“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
Easier to Condemn Sins Than Mortify Them Matthew 7:5; 23:2–3; 24:45–47; Romans 2:1
It is easier to declaim, like an orator, against a thousand sins of others than it is to mortify one sin, like Christians, in ourselves; to be more industrious in our pulpits than in our closets; to preach twenty sermons to our people than one to our own hearts.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Sacraments Only Effectual for Believers 1 Corinthians 11:20–21, 29; Galatians 3:27; Titus 3:5
As in baptism, those that come feignedly and those that come unfeignedly both are washed with the sacramental water, but both are not washed with the Holy Ghost, and clothed with Christ; so, in the Lord’s Supper, both eat and drink the sacramental bread and wine, but both do not eat Christ himself, and are fed with his flesh and blood, but those only who worthily receive the sacrament.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
4:7holiness God is holy and invites us to share in His holiness (Lev 11:45; 20:7; 1 Pet 1:16). See note on 1 Thess 4:3.
4:7called. When the Thessalonians embraced Paul’s gospel, they were responding to God’s effectual call (see note on Rom. 8:30; cf. note on 1 Thess. 1:4). That call did not have as its goal impurity but rather a life of holiness.
4:7 called us. Whenever the epistles refer to the “call” of God, it is always a reference to His effectual, saving call, never to a general plea. It is linked to justification (cf. Ro 8:30).
4:7 God did not call us on the basis of moral uncleanness, but in connection with lives of holiness and purity. He has called us from a cesspool of degradation, and has begun in us a lifelong process designed to make us more and more like Himself.
4:7. A second reason to avoid sexual immorality is that it goes against God’s calling for a Christian. Paul’s first reason (v. 6b) looks forward to the prospect of future punishment, but his second reason looks back to the purpose for which God called each Christian to Himself. God’s plan for a Christian includes purifying his life. Sexual immorality frustrates the purpose of God’s call. Certain pagan cults promoted unclean ceremonies, but Christ’s plans for a Christian are to clean him up. A holy life demonstrates God’s supernatural power at work overcoming what is natural, and it glorifies God. The Greek noun hagiasmos (“holiness”) occurs here for the fourth time in eight verses (3:13; 4:3–4). (The verb hagiazō [“sanctify”] is used in 5:23.)
4:7. God calls us to purity as a way of life: to live a holy life.
God himself calls the individual. He brings us into union with Christ; he has made every spiritual transformation possible. It is God who places us in his kingdom. Impurity is inconsistent with such a work and such a calling.
We have not simply been saved from something (God’s wrath), but we have been bought for someone (God) in order to showcase God’s glory and character.
It is hard for us to imagine being owned by someone else. The truth is that every “man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2 Pet. 2:19) and we are all mastered by something. As believers, our call from God is to be mastered by him.
4:7 “God … called” God always takes the initiative (cf. John 6:44, 65) both in salvation and in sanctification.
7. For ties this in to the argument (and probably refers back to vv. 3ff., not simply to the end of v. 6). The Christian life rests on the basis of God’s call, not on human initiative. The idea of this call means a lot to Paul, though it is not frequent in the Thessalonian epistles (see, however, 2:12; 5:24; 2 Thess. 2:14). From the time of his own spectacular conversion Paul was in no doubt that the primary fact is that God calls people, not that people decide to be God’s. It is interesting to see this major Pauline concept so early.
There is a change of preposition: God did not call us ‘for’ uncleanness, where epi gives the idea of purpose (as in being called ‘for freedom’, Gal. 5:13, or of being created ‘for good works’, Eph. 2:10). But to live a holy life is rather ‘in’ holiness or sanctification; this is the atmosphere in which believers find themselves. The noun is that referring to the process (as in v. 3) not the state (as in 3:13).
7. For God hath not called us. This appears to be the same sentiment with the preceding one—that the will of God is our sanctification. There is, however, a little difference between them. For after having discoursed as to the correcting of the vices of the flesh, he proves, from the end of our calling, that God desires this. For he sets us apart to himself as his peculiar possession. Again, that God calls us to holiness, he proves by contraries, because he rescues us, and calls us back, from unchastity. From this he concludes, that all that reject this doctrine reject not men, but God, the Author of this calling, which altogether falls to the ground so soon as this principle as to newness of life is overthrown. Now, the reason why he rouses himself so vehemently is, because there are always wanton persons who, while they fearlessly despise God, treat with ridicule all threatenings of his judgment, and at the same time hold in derision all injunctions as to a holy and pious life. Such persons must not be taught, but must be beaten with severe reproofs as with the stroke of a hammer.
