Jesus: The Truth Who Sets Us Free

Aug 9, 2019  by Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Read John 4:4-42

In our culture today, people mistakenly reason: “If Jesus is truly loving, then He will accept my sinful lifestyle.” But this false Jesus can’t set anyone free. Few people know this better than one woman whose encounter with the real Jesus left her forever changed.

Jesus did not come to excuse our sin but to save us from it that we might have fullness of life.

On the way from Judea to Galilee, Jesus stopped in Samaria, encountered a woman at the well, and asked her for a drink of water. She was astonished—for her gender and Samaritan background rendered her inferior. But Jesus knew her desperation. He knew her deepest secrets—the failed marriages, the promiscuous living. He knew that He alone could set her free—so He called her out.

“Go, call your husband,” He said. “I have no husband,” she replied. “You’re right about that,” Jesus said. “In fact, you’ve had five, and the man you’re currently living with is not your husband.”

Jesus didn’t say, “No worries—just keep living your truth!” No; He is God in human flesh—holy and righteous! And because He loved her, He couldn’t just sweep her sin under the rug. Instead, He exposed it so that He could set her free.

Despite what culture says, God does not wink at sin. He is not your yes-man. No; He sees everything—all the sin, guilt, and shame inside each one of us—and He knows our deepest need: Living Water. He did not come to excuse our sin but to save us from it that we might have fullness of life. Will you not drink of Him? For only He can quench your thirst, give you peace, and set you free eternally.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You that I am truly free from the shame and wages of sin because You have atoned for it all on the cross. Knowing what my sin cost You, may I live righteously for You, pursuing goodness for Your name’s sake. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst” (John 4:13). 

https://www.ltw.org/read/my-devotional/2019/08/jesus-the-truth-who-sets-us-free

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She Was an Abortion Clinic Nurse, Until God Changed Her Life in a Miraculous Way

MICAIAH BILGER AUG 6, 2019

María Martínez Gómez spent years working at an abortion facility, denying the realities of what she saw.

A nurse in Spain, she said she was baptized Catholic, but when she grew up, she began to despise the faith and all it stood for, according to the Catholic News Agency.

During a Catholic conference in May in San Sebastian, Spain, Gómez explained why she quit her abortion work and how God changed her life in a miraculous way.

She said her work at the abortion clinic stressed her out; she spent her days getting women ready for surgical abortions and then trying to comfort them afterward. Gómez said she lied to herself and the women about the unborn babies who were being aborted there.

Once, she remembered, she thought she saw the foot of an aborted baby, but she said she convinced herself that it was just a blood clot, according to the report.

Here’s more:

Gomez said the abortion clinic purposely took steps to ensure that women would not change their minds prior to their abortions. Women would be isolated from their partners, to “remove them from reality,” before their surgeries, and it would be Gomez’s job to hold their hands and keep them calm while the abortion was happening.

Afterwards, she said that sometimes the women were so traumatized by what they had experienced, they thought they had not yet undergone an abortion and begged her to stop it from happening. It was Gomez’s job to inform them that they had in fact already had an abortion.

Eventually, she said she quit because of the stress of the job. She went back to school and earned a degree in physiotherapy.

About that same time, there was a devastating earthquake in Nepal. Gómez decided to move to Kathmandu to help with the relief efforts, the report states.

It was there in that Hindu country that Jesus touched her heart and brought her to the Catholic faith.

One day, she said she was walking in the street when a sister with the Missionaries of Charity grabbed her and urged her to follow. Gómez said she thought about going along just to mock the sisters during Mass, but things turned out very differently.

Gómez spoke Spanish, and the Mass was in English, so she said she did not understand it very well. Then, suddenly, she said she heard a voice in Spanish telling her, “Welcome home.” Confused, she said she heard the voice again, saying: “Welcome home. How long it took you to love me.”

“It was the cross of Christ talking to me,” she said.

Gómez said she laid on the floor and wept, asking for forgiveness.

Later, the sisters told her that they had been praying for someone exactly like her, a physiotherapist, to come to their convent, according to the report.

Gómez said she spent four months with the sisters, teaching them physical therapy and rehabilitation until her visa ran out. Then, she returned to Spain where she has been sharing her conversion story.

