Daily Archives: February 13, 2020

February 13 Life-Changing Moments With God

On the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it.

Christ Jesus, You came in my likeness. You were, in appearance, as man. Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, You Yourself likewise shared in the same, that through death You might destroy him who had the power of death.

You are He who lives, and was dead, and You are alive forevermore. You, having been raised from the dead, die no more. Death no longer has dominion over You. For the death that You died, You died to sin once for all; but the life that You live, You live to God.… Should I see You ascend to where You were before? God raised You from the dead and seated You at His right hand in the heavenly places. In You dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Though You were crucified in weakness, yet You live by the power of God. I shall live with You, Jesus, by the power of God.

Risen and ascended Jesus, Victor over death, You are King of kings and Lord of Lords! I stand in awe of You!

Ezekiel 1:26; 1 Timothy 2:5; Philippians 2:7–8; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 1:18; Romans 6:9–10; John 6:62; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 13:4[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 54). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

February 13, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Directive

And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; …” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; (26:26a, 27)

It is not certain as to what part of the meal they were eating at this time, but the supper was still in progress, and our Lord instituted the new memorial in the midst of the old.

First, Jesus took some bread and offered a blessing of thanks to His heavenly Father, as He always did before eating (see, e.g., Matt. 14:19; 15:36). The unleavened bread was baked in large, flat, crisp loaves, which Jesus broke into pieces before He gave it to the disciples with the instruction, “Take, eat.” The fact that He broke the bread does not symbolize a broken body, because John makes clear that, in fulfillment of prophecy, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken” (John 19:36; cf. Ps. 34:20), just as no bones of the original Passover lambs in Egypt were broken (Ex. 12:46).

Shortly after that, when He had taken a cup and given thanks again, He gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you.” The verb behind given thanks is eucharisteō, and it is from that term that we get Eucharist, as the Lord’s Supper is sometimes called.

As would be expected, all eleven disciples drank of it (Mark 14:23). It should be noted that the Roman Catholic practice of not allowing the entire congregation to partake of the cup is in direct contradiction of Jesus’ explicit directive, of the disciples’ obedient example, and of Paul’s later teaching (see 1 Cor. 10:16, 21; 11:28).

Those two acts of Jesus were normal features of the Passover, in which unleavened bread was eaten and diluted wine was drunk at several points during the meal. This was probably the third cup, called the cup of blessing. Paul refers to it by that name in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?” (10:16). It is from the King James translation of that verse (“… is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?”) that Communion, another name for the Lord’s Supper, is derived. A few verses later Paul refers to this cup as “the cup of the Lord” (v. 21).

The Doctrine

“this is My body … for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (26:26b, 28)

Breaking the unleavened bread was a normal part of the traditional Passover ceremony. But Jesus now gave it an entirely new meaning, saying, “This is My body.” The original unleavened bread symbolized severance from the old life in Egypt, carrying nothing of its pagan and oppressive “leaven” into the Promised Land. It represented a separation from worldliness and sin and the beginning of a new life of holiness and godliness.

By His divine authority, Jesus transformed that symbolism into another. From henceforth the bread would represent Christ’s own body, sacrificed for the salvation of men. Luke reports that Jesus added, “given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (22:19), indicating He was instituting a memorial of His sacrificial death for His followers to observe.

In saying the bread is His body, Jesus obviously was not speaking literally. A similarly foolish misunderstanding already had caused the Pharisees to ridicule Him and many superficial disciples to desert Him (see John 6:48–66). It is the same misunderstanding reflected in the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. That literalistic notion is an absurd misinterpretation of Scripture.

Jesus’ statement about eating His body was no more literal than His saying He is the Vine and His followers are the branches (John 15:5) or than John the Baptist’s calling Him the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

As the disciples drank of the cup Jesus said, “This is My blood of the covenant.” From Luke we learn that the Lord specified “new covenant” (22:20), clearly distinguishing it from all previous covenants, including the Mosaic.

When God made covenants with Noah and Abraham, those covenants were ratified with blood (Gen. 8:20; 15:9–10). When the covenant at Sinai was ratified, “Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words’ ” (Ex. 24:8). When God brought reconciliation with Himself, the price was always blood, because “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22; cf. 1 Pet. 1:2). A sacrificial animal not only had to be killed but its blood had to be shed. “The life of all flesh is its blood” (Lev. 17:14), and therefore for a life truly to be sacrificed, its blood had to be shed.

Jesus therefore did not simply have to die but had to shed His own precious blood (1 Pet. 1:19). Although He did not bleed to death, Jesus bled both before He died and as He died-from the wounds of the crown of thorns, from the lacerations of the scourging, and from the nail holes in His hands and feet. After He was dead, a great volume of His blood poured out from the spear thrust in His side.

Obviously there was nothing in the chemistry of Christ’s blood that saves. And although the shedding of His blood was required, it symbolized His atoning death, the giving of His unblemished, pure, and wholly righteous life for the corrupt, depraved, and wholly sinful lives of unregenerate men. Representative of the giving of that sinless life was the pouring out of that precious blood for many for forgiveness of sins. That blood made atonement for the sins of all mankind, Gentile as well as Jew, who place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The many includes those who trusted in God before Christ died as well as those who have and will trust in Him after His death. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and every other true believer who lived before Christ, was saved by Christ’s atoning death, as are believers of the New Covenant age. It was because of that truth that Jesus declared to the unbelieving Jewish leaders, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).[1]


26 This is the second thing Matthew records that takes place “while they were eating” (cf. v. 21). Jesus takes artos, which can refer to “bread” generally (4:4; 6:11; 15:2, 26) but more commonly refers to a loaf or cake (4:3; 12:4; 14:17, 19; 15:33–34; 16:5–12). This loaf was unleavened (cf. Ex 12:15; 13:3, 7; Dt 16:3). He then gives thanks, probably with some such traditional formula as “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.” He breaks it, distributes it (if the imperfect indicative variant is original, it may imply that he personally gave the bread to each of them), and says, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Few clauses of four words have evoked more debate than the last one. But three things must be said.