7 But Paul is not one to let the current matter drop at this point—with a word of warning to the one persisting in sexual sin that is ultimately against a brother in Christ. So, in what will become typical fashion for him, he brings the warning back to the primary matter, the fact that in calling them to become a part of his own people, God had made no room “for impurity,” but rather had called the Thessalonian believers to live “in holiness.” In so doing, Paul picks up language he had used earlier in the letter in 2:12, where he reminded them of how he had formerly “dealt with” them—as a father who urged them to “walk” in a manner “worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”
In the present case “the call” is defined by two contrasting prepositional phrases. Negatively, God’s call excluded “impurity,” where the preposition tells them that God’s purpose in calling them did not have sexual sin as its goal. Rather, Paul goes on, and now with a different preposition, God’s calling of the Thessalonians to himself was for the purpose of their living “in holiness,” meaning that “holiness” was to be the context that framed all of life both within and outside the community of faith.54 They were to live in holiness; and so with that word Paul also “frames” the entire matter that began in verse 3.
7 A second reason for purity is the whole character of the Christian life. In verse 4 Paul has spoken of “sanctification and honor,” and it is this sort of thing that he has in mind now. Indeed, he uses the same term “sanctification,” and adds to it the thought of the divine call, a call that involves the rejection of “uncleanness” (NIV, “to be impure”). This last word can theoretically be used in various senses. In one passage it refers to the uncleanness inside a tomb (Matt. 23:27), but everywhere else in the New Testament (and especially in Paul) it seems to refer to moral impurity, as is the case here.
Paul looks for his converts to live wholesome and pure lives. He bases his demand for the renunciation of all uncleanness on the priority of the divine in the Christian way of life. God has called believers, and called them “in sanctification.” The priority of God’s call is a major point in Pauline theology. Everywhere the apostle insists that our salvation is brought about not because we have taken action, but because God has. He goes further. When the natural man learns that he cannot remove the burden of his sins but must rely on Christ’s atoning work for it all, he may try to save some shreds of self-respect by claiming at least the credit for turning from sin to God. But that, too, is ruled out. People come to God only because of God’s effectual call. In this place it is not so much the fact that God called the Thessalonians initially that is in mind as the kind of living to which he has called them. He has called them to be set apart for him, that is, to live in sanctification (see on v. 3). The change of preposition from “for” with uncleanness to “in” with sanctification is interesting. The former expresses purpose (cf. its use in Gal. 5:13; Eph. 2:10). When God called the Thessalonians it was not an aimless procedure. He had a very definite purpose, and that purpose was not uncleanness. “In” gives us rather the thought of atmosphere, of the settled condition in which he required them to live out their lives. This atmosphere for the believer is sanctification. This is the very air he breathes.
7 Another reason for compliance with high standards is the nature of God’s calling. As in 2:12, this is God’s effectual call, mediated through gospel preaching (2 Th 2:14). Those who have responded to this call have not entered a life of sexual impurity but “a holy life” (cf. 3:13; 4:3–4). They now belong to a community with values different from those of “the heathen” (lit., “the Gentiles”) among whom they formerly lived.
For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. (4:7)
That Christians should strive to be sexually moral is in complete accord with God’s general plan for their lives. Therefore, a second reason Paul gave for abstaining from sexual immorality was because that command fit God’s purpose for the Thessalonians. For the third time in this passage, Paul used a form of the word sanctification, which emphasized to them that when God effectually called them to salvation, He also called them to holiness. A life of impurity was inconsistent with believers’ high calling (Eph. 4:1).
The phrase in sanctification indicates that the believer’s position of holiness is the direct result of God’s effectual call. God’s purpose in salvation was to produce a holy people who would walk worthy of the divine call into His kingdom and glory (cf. Eph. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:12). The call to salvation is inseparable from the call to holy and pure living. Ephesians 2:8–10 says:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Paul was intent on presenting the church at Thessalonica and the church everywhere as a bride “having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (Eph. 5:27), but as one set apart and pure before God. Therefore sexual sin is utterly inconsistent with God’s present and ultimate purpose for believers.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Th 4:7). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 410). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
It can be hard to hear God in the busyness of life. Take today’s lesson to hear how to listen better.
“And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:12b
There’s a moment just before the performance begins where the lights go down and the symphony tunes. It’s a strange, cacophonous sound, nothing at all like the music that will start a few minutes later. I love that sound. It sounds like anticipation. It’s a sound that tells you that something wonderful is about to happen.
