Daily Archives: December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014: Truth2Freedom Daily Headline Alerts Collection

There is a God we want and a God who is, and the two are not the same. —Ligon Duncan

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Dec. 8, 2014

BLOOMBERG

President Obama had hoped his historic election would ease race relations, yet a majority of Americans, 53 percent, say the interactions between the white and black communities have deteriorated since he took office.

About $225,000 dollars a day. That’s a ballpark estimate for how much President Barack Obama and his supporters need to raise for his presidential library, assuming $500 million in expenses and a desire to pay the tab within four years of leaving office.

San Francisco may become the biggest U.S. city to use its development powers to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, partnering with another California community whose own plan has come under fire from investors. The proposal from a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors would use eminent domain to take over loans on property with a market value below the mortgage amount. A lawmaker says it would help minorities in the city of about 837,000, while some officials see the move increasing borrowing costs and discouraging investors.

Adelanto, California, a Mojave Desert community with more prisons than supermarkets, is poised to authorize two more detention facilities as city leaders try to stave off insolvency.

Speculators boosted bullish gold bets to a three-month high on signs central banks will act to counter low inflation, reviving the allure of bullion as a hedge.

China’s trade surplus climbed 4.7 percent to a record in November after an unexpected decline in imports on lower crude oil and other commodity prices.

Merck agreed to buy Cubist Pharmaceuticals for $8.4 billion in cash to add products to help fight the growing threat of drug-resistant bacteria.

Oil prices will stay at about $65 a barrel for at least half a year until OPEC changes its collective production or world economic growth revives, said the head of state-run Kuwait Petroleum Corp.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, posted its worst monthly U.S. sales decline in more than a decade and said a health scare in China would continue to take a toll on profit this quarter.

UBS, facing the threat of competition from Google and Amazon has turned to a Singapore-based technology company that uses artificial intelligence for help delivering personalized advice to the bank’s wealthy clients.

Record rains fell in California this week. They’re not enough to change the course of what scientists are now calling the region’s worst drought in at least 1,200 years.

AP Top Stories

Protesters carrying signs bearing names of black Americans killed by police have marched outside the U.S. Capitol to demand a human rights investigation.

Necrophilia motivated a man to fatally shoot his stepdaughter last month. Gregory Graf recorded himself sexually abusing the body of Jessica Padgett.

Russia would accept either money or the delivery of two Mistral helicopter carriers to resolve a dispute with France, a Kremlin official said.

People who smoke a hookah or inhale secondhand hookah smoke may be breathing in the chemical benzene, a substance that previous research has linked with an increased risk of leukemia, according to a new study.

Australian scientists said they had made a breakthrough in increasing the efficiency of solar panels, which they hope could eventually lead to cheaper sources of renewable energy. They were able to convert more than 40 percent of sunlight hitting the panels into electricity. “This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity.”

Russia demanded an explanation for Israeli airstrikes on two areas near Damascus, while the Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers called it an act of aggression that proves Israel was “in the same trench” with extremist groups fighting the Syrian government.

This year, automakers are on pace to sell more than one million vehicles in the U.S. with transaction prices of at least $50,000 according to new data compiled by TrueCar.

BBC

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said there is no need for a review into operations to free Americans held by militants despite recent failures.

A call by German conservatives for immigrants to speak German in the home as well as in public triggered a political furor.

Six prisoners (four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian) who spent 12 years at the Guantanamo Bay detention center arrived in Uruguay after being released by the United States.

A Cuban doctor who recovered from Ebola after receiving experimental treatment in Switzerland was welcomed back to Havana.

The UN asks for $16.4bn for its aid operations in 2015, much of it for Syria, in its biggest-ever annual request.

WND

Profiling on the basis of religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity by federal law enforcement agencies will be banned, the Justice Department announced.

Two leading Secret Service experts are worried about the safety of President Obama because of mounting disclosures of misconduct and lapses in protection.

Outside groups are bracing for surprises in the massive $1.014 trillion government-funding bill the Congress is expected to consider next week.

CA – School districts around the Bay Area are spying on their own students – often with private investigators – just to make sure the kids really live where they say they do.

Yesterday was the 73rd commemoration of the Japanese surprise air attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. “It’s to pay respects to the 2,400 who died that day, 1,177 on the USS Arizona.”


Daily Digest for Monday

December 8, 2014

THE FOUNDATION

“There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. ‘Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.” –George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS

Down Goes Another Democrat

The GOP picked up another Senate seat Saturday. The Associated Press reports, “Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy defeated Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu on Saturday, denying her a fourth term and extending the GOP’s domination of the 2014 midterm elections that put Republicans in charge of Capitol Hill for the final two years of President Barack Obama’s tenure. With Cassidy’s victory, Republicans will hold 54 seats when the Senate convenes in January, nine more than they have now.” Landrieu failed in her bid to stave off the GOP tide, even though she pushed the Keystone XL pipeline. Louisiana voters saw through the charade, however, and opted to aid a higher purpose — stopping Barack Obama. Her loss also means that 30 of the 60 Senate Democrats who voted for ObamaCare are no longer in Congress. Talk about an albatross. More…

Nearly 12 Million Have Left the Workforce Under Obama

November’s jobs report no doubt contained good news. Payrolls jumped by 321,000, which was far above the 230,000 jobs forecast by economists. September and October also saw positive revisions. The most recent year with superior job growth was 1999. Add it all up, and the economy has clearly turned a corner after subsequent years in deep shambles. However (how many times have we had to say that?), the economy continues to lag significantly in potential; you can thank the Obama recovery for that. The one particularly troubling statistic pertains to the labor participation rate that remained unchanged last month at 62.8% — meaning 92,447,000 Americans aren’t seeking a job. The cumulative effect of a stubbornly low participation rate is alarming to say the least, as nearly 12 million workers have called it quits during Obama’s presidency. CNSNews.com reports, “When President Obama took office in January 2009, there were 80,529,000 Americans who were not participating in the office, which means that since then, 11,918,000 Americans have left the workforce.” That’s far more than the number of jobs Obama claims to have “created.” So while the headline employment numbers have improved, there are still underlying problems that remain unresolved. That is why speculators remain pessimistic despite the media’s rosy narrative. More…

Jihadist Relieves Himself, Thwarts U.S. Hostage Rescue

The Navy SEALs’ attempted rescue of American journalist Luke Somers, who was captured by al-Qaida in Yemen, did not play out like the heroic 1976 Israeli hostage rescue, Operation Entebbe. The jihadists released a video telling the U.S. to comply with their demands (which they didn’t state in the video) or else Somers would die within 72 hours. In a statement, Barack Obama said, “Other information also indicated Luke’s life was in imminent danger. Based on this assessment, and as soon as there was reliable intelligence and an operational plan, I authorized a rescue attempt.” However, as the 40-man special operations team was establishing a perimeter, a jihadist stepped outside — probably to go to the bathroom — and saw the rescue force. U.S. officials say Somers was executed. However, the Wall Street Journal commends the Obama administration for taking a hard line against jihadist kidnappers. Terrorists now know if they kidnap Americans, they might wake up to the knock of a U.S. commando team in the middle of the night. More…

White House Mulls Destroying Relationship With Israel

The White House and the State Department deflected questions from Washington reporters about an Israeli newspaper story alleging the Obama administration is considering slapping sanctions on Israel. Both White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf refused to talk about the sanctions with reporters because it’s “internal deliberations.” According to Haaretz, the U.S. may impose sanctions on its ally because it continues to build settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to Yeshiva World News, the U.S. is also considering withdrawing its political protection of Israel at the UN, allowing anti-Israel motions to move through the international body. The Washington Free Beacon quotes an anonymous senior congressional aide: “If these reports are true, this would mark a new era of unprecedented hostility from the White House against our strongest ally in the Middle East. It’s impossible not to notice the irony of the administration mulling sanctions on Israel while threatening to veto new sanctions against Iran.”

Deportation Policies Let Almost Anyone Stay

While an Immigration and Customs Enforcement report shows deportations in general dropped during the 2014 fiscal year, the report goes on to say that immigration enforcement officials are lax with illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. According to the Removal Operation Report for fiscal year 2014, 30,862 foreign criminals were released into the United States. Of the 315,943 people deported from the United States, the majority were caught at the border and 86,923 were caught committing a crime. The drop in deportations comes as the Obama administration has set high low standards on who it will and will not deport. In a statement, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) told the Los Angeles Times, “We essentially tell citizens of other countries, ‘If you come here, you can stay — don’t worry, we won’t deport you.’ The reality on the ground is that unless you commit multiple crimes, the chances of your being removed from this country are close to zero.” More…

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RIGHT ANALYSIS

From the Department of Corrections

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The Leftmedia have a story to tell, and they’re generally not going to let facts get in the way. This truth came in to stark relief with Friday’s massive correction Rolling Stone issued to its November report on a gang rape at the University of Virginia.

