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May 23, 2017: Verse of the day


104:24–26 The variety of God’s works is staggering. “What wisdom has designed them all” (Knox). The earth is full of His creatures, and He cares for each one with amazing attention to detail. The sea swarms with life both small and great, ranging all the way from the minute plankton to the whales.

The mention of ships in verse 26 seems somewhat out of place in a discussion of living creatures. Some understand it to mean sea monsters (Gen. 1:21), but ships is the correct reading. Leviathan (in the same verse) may refer to the whales or porpoises which find the sea an ideal playground for their sporting antics. (But see comments and endnotes on Job 41.)[1]

The Glory of the Animal Creation (104:24–26)


24–26 The world of creation reveals the power, wisdom, and creative diversity of the Lord. In vv. 5–9 the psalmist was in awe of God’s majestic power. Verses 10–18 reflect on the variety of his creatures and on his wisdom in sustaining all of them. Verses 19–23 evoke a response of gratitude, because the Lord is in control over the seasons and the alternation of day and night. In verses 24–26 the psalmist calls on the reader to worship with him the Lord’s wisdom and creative diversity. He has multiple “works” (v. 24; cf. v. 13) all over his world. All life belongs to him (“your creatures,” lit., “your possession”), whether on “the earth” (v. 24) or in “the sea” (v. 25).

The emphasis on sea creatures magnificently complements the mention in vv. 10–18 of wild and domesticated animals, birds, and humans. The Lord provides for the great number of sea creatures that in equal variety inhabit the seas (v. 25). Wherever ships have plied the seas (v. 26), reports have come back on the interesting variety of animal life in the sea, among which is the “leviathan.” The “leviathan”—a creature feared by the Canaanites because of its power, represented by seven heads (cf. ANET, 137–38; see Notes, 74:13)—is here only a large sea animal, a creature of God (“which you formed”), the Lord’s pet (v. 26). For an extensive study of this motif, see Day, God’s Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea.[2]

104:24–26 This portion corresponds to the fifth day of creation in Ge 1:20–23.[3]

104:25–26 The Lord Delights in the Sea Creatures, Too. After celebrating God’s care for the land animals, the song moves on to the open sea … which teems with creatures innumerable (corresponding to the fifth creation day, Gen. 1:20–23). (The ships that men sail for merchant activities do not defile the creation order.) Leviathan (see note on Ps. 74:14) here is probably a poetic name for a whale, and is therefore one of the “great sea creatures” (Gen. 1:21). Although the word can be used for an enemy of God, this psalm joins the creation account in portraying the various creatures as subject to the Lord, not opposing him. The admiration continues, as the song says that God formed Leviathan to play in the sea (or, if the alternate rendering in the ESV footnote is followed, he formed it to be his partner in play); throughout this psalm, delight takes the singing congregation far beyond mere utility![4]

104:25 sea … creatures innumerable. The fifth day of creation (Gen. 1:20–23).

104:26 ships … Leviathan. The psalmist’s imagination is caught up with God’s mysterious sea. On its surface ships glide to and fro from distant ports, while underneath lurks the monster Leviathan, here a poetic symbol of God’s creative power (Job 41).[5]

[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 708). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 768–769). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 104:24–26). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1071). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 953). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 23 – Marveling at God’s Forgiveness (Matthew)

The twelve apostles included “Matthew the tax-gatherer” (Matt. 10:3).


Never lose your sense of awe over Christ’s forgiveness.

Matthew describes himself as “Matthew the tax-gatherer” (Matt. 10:3). He is the only apostle whose name is associated here with an occupation. Apparently Matthew never forgot what he had been saved from and never lost his sense of awe and unworthiness over Christ’s forgiveness.

Matthew 9:1–8, where he sets the scene of his own conversion, tells us Jesus forgave the sins of a paralytic man and then healed him of his paralysis. When the Jewish scribes accused Him of blasphemy for claiming to have the authority to forgive sins, He said to them, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, and walk’?” He wanted them to know that His miracles testified to His deity. As God, He could as easily forgive sins as He could heal diseases.

Immediately after that account, Matthew gave the account of his own call. It’s as if he wanted his own salvation to serve as an illustration of Christ’s ability to forgive even the vilest of sinners. Matthew 9:9 says, “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him.”

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus’ practice of associating with tax-gatherers, He said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill. … I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (vv. 12–13). The Pharisees were sick with sin but thought they were healthy. Matthew and his associates knew they were sinners who needed a Savior.

Do you share Matthew’s humility and sense of awe at receiving Christ’s precious gift of forgiveness? I pray that you do and that you are continually praising Him for it.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the wonder of forgiveness. ✧ If you have lost your sense of awe over God’s forgiveness, perhaps you’re taking His grace for granted. Confess your apathy, and ask Him to give you a deep appreciation for the enormous price He paid for your salvation.

For Further Study: As a reminder of what Christ endured for you, read Matthew 26:17–27:56, which chronicles the events of His betrayal and crucifixion.[1]


Because he wrote the first gospel, Matthew is one of the best known apostles. But the New Testament reveals very few details of his life or ministry.

Before his conversion and call to discipleship, Matthew collected taxes for Rome (Matt. 9:9). It was not an occupation to be proud of, and one would think he would have wanted to dissociate himself from the stigma as much as possible. Yet when he wrote the gospel some thirty years later, he still referred to himself as the tax-gatherer.

As discussed previously in more detail (see chap. 6), tax-gatherers were considered traitors, the most hated members of Jewish society. They were often more despised than the occupying rulers and soldiers, because they betrayed and financially oppressed their own people. They were legal extortioners who extracted as much money as they could from both citizen and foreigner with the full authority and protection of Rome.

They were so despicable and vile that the Jewish Talmud said, “It is righteous to lie and deceive a tax collector.” Tax collectors were not permitted to testify in Jewish courts, because they were notorious liars and accepted bribes as a normal part of life. They were cut off from the rest of Jewish life and were forbidden to worship in the Temple or even in a synagogue. In Jesus’ parable, the tax collector who came to the Temple to pray stood “some distance away” (Luke 18:13) not only because he felt unworthy but because he was not allowed to enter.

Matthew was hardly proud of what he had been, but he seems to have cherished the description as a reminder of his own great unworthiness and of Christ’s great grace He saw himself as the vilest sinner, saved only by the incomparable mercy of his Lord.

Even from the little information given about him, it is evident Matthew was a man of faith. When he got up from his tax table and began to follow Jesus, he burned his bridges behind him. Tax collecting was a lucrative occupation, and many opportunists were doubtlessly eager to take Matthew’s place. And once he forsook his privileged position, the Roman officials would not have granted it to him again. The disciples who were fishermen could always return to fishing, as many of them did after the crucifixion; but there could be no returning to tax collecting for Matthew.

In the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees, Matthew’s leaving his tax office to follow Jesus did little to elevate his standing. Casting his lot with Jesus did not increase Matthew’s popularity, but it greatly increased his danger. There is little doubt that Matthew faced something of the true cost of discipleship before any of the other apostles.

Matthew was not only faithful but humble. In his own gospel (and even in the other three) he is faceless and absolutely voiceless during his time of training under Jesus. He asks no questions and makes no comments. He appears directly in no narrative. Only from Mark (2:15) and Luke (5:29) do we learn that the banquet Jesus ate with “tax-gatherers and sinners” was in Matthew’s house. In his own account, the fact that he was responsible for it is only implied (Matt. 9:10). He was eager and overjoyed for his friends and former associates to meet Jesus, but he calls no attention to his own role in the banquet.

It may be that his humility was born out of his overwhelming sense of sinfulness. He saw God’s grace as so superabundant that he felt unworthy to say a word. He was the silent disciple, until the Holy Spirit led him to pick up his pen and write the opening book of the New Testament-twenty-eight powerful chapters on the majesty, might, and glory of the King of kings.

The fact that Matthew is also referred to as Levi indicates his Jewish heritage. We have no idea what his biblical training may have been, but Matthew quotes the Old Testament more often than the other three gospel writers combined-and quotes from all three parts of it (the law, the prophets, and the writings, or Hagiographa). Since it is highly unlikely he studied Scripture while he was a tax collector, he gained his biblical knowledge either in his youth or after he became an apostle.

Matthew had a loving heart for the lost. As soon as he was saved his first concern was to tell others of that great news and invite them to share in it. He was ashamed of his own previous life of sin; but he was not ashamed to be seen eating with his former associates who were despised by society and living under God’s judgment, because they needed the Savior just as he had.

He sensed personal sinfulness as perhaps none of his fellow disciples did, because he had been greedily and unashamedly involved in extortion, deception, graft, and probably blasphemy and every form of immorality. But now, like the woman taken in adultery, because he was forgiven much, he loved much (see Luke 7:42–43, 47). The genuineness of his love for the Lord is proved in his concern for the salvation of his friends.

God took that outcast sinner and transformed him into a man of great faith, humility, and compassion. He turned him from a man who extorted to one who gave, from one who destroyed lives to one who brought the way of eternal life.[2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 156). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 10:3). Chicago: Moody Press.


This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses.

ACTS 2:32

The difference between faith as it is found in the New Testament and faith as it is found now, is that the faith in the New Testament actually produced something—there was a confirmation of it!

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and then he lifted up his voice. I would remind you that Peter here stands for the whole Church of God. Peter was the first man to get on his feet after the Holy Spirit had come. Peter had believed the Lord’s word and he had received confirmation in his own heart.

In our day faith is pretty much a beginning and an end. We have faith in faith—but nothing happens. There is no confirmation. Peter placed his faith in a risen Christ and something did happen. That’s the difference!

As in Peter’s case, it should be the business of the church to stand up and lift up. Peter became a witness on earth, as the church should be, to things in heaven. The church must be a witness to powers beyond the earthly and the human, and because I know this, it is a source of great grief to me that the church is trying to run on its human powers.

Peter testified to something beyond the earthly which he had experienced. He wanted to influence, urge and exhort those who had not yet experienced it to enter in, for the power from above turns out to be none other than the Spirit of God Himself![1]

2:32, 33 Now Peter repeats an announcement that must have shocked his Jewish audience. The Messiah of whom David prophesied was Jesus of Nazareth. God had raised Him from among the dead, as the apostles could all testify because they were eyewitnesses to His resurrection. Following His resurrection, the Lord Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, and now the Holy Spirit had been sent as promised by the Father. This was the explanation of what had happened in Jerusalem earlier in the day.[2]

32. “This Jesus God raised up, and all of us are witnesses of it. 33. Therefore, having been exalted to God’s right hand, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out what you now both see and hear.”

In these two verses Peter notes the redemptive facts of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension in conjunction with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In fact, he refers to the three Persons of the Trinity: the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Three times in his Pentecost sermon he emphatically points to Jesus as this Jesus (see vv. 23, 32, 36) to recall for his audience their knowledge of and acquaintance with Jesus of Nazareth (v. 22). Once again Peter stresses the theme of the early Christian church: the resurrection from the dead (v. 24; and see 13:30, 33–34, 37; 17:31).