Tuning is not a warning bell; it’s an alignment. One musician plays a single note, always the same note, and each of the instruments joins in. They play, they listen, and they adjust and play again. They keep going until all the sounds blend together, until there are united and aligned, in tune.
I love the line in the old hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” that says, “tune my heart”. I want that. I want my heart to sound like God’s. Did you know that if you put two grand pianos in a room and play a note on one of them the corresponding string in the other piano will start to vibrate? I want the note God is playing to resonate in my heart.
In 1 Kings, God tells Elijah to go and stand on a mountain where He will pass by. There is wind and fire, even an earthquake, but God is not in the wind or the fire or the earthquake. God comes in a gentle whisper. I need to be still and hear that whisper; I need to tune my heart to it.
I cannot do the things God has planned for me if my heart is out of tune. No matter how carefully I try to serve God, if my heart is out of tune it’s all just garbage. I think it’s so interesting that even professional musicians have to tune and they tune every single time they play. I want my life to be like that, to begin every day by listening for the voice of God and moving my heart – dragging it along sometimes – until my heart, my attitude sounds like God’s. I want to go through my days in tune with Him.
Father, As the hymn says, “Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace”. Teach me to stop and listen for your whisper. Keep me still until the song of my heart sounds like You. Mold me so that when people hear my words and see my actions they think of You. Thank you for being patient with me. Tune my heart. I’m listening. Amen.
When is it hard to hear God? Where do you find it easiest to hear His gentle whisper?
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen”Ephesians 3:20-21
“The Christian Life is the supernatural life, a life where we live beyond our natural limits.” I heard these words during university about 45 years ago; they still inspire me. Think about it! The God of the universe lives inside each Christ-follower. The moment we embrace Christ through faith, God’s Spirit comes to dwell in us. In fact, Jesus told his disciples that it was good that he was leaving them because the Spirit would replace him in their lives (John 16:7-15).
I remember, as a student, how easy it was to call out to God when an exam was coming. But I was convinced I could manage my dating relationships without God’s assistance. Very quickly, I realized inviting God into each area of my life was a good decision. God provides resources I do not have. No matter how good I am in any area of life, God is better, WAY better!
God does not push his way into the center; we have to allow him access. I realized I can only step into the realm of the “beyond my limits” life when I am willing to trust God and put my confidence in his unlimited resources. I often picture myself approaching God with a box in my arms. I declare, “God, please take charge of this. I have been so foolish to attempt this on my own.” At that moment, I begin to anticipate that God will do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within me, to his glory.
Father God, I invite you to show me any area of my life where I’m not fully trusting in your presence and power. Thank you that you can do immeasurably more than I can in any area of my life. I desire to live in the realm of your supernatural resources today. Thank you for your Spirit’s presence in my life. Amen.
What areas of life are you finding hard to entrust to God? Ask yourself why. Think about how big or difficult the challenge is. Now reflect on God’s power, wisdom, and love. Can he handle it better than you can?
It is not from works that we are set free by the faith of Christ, but from the belief in works, that is from foolishly presuming to seek justification through works. Faith redeems our consciences, makes them upright, and preserves them, since by it we recognize the truth that justification does not depend on our works, although good works neither can nor ought to be absent, just as we cannot exist without food and drink and all the functions of this mortal body.
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Purity in the Eyes, Ears, and Tongue Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28–29; 18:9; Mark 9:47; Colossians 4:6
The eye must not fix its gaze on anything that the soul may not desire without sin. The hearing must be pure and governed by discretion, deaf to all things vain and useless, ready to take in with delight the knowledge that is of God. Our speech must be seasoned with the salt of wisdom—to condemn all that is unprofitable or evil, to give utterance only to what is good and useful.
HUGH OF ST. VICTOR
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
The challenge for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is that their lives depended upon their response to Nebuchadnezzar’s blasphemous reproach of their stance, against his directive to worship his golden image. Would they blaspheme God or would they defy Nebuchadnezzar?
Interestingly, in this account, we don’t know what the rest of the community’s response was. It may be that many did bow while others tried, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, to abstain from this act of false worship. In any case, we know that the Lord can forgive even such blasphemous worship.
The Lord has a will and a way of delivering a man like Naaman who had fallen before the gods of his peoples until he learned of the Lord’s instructions to him. The Lord could forgive those who had fallen into various forms of idolatry. And yet the Lord was calling on His people to consider well the example of these men.