The correction was so big, it may be easier to recount what the original report got right than what it got wrong. A quick recap:

A UVA student given the name “Jackie” recounted how a man Rolling Stone calls “Drew” and his fellow fraternity brothers raped her at a party. But among numerous other errors, it turns out Drew belongs to a different fraternity than the one in question, and there was no party the night Jackie says she was raped. Much trouble would have been avoided had reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely not acceded to Jackie’s request not to interview the accused because she feared retribution. Bad decision.

The story was evidently too good to check because it fit the narrative of a widespread “rape culture” supposedly evidenced by the epidemic of sexual assault on campuses around the country. In fact, Erdely went around looking for just the right story to support that narrative. We’ve already questioned the breadth of the epidemic itself, and Rolling Stone’s shoddy and reckless journalism hardly does anything to correct the record, much less help true victims of rape.

Jackie may have been raped, and just because some of the facts were wrong doesn’t mean all of them were. And it should go without saying that this doesn’t invalidate other rape accusations. But truth cannot be a casualty of narrative.

Other media outlets swallowed Rolling Stone’s original story hook, line and sinker, leading to a cascading effect turning a lie into a legend. Media often blindly take up a cause célèbre in pursuit of ratings and the almighty advertising dollar. (We note that this is one reason The Patriot Post doesn’t accept advertising, instead relying on the support of our readers for our sustenance.)

It’s noteworthy that, just like the Jonathan Gruber videos, the UVA story began to fall apart because of the efforts of an independent blogger.

Worked into a tizzy by Rolling Stone’s story, feminists hammered “rape apologists” who dared ask questions. To them, men accused of rape are guilty until proven innocent. And to many of them, they’d even rather cling to a false story than admit men are innocent.

That recalls the response to rape accusations against Duke University’s lacrosse team several years ago. Those likewise proved to be false, though only after the reputations of those young men were destroyed.

Nevertheless, UVA students protested, while university president Teresa Sullivan responded to the allegations by shutting down activities at all fraternities and sororities. When Rolling Stone essentially retracted the story, Sullivan didn’t apologize for overreacting — she doubled down. “Over the past two weeks,” she said in a statement, “our community has been more focused than ever on one of the most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today: sexual violence on college campuses. Today’s news must not alter this focus.”

Reason Contributing Editor Cathy Young concludes: “Commentators across the political spectrum have expressed concern that Rolling Stone’s sloppy journalism will damage what Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle calls ‘the righteous fight for rape victims.’ But despite its righteous goals, the crusade against rape has leaned too far toward promoting the dangerous idea that accusation equals guilt and that to doubt an accuser’s word is heresy. Finding the balance between supporting victims and preserving the presumption of innocence is a difficult line to walk. Perhaps the lessons of the UVA story will help steer the way toward such a balance.”

In Young’s separate analysis of the Obama administration’s Department of Education push to have colleges and universities more vigorously prosecute sexual assault, she writes, “The Department of Education has recommended that colleges use the lowest burden of proof — ‘preponderance of the evidence,’ which means a finding of guilt if one feels the evidence tips even slightly toward the complainant. Missing is virtually any recognition of the need for fairness to the accused.”

Bottom line: Sexual assault allegations should be investigated and prosecuted by qualified law enforcement agencies, not on the pages of Rolling Stone or other pop media outlets.

America’s Shrinking

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Days after headlines captured America’s slide from its status as the world’s number one economy to number two behind China, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report spun off a few articles about America’s declining birthrate. Let’s just say if you’re an employed taxpayer, you’d best grab your wallet.

While many in the ranks of high-brow policy don’t want to engage in the discussion of what many deem as so-called cultural “wedge” issues such as abortion, fertility and population, it’s all about the math. And that math has implications in tax policy, foreign policy, health care policy — you name it. The reality remains that if there are fewer babies, there are fewer future workers and consumers.

Let’s look at the math as it relates to our standing economically.

If our population does not replace itself, the labor market — and with it the tax base — will shrink, all while government spending rages on.

What does that CDC report say?

“Childbearing is on the decline in the United States overall and among women under age 30 and women in each of the largest race and Hispanic origin groups.” In 2013, the birthrate his a near-low of 1.86 live births per female.

The big deal?

A birth rate of 2.1 children per childbearing female is necessary just to maintain stasis. The U.S. missed the mark for the first time in 1972, and it has hit “replacement” numbers only twice since then — in 2006 and 2007.

The good news is abortions are down, too. Consistent and intense educational efforts of the pro-life movement through ultrasounds during pregnancy in tandem with state policy efforts to defund “health care” clinics offering abortion on demand has reduced the number of abortions performed.

As for the overall birthrate, the contributing factors have been the economic pressures of the 2007 recession either delaying or cancelling family plans, a more educated population that delays the birth of children, and other things such as gender disorientation pathology, access to long-acting birth control, and, candidly, selfishness that refuses to include others, such as children, in a myopic definition of success.

In light of this consistent, documented population decline, has our government spending seen appropriate adjustment? Has our need for military might changed? Are the IOU’s repaid in the “Social Security Lockbox” to fund the current retirees? No, no and no.

Still not convinced this is a big deal? Let’s look across the pond at Europe. The nations that currently make up the European Union (E-28) tracked their fertility rate at 1.45 live births per women in 2002 with only a slight increase to 1.58 births in 2012, as published in a May 2014 European Commission report. Clearly, that’s far below the demographically necessary rate of 2.1 for generational replacement.

The nations of the European Union continue to struggle with government spending that averages 49% of gross domestic product, with its member nations hovering around a 10% unemployment rate.

The National Bureau of Economic Research says it plainly in its online report, “The Cost of Low Fertility in Europe“: “In the long run, low rates of fertility are associated with diminished economic growth. … If fertility rates stay at current levels … Europe’s share of working-age people will fall from about 70 percent today to somewhere between 50 and 55 percent in the long run … a 25 percent drop in the number of workers per capita.”

Clearly, changes in population cause disruption in the demand for services, produced goods and the volume of money the populace spends in any given economy.

Here in America, this decline is seen most obviously in a single government program, which happens to be the largest federal expenditure after surpassing defense spending back in 1993 — Social Security.

When the first benefits were paid in the Social Security retirement program in 1940, there were 42 workers paying into the system for each retiree receiving benefits. As of April 2014, that number is 2.8 workers per beneficiary.

Furthermore, the U.S. Treasury has borrowed money from the Social Security Trust Fund and, according to the Trustee’s 2014 report, owes $2.8 trillion as of December 2013. According to the same report, due to declining birthrates and increased life expectancy, the trust fund will be exhausted in 2033, just 19 years from now. The Heritage Foundation, meanwhile, says it could be insolvent in just 10 years.

If America continues pursuing policies that transfer wealth from workers to non-workers, allows mass immigration of a new underclass that will only increase the pressure on government entitlement services, and refuses to recognize there must absolutely be a reduction in spending, we will only remember the good old days when our economy once led the world.

TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS

OPINION IN BRIEF

The Gipper: “I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal.”

Columnist Peggy Noonan: “[Obama’s] executive action on immigration, seen by many as daring and clever, may not prove clever. … In making that move he removed one of the Republican Party’s problems. They were split on immigration, their adversaries said the reason was racism. The whole issue roiled the Republican base. Now the president has taken it out of their hands. And he has united them in their condemnation of the manner in which he did it. At the same time the president took an issue that was a daily, agitating mobilizer of his base and removed it as a factor. He took the kettle off the heat — but that kettle had produced a lot of steam that provided energy to his party. Now the president has to implement his directive, and implementation has never been his strong suit. He has to tamp down grievance from those who came here legally or are waiting in line. He has to answer immigration activists who think they got too little. He has to face all the critics who will experience and witness the downside of his action on the border. He took an issue that was a problem for Republicans, and made it a problem for Democrats. That may well prove a political mistake of the first order.”

Columnist Jonah Goldberg: “[Sen. Chuck] Schumer’s speech at the National Press Club is a marvel to behold. … ‘Democrats must embrace government. It’s what we believe in; it’s what unites our party,’ Schumer explained. ‘If we run away from government, downplay it, or act as if we are embarrassed by its role, people won’t vote for our pale version of the Republican view.’ … The senator has no principled objection to a government takeover of health care; what he objects to now is the timing. Back in 2009-10, he was a vocal champion of the law [ObamaCare]. Last week, he said, ‘Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.’ The senator said he still favors Obamacare’s goals, but ‘it wasn’t the change we were hired to make.’ Voters wanted Obama and his party to fix the economy. Indeed, in a remarkable moment of honest cynicism, Schumer went into great detail lamenting how the law was designed to help mostly poor people who for the most part don’t vote. Morally, this is a fascinating admission. In Schumer’s hierarchy of needs, winning elections for Democrats matters more than helping the truly needy. Call it uncompassionate liberalism.”

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel: “The birthrate in the United States is at an all-time low. Whereas our death rate is still holding strong at 100 percent.”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

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Massive Inferno Is Engulfing Downtown Los Angeles, Protests becoming More Violent?

