministry of the Spirit apart from the work of Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen one.

The Spirit strengthens believers so that they live lives that are pleasing to God. This too signals the arrival of the new age, for the law was unable to transform human beings, but the Spirit energizes human beings to obey God. The Spirit’s work in granting life is linked to the assurance granted to believers by the same Spirit, for those who have experienced God’s love are assured by the witness of the Spirit in their hearts.

5. Faith and obedience cannot be separated.

The variety of situations addressed in the New Testament and the diverse purpose of the writings mean that various themes are emphasized. In some instances, faith is trumpeted as the only means by which the blessing of eternal life is received, whereas in other cases the necessity of obedience and discipleship takes center stage. Yet there is a fundamental unity of approach throughout the New Testament.

Faith is fundamental and primary for a right relation with God or for receiving eternal life. Human beings cannot obtain an eternal reward on the basis of their works, for human sin intervenes and rules out works as the pathway for blessing.

Faith also:

  • Receives from God the salvation accomplished through Jesus Christ.
  • Looks away from itself and gives glory to God as the one who delivers human beings from sin and death.
  • Casts its hope upon Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Lord.
  • Finds its roots in the cross of Jesus Christ.
  • Looks outward to what God has done in Christ instead of gazing inward upon the ability of the human subject.

The faith that saves, however, is not an abstraction, and it cannot be separated from (though it can be distinguished from) repentance and the transformation of one’s life. The New Testament writers never imagined a passive faith that could be sundered from a life of discipleship. Paul himself, the champion of faith, insists that true faith manifests itself in love, that only persevering faith is saving faith. Those who do not do good works will not inherit God’s kingdom.

Believers confirm their calling and election by their good works, or, as James says, the faith that saves must be accompanied by good works. The priority of faith in the New Testament rules out legalism, but it also eliminates antinomianism. Those who have truly come to know Jesus Christ keep his commandments and show by their love for fellow believers that they are truly born again. Only those who enter through the narrow gate of obedience will be saved.

The remarkable emphasis on the need for a transformed life does not cancel out the priority of faith. Instead, it helps readers discern the authenticity of faith so that genuine faith can be distinguished from mere notional faith — faith that resides in the intellect but has not penetrated the heart and life. All good works flow from faith and thus do not become an occasion for human boasting. The changed lives of believers simply reveal the object of their trust.

6. The law is fulfilled.

The role of the Old Testament law in the New Testament is one of the most complicated and controversial issues in New Testament theology. The fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ did not merely lead New Testament believers to ratify and maintain everything contained in the Old Testament law. We see in the New Testament both continuity and discontinuity with the Old Testament law. There is continuity in that the coming of Christ brings to fruition the Old Testament promises of salvation and the righteousness demanded by God; there is discontinuity in that the covenant under which the Jewish believers lived is no longer in force, and believers are not members of ethnic Israel.

The New Testament writings consistently teach that the Mosaic covenant is no longer in force for believers, and they don’t bind their churches with practices that distinguished Jews from Gentiles, such as circumcision, Sabbath, or purity laws. Another regular feature is that the law is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and points toward his death and resurrection. The New Testament writers do not merely argue that the Mosaic covenant is set aside in Jesus Christ; they also teach that the law finds its terminus and goal in him, so that he fulfills what is adumbrated in the Old Testament law. Even though the phrase “law of Christ” is found only in Paul, it seems that such a phrase sums up nicely the New Testament witness regarding the law. The Old Testament law is reinterpreted in light of the Christ event. The central norm of the law is love, and Jesus Christ’s giving of himself on the cross is paradigmatic of the love expected of disciples.

The Old Testament law must be interpreted in terms of salvation history, and the law is realized only through the saving work of Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

(Excerpt from New Testament Theology by Thomas Schreiner, copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group.)

via 6 life-giving truths from the New Testament — Southern Equip

January 29 Streams in the Desert

“… God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” (Psa. 46:2, 3, 5.)

SHALL not be moved”—what an inspiring declaration! Can it be possible that we, who are so easily moved by the things of earth, can arrive at a place where nothing can upset us or disturb our calm? Yes, it is possible; and the Apostle Paul knew it. When he was on his way to Jerusalem where he foresaw that “bonds and afflictions” awaited him, he could say triumphantly, “But none of these things move me.” Everything in Paul’s life and experience that could be shaken had been shaken, and he no longer counted his life, or any of life’s possessions, dear to him. And we, if we will but let God have His way with us, may come to the same place, so that neither the fret and tear of little things of life, nor the great and heavy trials, can have power to move us from the peace that passeth understanding, which is declared to be the portion of those who have learned to rest only on God.

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out.” To be as immovable as a pillar in the house of our God, is an end for which one would gladly endure all the shakings that may be necessary to bring us there!—Hannah Whitall Smith.

When God is in the midst of a kingdom or city He makes it as firm as Mount Zion, that cannot be removed. When He is in the midst of a soul, though calamities throng about it on all hands, and roar like the billows of the sea, yet there is a constant calm within, such a peace as the world can neither give nor take away. What is it but want of lodging God in the soul, and that in His stead the world is in men’s hearts, that makes them shake like leaves at every blast of danger?

Archbishop Leighton

They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.” There is a quaint old Scottish version that puts iron into our blood:

“Who sticketh to God in stable trust

As Zion’s mount he stands full just,

Which moveth no whit, nor yet doth reel,

But standeth forever as stiff as steel!”[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 32–33). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

What Psalm 101 Says about Cultivating a Godly Life — Unlocking the Bible

I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me? (Psalm 101:2)

In general, every Christian wants to live a life that pleases God. We want to reflect God’s glory in grace in our personal lives, families, jobs, and churches. This is a great goal in the Christian life, but it can be discouraging and overwhelming. One of the reasons it can be so daunting is because it can be difficult to identify where to begin.

Psalm 101 is a great place to start and it gives us an outline and starting point to cultivate a God-centered life. David starts Psalm 101 by praising God for who He is and worshiping Him in truth. He resolves that he will be deliberate in the way that he follows the Lord.

Notice this is not passive or reactionary attitude. David is making his intention clear: I will worship God in spirit and truth, and I will lead a life that pleases Him. Then he sets out a system for how he will accomplish this.

1. Remove Temptation

I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless. (101:3)

David says that he will set no worthless thing before his eyes. He seeks to remove the impure objects that could pull his heart away from worshiping God.

This is where we must start, we must be diligent to see what temptations in our life we are most prone to that can lead us astray. Being proactive against sin and not letting it gain a place in our homes and intimate parts of our lives will help us to spend more time pursuing what is good and holy.

2. Hate Evil

A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure. (101:4–5)

David takes an almost war-like stance against any form of evil in his life or kingdom. He declares war against sin and pledges himself to destroy it any way he can.

John Owen, the puritan theologian, says this: “Always be killing sinor it will be killing you.” David understood this. Not only would he remove temptation, but he would fight against what is evil in all areas of life.

3. Seek the Godly

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me. (101:6)

The next step David takes is to surround himself with people who are godly. Sometimes it can be easy to settle for friends and people that speak into our life. But notice David says that he will not settle for advisors and friends. He will be searching for people who are faithful to the Lord, and not only find them, but then have them speak and minister to him.

The people that will speak into the most intimate and important parts of David’s life will be those whose resolve is also to walk faithfully with the Lord and glorify Him.

4. Remove Ungodly People

No one whopractices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes. (101:7)

Likewise, while acquiring Godly people, David wants to remove ungodly people from his counsel. He refuses to be influenced by people who do not walk faithfully with the Lord. In our lives we must also be careful to take note of those people who speak into our lives.

This is not to say that we should not engage with unbelievers. On the contrary, we want to share the gospel of Christ with those who are far off! However, we need to have wisdom and make sure that an ungodly person does not “dwell in [our] house.”

When I was young my parents were careful to take note of who were influencing my sister and I. They wanted to know what our teachers were teaching us, what Sunday school teachers told us about God, and what friends we were keeping.

They knew that if we surrounded ourselves or were open to ungodly insight, it could pull us away from God. Like David, we must be careful only to let the godly “dwell in [our] house.”

5. Be Quick to Do What is Right

Morning by morning I will destroy
all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers
from the city of the LORD. (101:8)

The author uses the language “every morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land.” Kings used to hear court cases in the morning. This was for two reasons: first, their minds were fresh, and second, it hadn’t gotten extremely hot!

It was the best time to make the wisest decision concerning a judicial case. David wanted to show that he would not be slothful to do what was right. Every morning he would be committed to making decisions that honored the Lord and not be tempted to let doing what is right fall victim to procrastination.

While this is a great resolution to follow, we can be reminded of our shortcomings. We can be reminded of the sin that wars against us, the difficult relationships we have, and our inability to serve the Lord well.

But thank God for Jesus Christ who because of His work on the cross makes us new and redeems us. That through His Spirit we are given the power to do what we were once unable to do. That when we fail, He is faithful to forgive us and work powerfully through our shortcomings.

May we look to this year with a resolve to cultivate a Godly life through the power of Jesus Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith!

via What Psalm 101 Says about Cultivating a Godly Life — Unlocking the Bible

January 29th The D. L. Moody Year Book

Godliness with contentment is great gain.—1 Timothy 6:6.