In verses 32 and 33, Peter makes a distinction between the apostolic witnesses (“all of us are witnesses”) who have seen the resurrected Jesus and the multitude who observe the phenomena of Pentecost (“what you now both see and hear”). In another context, Peter states that Jesus appeared only to those witnesses “who were appointed beforehand by God” (10:41). Conversely, the multitude at Pentecost did not see the resurrected Christ; they saw and heard the visible and audible tokens of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Because Peter’s audience had not seen Jesus in the forty-day period between his resurrection and ascension, they needed proof that what the eyewitnesses proclaimed was true. Therefore, they wanted to know the relationship between Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. To meet the questions of his audience, Peter alludes to Jesus’ ascension and mentions Christ’s place at the right hand of God (compare 5:31). Christians eventually formulated these truths in the Apostles’ Creed and confessed that Jesus Christ

ascended to heaven,

and sits at the right hand

of God the Father almighty.

From his exalted position, Jesus has fulfilled the promise that the Father would send the Holy Spirit (refer to John 7:39; 14:26; 15:26). On the day of Pentecost Jesus’ words concerning the coming of the Spirit are being fulfilled. Consequently, everyone present at the temple area in Jerusalem is able to see the evidence of the outpouring of the Spirit. The listeners must know, therefore, that Jesus, seated at the right hand of God, has the authority to commission the Spirit to come and live in the hearts of the believers.[3]

Not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but he also was exalted to the place of honor, glory, and power (cf. Phil. 2:9–11) at the right hand of God (cf. Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 5:31; 7:55–56; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). From that exalted position, Peter says, Jesus, having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, has poured forth this which you both see and hear. Peter now brings his listeners full circle back to the phenomena of Pentecost. He tells them that what they had just seen resulted from God’s promise to send the Spirit to inaugurate the messianic age (Joel 2:28–29). Now that Christ was risen and glorified, God fulfilled that promise (cf. John 7:39).[4]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1586). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 100–101). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (p. 65). Chicago: Moody Press.


And the man said, The woman…gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:12

In the earliest day of failure and tragedy in the garden of Eden, Adam came out of hiding, knowing full well his own guilt and shame.

Adam confessed: “We ate from the fruit of the tree that was forbidden—but it was the woman who enticed me!” (see Genesis 3:12).

When God said to Eve, “What did you do?” she said: “It was the serpent that beguiled me!” (see 3:13).

In that brief time our first parents had learned the art of laying the blame on someone else. That is one of the great, betraying evidences of sin—and we have learned it straight from our first parents. We do not accept the guilt of our sin and iniquity. We blame someone else.

If you are not the man you ought to be, you are likely to blame your wife or your ancestors. If you are not the young person you ought to be, you can always blame your parents. If you are not the wife you ought to be, you may blame your husband or perhaps the children.

Sin being what it is, we would rather lay the blame on others. We blame, blame, blame! That is why we are where we are.

Lord, help me to quickly acknowledge my sins and not try to hide them from You—which is actually impossible to do. I want to receive Your forgiveness and move on in my deepening relationship with You.[1]

3:12 The woman whom You gave. Adam pitifully put the responsibility on God for giving him Eve. That only magnified the tragedy in that Adam had knowingly transgressed God’s prohibition, but still would not be open and confess his sin, taking full responsibility for his action, which was not made under deception (1Ti 2:14).[2]

3:12 woman whom you gave Adam tries to pass responsibility to his wife—and perhaps even to God.[3]

3:12 A guilty man’s first line of defense is blame. Adam blamed the woman, and then he blamed God for having given her to him (for David’s contrasting response to Nathan, read 2 Sam. 12:13).[4]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ge 3:12). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 3:12). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 12). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

May 23 – A Right Understanding of God’s Will

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.—Matt. 6:10b

To understand God’s will rightly, we need an attitude of righteous rebellion. If we would pray that God accomplishes His will, we must reject the notion that sin is normal and therefore we must accept it. Instead we must righteously rebel against the world’s ungodliness, its unbelief of Jesus Christ, and believers’ disobedience. Not to do this is to abandon key biblical teachings and accept powerlessness in prayer.

Jesus was not resigned to the spiritual status quo—He preached and acted against sin. When Jewish leaders profaned God’s house, “He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business’ ” (John 2:15–16).

We further must rebel against the idea that wickedness and corruption is somehow God’s will that we must passively accept. Nothing evil comes from God’s hand, but only from Satan’s. To ask that righteousness and God’s will be done oftentimes means we have to pray for Satan’s will to be undone (cf. Ps. 68:1; Rev. 6:10).

To pray with a right understanding of God’s will is to pray believing that He hears and answers our prayers. Lack of such faith is one of our greatest hindrances to effective praying.

Yes, to pray for God’s will to be done on earth, we must first make sure it is being done in us. What are some aspects of God’s will that are going unheeded in your own heart, even though they are far from mysterious, very clearly laid out in Scripture? Make this your prayer today—that His will would be done in you.[1]

The Third Petition

10b. Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth. The will of God to which reference is made is clearly his “revealed” will, expressed in his law. It is that will which is done in heaven, but not yet to any great extent on earth. On the other hand, the will of God’s “decree” or “plan from eternity” is always being realized both in heaven and on earth (Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11), and cannot be the subject of prayer. (Incidentally, the statement that God’s revealed will is being perfectly obeyed in heaven—hence not only by heaven’s angels but also by the hosts of the redeemed—implies that the very moment a soul is translated from this sinful earth to heaven it has been freed from every vestige of sin.) It is the ardent desire of the person who sincerely breathes the Lord’s Prayer that the Father’s will shall be obeyed as completely, heartily, and immediately on earth as this is constantly being done by all the inhabitants of heaven.

As to “completely,” the story of King Saul shows that incomplete obedience, in which man sets his own will over against the divine, does not receive God’s approval and may have serious consequences (1 Sam. 15:1–3, 7–9, and note especially verses 22 and 23). As to “heartily,” note the words of Deut. 26:16 and Matt. 22:37. And as to “immediately,” the cherubim in Ezekiel’s vision of the throne-chariot, each cherub being equipped with four faces, and the chariot itself with wheels within wheels, so that its “drivers” were always ready to take it wherever the Lord wanted it to go, furnish a vivid illustration of the kind of obedience in which heaven delights (Ezek. 1; 10). Examples of human obedience: Noah (Gen. 6:22), Abraham (Gen. 11:28–32, cf. Acts 7:3; Gen. 12:1, cf. Heb. 11:8; Gen. 22:2 ff., cf. James 2:23); Joshua (Josh. 5:13–15); Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1–10); Simon (Peter) and Andrew (Matt. 4:19, 20); Simon (Peter) once more (Luke 5:5); James and John (Matt. 4:21, 22); Peter and the apostles (Acts 5:29); Mary of Bethany (John 11:28, 29); Paul (Acts 16:6–10; 26:19); and the Philippians (Phil. 2:12). The greatest example of all is Jesus Christ himself (Luke 2:51, 52; John 15:10; 17:4; Phil. 2:5–8; and Heb. 5:8). It was he who in the garden said, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). As to the manner in which obedience is rewarded, from a host of passages that could be listed the following few should suffice: Josh. 1:8; Matt. 7:7, 8; John 7:17; 8:29; 14:21, 23; 15:10; Phil. 2:9, 10; Heb. 12:1, 2; and Rev. 3:20.

The petitions for the fulfilment of human needs follow. Although it is true that between the first three petitions, pertaining to God, and the last three, pertaining to man, there is a rather sharp division, the two are not to be regarded as wholly separate. If the believer is to take an active part in the hallowing of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, and the doing of his will—such an active part being certainly implied in the first three petitions—he must have bread (Luke 10:7, cf. 1 Tim. 5:18; Gal. 6:6; Eph. 4:28; Phil. 4:15, 16). Jesus, accordingly, is not forgetful of the physical needs of his disciples (see Matt. 6:25–34; 25:34–40; Mark 10:29, 30; cf. Acts 24:17; 2 Cor. 8:8 f.; James 2:15, 16), both in order that they may live and be happy, and that they may be able vigorously to support kingdom causes. This introduces[2]

God’s Plan

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (10:b)

Many people wonder how God’s sovereignty can be related to praying for His will to be done. If He is sovereign, is not His will inevitably done? Does our will override His will when we pray earnestly and sincerely? That is one of the great paradoxes of Scripture, a paradox about which Calvinists and Arminians have debated for centuries. It should be evident that this paradox, like those of God’s being three in one and Jesus’ being wholly God and wholly man, must be left to the infinite mind of God, because it is far beyond the finite human mind to comprehend. But what seems a hopeless contradiction to us is no dilemma to God. We hold both truths, seemingly paradoxical, in perfect tension with faith in the infinite mind of God, who resolves all things in perfect, noncontradictory truth (Deut. 29:29).

It is absolutely clear from Scripture that God is sovereign and yet not only allows but commands that man exercise his own volition in certain areas. If man were not able to make his own choices, God’s commands would be futile and meaningless and His punishments cruel and unjust. If God did not act in response to prayer, Jesus’ teaching about prayer would also be futile and meaningless. Our responsibility is not to solve the dilemma but to believe and act on God’s truths, whether some of them seem to conflict or not. To compromise one of God’s truths in an effort to defend another is the stuff of which heresy is made. We are to accept every part of every truth in God’s Word, leaving the resolution of any seeming conflicts to Him. Attempting on a human level to resolve all apparent paradoxes in Scripture is an act of arrogance and an attack on the truth and intent of God’s revelation.

When we pray Thy will be done, we are praying first of all that God’s will become our own will. Second, we are praying that His will prevail all over the earth as it [does] in heaven.

Wrong Understanding of God’s Will

Many people, including many believers, wrongly understand this part of the Disciples’ Prayer. Seeing God’s sovereignty simply as the absolute imposition of a dictator’s will, some believers are resentful. When, or if, they pray for His will to be done, they pray out of a feeling of compulsion. God’s will has to be done, and He is too strong to resist; so what would be the point of praying otherwise? The logical conclusion of most people who look at God in that way is that there is no point to prayer-certainly not to petitions. Why ask for the inevitable?

Other people are more charitable in their feelings about God. But because they, too, believe His will is inevitable, they pray out of passive resignation. They pray for God’s will to be done simply because that is what the Lord tells them to do. They are resignedly obedient. They do not pray so much out of faith as out of capitulation. They do not try to put their wills into accord with the divine will, but rather shift their own wills into neutral, letting God’s will run its course.