Officials say a massive fire in downtown Los Angeles closed down portions of two major freeways and is visible for miles. Is this the result of protests becoming more violent? Are we leading up to the David Wilkerson Vision of “Fires in the Streets of America”? More


Minnesota School Board Allows ‘Transgender’ Males to Play on Girls’ Teams

A Minnesota high school sports league’s decision to allow male students who ‘identify’ as females to participate in girls’ sports has elicited concern from many parents and Christians. On Thursday, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors approved a controversial “transgender” student policy. Once the policy goes into effect next year, male high school students who “identify” as females will be allowed to participate in female-specific athletic programs. “League member schools will now have some guidance from the Board on determining the eligibility of transgender male-to-female (MTF) students to participate in gender-specific athletic programs,” the Board of Directors explained in a written summary of their meeting last week. The Minnesota State High School League, which has nearly 500 member schools, is responsible for overseeing high school athletics throughout Minnesota. More


Grand Theft Auto fans push for ban on the Bible

We tend to believe that our values are the right ones for everybody. Many people’s definition of “liberal” seems to be “say and do whatever you like, as long as I don’t find it repulsive.” Just as many people’s definition of “freedom” is, in fact, “free to think and do only those things of which I approve.” And so it is that a great battle of values has emerged in Australia. The country’s Kmart and Target stores have decided to ban “Grand Theft Auto V.” I’m not sure why it took them five versions to get there, but it’s clear the stores were moved by a petition that was signed by 50,000 people. More


Reasons to Stay Away from Fast food

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to lose weight, a good way to start is by cutting back on fast food. Those burgers and pizzas may be quick, convenient and cheap, but they’re also loaded with things that can defeat your diet plans. Check out these reasons to make 2014 the year you decrease your consumption of fast food! More


Does Pope Francis Believe Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

At the famous Blue Mosque during a papal visit to Istanbul, Pope Francis stood beside the grand mufti of Istanbul and prayed for two minutes, bowing his head, closing his eyes. At the end of his prayer, the grand mufti whispered aloud: “May God accept it.” One can’t help wondering: Did the grand mufti doubt that God would accept a prayer from the head of the Roman Catholic Church? Indeed, does Francis, or any Christian, genuinely accept that God is God, whether his name be Allah or God? More


China and US climate deal delivers $4.5 trillion blow to Big Oil and Coal

Citigroup says the impact of the China-US climate deal signed earlier this month could total $US3.9 trillion ($A4.5 trillion) – that’s the loss in revenue for Big Oil and Big Coal over the next 15 years from the joint undertaking on greenhouse gas emissions by the world’s two biggest economies. And in a stinging rebuke to the fossil fuel lobby, the Abbott government and conservative commentators, Citigroup analysts say that a carbon price in Australia is inevitable, suggests thermal coal is on a permanent decline, and that investments in infrastructure surrounding the Galilee basin contain significant risk. More


Dead Banker List Grows to 36

The 52-year-old private banker from Haaltert was described as flawless, sporty, sleek and successful. The 52-year-old Geert Tack on 5 November left from his home in Haaltert to his work, but he never arrived. A detection message was distributed and there was a search location near the Zwin, which was found his abandoned car. On December 3, the body was found on the coast of Ostend and removed from the water. The prosecutor confirmed today that it is Geert Tack, but it is still awaiting further results of the autopsy for the exact cause of death. The results of toxicological testing are not yet known. Parquet floor states that the body showed no outward signs of violence. More


California’s ‘Hot Drought’ Ranks Worst in at Least 1,200 Years

Record rains fell in California this week. They’re not enough to change the course of what scientists are now calling the region’s worst drought in at least 1,200 years. Just how bad has California’s drought been? Modern measurements already showed it’s been drier than the 1930s dustbowl, worse than the historic droughts of the 1970s and 1980s. That’s not all. New research going back further than the Viking conquests in Europe still can’t find a drought as bad as this one. More


Detroit now resembling third-world nation as power grid fails and lights go out

During the 1950s and 1960s, the city of Detroit became the automobile manufacturing capital of the world. Growing to become America’s fourth-largest city, it was a model of modernity and American production capacity. Between 1910 and 1950, the PBS program “The Rundown” reports, “few cities grew faster, were wealthier, were more attractive to those seeking success than what became known as the Motor City.” More


From Kiev to Ferguson: Stable Words in an Unstable World by Ravi Zacharias – Full Article – Political and Social Issues


Patterns Of War – Will History Repeat Itself?

The world is changing and becoming even more dangerous — in a way we’ve seen before. In the decade before World War I, the near-hundred-year European peace that had followed the fall of Napoleon was taken for granted. Yet it abruptly imploded in 1914. Prior little wars in the Balkans had seemed to predict a much larger one on the horizon — and were ignored …………. Click here for full story


Putin Pushes Back: Beware The Wounded Russian Bear

Contrary to what he would like us to believe, things are going very poorly for Vladimir Putin these days. Having found the West more united than he expected on the issue of sanctions against Russia, he now discovers that the bottom has fallen out of the international oil market ……… Click here for full story


China’s Prophetic Military Build-Up

What should be made of the tremendous and rapid military growth of China? What does it mean for the stability of rest of the world, and particularly the United States? Does the Bible have anything to say about China and her role in end-time Bible prophecy?………. Click here for full story


Egypt’s Largest Military Maneuver ‘Meant for Israel’

Egypt held its “Badr 2014” military maneuver between October 11 and November 6, its largest exercise since 1996 which was only half the size – according to a senior security expert the Nile state has its sights on Israel, despite the peace treaty………. Click here for full story


Jordan’s Abdullah Plays The Flawed Demographics Card

During his recent visit to Washington to meet with President Obama, King Abdullah II of Jordan was interviewed on “CBS This Morning.” Displaying his keen sense of the terrible neighborhood in which his kingdom is embedded, he identified the war against ISIS jihadi terrorists as “clearly a fight between good and evil.” ……… Click here for full story


Danger Ahead

Axel Merk on gold, oil, the dollar, and the stock market in 2015.


New Law Would Make Taxpayers Potentially Liable For TRILLIONS In Derivatives Losses

If the quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble implodes, who should be stuck with the bill? Well, if the “too big to fail” banks have their way it will be you and I. Right now, lobbyists for the big Wall Street banks are pushing really hard to include an extremely insidious provision in a bill that would keep the federal government funded past the upcoming December 11th deadline. This provision would allow these big banks to trade derivatives through subsidiaries that are federally insured by the FDIC. What this would mean is that the big banks would be able to continue their incredibly reckless derivatives trading without having to worry about the downside. If they win on their bets, the big banks would keep all of the profits. If they lose on their bets, the federal government would come in and bail them out using taxpayer money. In other words, it would essentially be a “heads I win, tails you lose” proposition. (Read More….)


House GOP Leaders Trick 216 House Republicans into Accidentally Supporting Obama’s Executive Amnesty

In a lengthy interview on Friday afternoon, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) exposed how House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise strengthened President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty with procedural trickery former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber would envy—and they did it all in the name of pushing a bill that they told Republicans would block Obama’s executive amnesty.

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Winds of War

NOTE: Scroll down through their fundraising article to find the Terry James’ article. — OTM

By Terry James

Our purpose in the case of the Church–all born-again believers–is to act, individually and collectively, as a preservative agent. We can act only to delay the decay, the degeneration into the sin-darkness of mankind’s eventual, God-rejecting, human history.

This is the answer to the question: Why should Christians get involved in the political process? Why even bother to vote? The answer is that we are commanded to stand in the struggle against the gathering darkness. We must fight to the very last second just before we go to be with the Lord, whether in death, or in the Rapture.

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Online Searches for Ouija Boards Up 300 Percent

In a report recently released by the search engine giant Google, online searches for Ouija boards—occult boards used to communicate with the dead—have risen 300 percent in the past few months, raising concerns with Christians over those who may engage in the Bible’s forbidden practice of necromancy.

“Certain retro toys are making a comeback this season,” Google wrote in its Black Friday article on the most popular searches for gifts online. “Thanks to the new movie ‘Ouija,’ searches for ‘Ouija boards’ are up 300% since October.”

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Headlines of Interest

Howling at the Moon: The False Blood Moon Teaching

Destiny Church’s $6 million windfall

Former Street Church associates claim ‘cult-like’ practices tearing families apart

Jews for Jesus tries to set up shop in heart of Jewish London

China is cracking down on the missionary lifeline that helps North Korean refugees


The U.S. and Israel: The Curse Grows Nearer

But Bush #1 was not the only President who led us away from blessing the nation of Israel. Presidents Clinton and Bush #2 took us down that same path, with the Camp David summits and the “Roadmap to Peace” negotiations. Each of these brokered deals saw more of God’s original boundaries for Israel disappear. And we continued to slide toward that slippery slope of cursing Israel.
Our current President has not only called for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines (rendering Israel indefensible with only 9 to 11 miles of land in the Tel Aviv area); but unconfirmed reports, just this week, hint that the U.S. is considering economic sanctions against Israel for its continued settlement activity involving the building of homes in Jerusalem.