In Daniel 7, the saints are warned of the dogged persistence of the kingdom of darkness to wear down the resistance of God’s people. This is why the LORD gives us the whole armor of God to withstand these attacks. As Calvin reminds us, from the beginning, “The Church of Christ has been so constituted that death has been the way to life and the cross the path to victory.” Even to die a fiery death is not the worst thing for us – for we have been joined to the Son of God who has died for us!
Suggestions for prayer
Pray for relief for those who are being persecuted under unjust rulers. Pray for joy in the face of hardships. Pray that the LORD would teach us the way of full obedience to Him.
Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.
Militia-like pro-Palestinian gangs attack Jews across US, West – analysis Attacks on Jews from London to California now appear to be a series of systematic assaults by groups of far-right style pro-Palestinian men organized in militia-like groups. They have included convoys of cars calling on people to rape Jewish women and targeted attacks on Jews eating dinner or working in areas known to have high levels of Jews.
Hamas’ Haniyeh vows to destabilize Jerusalem, thanks Iran for support Hamas will continue to “defend” Jerusalem, head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh said Friday as he was concluding the operation that saw more than 4,500 rockets and mortars launched toward Israeli territory. In a speech…after the ceasefire….Haniyeh suggested that Hamas’s current objective is to continue fueling the ongoing violence between Palestinians and security forces in the West Bank and in Jerusalem.
Riots break out in response to ceasefire, Hamas flags waved Israel Police clashed with Palestinians at a number of tense friction points in Israel, including the Temple Mount and in east Jerusalem throughout the day on Friday. Tear gas and rubber bullets were fired after rioting broke out in response to the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
EU to build vaccine-manufacturing hubs in Africa The European Union (EU) intends to invest 1bn euros ($1.2bn; £859m) to build Covid vaccine-manufacturing hubs in Africa. It will also donate at least 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to low- and middle-income countries by the end of the year, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said.
Hamas claims victory as Gaza celebrates ceasefire The Gaza Strip experienced another sleepless night on Friday, but this time, it was not because of the intense Israeli bombardment that the besieged coastal territory was subjected to for the past 11 days. Instead, tens of thousands poured into the streets, celebrating the ceasefire agreed upon by Israel and Palestinian armed groups, chanting in support of the resistance.
Strong and shallow M6.5 earthquake hits Fiji region A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.5 hit the Fiji region at 22:13 UTC on May 21, 2021, at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). EMSC is reporting M6.7 at a depth of 10 km. The epicenter was located 267 km (166 miles) SSE of Alo, Alo, Wallis and Futuna and 351 km (218 miles) E of Labasa, Fiji.
A very strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M7.3 hit southern Qinghai, China at 18:04 UTC on May 21, 2021 (02:04 LT, May 22). The agency is reporting a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). EMSC is reporting M7.4 at the same depth.
Strong and shallow M6.1 earthquake hits Yunnan, China A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.1 hit Yunnan, China at 13:48 UTC (21:48 LT) on May 21, 2021. The agency is reporting a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). EMSC is reporting M6.0 at a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles). The quake was preceded by M4.6 at 12:56 and M5.3 at 13:21 UTC.
Subtropical cyclone forming east of Bermuda, Atlantic Ocean A non-tropical low pressure area located about 800 km (500 miles) ENE of Bermuda at 06:00 UTC on May 21 is producing winds to storm force and disorganized showers and thunderstorms. There is a high potential for this LPA to become the first subtropical storm (Ana) of the 2021 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Bermuda.
“Non-GMO” foods being grown in HUMAN SEWAGE SLUDGE and sprayed with glyphosate and pesticides As the Food Babe has correctly pointed out, foods labeled “Non-GMO” are still grown in human sewage sludge and sprayed with glyphosate and pesticides. With 20 U.S. states now legalizing the dissolving of dead human bodies and flushing them into municipal sewer systems — the “human flesh goo” phenomenon — it is now a fact that human flesh goo and human sewage is being spread on food farms across America to grow foods that can be labeled “non-GMO.”
Covid Vaccine LIES and Hoaxes List List Covid Vaccine Lies and Hoaxes are the talk of the internet, all over the lying television stations and radio. There are two camps; those who believe in the Covid Vaccine and can’t line up fast enough to get it, and those who think for themselves.