It is easy for Christians to fall into praying that way. Even in the very early days of the church, when faith generally was strong and vital, prayer could be passive and unexpectant. A group of concerned disciples was praying in the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother, for the release of Peter from prison. While they were praying, Peter was freed by an angel and came to the house and knocked on the door. When a servant girl named Rhoda came to the door and recognized Peter’s voice, she rushed back inside to tell the others, forgetting to let Peter in. But the praying group did not believe her, and thought she had heard an angel. When Peter was finally admitted, “they saw him and were amazed” (Acts 12:16). They apparently had been praying for what they did not really believe would happen.

Our own prayer lives often are weak because we do not pray in faith; we do not expect prayer to change anything. We pray out of a sense of duty and obligation, subconsciously thinking that God is going to do just as He wants to do anyway. Jesus gave the parable of the importunate widow-who refused to accept the status quo and persisted in begging, despite receiving no response-for the very purpose of protecting us against that sort of passive and unspiritual resignation. “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

The very fact that Jesus tells us to pray Thy will be done on earth indicates that God’s will is not always done on earth. It is not inevitable. In fact, lack of faithful prayer inhibits His will being done. In God’s wise and gracious plan, prayer is essential to the proper working of His divine will on earth.

God is sovereign, but He is not independently deterministic. Looking at God’s sovereignty in a fatalistic way, thinking “What will be will be,” absolutely destroys faithful prayer and faithful obedience of every sort. That is not a “high” view of God’s sovereignty, but a destructive and unbiblical view of it. That is not the divine sovereignty the Bible teaches. It is not God’s will that people die, or why would Christ have come to destroy death? It is not God’s will that people go to hell, or why would His only Son have taken the penalty of sin upon Himself so that men might escape hell? “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). That sin exists on earth and causes such horrible consequences is not evidence of God’s will but of His patience in allowing more opportunity for men to turn to Him for salvation.

Other people, overemphasizing the importance of man’s will, look at prayer as a means of bending God’s will to their own. They think of God’s providence as a sort of cosmic vending machine, which they can operate simply by inserting the required claim on one of His promises. As Elton Trueblood observes, “In some congregations the Gospel has been diminished to the mere art of self-fulfillment. Some current religious authors, far from emphasizing what it means to believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, write chiefly of themselves. Egocentricity is all that is left when the objective truth about the revelation of Christ is lost or even obscured.”

But Jesus undercuts that notion throughout His model prayer. True prayer focuses on Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will. Amy Carmichael wrote, “And shall I pray to change Thy will, my Father, until it accord to mine? But no, Lord, no; that shall never be. Rather I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.”

There is a tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will, between God’s grace and man’s faith, but we dare not try to resolve it by modifying God’s truth about either His sovereignty or our will, His grace or our faith. God is sovereign, but He gives us choices. God is sovereign, but He tells us to pray Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And James reminds us that “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (5:16).

Right Understanding of God’s Will

David sang of the angels who did God’s will. “Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!” (Ps. 103:20). That is the way God’s will is done in heaven, and that is the way believers are to pray for God’s will to be done on earth-unwaveringly, completely, sincerely, willingly, fervently, readily, swiftly, and constantly. Our prayer should be that every person and thing on earth be brought into conformity with God’s perfect will.

A part of the right understanding of and attitude toward God’s will is what might be called a sense of righteous rebellion. To be dedicated to God’s will is, by definition, to be opposed to Satan’s. To pray Thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven is to rebel against the worldly idea that sin is normal and inevitable and should therefore be acquiesced to or at least tolerated. It is to rebel against the world system of ungodliness, the dishonoring and rejecting of Christ, and also the disobedience of believers. Impotence in prayer leads us, however unwillingly, to strike a truce with wrong. To accept what is, is to abandon a Christian view of God and His plan for redemptive history.

Jesus knew the end from the beginning, but He did not accept the situation as inevitable or irresistible. He preached against sin and He acted against sin. When His Father’s house was profaned, “He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise’ ” (John 2:14–16; cf. Matt. 21:12–13).

To pray for God’s will to be done on earth is to rebel against the idea, heard today even among evangelicals, that virtually every wicked, corrupt thing that we do or that is done to us is somehow God’s holy will and should be accepted from His hand with thanksgiving. Nothing wicked or sinful comes from the hand of God, but only from the hand of Satan. To pray for righteousness is to pray against wickedness. To pray for God’s will to be done is to pray for Satan’s will to be undone.

To pray for God’s will to be done is to cry with David, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee before Him” (Ps. 68:1) and with the saints under God’s altar, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10).

To pray rightly is to pray in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayers. I think the greatest hindrance to prayer is not lack of technique, lack of biblical knowledge, or even lack of enthusiasm for the Lord’s work, but lack of faith. We simply do not pray with the expectation that our prayers will make a difference in our lives, in other people’s lives, in the church, or in the world.

There are three distinct aspects of God’s will as He reveals it to us in His Word. First, is what may be called His will of purpose-the vast, comprehensive, and tolerating will of God expressed in the unfolding of His sovereign plan that embodies all of the universe, including heaven, hell, and the earth. This is God’s ultimate will, of which Isaiah wrote, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand’ ” (Isa. 14:24; cf. Jer. 51:29; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:9–11; etc.). This is the will of God that allows sin to run its course and Satan to have his way for a season. But in God’s appointed time sin’s course and Satan’s way will end exactly according to God’s plan and foreknowledge.

Second, is what may be called God’s will of desire. This is within His will of purpose and completely consistent with it. But it is more specific and focused. Unlike God’s will of purpose, His will of desire is not always fulfilled; in fact, it is very unfulfilled in comparison to Satan’s will in this present age.

Jesus greatly desired that Jerusalem be saved, and He prayed, preached, healed, and ministered among its people to that end. But few believed in Him; most rejected Him, and some even crucified Him. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He prayed. “I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34). That was the repeated experience of God’s Son, who came to earth that men might have life, and have it more abundantly. Like the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem, most people were not willing to come to Jesus for that abundant life (John 5:40; cf. 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).

Third, is what may be called God’s will of command. This will is entirely for His children, because only they have the capacity to obey. The will of command is the ardent desire of the heart of God that we who are His children obey Him completely and immediately with a willing heart. “Do you not know,” Paul says, “that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:16–18).

God’s will of purpose embraces the ultimate end of this world, Christ’s second coming and the setting up of His eternal kingdom. His will of desire embraces conversion; and His will of command embraces the commitment and obedience of His children.

The great enemy of God’s will is pride. Pride caused Satan to rebel against God, and pride causes unbelievers to reject God and believers to disobey Him. For God’s will to be accepted and to be prayed for in sincerity and with faith, self-will must be forsaken in the power of the Holy Spirit. “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1–2).

When we pray in faith and in conformity to God’s will, our prayer is a sanctifying grace that changes our lives dramatically. Prayer is a means of progressive sanctification. John Hannah said, “The end of prayer is not so much tangible answers as a deepening life of dependency. … The call to prayer is a call to love, submission, and obedience, … the avenue of sweet, intimate, and intense fellowship of the soul with the infinite Creator.”

The believer’s call is to bring heaven to earth by hallowing the Lord’s name, letting His kingdom come, and seeking to do His will.[3]

10 As God is eternally holy, so he eternally reigns in absolute sovereignty. Yet it is appropriate to pray not only “hallowed be your name” but also “your kingdom come.” God’s “kingdom” or “reign” (see comments at 3:2; 4:17, 23) can refer to that aspect of God’s sovereignty under which there is life—eternal life. That kingdom is breaking in under Christ’s ministry, but it is not consummated until the end of the age (28:20). To pray “your kingdom come” is therefore simultaneously to ask that God’s saving, royal rule be extended now as people bow in submission to him and already taste the eschatological blessing of salvation and to cry for the consummation of the kingdom (cf. 1 Co 16:22; Rev 11:17; 22:20). Godly Jews were waiting for the kingdom (Mk 15:43), “the consolation of Israel” (Lk 2:25). They recited “Kaddish” (“Sanctification”), an ancient Aramaic prayer, at the close of each synagogue service. In its oldest extant form, it runs, “Exalted and hallowed be his great name in the world which he created according to his will. May he let his kingdom rule in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the whole house of Israel, speedily and soon. And to this, say, Amen” (Jeremias, Prayers of Jesus, 98, emphasis his). But the Jew looked forward to the kingdom, whereas the reader of Matthew’s gospel, while looking forward to its consummation, perceives that the kingdom has already broken in and prays for its extension as well as its unqualified manifestation.

To pray that God’s will, which is “good, pleasing and perfect” (Ro 12:2), be done on earth as in heaven is to use language broad enough to embrace three requests.

  1. The first request is that God’s will be done now on earth as it is now accomplished in heaven. The word thelēma (“will,” GK 2525) includes both God’s righteous demands (7:21; 12:50; cf. Ps 40:8) and his determination to bring about certain events in salvation history (18:14; 26:42; cf. Ac 21:14). So for that will to be “done” includes both moral obedience and the bringing to pass of certain events, such as the cross. This prayer corresponds to asking for the present extension of the messianic kingdom.
  2. The second request is that God’s will may ultimately be as fully accomplished on earth as it is now accomplished in heaven. “Will” has the same range of meanings as before, and this prayer corresponds to asking for the consummation of the messianic kingdom.
  3. The third request is that God’s will may ultimately be done on the earth in the same way as it is now accomplished in heaven. In the consummated kingdom, it will not be necessary to discuss superior righteousness (5:20–48) as antithetical to lust, hate, retaliatory face slapping, divorce, and the like; for then God’s will, construed now as his demands for righteousness, will be done as it is now done in heaven: freely, openly, spontaneously, and without the need to set it over against evil (Carson, Sermon on the Mount, 66–67).

These first three petitions, though they focus on God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will, are nevertheless prayers that he may act in such a way that his people will hallow his name, submit to his reign, and do his will. It is therefore impossible to pray this prayer in sincerity without humbly committing oneself to such a course.[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 152). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 331–332). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 381–386). Chicago: Moody Press.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 204–205). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude… and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

—Revelation 19:6

I suppose the first thing to do would be to define omnipotence. It comes, of course, from omni, meaning “all,” and potent, meaning “able to do and to have power.” And so omnipotent means “able to do all and to have all power.” It means having all the potency there is.

Then we come to a second word, Almighty…. Now that means exactly the same thing as omnipotent…. Almighty means “having an infinite and absolute plenitude of power.” When you use the words infinite and absolute you can only be talking about one person—God.

There is only one infinite Being, because infinite means without limit. And it is impossible that there should be two beings in the universe without limit. So if there is only one, you are referring to God. Even philosophy and human reason, as little as I think of them, have to admit this….