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Global Government and the Coming Perfect Storm

OUR CURRENT RADIO PROGRAM

The web of deception being engineered by Satan’s forces is vast and well planned. Global government is on the horizon. But it will take a crisis – both national and international – to have it implemented. Gary Kah, Jan Markell and Eric Barger discuss this the entire hour and the options that could lead to such crises. This is sobering. The racial unrest may play a role in this. A perfect storm is forming to create a one-world government sooner than most expected. We use the mobile app found on the Home page of http://www.oneplace.com.

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Why We Fail to Progress Past Ferguson

by Pastor J.D.

With all the developments of Ferguson and now the tragic Eric Garner case, I’ve been trying to process what it means to be a follower of Christ in a moment like this. I am grateful for those who have explained the nuances of both “sides;” particularly for African American friends and fellow pastors who patiently have helped me understand the bigger picture from their perspective. It does seem that despite millions of blogs and endless hours of discussion on cable news networks, we aren’t making that much progress—though I suppose having the discussion itself is significant progress.
I want to suggest that this lack of progress comes from both “sides” failing to heed two of the Bible’s most cherished principles about conflict resolution. They are to listen before, and more than, we speak (James 1:19); and to consider the interests of others (including other communities) to be more important than our own (James 2:1–4).
As I am a white man, raised in a white community and pastoring a church—while increasingly multicultural church—arising from Anglo origins, let me explain what I hear the black community saying to us. I am sure there is more, but this is what I have heard:
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4 Seasons When You Will Face Temptation

We live in a world that is full of temptation. There is no rest from sin and no rest from temptation to sin. There is not a single moment when we can relax our vigilance. As John Owen says, we can leave sin alone when sin leaves us alone, and that will not be until we are on the far side of the grave.

Temptations can be like the waves of the sea as they break along the beach—they rise and fall, they ebb and flow. Yet temptations are not entirely unpredictable, and there are certain times in life in which they are more likely to press hard than in others. Here are 4 times or seasons in which you need to be especially vigilant against temptation.

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The Problem of People Pleasing

In this letter of love to his Galatian friends, Paul is forced to kick it up a notch. As an apostolic prophet, he is called by God to safeguard the Gospel, and sometimes this requires him to offend both friend and foe. So on this issue, Paul has debated orthodox Pharisees, ecumenical Judaizers, and dear friends such as Barnabas and Peter. And he is not through; for according to this text, he even stands ready to contradict a heavenly angel who comes preaching a different Gospel.

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Pastoral Care: Step One

The Elders/Overseers are to shepherd the flock. These verses are clarifying because it reminds the Elder of their first priority. It is not buildings, finances, policy, or making decisions. It may include those things, but ultimately shepherds focus on the sheep. The priority of the elder/overseer is to care for people.

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Dear Evangelicals, You’re Being Had

“We’ve been trying to solve spiritual problems with political solutions. We’ve petitioned Presidents and Governors more than we’ve petitioned the King of Kings. We’ve tried to change people’s laws, but forgotten about their hearts.We’ve also failed to testify positively and persuasively about our lives and families.”

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The Seven Deadly Sins in a Digital Age V. Envy


If there’s one thing worse than celebrity Christians… (Paul Levy)


4 Powerful Prepositions on the Incarnation


50 Christmas Sermons


He Is Our Peace

There is only one answer to the racial divide in this country, and the Church needs to supply it. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.
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If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed?

At the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors blog site, Dr. Heath Lambert interviews Dr. Bob Somerville about his new book, “If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed?” Dr. Lambert calls this new book “the best book on depression that I’ve read.” Continue reading


‘Twas the Night Before the Last Christmas!


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GTY Blog: What’s So Important About Christ’s Virgin Birth?

Selected Scriptures

Code: B141208

by John MacArthur

We cannot expect the world to accept the fact of Christ’s virgin birth. As with all essential doctrines of the Christian faith, sinful humanity resists embracing the truth of His unique birth.

Tragically though, it’s no longer just the unbelieving world that fails to accept the biblical account of Christ’s parentage. The scientific age and the emergence of modern and postmodern theologies during the past two centuries have eroded many professed believers’ confidence in the reality of the virgin birth. (Along with that trend has been a noticeable decline in the percentage of “Christians” who believe in the deity of Christ.) But such skeptical thinking is foolish and directly contrary to the explicit teaching of all four gospels, the epistles, and the historical testimony of the entire early church that Jesus was none other than the virgin-born Son of God.

Lending credibility to skepticism, some New Testament commentators will concede that the authors of Scripture sincerely believed that the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus without any assistance from a human father. But such interpreters nevertheless glibly discount the validity of Scripture’s claims by immediately asserting that its writers were naïve, uneducated, and subject to the myths and superstitions of ancient times. According to the critics, the gospel writers merely adapted some of the familiar virgin birth legends to the story of Jesus’ birth.

Sowing doubts about the reliability of God’s Word is one of Satan’s favorite pastimes. His typical strategy is to try to make some small but foundational element of a great truth appear insignificant, then ridicule it and call it into question. If he can get people to doubt or deny the smallest foundational truth, he can eventually destroy the entire superstructure.

That’s why issues like the inerrancy of Scripture are so important. If the Bible is the Word of God, it must be truth unmixed with error. Each detail—including the historical, geographic, and scientific ones—must be accurate. If we doubt even one point of biblical truth, we open the door to denial and unbelief of it all. History verifies the inevitability of this pattern.

The virgin birth is such an issue. Some people see it as a nonessential point, or treat it as mythology. It is neither. Although the church has not always been careful to guard this precious truth, it is the foundation of everything Christmas stands for.

In fact, no other detail in the Christmas story is more important than the virgin birth. The virgin birth must have happened exactly the way Scripture says. Otherwise, Christmas has no point at all. If Jesus is simply the illegitimate child of Mary’s infidelity, or even if He is the child of Joseph’s natural marital union with Mary, He is not God. If He is not God, His claims are lies. If His claims are lies, His salvation is a hoax. And if His salvation is a hoax, we are all doomed.

In the coming days, we’re going to consider some of the major attacks on the virgin birth and how Scripture defends this miraculous truth.

(Adapted from God in the Manger and The Miracle of Christmas.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B141208
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

Survey of U.S. military personnel shows steep drop in morale from 2009 to 2014

WINTERY KNIGHT

Military morale from 2009-2014 Military morale from 2009-2014 (Source: Military Times)

Story from the Military Times.

Excerpt:

According to the Military Times survey, active-duty troops reported a stunning drop in how they rated their overall quality of life: Just 56 percent call it good or excellent, down from 91 percent in 2009. The survey, conducted in July and August, found that 73 percent of troops would recommend a military career to others, down from 85 percent in 2009. And troops reported a significant decline in their desire to re-enlist, with 63 percent citing an intention to do so, compared with 72 percent a few years ago.

[…]Survey data show that service members are also feeling pain in their own wallets. Congress this year capped the military pay raise at 1 percent, rather than the 1.8 percent that would have kept pace with average annual growth in private-sector wages. It was the first military…

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ThomRainer.com: Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

If you want your church to move toward a slow yet certain death, make certain your church leadership and membership affirms most of these ten statements. They are troubling statements. Indeed they are proclamations that virtually assure your church’s decline and probable demise.

What is troubling is that these statements are not uncommon. They are articulated by both staff and lay leaders at times. See if you have ever heard any of these ten.

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Southern Seminary – ‘A different worldview’: Allison discusses new book on Roman Catholic theology

EDITOR’S NOTE: In what follows, Gregg R. Allison, professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary, discusses his new book, Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment, with Towers editor S. Craig Sanders.

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What Does It Mean to Love God With All Our Heart, Soul and Mind?

THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

In Mark 12.28-34 we find a scribe asking Jesus a serious question, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus replied by quoting the Shema, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Jesus then added to the Shema a second commandment (from Leviticus 19.18) when he said, “The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The Shema is the central creed for Jesus!

Jesus is quoting from Deut. 6:4-9:

 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach…

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What happens to your children when they arrive at university?

WINTERY KNIGHT

This Philadelphia Inquirer editorial is from famous ethics professor Robert P. George.

He writes:

When many of the flower children and new-left activists of the ’60s became professors and university administrators in the ’70s and ’80s, they did not entirely overthrow the idea of liberal-arts education. Many proclaimed themselves its loyal partisans.Now, it is true that many think it their mission to create soldiers in the battle for “social change” – aspiring ACLU lawyers, Planned Parenthood volunteers, and “community organizers.” But others resist the idea that learning should be instrumentalized. They profess allegiance to the idea that the point of liberal education is to enrich and even liberate the student-learner. That’s what is supposed to be “liberal” about liberal-arts learning – it is supposed to convey the knowledge and impart the intellectual skills and habits of mind that are liberating.Still, there is a chasm between the idea of liberal-arts education…

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How to apologize effectively: responsibility, restitution, repentance

WINTERY KNIGHT

I guess everyone already knows about Gary Chapman and his 5 Love Languages. But have you heard of his 5 Love Languages of apologies?