WOULD to God we might all be able to say with Paul—“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.” The Lord had made him partaker of His grace, and he was soon to be a partaker of His glory, and earthly things looked very small. “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” he wrote to Timothy; “having food and raiment, therewith let us be content.” Observe that he puts godliness first. No worldly gain can satisfy the human heart. Roll the whole world in and still there would be room.[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. 25). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

January 29, 2020 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

The U.S. Senate will begin up to two days of questioning the prosecution and defense in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday, ahead of a crucial vote later in the week on whether to call witnesses.

U.S. House Democrats on Wednesday will unveil a proposed $760 billion infrastructure spending bill over five years that aims to rebuild sagging roads and bridges and reduce carbon pollution.

The United States and Japan evacuated their nationals from a quarantined city on Wednesday while British Airways suspended flights to mainland China where deaths from a virus leapt to 133 and major economic impact was predicted.

A six-ton shipment of respiratory masks and protective suits for health care workers landed in China on Wednesday for distribution in Wuhan, the epicenter of a spreading coronavirus outbreak, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.

The European Commission is advising its staff to delay “non-essential” travel to China, the top official in charge of crisis management said on Wednesday, as the number of deaths from a new coronavirus leapt.

China has told farmers to step up vegetable production, opened roads for delivery trucks and is punishing those trying to profit in order to keep feeding residents of the locked down city of Wuhan at the center of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The United Kingdom leaves the European Union an hour before midnight on Friday, casting off into an uncertain Brexit future that also challenges Europe’s post-World War Two project of forging unity from the ruins of conflict.

The German cabinet on Wednesday backed plans to exit coal as an energy source by 2038 as part of efforts by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition to protect the climate and restore its green credentials.

AP Top Stories

A Harvard University professor was charged Tuesday with lying about his ties to a Chinese-run recruitment program and concealing payments he received from the Chinese government for research.

Palestinian leaders on Tuesday rejected US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal as an unacceptable capitulation to Israel that tramples on the long-standing aspirations of their people.

Israel has a ballistic missile it can fire from its jet fighters. Apparently, the weapon worked and was used in combat for the first time recently.

While they have thankfully never been used during a shooting war, nuclear-powered submarines carrying nuclear-tipped missiles are the most deadly weapons mankind has ever devised. In some cases-as in the case of the Ohio-class submarine during the height of the Cold War-even a single vessel could reduce as many as 288 city-sized targets into radioactive ash in less than 30 minutes. Indeed, these vessel and their payloads could end human civilization in less time than it takes to order a pizza if a third world war were to break out.

United Airlines said on Tuesday that it was canceling a total of 24 flights to and from China, as the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak leads to plummeting demand.

Nine priests and brothers of a Catholic group recently shut down by the Vatican are under investigation by Italian authorities for allegedly sexually abusing two brothers.

On Wednesday, the number of Wuhan virus cases in mainland China also outstripped the number of SARS cases during the 2003 epidemic.

BBC

Scientists in Australia have become the first to recreate the new coronavirus outside of China in what they have called a “significant breakthrough”. The discovery will be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the hope it may help efforts to diagnose and treat the virus.

Demonstrations have taken place across northern Ethiopia about the failure of the authorities to find a group of 27 students abducted 50 days ago. The students – from the Amhara community – were kidnapped as they fled an outbreak of ethnic violence at Dembi Dolo University in the Oromia region. It is not clear who is behind the abduction of the students, believed to be mainly young women.

WND

The Rev. Franklin Graham, an evangelist and the son of the late preacher Billy Graham, was slated to speak this summer at a venue in Liverpool. That stop, though, will no longer take place. Graham’s event, to be held at ACC Liverpool, was part of a larger tour through the United Kingdom. Officials at the venue, however, announced Friday the event would be scrubbed from the schedule because Graham’s views – particularly his biblical interpretation of marriage as a union between one man and one woman – are “incompatible with our values.”

A cultural divide between the National Football League and heartland America continues to grow, with a new commercial underscoring how far apart the two have drifted. The commercial, which will play in front of millions of families across the country during the Super Bowl, features two drag queens who were previously on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a reality show that is centered around drag culture. While the commercial is likely to catch many unaware families off guard, the LGBT crowd is overjoyed about their lifestyle choices being normalized and broadcast to millions.


Mid-Day Snapshot · Jan. 29, 2020

The Foundation

“As our president bears no resemblance to a king so we shall see the Senate has no similitude to nobles. First, not being hereditary, their collective knowledge, wisdom, and virtue are not precarious. For by these qualities alone are they to obtain their offices, and they will have none of the peculiar qualities and vices of those men who possess power merely because their father held it before them.” —Tench Coxe (1787)


Impeachment Trial Day 7: ‘Trust the American People’

It’s now looking more likely than not that the Senate will vote to call witnesses.


‘Deal of the Century’ With Israel and the Palestinians?

Trump and Netanyahu reveal a plan for peace. It is both generous and realistic.


Hispanic Vote May Be Key to Trump Victory

The president’s support among minorities might just shock a lot of Democrats.


China vs. the Rapidly Spreading Coronavirus

With 132 deaths and more than 6,000 people infected, Beijing quarantines 50 million people.


Video: CNN Mocks Trump ‘Deplorables’

In a moment reminiscent of Hillary’s worst elitist fumble, CNN mocks America.


Video: AOC Won’t Pay Dues for Dem Group She Joined

But she expects you to pay higher taxes.



Today’s Opinion

Tony Perkins
CNN’s Contempt Serves Up a Lemon
Gary Bauer
The Deal of the Century
Betsy McCaughey
Joe Biden Must Explain His Ukraine Dealings
Kay C. James
How the House’s Handling of the Trump Impeachment Hurts the American People
Walter E. Williams
Democracy and Tyranny
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Wednesday News Executive Summary

Trump’s Deal of the Century, Team Sanders militancy, trillion-dollar deficit, and more.


Wednesday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and more.



Today’s Meme

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

Today’s Cartoon

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

Headlines – 1/29/2020

Trump unveils ‘Deal of the Century’ Middle East peace plan

Read full text: US unveils Israeli-Palestinian peace plan

Trump’s Peace Plan Calls for Two States, Settlement Freeze

Borders, security, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees: Key elements of Trump plan

Trump’s ‘Conceptual Maps’ show Israel, ‘enclave communities,’ ‘Future Palestine’

Trump Mideast peace plan expands Israeli territory, offers path to Palestinian statehood

Trump unveils plan for ‘realistic 2-state’ deal, ‘undivided’ Israeli Jerusalem

A tale of two cities: How the US made ‘undivided Jerusalem’ into twin capitals

Joel Rosenberg: First Arab reaction. President unveils 181-page peace plan. Calls it “win-win.” Netanyahu raves. Three Arab ambassadors attend ceremony. Lots of controversy ahead. Here’s what you need to know.

Trump plan includes apparent contradiction over prayer rights at Temple Mount

‘Don’t talk about history’: how Jared Kushner crafted his Middle East ‘peace’ plan

There’s growing fear in Ramallah that countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt are not opposed to Trump’s plan

Iran, Turkey slam Trump peace plan as UAE, Saudi Arabia urge negotiations

Qatar appreciates efforts on solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict

Saudi Arabia says it backs all efforts toward ‘comprehensive’ Mideast solution

IDF intel chief: Arab street will determine how Mideast rulers accept peace plan

Arab League to hold urgent meeting on Trump peace plan

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman affirms ‘steadfast’ support for Palestinian rights

Trump’s plan indicates a great waste of Palestinians rights: Arab League

From Hamas to Moscow: Trump’s Israel-Palestine Plan Draws Mixed Reactions

How the Trump Administration’s Israel-Palestine Peace Plan Will Change the Middle East

The Trump plan could indeed prove historic – for all the wrong reasons

Trump’s peace plan may polarize the Middle East it seeks to calm

Trump plan won’t bring peace, helps Netanyahu, raises risk of binational state

Top Arab MK: Trump plan an ‘assassination’ of two-state solution

Iran: Trump deal is the ‘treason of the century’

Trump peace plan delights Israelis, enrages Palestinians

Rioters burn pictures of Trump, call him a dog in Ramallah

Amid ‘Deal of the Century’ Tensions, IDF Beefs Up Forces in Jordan Valley

Hamas: ‘All options open’ following Trump ‘conspiracies’ with Israel

Abbas on Trump peace plan: ‘Conspiracy deal won’t pass’

Abbas on US plan: ‘We say 1,000 times: No, no and no to the deal of the century’

All that’s missing from Trump’s ‘overly good’ Middle East plan is Palestinians

Trump unveils Middle East peace plan with no Palestinian support

Kushner slams Palestinian leadership, urges giving up ‘fairy tales’ for peace

Kushner: Palestinians have a perfect track record of blowing every opportunity

Kushner says Palestinians have to show the world it is ‘ready to be a state’

Pompeo says peace plan will move forward no matter who wins Israeli elections

Trump’s Peace Plan Is Ludicrous, Dangerous and One-sided – The U.S. ‘vision’ seeks to sideline and humiliate Palestinians to submission

US envoy: Israel ‘does not have to wait’ to annex settlements

Nearly half of Jewish Israelis oppose unilateral West Bank annexation – poll

As peace plan rolls out, Netanyahu says he will annex Jordan Valley, settlements

Defense minister announces formation of ‘special team’ to assess annexation

Settler leaders call on PM Netanyahu to oppose Trump plan, even at the cost of annexation