  1. The words “this is my body” had no place in the Passover ritual; as an innovation, they must have had stunning effect, an effect that would grow with the increased understanding gained after Easter.
  2. Both the breaking and the distributing are probably significant. The bread (body) is broken, and all must partake of it. The sacrificial overtones are clearer in vv. 27–28, but the unambiguous sacrificial language connected with Jesus’ blood requires that v. 26 be interpreted in a similar way.
  3. Much of the debate on the force of “is” (In what sense is the bread Jesus’ body?) is anachronistic. The verb itself has a wide semantic range and proves very little. “Take this, it means my body” (Moffatt) has its attractions, though it is scarcely less ambiguous. But what must be remembered is that this is a Passover meal. The new rite Jesus institutes has links with redemption history. As the bread has just been broken, so will Jesus’ body be broken; and just as the people of Israel associated their deliverance from Egypt with eating the paschal meal prescribed as a divine ordinance, so also Messiah’s people are to associate Jesus’ redemptive death with eating this bread by Jesus’ authority. On the development of the theology of the Lord’s Supper across the centuries, see Howard Clarke’s admirable summary (Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers, 207–19); at greater length, see Gordon T. Smith, ed., The Lord’s Supper: Five Views (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2008).[2]

26 In this ominous setting of betrayal and “going away”, Jesus introduces a creative new element to the traditional Passover ritual; his memorable words and actions have become the basis for Christian worship ever since. For the sequence of four “eucharistic” verbs see the introductory comments on 14:13–21, and also p. 562, n. 18 for the meaning of the “blessing.” The form of words traditionally used was “Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the world, who bring forth bread from the earth.” At a Passover meal the bread Jesus took would be unleavened, unlike the leavened loaves presumably used at the feeding miracles in 14:17–20 and 15:34–37. The traditional Passover ritual included an explanation of the meaning of the unleavened bread and herbs (m. Pesaḥ 10:3–5), and Jesus takes that opportunity to introduce a new level of symbolism. The Passover bread did not directly symbolize the killing of the lamb, but when Jesus identifies it as his body the symbolism of death is clearly intended,22 and the shedding of blood in v. 28 will confirm this. In breaking the bread he symbolizes his own death, and makes it unmistakably clear that his predictions of death in Jerusalem are to be literally fulfilled. The vicarious words “given for you” are not found here in Matthew and Mark (see Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24), but in telling his disciples to take the bread and eat it (see below on vv. 27–28 for the shocking nature of the symbolism) Jesus implies that his death is in some sense for their benefit. Just as eating the Passover lamb identified the participant with the redemption from Egypt, eating the bread and drinking the wine convey the benefits of Jesus’ redemptive death to those who share his table. Only Matthew includes the explicit commands to “eat” and “drink” (though these are of course implied by the giving of the bread and the cup in the other accounts), perhaps reflecting the words used by the eucharistic minister in his own church context, as in subsequent eucharistic liturgies.

Subsequent Christian debate about the sense in which the bread “is” Jesus’ body and the wine “is” his blood (v. 28) cannot be settled by the choice of the verb, since “is” can have a range of meaning from complete identity (surely impossible when Jesus is physically holding the bread) to symbolic equivalence; for a suggestive example of the latter sense from within this gospel cf. the statements “the sower is the Son of Man,” “the field is the world” etc. in 13:36–39 (similarly in 13:19–23). It is also relevant that the most vivid NT language about eating and drinking Jesus’ flesh and blood is found in John 6:48–58, where the context makes no reference to literal bread and wine.[3]


The words about the bread (26:26)

‘And while they were eating, Jesus took bread [labōn … arton], and having blessed God [eulogēsas] he broke it [eklasen], gave it [dous] to his disciples and said [eipen], “Take, eat; this is my body.” ’ The main meal is underway. Using three adverbial participles and two indicative verbs, all in the aorist tense, this verse reports five distinct actions of Jesus.

The participles labōn and eulogēsas (from lambanō and eulogeō) denote the two actions that precede the breaking of the bread. The stated object of labōn is ‘bread’; the object of eulogēsas is not expressly stated, but is understood to be ‘God,’ not ‘the bread.’ The common blessing over bread—‘Praised be thou, O Lord, our God, king of the world, who causes bread to come forth from the earth’—may have been supplemented at Passover with special thanks for the unleavened bread.33 Jesus then breaks (the indicative eklasen, from klaō) the loaf of unleavened bread (artos) into pieces to be given (the participle dous, from didōmi) to the disciples. The accent falls not on the breaking but on the giving. This is evident from Jesus’ fifth action, his utterance (the indicative eipen, from legō): ‘Take, eat [Labete, phagete].’ The parallel in Luke 22:19 makes the matter explicit: ‘This is my body which is given for you [to hyper hymōn didomenon].’ The original text of 1 Corinthians 11:24 reads ‘This is my body, which is for you [to hyper hymōn]’ (esv and niv), not ‘which is broken [for klōmenon] for you’ (kjv and nkjv). Jesus gives his body (sōma) over to death (Matt. 26:28) as a ransom for the many (20:28, again the verb didōmi). As he is a Passover sacrifice (1 Cor. 5:7), his bones must not be broken: see the quotation of Exodus 12:46 in John 19:36. Further study of Jesus’ words is reserved for later.[4]


26:26 Take and eat; this is my body. Jesus draws on the Passover meal to infuse meaning into his coming death. Matthew has already highlighted the theme of Jesus as enacting return from exile and new exodus (as these themes converge in Isaiah [e.g., Matt. 1–4; 14:19]). The same connection is made here by identifying Jesus with the Passover sacrifice that brings forgiveness and freedom.[5]


26. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, and broke it. At this point Passover passes over into the Lord’s Supper; for it was while, toward the close of the Passover meal, the men were all eating freely (see on verse 21) that Jesus instituted the new sacrament that was to replace the old. A few more hours and the old symbol, being bloody—for it required the slaying of the lamb—will have served its purpose forever, having reached its fulfilment in the blood shed on Calvary. It was time, therefore, that a new and unbloody symbol replace the old. Nevertheless, by historically linking Passover and Lord’s Supper so closely together Jesus also made clear that what was essential in the first was not lost in the second. Both point to him, the only and all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of his people. Passover pointed forward to this; the Lord’s Supper points back to it.

