Daily Archives: December 17, 2018

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Day 21, Shepherd — The End Time

 

By Elizabeth Prata

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His earthly ministry. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, and now shepherd.

thirty days of Jesus day 21

Ligonier: In the bosom of the Shepherd, Isaiah 40:11 devotional

Spurgeon’s Devotional on Isaiah 40:11

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Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Day 21, Shepherd — The End Time

Monday Briefing Dec. 17, 2018 – AlbertMohler.com

Download MP3

When the biggest event is not the biggest news: Why Cardinal Pell’s child sex abuse conviction goes unreported by many news outlets

Crackdown on religion in China: Pastor’s arrest for ‘inciting subversion’ reveals the coercive power of the Communist Party

Is there a link between moral behavior and public health? How individuality led to an epidemic of loneliness for millions of baby boomers

Why the loss of the Weekly Standard does not make us stronger, but makes us weaker
— Read on albertmohler.com/2018/12/17/briefing-12-17-18/

December 17, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

The Coming of the Son of Man

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 13:24–27). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


Christ’s Spectacular Appearance (13:24–27)

As the Lord described His second advent, He paid particular attention to four aspects of His return: the sequence, the staging, the sign, and the saints.

The Sequence. After warning His disciples about the abomination of desolation in the temple (v. 14), and the terrible holocaust that will follow it (vv. 15–23), Jesus explained that in those days, after the tribulation period ends, He will return. In light of the context, those days can only refer to the three and a half years of great tribulation that will follow the Antichrist’s desecration of the temple in Jerusalem (13:14–19; cf. Matt. 24:21; Rev. 6–19). Earth’s final days will be characterized by unrestrained immorality, unparalleled devastation, and unrelenting violence (toward all believers and also toward the Jewish people) under the satanically inspired influence of the Antichrist and his forces. Only as the tribulation ends and its judgments are exhausted will the Lord return to conquer His enemies and establish His earthly reign and rule.

The Staging. The cosmic backdrop for history’s most climactic moment will be total darkness, after God extinguishes the sun, moon, and stars (cf. Zech. 14:6–7), which will later be relit during the millennial kingdom (cf. Isa. 30:26). As Jesus explained, at the end of the tribulation period the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven. When the One who “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3) withdraws that sustaining energy, the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken, indicating that the orbits of stars and planets will careen off course, and cosmic bodies will begin to rip apart. Yet, God will not allow the universe to disintegrate entirely; He will preserve it for the establishment of Christ’s domination.

In predicting these traumatic events, Jesus echoed the words of Old Testament prophecy. The book of Isaiah exclaimed:

Behold, the day of the Lord is coming …

For the stars of heaven and their constellations

Will not flash forth their light;

The sun will be dark when it rises

And the moon will not shed its light.

Thus I will punish the world for its evil

And the wicked for their iniquity …

Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,

And the earth will be shaken from its place

At the fury of the Lord of hosts

In the day of His burning anger. (Isa. 13:9–13; cf. 24:1–6, 23; 34:1–6)

About a hundred years before Isaiah, the prophet Joel similarly declared:

Before them the earth quakes,

The heavens tremble,

The sun and the moon grow dark

And the stars lose their brightness.

The Lord utters His voice before His army;

Surely His camp is very great,

For strong is he who carries out His word.

The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome,

And who can endure it?…

The sun will be turned into darkness

And the moon into blood

Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.

(Joel 2:10–11, 31; cf. 3:15)

Other prophets similarly predicted the devastating events that will occur during the great tribulation (cf. Ezek. 38:19–23; Hag. 2:6–7; Zeph. 1:14–18; Zech. 14:6). Jesus’ words corresponded exactly to what the Old Testament promised would take place during the eschatological day of the Lord when He will establish His glory before the watching world.

In response to these cosmic events, unbelievers who are alive on the earth will react in terror and confusion. As Luke’s parallel account explains, the Lord added that there will be “on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25–26). The world’s inhabitants will go into severe shock, some undoubtedly traumatized to death from the unbearable dread over what is happening to them.

The Sign. Against the pitch darkness of that time, suddenly and vibrantly “the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire” (2 Thess. 1:7). His presence will be unmistakable, and all the world will witness His appearing (Rev. 1:7). The disciples had asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” (Matt. 24:3). As Jesus explained to them, God’s wrath will be released so that the world will be replete with natural disasters and man-made crises, all of which preview the future, global devastation of the final tribulation period that immediately precedes the second coming. But the ultimate sign will be Jesus Himself, when He appears in glorious and undiminished brilliance (cf. Mark 9:3). Just as He ascended two millennia ago, He will one day descend to this earth (cf. Acts 1:9–11). Then all the world will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. In describing that future event, Jesus borrowed the language of Daniel 7:13–14, where the prophet Daniel declared:

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

Coming in the clouds as if they were a divine chariot (cf. Ps. 104:3; Isa. 19:1), the Son of Man will appear with great power and glory, returning to establish His kingdom and to destroy the ungodly. On that day, heaven will open to reveal the conquering King. Rather than riding the humble foal of a donkey, as He did at His earthly entrance to Jerusalem (Mark 11:7–10), He will be seated as the eternal Sovereign atop a royal white steed.

The apostle John described the majesty and power of Jesus’ return with these words:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. (Rev. 19:11–21)

With perfect righteousness and absolute authority, the Lord Jesus will enact judgment on His enemies (2 Thess. 1:7–10; cf. Isa. 11:4; 63:1–4; Rev. 1:16), including the Antichrist whom He will cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). Satan will be bound for a period of a thousand years (20:1–3), and Christ’s millennial reign will begin (20:4–6). Seated at last upon His earthly throne, the Lord Jesus will unilaterally and perfectly rule the nations as their sole Sovereign and King (cf. Ps. 2:8–9; Rev. 12:5).

The Saints. At the Lord’s return, He will be joined by “many thousands of His holy ones” (Jude 14), a heavenly army that will include both angels (Matt. 24:31; 25:31; Mark 8:38; 2 Thess. 1:7) and glorified saints (Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 3:13; Rev. 19:14). The church, having been raptured before the seven-year tribulation began (cf. John 14:1–3; 1 Cor. 15:51–52; 1 Thess. 4:15–18; Rev. 3:10), will compose the entourage that accompanies Christ in His triumph. (For a discussion on the timing of the rapture of the church in light of the Olivet Discourse, see John MacArthur, Luke 18–24, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 2014], chap. 22.)