“I was a dry bone in that valley, that He decided to revive,” Gomez said. “That is the Mercy of God.”

 

Original here


The Truth About Deviants and Deviance

Scott Lively explains God’s ‘One Flesh Paradigm’ – aka ‘heteronormativity’

Deviants and Deviance, two words that outrage the political left: words that timid Christians are consequently afraid to use for fear of liberal backlash. But they are words that go to the heart of what it means to be a Christian, since they relate to the order of Creation in which the biblical worldview is grounded.

Recent news stories about the audacious deviant Elly Barnes and her nationwide campaign to “completely smash heteronormativity” in U.S. public schools offer a teachable moment on these important words and concepts.

Deviance is a measurement of the difference of a copy from the original design. It judges the suitability of a thing for the purpose for which it was created. If we were manufacturing ceramic coffee cups, for example, a defect that caused an imperfection in the color of the glazing would be a relatively inconsequential deviance, but a deviance that resulted in dime sized holes in the bottom would make the cup unusable for its intended purpose.

In sexuality, God’s model is the “One Flesh Paradigm.”

Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them,” and

Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

This is the Father God’s unmistakable prescription for exclusive, binary, heterosexual, lifelong human sexual relationships (aka “heteronormativity”) which was reaffirmed by Jesus in the Gospels.

Matthew 19:4-9: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

Jesus not only affirmed the “One Flesh Paradigm,” by which all sexuality outside heterosexual marriage is judged deviant by definition, but He also indirectly addressed the issue of tolerance in his comments on divorce.

“Tolerance” is another politically charged word related to deviance. In manufacturing, since no copy is ever truly perfect, there must always be a determination of what degree of deviance is “within reasonable tolerance.” Using our coffee cup example, the color imperfection might be “within tolerance,” but the dime sized holes would certainly not be.

Since human beings are imperfect representations of God’s image in us, He also set standards for limited tolerance of deviance from His paradigm. The best example is marital polygamy and concubinage. Jacob’s marriage to two wives and sexual relations with their handmaids produced 12 children (the 12 tribes) from four women. This was a clear violation of God’s paradigm, meaning that it was “sin” (“missing the mark”) and as such produced some bad and lasting consequences for Jacob’s family and society.

But the deviance was close enough to the paradigm that God could and obviously did accommodate it in His plan. (This is NOT an endorsement or condonation of these harmful sexual sins for today but an observation about God’s mercy.)

We see God being similarly accommodating in non-sexual sins, such as the rejection of His system of judges in favor of a monarchy (1 Samuel 8:5-7) and the abandonment of His portable tabernacle in favor of a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7). In both cases, the deviance from His model was close enough to be tolerated and was thus accommodated, but they produced some negative consequences that forever after affected human society.

In contrast to polygamy and concubinage, God held a zero-tolerance policy for some other sexual sins, including homosexuality and bestiality. Indeed, Leviticus chapter 18 provides the specific list of sexual and sex-related sins that were not only capital crimes, but His specific justification for purging the Canaanites from the Holy Land. He explained, “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you” (Leviticus 18:24-26). (This is NOT to endorse or promote capital punishment of homosexuals under the letter of today’s secular laws, even though the implicit moral principles of God’s law-above-the-law remain constant and binding.)

These particular sins deviated so far from His One Flesh Paradigm that God would not tolerate them. And of these sins, male homosexuality was singled out for special emphasis, being the first form of sexual sin in the Leviticus 18 list to be designated “toeva” (abomination), the harshest term of condemnation in the Hebrew language. God’s consistent warning from Genesis to Revelation that this specific sexual sin would always draw His wrath is one of the clearest teachings of the Bible for those brave enough to accept it: Noah’s flood was blamed on homosexual marriage by the ancient rabbinical interpreters (Talmud, Genesis Rabbah, 25:5:4); both Peter and Jude expressly warn that God’s purpose for incinerating Sodom and Gomorrah revealed the societal context of the last-days destruction of the earth (Jude 1:7, 2 Peter 2:4-9); Paul identified homosexuality as the defining behavioral disorder of apostate societies (Romans 1:18-32); and John prophesied it will be a defining characteristic of the Antichrists’s kingdom (Revelation 11:7-8).