Obama Confirms That He Has Seen The Footage And That UFOs Are Real As Palestinians Riot On Temple Mount After 11 days of fighting, Hamas and Israel agreed to a ceasefire, and no sooner was the sun come up this morning in the Middle East but Palestinians immediately began attacking Jews and police on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Elsewhere around the world, the US proposed a global minimum tax in a nod to Luke 2:1-6 (KJB), children began receiving the COVID vaccine from the Fauci and the New World Order, and new polls shows 43% of millennials don’t believe God and doesn’t care if He does or does not exist. Just business as usual on the front lines of the end times. Oh, did I mention it’s also Pentecost weekend? Time to fly, so buckle up.
What we believe about the past—even the distant past—has an impact on how we live our lives today, including our choices, values, and moral foundation, and yes, even our destiny. Our Foundations illustrates this by walking through a young man’s life (Parker) in three different scenarios: Atheistic, Compromised Christianity, and a Biblical Worldview. In the Atheistic worldview, Parker’s life plays out with the understanding that his life is a product of molecules-to-man evolution over millions of years. There was no creator before him, and he will answer to no moral judge after he dies. Under the Compromised Christian scenario, Parker is raised by parents who take a mythical viewpoint on Genesis, and thus the Bible’s power to be an authority in his life is usurped. If the Bible doesn’t get it right in the beginning, why should Parker order his life after the rest? Thus he lives his life disregarding its principles. Under the Biblical Worldview, Parker’s parents regard the Bible as historically true and scientifically credible, and therefore base their perspectives and choices upon its teachings. This leads to a much different life outcome than the other two scenarios…
Train Your Family about Genesis! We have four free resources:
There are many insights that can be drawn from this movie, but one that is not so easy to catch is how Parker pays attention in church (or not). Notice that the Atheistic/Compromised Christian versions of Parker are distracted in church. Why pay attention to the teaching of God’s Word if we cannot regard the Bible as scientifically or historically credible? If it’s just a compilation of fables? Only the Biblical Worldview version of Parker is paying attention, standing reverently and fearfully under the teaching of God’s Word, because it’s authoritative and credible in all that it teaches, including history. Many teens today want to know, “If the truth does not start on the first page of the Bible, how many more pages do I need to turn before the truth starts?”
Foundations Movie Disclaimer
Foundationsshows the life journey of a young man being raised in a household under three different belief/worldview conditions: (1) atheistic/agnostic, (2) theistic evolution/compromised, and (3) biblical worldview (especially the belief that Genesis 1–11 is real history).Foundationsmakes clear that there is a strong connection between our belief systems and behaviors, and subsequently our life outcomes. However, we need to clarify “right out of the gate” that this movie doesnotpromote “prosperity gospel” in any way, shape, or form.Foundationsis a short film that briefly previews how believing and trusting in God’s Word and building your life upon it will result in a much different life than not doing so. As Christ Himself admonished:
Life Built on the Word of Christ
“Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24–25)
Life not Built on the Word of Christ
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:26–27)
Christ was clear about two things in this passage: First, storms will come into all lives. Second, lives built on the foundation of His Word (which includes the whole of Scripture—see John 1) will stand, and those who don’t will not. We see these truths (and many variations in between) played out in the lives of our friends and family every day. Psalms 1 provides a similar truth:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law [Torah, including Genesis], of the of the Lord, and in His law [Torah, including Genesis] he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Proverbs is filled with truths that straddle two extremes that can be generalized as: “Be wise and live according to God’s ways and be blessed” or “Live your own way and disregard God’s ways, and you’ll be a fool with a messed-up life.” Scripture is also clear that by living according to biblical teaching and virtues, a person can obtain the confidence of the living God and be put into a position where they are regularly used by God for His purposes: “For the Lord detests a perverse manbut takes the upright into his confidence” (Proverbs 3:32, emphasis added). Scripture gives direct promises to enlist us in God’s personal service if we do so: “If a man cleanses himself from the latter [wickedness and godless living], he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Psalm 25:14 also provides: “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” Living a life subjected to the Holy Spirit will naturally produce these traits in one’s life: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Ephesians 2:10 promises that “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Jesus is the author and finisher of our lives and yearns to live through us in powerful ways (Philippians 1:6).
Foundations highlights that there is a tight connection between our belief system and our actions and choices, and those actions and choices will lead to inevitable outcomes: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). While Jesus promises that believers will endure persecution, trials, and tribulations (John 16:33), much of the hardship, trauma, and suffering we experience in life is a result ofnotordering our lives after Scripture—and much of the time we’re not ordering our lives after God’s Word is because wereally don’t believe it to be true and authoritative. Many believe: “If God’s Word is not true historically or credible scientifically, what authority does it have to tell me how to live my life?”