After the enemies of Christ are vanquished, then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. With the blast of “a great trumpet” (Matt. 24:31), those believers who are alive on the earth, having come to saving faith during the tribulation and survived, will be gathered from all across the world and assembled together. Their number will include the 144,000 Jews who were supernaturally protected during the tribulation (Rev. 7:4–8; 14:1–5), along with myriads of other converts, both Jew (Zech. 12:10–11; cf. Isa. 59:20; Rom. 11:25–26) and Gentile (cf. Rev. 7:9). Having never bowed the knee to the Antichrist but remained faithful to the one true Lord, they will be rewarded by their King and welcomed into His glorious kingdom (cf. Luke 21:28). Joined by all the redeemed of all the ages, all the elect will be assembled together with Christ. Gathered from both the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven, they will enter the perpetual joy of the kingdom where they will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev. 20:3–6; cf. Matt. 8:11; Luke 13:29; 1 Cor. 6:2–3), after which they will continue to experience the glories of eternal life on the new earth forever (cf. Rev. 21:1–22:5).[1]


The Coming of the Son of Man (13:24–27)

Overview

Verses 24–27 form a unit and relate to the parousia and the end of the age. They are set off from the previous verses by the strong adversative alla (“but”). Whereas the preceding verses (5–23) point ambiguously to both the destruction of Jerusalem and the end time, these verses appear to speak exclusively of the end time. Following a series of catastrophic signs in the heavens, the Son of Man, returning in the clouds, will send his angels to gather the elect from the ends of the earth, judge the wicked, and establish his eternal kingdom. The salvation achieved through the ransom-sacrifice of the Son of Man on the cross will reach its consummation with his return in glory.

With the majority of commentators, we take this section to refer to the final act of history and the establishment of the kingdom of God. For a contrary view, see Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 354–68, 510–19, who argues that the “coming” of the Son of Man refers not to the physical descent from heaven of the Messiah but to the vindication of God’s people and their representative, Jesus Christ, in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. According to this perspective, the apocalyptic language used here was never intended to be taken literally, but instead (and characteristically for such language) stands for something else, namely, God’s victory over and judgment against those who opposed his representative. Wright, 515, summarizes his perspective:

The discourse as a whole then works as follows. Jesus has been asked about the destruction of the Temple. His reply has taken the disciples through the coming scenario: great tribulation, false messiahs arising, themselves hauled before magistrates. They need to know both that Jerusalem is to be destroyed and that they must not stand and fight, but must escape while they can. There will then occur the great cataclysmic event which will be at the same time (a) the final judgment on the city that has now come, with awful paradox, to symbolize rebellion against YHWH; (b) the great deliverance promised in the prophets; and (c) the vindication of the prophet who had predicted the downfall, and who had claimed to be embodying in himself all that Jerusalem and the Temple had previously stood for.

A similar view is espoused by France, 530–34, who claims that the disciples’ question about the destruction of Jerusalem is not answered until this point in the discourse (vv. 24–27). We will discuss particulars of this interpretation in the notes at the end of this section.

Commentary

24–25 “In those days,” a common OT expression having eschatological associations, further evidences that something beyond the destruction of Jerusalem is in view (cf. Jer 3:16, 18; 31:29; 33:15–16; Joel 3:1; Zec 8:23). In Mark, Jesus speaks of a period “following that distress” (or “tribulation”). Matthew, however, says that these cosmic events will occur “immediately” after the distress of those days (24:29), which seems to connect the destruction of Jerusalem directly to the return of the Son of Man. D. A. Carson, however, argues that the distress (thlipsis; GK 2568) Matthew is referring to is the thlipsis of Matthew 24:9, 22, not the “great distress” of vv. 15–21. “The celestial signs and the coming of the Son of Man do not immediately follow ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ but ‘the distress of those days’—i.e., of the entire interadvent period of thlipsis” (see p. 567 in this volume). Like Mark, then, Matthew would be moving back and forth between references to the destruction of Jerusalem and to the end.

The coming of the Son of Man will be associated with celestial phenomena. The imagery and language derive from OT descriptions of the day of the Lord. The quotation echoes Isaiah 13:10 (“the stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light; the rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light”), but other OT passages reveal similar language (Isa 24:23; 34:4; Eze 32:7–8; Joel 2:10, 30–31; 3:4, 15, 20; Am 8:9). These celestial events are not so much portents or signs that Christ is about to return, but rather the radical transformation of creation that accompanies his return. G. R. Beasley-Murray (Jesus and the Last Days [Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1993], 375) writes, “The fundamental idea of signs in heaven and on earth is the reaction to the stepping forth of the awesome and terrible Creator. The elements of creation go into confusion and fear because he appears, not as a sign that he is about to do so (see, e.g., Jdg 5:4–5; Am 1:2; Hab 3:3–6, 10–11; Pss 77:14–16; 114:1–8).” This language is that of theophany. God is about to reveal himself through awesome power and judgment by the divine Son of Man.

It is difficult to know how much the poetic language here is to be understood literally and how much figuratively. The repeated assertion in Scripture that the end times will be accompanied by cosmic disturbances seems to imply that there will be unprecedented celestial disturbances of some sort that are literal (cf. 2 Pe 3:10). This literality is not to deny that Mark may be using phenomenal language, but his language is nonetheless referring to objective events in the physical universe. These events will occur when God brings history to an end by the coming of his Son. Ladd (Theology of the New Testament, 203) writes, “This language does not mean necessarily the complete break-up of the universe; we know from similar language elsewhere that it designates the judgment of God upon a fallen world that has shared the fate of humanity’s sin, that out of the ruins of judgment a new world may be born.”

26–27 The celestial drama climaxes when the Son of Man comes in the clouds with “great power and glory.” Jesus describes his coming in these verses almost entirely in the words of Scripture. The reference here is to Daniel 7:13, the first time Jesus explicitly connects the title “Son of Man” with this prophecy in Daniel (cf. Mk 14:62; for a discussion of the title “Son of Man,” see comments at 8:31).