This is why homosexuals have accurately been called “deviants” from time immemorial, and why authentic Christianity never condones or accommodates homosexuality or any of the sexual sins God condemns. It is why true Christians firmly embrace the maxim “Love the Sinner, Not the Sin” and should characterize their churches as “welcoming and transforming” but never “affirming” of that sin.

To the threat of extreme and expanding sexual deviance such as is exhibited by Elly Barnes’ teachings, and by the diabolical lie that homosexuals are born “gay” and cannot change, true Christians compassionately offer the only real solution: recovery and healing in Jesus Christ: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Original here

Different Covenant, Same God

Aug 7, 2019

 

Today, many believers are throwing out the Old Testament, claiming its teaching is no longer relevant because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. It’s true that “the new covenant is established on better promises” (Heb. 8:6). But what exactly changed after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ? Did God change? Is He a God of wrath or a God of mercy? The teaching of the Bible in its fullness—from Genesis to Revelation—provides the answer.

Dove with the two Tablets of the Law

God does not change. This simple Truth gives us hope that will last eternally, for it means we can know and trust God.

TWO STORIES OR ONE?

A common misconception in the church is that the Bible is made up of two separate stories: (1) an Old Testament to discuss Israel’s history, the law, and judgment and (2) a New Testament that covers God’s love, mercy, and grace through Jesus Christ. But the entire Bible is God’s Word to us, communicating His character and revealing His Son—and if we see the Old and New Testaments as contrary rather than complementary, we miss out on the beauty of the fullness of God revealed in His Word. Every portion of Scripture points to God as our Redeemer.

From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals a single story about His wondrous love toward a rebellious people. Despite their infinite offenses against Him, He chooses to redeem them for His glory. And because He is holy, He must deal with sin so that His people can remain in communion with Him. It’s why He instituted the law. It’s why He sent deliverers to warn His people of the coming judgment. It’s why He allowed the Israelites to endure the consequences of their sin. And it’s why He sent His Son Jesus to fulfill the law, die in our place, and reconcile us to Himself.

While we traditionally think of the Old Testament God as one of judgment and wrath, He is equally loving and tender. When we look at isolated events in Scripture, such as the flood or the annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah, we may feel a sense of doubt about God’s compassion. But what if He had allowed unbridled sin to grow? Could it be that these judgments were in reality acts of mercy—sparing the human race from itself? God’s wrath is just, and His choice to patiently withhold it in its full measure throughout the Old Testament testifies to the depths of His merciful love. Conversely, those who see the New Testament as divulging only God’s love and grace overlook God’s wrathful acts and Jesus’ harsh words and warnings in the New Testament (Acts 5:1-11Matt. 11:20-24).

In reality, throughout Scripture, the all-wise God holds these two attributes—His wrath and His love—in perfect balance. In the Old Testament, God exerts fatherly patience and compassion toward mankind (Hos. 11:4Jer. 31:3Isa. 54:10). And in the New, He pours out His burning wrath toward sin on Jesus Christ to provide atonement for a wayward people—while also promising a Judgment Day to come when those who reject His gift of grace will be held accountable (Rev. 20:11-15).

GOD HAS NEVER CHANGED

God does not change. This simple Truth gives us hope that will last eternally, for it means we can know and trust God. His Word testifies to this Truth again and again. He is unchangeable in His person—in all His attributes: “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (Mal. 3:6). He is unchangeable in His plan for redemption: “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath” (Heb. 6:17). He is always faithful and loving, and what He promises perfectly comes to pass for His glory and the good of all creation. For in Him “there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Jas. 1:16, ESV; see also Num. 23:19Ps. 102:24-27111:5-9; et al.). As preacher and author A. W. Tozer put it, “There will never be a change in God—no change is necessary!”

TWO COVENANTS, ONE STORY

The New Testament completes the Old Testament as, in the fullness of time, according to His plan declared in the beginning (Gen. 3:15), God Himself becomes man, Jesus the Savior appears, and suddenly God, who lives in unapproachable light, is made approachable. But it isn’t just His appearance in the flesh; it’s the fact that through His blood shed on the cross, Jesus brings peace with God to everyone who calls on His name.