Report Released: 800,000 Jews Reside In Judea & Samaria

United Nations says committed to pre-1967 borders, stresses settlements illegal

Israel headed for clash with International Court over West Bank settlements

Democratic candidates censure Trump peace plan, warn against annexation

Liberal Jewish groups denounce US plan; mainstream applauds Trump, urges talks

Commentary: A Middle Eastern Fairy Tale Unfolds at the White House

Timing of Mideast peace plan rollout appears designed to contrast with impeachment trial

McConnell says GOP doesn’t have votes yet to block impeachment witnesses, as Bolton book disrupts trial script

Former allies turn on Bolton as book roils Washington

Off Senate Floor, Trump Team Targets Bolton’s Credibility

Ted Cruz: Democrats should be asked what Trump did wrong that they didn’t do ‘tenfold worse’

Netanyahu indicted in court on corruption charges after dropping immunity bid

Bribes, fraud, and breach of trust: Netanyahu indictment submitted to Jerusalem court

Netanyahu indictment filing with court gets trial moving

Photos suggest US-criticized Iranian satellite launch looms

American embassy attack brings US presence in Iraq back to spotlight

Pentagon now says 50 troops suffered brain injuries in Iran missile strike

Turkey vows to retaliate if army posts in Idlib threatened

Taliban kill 11 in Afghan police base attack

Russian mercenaries, a CIA-linked general and lots of oil: Explaining Libya’s war

How the scariest attack on the US will come through the Internet

‘Dangerously Close’ – Two Satellites At Risk Of Collision Tomorrow Could Create Thousands Of New Pieces Of Space Debris

Magnitude 7.7 earthquake hits Caribbean Sea off the coast of Jamaica, tsunami threat message issued – “the earth is literally shaking here” at the press room at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Caribbean, But No Reports Of Injuries Or Damage

6.1 magnitude earthquake hits near East End, Cayman Islands

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Coquimbo, Chile

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Karpathos, Greece

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Amatignak Island, Alaska

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Ishikawa, Japan

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Gharm, Tajikistan

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Vore, Albania

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Kirkagac, Turkey

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Shiraz, Iran

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mohean, India

Sangay volcano in Ecuador erupts to 23,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 19,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 17,000ft

Nevados De Chillan in Chile erupts to 17,000ft

Ebeko volcano in the Kuril Islands erupts to 14,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 12,000ft

Heavy monsoon rains drench Queensland, causing widespread floods, Australia

Kazakhstan Struck By Snowpocalypse

There is so Much Snow in Kazakhstan Right Now That People Dig Tunnels to Enter Their Homes, Leave Their Cars Stranded on Highways and Astana is Under a State of Emergency

‘Wine is like the canary in the coal mine.’ Climate change is threatening our wine supply

Coronavirus: China’s infections outnumber its Sars cases as Russia joins vaccine race

Tears, fear and panic grip China as coronavirus spreads

Coronavirus: China has quarantined 50 million people. Experts worry that might backfire

As Virus Spreads, Anger Floods Chinese Social Media

WHO chief says confident in China’s ability to contain virus, urges calm

WHO to send experts to China to study virus

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From China to Europe and the world: A timeline of the coronavirus outbreak

Plane carrying US evacuees from China amid coronavirus outbreak diverted to California air base

White House tells airlines it may suspend all China-US flights amid coronavirus outbreak

China-U.S. Air Traffic Is In Free-Fall

Hong Kong Severs All Rail Links to Mainland China, Russia Closes Border to Halt Virus

Canada’s Chinese community faces racist abuse in wake of coronavirus

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Jeffrey Epstein Accusers ‘Outraged’ by Prince Andrew’s ‘Zero Cooperation’ with FBI


Apostasy Watch

Why Kobe’s Death Reminds us That There’s Not Enough Time for Hospitality Evangelism

Andrew Strom – Best Info on the Coronavirus

NAR Advocating for Carnal CEO Leadership Instead of Shepherding

‘Christianity Today’ Editor says he Doesn’t Know Any Trump Supporters But Insists They Must Be Uneducated and Jobless

Fox Won’t Approve Pro-Life Group’s Super Bowl Commercial Featuring Abortion Survivors

The Super Bowl Will Feature Drag Queens in Commercial For The First Time

Algeria orders another Christian church to close as crackdown continues

Pastor collapses, tragically dies while preaching in South Africa


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

January 29, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

discernment

A Command to Test

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, (4:1a)

Having just discussed the abiding work of the Holy Spirit in true believers (3:24), John makes the transition to the work of unholy spirits in false teachers and their false teachings. Because these ancient, supernatural spirits are experts in deception, Christians must be careful to closely examine every spiritual message they encounter (cf. Matt. 10:16; 1 Thess. 5:21–22).

The imperative form of the verb believe, with the negative particle not, could literally be translated “stop believing.” John’s phrase indicates the forbidding of an action already under way. If any of his readers were uncritically accepting the message of false teachers, they were to stop doing so immediately. They needed to exercise biblical discernment, like the Bereans of whom Luke wrote, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Unbelievers, “being darkened in their understanding” (Eph. 4:18), have no basis on which to evaluate various teachings that claim divine origin (1 Cor. 2:14). Consequently they are highly susceptible to aberrant doctrine and can easily be led astray into error. But believers, who have the Word of truth and the Spirit of truth, must test what they hear with what they know to be true, as revealed in the Scriptures (1 Thess. 5:21–22).

A Reason to Test

but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (4:1b)

The term translated test is a present imperative form of the verb dokimazō. The term was used to refer to a metallurgist’s assaying of metals to test their purity and value. John’s use of the present tense indicates that believers are to continually test the spirits to see whether they are from God. Contrary to the view of some, this command has nothing to do with personally confronting demons or performing exorcisms. Instead, Christians are to continually evaluate what they see, hear (cf. 1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:20–21), and read to determine if it originated from the Spirit of God or, alternatively, from demons.

The only reliable way to test any teaching is to measure it against what God has revealed in His infallible, written Word (Isa. 8:20; cf. Prov. 6:23; 2 Tim. 3:16–17). As the perfect standard of truth (John 17:17) and the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17), the Word of God provides believers with their primary defense against error (cf. 2 Cor. 10:3–5; Heb. 4:12).

The urgency of John’s command resides in the fact that not a few but many false prophets have gone out into the world. Satan does not merely want to oppose the church (cf. Acts 5:3; 13:8–10; 16:16–23; 1 Thess. 2:18); he wants to deceive her (cf. 2 Cor. 11:14). In keeping with his fraudulent schemes, his minions have infiltrated denominations, churches, and other Christian schools, institutions, and organizations, resulting in compromise and error (cf. Jude 4).

Satan not only develops lies that directly deny biblical truth, but is also subtle, often sabotaging the truth by mixing it with error. Truth mixed with error is usually far more effective and far more destructive than a straightforward contradiction of the truth. Those who trust everything they read from the Christian bookstore or hear on Christian radio and television are prime targets for doctrinal deception. After all, as Paul wrote, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14–15).

So Satan masquerades his lies as truth. He does not always wage war openly against the gospel. He is much more likely to attack the church by infiltrating her walls with subtle error. He uses the Trojan horse stratagem by placing his false teachers in the church, where they can “secretly introduce destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). He puts his lies in the mouth of someone who claims to speak for Jesus Christ (Matt. 4:6; Acts 20:30). In this way, the Devil disguises falsehood as truth, making that which is evil look like that which is good.

For this reason, Jesus Himself warned of false prophets:

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matt. 7:15–17; cf. Mark 13:21–23; 2 Peter 2:1–2)

Christians who ignore the Lord’s warning do so to their own harm. There are many powerful voices clamoring for attention within the church. Thus it is imperative that believers practice biblical discernment (cf. 1 Cor. 2:12–13; Eph. 6:17; 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:15–17). It is especially mandated for pastors, who

as God’s steward[s], not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that they will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. (Titus 1:7–11)[1]


True and False Prophets (v. 1)

John begins with the statement that there are false prophets as well as true prophets and with a command for Christians to distinguish between them. At the same time he indicates what is the important point in so distinguishing. It is not whether supernatural phenomena are present, for the devil can also appear to do miracles. It is a question of the source of the prophet’s inspiration. Is it of God? In that case, the prophet is a true prophet. If it is not of God, then he is not to be believed or followed, however great his wisdom or however striking his activity.

When John says that many false prophets are gone out into the world, he is not necessarily thinking of his day alone. Indeed he would know that there have always been false prophets and that God’s people have always had the task of distinguishing between those who are of God and those who speak either of themselves or by the power of the devil. The Old Testament contains a magnificent example in the case of Micaiah and the prophets of King Ahab, recorded in 1 Kings 22. King Ahab of Israel had been trying to persuade King Jehoshaphat of Judah to join him in battle against Syria in order to annex a piece of real estate known as Ramoth Gilead, but Jehoshaphat was skeptical. He wanted to ask whether the venture was blessed by the Lord by inquiring of a prophet. When he expressed this desire Ahab responded by calling together four hundred of the court prophets, who then testified to a man: “Go, … for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand” (v. 6).

At this point Ahab was pleased; but Jehoshaphat was dissatisfied, for he sensed that these men were merely paid mouthpieces kept by Ahab for propaganda purposes. Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” (v. 7). Ahab admitted that there was a man named Micaiah, but he said that he hated him because he never prophesied anything good about Ahab. Ahab did not want to hear Micaiah. Nevertheless, at Jehoshaphat’s insistence this unpopular prophet was called. At first the prophet ridiculed the kings, saying word for word exactly what the false prophets had prophesied. But everyone understood what he was doing, and Ahab finally called, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” (v. 16).