The great emphasis of these verses is on disclosure and triumph. Whereas the Son of Man has been hidden, or at least veiled, in his first coming, now he will be revealed. People “will see” him and see him for who he really is. Whereas he has been the lowly Suffering Servant, despised and rejected, the Son of Man at his parousia will come in triumph—“with great power and glory.” And his chief concern at his coming will be to bring together his people so that they may be with him; so he sends forth his angels to gather the elect from all over the world (v. 27). The gathering and restoration of the remnant of God’s people is a common theme in the OT and Judaism (Dt 30:4; Isa 11:11–12; 43:5–6; Jer 23:3; 32:37; Eze 34:12–13; 36:24; Zec 2:10; Pss. Sol. 8:28; 11:1–4; 17:21–28). The fact that they are called “his angels” reflects a remarkably high Christology. Throughout the OT it is God who commands and directs the angels of heaven (Evans, 329). Here it is the Son of Man, the one who is “given authority, glory and sovereign power” and who will be worshiped by “all nations and peoples of every language” (Da 7:14 TNIV).[2]


13:26–27. The return of Jesus will not be seen by just a few people, as was true of his entrance into the world when he was born in a manger. This time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. The reference here is to Daniel 7:13. This is the first time Jesus definitely connected the title “Son of Man” with the Daniel prophesy (cf. Mark 14:62).

All of humankind will see the Son of Man as the ruler of this universe. His major concern will be to gather his people together so they might share in this time of triumph. The phrase, gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens, has a dual meaning. Not only will he send his angels to gather his people from the ends of the earth but apparently those in the heavens who have gone on before will also be with him to celebrate his triumph.[3]


26. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. This “they” must mean “all mankind,” cf. Rev. 1:7. As was pointed out above, Matt. 24:30 states, “And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in the sky,” but both Mark and Luke leave out the word “sign.” They simply represent Jesus as declaring that men will see “the Son of man coming” majestically. Probable solution: the very appearance of the Son of man upon clouds of glory is itself the sign, the one great, final sign from the point of view of the earth. Christ’s brilliant self-manifestation will be the sign or signal that he is about to go forth to meet his people, while they ascend to meet him in the air. He comes to deliver the oppressed elect people (clearly implied in verses 20, 27; see also Luke 21:28). In fact, he will gather all the elect—both the survivors and those who had previously fallen asleep—to himself, to be with him forever.

This appearance of the Son of man in majesty is a sign in still another respect: the glorious manner of his appearance corresponds exactly with the prediction of Dan. 7:13, 14; cf. Mark 14:62. For the significance of “clouds” see N.T.C. on Matthew, p. 667. The glory that marks the Son of man’s sudden and brilliant manifestation is a definite proof of the Father’s delight in his Son and of the justice of the cause of him who was once “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).

Note “the Son of man,” see on Mark 2:10; and note also “with great power and glory.” That “power” is evident from what happens at his coming: see verses 24, 25, 27; add Rev. 14:14–16; also 20:11 (in view of Rev. 3:21; 5:7, 8, it is impossible to remove the Son from this throne). “And glory,” for at his coming all his attributes—power, wisdom, holiness, love, etc.—shine forth brilliantly. This “great power and glory” is enhanced by what is stated in the next verse:

Assembly of the Scattered Eject

27. And then he will send forth his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from farthest reach of earth to farthest reach of heaven. At Christ’s return, the already “departed ones,” that is, the souls that had previously exchanged their earthly for their heavenly dwelling, are quickly reunited with their now glorified bodies. The “survivors,” that is, those children of God that are still living on earth at Christ’s return, are changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52). Together, all the elect, now forming one countless multitude, thus gathered “from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven,” accompanied by the angels who were divinely instructed to gather them, now go forth as the Bride, to meet the Bridegroom, and to be with him forevermore. See N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 4:13–18.

Evidence for the separate units of this representation:

  • The sending forth of the angels.

Though none of the following passages teach exactly what is stated here with respect to their task at Christ’s return, Mark 13:27 (cf. Matt. 24:31) is in line with the following: Matt. 13:41, 49; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 16:22; 2 Thess. 1:7; Heb. 1:14. See also the summary of biblical teaching on angels, N.T.C. on Matthew, pp. 694, 695.

  • his elect.

See above, on verse 20.

  • The four winds.

These represent the four points of the compass; hence, “from the four winds” means “from everywhere.” See Zech. 2:6; and Cf. Deut. 30:4; Isa. 11:12; Ezek. 7:2; Rev. 7:1; 20:8.

  • “from farthest reach of earth to farthest reach of heaven.”

It is true that the Old Testament contains many passages which show that the scattered children of God will be gathered (Deut. 30:4; Isa. 11:11–16; 27:12, 13; Ezek. 39:27, 28; Zech. 2:6–11, etc.). But such references, though indeed helpful, merely anticipate or foreshadow what is taught here in Mark 13:27. They predict a return to the land of Canaan, and it is a known fact that the remnant did actually return. What Jesus teaches, as recorded here in Mark 13:27, is something else; namely, the collective gathering of all the elect to himself at his glorious return. So, if one is looking for parallel passages (in addition to Matt. 24:31), he should turn rather to Matt. 25:31–40; John 10:16; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; and Rev. 19:6–8.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2015). Mark 9–16 (pp. 253–258). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Wessel, W. W., & Strauss, M. L. (2010). Mark. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 929–932). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Cooper, R. L. (2000). Mark (Vol. 2, p. 221). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Vol. 10, pp. 536–538). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

The Charts Bulls And Bears Are Obsessing Over For 2019 | Zero Hedge

“In markets, economics, and crises; things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.” – Ritesh Jain

2017 was a tough year for many rational, sane investors who had to keep chasing the non-correcting ascent.

And now, as Sven Henrich notes, 2018 has turned out to be a year for Wall Street to be wrong on everything. The year when the warning signs finally did matter, but they were ignored:

A perhaps similar script to 2008 when the warning signs then were ignored as well only to see the largest financial crisis in our lifetime unfold:

And now, as Bloomberg notes, 2019 is shaping up to be a testing year for the world economy.

— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-16/charts-bulls-and-bears-are-obsessing-over-2019

Core Christianity | God With Us And For Us

Around Christmas, we say some amazing things about infant Jesus. Scriptures call baby Jesus Immanuel (God with us) and the Savior. Christmas is all about God becoming human—the Incarnation. When we talk about the Incarnation, we are claiming two things to be true: 1) Jesus is truly God, and 2) Jesus is fully human. These two truths are absolutely essential to salvation because only God can save, and as the early church theologian Gregory of Nazianzus wrote, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.” In other words, for Christianity to work, Christians need to be able to talk about Jesus as human and Jesus as divine. As fully human and fully divine, Jesus is God with us and for us.

God With Us

Immanuel, God with us, shows us that Jesus came to show his loves for us and to comfort us. A major theme of the Bible is God coming to live among his people: “I will live among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they will be my people” (Lev. 26: 12; Jer. 32: 38; Ezek. 37: 27; Isa. 7: 14; Matt. 1:21 ).

Jesus is the fulfillment of this hope because he is both fully human and fully God. As John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:1–5 ). And we see in Colossians that, “In Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9, NIV).

But what is happening in the Incarnation is more than metaphysics—it is love.

God For Us

Jesus is the Savior who saves us from our sins. The name “Jesus” is the Greek version of “Joshua,” which means “the Lord saves” (Matt. 1:21 ). Jesus saves us by becoming our substitute. In his teaching, his ministry, his perfect sinless life, his death, and his resurrection, he showed that God is not only with us, but he is for us.

The greatest act Jesus did for us was his sacrificial death on our behalf. As Robert Capon writes, “Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable; He did not come to improve the improvable; He did not come to reform the reformable. None of those things works.” John calls him “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 ), and Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:14–15, 18; NIV).

Colossians 2:13–14  tells us that when we were dead in our sins, God made us alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

The Incarnation reveals God’s love, comforts us in this life, and redeems us from our sins. One historic prayer blends all these together:

You gave Jesus Christ, your only Son, to be born for us; who, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, was made perfect Man of the flesh of the Virgin Mary his mother; so that we might be delivered from the bondage of sin, and receive power to become your children.

This content originally published here. Used by permission. 
— Read on corechristianity.com/resource-library/3/1015

Overpaid public-sector employees

Government employee total compensation is now 47 percent higher than for private sector employees.

The U.S.

Total compensation for federal, state, and local government employees cost taxpayers 

Most Americans are under the impression that the $50.03 average total hourly compensation for state and local employees versus the $34.53 an hour for private sector employees, is due to public sector defined benefit pension costs.

BLS

The highly lucrative pay for public sector workers comes despite state and local governments’ near-death experience during the 2008 to 2012 “
— Read on www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/12/overpaid_publicsector_employees.html

Time to investigate the investigators?

Mueller and his crew have crossed the legal line.

Many in the mainstream media and on the left have been salivating since the Mueller memos were released last week. They believe that the information in the memos has brought them one step closer to achieving their ultimate goal(s), whereby President Trump is impeached and/or incarcerated. As they see it, information from various individuals is slowly trickling in and those on the left and their media sidekicks are predicting a very ominous future for the president. However, if the media and those on the left want to critique the information that is allegedly being disclosed, perhaps they should use the same lens and look at some of the allegations that have been made about the investigation and/or how it was conducted before rendering judgment.      For example, Jerome Corsi recently filed a lawsuit against Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. According to Fox News, Corsi filed a “criminal and ethics complaint” against Mueller’s team in which he accused investigators of trying to bully him into giving “false testimony” against the president. Pursuant to Corsi’s complaint, “they wanted him to demonstrate that he acted as a liaison between [Roger] Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on one side and the Trump campaign on the other, regarding the release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.” Corsi further alleged that Robert Mueller’s office threatened to charge him with making/providing a false statement unless he provided “false testimony” against Trump and others.
— Read on www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/12/time_to_investigate_the_investigators.html

Where the Wind Blows — Grace to You Blog

Words of comfort are sometimes the worst form of cruelty. We see it every time the world soothingly affirms destructive sinful behavior. And Christians can make the same grave error whenever the fear of offending a brother overrides the need to confront him. Instead we ought to follow the example of Jesus, who consistently demonstrated that telling the truth and confronting error is the most loving course of action—even when it hurts. And his conversation with Nicodemus exemplifies that.

Nicodemus had dedicated his entire life to working his way into God’s kingdom. But Jesus pointed out to him that because spiritual rebirth is a work of the Spirit, it is beyond the control of either human works or human willpower: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). The effects of the wind may be observed, but its boundaries cannot be discerned by human senses, and the wind itself can neither be harnessed nor directed by human efforts or ingenuity. The Holy Spirit’s ministry operates in a similar fashion. He is sovereign and moves where He wishes, not at the whim of any human agenda. His workings are not contained in—or automatically dispensed through—any religious rituals or ceremonial protocols. In fact, the Spirit isn’t moved by what we do at all, but by His own sovereign will.

To a typical Pharisee, what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus would likely have come across as highly offensive. Jesus was attacking the very core of Nicodemus’s belief system, plainly implying that Nicodemus was lost, spiritually lifeless, and ultimately no better off in his rigid Pharisaism than an utterly immoral Gentile without God—indeed Jesus said that very thing to the Pharisees quite often.

This was a direct answer to Nicodemus’s questions (“How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”). Jesus was telling Nicodemus, in language Nicodemus was sure to grasp, that not only was He not speaking of any superficial or fleshly self-reformation, but He was in fact calling for something Nicodemus was powerless to do for himself. This punctured the heart of Nicodemus’s religious convictions. To a Pharisee like him, the worst imaginable news would be that there was nothing he could possibly do to help himself spiritually.

Jesus had basically equated this distinguished Pharisee with the most debased and dissipated kind of sinner. He had described Nicodemus’s case as utterly hopeless. Talk about harsh!

But that is, after all, the very starting point of the gospel message. Sinners are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins . . . by nature children of wrath . . . having no hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:1, 3, 12). This is one of the universal effects of Adam’s sin on his offspring (Romans 5:12). We are born with sinful tendencies and fallen hearts—“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). “All of us like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).