God has power and whatever God has is without limit; therefore, God is omnipotent. God is absolute and whatever touches God or whatever God touches is absolute; therefore, God’s power is infinite; God is Almighty. AOGII072, 074

What assurance to know I rest in the arms of an all-powerful God. Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigns! Amen. [1]

19:6 Now another song breaks out in heaven, as “loud as many water’s noise, loud as thunders to the ear.” A great “Alleluia” swells in celebration of the reign of the Lord God Omnipotent![2]

6. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude and as it were the sound of many waters and as it were the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah, because our Lord God Almighty rules.”

John listened to a hymn that sounded as if it were sung by a vast multitude. He does not identify this throng, but because the wording is the same as in verse 1, it appears that the multitude has the same identity. They sing both the opening and the concluding hymns in this chapter; in both they sing the same notes of praise and adulation. Here are inconspicuous echoes of the hymns the multitudes sang in both chapters 5 and 7.

The voice that John hears he compares with sounds taken from nature: the sounds of many waters and of mighty peals of thunder. John describes the voice of Jesus’ appearance on the isle of Patmos as a rushing sound coming from many waters (1:15; see 14:2; Ezek. 1:24; 43:2). And the phrase mighty peals of thunder conveys the idea of loudness that can be heard everywhere (Rev. 6:1; 14:2). These two phrases indeed point to God’s power, majesty, and glory. And the mighty voice of the countless multitude attests to expressions of joy and thankfulness for the privilege of being the bride of Christ.

This voice, conveying the sound of a multitude of people talking at the same time, rises from the pleasing tones of bubbling water and then swells to the crashing crescendo of thunderclaps. These sounds are like people who begin singing softly but then culminate their hymn in resounding overtones. The first word of the song is Hallelujah, which has now occurred four times in these hymns. It is followed by a clause that gives the reason for this note of jubilation, “because our Lord God Almighty rules.” The verb in this clause can be interpreted to read that the Lord “has begun to rule.” The Lord God, as the descriptive label Almighty indicates, has always been the ruler over his great creation. But now the kingdom of the Antichrist has come to its anticipated end, and the Lord God is the supreme ruler in the vast universe he has created. In Revelation, the term the Lord God Almighty appears seven times and characterizes God’s sovereignty. While on earth Domitian was honored as dominus et deus (Lord and God), the heavenly chorus sings in triumph that God occupies the true seat of power in the world (see Ps. 93:1; 97:1; 99:1; 1 Chron. 16:31; Zech. 14:9). Last, the possessive personal pronoun our in “our Lord God Almighty rules” makes the chorus inclusive: the saints in heaven and on earth are one.[3]

6 Finally the cycle of praise is completed with the reverberating sounds of another great multitude. If the multitude in v. 1 was angelic, then this one would most certainly be the great redeemed throngs (cf. 7:9). They utter the final Hallel in words reminiscent of the great kingship psalms (93:1; 97:1; 99:1). The first of these psalms is used in the synagogue in Sabbath morning and evening services and also in the Armenian church liturgy for Easter Sunday (Werner, Sacred Bridge, 153). It is also the prelude to the messianic Psalms 95–99 and has as its theme the eternal sovereignty of God, who will conquer all his enemies (cf. Hertz, Daily Prayer Book, 362). The Greek verb ebasileusen (“reigns”), an ingressive aorist, may better be rendered, “has begun to reign.”[4]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2376). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Vol. 20, pp. 512–513). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 755). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 23 – Stephen: Grace and Serenity in Suffering

“And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 6:5


Stephen’s excellent character teaches us much about responding to suffering and death.

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, is one of the most inspiring biblical examples of faithfulness in life and ministry. But his personal excellence shines forth most through the familiar account of his death by stoning.

As one of the first deacons in the church, Stephen was recognized early on as a man of great faith and spirituality (Acts 6:5). And a few verses later Luke describes him as “full of grace and power” (v. 8). That was a grace of loving–kindness toward others, which he displayed in a most powerful way just before his death.

In Acts 7:60, as the Jews were pelting him with rocks, Stephen was able to look up to Heaven and say, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” That kind of faith–filled, grace–filled reaction to those who were hatefully killing him was possible only because Stephen believed in God’s sovereign control over his life and death.

At the very start of his encounter, Stephen manifested another amazing response to his horribly unjust treatment: his enemies “saw his face like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). It’s impossible for us to know precisely what such an expression would have been like, but it denoted a supernatural tranquility and joy that comes from being enveloped by the Lord’s glorious presence. Stephen’s awesome expression must have been an extremely forceful rebuke to the Jewish leaders who claimed to know God.

The typical reaction from many of us in the same situation would have been to exhibit much anxiety, stress, and anger. But Stephen demonstrated no such response. Instead, he is a role model for how any believer ought to behave during the most challenging trial. He had more than adequate grace to cope well in every circumstance (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9; James 4:6), which is true of all genuine Christians—those “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”


Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for Christian friends who are role models to you. ✧ Pray that your behavior today would be special and Spirit–filled, not ordinary and man–centered.

For Further Study: Read Exodus 33:7–11, 17–23; 34:29–35. What does Moses’ experience reveal about the power of God’s glory?[1]

6:5, 6 Judging from the names of the seven men who were chosen, most of them were Greek-speaking Jews before their conversion. This was certainly a most gracious concession to the very group that had made the complaint. Hereafter there could be no charge of favoritism from that quarter. When the love of God fills men’s hearts, it triumphs over pettiness and selfishness.

Only two of the deacons are well-known to us—Stephen, who became the first martyr of the church; and Philip, the evangelist who later carried the gospel to Samaria, won the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ, and entertained Paul at Caesarea.

After praying, the apostles expressed their fellowship with the choice of the church by laying hands on the seven.[2]

5–6 The apostles made a proposal, but the church, which is the community of God’s Spirit, made the decision. The apostles, therefore, laid their hands on the Seven and appointed them to be responsible for the daily distribution of food. The laying on of hands recalls Moses’ commissioning of Joshua (Nu 27:18–23), where through this act some of Moses’ authority was conferred to Joshua (cf. Lev 3:2; 16:21, where, conversely, by the laying on of hands there was the symbolic transference of sin). This is evidently what the laying on of hands was meant to symbolize here, with the apostles delegating their authority to the seven men selected by the church (cf. 8:17; 9:17; 13:3; 19:6 for other instances in Acts of this practice).

All the men appointed have Greek names. One of them is singled out as having been a Gentile convert to Judaism—i.e., a “proselyte” (prosēlytos, GK 4670). But it is impossible to be sure from the names themselves whether all seven were Hellenists, for at that time many Palestinian Jews also had Greek names. Nevertheless, the fact that Luke gives only Greek names suggests that all seven were, in fact, from the Hellenistic group of believers within the church. Likewise, the text does not expressly speak of these seven in terms of the ecclesiastical title “deacon” (diakonos, GK 1356), though it does use the cognate noun diakonia (“service,” “ministry,” “distribution”) in v. 1 and the verb diakoneō (“wait on,” “serve”) in v. 2 in describing what they were to do. It also uses diakonia [“service” or “ministry”] in v. 4 as a synonym for the proclamation of the apostles. Yet the ministry to which the seven were appointed was functionally equivalent to what is spoken of as the office of “deacon” in 1 Timothy 3:8–13—which is but to affirm the maxim that in the NT “ministry was a function long before it became an office.”[3]

  1. This proposal pleased the whole community. Thus, they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch, who had been a convert to Judaism. 6. They introduced these men to the apostles, who prayed and placed their hands on them.

The apostles propose and the church approves their suggestion. The word pleased denotes a basic harmony between apostles and the Christian community. The complaint has been withdrawn and the irritation concerning the financial neglect has subsided. As a result, the church enters into the work of finding seven capable men. How the people instituted and regulated the search for these men is not known. Luke says nothing about casting the lot (compare 1:26), but the verb to choose indicates that a selection was made based on the rules stipulated by the apostles. Incidentally, Christ chose the twelve apostles (including Matthias; see 1:24), but the church chooses the seven men whom the apostles installed.

Who are these seven men? All the names are of Greek origin. Although some native Jews had Greek names, among them the apostles Philip and Andrew, scholars favor the explanation that all seven were Hellenistic Jews whose native tongue was Greek. The first name is Stephen, which actually means “a crown.” In a sense, he received the crown of righteousness when he died a martyr’s death. Stephen meets the requirements the apostles set, for Luke reports that he is a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” He is known for his faith, as he demonstrates in his teaching and preaching. Philip is next. He is later known as the evangelist (21:8). Then follow the names of Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, and Parmenas, of whom we know nothing. The last man is Nicolas, a native of Antioch and a Gentile who had been converted first to Judaism and now to Christianity. Perhaps Luke has a special interest in Nicolas, because, according to tradition, he himself was born and reared a Gentile in, Antioch and afterward became a Christian. Here, then, are seven Hellenists, of whom six were of Jewish descent. The seventh is Nicolas, a Gentile who entered the church as a proselyte. Nicolas has often been identified as the father of the Nicolaitans, who are mentioned in Revelation 2:6, 15. “The Nicolaitans certainly derived their name from some Nicolas—whether from this Nicolas or another must remain uncertain.” The fact that all the candidates are Hellenists undoubtedly appeases the Greek-speaking part of the Jerusalem church.

The church presents these seven men to the apostles, who approve the choice the church has made. Then the apostles present these men in prayer to God and seek divine approval and blessings upon the work that awaits the seven administrators. After the prayer, the apostles ordain these seven servants by placing their hands upon them. Thus, they adopt the practice that Moses inaugurated for the ordaining of the Levites for special service and for the commissioning of Joshua as Moses’ successor (Num. 8:10; 27:23). In New Testament times, not only the apostles adhere to the rite of the laying on of hands to commission qualified persons; but also the church in Antioch obediently listens to the Holy Spirit and places hands on Barnabas and Paul (13:2–3; see also 1 Tim, 5:22).[4]

The Roster

And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. (6:5–6)

The apostles’ plan found approval with the whole congregation, and seven men were appointed to the ministry. That all seven bore Greek names suggests all were Hellenists. If true, it was a demonstration of the loving unity of the church. Since the Hellenists felt slighted,the church decided to appoint seven from among them to rectify the situation. A split was thus avoided, and again Satan’s attack was thwarted.

Stephen was to play a pivotal role in the spread of the gospel beyond Jerusalem. It was the persecution connected with his martyrdom that propelled the church out of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1). The commendation of him as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit reveals his character.

Philip also plays a prominent role in Acts. He took the gospel to the Samaritans (8:4–25), and to the Ethiopian eunuch (8:26–40). Four of his daughters became prophetesses (21:8).

Nothing definite is known about the remaining five men. Some early traditions connect Prochorus with John the apostle, possibly as his amanuensis when he wrote his gospel. According to those traditions, he later became bishop of Nicomedia and was martyred in Antioch (John B. Polhill, The New American Commentary: Acts [Nashville: Broadman, 1992], p. 182).