At this point Micaiah replied as God had instructed him: “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace’ ” (v. 17). This was clearly a prophecy of the death of Ahab, and it was obviously unpopular. Micaiah was imprisoned. But as he was being taken to prison, he called out, “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me” (v. 28). Moreover, he challenged all the people to take note of his prophecy.

Here is precisely the problem with which John was dealing in his churches. It is the question of who is right. And there is one test—a most important test—by which true and false prophets may be distinguished: fulfillment. Whose prophecies come true? Will Ahab be killed or will he not? Will Israel be scattered or will she return victorious? In this case Micaiah was vindicated. This is the test that Jeremiah gives: “But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true” (Jer. 28:9). Or, to present it from the negative side, it is also the test given to the people in Deuteronomy: “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22).

But suppose that the prophecy of a false prophet does just happen to come true. It is conceivable. Or suppose that the prophecy is of such a general nature or involves such didactic material that it is just not capable of being tested in this way. What then? In that case, says Deuteronomy, the prophet is to be tested by whether or not he leads the people to serve false gods. “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 13:1–3).[2]


1 John immediately introduces what will become the key term in this section, pneuma (“spirit,” GK 4460). Some believers have been led astray by those who falsely claim to speak by God’s Spirit, and John wishes to protect those who remain in his fellowship. Today such claims might be countered by denying that any teaching is “inspired” and by accusing those who make such claims of spiritualizing a natural process. John, however, clearly believes that the Spirit plays a key role in Christian instruction (cf. Jn 16:12–15), which leads him to insist that true orthodox teaching (such as his own) is inspired by God’s Spirit, while the Antichrists’ doctrines are not. Again, a modern approach would insist that the Antichrists have generated these false teachings from their own minds. John, however, consistent with his dualistic worldview, subscribes to the notion that all teaching, true or false, has a spiritual dimension. He can therefore acknowledge that both true teachers and Antichrists are inspired by spirits, but he warns his audience that they must not “believe every spirit.” The term “believe” (NIV) renders the Greek pisteuō (GK 4409), which here means “trust.” Not all teachers can be trusted, because some of them are driven by spirits that do not come from God.

To stress the danger of the situation, John tells his audience that “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” The NIV is probably correct in translating the hoti that introduces this phrase with causal force (“because many false prophets …”), as the presence of false prophets states the reason why Christians must exercise caution. At the same time, John may be introducing a slogan or a traditional saying with an eschatological flavor. Although no similar saying appears in the fourth gospel, the reference to false prophets going out into the world resembles Mark 13:22, where Jesus warns the disciples that false prophets will appear with the purpose of “deceiving the elect.” At 1 John 4:6, John associates the Antichrists with the “spirit of falsehood,” and his use of exerchomai (“go out”) in v. 1 suggests that his opponents are on a mission to deceive (see comment at 1 Jn 2:19). This again portrays the Antichrists as allied with the cosmic forces of evil; their teachings are inspired by the end-times spirit of false prophecy, which seeks to lead people astray (cf. 1 Ti 4:1).[3]


1 The present section, verses 1–6, is a self-contained unity, clearly separate from what follows. It is linked with what precedes by the catchword “spirit,” which joins verses 3:24 and 4:1. It is not absolutely clear whether the mention of the Spirit in 3:24 led John to develop the thought in this new section or whether in anticipation of this section he included the linking phrase in 3:24. On the whole, the latter is more likely. With this section John returns to a theme which he has already discussed, that of the coming of the antichrists with their false christological confession. But the theme is taken up in a slightly different form. Here it is a question of the claims which were made by John’s opponents that their teaching rested on inspiration by the spirit. It is tempting to ascribe any unusual phenomenon to the power of God, and in the early church there was a tendency to regard any kind of unusual “spiritual” gift such as tongues or prophecy as being inspired by the Spirit of God, and therefore a sign of the validity and truth of what was said by the person possessed of the gift. Consequently Paul had to warn the members of his churches to “try” the spirits. The reality of demonic spirits was not questioned, as the various stories of exorcisms in the Gospels and Acts indicate. Christians, however, needed to be reminded that demonic activity could penetrate their churches. The fact that a statement was attributable to inspiration by the spirit did not prove that it was the Spirit of God which was at work. So John too found it necessary to remind his readers that not every “spirit” was to be believed. The word “spirit” here must mean either “utterance inspired by a spirit” or “person inspired by a spirit.” In the latter case the thought is perhaps of the individual spirit of a prophet, which might be inspired by God or Satan. Since this is the case, the members of the church must not believe what is said by inspired individuals without first testing whether the spirits are from God. There is a real danger of deception since many false prophets have gone out into the world. Such prophets had been the subject of warnings by Jesus (Mt. 7:15; Mk. 13:22); we have already seen how John regarded them as manifestations of antichrist (2:18). They went out, like Christian missionaries (2 Jn. 7), in order to win converts for their cause. The important problem is: how do you test such people?[4]


4:1 / For the fourth time in 1 John, the Elder addresses his readers as Dear friends (agapētoi; 2:7; 3:2, 21; cf. 4:7, 11; 3 John 1, 2, 5, 11). It is out of his deep love for them that he writes to warn and encourage them.

Two commands, one negative, the other positive, form the heart of the author’s teaching in v. 1 and in the section as a whole: do not believe (lit., “do not be believing,” perhaps implying that some already were) and test (lit., “be testing,” dokimazete; a continuous examining is called for). The objects of these verbs are every spirit and the spirits. As the end of v. 1 reveals, the Elder has in mind occasions of prophecy when someone would claim to be speaking by the Spirit of God.

The ot was familiar with “lying spirits” or false prophets (1 Kgs. 22:22–24; Jer. 23:16; 27:10, 14–15; 29:8–9; Ezek. 13:1–9), and in the nt, Jesus warns his followers against the rise of false prophets before the end of the age (Matt. 7:15; 24:4–5, 11, 24), as do Paul in Acts 20:28–31, the author of 2 Peter (2:1), and John in the Revelation (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The apostle Paul lists “distinguishing between spirits” among the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:10; cf. 14:29), and he urges the Thessalonians not to “treat prophecies with contempt” but to “test everything” (1 Thess. 5:20–21). Apparently a false prophet had misled them concerning the Day of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:2). The problem with false prophets continued after nt times, as is seen in Didache 11:7–12 and Shepherd of Hermas, Mandates 6.2.1.

In the world view of early Christian and other first-century writers, there were many supernatural spirits to contend with, good and evil angels, demonic powers, and a host of invisible beings variously named (e.g., Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col. 1:16; 2:10, 15; Heb. 1:4, 14). In the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially in the Manual of Discipline (1QS) and the War Scroll (1QM), and in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, references to opposing spiritual forces abound. In this world of spiritual conflict, the readers must not be naive and gullible and believe every spirit (meaning every person claiming to speak by “the Spirit”); there are other spirits abroad. The same warning is relevant to the church today, especially with the rising interest in the occult and “new age” religions.

Among the secessionists were people who were claiming to prophesy by the Spirit of God. The Elder calls them false prophets, “the spirit of antichrist” (v. 3; cf. 2:18, 22), and “deceivers” (2 John 7; cf. 2:26; 3:7). They have “defected” (Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, pp. 219–20) from the community and gone out into the world. The same thing is said about “the deceivers” in 2 John 7. First John 2:19 states that they “went out from us,” but they were never true members of the community. Yet they continue to try to win over the remaining Johannine Christians who are loyal to the Elder (2:26; 3:7; 2 John 10).

Given this situation, the readers are to test the spirits, the purpose of the test being to determine whether they are from God. Previously, the Elder had divided his followers and the opposition into two camps: the children of God and the children of the devil (3:1–2, 8–10). If the prophets do not meet the test, they belong to the world (4:5) which is under the control of the evil one (5:19). Ultimately, the Elder sees behind all prophecy either God’s Spirit or the devil, the Spirit of truth or the spirit of falsehood (4:6).[5]


A Warning

4:1

With this text John begins the third part of his epistle; the first section begins at 1:5, and the second at 2:18. There is a distinct parallel between the second part and the third. Both parts expound the following topics: A warning against the antichrist, children of God, love for God and one another.

In the first few verses of each section, John speaks of antichrists or false teachers. He exhorts the readers to put the teaching of false prophets to the test. Christians have to be able to detect false teachings and to examine the spirit that expresses them.

  1. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

As a wise pastor, John first addresses his readers with words of tender love. He calls them “dear friends” (compare 3:21; 4:7). After the address, John tactfully warns the readers against the work of false teachers and tells them not to believe every spirit. He wants them to realize that there are two spiritual spheres in this world: one is the domain of the Holy Spirit; the other is the domain of the devil. The Holy Spirit dwells in the children of God (3:24), but the spirit of the devil lives in false prophets who speak in his name.

  • “Do not believe every spirit” (consult Jer. 29:8; Matt. 24:4; Eph. 5:6; 1 Tim. 4:1). Of course, we are unable to see a spirit, but we can hear and understand the teachings of that spirit. The word spirit, then, is equivalent to “teaching.”

Apparently some of the first readers of this epistle were beginning to believe the false prophets who said that their teaching was a revelation from the Holy Spirit. John exhorts the readers to distinguish carefully between the teachings of God’s Spirit and false teachings. Not every teaching is an utterance of the Spirit of God. Therefore, John advises the Christians to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” and to verify all teaching in the light of God’s Word (compare 1 Thess. 2:4; 5:21).