Thank God for his grace, mercy, and restoration! Romans 8:28 promises that the Lord will weave all things in our lives together for good: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Thus, even when our lives appear to be falling apart from a temporal viewpoint, believers can still stand strong in the Lord, with their lives having meaning, blessing, and joy even through the worst of difficulties or circumstances.
(Rick Becker – Famine In The Land) When God delivers people from various forms of deception and apostate movements such as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) or any other spiritually abusive group, a painful process begins. The transition from living in the clutches of deception, into truth and freedom is a journey fraught with pitfalls. Make no mistake, what people have been through in these movements or by submitting to false teachers is spiritual abuse. Exiting a spiritually abusive church can have severe effects such as PTSD symptoms. Furthermore, although abusive leaders are a false spiritual authority, they represent God to the deceived….
Recovering from any spiritually abusive system will be exacerbated unless this distorted image of God is rectified. This article explores three factors that impact those who leave the system: 1. Characteristics – the cultish characteristics of the NAR or any spiritually abusive system. 2. Consequences – the consequences of leaving the NAR or spiritually abusive churches. 3. Cure – the path to wholeness. Identifying and describing the characteristics will help those who are wondering whether they’re in a “church” that is deceiving or manipulating them. Secondly, they’ll help us understand why the consequences of leaving a manipulative and controlling environment can be severe. Finally, the characteristics and consequences give us an indication of what is needed on the path to recovery. View article →
Abstain from What Seems Trustworthy but Is Heresy 1 Corinthians 7:10; Galatians 5:9–10
I urge you (not I, but the love of Jesus Christ), only make use of Christian food, and abstain from the foreign plant, which is heresy. These people, while seeming trustworthy, mingle Jesus Christ with themselves like those who produce a deadly drug with honeyed wine, which the ignorant one gladly takes hold of in evil pleasure, to his death.
IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Early Church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Preaching Themes: Assurance, Faith, Good Works, Union with Christ
Feeling always seeks something in itself; faith keeps itself occupied with what Jesus is.… Forget not that the faith, of which God’s word speaks so much, stands not only in opposition to works, but also in opposition to feeling, and therefore that for a pure life of faith you must cease to seek your salvation, not only in works, but also in faith. Therefore let faith always speak against feeling. When feeling says, “In myself, I am sinful; I am dark; I am weak; I am poor; I am sad,” let faith say, “In Christ, I am holy; I am light; I am strong; I am rich; I am joyful.”
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Modern church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Without the Lord the situation is hopeless, no one else will do. David had lived long enough to know that man’s help is useless. He asks the Mighty God to take up Israel’s cause again by giving help on the battlefield.
As soon as he leaves the place of prayer, the psalmist is singing a note of triumph. “Through God we will do valiantly,” for it is He who will crush the opposition and give victory to His beloved ones. This is the confidence, born of faith, that Paul Gerhardt expressed so eloquently:
12. “Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.” This prayer has often fallen from the lips of men who have been bitterly disappointed by their fellows, and it has also been poured out unto the Lord in the presence of some gigantic labour in which mortal power is evidently of no avail. Edom cannot be entered by any human power, yet from its fastnesses the robber bands come rushing down; therefore, O Lord, do thou interpose and give thy people deliverance. Help divine is expected because help human is of no avail. We ought to pray with all the more confidence in God when our confidence in man is altogether gone. When the help of man is vain, we shall not find it vain to seek the help of God.
13 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.
13. God’s help shall inspire us to help ourselves. Faith is neither a coward nor a sluggard: she knows that God is with her, and therefore she does valiantly; she knows that he will tread down her enemies, and therefore she arises to tread them down in his name. Where praise and prayer have preceded the battle, we may expect to see heroic deeds and decisive victories. “Through God” is our secret support; from that source we draw all our courage, wisdom, and strength. “We shall do valiantly.” This is the public outflow from that secret source: our inward and spiritual faith proves itself by outward and valorous deeds. “He shall tread down our enemies.” They shall fall before him, and as they lie prostrate he shall march over them, and all the hosts of his people with him. This is a prophecy. It was fulfilled to David, but it remains true to the Son of David and all who are on his side. The church shall yet arouse herself to praise her God with all her heart, and then with songs and hosannas she will advance to the great battle; her foes shall be overthrown and utterly crushed by the power of her God, and the Lord’s glory shall be above all the earth. Send it in our time, we beseech thee, O Lord.
Ver. 12. Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.—Help in trouble:—
I. A very common experience. “Trouble.”
II. A very certain resource. Betaking ourselves to God in prayer.
1. The resource itself. God. He knows all our troubles. He is ever graciously disposed to help and comfort His people.
2. How the resource is available. By prayer. It may be very short—a mere fragment. But it must be the prayer of conscious need, and of believing supplication.