All that is known for certain about Nicolas is that he was a proselyte (A Gentile convert to Judaism) from Antioch. Some of the church Fathers associated him with the heretical group known as the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6, 15). But there is no evidence, apart from the similarity in the names, to connect him with that group. And as Lenski rightly observes, “It ought to be understood that decidedly more evidence is required in a matter of so serious a charge” (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961], 246).

The congregation brought the seven before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. This first occasion in the New Testament of laying on of hands signified the identification and affirmation of the church with these men, and the support of their ministry. Elders, deacons, and all who served in the early church were ordained this way (cf. Acts 13:3; 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6).

All though little is known about most of these men, they played a crucial role in the foundational history of the church. But for them, either the apostles’ priorities would have been compromised, or the church may have split. Either would have been disastrous.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1601). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Longenecker, R. N. (2007). Acts. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 806). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 223–225). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (pp. 182–183). Chicago: Moody Press.

May 23 – No Secret to Success

No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62

I have never met a successful, influential person in any realm of enterprise who was not committed to reaching goals. The people who influence the world are pursuers, competitors, and winners, preoccupied with goals rather than having their own needs met. All I have learned about the lives of great Christian leaders has made one thing clear: there is no secret to success—they all put out maximum effort to reach spiritual goals and ignore personal satisfaction during the process.

It’s amazing to discover what great preachers, theologians, and missionaries have suffered in the process of reaching their goals. They were far more concerned with following Christ than with their own condition. Can you say the same about your own commitment to Christ?[1]

Desire for Personal Relations

Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (9:61–62)

Another man, probably following up on the Lord’s discussion with the previous individual, also volunteered to follow Jesus. “I will follow You, Lord” he promised, “but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” Unlike the man the Lord had just spoken with, this third individual was willing to leave his inheritance behind. He had only one request, which seemed reasonable enough: He wanted to delay joining Christ long enough to go home and say good-by to his loved ones.

But as was the case with the other two, the Lord, knowing what was in his heart, rejected this man’s proposal. Perhaps he wanted to do a little quick fundraising among his family and friends before leaving on his mission trip with Jesus. More likely, however, there was a deeper issue involved. His words revealed that his family ties were too strong for him to break away from them. Jesus knew that if he returned home, the impulse of the moment would die and he would never be able to leave. Like many people, fear of being away from or ostracized by his family would keep him from following the Lord. That is why Jesus cautioned the crowds that followed Him, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Jesus replied by adapting a popular proverb that dates back to the eighth-century b.c. Greek poet Hesiod: “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, He declared, is fit for the kingdom of God.” This saying pictures complete dedication to the task at hand, since one could hardly plow a straight furrow while looking backwards. It is impossible to follow Christ with a divided heart, as this man’s was. He was not fit for the kingdom of God because he was holding on to the kingdom of this world. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” James asked. “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4; cf. 1 John 2:15–17).

Though the text does not describe what ultimately became of these three men it is obvious that they, like the rich young ruler, abandoned Christ to hold on to earthly things. The issue in view in all three of these encounters was not fitness for service by those in the kingdom, but saving faith by which one enters the kingdom. Those unwilling to part with something—comfort, riches, relationships, or anything else—cannot enter the kingdom of God; salvation is for those who have come to complete self-denial. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me,” Jesus declared, because “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:23–24).[2]

  1. Jesus replied, No one who has just put his hand to a plow and (then) continues to look back is fit for the kingdom of God.

The fact that this proverb was not original with Jesus but can be traced back to Hesiod (fl. about 800 b.c.) does not make it any less appropriate. The man who puts his hand to a plow and starts plowing forward, but then immediately looks back and continues to do so, constantly trying to plow forward while he looks behind him, cannot run a straight furrow. It is entirely proper for him to stop his plow and then, while standing still, to view what he has done, in order to correct mistakes. But to plow in one direction while looking in the opposite direction will never do.

This man’s heart was divided. He should stop following the example of the Israelites (1 Kings 18:21), and instead should follow in Paul’s footsteps (Phil. 3:13, 14). Then, by God’s grace and power, he will be “fit” for the kingdom of God, “very useful to the Master” (2 Tim. 2:21). He must learn to say, and to mean it:

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,

One holy passion filling all my frame—

The baptism of the heaven-descended Dove;

My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

—George Croly[3]

9:62 Jesus told him that once he put his hand to the plow of discipleship, he must not look back; otherwise he was not fit for the kingdom of God. Christ’s followers are not made of half-hearted stuff or dreamy sentimentality. No considerations of family or friends, though lawful in themselves, must be allowed to turn them aside from utter and complete abandonment to Him. The expression not “fit for the kingdom” does not refer to salvation but to service. It is not at all a question of entrance into the kingdom but of service in the kingdom after entering it. Our fitness for entering into the kingdom is in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. It becomes ours through faith in Him.

And so we have three cardinal hindrances to discipleship illustrated in the experience of these men:

  1. Material comforts.
  2. A job or an occupation.
  3. Family and friends.

Christ must reign in the heart without a rival. All other loves and all other loyalties must be secondary.[4]

61–62 Though to “say good-by” (apotaxasthai, GK 698) is not at all the emotional equivalent of a funeral (cf. vv. 59–60), it still represents family duty that must be forsaken for service to Jesus. Danker, 125, sees here an allusion to the call of Elisha while plowing and his request to say good-by to his family (1 Ki 19:19–21, cf. Marshall, 412). A further illustration of discipleship is keeping the hand on the plow. Jeremias, 195, describes the plowman concentrating on the furrow before him, guiding the light plow with his left hand while goading the oxen with the right. Looking away would result in a crooked furrow.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 160). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. (2011). Luke 6–10 (pp. 320–321). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, p. 563). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1407). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 190). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 22, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


May 22, 2017 |


President Donald Trump landed in Israel on a groundbreaking direct flight Monday from Saudi Arabia and expanded a core theme of his Sunday speech in Riyadh: the U.S. will stand with Arab nations and Israel against the threats they all agree are posed by Iran.

North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test on Sunday, ratcheting up tensions in the region as Kim Jong Un persists with his nuclear program.

A rise in U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood will help drive an increase in lumber exports to China and other Asian markets, Canada’s top trade official said.

Saudi Arabia signed billions of dollars of deals with U.S. companies during President Trump’s visit to Riyadh. Estimates of their total value vary from $300 billion to close to $400 billion.

China’s President Xi Jinping wasn’t trying to bully the Philippines at a recent meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the Southeast Asian nation’s top diplomat. In a speech last Friday, Duterte said Xi had threatened to go to war with the Philippines after Duterte expressed an intention to drill for oil in the disputed South China Sea.

New Zealand’s top trade official said his country wouldn’t gain much from major changes to a Pacific trade pact, highlighting obstacles to finalizing the deal without the U.S. after Malaysia called for more negotiations.

After finding common ground among India’s 29 states, the finance ministry on Friday released detailed rates for the incoming goods and services tax, slotting more than 1,200 items — from sugar to steel pipes and motorcycles — into five tax brackets between zero and 28 percent. With that done, India is almost ready to implement a tax code that unifies more than a dozen separate levies, effectively creating a single market with a population greater than the U.S., Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Japan combined.

President Donald Trump plans to propose $1.7 trillion in cuts to a category of spending that includes major social and entitlement programs for lower-income Americans, as part of an effort to balance the budget within a decade.

Battery-making gigafactories are about to arrive in Europe, challenging a lead Tesla Inc. is building at a plant in Nevada and opening the way for a quicker shift toward green power for both cars and utilities.

AP Top Stories

With an astounding voter turnout of 74%, moderate Hassan Rouhani beat hard-liner Ibrahim Raisi by nearly 8 million votes. “The Iranian nation has chosen the path of interaction with the world.”

The “totally unprovoked” murder of a young black soldier was committed by a white man who was a member of a “despicable” Facebook group, police have said.

Norway is repairing the entrance of a “doomsday” seed vault on an Arctic island after an unexpected thaw of permafrost let water into a building meant as a deep freeze to safeguard the world’s food supplies.

A fast-moving wildfire has forced several hundred campers to flee a campground south of San Diego and is threatening homes in a nearby community.

Egypt referred 48 people to the country’s military judiciary on Sunday for suspected involvement in three deadly church bombings and accused them of joining the militant group Islamic State.

The Swiss voted Sunday in favor of a massive overhaul of the country’s energy system by gradually replacing the power from its ageing nuclear reactors with renewable sources.

State lawmakers are reviving Texas’ version of a North Carolina-style transgender “bathroom bill,” moving to ensure it will at least apply to public schools by adding hotly debated language to otherwise unrelated legislation involving classroom safety.

China’s Hainan Airlines, which has poured billions of dollars into overseas acquisitions, announced plans Monday to buy 19 Boeing aircraft for $4.2 billion to help meet skyrocketing travel demand by Chinese consumers.

Authorities in Mexico City have ordered cars off the streets and warned people about exercising outdoors as sprawling metropolis chokes in its worst smog for nearly two decades.


The authorities in Nepal have destroyed more than 4,000 animal body parts in an effort to discourage illegal hunting and trading in wildlife.

Indonesian police have arrested 141 men attending what they called a “gay sex party” at a sauna in the capital Jakarta late on Sunday.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has accused opposition protesters of setting alight a government supporter in Caracas on the 50th day of protests.

A group of the “Chibok girls” freed from Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants have been reunited with their families.

More than 20 people have been injured in a small bomb blast at a military hospital in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

A major epidemic of cholera is feared in Yemen, according to charity Save the Children. Almost 250 people have died of the disease this month alone, with hundreds of suspected cases being reported every day.


Facebook is refusing to delete videos and images of “violent death”, abortion and self-harm because the web giant does not want to censor its users, it has emerged.

In 1910, Christians made up 13.6 percent of the Mideast’s population. A hundred years later, in 2010, that number had declined to 4.2 percent. By 2025, Christians are expected to represent just over 3 percent of the Middle East’s population.

The Briefing 05-22-17

Breaking with predecessor, Trump confronts “crisis of Islamic extremism” in address in Saudi Arabia

Why didn’t US presidents set foot on foreign soil before 1906? History of the presidential trip abroad

A moderate Iran? How a watching world interprets the reelection of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Emperor or “god”? The theology behind Japanese Emperor Akihito’s pending abdication of the throne

The post The Briefing 05-22-17 appeared first on

Top News – 5/22/2017

Saudis Rejoice Over ‘Death’ of Obama’s Policies
Israel was not the only country in the Middle East happy to see Barack Obama out of the White House. President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend served as a very public slap in the face of his predecessor. And it was the Saudis, not Trump, who delivered the blow.

Some On The Left Are Getting Sick Of DC Dems’ Russia Obsession
It’s not just Democratic strategists who are getting the message that voters don’t care as much about Russia as Washington media does. Some progressives and other writers are seemingly skeptical of the nefarious Russia narrative, too. Many see it as a distraction or a dodge from championing legitimate progressive causes.