Furthermore, Scripture says we are hopeless to redeem ourselves, atone for our own sin, reform our hearts and minds, or earn any kind of merit in the eyes of God. Romans 8:7–8 says, “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” That describes the fallen condition of all humanity, not merely a special, notorious class of particularly sinful people. Even the very best of people, apart from Christ and His Holy Spirit, are helplessly in bondage to sin. Even those who in the eyes of the world manage to seem respectable, altruistic, or “good” by comparison are not really good at all by the divine standard. (As Jesus told the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:17, “There is only One who is good.”) Therefore sinners in their fallen state are under God’s condemnation, with no hope of redeeming themselves.

Let’s face it: the idea that the entire human race is fallen and condemned is simply too harsh for most people’s tastes. They would rather believe that most people are fundamentally good. Virtually every popular arbiter of our culture’s highest, noblest values—from Oprah Winfrey to the Hallmark Channel—tells us so constantly. All we need to do, they say, is cultivate our underlying goodness, and we can fix everything wrong with human society. That’s not terribly different from what the Pharisees believed about themselves.

But Scripture says otherwise. We are hopelessly corrupted by sin. All who do not have Christ as Lord and Savior are in bondage to evil, condemned by a just God, and bound for hell. Jesus not only strongly implied those very things in His opening words to Nicodemus; before He had finished fully explaining the gospel that evening, He made His meaning explicit: “He who does not believe is condemned already” (John 3:18, NKJV).

Nicodemus needed some good news—and Jesus was about to deliver just that.

(Adapted from The Jesus You Can’t Ignore)

Where the Wind Blows — Grace to You Blog

WaPo Reporter: FBI And CIA Sources Say They Doubt Major Dossier Allegation | The Daily Caller

  • A Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter recently claimed CIA and FBI sources told the newspaper they do not believe the Steele dossier’s allegations about Michael Cohen are accurate.
  • “We’ve talked to sources at the FBI and the CIA and elsewhere — they don’t believe that ever happened,” said Greg Miller, a national security reporter for WaPo.
  • The dossier alleges Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to arrange payments to Russia-linked hackers who stole emails from Democrats.

One of the most prominent allegations in the Steele dossier is that Michael Cohen visited Prague during the 2016 campaign to pay off Russia-linked hackers who stole emails from Democrats — the claim fueled speculation ever since the dossier was published that the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russians to influence the election.

But according to a top national security reporter for The Washington Post, FBI and CIA sources told reporters for the newspaper they doubt the allegations, which British spy Christopher Steele leveled.

“We’ve talked to sources at the FBI and the CIA and elsewhere — they don’t believe that ever happened,” Greg Miller, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, said at an event in October that aired Saturday on C-SPAN.

WaPo has not reported that bombshell information, and Miller himself did not reveal the detail in his recent book, “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy.” It is unclear why.

WATCH:

The Cohen claim is significant to the debate over the dossier, which has not had any of its core collusion allegations proved or disproved in the nearly two years since its publication.

Steele claimed in the dossier that Cohen and three associates visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials to discuss how to make “deniable cash payments” to hackers in order to cover up “Moscow’s secret liaison with the TRUMP team.”

Cohen’s alleged Prague visit captured attention largely because the former Trump fixer has vehemently denied it, and also because it would seem to be one of the easier claims in Steele’s 35-page report to validate or invalidate.

Debate over the salacious document was reignited when McClatchy reported April 15 that special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence Cohen visited Prague. No other news outlets have verified the reporting, and Cohen denied it at the time.

Cohen last denied the dossier’s allegations in late June, a period of time when he was gearing up to cooperate with prosecutors against President Donald Trump. Cohen served as a cooperating witness for prosecutors in both New York and the special counsel’s office.

The longtime Trump lawyer first pleaded guilty in the New York case Aug. 21. The next day, Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, reiterated his client’s denials about the dossier. (RELATED: Lanny Davis: Michael Cohen Did Not Go To Prague, As Dossier Alleges)

“Thirteen references to Mr. Cohen are false in the dossier, but he has never been to Prague in his life,” Davis told Bloomberg on Aug. 22.

Davis, who is a longtime ally of the Clintons, has since avoided discussing the dossier. He’s declined several requests for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation on the matter. Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation on Nov. 29 to a charge of lying to Congress about his interactions with Russians during the campaign to negotiate the building of a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The dossier allegations have not been mentioned in the two cases against Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday.

WaPo has aggressively investigated the dossier’s assertions, said Miller. He said reporters for the paper “literally spent weeks and months trying to run down” leads from the report.

“We sent reporters through every hotel in Prague, through all over the place, just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty,” said Miller.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience.
— Read on dailycaller.com/2018/12/16/fbi-cia-doubted-dossier/

My Gift to Christmas Abstainers: Respect — The Cripplegate

It isn’t wrong to have a fern on my porch or a cactus in my office (chosen for its resilience to neglect, a prerequisite for any plant life under my supervision). But apparently having a fir tree, imitation or genuine, is considered by some to be morally repugnant; though only in December.

I’m not going to launch a crusade to promote the observance of Christmas with all its tiresome trappings and requisite redundancies; what I am going to do is call for some reasonableness by those believers who vociferously object to their brothers and sisters in Christ enjoying seasonal festivities.

First, let us just concede that Christians do not have to celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas…or Easter, or Pentecost, or St Ledger’s Day, or MLK’s birthday, or Sabbath (Col 2:16), or Thursdays (named for the Nordic god of thunder). Anyone is free to boycott Christmas to the glory of God.

There are actual Bible verses that say that…

Rom 14:4-6 “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

Christians are not obligated to revere any day above another including their own birthdays, though for some reason several Christmas haters I know circle on their calendars the day of the year that they are celebrated by getting presents without having to give them.

But conversely, it needs to be acknowledged that Christians are free to esteem one day better than another if they are convinced in their own mind. I am convinced in my own mind that Christmas is a thoroughly enjoyable time of family traditions and themed parties and eggnog lattes at Starbucks. You need not be as convinced, and that is perfectly okay. Just please don’t equate my appreciation of cheap tinsel with pagan idolatry. Jeremiah 10:3-4 is NOT referring to Christmas trees, but hand-crafted idols, hewn for the express purpose of worshipping as a god.

I love Jesus.

I worship him with every breath, and I give him all the glory for each gift I get or am able to give, and I am thankful for particular seasons that remind me to contemplate various aspects of his life, birth, death, resurrection, and ascension.