Having taken from the table a thin slice or sheet of unleavened bread, Jesus “gave thanks” and then started to break up the slice. Though the original, in referring to the prayer, uses one word in verse 26 (literally “having blessed”; cf. Mark 14:22), and another in verse 27 (“having given thanks”; cf. Mark 14:23)—the first participial form occurring in connection with the bread, the second in connection with the cup—there is no essential difference. Both Luke (22:19) and Paul (1 Cor. 11:24) read “having given thanks” where Matthew and Mark read “having blessed.” It is not incorrect therefore, in both Matt. 26:26 and 27, to adopt the rendering, “Jesus … gave thanks.” For more on this see on 14:19. The words which the Lord used in this thanksgiving have not been revealed. To try to reconstruct them from Jewish formula prayers would serve no useful purpose. How do we even know that our Lord availed himself of these prayers?

The breaking of the bread, to which reference is made in all four accounts, must be considered as belonging to the very essence of the sacrament. This becomes clear in the light of that which immediately follows, namely, He then gave it to his disciples and said, Take, eat; this is my body. To interpret this to mean that Jesus was actually saying that these portions of bread which he handed to the disciples were identical with his physical body, or were at that moment being changed into his body, is to ignore a. the fact that in his body Jesus was standing there in front of his disciples, for all to see. He was holding in his hand the bread, and giving them the portions as he broke them off. Body and bread were clearly distinct and remained thus. Neither changed into the other, or took on the physical properties or characteristics of the other. Besides, such an interpretation also ignores b. the fact that during his earthly ministry the Master very frequently used symbolical language (Matt. 16:6; John 2:19; 3:3; 4:14, 32; 6:51, 53–56; 11:11). It is striking that in all of the instances indicated by these references the symbolical or figurative character of our Lord’s language was disregarded by those who first heard it! In each case also, the context makes clear that those who interpreted Christ’s words literally were mistaken! Is it not high time that the implied lesson be taken to heart? Finally, there is c.: when Jesus spoke of himself as being “the vine” (John 15:1, 5), is it not clear that he meant that what a natural vine is in relation to its branches, which find their unity, life, and fruit-bearing capacity in this plant, that, in a far more exalted sense, Christ is to his people? Is it not clear, therefore, that the vine represents or symbolizes Jesus, the Genuine Vine? Thus also he calls himself—or is called—the door, the morning star, the cornerstone, the lamb, the fountain, the rock, etc. He also refers to himself as “the bread of life” (John 6:35, 48), “the bread that came down out of heaven” (John 6:58). So, why should he not be, and be represented and symbolized by, “the broken bread”? Accordingly, the meaning of “the broken bread” and the poured out wine is correctly indicated in a Communion Form which represents Christ as saying: “Whereas otherwise you should have suffered eternal death, I give my body in death on the tree of the cross and shed my blood for you, and nourish and refresh your hungry and thirsty souls with my crucified body and shed blood to everlasting life, as certainly as this bread is broken before your eyes and this cup is given to you, and you eat and drink with your mouth in remembrance of Me.”

It was the desire of our Lord, therefore, that by means of the supper, here instituted, the church should remember his sacrifice and love him, should reflect on that sacrifice and embrace him by faith, and should look forward in living hope to his glorious return. Surely, the proper celebration of communion is a loving remembrance. It is, however, more than that. Jesus Christ is most certainly, and through his Spirit most actively, present at this genuine feast! Cf. Matt. 18:20. His followers “take” and “eat.” They appropriate Christ by means of living faith, and are strengthened in this faith.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 4, pp. 151–153). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 601). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 991–992). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[4] Chamblin, J. K. (2010). Matthew: A Mentor Commentary (pp. 1293–1294). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[5] Brown, J. K. (2015). Matthew. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 295). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 908–910). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

February—13 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem! let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.—Psalm 137:5, 6.

My soul! sit down this evening and contemplate the languishing state of Zion. Did ever the Church of Christ lie in more desolate circumstances than now? Amidst a great profession of zeal for religion, how little possession of the divine life is to be met with among men! And who is there that seriously lays it to heart? For whom doth a throne of grace witness, that they are holy mourners for Zion, and are earnestly wrestling, night and day, with the Lord, that he would visit Zion, and make his glory to appear? Where is the priest, the minister of the Lord, that is weeping between the porch and the altar, and saying, “Spare thy people, O Lord! and give not thine heritage to reproach?” (Joel 2:17.) And where are the people that seriously lay it to heart? My soul! what sayest thou of these things, personally considered? Dost thou really love Jesus? Surely, then, thou canst not be indifferent to his interests! Is not Zion the purchase of his blood? Are not her walls, in all her ruined state, constantly before him? Yea, is not her name engraven on the palms of his hands? And shall her name be on Jesus’s hands, and no concern for Zion in thy heart? Moreover, look and see, in the tribulations of the present day, are not God’s judgments abroad in the earth? And is not his jealousy for his Church the sole cause? And if the nations of the earth are under the frowns of thy God, canst thou rejoice in aught but the Church’s prosperity? Are thousands dying in sin, and shall not the children of God mourn? Where are the trophies of the Redeemer’s precious death and salvation? When shall Jesus see, agreeably to the promise, the travail of his soul, and be satisfied? Oh! for a portion of that holy zeal with which the Lord inspired the prophet, when he cried out, “Oh! that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” O holy Lord! give my soul from henceforth a more earnest concern for the prosperity of thy Zion! Oh! for grace to enter through the blood of Jesus, into the retirings of the Lord, and to plead with him, as the patriarch did, with an importunity not to be resisted, that he would turn the captivity of his people. Oh! take away the rebuke of thy chosen, and let it be no longer said of thine, who know Jesus, and have been made partakers of salvation by him: “There is none to guide her, among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand, of all the sons that she hath brought up.” (Isaiah 51:18.)[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 49–50). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