I want to focus on two of them that I think are important, because I don’t want people to think that just saying “I’m sorry” is good enough.

Here they are (straight out of his book):

Apology Language #3: Making Restitution

In the public arena, our emphasis upon restitution is based upon our sense of justice. The one who commits the crime should pay for the wrongdoing. In contrast, in the private sphere of family and other close relationships, our desire for restitution is almost always based upon our need for love. After being hurt deeply, we need the reassurance that the person who hurt us still loves us.

“How could they love me and do that?” is the question that lingers in our minds. The words…

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Religious Affections – A Look at the Lists: Pastoral Passages and the Character of a Christian Leader

Several “C’s” help me organize my pastoral theology. A pastor must have the call, that is, a Spirit-given desire to be in ministry (cf. 1 Tim 3:1). He must also have a certain competency, that is, a Spirit-given gift-set that includes oversight and teaching (cf. 1 Tim 3:1–2). There must also be a confirmation, that is, the Spirit-led approval of the church as a whole to set aside a man to be an elder in his church (cf. 1 Tim 4:14; 5:22). Certain circumstances must be true of him as well, such as not being a recent convert (1 Tim 3:6) or one whose reputation among unbelievers is particularly disparaging (1 Tim 3:7).

To add another “C,” an obvious emphasis in Scripture is that pastors or leaders in general be men of character. Whatever one may mean by the term Christian leader, the leaders in the NT were apostles, pastors, and the like, and if one is a “leader” in the church in some capacity, passages that describe their required character should be our guide for evaluating leaders today. Today’s post begins a topical walk through 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9, and 1 Peter 5:1–4. Other passages will be referenced in the future for good measure (e.g., 1 Tim 4:12; 2 Tim 2:22).

1 Timothy 3:1–7 yields a dozen and one-half or so requirements for the overseer, depending on how one breaks apart certain descriptions. Apart from character, as referenced above, one of these requirements involves the overseer’s call (desire; 1 Tim 3:1), two others involve his competency (teaching and oversight of his home and the church; 1 Tim 3:2, 4–5), and two more involve his circumstances (not a new believer and well thought of by outsiders; 1 Tim 3:6–7). The majority of the remaining descriptions involve his character, most of which are found in 1 Tim 3:2–3.

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Translation vs. Transformation – Church & Culture Blog

There are many things that confront leaders regarding the interplay of church and culture, but perhaps none is more pressing than the dynamic between translation and transformation.

Theologian Millard Erickson, building on the insights of William E. Hordern, notes that every generation must translate the gospel into its unique cultural context. But this is very different from transforming the message of the gospel into something that was never intended by the biblical witness.

Transformation of the message must be avoided at all costs.

Translation, however, is essential for a winsome and compelling presentation of the gospel of Christ.

And it is precisely this interplay between translation and transformation that must be navigated by every leader in regard to culture.

If transformation takes place, then we have simply abandoned orthodoxy for the hopeful sake of warm bodies. The tickling of ears does not exactly have a welcome spot in the biblical materials.

If translation takes place, we intentionally build bridges of cultural understanding, but retain our prophetic voice in the marketplace of ideas.

Transformation is heresy.

Translation is the heart of our mission.

Knowing the difference is the crucible of leadership, and the difference between being in the world,

…and of it.

James Emery White

Sources

Millard Erickson, Christian Theology

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Challies: The Theory, the Practice

This makes a fitting conclusion to Owen’s instructions on putting sin to death. With all the instructions made, we have now only to look to Christ, to trust in Christ, and to rely on his Holy Spirit. So simple. Yet it is the Christian’s lifetime work.

Putting sin to death is at once so simple and so excruciatingly difficult. The theory of it is simple enough, but the practice takes a lifetime. It is fascinating to me that in John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation he dedicates thirteen chapters to the preparatory work of putting sin to death, but just one chapter to the actual practice of it. That fact alone is worth pondering.

As he comes to that one chapter, Owen has only two broad instructions: Put your faith in Christ, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

PUT YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST

Owen’s first instruction is simple: Set your faith at work on Christ for the killing of your sin. “His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and you will die a conquerer; you will, through the good providence of God, live to see your [sin] dead at your feet.”

Owen is not speaking about saving faith here, since at this point he already assumes that. Rather, he is talking about exercising your existing faith to believe that Christ has died not only for your salvation, but also for your sanctification. To practice this kind of faith you need to:

• Raise up your heart by faith to an expectation of relief from Christ. “Though it may seem somewhat long to you, while you are under your trouble and perplexity, yet it shall surely come in the appointed time of the Lord Jesus; which is the best season.”

• Consider his mercifulness, tenderness, and kindness, as he is our great High Priest at the right hand of God. “Assuredly he pities you in your distress. … He is able, having suffered and been tempted, to break through all dissuasions to the contrary, to relieve poor and tempted souls.”

• Consider the faithfulness of him who has made the promise. “He has promised to relieve in such cases, and he will fulfill his word to the utmost.”

• Act faith particularly upon the death, blood, and cross of Christ. “Mortification of sin is peculiarly from the death of Christ. … Whatever came upon our natures by [Satan’s] first temptation, whatever receives strength in our persons by his daily suggestions, Christ died to destroy it all.”

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Race Fixation Sits Uneasy With Some | Worldview Weekend

There are more than a few evangelicals who are uneasy with Russell Moore’s fixation on “racial reconciliation” in recent weeks. To be fair, that number includes many of us who are disenchanted with what we have surmised to be – by all discernible standards – social progressivism.

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The Amazing Fact of the Virgin Birth: God in the Manger (Part 1)

Extraordinary births are certainly not unprecedented in biblical history. As part of the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to send a son to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 17:19–22). They were both beyond normal childbearing ages and laughed at the prospect of being parents, yet they ultimately witnessed the miraculous arrival of their son, Isaac (Gen. 21:1–3). In Judges 13, an angel of the Lord told Manoah and his barren wife that they would have a special son. True to the heavenly messenger’s words, Samson entered the world and for a time delivered the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines.

Samuel, the first prophet, final judge, and anointer of kings, also demonstrated in his birth the providential power of God. He was the answer to the faithful, persevering prayers of his godly mother, Hannah, who had remained childless until then. John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, was also unable to have children until God graciously intervened when she was in her sixties or seventies and made her the mother of the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:15–17, 76–79). But none of those special births was as amazing as the virgin birth of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Regarding the Virgin Birth

Even though the fact of Jesus’ virgin birth is clearly and concisely stated in Scripture, the unconverted mind of sinful humanity, as with all essential doctrines of the Christian faith, resists embracing the truth of His unique birth.

First of all, ancient mythologies and world religions counterfeited Christ’s virgin birth with a proliferation of bizarre stories and inaccurate parallels. These stories undercut and minimized the uniqueness and profound impact of our Lord’s birth. Several accounts illustrate the point. The Romans claimed that Zeus impregnated Semele without contact and produced Dionysus, lord of the earth. Babylonian religion asserted that a sunbeam in the priestess Semiramis conceived Tammuz, the Sumerian fertility god (Ezek. 8:14). Buddha’s mother allegedly saw a large white elephant enter her belly when she conceived the deified Indian philosopher. Hinduism teaches that the divine Vishnu, after living as a fish, tortoise, boar, and lion, entered Devaki’s womb and became her son, Krishna. Satan has propagated other similar legends, all with the purpose of undermining the nature of Christ’s birth and deceiving people into seeing it as just another myth or nothing exceptional.

In addition, the scientific age and the emergence of modern and postmodern theologies during the past two centuries have eroded many professed believers’ confidence in the reality of the virgin birth. (Along with that trend has been a noticeable decline in the percentage of “Christians” who believe in the deity of Christ.) But such skeptical thinking is foolish and directly contrary to the explicit teaching of all four Gospels, the Epistles, and the historical testimony of the entire early church that Jesus was none other than the virgin-born Son of God.

Unfortunately, a heart attitude of unbelief concerning Jesus’ identity has characterized the majority of men and women since the Fall. The Jews who opposed Christ vividly illustrated that attitude on more than one occasion (John 5:18; 7:28–30; 10:30–39). But such hostility and lack of faith should not discourage us or deter us from embracing and defending the truth of Christ’s virgin birth. The apostle Paul reminds us, “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:3–4, 10:16; Isa. 53:1). The world’s opinion, popular as it might be, is rarely a reliable source of truth.

Undoubtedly, therefore, the Holy Spirit acted with significant purpose in devoting an early passage from the Gospel of Matthew, at the front of the New Testament, to establish right away the humanity and deity of our Lord. His incarnation, properly understood, is foundational to Christianity. There could have been no genuine work of redemption apart from the fact of God becoming man and, by being both completely God and completely man, reconciling people to Himself through His substitutionary death and physical resurrection. If Jesus had not been both human and divine, there would be no gospel. (For further discussion on the necessity of believing and proclaiming the truth of Christ’s virgin birth and deity, see chapter 8 of my book Nothing but the Truth [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1999]).