I do not worship my fake plastic tree, nor do I feed subliminal pagan doctrine to my kids through the metallic orbs I hang on it. And any believer who suggests what I am doing is sub-Christian is behaving in an unloving and misinformed way, and should repent.

Yes, there is much of Christmas seasonality that should be shunned—greed, materialism, shallowness, lying to kids about Santa. We are not to use our liberty as a cloak for evil (1 Peter 2:16).

But there is much of the yuletide spirit that is neither godly nor ungodly. Celebrate it or ignore it, that is your liberty in Christ. If I judge or look down on abstainers then I am missing the point that liberty to forgo celebration is a blood-bought right of my Christmas-shunning brothers and sisters.

All I ask in return is that they recognize that the Bible permits me to don a cheesy red and green sweater while playing Yankee swap to the glory of God.

That mutual respect is the best gift we can give each other this year.

My Gift to Christmas Abstainers: Respect — The Cripplegate

December 17 Parable of the Leaven, Part 1

He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”—Matt. 13:33

Small things often have a great influence, which is the first point of Jesus’ parable here. The influence is analogous to the effect a small piece of leavened dough, as it permeates and rises, can have on a larger lump of unleavened dough. Here the influence represents the power of God’s kingdom, which is much greater than its initial, small appearances. The smallest part of the kingdom will influence the world because it contains the Holy Spirit’s power working through believers.

Secondly, the parable suggests that kingdom influence is positive, just as leavening is for bread. To symbolize their break with Egypt, God commanded His people to eat only unleavened bread (Ex. 12:15, 18–19). But apart from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they were free to eat and enjoy leavened bread. The Jews always perceived leaven favorably, as when a bride-to-be received a small piece of leavened dough just before her wedding. From that she would bake bread the rest of her married life and consider the small gift among the most cherished she ever received.

As to how leaven represents the large and positive influence of God’s kingdom against Satan’s, William Arnot wrote,

The evil spreads like leaven; you tremble … but be of good cheer, disciples of Jesus, greater is He that is for you than all that are against you; the word of life which has been hidden in the world, hidden in believing hearts, is a leaven too. The unction of the Holy One is more subtle and penetrating and subduing than sin and Satan. Where sin abounded, grace shall much more abound.

ASK YOURSELF

What small addition or adjustment could you make to your lifestyle priorities as a Christian that would result in a big change of usefulness and effectiveness?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 360). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

A Baby, Yet Omnipresent — For The Church Recently Added Resources

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
—Hebrews 13:8

There is more to the Christmas miracle than we often realize.

Every year at this time as we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus to the virgin Mary, I don’t suppose it occurs to too many merrymakers that what they’re really celebrating is the Incarnation. All of the other miracles are in service of that central miracle: God became man. And in becoming, through Spiritual conception, the man Jesus of Nazareth, the Word of God did not cease to be God. Baby Jesus, from the moment of conception to the straw habitation of the manger, was fully God and fully man. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

When we put our minds long to the idea of Jesus being one hundred percent God and simultaneously one hundred percent man, they naturally feel overwhelmed. The orthodox doctrine of the Incarnation is compelling, beautiful, biblically sensible, and salvifically necessary, but it is nevertheless utterly inscrutable. And that’s okay. In the end, the Incarnation is not for analysis but for worship.

But when we read Colossians 2:9—- “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”—- the inscrutability of the Incarnation widens. The baby Jesus who was wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, was also omnipresent Lord of the universe. Omnipresence is one of God’s unchangeable attributes; God cannot not be omnipresent. So for Jesus Christ to be God incarnate must not mean he was no longer God omnipresent.

Louis Berkhof concurs:

The doctrine of creation and the doctrine of the incarnation always constituted a problem in connection with the immutability of God… However this problem may be solved, it should be maintained that the divine nature did not undergo any essential change in the incarnation.

Wait a second, you might say. Didn’t Jesus disregard his deity as something to be grasped? Yes, but what Paul is getting at in Philippians 2:5-8 is not that Jesus did not “hold” or “maintain” the fullness of his divinity but that he did not exploit it or leverage it against his experiencing the fullness of humanity. He didn’t pull the parachute, in other words.

Instead, what we see in the wonder of the God-Man is a miraculous extension, not reduction. Jesus “made himself nothing” (Phil. 2:7), yes, but this was not a voiding of his essential deity. It is instead an appraisal of the bewilderment of the Incarnation. The Incarnation posits a self-willed emptying consisting of Jesus’ refusal to employ all divine abilities at his disposal, not an emptying that would consist in a subtraction from the Godhead. The alternatives to simultaneous incarnation and omnipresence are a lesser incarnation on one side or a lesser Godhead on the other.

The words of John Calvin:

For even if the Word in his immeasurable essence united with the nature of man into one person, we do not imagine that he was confined therein. Here is something marvelous: the Son of God descended from heaven in such a way that, without leaving heaven, he willed to be borne in the virgin’s womb, to go about the earth, and to hang upon the cross; yet he continuously filled the world even as he had done from the beginning!**

In Calvin’s estimation, God’s incarnation in Christ was not an exit from heaven so much as a descent, an extension. In his commentary on John’s Gospel, he writes, “So Christ, who ‘is in heaven,’ has clothed himself in our flesh, so that by stretching out his brotherly hand to us he may raise us to heaven with himself.”***

Let us take this cue from Calvin: Here is something marvelous!

This Christmas, let’s marvel that the Incarnation presents to us the fullness of God in the fullness of man, because it proclaims to us the great big gospel of the fullness of God for the fullness of man.

Originally published at DesiringGod.org

* Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1996), 323-324.

** John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, edited by John T. McNeill, Vol. 1, 2.XIII.iv (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 481.

*** John Calvin, John. Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton: Crossway, 1994) 74‐75. John 17:21

A Baby, Yet Omnipresent — For The Church Recently Added Resources

12/17/18 A Child of God — ChuckLawless.com

READING: 1 John 1-5; 2 John; 3 John

“This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands.”

1 John 2:3

I’m afraid that when I first heard the gospel, I heard, “Follow Jesus, and you won’t go to hell.” Then, I later also heard these words: “If you’ve made a profession of faith, you have eternal security. You will not go to hell.” I honestly don’t remember if those who taught me said the latter phrases that way, but that’s very much the way I heard them. As long as I had gone through the required actions to get saved, I was just glad I was secure.