US-led coalition attacks Syrian army, Iranian-backed militia
Coalition jets bomb a convoy advancing against a Pentagon-backed rebel group in southern Syria; the US intervention will help the rebels hold their ground against any future incursions by the Syrian army and its Iranian-backed militias.

Jewish Mystics Hope Trump’s Israel Visit Might ‘Raise The Temple’
Donald Trump’s transformation from real estate mogul and reality TV star to president reads like a strange American fairytale. Dogged by controversy, with no political experience, Trump is now the most powerful person in the world. To some, his triumph was so unlikely that there was only one way to explain in — God played a part. “President Trump can choose to be a part of a process to bring the Messiah,” Rabbi Hillel Weiss told Breaking Israel News, a religious website in Israel.

Bennett’s mid-handshake message to Trump: Recognize Jerusalem
While most cabinet members made do with a simple “Hello, Mr. President”, “Welcome to Israel”, or other pleasantries, Bennett took the opportunity to make a personal, if brief, appeal to the president to make good on his 2016 campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel. “Welcome to Israel. It’s Jerusalem’s birthday, you know – 50 years,” Bennett told the president. “This is the time to recognize Jerusalem.”

Report: China cripples CIA operations, kills informants
The Chinese government “systematically dismantled” CIA spying operations in China starting in late 2010 and killed or imprisoned at least a dozen CIA sources over the next two years, The New York Times reported Saturday. The newspaper cited 10 current and former U.S. officials, who described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

‘We love Israel, we respect Israel, we are with you’
President Donald Trump calls Israel ‘one of the world’s great civilizations, pledges American support for the Jewish state.

‘Senators united on reining in the UN’
And while the Republicans and Democrats might fight about a lot of things, what we are 100% united on – which means we have a hundred senators in the United States Senate who are committed to reining in the United Nations and the abuses that we have seen there.

Trump, Israeli leaders boast of ‘unbreakable bond’ upon president’s arrival
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday, where they were greeted by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After Trump and Rivlin reviewed the Honor Guard, Trump’s welcome ceremony began. Rivlin spoke first, lauding the American leader’s trip as a symbol of the “unbreakable bond between Israel and America.”…Trump reaffirmed the “unbreakable bond between Israel and the State of Israel”…

Switzerland votes to phase out nuclear power
Switzerland has voted to phase out nuclear power in favour of renewable energy. More than 58% backed the move towards greener power sources in a referendum on Sunday. Switzerland has five ageing nuclear power plants, which provide a third of the country’s energy needs. There is no date yet to decommission the facilities, but the country will now aim to increase reliance on sources like solar, wind and hydro power.

Syria conflict: Government regains full control of Homs
The Syrian government says its forces have regained total control of the central city of Homs after rebels left the last district under their control. About 700 rebels and their families, a total of nearly 3,000 people, were evacuated on buses from al-Wair district, government officials say. “The city of Homs is completely clear of weapons and militants,” provincial governor Talal Barazi said.

Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence
Facebook’s secret rules and guidelines for deciding what its 2 billion users can post on the site are revealed for the first time in a Guardian investigation that will fuel the global debate about the role and ethics of the social media giant. The Guardian has seen more than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts that give unprecedented insight into the blueprints Facebook has used to moderate issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm.

Isis tests chemical weapons
Isis are conducting chemical weapons experiments on “human guinea pigs” before launching attacks on Western targets, according to secret documents. The extremist group has reportedly poisoned prisoners by spiking their food and water with compounds used in pesticides that are easy to obtain. Security forces now fear the terror network may hatch a twisted plot to contaminate Western food supplies with formulas that quickly dissolve in liquid.

North Korea fires off ‘unspecified missile’ into Sea of Japan as South condemns “irresponsible and reckless behaviour”
North Korea has fired an ‘unspecified missile’ in a latest act of aggression, according to military sources. A South Korean news agency are claiming that the projectile took off from a location near Pukchang. However, NHK News, a Japanese new agency, claims the missile ‘fell into the Sea of Japan’. South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the projectile was launched on Sunday afternoon (local time).

Iran accuses U.S. of ‘Iranophobia’, arming ‘dangerous terrorists’
Iran accused the United States on Monday of selling arms to “dangerous terrorists” in the Middle East and of spreading “Iranophobia” aimed at encouraging Arab states to purchase arms, state television reported. “Once again, by his repetitive and baseless claims about Iran, the American president … tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said…

Disagreements surface over China-backed trade deal
Disagreements between Asian countries over a China-backed free trade deal surfaced at talks on Monday, raising questions over a target for concluding negotiations by the end of the year. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would create a free trade area of more than 3.5 billion people, bringing together China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand as well as Southeast Asian nations.

Three sentenced to death over Hamas commander assassination
A court in the Gaza Strip on Sunday sentenced three men to death over the assassination of a Hamas military commander that the Islamist movement accused Israel of masterminding.

CNN Reports Comey’s 86-Year-Old Dad Thinks Trump’s A Nut Job Too, So There
“Jim tells the truth, (while) Trump runs around lying most of the day…I think the man should be in a home quite honestly, he’s crazy as a hoot.”

Angela Merkel declares “Islam is not the source of terrorism” but the Christians who make Muslims feel angry because of “Islamophobia”
Angela Merkel’s speech that shocked the German people “Europe must take MORE Muslim refugees, ISLAM is a peaceful religion”.

Bill Introduced Allowing Cancellation Of Over $1 Trillion In Student Debt Through Bankruptcy
And since the government owns most of the student loans, it would basically be yet another taxpayers bailout for those who loaded up on debt and now are unable to repay it. Meanwhile, if massive amounts of debt were erased, it would be another bubble bursting, which would send the U.S. into a fresh round of economic instability.

Obama Holdouts In Trump Administration Hiding Hillary Emails
Judicial Watch’s President Tom Fitton is astounded: The Trump officials he finds working on Freedom of Information cases he files are still, typically, Obama holdovers.

The Obama Administration Repeatedly Leaked Intel To Spite Israel
Much of the media’s attention this week has been dedicated to fanning the flames on an anonymously sourced report that President Trump revealed national security secrets to Russian officials during  a meeting at the White House earlier this month….let’s take a minute to remember all the times the Obama administration leaked secrets in order to spurn Israel, a longtime ally.

What If I Don’t Feel Forgiven?

“There is an important difference between guilt and guilt feelings. The distinction is between that which is objective and that which is subjective.”

Do I Need to Confess Every Sin to Be Forgiven?

There is a difference between failing to confess a sin and refusing to confess a sin.

What Is a Tarnation? (Video)

“We have the word ‘tarnation’ thanks to societal taboos against saying certain words–instead substituting in other words that often mean the exact same thing, but for some reason we find it acceptable to say the one rather than the other…”

The Pastor Must Fall On His Sword Before He Wields It

“You think of a pastor and a Bible, and you think of a book. But maybe our imaginations ought first to run to a different image: a pastor carrying around a sword. This is the pastor’s weapon.”

Eliminating Spiritual Toxins

There are Christians who “carefully guard their spiritual diet but make no effort to avoid or eliminate sinful, spiritual toxins from their lives. Faithfully studying God’s Word is vital to our growth, but it’s not the only factor. We need to recognize sinful attitudes and motivations as carcinogens that can wreak havoc in our spiritual lives.”

Should I Send or Should I Go?

“Whenever missionaries speak at our church my heart leaps in my chest. Their PowerPoint slides get my spiritual adrenaline pumping. There is something undeniably compelling about the thought of being on the front lines of the Great Commission. And yet, the reality is that we cannot all go. Some need to stay in order to send.”

An Elephant-Sized Problem

“Identifying animals is much harder than you might think. Indeed, it touches on one of the most fundamental questions of biology. This difficulty actually has a name: “the species problem.’”

Flashback: 5 Ways Every Christian Grows

Here are five things that are true of fruit trees and, therefore, true of the fruit of the Spirit.

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 22, 2017

Trump Impresses and Presses in Speech to Top Muslim Leaders

“This region should not be a place from which refugees flee,” the president said, “but to which newcomers flock.”

The Foundation

“I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home.” —George Washington (1795)

The Tens Of Millions Of Forgotten Americans That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount.  As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.  Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years.  Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent.  During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind. (Read More…)

CA Dem Chair: ‘All Together Now: F*ck Donald Trump!’ as Crowd Holds Up Two Middle Fingers (VIDEO)

The Democrats appear to have lost their minds.

They believe the propaganda while creating it. It’s a big government snake eating its own tail.

Consider if the chair of the Texas GOP got up in front of the state convention and got the crowd to chant “F–k Barack Obama!” The media would have flipped out. But, because the old media is on board, very little will be heard of this. A 1 day story at best.

Read More

95% of Fed Gov Employees who gave gave to Clinton, Department of Justice 97%, State Department 99% (This is the deep state and they are comfy – right now)

Image: The Hill

(From FOX News)

The constant, anonymous leaks from disgruntled federal bureaucrats aim to provide ammunition for the propaganda news media to press the attack.

The Left’s dance of destruction is stunningly choreographed.

I have been overseas for the last three days, and it has been sickening to see so many foreigners terrified because they unknowingly believe the news media’s false reports and vicious attacks. The only version of President Trump they know is the one portrayed in the 24-hour cesspool of CNN and the daily acrimony of the New York Times.

Read More

The Growing Civil War in America

By Bill Wilson

While these remarks seem incredulous, they are indicative of a growing civil war fomented by Marxists (progressives and liberals) to overthrow America.

View Article

A Guide to Understanding the Trump-Saudi Deal – Joseph Farah

Exclusive: Joseph Farah answers America’s pressing questions in wake of big agreement

Question: Why did the Saudis treat President Trump so graciously?

Answer: They’re scared. Even though the Saudis are as responsible as any party for radicalizing Sunni Islam, they did so believing it would make them safe.

View Article

Pastor Robert Jeffress: Trump Has Done More to Reach Out to Evangelicals

In an interview with The Christian Post, Jeffress, who is a member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, argued that the Trump campaign and administration has an unprecedented evangelical outreach.

“There’s been no American president in history who has reached out to evangelicals to the extent that President Trump has done,” said Jeffress.

View Article

Mark Steyn: Congressional Republicans ‘Sending a Dangerous Message’ Saying ‘Elections Don’t Matter’

Friday on Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co.,” conservative commentator Mark Steyn opined on the “dysfunctional” state of the federal government. By not taking action that reflected the sentiment of the voter, Steyn said congressional Republicans were sending a dangerous message.

View Article

Facebook Founder Calls For Creation Of New World Order ‘Global Superstructure’ To Control Humanity

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated his belief that the world is in need of a ‘global superstructure’ in a recent article from the New York Times Magazine.