Many skeptical New Testament commentators will concede that Matthew and other authors of Scripture sincerely believed and taught that the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus without any assistance from a human father. But such interpreters nevertheless glibly discount the validity of Scripture’s claims by immediately asserting that its writers were naive, uneducated, and subject to the myths and superstitions of ancient times. According to the critics, the Gospel writers merely adapted some of the familiar virgin birth legends to the story of Jesus’ birth.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Matthew’s account, for example, reads as history, but it is history he could know and record only because God revealed it and accomplished it by miraculous intervention. Matthew’s words are far superior to the immoral and repulsive nature of the secular stories he and the other writers allegedly drew from. Here is his clear, uncomplicated narrative of the Incarnation:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18–25)

Matthew declares Jesus’ divine lineage in this passage and reveals five aspects of His virgin birth: its first announcement, Joseph’s response to it, the angel’s clarification of it, its connection to prophecy, and its actual occurrence.

The Virgin Birth Announced

Matthew needs only one verse (1:18) to announce the fact of Christ’s virgin birth. Such a concise statement, though it doesn’t all by itself prove the point, strongly suggests that the notion of our Lord and Savior’s virgin birth was not simply a man-made story. A human author, writing strictly on his own initiative, would characteristically tend to describe such a momentous and amazing event in an expansive, detailed, and elaborate manner. But not the apostle Matthew. He does relate additional circumstances surrounding the virgin birth, but the basic fact is stated in one simple sentence: “After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew devotes the previous seventeen verses to Jesus’ human genealogy but just this part of one verse to His divine genealogy. As the Son of God, Jesus “descended” from His heavenly Father by a miraculous and never-repeated act of the Holy Spirit; even so, the Holy Spirit chose to announce that astounding truth by just one brief, declarative sentence. As all God’s Word does, Matthew’s simple statement contains the solemn tone of authenticity. By contrast, a human fabrication would tend to have that false ring of exaggeration to it, being filled out with much more “convincing” material than what this inspired version needed.

Scripture gives us little information about Mary and even less about Joseph. Mary was undoubtedly a godly young woman, probably a native of Nazareth who came from a relatively poor family. Joseph was the son of Jacob (Matt. 1:16) and was a craftsman, probably a carpenter (13:55). Most significant, he was a “just man” (1:19), one who placed saving trust in the coming Messiah.

Most likely Mary and Joseph were both quite young when they were engaged (“betrothed”). She may have been as young as twelve or thirteen, and he not any older than fifteen or sixteen. Such youthfulness at the time of a couple’s engagement was standard for that culture. Another standard aspect of the Jewish betrothal was its binding nature—society considered the man and the woman legally married even though the formal ceremony and consummation might occur a year later. The purpose of the engagement period was to confirm each partner’s fidelity when the two had little or no social contact with each another.

Mary and Joseph faithfully abstained from sexual relations with one another during the engagement period, as the contract required. That was also in accord with the Bible’s high regard for sexual purity and God’s commands for sexual abstinence prior to the marriage ceremony and for sexual fidelity afterward. Thus, Mary’s virginity was an important indicator of her godliness.

However, Mary’s virginity protected something much more important than her own morality and godly reputation. It ensured the deity of Christ and supported the veracity of His teaching and works as the Son of God. Had Jesus been conceived by natural means, with Joseph or anyone else as His father, He would not have been God and would not have been a true Savior of sinners. To be in accord with what Scripture reported about His life, He would have had to make false claims about Himself, and He would have had to endorse false stories or hoaxes concerning the Resurrection and Ascension. Meanwhile everyone would have remained spiritually dead, condemned forever by their unforgiven sins. But we know that all that is absolutely contrary to what God’s Word teaches.

The apostle Paul, for example, was also very clear and concise when he reiterated the true nature of the Incarnation: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). Paul includes no mention of a human father for Jesus because, according to the divine plan, God was His Father. Jesus had one human parent (Mary) so that He could be a man and identify closely with what it means to be human (Phil. 2:5–7; Heb. 4:15). And He had divine parentage so He could live a sinless life, perfectly fulfill the Law of God for us, and make the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Admittedly, all these centuries after Matthew’s divinely inspired Gospel declared that Jesus was born of a virgin, His miraculous conception remains impossible to understand by human reason alone. God chose not to explain the details of it to us, even as He chose to leave unexplained the intricacies of His creating the universe from nothing, the precise way He could be one God in three Persons, or exactly what happens when depraved sinners are born again as they repent of their sins and trust Christ. Many of the essentials of Christianity God wants believers to accept by faith. Full understanding will have to wait until heaven: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now [we] know in part, but then [we] shall know [fully]” (1 Cor. 13:12).

Joseph’s Response to the Virgin Birth

Initial news of Mary’s condition presented Joseph with a twofold problem. A caring and responsible person concerned about doing the right thing, Joseph was unwilling to proceed with his original plans once he perceived that a crucial part of those plans was no longer acceptable. His difficulty was intensified by the reality that he was a righteous man, genuinely concerned about doing what was morally and ethically right according to God’s Law. First, when Joseph realized Mary was pregnant, he knew he could not go ahead with their marriage. He knew he was not the father and, based on what he knew at the time, he had to assume that another man was.

Joseph’s second difficult decision concerned how he should then treat Mary. Because he was a good and loving man, he was grieved at the thought of shaming her publicly (a common practice in those days when a wife was unfaithful), and even more so at the prospect of demanding her death, as provided for in Deuteronomy 22:23–24. We don’t know if he felt anger, resentment, or bitterness, but he certainly experienced shame at what he had to assume was true. However, Joseph’s concern was not primarily with his own shame and embarrassment, but with Mary’s. Matthew 1:19 says, “not wanting to make her a public example, [Joseph] was minded to put her away secretly.”

Therefore, Joseph’s plan was to divorce Mary secretly so she would not have to endure the disgrace of everyone in the community knowing about her supposed sin. Not many husbands ever display such firmly held and deeply felt love for their wives. Of course eventually, when the marriage didn’t occur, everyone would have found out that something had gone wrong. But at least in the meantime Mary would be protected from humiliation and death.

The Lord, however, in His sovereign providence and wonderful grace, intervened directly into the situation and spared Joseph the further trauma of actually carrying out his divorce plans. “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit’” (Matt. 1:20). This verse underscores the miraculous nature of the virgin birth and the supernatural character surrounding the entire event of Christ’s birth. It also provides divine assurance to Joseph (“son of David”) and to us that Jesus had legitimate royal lineage that legally came through Joseph as a descendant of King David.

The angel’s words provide the ultimate and most irrefutable testimony to the essential truth of the virgin birth and to the proper response Joseph was to have to Mary’s extraordinary situation.

The Angel Clarifies the Virgin Birth

But what was the significance of Mary’s pregnancy even though she had not had relations with Joseph or any other man? Joseph likely would have spent some time puzzling over that question if the divine messenger had not immediately clarified his pronouncement with these words, “‘And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’” (Matt. 1:21).

The angel tells Joseph that Mary will actually bear a son. And not just any son, but Jesus, who “will save His people from their sins.” God chose the name Jesus for His Son because its basic meaning defined the fundamental, overarching purpose for the Son’s coming to earth. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, Jeshua, or Jehoshua, each of which means “Jehovah (Yahweh) will save.” The baby Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and would give birth to in the plan of God would grow up to testify to the Father’s salvation and would Himself be that salvation. By His own sacrificial death on the Cross and triumphant Resurrection from the grave He would save His own—all those who are drawn from sin to repentance and who receive faith to embrace His atoning work.

The Virgin Birth Prophesied

At the time the angel told Joseph about Jesus’ unique birth, the idea of a virgin birth was not one that was completely foreign to the Jews’ understanding of their Scripture. Although they misinterpreted it, many of the rabbis exegeted Jeremiah 31:22 (“a woman shall encompass a man”) in a way that suggested the Messiah would have an unusual birth. Their fanciful explanation of that verse (“Messiah is to have no earthly father,” and “The birth of Messiah shall be like the dew of the Lord, as drops upon the grass without the action of man”) at least preserved the general idea that the Messiah’s birth would be unique.

Actually the Book of Genesis gives us the first glimpse that Christ’s birth would be special: “‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed’” (3:15). Technically, the woman’s seed belongs to the man, but Mary’s impregnation by the Holy Spirit is the only instance in history that a woman had a seed within her that did not originate from a human man.

The later divine promise to Abraham concerned his “descendants” (Hebrew, “seed”; Gen. 12:7), a common Old Testament way of referring to offspring. The unique reference in Genesis 3:15 to “her Seed” looks beyond Adam and Eve to Mary and to Christ. The two seeds of that verse can have a twofold emphasis. First, they can primarily refer to all people who are part of Satan’s progeny and all who are part of Eve’s. The two groups constantly wage spiritual war against each other, with the people of righteousness eventually defeating the people of evil. Second, the word translated “Seed” can be singular and refer mainly to one final, glorious product of a woman—the Lord Jesus Himself, born without human seed. In that sense the prophecy is definitely Messianic.