February 13 Streams in the Desert

The hill country shall be thine.” (Josh. 17:18, R. V.)

THERE is always room higher up. When the valleys are full of Canaanites, whose iron chariots withstand your progress, get up into the hills, occupy the upper spaces. If you can no longer work for God, pray for those who can. If you cannot move earth by your speech, you may move Heaven. If the development of life on the lower slopes is impossible, through limitations of service, the necessity of maintaining others, and such-like restrictions, let it break out toward the unseen, the eternal, the Divine.

Faith can fell forests. Even if the tribes had realized what treasures lay above them, they would hardly have dared to suppose it possible to rid the hills of their dense forest-growth. But as God indicated their task, He reminded them that they had power enough. The visions of things that seem impossible are presented to us, like these forest-covered steeps, not to mock us, but to incite us to spiritual exploits which would be impossible unless God had stored within us the great strength of His own indwelling.

Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works. Are you straitened in the valleys? Get away to the hills, live there; get honey out of the rock, and wealth out of the terraced slopes now hidden by forest.—Daily Devotional Commentary.

Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,

Got any mountains they say ‘can’t tunnel through’?

We specialize in the wholly impossible,

Doing the things they say you can’t do.

Song of the Panama builders.[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 49–50). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

A love letter from God — Evangelical Magazine

It’s February 14th, and you receive a red envelope through the door. As you pick it up, you wonder – what was the name of the postman? The postmark isn’t clear – I wonder why it’s smudged? The envelope looks like it’s good quality. The stamp is second class – I wonder why it wasn’t sent first class? You open the envelope to find a card – an interesting design you think, a slightly embossed picture with some glitter. I wonder how it was made? How many other cards are there like this one? Then you place the card down and get on with your day.

From this scenario, you could make the case that you have missed the point. It’s a Valentine’s Day card! There’s a person behind it, someone who wants to declare their love to you! So – open it, read it, read it again and hear from the one who loves you!

When it comes to reading the Bible, we can often forget why we do it. When we simply read the Bible for reading the Bible’s sake, there should be no surprise that our devotional times will often seem dry and cold. When we read the Bible, let’s remember that it is an invitation. An invitation to intimacy, joy and transformation.

Intimacy

If someone sits opposite you on a train, you might be able to guess a few things about them by being nearby – perhaps their line of work, their preferred reading genre, their taste in music or their personal hygiene. However, your knowledge about them would be very limited. To really get to know them, what would have to happen? They will have to speak to you; they will need to use words!

God has revealed himself through THE Word, his Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible is ultimately about him. Remember, the Pharisees had the Scriptures, but Jesus rebuked them because they’d missed the whole point: ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me’ (John 5:39). So as we read Scripture, we are learning more about Jesus and encountering him. We will see his ways, his goodness, his love, his power, his glory and his purity. As we get to know him better, we will know more intimacy with him. We will know what he loves and what he hates. We also have been given the Spirit, the same Spirit that inspired the writers. With the Spirit of God dwelling within us, helping us to see Christ, who is the exact image of his father, we are taking part in a divine moment. We are on holy ground.

This is so much more than just reading a book. This is relational!

Joy

What is it like to be near to God? What is it like in his presence? Psalm 16:11 tells us, ‘in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’ God’s Word is something to be delighted in (Psalm 1:2). Jeremiah, going through deep trials also experienced the joy of God’s Word, ‘Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart’ (Jer. 15:16). We are invited to encounter Jesus in his word, and as we do so, we are invited to take part in something that creates much joy. Why is it that we don’t have to work hard to schedule time to watch our favourite TV programme or sports team? Because they bring us joy! As we seek to read our Bibles, let’s remember this is an invitation to soul-satisfying joy!

Transformation

What you spend your time beholding you will become. If you spend lots of time with someone, it’s not long before you start to pick up their mannerisms and quirks. So, as we behold Christ in his word – guess what will happen? ‘We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another’ (2 Cor. 3:18). As we experience the reality of God’s love for us in the gospel, as we see the beauty of Christ, as the Spirit brings this word to life – we will change. We will begin to love what he loves and hate what he hates.

Responding to God’s invitation

There’s so much more that could be said about this, but let’s get practical. Here’s the glorious invitation to intimacy, joy and transformation. But how can we make this happen? Here are three very simple and practical suggestions.

Plan

If you don’t plan to read the Bible, it quite simply won’t happen! Make sure there is a time in the day you set aside to spend time reading the Bible. For most, this will be first thing in the morning, before there are any other distractions or pressures. If you find yourself distracted during this time, why not charge your mobile phone outside of your bedroom overnight, and buy an alarm clock (they do exist!). This way, the first thing we read and the first voice we hear is our loving creator.