  • “Many false prophets have gone out into the world.” We know that false teachers have made the world their lecture hall. They desire to gain a hearing from a number of Christians. In his discourse on the end of time, Jesus warns us, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (Matt. 24:24; also consult Rev. 2:2).[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 154–156). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 107–108). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 471–472). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Epistles of John (pp. 203–204). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Johnson, T. F. (2011). 1, 2, and 3 John (pp. 93–94). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 322–324). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

January 29 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 29.—Morning. [Or February 26.]
“The Lord will provide.”

Genesis 45:16–28

JOSEPH’S meeting with his family could not be long concealed; the happy fact oozed out, and the news was carried to the King himself.

16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. (They were glad because so great a benefactor of their nation was made happy.)

17, 18, 19 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons (or chariots) out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is your’s. (Pharaoh thus delicately and with lordly generosity, spared Joseph any scruples about inviting his kinsmen to dwell in the land; they were to come into the country as the king’s own guests. Observe how he bids them leave all their “stuff” behind, as if he meant to give them so much that would be better that they need not bring their tents or their furniture with them. Certainly, when we come to Jesus, and receive his treasures of grace, all earthly things become mere “stuff” to us.)

21 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.

22 To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment. (How Joseph’s goodness contrasted with their former cruelty. “They sent him naked to strangers, he sends them in new and rich liveries; they took a small sum of money for him, he gives them large treasures; they sent his torn coat to his father, he sends variety of costly garments; they sold him to be the load of camels, he sends them home in chariots.” Far greater still is the contrast between our ungenerous treatment of the Lord Jesus and his bountiful returns of grace to us.)

23 And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.

24 So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way. (He knew them well, and feared that they might begin accusing each other, or might even become envious of Benjamin, as they had formerly been of himself.)

25, 26 ¶ And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father. And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not. (A sad heart is far more ready to believe a mournful falsehood than a joyful truth. When his sons wickedly shewed him Joseph’s coat he said, “Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces,” but when they tell him a true story, he believes them not. It is a pity when despondency makes our judgment lose its balance.)

27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:

28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die. (First the words, and then the wagons aided Jacob’s faith, even as the words of Jesus and the gifts of Jesus enable us to believe on him. The venerable patriarch was more glad to hear that his son was “alive,” than that he was “governor over all the land of Egypt.” This was enough for him, and he resolved to have a sight of his beloved one. Where there is true love there will be a desire for communion. Those who love the Son of God will not be willing to live without heavenly fellowship. O may all united here in family worship, see Jesus by faith before they die, when they die, and then for ever.)

Jesus, these eyes have never seen

That radiant form of Thine!

The veil of sense hangs dark between

Thy blessed face and mine!

Yet though I have not seen, and still,

Must rest in faith alone;

I love thee, dearest Lord! and will,

Unseen, but not unknown.

When death these mortal eyes shall seal,

And still this throbbing heart,

The rending veil shall thee reveal,

All glorious as thou art.

January 29.—Evening. [Or February 27.]
“We shall see Him as He is.”

Genesis 46:29–34

AND Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.

30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive. (As if now he could lie down and sleep, for his last desire was fulfilled. Bishop Hall says, “And if the meeting of earthly friends be so unspeakably comfortable, how happy shall we be in the light of the glorious face of God our Father! of that of our blessed Redeemer, whom we sold to death for our sins, and who now, after his noble triumph, hath all power given him in heaven and earth”)

31, 32 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

33, 34 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians. (To speak the honest truth is always the best policy, and to follow an honest calling the best condition. Joseph might have bid them ask to be made nobles, but he knew that they would prosper better as shepherds. “Seekest thou great things for thyself, seek them not.”)

Genesis 47:2–10; 12

AND Joseph took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.

They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan; now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.

5, 6 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?

And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

He avowed himself a pilgrim, thus bearing witness to the hope which sustained him, but he gave to Pharaoh a more gloomy view of pilgrim life than Abraham or Isaac would have done. However, since this man of many trials yet reached the promised rest, even so shall every afflicted believer.

10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. (The reverend age of Jacob gave him liberty to bless even the monarch of the land. An old man’s blessing is precious. Let us so act towards the aged, that they may invoke blessings upon us.)

12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families. (Thus our elder brother Jesus, who is Lord over the whole earth for the good of his church, takes care to nourish all his Father’s household “according to their families.” Be pleased, O Jesus, to let this family share in thy great love.)

When famine frowns and fields are bare

God shall for saints provide;

He has a land of Goshen where

He makes their souls abide.

In darkest times they need not fear,

Their wants are all foreknown;

Jesus their Lord shall now appear

As Joseph on the throne.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 57–58). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 29 Jesus Is the Life

John 11:25–26

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

The King of kings came into the world humbly. He was born in a stable, His cradle a feed trough. In His thirty-three years of earthly life, He owned no possessions. He had to depend on others to provide for His needs, and He had to borrow everything He used. The stable where He was born was borrowed. He borrowed money to pay His taxes, a boat to stand in and preach, a cross on which to die. Even His tomb was not His own.

But He had a mission that He alone could accomplish: He, the Son of Man, came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He bore our sins “in His own body on the tree” that in the age to come we might have eternal life (1 Peter 2:24, Mark 10:29–30, and John 3:13–17). Of Himself He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26). He “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself … so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.… We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 9:26–10:10).[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 30). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

Why Did the Pharisees Hate Jesus So Much? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

When you talk to people who are non-Christians today, they are usually very complimentary of Jesus. They’ll say: “I don’t believe that He was the Messiah, and I don’t believe that He was the Son of God, but Jesus was certainly a great person. He was a great teacher. Maybe He was prophet.”

But this kind of high regard for Jesus is by no means universal. Even in Scripture, we find people who reacted to Jesus with hostility, and chief among these people are the scribes and Pharisees. We read in Luke 20 that the scribes and the chief priests sought to have Jesus arrested. In John 5, we are told that they wanted to kill Him, and in chapters 8 and 10, they tried to stone Him.

When we read these accounts in Scripture, we are prompted to ask, Why did these people speak the way they did and feel the way they did with such hostility toward Jesus? It’s difficult to provide a complete answer as to why they were motivated in this way, but here are three reasons why the religious authorities hated Jesus so much.

The first is this: they were jealous of Him. Why would they be jealous of the Son of God? Everywhere Jesus went, He attracted huge throngs, multitudes, crowds pressing around to listen to His every word, watching His every move. He was profoundly popular among the people, whereas the rulers of the Jews laid heavy burdens on their people, and they approached the masses, the people of the earth, with something like a spirit of disdain and scorn. While they wouldn’t think of having dinner with a tax collector, Jesus freely associated with people whom the Pharisees considered “rabble.”

The people loved Jesus, and they received Him gladly, but what they felt from the Pharisees was judgment. The only thing the Pharisees looked at was the people’s sin, and so they had a certain contempt for the common people. They saw Jesus associating with the common people and saw them cheering Him, loving Him. They couldn’t stand it because they were envious and suspicious of His popularity.

The second reason why they hated Him was because He exposed them. Before Jesus came, it was the Pharisees particularly, as well as the Sadducees and scribes, who set the moral standard for the community. They sat in the highest places in the synagogue. They were the ones who were most honored and celebrated for their virtue, but their virtue, as Jesus taught repeatedly, was a pretense. It was external. He said: “You’re like dead men’s tombs, whitewashed sepulchers that are painted without blemish on the surface but inside are filled with dead men’s bones. You clean the outside of the platter, but the other side, the inner side, is filthy. You do everything possible to hide that impurity, that grime, and that filthiness from public view. You pretend to be righteous, and you major in that pretense of being righteous.”

The Pharisees started in the intertestamental period as a group who were upset because the people were abandoning the purity of the covenant that they had made with God and were being lax in their morality and in their obedience to the commandments of God. So the Pharisees sought to draw together and draw apart from the masses and to set a moral example. These were the conservatives of the day. They had a high system of honor and virtue, and they committed themselves to obeying God. In fact, one sect among the Pharisees believed that if they could keep every law that God gave in the Old Testament for just twenty-four hours, then that would prompt God to send the Messiah to Israel.

But a lot of things had happened between the day of the formation of the Pharisees and the time of Jesus’ incarnation, when they masqueraded as devotees of righteousness and obedience. In a word, they were counterfeit. They were fake. And nothing reveals a counterfeit like the presence of the genuine. When Jesus walked this earth, true righteousness and holiness was manifested by Him before the eyes of the people. It didn’t take exceptional brilliance to discern the difference between the real and the counterfeit. So the Pharisees were exposed, and because they were exposed by the true and authentic holiness of Christ, they hated Him, and they couldn’t wait to get rid of Him.

There is a common idea out there that God must grade on a curve. Grading on a curve happens when an instructor gives an exam and everyone flunks it. It must therefore be a bad or unfair exam, or the teacher has failed in teaching because the students have failed to learn. The instructor then grades on a curve, so that an F might be counted as a C and a C as an A, and so on. There’s a formula for doing that.

But every once in a while, you have someone who breaks the curve, meaning that everyone else failed the test but this student scores very high. This messes up the formula, which means that most students don’t like people who break the curve. Curve breakers make the rest of us look bad.