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel 12:4 (KJV)

We have gotten to used to communicating on Facebook that we no longer see it for the prophetical fulfillment it truly is. As of this writing, Facebook has 1,860,000,000 daily users posting and reading content around the globe, and is growing at a rate of 17% each year. Is short, it is the single greatest communication device ever conceived by mankind, second only to the Internet itself.

In an article titled “Can Facebook Fix It’s Own Worst Bug?” author Farhad Manjoo poses the question, “Mark Zuckerberg now acknowledges the dangerous side of the social revolution he helped start. But is the most powerful tool for connection in human history capable of adapting to the world it created?”

Facebook and Oculus Want Your Head and Hands in Virtual Space

Zuckerberg highlighted Facebook’s “safety check” feature which allows users to publicly acknowledge that they’re safe during dangerous events. Zuckerberg later expanded on this, describing a “global superstructure to advance humanity.” Zuckerberg stated, “we’re getting to a point where the biggest opportunities I think in the world … problems like preventing pandemics from spreading or ending terrorism, all these things, they require a level of coordination and connection that I don’t think can only be solved by the current systems that we have.”

The author of the article states, “What’s needed, he argues, is some global superstructure to advance humanity.”

The prophet Daniel states that “knowledge will increase” in the end times, and people will “run to and fro”. In Facebook, nearly one-third of all humanity “visit” with each other every day. Without leaving your computer,  you can virtually travel to and spend time with anyone on your friends list. You can see their photos, watch their videos, and then tap to open Messenger and call them all without ever leaving Facebook. Soon, Virtual Reality devices developed by Facebook will let you interact in 3-D.

And now the person that created the single-largest communication device in human history is calling for a One World Government. Living in the end times is a lot like living in a city with a lot of smog. When I lived in Los Angeles, I could not see the smog no matter how thick it got because I was in the middle of it. But on my way back from the beach, and viewing LA from a distance, I could clearly see the ring of smog choking the city.

And so it is with Bible prophecy. Viewed from a distance you have clarity, but when you live in a time where it’s being fulfilled it is much harder to discern what’s happening. But God’s people know what’s going on.

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (KJV)

Piers Morgan Stirs Controversy for Asking ‘Non-Binary’ Couple If He Could Identify as Black Woman, Elephant

Christian News reports:

Talk show host Piers Morgan is under fire for asking a couple who say they identify neither as male or female if he could identify as a black woman or an elephant.

“Can I be an elephant? Can I literally say I’m now an elephant and do I get afforded elephant rights?” he inquired on Friday’s broadcast of “Good Morning Britain.” “Can I go to London Zoo and demand to be put in an elephant compound because I have decided I’m an elephant?”

During the conversation with the couple who go by the names “Fox and Owl,” Fox explained that she was born a female, but later decided to present herself as male, and now doesn’t want to self-identify as either sex. She said that while her “gender expression” is male, her “gender identity” is non-binary.

View article →

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 22

  • Trump Arrives in Israel, May Show His Cards on the Peace Process (Read More)
  • Taxes, Budget Are Focus for White House Despite Probes (Read More)
  • Paul Manafort’s Lucrative Ukraine Years Are Central to the Russia Probe (Read More)
  • Ford set to fire CEO Mark Fields as shares founder (Read More)
  • Producers Set to Extend Cuts as Rally Stalls: OPEC Reality Check (Read More)
  • Times Square Driver Says He Tried to Get Mental Help (Read More)
  • America’s Cities Are Running Out of Room (Read More)
  • Here’s Why the Fed Will Stay Central to Markets (Read More)
  • Commodity Traders Have a Really Big Problem (Read More)
  • The Quants Run Wall Street Now (Read More)
  • Huntsman, Clariant Agree to Merge, Creating $14 Billion Chemicals Giant  (Read More)
  • EU Discusses Brexit Position as U.K. Threatens to Quit Talks (Read More)
  • British PM May’s election lead halves after ‘dementia tax’: surveys (Read More)
  • Solar-Energy Giant Manipulated Sales Data, Say Former Managers (Read More)
  • Trump to Propose Deep Cuts to Anti-Poverty Programs and Medicaid (Read More)
  • Venezuela holds 5,000 Russian surface-to-air MANPADS missiles (Read More)
  • Seth Klarman Scores Preakness Win (Read More)
  • Bomb Injures Dozens at Bangkok Army Hospital on Coup Anniversary (Read More)
  • Why Millennials Are (Partly) to Blame for the Housing Shortage (Read More)
  • Ghost of the 1997 Crisis Stalks Hong Kong’s Economy (Read More)
  • China Seeks More Private Money for Its Massive State-Owned Energy Companies (Read More)
  • Move Over Tesla, Europe’s Building Its Own Battery Gigafactories (Read More)
  • Hackers hit Russian bank customers, planned international cyber raids (Read More)
  • Hospitals around the country are scrambling to stockpile vials of a critical drug (Read More)

Top Headlines – 5/22/2017

Jerusalem jubilee festivities begin

Netanyahu celebrates 50 years since the liberation of Jerusalem: ‘We did not conquer – we liberated’

Western Wall will always be Israeli, PM says ahead of Trump visit

Netanyahu cancels party leaders meeting after discovering not all of them will attend Trump’s welcome ceremony

Netanyahu orders reluctant Israeli ministers to greet Trump at airport

Netanyahu: ‘I’ll talk security and peace with Trump’

Next stop for Trump is Israel, in pursuit of ‘ultimate deal’

Pollard to Netanyahu: Don’t forget me in talks with Trump

Ex-Arab League chief: Only settlement freeze can thaw ties with Israel

Ministers okay economic package for Palestinians ahead of Trump visit

Goodwill gestures to Palestinians came at Trump’s request, says PMO

Israelis worry Trump’s changing stands look more and more like Obama’s

A weakened president on an impossible mission

Egyptian president: Trump ‘capable of the impossible’

‘How can it hurt?’ Why Israel says it’s not worried by Trump’s huge Saudi arms deal

Ignoring Israel, Trump misses chance to push for peace where it counts

Israel, barely mentioned by Trump, can only hope his focus on tackling terror yields results

Gaza-Hamas rejects Trump’s description of the group as a terror organization, says it shows his ‘complete bias’ towards Israel

US, Gulf States, sign deal to end financing for terror

Contradictions add up during Trump’s Saudi visit

Trump says fight against terrorism is not a battle between different faiths, but between ‘good and evil.’

Trump Softens Tone on Islam but Calls for Purge of ‘Foot Soldiers of Evil’

Trump says US seeks ‘coalition of nations’ in Middle East with aim of ‘stamping out extremism’

Trump visits new Saudi terrorism-monitoring center

Gen. Keane: Trump Creating ‘Framework of an Arab NATO’ to Combat Terror

Donald Trump should worry about another 9/11 rather than making claims about Iran, says Tehran

Saudi king says Iran at forefront of global terrorism

Trump says Syria’s Assad has committed ‘unspeakable crimes’ with Iran’s support

Suicide attack in Syria’s insurgent stronghold kills 5

Erdogan extends Turkey’s state of emergency

Erdogan Says He Will Extend His Sweeping Rule Over Turkey

Taliban attacks kill at least 25 Afghan police

North Korea confirms ‘successful’ new ballistic missile test

North Korea missile passes re-entry test in breakthrough for nuclear programme

Tillerson calls North Korea nuclear testing ‘disappointing, disturbing’

The cyber warfare cell that worries the West – North Korea’s Unit 180

Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations

Sen. McCain Softens ‘Watergate’ Statement on Trump Administration Turmoil

Republicans fearing for their safety as anger, threats mount

Notre Dame graduates walk out on Pence as he touts free speech

Facebook will not delete videos of violent death, abortion and self-harm, leaked guidelines show

TPP trade deal will continue without Trump

Dollar hovers near 6-month lows amid U.S. political uncertainty

New Zealand space launch has nation reaching for the stars

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Taron, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Mid-Indian Ridge

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 23,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 13,000ft

Sixth year anniversary of deadly Joplin, Missouri tornado

Record-breaking heat poised to bake the West Coast

Ebola Virus in DR Congo: CDC Not Ready to Issue Travel Advisory

Cholera outbreak spreading at ‘unprecedented’ speed kills 315 in Yemen

Texas revives transgender ‘bathroom bill’ for public schools

Here We Go Again! – Trump becomes first president to pray at Western Wall

Selling the Apocalypse – The Second Coming Of Televangelist Jim Bakker

Morris Cerullo Previews Legacy International Center to Area Pastors

Word of Faith Fellowship leader tries to get case moved out of Rutherford County

HB Charles Will Be First Black SBC Pastors’ Conference President in 172 Years

Boy Scouts, church leaders accused of covering up admitted rapist for decades

A Secular Biography of George Washington – Washington was not an outspoken devout Christian but wasn’t a secular stoic either. 

Churches, Synagogues Openly Defy Trump’s Immigration Crackdown

Pro-Life Doctor Purchased an Abortion Clinic and Kicked Out the Abortion Doctor

Students Demand Apology Over Superintendent’s Christian Speech, Prayer at Graduation

Houston Area Pastor and Family Attacked, Beaten. Home Invader Shot & Killed by Son in Law

Australian Christian Group ‘Threatened, Harassed’ by Homosexual Activists

Christian Pastor’s Home, Church Burned Down in Southern India

North Korea now ready to ‘Mass Produce’ War-Ready Nukes which can strike US targets

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:57 AM PDT

North Korea boasts it’s now ready to deploy and start mass-producing new medium-range nuclear missiles capable of reaching Japan and major US military bases.  The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Distant Star In Space Begins Flashing Again Leaving Scientists Baffled

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:52 AM PDT

A Distant star has begun exhibiting the same strange behavior which led astronomers to suggest an “alien megastructure” is orbiting it.  Tabby’s Star first attracted…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump: ‘We love Israel, we respect Israel, we are with you’

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:41 AM PDT

Air Force One touched down at Ben Gurion Airport Monday afternoon, marking the beginning of President Donald Trump’s first state visit to Israel.  The president…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is the American Church Vulnerable to Fake Revival?

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:37 AM PDT

(By Eddie Hyatt) There have been great revivals without great preaching. There have been great revivals without great singing. But there has never been a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

800 Churches and Synagogues Defy Immigration Crackdown…

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:33 AM PDT

There is a peaceful rebellion growing against federal immigration law and the interpretation of that law by the Trump administration. More than 800 houses of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘World’s first Robocop’ hits the streets…

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:30 AM PDT

The “world’s first operational Robocop” has been unveiled in Dubai as part of the emirate’s planned robot police force. Robocop started work on Sunday and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Exotic Animals Could Go Extinct Within Months.