Making a plan and sticking to it can often sound restrictive, yet within the right boundaries as humans, we flourish. When I studied music at university, I used to dread the rehearsal rooms. In there, through the walls, you could hear the most amazing musicians, which was very intimidating! On their instruments, they were free, liberated. How was this accomplished? A plan: determined, regular practice. Through this restriction, they found freedom. By planning to read God’s Word regularly we are beginning a path to wonderful, truth-reminding, soul-fuelling, sin-freeing liberty!

Pray

Reading the Bible is relational; God is speaking to us! Prayer becomes the second part of the conversation. We talk to God about what he has said to us. Don’t close your Bible when you pray. Think through what God has said and use this to praise him, to confess sins, to be thankful and to ask for specific help. ACTS is a helpful acronym here – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

Share

Reading the Bible is not a private thing! It’s something that is meant to be done with other believers. So when you read the Bible, don’t keep what you’ve read to yourself. Share it with someone. Why not read the same book as others in your church, and share what you’re learning together? As God has given each believer the Spirit, together we will get a greater understanding of his word!

So as we come to the Bible this week, please don’t see it simply as a book to read. But see it as an invitation – an invitation to intimacy, joy and transformation. God has written you a love letter. He wants to declare his love for you! Open it up, read it, read it again and hear from the one who loves you dearly.

 

via A love letter from God — Evangelical Magazine

February 13th The D. L. Moody Year Book

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were priced in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles. Men and brethren, what shall tee do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.—Acts 2:36–38.

ONE thing I have noticed, that some conversions don’t amount to anything; that if a man professes to be converted without conviction of sin, he is one of those stony-ground hearers who don’t bring forth much fruit. The first little wave of persecution, the first breath of opposition, and the man is back in the world again. Let us pray that God may carry on a deep and thorough work, that men may be convicted of sin so that they cannot rest in unbelief. Pray that this conviction and confession may begin in our own church. I would a great deal rather see a hundred men thoroughly converted, truly born of God, than to see a thousand professed conversions where the Spirit of God has not convicted of sin.[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.) (pp. 35–36). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

Senator Cotton DEMANDS China prove that coronavirus isn’t a biological weapon as outbreak continues to spread and kill | DC Dirty Laundry

(Natural News) In recent days, the very same Left-wing establishment media beholden to the deep state and for years reported the “Trump-Russia collusion” hoax even in the face of conflicting evidence were triggered by suggestions that the coronavirus could be part of a Chinese biological weapon that simply got away from the People’s Liberation Army.

But this week the questions over whether the virus is linked to a dangerous weapons program belonging to Beijing are getting a second look, and from none other than a Republican senator not noted for crazy conspiracies or hyperbole.

As Zero Hedge reports, Sen. Tom Cotton, a former U.S. Army infantry officer with two combat tours and a law degree from Harvard, raised the issue anew as China continues to try to contain the spread of the virus, which has now reached the United States.

Indeed, adding further credence to the theory, a pair of ‘mainstream’ financial publications have also raised the question, the news site noted: Is coronavirus a Chinese bioweapon?

Zero Hedge noted:

Is it merely a coincidence that the Canadian scientist at the center of a bio-espionage probe was recently found dead in Africa, as we reported last week? Or that a doctor who helped draft a critical international bioweapons convention has said that the virus might be tied to “biological warfare?”

Or an Israeli bioweapons expert?

Cotton believes that Chinese leaders must step up and answer these and other questions, especially after he was accused of engaging in “xenophobia” against Chinese people — a ridiculous assertion and one meant only to deflect — by China’s Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai.

In fact, as The National Sentinel reported this week, Cui was asked about Cotton’s concerns regarding a potential bioweapon on a Sunday network news magazine and pointedly did not directly deny it.

Outbreak of virus occurred near location of a ‘super lab’

CBS News’ Margaret Brennan said to the ambassador, “That’s an extraordinary charge. How do you respond to that?”

“I think it’s true that a lot is still unknown and our scientists, Chinese scientists, American scientists, scientists of other countries are doing their best to learn more about the virus, but it’s very harmful,” Cui said.

“It’s very dangerous to stir up suspicion, rumors and spread them among the people. For one thing, this will create panic. Another thing that it will fend up racial discrimination, xenophobia, all these things, that will really harm our joint efforts to combat the virus,” he continued.

“Of course, there are all kinds of speculation and rumors,” Cui said. “There are people who are saying that these virus are coming from some- some military lab, not of China, maybe in the United States. How — how can we believe all these crazy things?”

When pressed by Brennan as to where the virus did come form, Cui answered, “We still don’t know yet.”

So — not a real denial.

China’s ambassador to the United States just went on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and DID NOT deny that coronavirus stemmed from the Chinese military’s biological warfare program.

Amb. Cui Tiankai then suggested that the virus could come from a US military lab. pic.twitter.com/z2g254iccz

— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 9, 2020

On a separate-but-related subject, Cui was also asked by Brennan about what happened to Chen Qiushi, a citizen journalist who disappeared after he began covering the outbreak of the virus at ground zero in Wuhan City.

His response: “I have never heard of this guy, so I don’t have any information to share with you.”

But a U.S. journalist knew about ‘this guy.’

As for Cotton, he took to Twitter to make some statements of his own. For instance, he pointed out the “fact” the Chinese government lied about the coronavirus starting in a Wuhan food market.

.@ambcuitianki, here’s what’s not a conspiracy, not a theory:

Fact: China lied about virus starting in Wuhan food market https://t.co/Jgpy1Oh75Y

— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) February 9, 2020

He also noted another “fact” that a “super-lab” just happens to be located a few miles from the market.

“Where did it start? We don’t know. But the burden of proof is on you & fellow communists,” he wrote.”

Fact: super-lab is just a few miles from that market

Where did it start? We don’t know. But burden of proof is on you & fellow communists. Open up now to competent international scientists.

— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) February 9, 2020

Sources include:

ZeroHedge.com

TheNationalSentinel.com

Coronavirus

Source: Senator Cotton DEMANDS China prove that coronavirus isn’t a biological weapon as outbreak continues to spread and kill

In Shocking Admission, WHO Advisor Says Coronavirus May Infect Over 5 Billion People | ZeroHedge News

In yet another sign of the World Health Organization’s about-face on the coronavirus outbreak, a top epidemiologist and advisor to the organization said Thursday that if the virus isn’t contained soon, it could infect 60% of the global population – or more than 5 billion people – echoing projections made by a Hong Kong scientist who was once labeled an alarmist despite his pioneering work in the fight against SARS.

According to Bloomberg, that’s what WHO advisor Ira Longini said after finishing a study of the virus’s transmissibility. His estimates suggest that the virus could one day infect billions of people, far more than the ~60,000 or so cases as of earlier on Thursday.

If the virus truly has a mortality rate of 2% (around the low end of current estimates), at this rate, it would kill more than 100 million.

Of course, if the virus manages to spread so widely, it will unequivocally prove that China’s draconian quarantines weren’t effective enough, and that the government effectively set itself up for failure when it hesitated to try and contain the outbreak after it first emerged in Wuhan late last year.

Ira Longini

In recent days, Dr. Tedros, the WHO’s director-general, has warned that we might be seeing only “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of cases, and that a new rash of infections in Europe could lead to another widespread outbreak.

Longini based his numbers on an r-sub-zero of between 2 and 3, meaning that the average infected person will spread the virus to two or three other people.

In recent days, growing attention has been paid to the lack of reliable virus tests, not just in China, but in virtually all countries where the virus has spread. The difficulties in diagnosing the virus could mean we see another sudden surge of cases – but this time, it could be even larger than last night’s dump from officials in Hubei.

Even if we could find a way to reduce the virus’s ability to spread by half, it would could still wind up infecting more than 2 billion people.

“Unless the transmissibility changes, surveillance and containment can only work so well,” Longini, co-director of the Center for Statistics and Quantitative Infectious Diseases at the University of Florida, said in an interview at WHO headquarters in Geneva. “Isolating cases and quarantining contacts is not going to stop this virus.”

Longini, a researcher and scientist who has spent his entire career focusing on infectious diseases, is hardly the only scientist making dire warnings.

Neil Ferguson, a researcher at Imperial College London, estimated that as many as 50,000 people may be infected each day in China, and more recently warned that we could still be in the “preliminary stages” of the outbreak.

Even Dr. Feigl Ding is finding that the public is taking his warnings seriously after he was branded as an alarmist.

As always, other scientists warned that the situation is in flux, and readers should take these findings with a grain of salt before they panic.

The estimates of spread are part of a spectrum of possibilities that could unfold as the epidemic progresses, said Alessandro Vespignani, a biostatistician at Northeastern University in Boston. The next few weeks may provide more information about how easily the disease spreads outside China, particularly if more measures are put in place to control it, he said.

“People change behaviors” in response to disease, he said. “This is kind of a worst-case scenario. It’s one of the possibilities.”

But as Dr. Tedros said earlier this week, it’s still early days. And if Beijing doesn’t start being a little more honest with the international community, we might not be able to take the necessary steps to combat the spread until it’s too late.

Source: In Shocking Admission, WHO Advisor Says Coronavirus May Infect Over 5 Billion People

Willow Creek and Harvest Struggle to Move On

The departures of Bill Hybels and James MacDonald leave churches waiting for new leadership and hoping to rebuild trust.

It’s been 22 months since Bill Hybels resigned from Willow Creek Community Church, and the Chicago-area megachurch—one of the biggest in the country—is still without a senior pastor.

The multisite congregation, once celebrated as a model and training ground for Christian leaders, has struggled to transition to steady leadership in the aftermath—leaving the well-being of its eight locations and thousands of congregants at stake as attendance and tithes dip.

In the fallout of Hybels’s departure over sexual misconduct allegations, the esteemed megachurch lost other top leaders: The church’s elders, as well as Steve Carter and Heather Larson, who were slated to be Hybels’s heirs, resigned the same year. Steve Gillen, who has served as interim senior pastor since then, recently announced his plans to step down next month.

And there’s no successor in sight. The new elders said in late January that after narrowing a months-long search down to two senior pastor candidates, they decided to release both and start over. (The announcement came with another blow as elders confirmed claims of inappropriate behavior by Hybels’s mentor, Gilbert Bilezikian, and the church allowed “Dr. B” to continue serving and teaching despite knowing the reports against him.)

The elder board has passed its goal of naming a senior pastor by the end of 2019 but hasn’t announced a public timeline for the continued search, only stating that “filling this pastoral role is the top priority.”

The current tumult at Willow Creek and at its greater Chicago neighbor, Harvest Bible Chapel, showcase how long lasting the effects of a fallen pastor can be.

“Dear Bill Hybels,” tweeted …

Continue reading

Source: Willow Creek and Harvest Struggle to Move On

U.S. Household Debt Exceeds $14 Trillion for the First Time

Article Image
https://finance.yahoo.com, Alex Tanzi

Total U.S. household debt rose by $601 billion in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, or 1.4%, surpassing $14 trillion for the first time, the New York Fed’s quarterly household credit and debt report showed. That’s $1.5 trillion above the previous peak in the third quarter of 2008. Overall household debt is now 26.8% above the second-quarter 2013 trough.

Mortgage borrowing rose by $120 billion to $9.56 trillion. The rate for a 30-year mortgage has fallen by about 100 basis points over the past year, adding to home purchasers’ buying power. For example, a $500,000, 30-year loan costs about $300 less per month.

“Mortgage originations, including refinances, increased significantly in the final quarter of 2019,” Wilbert Van Der Klaauw, vice president at the New York Fed, said in a statement.