The bad news is God doesn’t grade on a curve. A lot of people think He will, but there is no curve. All people will be judged according to His perfect standard of righteousness. There is no sliding scale.

The good news, however, is that Jesus broke the curve. While we all fall short, He achieved a perfect record of righteousness. And He did so for us. While this is a source of rejoicing for those who have placed their faith in Christ, it moved the Pharisees to hate Him because He exposed their phony righteousness for what it was.

The third reason I think that they hated Him is because they were afraid—not so much of what He would do to them in His wrath but of the consequences of welcoming Him into their midst. Why were they afraid? Look at the history of Israel. In almost every generation going back to Abraham, the Israelites lived under the domination and oppression of a foreign nation. You’ve heard of the Pax Romana; there’s also the Pax Israeliana. The Pax Israeliana, or the peace of Israel, was always extremely short-lived. Almost always, the people were a conquered people, a people who lived under the oppression and the tyranny of their enemies. In the case of the first-century Jews, the oppressor was Rome.

Throughout Jewish history, there had always been those who were committed to revolution, who wanted to throw off the yoke of the foreigners who held them captive. You’ll see one revolt after another in the history of Israel, and one revolt after another being quashed by the power of the enemy. There were people—at least two, probably more—among Jesus’ disciples who were called Zealots.

Those who were in positions of power and authority, as the Pharisees and Sadducees were, feared losing their power and authority. The Jewish leaders feared the consequences of a revolt against Rome. That’s on almost every page of the New Testament. They feared the Romans. They feared that Jesus somehow would lead an insurrection, cause another uprising, and consequently bring a bloodbath, and so they sought to remove Him before He caused them trouble.

via Why Did the Pharisees Hate Jesus So Much? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

January 29 Thoughts for the quiet hour

The living God

Dan. 6:20

How many times we find this expression in the Scriptures, and yet it is just this very thing that we are so prone to lose sight of! We know it is written the living God; but in our daily life there is scarcely anything we practically so much lose sight of as the fact that God is the Living God; that He is now whatever He was three or four thousand years since; that He has the same sovereign power, the same saving love toward those who love and serve Him as ever He had, and that He will do for them now what He did for others two, three, four thousand years ago, simply because He is the living God, the unchanging One. Oh, how therefore we should confide in Him, and in our darkest moments never lose sight of the fact that He is still and ever will be the Living God.

George Mueller[1]

[1] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

January 29, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

Consider Your Resources

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (1:7)

A second means for guarding against being ashamed of Christ is to consider our divine resources. The Greek verb (didōmi) behind has not given is in the aorist active indicative tense, showing past completed action. God already has provided for us the resources.

The Lord may withhold special help until we have special need. Jesus told the Twelve, “When they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt. 10:19–20). But God provided everything we need for everyday faithful living and service when we first believed.

From a negative perspective, we can be sure that any spirit of timidity we might have is not from God. Both testaments speak of a fitting and proper fear of God, in the sense of awe and reverence. But deilia is a timid, cowardly, shameful fear that is generated by weak, selfish character. The Lord is never responsible for our cowardice, our lack of confidence, or our being shameful of Him. The noun deilia (timidity) is used only here in the New Testament and, unlike the more common term for fear (phobos), carries a generally negative meaning.

The resources we have from our heavenly Father are power and love and discipline. When we are vacillating and apprehensive, we can be sure it is because our focus is on ourselves and our own human resources rather than on the Lord and His available divine resources.

Dunamis (power) denotes great force, or energy, and is the term from which we get dynamic and dynamite. It also carries the connotation of effective, productive energy, rather than that which is raw and unbridled. God provides us with His power in order for us to be effective in His service. Paul did not pray that believers in Ephesus might be given divine power but that they might be aware of the divine power they already possessed. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,” he wrote, “so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:18–20). Through Christ we have the resource of God’s own supernatural power, the very power He used to raise Christ from the dead.

Although Old Testament saints were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit in the same degree of fullness that New Testament believers are (cf. John 14:17), they did have the resource of God’s Spirit providing divine help as they lived and served Him. They understood, as Zechariah declared to Zerubbabel, that their strength was not by human “ ‘might nor … power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).

It is of utmost importance to understand that God does not provide His power for us to misappropriate for our own purposes. He provides His power to accomplish His purposes through us. When our trust is only in Him, and our desire is only to serve Him, He is both willing and “able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).

God also has given every believer the resource of His own divine love, which, like His power, we received at the time of our new birth. In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul exulted, “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

The love we have from God is agapē, the volitional and selfless love that desires and works for the best interests of the one loved. It is not emotional and conditional, as philos love often is, and has nothing in common with erōs love, which is sensual and selfish. The love we have from God is constant. It does not share the ebb and flow or the unpredictability of those other loves. It is a self-denying grace that says to others, in effect, “I will give myself away on your behalf.” Directed back to God, from whom it came, it says, “I will give my life and everything I have to serve you.” It is the believer’s “love in the Spirit” (Col. 1:8), the divinely-bestowed love of the one who will “lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). It is the “sincere love of the brethren” by which we “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22), the “perfect love [that] casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). It is the love that affirms without reservation or hesitation: “If we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Above all, it is “the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19).

Our spiritual lives are measured accurately by our love. If our first love is for self, our life will center on seeking our own welfare, our own objectives, our own comfort and success. We will not sacrifice ourselves for others or even for the Lord. But if we love with the love God provides, our life will center on pleasing Him and on seeking the welfare of others, especially other Christians. Godly love is the first fruit of the Spirit, and it is manifested when we “live by the Spirit [and] … walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22, 25).

Sōphronismos (discipline) has the literal meaning of a secure and sound mind, but it also carries the additional idea of a self-controlled, disciplined, and properly prioritized mind. God-given discipline allows believers to control every element of their lives, whether positive or negative. It allows them to experience success without becoming proud and to suffer failure without becoming bitter or hopeless. The disciplined life is the divinely ordered life, in which godly wisdom is applied to every situation.

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul uses the verb form of the term, admonishing, “I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment [sōphrone], as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). In his first letter to Timothy (3:2) and in his letter to Titus (1:8; cf. 2:2), he used the adjective form to describe a key quality that should characterize overseers, namely, that of being prudent and sensible.

When we live by the godly discipline that our gracious Lord supplies, our priorities are placed in the right order, and every aspect of our lives is devoted to advancing the cause of Christ. Because of his Spirit-empowered discipline, Paul could say, “I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:26–27).

The great spiritual triumvirate of power, love, and discipline belong to every believer. These are not natural endowments. We are not born with them, and they cannot be learned in a classroom or developed from experience. They are not the result of heritage or environment or instruction. But all believers possess these marvelous, God-given endowments: power, to be effective in His service; love, to have the right attitude toward Him and others; and discipline, to focus and apply every part of our lives according to His will.

When those endowments are all present, marvelous results occur. No better statement affirming this reality can be found than in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, to whom he said,

For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:14–21; emphasis added)[1]


7  In order to strengthen the admonition, Paul adds to his acknowledgment of Timothy’s genuine faith a theological reason for stepping back into action. This reason (“for”; gar) is to be found in the recollection of a theology of the Holy Spirit. The language of this verse is very similar to Rom 8:15:

Rom 8:15—[For] the Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.

2 Tim 1:7—For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Although the texts are not identical, the latter text must be understood as a conscious echo of the earlier teaching about the Spirit. The text is reshaped to meet the present need. In this ministry context, Paul transposes the concern expressed in Romans for enslavement to the law (douleias) to timidity (deilias) in the face of opposition. But the intentional shift to a near homophone at the same time opens the door to another echo—this time of the command spoken by the Lord in the commissioning of Joshua:

Joshua 1:9—I have commanded thee; be strong and courageous, be not cowardly [deiliasēs] nor fearful, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (cf. 8:1).

The verbal echo, if present, is admittedly faint. But the tone, narrative setting and intention of the instructions create a plausible match. The effect would be to call on the image of Joshua, who in his commissioning was urged to be strong and courageous and not timid because God would be present. In the Pauline adaptation of the OT promise, Timothy, by virtue of the Spirit in him, can count on the same protective presence of God.

In the end, both the connection to Rom 8:15 and the present language itself make clear that it is God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, and qualities associated with this gift, that provides the reason Paul’s logic requires.22 First, the echoing of Romans reveals that the intended backdrop to this teaching is Paul’s fundamental teaching about the Spirit and Christian identity—possession of this gift ensures and confirms adoption into God’s family (Rom 8:14–17). Corresponding to this is the general description of the recipients of this gift as “us,” which is most probably a reference to all believers. Further, the qualities ascribed to the Spirit’s presence—“power, love, self-discipline”—are not the type we would normally limit to a discussion of church office or ministering gifts, though here they are applied to the task confronting Timothy. Consequently, as Paul initiates this opening exhortation concerning Timothy’s return to ministry, his basis is the fact that Timothy possesses the Spirit that God promised to give to his people.

The description of the Spirit consists of contrasting negative and positive qualities. Presumably, the negative trait that stands in contradiction to the Spirit, “timidity, or cowardice” does in some sense describe Timothy’s situation. The context implies that this weakness has revealed itself in a reluctance to stand openly for the gospel and for Paul, its imprisoned spokesman. While Timothy may have been predisposed to fearfulness (1 Cor 16:10), even a modest reconstruction of the turbulent church situation depicted in 1 and 2 Timothy gives enough reason for his reluctance. Opposition to Paul’s gospel and rejection of his authority are evident from the over-realized doctrine of the resurrection identified in 2:17–18. If the letter reflects the continuation and growth of problems with false teachers addressed by 1 Timothy, then it is not hard to imagine Timothy, feeling outnumbered and outmaneuvered with his own delegated authority in doubt, cowering in the face of threats and Paul’s declining reputation. “Timidity” parallels the following admonition “do not be ashamed” (v. 8). Timothy’s confidence and courage to stand for the gospel had received a hard blow.