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:41 PM PDT

Some of the world’s most exotic animals could be extinct within months, conservationists have warned, with future generations growing up in a world without many…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Pastor’s Home, Church Burned Down in Southern India

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:31 PM PDT

Hindu nationalists in southern India burned down a church and the home of its pastor after some high “caste” Hindus converted to Christianity and joined…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Tens Of Millions Of Forgotten Americans That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:23 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount.  As you will see below, nearly half the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Evidence Reveals ISIS Performed ‘Nazi-style’ Experiments

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:19 PM PDT

ISIS has tested deadly poisons on prisoners in Nazi-style experiments in a bid to develop chemical weapons which could be used to contaminate Britain’s food…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Comey now believes that Trump tried to influence his judgment about the Russia probe

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:11 PM PDT

Former FBI Director James Comey now believes that President Donald Trump was trying to influence his judgment about the Russia probe, a person familiar with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Next Stop For Trump Is Israel, In Pursuit Of ‘ULTIMATE DEAL’

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:00 PM PDT

President Donald Trump has cast the elusive pursuit of peace between Israelis and Palestinians as the “ultimate deal.” But he will step foot in Israel…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Kim Jong-Un Approves Deployment of New Missile for Action

Posted: 21 May 2017 04:54 PM PDT

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has approved the deployment of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile for combat use as the country succeeded in test-firing it,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Chris Pratt Just Took a Very Public Stand for the Bible

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:49 PM PDT

A superstar on and off the big screen known for freely sharing his love for Jesus Christ, Chris Pratt took a very public stand for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

ALERT: Palestinian Factions Call For ‘Day Of Rage’ During Trump Visit

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:36 PM PDT

Palestinian factions in the West Bank are calling for “A Day of Rage” to coincide with US President Donald Trump’s visit to Bethlehem on Tuesday,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists Report Largest Wave Ever Recorded in the Southern Ocean – Higher Waves Could Follow

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:26 PM PDT

A giant wave south of New Zealand earlier this weekend was the biggest ever recorded by a buoy in the Southern Hemisphere – and scientists…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Ongoing Earthquake swarm continues shaking near Bremerton

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:20 PM PDT

Scientists say hundreds of tiny earthquakes have rumbled through the Bremerton area since the start of May— most too weak for humans to feel.  How…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Twitter co-founder apologizes for helping elect Trump

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:07 PM PDT

The co-founder of Twitter apologized Saturday for the social media platform’s role in Donald Trump’s rise to the White House.  In an interview with the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

HOUSE DIVIDED: New Barna Study Examines Which Christians Fight Online

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:02 PM PDT

Verbal fights on the Internet are common, be it comment sections or social media posts. Do Christians also fight online? Does one denomination argue more…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Are Trump’s Promises to Israel Foretold in the Bible?

Posted: 21 May 2017 10:31 AM PDT

(By Tzippe Barrow) Donald and Melania Trump’s first stop on their premier international tour benefitted royalty. That’s how it was planned and that’s how it’s being…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump pulled into Saudi Arabia and Iran conflict that could cause World War 3

Posted: 21 May 2017 10:22 AM PDT

Donald Trump has been sucked into the murky, hate-fuelled tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran as the threat of World War Three igniting in the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea missile passes re-entry test in breakthrough for nuclear program

Posted: 21 May 2017 10:12 AM PDT

The ballistic missile launched by North Korea on May 14 successfully re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, according to analysts, a significant breakthrough for Pyongyang’s missile program.  Defence…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Trump Says Mideast Peace Possible When All 3 Religions Unite

Posted: 21 May 2017 10:06 AM PDT

While the President of the United States, Donald Trump was delivering his speech in Saudi Arabia he emphasized, In order for Mideast Peace to be…

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What is The Gospel?

Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him:


While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!


God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”


Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).


Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.


Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.


All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”


Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

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Watching Your Spiritual Diet

According to Bible expositor Dr. John MacArthur, although Christians are supposed to be growing in Christlikeness, many are not. So Dr. MacArthur lays out the ways in which the believer can eat right and grow spiritually. He writes:

Most of us have known people whose bodies have not grown or matured properly. It’s sad to encounter people with cognitive handicaps, brain damage, or other developmental obstacles that have hindered their growth. Many of them remain locked in a child-like state—others tragically don’t progress even that far.

In a similar way, some Christians remain locked in a perpetual state of spiritual infancy. However, unlike those suffering with mental handicaps, Christians struggling with arrested spiritual development have no one to blame but themselves.

View article →

Eliminating Spiritual Toxins

1 Peter 2:1-3

Code: B170522

Consider a person who exercises fastidiously and holds to a strict diet but also abuses alcohol and drugs. That kind of schizophrenic behavior would raise a lot of questions, and rightly so.

The same goes for Christians who carefully guard their spiritual diet but make no effort to avoid or eliminate sinful, spiritual toxins from their lives. Faithfully studying God’s Word is vital to our growth, but it’s not the only factor. We need to recognize sinful attitudes and motivations as carcinogens that can wreak havoc in our spiritual lives.

Right now, these sinful toxins could be poisoning your life, eating away at your usefulness, and causing all sorts of decay and destruction. Peter recognized the threat these sins pose to our spiritual health and commanded his readers to “[put] aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).

The King James translation of 1 Peter 2:1 tells us to “lay aside” all of these negative things. The Greek word used here actually means to “strip off your clothes.” It’s the same thing that is meant in Hebrews 12:1 where we are told to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” Peter highlights five specific toxins we should strip out of our lives for the sake of our spiritual health: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander.

Strip out the malice. In biblical times, malice meant “wickedness” or “heathen evil”—the characteristic evil of the world surrounding the young Christian church. Peter doesn’t advise laying aside some malice; he wants all of it gone. Today’s Christians are no different than those in the first century. Many of us like to play at Christianity while dabbling in worldly practices. But there is no place in the Christian’s life for the garbage of the world.

A young man once approached a great Bible teacher and said to him, “Sir, I’d give the world to know the Bible as you do.” The teacher looked him in the eye and said, “And that’s exactly what it will cost you!” If we want to grow and develop as Christians, we need to examine ourselves and identify those worldly remnants and scraps that we are hanging on to.

Strip out the deceit. Peter also instructs us that all deceit (or guile) has to be jettisoned from our lives. Impure motives lie at the root of deceit and this always leads to the conscious deception of others. But deceit never offers any long-term payoff—it’s always exposed eventually.

This is a hard lesson to teach children. I used to tell my own children, “It’s really a lot more expensive to lie, because every time I catch you in a lie you are going to be punished much more severely than if you told me the truth.” I had to prove this on occasion, and it was always a hard lesson for everyone—for me to teach and for them to learn—but it was worth it.

Strip out the hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a natural outgrowth of deceitfulness. Non-Christians always like to point out that the church is full of hypocrites, and unfortunately they are right.

Christians sometimes reply to this charge by rightly observing that the church—where people can hear the gospel and be taught the Bible in the right way—is the best place for hypocrites to be. Nonetheless, as Peter plainly shows us, we can’t be content with that as the status quo. Hypocrisy, once uncovered, needs to be repented of. There is no place for it in the life of a sincere Christian. If the believer glibly excuses his hypocrisy, he is taking advantage of God’s grace and is a bigger hypocrite than ever.

Strip out the envy. Reduced to its basic components, envy is simply self-centeredness. Envy is always the last thing to die, because it only dies when the self dies. But as most Christians know, the self is hard to kill.

How many churches have been wrecked, how many missionary organizations have been riddled with dissension, how many families have been destroyed—all by envy? In his letter, James joins with Peter in warning Christians about the demonic influence of envy:

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. (James 3:14–16)

Strip out the slander. Simply stated, Peter is telling us to quit gossiping. Gossip just might be the most attractive sin for Christians. We may nod vigorously when the preacher warns about it from the pulpit, but on the way home or even while walking to the car we engage in it in any number of ways. We are very clever, of course, to mask it behind words like, “I’m so concerned about Mary” or “Can you fill me in a little so I can pray about it?” Far too much gossip goes on under the guise of prayer and feigned piety.

It is worthwhile to note how all of these five sins are interconnected. Malice (worldliness) inevitably fans the flames of deceit or guile. And deceit and guile lead to hypocrisy, which produces the envy. And the fruit of envy often leads to evil speaking—slanderous gossip.

As deadly as these toxins are, we still gravitate to them. In order to break their hold on our lives, we must develop a taste for what Peter calls the milk of God’s Word. He says, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:2–3). Peter is telling his readers they have tasted God’s grace by taking that first step into salvation. The imperishable seed has sprouted and now they need to feed the new life they have within. For the new Christian especially, God’s Word is like milk. Milk is crucial to the growth of any baby and God’s Word is crucial to the growth of the new Christian.

Paul had the same idea when he wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica and said, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, NKJV). Paul passed on the same idea to Timothy, encouraging him to stand fast in the face of apostasy. He reminded Timothy that, if he is faithful in instructing the brethren in the truth of God’s Word, “You will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Timothy 4:6, NKJV).

As important as milk is, however, the human body needs other foods to gain all its proper nutrition. While some Christians are doing pretty well with laying off spiritual junk food, they are perhaps too content with a weekly bottle fed to them by their preacher. They are failing to get into the Word of God for themselves where they can chew on more solid food.

True spiritual nourishment for the believer is God’s Word. However, as Paul told the Corinthians, there is more to God’s Word than just milk (see 1 Corinthians 3:1–2). The milk provides a good start for our spiritual growth but we must also desire meat, the rich spiritual truths that God wants us to have if we are to truly change and become what He wants us to be.

(Adapted from Why Believe the Bible.)


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Bible Q&A: Do I Need to Confess Every Sin to Be Forgiven?

Question: Pastor Smith made a statement that “God only forgives the sins that we confess.” My question is in regard to the inference that the sins we do not confess are unforgiven. The problem I see is that we are all in trouble because no one can remember all of their sins to confess.

Answer: This really is a good question! And the original quote is from Dr. Alan Redpath: “God has not promised to forgive one sin that you are not willing to forsake.” And you’re absolutely correct: If we had to confess every single sin in order to be forgiven, that would be an unbearable burden!

The key words in the Redpath quote are “not willing.” The question is not, “Have you really confessed all your sins?” The question is, “Are you holding onto a sin, and refusing to turn from it?” These are two very different things.

The first is an issue of remembering all your sins; the second is the issue of a willful refusal to turn from sin. Pastor Colin (and Redpath) was, in fact, saying that God has not promised to forgive our willful refusal to turn from sin.

This is an important distinction because our forgiveness does not depend in any way on our performance in the Christian life. Our forgiveness depends entirely on the finished work of Christ in his perfect life and atoning death on the cross. The question that is being raised here with the Redpath quote is, “Do you have an authentic Christian life? Is the Spirit of God at work in your life?” The authentic Christian willingly turns from sin.

I pray that this explanation would be clarifying and helpful, leading you to find rest in the finished work of Christ.

Pastor Tim


The post Bible Q&A: Do I Need to Confess Every Sin to Be Forgiven? appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.