Mortgage loans for young adults age 18 to 29 rose to a the highest level since the third quarter of 2007. Originations for 30-year-olds rose to $210.1 billion last quarter — the highest level since the end of 2005.

Subprime Auto Loans Explode, “Serious Delinquencies” Spike To Record | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Wolf Richter via WolfStreet.com,

Nearly a quarter of all subprime auto loans are 90+ days delinquent. Why?

Auto loan and lease balances have surged to a new record of $1.33 trillion. Delinquencies of auto loans to borrowers with prime credit rates hover near historic lows. But subprime loans (borrowers with a credit score below 620) are exploding at a breath-taking rate, and they’re driving up the overall delinquency rates to Financial Crisis levels. Yet, these are the good times, and there is no employment crisis where millions of people have lost their jobs.

All combined, prime and subprime auto-loan delinquencies that are 90 days or more past due – “serious” delinquencies – in the fourth quarter 2019, surged by 15.5% from a year ago to a breath-taking historic high of $66 billion, according to data from the New York Fed released today:

Loan delinquencies are a flow. Fresh delinquencies that hit lenders go into the 30-day basket, then a month later into the 60-day basket, and then into the 90-day basket, and as they move from one stage to the next, more delinquencies come in behind them. When the delinquency cannot be cured, lenders hire a company to repossess the vehicle. Finding the vehicle is generally a breeze with modern technology. The vehicle is then sold at auction, a fluid and routine process.

These delinquent loans hit the lenders’ balance sheet and income statement in stages. In the end, the combined loss for the lender is the amount of the loan balance plus expenses minus the amount obtained at auction. On new vehicles that were financed with a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or perhaps higher, losses can easily reach 40% or more of the loan balance. On a 10-year old vehicle, losses are much smaller.

As these delinquent loans make their way through the system and are written off and disappear from the balance sheet, lenders are making new loans to risky customers, and a portion of those loans will become delinquent in the future. This creates that flow of delinquent loans. But that flow has turned into a torrent.

Seriously delinquent auto loans jumped to 4.94% of the $1.33 trillion in total loans and leases outstanding, above where the delinquency rate had been in Q3 2010 as the auto industry was collapsing, with GM and Chrysler already in bankruptcy, and with the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression approaching its peak. But this time, there is no unemployment crisis; these are the good times:

About 22% of the $1.33 trillion in auto loans outstanding are subprime, so about $293 billion are subprime. Of them, $68 billion are 90+ days delinquent. This means that about 23% of all subprime auto loans are seriously delinquent. Nearly a quarter!

Subprime auto loans are often packaged into asset-backed securities (ABS) and shuffled off to institutional investors, such as pension funds. These securities have tranches ranging from low-rated or not-rated tranches that take the first loss to double-A or triple-A rated tranches that are protected by the lower rated tranches and generally don’t take losses unless a major fiasco is happening. Yields vary: the riskiest tranches that take the first lost offer the highest yields and the highest risk; the highest-rated tranches offer the lowest yields.

These subprime auto-loan ABS are now experiencing record delinquency rates. Delinquency rates are highly seasonal, as the chart below shows. In January, the subprime 60+ day delinquency rate for the auto-loan ABS rated by Fitch rose to 5.83%, according to Fitch Ratings, the highest rate for any January ever, the third highest rate for any month, and far higher than any delinquency rate during the Financial Crisis:

But prime auto loans (blue line in the chart) are experiencing historically low delinquency rates.

Why are subprime delinquencies surging like this?

It’s not the economy. That will come later when the employment cycle turns and people lose their jobs. And those delinquencies due to job losses will be on top of what we’re seeing now.

It’s how aggressive the subprime lending industry has gotten, and how they’ve been able to securitize these loans and selling the ABS into heavy demand from investors who have gotten beaten up by negative-interest-rate and low-interest-rate policies of central banks. These investors have been madly chasing yield. And their demand for subprime-auto-loan ABS has fueled the subprime lending business.

Subprime is a very profitable business because interest rates range from high to usurious, and customers with this credit rating know that they have few options and don’t negotiate. Often, they might not do the math of what they can realistically afford to pay every month; and why should they if the dealer puts them in a vehicle, and all they have to do is sign the dotted line?

So profit margins for dealers, lenders, and Wall Street are lusciously and enticingly fat.

Subprime lending is a legitimate business. In the corporate world, the equivalent is high-yield bonds (junk bonds) and leveraged loans. Netflix and Tesla belong in that category. The captive lenders, such as Ford Motor Credit, GM Financial, Toyota Financial Services, etc., or credit unions, take some risks with subprime rated customers but generally don’t go overboard.

The most aggressive in this sector are lenders that specialize in subprime lending. These lenders include Santander Consumer USA, Credit Acceptance Corporation, and many smaller private-equity backed subprime lenders specializing in auto loans. Some sell vehicles, originate the loans, and either sell the loans to banks or securitize the loans into ABS.

And they eat some of the losses as they retain some of the lower-rated tranches of the ABS. Some banks are exposed to these smaller lenders via their credit lines. The remaining losses are spread around the world via securitizations. This isn’t going to take down the banking system though a few smaller specialized lenders have already collapsed.

But demand for subprime auto loan ABS remains high. And as long as there is demand from investors for the ABS, there will be supply, and losses will continue to get scattered around until a decline in investor demand imposes some discipline.

Source: Subprime Auto Loans Explode, “Serious Delinquencies” Spike To Record

US deficit surges 25% in fiscal 2020 and is $1.1 trillion over the past year

The sea of red ink is hemorrhaging in Washington, with the federal government already racking up a budget deficit that is averaging close to $100 billion a month.