Looking back, I’m convinced that my decision to follow Christ was a genuine one. I did fear hell, but I also just sensed that I was supposed to become a Christian. Something (actually, Someone) bigger than I was guiding the way even if I didn’t understand it all. It was, however, years later before I read enough of the Bible to know that God requires us to live differently as Christians. We do not live perfect lives, but nor are we to live inconsistent, ongoing, unfaithful lives. Instead, we are to walk in Him: “This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands” (1 John 2:3). In fact, “the one who says, ‘I have come to know him,’ and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

Those latter words are potent ones. At the risk of stating the case in an unclear way, if I claim to be a follower of Jesus but don’t really follow Jesus, I’m not His follower in the first place. Following Jesus means living like Jesus.

ACTION STEPS: 

  • If I watch your life daily, would I know you are a follower of Jesus? If not, what needs to change?
  • Thank God for the clarity and power of His Word.

PRAYER: “God, help me to walk with Jesus every moment.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Revelation 1-5

12/17/18 A Child of God — ChuckLawless.com

It’s Trump vs. Schumer for all the marbles, and someone is leaving this cage match completely neutered

The stage is set for a battle of political willpower that could potentially be unlike anything that we have ever seen before in American history.  Last Tuesday, there was a shouting match in the Oval Office that changed everything.  During a very heated exchange with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, President Trump boldly declared that the border wall will get built and that he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security”.  The Democrats are going to take control of the House of Representatives in January, and so Trump realizes that it is now or never for his top campaign promise.  If he doesn’t get funding for the wall now, he will never get it, and he will go into the 2020 election without anything to show the voters on his signature issue.

Trump has essentially painted himself into a corner, and maybe that is what he intended to do.  Perhaps he understands that this is the time to take a stand, and perhaps he is ready to do whatever it takes to achieve his goal.

But if he is not willing to do whatever it takes, then he should never have made such bold statements.  Because if he backs down now, he will lose all credibility with millions upon millions of American voters.

And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has put himself in the exact same position.  In the aftermath of Tuesday’s shouting match, Schumer appeared on the Senate floor and unequivocally declared that there will be no money for a border wall

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor on Thursday that there will be no funding for President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border because the Democrats in Congress will never allow it.

“I want to be crystal clear. There will be no additional appropriations to pay for the border wall. It is done,” Schumer said.

There is no possibility of a compromise with Trump in that statement.

And he doubled down on his position during a subsequent interview with NBC News

Schumer argued that there are not enough votes for the full $5 billion authorization in either the House or Senate, a point that Republicans have contested. Accusing the president of putting government funding at risk to “throw a bone to his base,” Schumer said that it’s up to Republicans to get Trump to the table.

“They just have to have the guts to tell President Trump he’s off on the deep end here and all he is going to get with his temper tantrum is a shutdown. He will not get a wall,” Schumer said.

Somebody is going to come out of this as a big loser.

Will it be Chuck Schumer or will it be Donald Trump?

Whoever loses this cage match will essentially be neutered politically.

In the end, this fight doesn’t have a thing to do with money.  The five billion dollars that Trump is asking for is a pittance when compared to the enormous sums of money that are poured into other programs.  If Trump was asking for five billion dollars for roads that would be no problem at all.

Ultimately, what this is about is a battle of the wills.  Donald Trump wants a border wall and the Democrats are absolutely determined not to give him one.

And so far the Democrats have succeeded.  As Ann Coulter has noted, some fencing has been put up, but no construction of any portions of the border wall has taken place…

Coulter, who also writes a syndicated column, linked to an article in the Washington Post that details what new construction has occurred along the U.S.-Mexico border. The article reveals that none of the wall Trump pledged to build in his 2016 presidential campaign has been built.

Some new fencing — not a wall — has been erected in Calexico, Calif. But this area to fence was identified by the Border Patrol in 2009 and the material is “bollard fencing,” which is hollow steel beams spaced several inches apart, reported The Post.

So this is it.

This is the moment when Trump will really show us how committed he is to a border wall, because if he doesn’t get funding now he will never, ever get it once the Democrats control the House.

And in order to get that funding, Donald Trump is going to have to force a government shutdown, and at this point it looks like that is precisely what is going to happen.  The following comes from the Hill

It’s a perilous moment for the Grand Old Party. Either Trump folds and backs off his demand for the wall — the signature promise of his 2016 campaign — or the government will shut down over the holidays.

“The odds are 65/35 we’re shutting down. I’m not optimistic we’re going to see some kind of compromise on appropriations on Homeland Security,” said Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), the freshman representative to the GOP leadership team. “I don’t see that they’re going to get done bickering.”

Like previous government shutdowns, not that much will actually change for the first few days.

But the longer a government shutdown lasts, the more painful it will become.

Things will really start getting hairy once some people eventually stop receiving government checks, and it will take a tremendous amount of resolve to keep going at that point.

This could be a defining point in Donald Trump’s presidency.  If he is a man of his word, he will force a government shutdown and fight for what he believes.

But if he caves and gives the Democrats everything that they want once again, the entire nation will know that he is just another typical Republican.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.  His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News.  From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites.  If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so.  The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.
— Read on theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/its-trump-vs-schumer-for-all-the-marbles-and-someone-is-leaving-this-cage-match-completely-neutered

Attorney Sidney Powell: Mueller Has Destroyed Evidence and Obstructed Justice in Flynn Case – Mueller’s Time Is Up — The Gateway Pundit

Recent developments this week in the ongoing Mueller witch hunt reveals an organization lacking any morals and steeped in corruption.

The entire Mueller gang is corrupt and should be under investigation. Instead they are running amok investigating the President and anyone near him for any semblance of a crime. They all have conflicts of interest and were huge supporters of Hillary Clinton and even represented her in court.

Mueller’s Spcecial Counsel team of 13 angry Democrats scrubbed Peter Strzok’s phone and then turned it over to the Office of Inspector General investigators AFTER Peter Strzok was fired from the special counsel.

Peter Strzok was fired from the Special Counsel after text messages surfaced showing that he had a strong hatred for Donald Trump and his supporters.

Peter Strzok was reassigned in the summer of 2017 to the FBI’s human resource department after his dismissal from the Mueller witch hunt in July 2017.