III. A very evident truth. “For vain is the help of man.” Good men may give us wise counsel, and they may sympathize sincerely and tenderly, and they may pray for us, and thus be instrumental of good to our souls; but they can neither sustain us in trouble, nor sanctify our sorrows, nor deliver us out of our afflictions.
1. They cannot control our circumstances. But God can; He alone disposes of the conditions of men—raiseth up, or casteth down—enriches, or impoverishes—sends prosperity, or adversity—joy, or grief.
2. They cannot drive back our enemies. Either those in the world, or our spiritual ones; but God can; He can enable us effectually to resist both, and to triumph over them.
3. They cannot turn our afflictions into a blessing. But God can; He is able “out of the eater to bring forth meat, and out of the strong to bring forth sweetness.”
4. They cannot deliver us from our troubles. Look at Abraham on the mount with Isaac! Jacob meeting Esau! Israelites on way to Red Sea! Daniel in den of lions! Hebrews in the fiery furnace! Peter in prison—Paul in the stocks! In all these cases vain would have been the skill and power of man; but God did deliver each and all of them; and He will deliver those who put their trust in Him. (J. Burns, D.D.)
Human help is of no avail:—
About twenty years ago a fisherman on the way to his boat met his little boy, who pleaded with him to be taken on the little voyage across to the neighbouring island. The fisherman looked at the waves; they had begun to pub on their white caps of wrath, and the swell of the sea had commenced, and he hesitated; but at last he allowed his boy to go. All seemed well in the smack, till half way across a sudden squall caught the canvas and flung the father and his assistant into the deep. They caught hold of the rope that attached the little boat behind the smack, and climbed in and were saved. Looking back, they saw the smack on her beam end, filling rapidly, and a pale, white little face, the face of the little boy at the cabin window. He had been sent down below when the squall had come. The father, in desperation, flung himself on the sinking smack. One blow of his strong fist shattered the window, and the little face there still looked out, but he cannot escape: what could the father do? The window is too small. The man was nearly demented; he tried to tear the beams from the sinking vessel, but they were too strong; and the little boy, in his homely Scotch, said, “Daddy, save me, help me.” Deeper and deeper, the smack turned on her side; and the tears streamed down the little white face, and down the face of the despairing father. At last he cried, “God help thee, my laddie, I canna.” Down went the smack, with a gurgle and a foaming bubble, and that was all. That father never went to sea again. Twenty years passed, and on his death-bed it was the same cry, “God help thee, my laddie, I canna.” Dear soul, you are in greater danger than that little fisher-lad. You’re sinking! God help you, you immortal soul, you’re sinking; and I cannot help you, your father can’t, your mother can’t. God help thee (J. Robertson.)
Ver. 13. Through God we shall do valiantly.—Assurance of the Church’s victory:—
1. Whatsoever may be the variety of the exercises of faith, victory and triumph shall close the war, and crown the wrestler.
2. Albeit the means be nothing but vanity without God, yet they must be used, for they are something when they are used by us, and put in God’s hand.
3. What the Lord doth by the believer as His servant, or by any other instrument, God must have the glory of it.
4. The faith of the Church’s victory over her enemies is grounded upon God’s engaging in the war for the Church, and against our enemies. (D. Dickson.)
Faith’s impossible feats:—
We need the courage of those ancient soldiers who were wont to regard difficulties only as whetstones upon which to sharpen their swords. I like Alexander’s talk—when they said there were so many thousands, so many millions, perhaps, of Persians. “Very well,” said he, “it is good reaping where the corn is thick. One butcher is not afraid of a thousand sheep.” I like even the talk of the old Gascon who said, when they asked him, “Can you and your troops get into that fortress? it is impregnable.” “Can the sun enter in?” said he. “Yes.” “Well, where the sun can go we will enter.” Whatever is possible, or whatever is impossible, Christians can do at God’s command, for God is with us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
12 A simple petition follows the complaint of vv. 10–11: Come to us as a helper against the oppressor. The word helper (ʿezrâ) derives from the verbal root ʿāzar (“to help, to free, to come to help”), the same root behind the similar word in Gen. 2:18:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the human (hāʾād̠ām) should be alone; I will make him a helper (ʿēzer) as his partner.”