Source: US deficit surges 25% in fiscal 2020 and is $1.1 trillion over the past year

US-led Coalition Admits Killing at Least 1,370 Civilians in Syria, Iraq – Casualty Report

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria has killed at least 1,370 civilians since the start of its military operations in 2014, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve said in its monthly civilian casualty report on Thursday.

Source: US-led Coalition Admits Killing at Least 1,370 Civilians in Syria, Iraq – Casualty Report

Don’t Believe the Media Spin: Buttigieg and Klobuchar Are No ‘Moderates’

With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders emerging as the early Democratic presidential frontrunner liberal hosts and anchors – fearing an out-in-the-open socialist would be trounced by President Donald Trump – are now pitching Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as “moderate” alternatives to Crazy Bernie.

Source: Don’t Believe the Media Spin: Buttigieg and Klobuchar Are No ‘Moderates’

Obama Intervened, Repeatedly, in Ongoing Trials and Investigations

Few of the critics who are treating President Donald Trump’s comments on Roger Stone’s sentencing — widely viewed as unduly harsh — as an attack on the rule of law showed such strong concerns when then-President Barack Obama weighed in, repeatedly, on ongoing trials or investigations.

Source: Obama Intervened, Repeatedly, in Ongoing Trials and Investigations

Jury Foreman In Roger Stone Case Was Trump-Hating Russia Collusion Hoaxer

Social media posts from the juror in the Roger Stone trial “standing up” for the four prosecutors who withdrew from the case this week reveal extreme bias.

Source: Jury Foreman In Roger Stone Case Was Trump-Hating Russia Collusion Hoaxer

IT WAS ALL A SET-UP! Pelosi Accuses President Trump of “Interfering” and “Abuse of Power” in Roger Stone Case by Saying Prison for 7-9 yrs. Was Excessive — The Gateway Pundit

This was all a set-up.

Roger Stone’s deep state prosecutors this week stunned the Attorney General’s office by pushing for a sentence of 7-9 years for Roger Stone in a process crime in the Trump-collusion hoax investigation.

The DOJ disagreed with the recommendations saying it was a “excessive and grossly disproportionate” for the 67-year-old Stone.

The Department of Justice also said it was “shocked” at the excessive prison term being sought by Mueller’s prosecutors because it wasn’t what the DOJ was initially briefed on.

The deep state prosecutors going after Roger Stone set up Attorney General Bill Barr.

Attorney General Bill Barr was also reportedly stunned and angry when the DOJ Mueller prosecutors asked the judge last month to consider prison time for General Flynn.

This was all a set-up to get reaction from Attorney General Bill Barr and President Trump in order to start up a new smear campaign against Trump and his trusted Attorney General.

Democrats and Deep State Democrats know the ongoing Durham will expose them criminal actors who lied and deceived the American public and Congress in order to remove President Trump from office.

So they planned this latest attack to sully Bill Barr’s name before John Durham releases his report.

On Thursday Nancy Pelosi accused President Trump of “interfering with the Roger Stone case” by voicing his opinion that 7-9 years for a process crime was outrageous. Pelosi called this an abuse of power and flagrant violation of the rule of law.

This was all planned out.

via IT WAS ALL A SET-UP! Pelosi Accuses President Trump of “Interfering” and “Abuse of Power” in Roger Stone Case by Saying Prison for 7-9 yrs. Was Excessive — The Gateway Pundit

Roger Stone Lead Juror Testified She Had No Bias Against Him – But She Attacked Roger Stone on Twitter Shortly After He Was Arrested! — The Gateway Pundit

Corrupt Obama-appointed Judge Amy Berman Jackson last week denied Roger Stone’s sealed motion for a new trial.

According to the February 5th order issued by Judge Jackson, Roger Stone cited a problem with a juror, however his motion was denied.

On Wednesday it was revealed the jury foreperson, Tomeka Hart, a former Dem Congressional candidate was a rabid Trump-hating left-wing activist.

It gets worse…

Tomeka Hart testified during the jury selection that she had no biases against Roger Stone and that she ‘hardly paid attention’ to the Russia investigation, but she specifically attacked Stone on Twitter shortly after he was arrested.

The Daily Caller reported:

Hart was interviewed on Nov. 5, 2019 along with a group of other potential jurors. Hart is not identified by name in the transcript (she is referred to as Juror Number 1261), but the description matches her resume. Hart ran for Congress and also served as the foreperson on a grand jury in Tennessee for two years.

“Is there anything about that that affects your ability to judge him fairly and impartially sitting here right now in this courtroom?” Jackson queried.

“Absolutely not,” Hart answered.

“What is it that you have read or heard about him?” asked Jackson.

“So nothing that I can recall specifically,” Hart replied. “I do watch sometimes paying attention but sometimes in the background CNN.”

“So I recall just hearing about him being part of the campaign and some belief or reporting around interaction with the Russian probe and interaction with him and people in the country, but I don’t have a whole lot of details. I don’t pay that close attention or watch C-SPAN,” she continued.

Ms. Hart didn’t just attack President Trump and his supporters as racists, she specifically attacked Roger Stone — and she ended up the lead juror on his case.

On January 30, 2019, just days after Roget Stone was arrested by the FBI (with CNN in tow) Tomeka Hart retweeted a tweet from Bakari Sellers attacking Roger Stone.

Not only did demon judge Amy Berman Jackson allow the jury to be stacked with rabid leftists, the media never bothered to report on the biased jurors!

The jury, with Tomeka Hart in the lead, convicted Roger Stone in November on all seven counts.

Fox News’ Ed Henry reported: “Stone’s camp just put out a statement to Griff Jenkins are diligently reviewing the new information to determine any appropriate next steps.”

via Roger Stone Lead Juror Testified She Had No Bias Against Him – But She Attacked Roger Stone on Twitter Shortly After He Was Arrested! — The Gateway Pundit