The Old Testament makes plain our need for salvation, for God provided the law to guide Israel in righteousness. But as Paul explains, the law was powerless to save us or take away our sins; we could never measure up on our own (Rom. 7:9-13). So, “what the law was powerless to do . . . God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering” (Rom. 8:3). Jesus, the hope of all nations, fulfilled the covenant God made with Abraham to make him a great nation and to bless all nations through him (Gen. 12:3-4). Thus, the New Testament is the fulfillment of the old covenant and the establishment of a new covenant—God’s promise to save those who trust in and follow His Son.

THE SAME TODAY AND YESTERDAY

We must be wary of any attempt to pit the God of the New Testament against the God of the Old Testament, for there is but one God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Knowing we serve the same God as Adam and Eve, Abraham, David, Peter, and Paul should cause overwhelming joy in our hearts. We can count on our Lord to always be Himself. When God told Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I ᴀᴍ ᴡʜᴏ I ᴀᴍ,” He meant it. The Lord is telling you and me that His character doesn’t change; He isn’t moody, wishy-washy, capricious, or indecisive. He is just, loving, wise, present, slow to anger, merciful, gracious, and pure. His purposes are eternal and cannot be thwarted, and we can be confident His plans will never fail.

If we are to understand God’s whole plan of redemption from Genesis to Revelation, we must seek to understand His whole character and submit ourselves to His whole counsel. If ever in doubt, we must turn to His Word—for as Deuteronomy 7:9reminds us, “[T]he Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”


Learn 4 reasons why you can trust the Bible — and discover the incredible history of how it was formed, see a detailed comparison of the Bible to other religious texts, and get a glimpse of 38 specific prophecies fulfilled in Christ.

VIDEO Whatever, Whenever, Wherever, A Life of Integrity

BY DAVID JEREMIAH

When Nick Vujicic was born in 1982, his parents were shocked to discover he was born without arms and legs. His mother, a nurse, took care of herself throughout the pregnancy, and the doctors never mentioned their baby was missing his limbs. His parents were Christians, and after working through the change in their expectations of what life with their first child would be like, they “moved forward by deciding to trust in God’s Word that ‘all things work for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.’”His parents concluded that God had a plan for Nick and would reveal it to him one day.

Although his parents trusted God with his future, Nick struggled to accept his disability. He often came home from school in tears, and at the age of ten he attempted suicide. In his teen years, he accepted Christ as his Savior. To build friendships, Nick began seeking out conversations with classmates, which helped them see who he really was and accept him. These informal conversations led to him sharing in youth groups in his late teens, and since then, he has shared his story with millions of people around the world. But he doesn’t just share how God has helped him thrive in spite of his disability, the main goal of his organization, Life Without Limbs, is to share the Gospel with as many people as possible. Nick has realized that his story has given him a platform to share Christ with people and to live out God’s plan for him.

Nick’s disability is outside of his control—a circumstance he cannot change. However, he learned to say, “[God] created me for purposes that I never could have envisioned as a child. He uses me in ways that continue to surprise and amaze me each and every day.”Instead of wallowing in self-pity about what he can’t do, Nick uses the talents and abilities God has given him to serve and glorify Him. Nick knows God has been and will be with him throughout his life, whether he is speaking to an audience of thousands or battling depression like he did as a child.

Nick’s story challenges us to face our own difficult circumstances with faith and to trust God is with us during each step of the journey. In the same way, we will be challenged as we begin studying the story of a man named Joseph in this month’s Turning Points (and finish his story next month). His story is one of someone who overcame great obstacles, who knew God was with him, and who was ultimately used by God to save his family from death.

Just a quick overview: Joseph’s life came within an inch of being extinguished by his jealous brothers. Instead of killing him, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. He was given a position as the steward of an Egyptian official but was thrown into prison when falsely accused of attacking the official’s wife. He languished in prison for two years, then gained Pharaoh’s favor by interpreting the ruler’s dreams. From there Joseph became Pharaoh’s right-hand man, managing all the affairs of the nation. To top it off, Joseph saved the life of his starving family—the brothers who had almost murdered him—when they came to Egypt seeking food.

What a story! Joseph’s saga was part of Israel’s legacy and lore, repeated annually at her celebrations (Psalm 105:16-22). Joseph is an example of God’s faithfulness to His people.