Matthew 1:22–23 clearly identifies Jesus’ virgin birth as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy: “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Matthew’s quotation here of Isaiah 7:14 confirms that the prophet did in fact predict the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

The prophet Isaiah made this momentous prophecy during the reign of Judah’s wicked and idolatrous King Ahaz. The king faced a major military threat from the Israelite king, Pekah; and the Syrian king, Rezin; both of whom wanted to overthrow Ahaz and replace him with a more compliant monarch. Instead of seeking the Lord’s help during that crisis, King Ahaz turned to Tiglath-Pileser, the brutal ruler of the pagan Assyrians. Ahaz even induced their assistance by offering them gold and silver stolen from God’s Temple.

Ahaz refused to listen to Isaiah’s report that God would deliver the people from Pekah and Rezin. Therefore the prophet spoke the remarkable prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, which told Ahaz that no one would destroy the people of God or the royal line of David. And sure enough, although Tiglath-Pileser destroyed the northern kingdom (Israel), deported its population, and overran Judah four times, God ultimately preserved His people just as He promised.

Isaiah also said that before another child (Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz) was very mature or aware of events, the territories of Rezin and Pekah would be abandoned (Isa. 7:15–16). Again, the prophet’s divinely inspired words were completely accurate. Before the other child, who was born to Isaiah’s wife, was three years old, the two enemy kings were dead. Just as God fulfilled that ancient prophecy about Isaiah’s son, so He was about to fulfill the one concerning the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both were signs from the Lord that He would not abandon His people, but the greatest of the two was obviously the second one: that His Son would actually be born of a virgin, live among His people, and die for their sins.

In his original pronouncement in 7:14, Isaiah used the Hebrew word alma for “virgin.” That is a significant term, and it’s important to understand why the prophet used it. Alma occurs six other times in the Old Testament (Gen. 24:43; Exod. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song of Sol. 1:3; 6:8), and in each instance it connotes or denotes “virgin.” Until recent times, both Jewish and Christian scholars always translated the word that way.

It is interesting that in modern Hebrew either alma or betula can mean “virgin.” However, Isaiah did not use betula because in Old Testament Hebrew it can refer to a married woman who is not a virgin (Deut. 22:19; Joel 1:8). It’s apparent, therefore, that he used alma in 7:14 with the clear, precise conviction that the woman who would bear the Messiah would indeed be a young woman who never had sexual relations with a man.

Matthew’s use of Isaiah’s prophecy followed directly in the prophet’s path. The apostle was not giving alma a Christian “twist” to make its usage fit a theory of the virgin birth. Instead, Matthew gave the term the same meaning as Isaiah intended, demonstrated by his translation of alma with the Greek parthenos, the same word used by the Jewish translators of the Greek Old Testament.

Although the credibility of the virgin birth does not rest solely on the use of a Hebrew word, a general understanding of the background and usage of alma strengthens our belief in Christ’s unique birth. It also helps us to see that Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, knew exactly what he was doing when he related Isaiah 7:14 to the birth of Jesus and declared again the equally amazing truths that “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” In His virgin birth, Christ was, in the most literal sense, the Son who was “God with us.”

The Occurrence of the Virgin Birth

All of Matthew’s explanation of the significance of the virgin birth came within the revelatory dream God gave to Joseph. Such extraordinary, direct communication evidently occurred while Joseph engaged in the otherwise ordinary activity of sleeping. Matthew does not record any detail of Joseph’s immediate reaction, except to say that he woke up and obeyed the angel’s instructions: “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus” (1:24–25).

You can imagine how great Joseph’s feelings of amazement, relief, and gratitude must have been once he realized what the Lord, through the heavenly messenger, had told him. Not only could he go ahead and gladly take Mary as his wife with honor and righteousness, but also he could rejoice at the privilege of being allowed to bring up God’s own Son.

The wedding ceremony of Joseph and Mary likely took place soon after Joseph received the angel’s announcement. Matthew makes it clear that Mary remained a virgin until after Jesus was born, implying that normal marital relations began after that time. That, along with the references to Jesus’ brothers and sisters (Matt. 12:46; 13:55–56; Mark 6:3), proves Mary was not a virgin for her entire life, as some claim.

Finally, Joseph followed through on God’s command in Matthew 1:21 and named the baby Jesus, indicating, as we’ve already seen, that He was to be the Savior.

The amazing fact of Jesus’ supernatural birth is the only way to explain the perfect, sinless life He lived while on earth. A skeptic who denied the virgin birth once asked a Christian, “If I told you that child over there was born without a human father, would you believe me?” “Yes,” the believer replied, “if he lived as Jesus lived.”

Christ’s virgin birth is a necessary component that helps us believe and make sense of the entire story of His person and work. His extraordinary conception and birth, not before or since equaled, is an amazing reality that we should with joy and gratitude never take for granted.[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). God in the manger: the miraculous birth of Christ (pp. 1–12). Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.

The Joy and Music of Christmas: Christmas Study Guide (Part 1)

In this lesson we examine the universal phenomenon of the music of joy and celebration at Christmas.

Outline

One of the hallmarks of the Christmas season around the world is the playing and singing of holiday hymns and music. In light of that, have we ever stopped to ask ourselves why this is so? And even more important, where did this music of joy and celebration originate?

The answers to these questions—taken directly from the pages of Scripture—are sure to deepen their meaning.

  1. There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because Old Testament Prophecies Were Fulfilled
  2. There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Problem of Sin Has Been Resolved

III.  There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Pain of the Lowly and Forgotten Has Been Remembered

  1. There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Possibility of Peace Is Renewed in Our Hearts
  2. There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Purpose of Life Is Illustrated in the Songs of the Nativity
  3. There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Predictions of Christ’s Second Coming Are Secure

Overview

Christianity is a religion of song. Agnosticism has no carols. Confucianism and Brahminism have no anthems or alleluias. Dreary, weird dirges reveal no hope for the present or for the future. Christianity, however, is filled with music. Only the message of Christ puts a song in a person’s heart.

When you have Christ in your heart, when you know what Christmas is all about, something changes inside of you, and a melody starts to form that you can’t really control. It is unlike any other belief system.

As we read the stories of Christmas in the book of Luke, we find six different songs recorded almost back-to-back: the “Beatitude of Elizabeth,” when she was visited by Mary; the “Magnificat of Mary,” Mary’s song; the “Benedictus of Zacharias,” the father of John the Baptist; the “Song of Simeon,” when he was presented with the Christ Child at the temple; the “Evangel Song” of the angel of the Lord over the plains; and, finally, the “Gloria” of the angelic hosts. When Jesus came into the world, poetry expressed itself and music was reborn.

Why do we sing during the Christmas season? Everywhere we go, every time we turn on the radio or television, every time we go to a shopping center, someone is playing or singing Christmas music. If we didn’t know what it was all about, it could really be irritating! There’s nothing worse than knowing that somebody is truly filled with joy, but not understanding why—wishing you had it, but not understanding how to get it.

Why are we so filled with joy and music at this season of the year? What is it about Christmas that makes us want to sing?

Several reasons are illustrated by the songs in Luke 2.

There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because Old Testament Prophecies Were Fulfilled

When Christ was born, one of the reasons for great songs in the hearts of people was that the prophecies of the Old Testament had at last been fulfilled.

In Simeon’s song recorded in Luke chapter 2:25–32, we get some understanding of the Jews’ longing for the fulfillment of prophecy. “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

Somehow, for some reason, Simeon had been given a word from the Lord that he would live until the Messiah was born. Every day he probably wondered, “Is this the day when prophecy will be fulfilled?” All of his life he had longed for the Messiah. Simeon was well-acquainted with Isaiah 40–55, which tells about the nature of the coming of the Messiah. The joy of seeing those prophecies fulfilled kept Simeon alive until at last, one day, in the temple, he had the joy of seeing the Messiah Himself. Simeon, then, is an illustration of all those who awaited the coming of Christ.

The Old Testament is filled with prophecies of the coming of Messiah in such a specific way that most Jewish people had a tendency to read right over it and miss the significance of what the prophets were saying. Micah, for instance, said that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Daniel actually gave a timetable of how this was going to happen. Isaiah said that Messiah would be born of a virgin, something that had never happened before. Jeremiah said Christ’s birth would be accompanied by the slaughter of many children. Hosea revealed that at a certain time they would have to go into Egypt to spare the life of the Child.

All of these prophecies were given 500 to 700 years before the birth of Christ; and there were devout Jews who every day would read the Scriptures, ponder these verses, and wonder, “Will that happen in my lifetime? Will I see the Messiah?”

So, when Christ was born, and it became apparent that this was indeed the Messiah, they were filled with joy, and they burst forth into song and excitement.