The noun ʿēzer occurs some sixty-five times in the Old Testament, in most cases refering to the majestic “help” of God in some sort of military situation (Exod. 18:4; Deut. 33:26; Ps. 33:20). In short, ʿēzer in the Hebrew Bible conveys the idea of a “help” that is a strong presence, an aid without which humankind would be unprotected and vulnerable to all sorts of unsettling situations.
The end of the petition in v. 12 explains the reason that the community of worshippers cries out to God: for worthless is the assistance of humanity. The word translated humanity here is ʾād̠ām, the same word used in the refrains of Psalm 107:
Let God’s hesed one give thanks to the Lord
For his wondrous works for the children of humanity (ʾādām).
(vv. 8, 15, 21, 31)
God alone can perform wondrous works among humanity; therefore the gathered worshippers cry out for God’s help against the oppressor. The alternative—reliance on human aid—is of no use.
13 The psalm concludes with a two-part expression of trust. First, the worshippers affirm that with God we will perform strong deeds, and then they state that God will crush our oppressors. The depiction is of people and God in partnership. The people must sing, make music, give thanks, and exalt the Lord (vv. 1, 3, 5). And with God’s help (ʿezrâ), they will perform strong deeds. God as helper (ʿezrâ) will triumph, measure out, and shout with joy over the oppressors of Israel (vv. 7, 9). God will provide, in God’s own time and in God’s own place.
The Israelites who returned to Jerusalem in 538 after the Babylonian exile realized that what had happened to them was wholly dependent on the hesed (the covenant love) of their God. Their repatriation was undeserved; it was a gift from God, not earned through the efforts of humanity (ʾād̠ām). The singers of Psalm 108 could do nothing more than give thanks and learn to rely on their good God. McCann writes, “Psalm 108 teaches us that the people of God never live beyond trouble and the need for God’s help.” May believers in today’s times and places have the insight and the grace to follow in the footsteps of the singers of Psalm 108 by learning to give thanks and by relying on God.
 deClaissé-Walford, N. (2014). Book Five of the Psalter: Psalms 107–150. In E. J. Young, R. K. Harrison, & R. L. Hubbard Jr. (Eds.), The Book of Psalms (pp. 825–826). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
May 22 2 Samuel 1:1-2:11 John 12:20-50 Psalm 118:19-29 Proverbs 15:27-28
2 Samuel 1:8 – Did the Amalekite kill Saul or did Saul kill Saul? From GotQuestions:
The clear answer from the biblical text is that Saul killed himself and that the Amalekite’s story was a fabrication. The biblical text records the story the Amalekite gave but does not affirm it as true….
This would be the correct order of events: Saul is wounded in battle and then kills himself by falling on his own sword. An Amalekite comes across his dead body and takes his crown and armlet. The next day, the Philistines find Saul’s body, behead him, strip him of his armor, send the report, and fasten his body to the wall of Beth Shan (1 Samuel 31:10).
2 Samuel 2:1 – Good things happen after a king “enquires of the LORD.”
John 12:24-26 – Listening to Jesus must have been difficult. Fruit comes from dying. Loving life loses it. Hating life keeps it. Servants are honoured. The Eternal will die (John 12:34). The God who opened the eyes of the blind (Matthew 9:30). But He blinded the eyes of the seeing (John 12:40).
John 12:37 – Notice the different groups. The uncircumcised outsider Greeks wanting to learn (John 12:21). The Hebrew crowd who saw miracles but didn’t believe (John 12:37). The chief rulers who believed but didn’t confess (John 12:42-43). Very few fall into the category of a vocal believer.
Ed Martin of Phyliss Schlafly Eagles weighs in on the ceasefire between Israel and Palestine. (00:10)
As the US continues with troop withdrawals, the House Foreign Affairs Committee hammered the US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalizad. He testified that he believed the fears of the Taliban taking over Kabul were overblown and refuted allegations that it was the Taliban who bombed a girls’ school, putting the blame on Islamic State. There is bipartisan support in Congress for the US to remain in Afghanistan despite public and political pressure to get out. Former UN weapons inspector and US marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter joins In Question to discuss. (5:42).
A high school senior getting into the college of his or her dreams is certainly a privilege for some. But now that goal could reach even more graduates-as a number of California colleges are doing away with the SAT and ACT scores for admissions. RT America’s Natasha Sweatte has more. (13:04) Then, director of development, advocacy, and sustainability for Whole Child Strategies Luther Mercer shares his perspective. (15:12)
00:00 Full Show 00:10 Ceasefire Israel & Palestine latest 05:42 US in Afghanistan 13:04 University of California to drop SAT, ACT requirements