In contrast, three positive qualities characterize the presence of the Holy Spirit. The first is “power.” This particular quality is central to this entire discussion of Timothy’s renewal for ministry (1:8, 12; 2:1). It is a basic characteristic of God (e.g. Josh 4:24; 5:14), and it is so intrinsic to the understanding of the Spirit that it is almost a tautology to speak, as Paul does here literally, of the “Spirit of power.” There is no need to narrow the meaning down to any particular manifestation of power in this passage; what is essential is to note the link between the supply of God’s power and the experience of sufficient boldness for ministry. In this context “power” is linked to witness and willingness to undergo suffering (1:8).

The second mark of the Spirit is “love” (1:13; 2:22; 3:10; see on 1 Tim 1:5). This is one of several components characteristic of authentic Christian existence as portrayed in these letters that Timothy is especially to pursue and exhibit. It often occurs alongside “faith,” identifying the observable dimension of Christianity as service to others done in the power of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:6; 22–23; 1 Tim 2:15 note).

Third in the list is a quality that can be viewed from several perspectives as either “self-discipline,” “self-control,” “discretion,” “moderation,” or “prudence.” The word group to which this term belongs is also integral to the interpretation of the Christian life in these three letters, and it was a dominant feature in secular ethical thought (see 1 Tim 2:9 Excursus). It depicts the self-control over one’s actions and thoughts that prevents rash behavior and aids balanced assessment of situations. In this context, it would apply to Timothy’s appraisal of the situation of opposition and confrontation and allow him the clarity of thought necessary to trust in the invisible God despite the threats of very visible opponents.

Paul’s logic in vv. 6–7 seems to develop as follows. Reference to “the gift” conveyed in some sense to Timothy by the laying on of the apostle’s hands (v. 6) is interpreted, almost doctrinally with the allusion to Romans, in terms of the gift of Holy Spirit “given” by God to all believers at conversion (v. 7). The reflection/reminiscence seems to be of Timothy’s conversion (or of Paul’s confirmation of it) when he received the Holy Spirit and his commission to join the mission to the Gentiles. An additional allusion to the Joshua commissioning would reinforce the reminder of Spirit-power and courage. The present exhortation calls Timothy to renew his dependence upon the Spirit in him (v. 6), whose presence means “power” for the challenges of the task at hand (v. 7). This “power” will assume the manifestation appropriate for the situation.[2]


1:7 / Although the niv’s translation of “spirit” in this verse with a lower case s is possible (since the definite article is absent in Greek) and follows the traditional English versions (kjv, rsv), it is most highly improbable and quite misses both the relationship of this sentence to verse 6 as well as Paul’s own usage and theology elsewhere. That Paul is referring not to some “spirit” (or attitude) that God has given us (him and Timothy, but ultimately all other believers who must equally persevere in the face of hardship), but to the Holy Spirit of God is made certain by several items: (a) the explanatory for that begins this sentence gives it the closest possible tie to verse 6; (b) the close relationship between charisma (“gift,” v. 6) and the Spirit (v. 7) is thoroughly Pauline (see on 1 Tim. 4:14); (c) the words power and love are especially attributed to the Spirit in Paul; and (d) there are close ties between this verse and 1 Timothy 4:14, where the “gifting” of Timothy is specifically singled out as the work of the Spirit.

Furthermore, the typical Pauline “not … but” contrast, especially the parallels in Romans 8:15 and 1 Corinthians 2:12, is determinative. In each case the difficulty arises from Paul’s first mentioning the negative contrast, which does not in fact fit the Holy Spirit very well (“of slavery,” “of the world,” and “of timidity”). But it is equally clear in each case that when Paul gets to the “but” clause, he intends the Holy Spirit. Thus Paul’s intent goes something like this: “For when God gave us his Spirit, it was not timidity that we received, but power, love, and self-discipline.”

Paul’s concern, of course, ties into what he has just said in verse 6. In light of the appeal to persevere in the face of hardship, he urges Timothy to “fan into flame the charisma from God,” namely, his giftedness for ministry. The basis for this appeal goes back to his original gift of the Spirit, given at conversion. In giving his Spirit to Timothy, God did not give him timidity—a translation that is probably too weak. The word, often appearing in battle contexts, suggests “cowardice” or the terror that overtakes the fearful in extreme difficulty (cf. Lev. 26:36; 2 Macc. 3:24). It is a particularly appropriate choice of words for this letter, given Timothy’s apparent natural proclivities and the suffering and hardship now facing him.

To the contrary, and in the face of present hardships, Paul reminds Timothy that the Spirit has endowed him with power (a thoroughgoing nt and Pauline understanding; cf. e.g., Acts 1:8; Rom. 15:13, 19; 1 Cor. 2:4), love (cf. Gal. 5:22; Rom. 5:5), and self-discipline (sōphronismos; a different word for “self-discipline” from that of Gal. 5:23). This is a cognate, and here probably a synonym, for the “soundmindedness” of Titus 2:2, 5, and elsewhere. In all likelihood Paul intended to call for a “wise head” in the face of the deceptive and unhealthy teaching of the errorists.

Thus Paul begins his appeal by reminding Timothy of his own “gift of the Spirit” for ministry, who in turn has given him the necessary power, love, and soundmindedness to carry out that ministry.[3]


1:7. Having confirmed that Timothy possessed this great gift of God’s grace, his own Spirit, Paul pointed Timothy toward the boldness that should belong to every believer: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Timothy, many interpreters surmise, was a man of quiet disposition—a retiring, timid individual who had been thrust into a leadership role for which he had no predilection. The battle against the false teachers was strenuous, leaving Timothy weary, perhaps even questioning what he was doing. It is possible that he was overwhelmed by these circumstances.

But Paul countered our natural tendencies and excuses by directing us to consider this great gift which we all possess—the Spirit of God. Our natural abilities can only supplement what God calls us to do. The important consideration in all of life’s challenges and duties is to remember that God’s Spirit resides within us. He is the giver of power, love, and self-discipline.

Power is simply enablement to do what God requires. We are never asked to do anything beyond what God gives strength and ability to accomplish. Love is expressed first to God, then to others. It is the distinguishing quality of Christians, this unnatural love, and it comes only as we allow the life of God’s Spirit to live through us.

Self-discipline denotes careful, sensible thinking. It is the ability to think clearly with the wisdom and understanding that God imparts. Fear is a driving force in society today. It is the main subject of the evening news, the underlying premise of advertising and marketing. Fear often spawns confused thinking, irrationalities, and misunderstandings. Thoughts and speculations swirl in our mind when fear enters. This is why Christ calls us to healthy, orderly thought processes.

Perhaps we can look at life and realize our need for God’s power (dunamis). We need the “dynamite” of God’s strength in our daily living, to endure and make wise choices, to live in patience, producing goodness (Col. 1:9–14).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 17–20). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 460–463). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 226–227). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, pp. 266–267). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

January 29 – Proverbs on money — Reformed Perspective

“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” – Proverbs 10:22 

Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:9-10

You’ve probably heard that money makes the world go round! Is that really true? Is survival and progress in this world dependent on how much money you have? It seems so when you see how obsessed people are about accumulating wealth. Many things are sacrificed on the altar of wealth. Now don’t misunderstand, wealth by itself is not sinful.

Solomon, a rich man, wanted you to remember a few things. Earn your money honestly, for wealth gained by fraud disappears. Earn your money without abusing others. Honor the Lord with your wealth by giving back a tithe to Him. Share your wealth with the needy. Don’t trust in your money or it will be your downfall.

Concurrent with these instructions, know there are many things better than riches – a good name, for instance. Proverbs 22:1 says: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” And do not become preoccupied with wealth. Wealth does not profit anything on Judgment Day. Even in this life, your wealth is stolen, misused by the civil authorities, and of course, stolen by civil authorities by inflation.

Don’t forget your greatest riches are gained through Jesus Christ and no one can take them away. Moreover, your good works are riches that you can store up in heaven. Have you considered how much time you spend storing up treasures that you will have for eternity?

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that you will love the riches you have in Jesus Christ and that you will be thankful for earthly wealth and use it according to the Giver’s decrees.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed.

via January 29 – Proverbs on money — Reformed Perspective

Who Do People See — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”  Psalm 103:8

God’s goal for His children – those in whom he lives because they have invited Him in – is to be increasingly transformed. We are to eagerly submit to His “change process” so that when people see us, they catch a glimpse of God. We know his image in us is a mere shadow of his character, but it is a shadow.

What characteristics of God do I most need?

God, I believe, lovingly waits for us to take hard looks at our personalities, lifestyles, habits to see where we need Him to begin – or accelerate – the transformation process.

When I read that God is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love,” I can ask myself if those same characteristics are becoming more a reality in my life. Am I looking at difficult people with compassion? Do I react with grace to those who are rude? Does my temper flash or am I learning to think long before reacting? Does my love for individuals and groups, especially those most unlike me, roll relentlessly like ocean waves?

God will work in our lives with great freedom when we give him permission to do so.