Consider the incredible nature of the prophecies concerning the coming of Christ. For example, in 700 b.c. Micah prophesied that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. What possibility is there of any man, by his own wisdom, predicting the birthplace of someone not yet born? There is no possibility at all. If we examine every piece of American literature down to the year 1830, we will not find one phrase even suggesting that a future president of the United States would some day be born in Harlan County, Kentucky. But Micah the prophet put his finger on one of the smallest countries in the world, Israel, designated one of the twelve provinces in which the Messiah was to be born—namely, Judah—and within that province, put his finger on one small village called Bethlehem, and said it was there that Messiah would be born. David is the only king of Judah who had ever been born in Bethlehem. All the other kings, generation after generation until Judah fell, were born in the royal city of Jerusalem. Most of them probably were born in the palace. So, if prophets of Micah’s day had guessed the birthplace of Jesus, they never would have guessed Bethlehem. They would have guessed Jerusalem, where kings would normally be born.

It was only due to a Roman edict concerning taxation that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. It was a pagan edict that sent them to the very place where Micah said Jesus would be born.

When Christ was born and it became apparent to the few who gathered around the scene that this was indeed the Messiah, we can understand why they were filled with joy and became so excited they couldn’t do anything but burst into song.

We sing at Christmastime because the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled, and we are reminded of that truth.

There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Problem of Sin Has Been Resolved

Once and for all, the sin problem has been solved. If we look back to Bethlehem and back to the birth of Jesus, we have to look back through the empty tomb. We have to look back through the Cross. We have to look back through the Garden of Gethsemane. And as we look back, we come to the manger, and we know that Bethlehem was the answer to the question that plagued every heart: How can a man know God?

In the Old Testament, in faith believers brought sacrifices in order to know God in the Old Testament way. But there also was the promise of the Lamb of God who would come and be slain for everyone, thus sin could forever be put to rest for those who would trust in the Messiah.

I think that’s what Zacharias was talking about in Luke 1:68–79:

Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us … that we should be saved from our enemies … , to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant … , to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies … , to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God …

Zacharias understood that the coming of Jesus Christ was for a specific purpose, that He might ultimately be the Redeemer.

Why is there joy and singing at Christmas? For the same reason that there is joy and singing in heaven when one sinner repents. When salvation becomes a reality, when we understand what it truly means to be forgiven, to have the burden of sin lifted off us, to know that we never have to stand in judgment for our sin, that is a reason for song.

There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Pain of the Lowly and Forgotten Has Been Remembered

Listen to Mary’s song, beginning in Luke 1:46:

‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel …’

Every Christmas, God is saying to the downtrodden, the oppressed, and the exploited of mankind, “Be of good cheer. I am your friend, and I am your champion. I have sent My Son with good news for the poor, to proclaim and release captives, and to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Why is there joy at Christmas? Because no matter who we are, no matter how poor we are, no matter how unimportant we may feel, every Christmas there is a renewal within us of this message: Christ has chosen to be among the common people. He came in a common way, not born in a palace but in a manger, not surrounded by kings but by shepherds, to make sure that none of us, no matter who we are, no matter how insignificant we may think ourselves to be, none of us are out of the sphere of the love of God at Christmas.

There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Possibility of Peace Is Renewed in Our Hearts

In more than a few past wars, the warring nations would call a cease-fire for Christmas Day. They would agree that on Christmas Day they wouldn’t shoot at each other, drop bombs on each other, or try to destroy one another. Then, of course, the day after Christmas they would start killing each other again.

As strange as that custom has been, in a wonderful way it is a mute testimony to the purpose for which Christ came—to bring peace. Wasn’t that the message that the angels proclaimed in Luke 2:8–14?

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

We sing at Christmas because within our hearts there is hope of peace. Today, there are many places in our world where peace is not a word in anyone’s vocabulary. Yet every Christian knows that there is coming a time when peace will reign on this earth. Each Christmas season, a kind of new hope is born in our hearts—that though the outlook may be dark, and the only darkness we may see is out there, we may not feel it here. The Prince of Peace has come, and with Him the faith that someday men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and we shall be at peace.

There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because the Purpose of Life Is Illustrated in the Songs of the Nativity

Throughout all of the songs we find this note of glory and praise to the Father. Mary’s song begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Elizabeth was so full of joy and praise for her God that when she met Mary, the baby jumped in her womb for the joy of being in the presence of the Messiah.

Zacharias, in his “Benedictus,” said, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel.”

And the message of the angels was “Glory to God in the highest!”

What is the real purpose of life for all of us? According to the Westminster Catechism, it is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. And in the message of Christmas we find that wonderful story. Everywhere we read the songs of Christmas in the Book of Luke, they are extolling the glory of God, praising God, and blessing God.

There Is Joy and Music at Christmas Because Predictions of Christ’s Second Coming Are Secure

As we read the prophecies of Micah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Daniel, and Isaiah, and we follow them through 600 or 700 years, all the way up to when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, we are amazed at the accuracy of prophecies that could reveal exactly where Messiah would be born. Or that Isaiah could say, “Born of a virgin.” Or that Jeremiah could foretell a slaughter of children connected with that birth. Or that Hosea could reveal a flight into Egypt to avoid danger. Yet all of those same prophets have told us that Messiah who came the first time is coming again.

How accurately will those prophecies be fulfilled? Just as accurately as the first prophecies were fulfilled. Many things mentioned in the songs of Luke weren’t fulfilled at Bethlehem—because they are yet to be fulfilled when Christ comes again.

Why is there joy at Christmas? Because the same Jesus who came the first time is coming again.

Application

  1. Make a list of all the Bible-based Christmas hymns you can think of, then answer the following:
  2. Which songs mention the Divine nature of Jesus Christ at His birth?

Which specific phrases?

  1. Which songs refer to the fulfillment of prophecy at His birth?

Which specific phrases?

  1. Which songs refer to His eventual reign as King and Messiah on earth?

Which specific phrases?

  1. Which songs refer to His love and care for all mankind?

Which specific phrases?

  1. Which songs refer to the songs found in the Bible?

Which specific phrases?

  1. In Mary’s song (Luke 1:46–55):
  2. What is Mary’s emotional response to the message she is given?
  3. Upon whom is her focus?

How do you know?

  1. What future personal circumstances does she not mention?
  2. What is the significance of her statement in verse 55?
  3. In the song of Zacharias (Luke 1:68–79):
  4. How many future deeds or activities of the Messiah does he mention?
  5. What are those, in which verses?
  6. Why is God doing these things, according to the words of Zacharias (vv. 72–73)?
  7. What office will his son (John the Baptizer) fill, according to vv. 76–77?
  8. How does this relate to the last Old Testament book (see Malachi 3:1; 4:5–6)?
  9. In the song of the angelic host (Luke 2:14):
  10. Who ultimately is glorified by the birth of Messiah?
  11. What do you think the phrase “on earth peace” refers to specifically?
  12. To what does “goodwill toward men” refer?

Whose goodwill?

Displayed how?

  1. Which of the events or circumstances displayed in these three songs do you think have already taken place?
  2. Which events or circumstances do you think are yet to occur?
  3. If biblical “hope” is the present assurance of a future certainty, how would you describe the “hope” of the Christmas season?

Did You Know?

Some of the traditional Christmas hymns are tremendous repositories of Christian theology. For example, if one reads all the verses of Wesley’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” there can be found such doctrines as the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the depravity of mankind, the kenosis (humbling) of Christ, His sinlessness, and His Second Coming, to name a few. Perhaps the next time we celebrate Christmas, it would serve us well to acquire and read all the words to some of the historical hymns of the season.

Gingerbread Cookie Ornaments

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 cup butter

2 teas. baking soda

1 teas. salt

4 tbls. sugar

1 cup molasses

1 teas. cinnamon

½ teas. ginger

¼ teas. nutmeg

¼ teas. cloves

3 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugars. Add molasses and blend well. Add remaining ingredients to mixture and stir well. (If dough is too soft, add a little flour; if too crumbly, add a few drops of milk or water.)

Divide dough into fourths and wrap each section in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least two hours.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough, one fourth at a time, to ¼ inch thickness. Cut with flour-dusted cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Punch a hole for hanging on top of each cookie with a drinking straw or wooden skewer.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until set.

Cool completely on wire rack, then decorate the cookies using icing, candies, and colored sugars. Let the children express their creativity.

It is fun to make a custom cookie ornament by writing a name in icing and tying it to a package for a teacher or special friend. Remember: Don’t worry about making mistakes; you can eat them![1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (1999). Celebrate his love: Study guide (pp. 13–27). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Those who abide in Christ must first believe the one whom God sent

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

38 καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε. (John 5:38 NA28)

38 You do not have his word abiding in you because you do not believe the one whom he sent. (John 5:38 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 5:30-47 the apostle gives us several witnesses to establish the truthfulness and genuiness of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Our Lord Jesus presented these witnesses who testified to His identity as the Son to those who opposed Him. The first witness given is John the Baptist in vv 32-35. The second witness is our Lord’s own words in vv 35, 36. The third witness if the Father in vv 37, 38. The fourth witness is the Old Testament Scriptures in vv 39-47. However, as is the case from this point to the end of John, those…

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