But here’s what I want you to take with you as we study Joseph this month: God was with him during his troubles and triumphs. When Joseph was sold into slavery, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man” (Genesis 39:2). When Joseph was in prison, “The Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor” (Genesis 39:21).

God was with Joseph every step of his way. And God is with you and me every step of our way. That doesn’t mean our lives will be perfect. But it means God is there for you: whatever the issue, whenever you have a need, and wherever you are.


1Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limits (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2012), 8.

2Nick Vujicic, Unstoppable (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2012), 3.

https://www.davidjeremiah.org/magazine/article?id=209


David Jeremiah — A Life of Integrity


 

Wisconsin Bill Assaults Confessional Seal

 

Aug 9, 2019 By Bill Donohue

 

Confessional Booth (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

A bill to bust the seal of the confessional will soon be introduced by three Democratic lawmakers from Wisconsin: Sen. Lena Taylor, Rep. Chris Taylor and Rep. Melissa Sargent. The clergy in Wisconsin are already mandated reporters of sexual abuse; this bill would remove the exemption afforded the confessional.

The sponsors of the bill have provided no evidence that this bill would remedy anything. Indeed, they cannot cite one case of sexual abuse that would have been reported to the authorities had the religious exemption for the confessional not existed.

This bill is a monumental flop. Not only does it not solve anything, it will  not convince a single priest to subject himself to excommunication for violating his vows. Moreover, a lawsuit will immediately be filed challenging this violation of the First Amendment by state officials.

The government has no business policing the sacraments of the Catholic Church. This is nothing but grandstanding by politicians pretending to be champions of the victims of sexual abuse.

Why don’t these brave lawmakers go after the lawyer-client privilege? Don’t attorneys learn of instances of the sexual abuse of minors? Why not target psychologists and psychiatrists as well? They hear about cases of sexual abuse, yet they are forbidden to violate their professional commitment to their patients.

Why are Catholic priests being singled out? This is religious profiling. Indeed, the bill is manifestly anti-Catholic.

We are contacting every member of the Wisconsin legislature today about this bill. The state needs to back off and keep its hands out of the internal affairs of the Catholic Church or any other religion. We see this as a national issue, one that has grave implications for religious liberty throughout the country.

Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.

https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/bill-donohue/bill-donohue-wisconsin-bill-assaults-confessional-seal

Business Is Ministry

by Jason Benham | July 9th, 2019

In 2003 we found ourselves out of jobs with no idea which direction God wanted us to go.  As we prayed we began to feel more and more pulled into “ministry,” or at least what we thought was ministry.  So we did what anyone else would do in that situation – we created a website and wrote a support letter, and Benham Brothers Ministries was started.

But it never got off the ground.  Before we could send the first support letter we felt inclined by God to work for ourselves and not rely on donations from others.  Since we both had our real estate licences we joined a local real estate company and started selling houses.  We also did odd jobs to pay the bills that first year–that was a rough season of our lives.

By God’s grace that little business grew, and grew, and grew to a point where we had 100 offices in 35 states.  All-the-while we felt guilty that we had chosen business over ministry.  We thought our role had morphed from ministers to businessmen and that our job was to now support the professionals who ministered every day.

But then one day as I (Jason) was standing with my Bible open in front of a room filled with our franchisees from all over the nation, I heard God whisper to my spirit, “Who told you that you weren’t in ministry?”

As I pondered that question I began to realize that what defines the minister is not where he’s placed or how he’s paid.  A minister is defined by passion, not position.  When the presence of God is in your life then WHATEVER you do for the glory of the Lord is your ministry.

From that day forward we saw our business as our ministry and recognized our identities as ministers of the gospel.  The guilt we once felt was replaced by gratitude as we have continued to open other businesses since.

The devil knows that how you see yourself determines how you conduct yourself.  So if he can convince you that you’re just an insurance broker or a school teacher or a plumber or a stay-at-home mom and not a minister then you won’t act like you’re in the ministry.  Don’t believe the lie.

Your pastor’s job is to equip you for your work as a minister in the “ministry.”  (Ephesians 4:12)  When you have eyes to see your work like this everything will change.

Original here