Then people will see Jesus in us.

By Marilyn Ehle
Used by Permission


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via Who Do People See — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

Biblical Counseling Coalition | Yes, You Can Change!

One thing you can count on this time of year is a boundless supply of good ideas guaranteed to result in your self-improvement. I can pretty much guarantee that if I turn on the television, I will see commercials for fitness centers, diet plans, exercise machines, liposuction, and even Botox. Whatever part of me that is falling behind expectations can be corrected for a price!

So far, the year has been full of opportunities to reflect on the last year in order to come up with goals that will make me a better person. I can think of 20 pounds over 20 years and a few other self-improvement programs that would apply. I could learn a new language, study my Bible better, memorize more Scripture, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

Of course, the reality is that many of our resolute goals were forgotten by the end of the first week of January. Somewhere near 95% of us make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, within four weeks, nearly half of us will have failed to keep them. After two years, only one-fifth of us will succeed.[1]Maybe I will settle for not gaining another 20 pounds.

I know that change at times is difficult, and sometimes it seems even impossible. There are some habits and people that we think could never change. Their personalities and problems seem to be so ingrained that no amount of effort could fix them. Some offenses and the people who do them seem unforgivable. But is that reality? Well, as a physician and biblical counselor, I believe the answer is no. People can and do change.

In a recent article published by researchers at the University of California at Davis, it seems as if people can change even if it is hard. The researchers noted that personality traits that were sometimes thought to be permanent and unchanging can and do change. While a small number of personality traits affect a wide range of life outcomes, these traits appear to be changeable according to their research.[2]

The good news is that we knew this already. Paul says it often in his epistles and writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.” The thought that a Christian would be unable to change their behavior is not to be found in Scripture. Instead, what we see is the promise and expectation that we will change.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us that we are to “lay aside the old self” and that we are to “put on the new self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24). Paul goes on in the rest of the letter to list sinful behaviors that are often viewed as difficult to change or even normal today. He lists lying, sinful anger, theft, foul language, abuse of others, sexual immorality, and greed and then tells Christians that they are not to participate in such things.

The researchers noted that changing some behaviors would not be impossible, but it could be difficult. My experience in counseling indicates that some behavior is more difficult to change than others. But, as Christians, we have the advantage!   Paul told us in his letter to the Philippians that we should “work out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).

It is entirely true that we are supposed to work at change in our lives as believers, but at the same time, it is God who is working in us to do the changing! Whatever God commands us to do as believers, He intends to make us able to do it. When Paul wrote Philippians, he was sitting in prison, and he told them to rejoice in the Lord always! Nine verses later, Paul tells us that He could rejoice in prison because he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Phil. 4:13).

This year, as you consider what things you should resolve to change, keep in mind that as a believer, you are not alone. God wants to use your life experiences to change you into the image of His Son! Change is possible. The Bible says you can do it, and medical science agrees.

Questions for Reflection

  1. When you think about the things in your life that you want to change, are you hopeful or hopeless?
  2. When you struggle to change, where do you turn for help?

[1] Jelena Kecmanovic, “7 Science-based Strategies to Boost Your Will Power and Succeed with Your New Year’s Resolutions,” The Conversation, Accessed January 1, 2020, http://theconversation.com/7-science-based-strategies-to-boost-your-willpower-and-succeed-with-your-new-years-resolutions-128762.

[2] University of California – Davis, “Scientists Say You Can Change Your Personality: But it Takes Persistent Intervention,” ScienceDaily, Published December 12, 2019, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191212142659.htm.

www.biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/2020/01/29/yes-you-can-change/

Abundant Life for the Asking | Devotional by Bill Bright

“The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” John 10:10

For me, the Christian life is an exciting, joy-filled adventure. It has been that way through more than 30 years of walking with the Lord. If you are not already experiencing such a life, it can be the same for you today, tomorrow and the rest of your days, no matter what the circumstances.

Jesus promised the full and abundant life for all those who walk in faith and obedience. His “exceeding great and precious promises” include every kind of provision for you – spiritual, emotional, material.

You start by getting to know God – who He is, what He is like and the benefits we enjoy when we belong to Him. Your view of God influences all the rest of your relationships. Scripture says the righteous shall live by faith. Faith must focus on an object, and the object in which we have our faith is God and His inspired Word.

But how do we acquire that kind of faith? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ). It is as simple as that. You are building up your storehouse of faith every time you read the Word of God, every time you hear the Word of God and every time you memorize the Word of God.

Our view of God determines the quality and degree of our faith. A small view of God results in a small faith. Great faith is the result of a correct biblical view of God – recognizing Him as great, mighty, all-wise and worthy of our trust.

Our view of God as sovereign, holy, loving, righteous, just and compassionate produces these same qualities in our lives. If we view Him as a God of love and forgiveness, we are prompted to love and forgive others also.

Bible Reading: John 7:36-39

Today’s Action Point: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I determine to begin practicing the presence of God in my life – every moment of the day. I will begin by meditating on His attributes through storing portions of His Word in my heart and mind. As a result, by faith I expect to experience and share with my family friends the full and abundant life which Jesus promised to all who are His.

By Dr. Bill Bright
Used by Permission

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The Cold-Case Christianity Podcast: The Difference Between Evidence and Proof

In this blast from the past, J. Warner examines the difference between ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’ and responds to listener email about the statistical probability argument and the importance of apologetics in the Christian life.

Kansas City Chiefs Have Inspiring ‘Faith-Filled,’ Family Environment, Chaplain Says – Michael Foust

The Kansas City Chiefs Chaplain recently said on a podcast that the faith-filled, family-centered environment of the Chiefs is inspiring to him.
— Read on www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/chiefs-have-inspiring-faith-filled-family-environment-chaplain-says.html

Biden Crime Family’s Latest: Valerie Biden, Joe’s Sister, Sent Million$ from Campaign Funds to Her Own Consulting Firm – DC Clothesline

We reported recently on two Biden Brothers’ corruption.

The second story above is about JAMES BIDEN, not FRANK.

So we have two brothers and their nephew, Hunter, gaining dollars through corruption but what about the Biden women?

AGAIN it’s Breitbart who has the story of Biden Family corruption.

Valerie Biden Owens, the sister of former vice president Joe Biden (D), who served as the campaign manager for his past presidential campaigns, directed $2.5 million from “Citizens for Biden” and “Biden for President Inc.” to her own consulting firm during her brother’s 2008 presidential bid alone, Breitbart senior contributor and Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President Peter Schweizer’s investigative blockbuster Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite reveals.

Biden’s political tenure, as Schweizer’s book extensively details, has largely remained a complicated family affair, resulting in little-known financial benefits for not just his son Hunter Biden, but for his sister Valerie.

Her role as a senior partner in the political messaging firm Slade White & Company coincided with her participation in Biden’s various political campaigns. She was only one of two executives – the other being Joe Slade White – at the firm and has remained the Executive Vice President for 15 years.

However, the lines between her role as leading her brother’s political campaigns and working at the firm blurred, as the firm “received large fees from the Biden campaigns that Valerie was running,” Profiles in Corruption reveals:

The firm received large fees from the Biden campaigns that Valerie was running. Two and a half million dollars in consulting fees flowed to her firm from Citizens for Biden and Biden For President Inc. during the 2008 presidential bid alone. Keep in mind that Joe Slade White & Company worked for Biden campaigns over eighteen years.

The report demonstrates a pattern, as Schweizer’s book shows, of the complex, albeit largely unknown, dynamics of the Biden family and the financial benefits reaped, which purportedly stem from the presidential hopeful’s varying positions in government throughout his life.

“These are not a few disparate enterprises, but rather moneymaking ventures that appear to be part of a well-organized family business,” Profiles in Corruption details.

Biden has previously denied, particularly on the campaign trail, the allegations that his family members have cashed out in various ways over the course of his political career.

“I’ve never discussed with my son or my brother, or anyone else anything having to do with their businesses, period,” Biden told reporters in August 2019 amid further allegations of his family members using his political leverage for personal gain.

“As we will see, this is an impossibility, “ Schweizer writes.

The latest revelation, detailing Valerie’s direction of millions of her brother’s campaign dollars to her consulting firm, follows the eye-opening discoveries detailed in Schweizer’s New York Times #1 bestseller Secret Empires, which effectively “blew the lid off the Biden-Burisma scandal in Ukraine, wherein Hunter Biden made up to $83,000 a month with Ukrainian energy giant Burisma as his father led U.S.-Ukraine policy while vice president,” as Breitbart News detailed.

Read the rest…

#####

I can’t speak for anyone else but I am long overdue for buying Schweizer’s book.

Both of those stories about Biden’s brothers came from Schweizer’s book.

But then again, Joe Biden has proven to be crooked for a long damn time.

So, if Joe has been a known crook and liar for over 30 years, should current Biden controversies really surprise us?

Please note that Biden scams extend far beyond their dealings in Ukraine.

The Bidens should be in one of those family prisons.

They have those right?

Oh yeah, they had those in Germany once upon a time.

Let’s not send them to the gas chambers, but how about we at least put their butts on trial and make them answer for all of this criminal nonsense?

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen much in America.

But it should.

Dean Garrison is Publisher of DC Clotheslineand DC Dirty Laundry

— Read on www.dcclothesline.com/2020/01/29/biden-crime-family-latest-valerie-biden-joes-sister-sent-millions-from-campaign-funds-to-her-own-consulting-firm/