His lover Lisa Page reportedly resigned from the FBI in May 2018 – and was removed from Special Counsel on July 15th, 2017.  She was fired  two weeks before Strzok was fired from the special counsel.

Lisa Page’s phone was scrubbed and not turned over to OIG until September 2018.

Via The Donald page on Reddit:

Strzok’s anti-Trump lover Lisa Page’s phone was also scrubbed clean.

The only known 302 report provided by Robert Mueller to Judge Emerson this week was a report created on July 19, 2017, six months after the setup of Flynn by FBI agents in the White House in January.

Attorney Sidney Powell argued on Sunday that recent facts revealed that Robert Mueller has destroyed evidence and obstructed justice in the Michael Flynn case.

The Daily Caller reported:

From the minute Judge Emmet G. Sullivan received the case against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, which will be decided on Tuesday, he ordered Mueller to provide the defense with all Brady material. Last week, Judge Sullivan specifically ordered Mueller to produce any FBI interview reports — called 302s — or memoranda relevant to the original interview of Gen. Flynn. Ironically, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley has been requesting the agents’ notes and 302s for two years. Did Mueller comply?

Remarkably, but not surprisingly to those who have read my book, Mueller has thumbed his nose at Judge Sullivan’s order. He produced only a 302 created by his own squad seven months later from his own agent’s interview of none other than the infamous, fired-for-bias, disgraced, Trump-loathing, former Agent Peter Strzok — the guy who swore he’d “stop” President Trump and devised “an insurance policy” with his mistress Lisa Page and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in case Trump won the election. We are watching Mueller execute that insurance policy by the day.

The evidence indicates Mueller has destroyed or is suppressing Brady material. There was an original 302 created within five days — by FBI protocol — of the Jan. 24, 2016 ambush interview of General Flynn by two agents — Strzok and Special Agent Joe Pientka. It is mentioned in the Strzok-Page text messages and on page four of the recrafted 302 Mueller filed. Comey read the original 302 before he was fired.

It existed — as Grassley well knows. It was written by Agent Pientka, who also took extensive handwritten notes, whose name is redacted from Mueller’s filing, and who seems to have disappeared. Where are the original 302, his notes, and where is Agent Pientka? Grassley has been trying to get access to all three for almost two years.

Mueller’s filing confirms that Agent Pientka was assigned to take notes of the interview. Judge Sullivan’s order encompasses the production of those notes. Where are they? Were they destroyed despite Grassley’s longstanding request and Judge Sullivan’s original Brady order? The failure to produce them is another Brady violation that warrants the dismissal of the charges against Flynn and warrants holding Mueller and his team in contempt of court.

Attorney Sidney Powell: Mueller Has Destroyed Evidence and Obstructed Justice in Flynn Case – Mueller’s Time Is Up — The Gateway Pundit

Yemen’s true death toll has topped 60,000 but media too ‘lazy’ to update body count – NGO — RT World News

The body count from the conflict in Yemen surpassed 60,000 last week, according to an independent tally, yet mass media continue to cite old figures that heavily underestimate the devastation, an informed researcher has told RT.

— Read on www.rt.com/news/446619-yemen-death-toll-underreported/

2 Major Volcanic Eruptions And Dozens Of Significant Earthquakes Have Struck The Ring Of Fire Within The Last 24 Hours – End Of The American Dream

Global earth changes appear to be accelerating once again, but the mainstream media in the United States is not talking about it, and so most Americans have absolutely no idea what is happening.  Within the last 24 hours, we have seen close to 40 significant earthquakes of at least magnitude 2.5 along the Ring of Fire, but even more alarming are the two major volcanic eruptions which just took place.  Mount Soputan is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Indonesia, and it erupted twice on Sunday morning.  According to the Daily Mail, authorities are reporting that hot volcanic ash was shot 25,000 feet into the sky…

A volcano in central Indonesia has erupted, sending columns of thick ash spewing as high as 25,000 feet into the sky.

Mount Soputan, a 6,000ft peak in Minahasa on the northern part of Sulawesi island, erupted twice on Sunday morning.

A two-and-a-half mile exclusion zone has been enforced around the mountain as the national disaster agency warns local residents to avoid the peak.

Those eruptions may have been more spectacular, but the eruption that we just witnessed down in Mexico is potentially much more concerning.

Mt. Popocatepetl has been called the most dangerous mountain in North America for a reason, and officials are carefully watching “Don Goyo” after it “exploded” on Saturday evening…

The active volcano Popocatepetl, located in Central Mexico, has exploded Saturday evening, sending ash two kilometers into the air with the cloud of smoke moving in a northeast direction.

Videos from the eruption show a powerful explosion and traces of magma flowing out of the crater. Possible ash fall is expected in areas surrounding the summit. At the moment the volcanic warning issued by the Federal Civil Protection remains at ‘Phase 2’.

Approximately 25 million people live within striking distance of Mt. Popocatepetl, and scientists assure us that someday the 5,426-meter-high “smoking mountain” will devastate the entire Mexico City region.

And when I say “devastate”, I am not just talking about a disaster that will inconvenience people for a few weeks.

I am talking about an event which will cause death and destruction on an absolutely immense scale.  According to the experts, in the distant past “Don Goyo” actually produced gigantic mud flows that buried entire Aztec cities

Historians tell us that Popocatepetl had a dramatic impact on the ancient Aztecs. Giant mud flows produced by massive eruptions covered entire Aztec cities. In fact, some of these mud flows were so large that they buried entire pyramids in super-heated mud.

But we haven’t witnessed anything like that in any of our lifetimes, so it is hard to even imagine devastation of that magnitude.

In addition to Mexico City’s mammoth population, there are millions of others that live in the surrounding region. Overall, there are about 25 million people that live in the immediate vicinity of Popocatepetl. Thankfully, we haven’t seen a major eruption of the volcano in modern times, but at some point that will change.

Meanwhile, significant earthquakes continue to rattle areas all along the Ring of Fire.

Indonesia was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake within the last 24 hours, and a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in Australia made headlines all over the world

A 5.9 magnitude eathquake has struck Western Australia, 203km northwest of Carnarvon at 22.26pm local time (2.26pm BST) at a depth of 10km.

Locals in Carnarvon reported feling tremors, after the massive earthquake shook the region this afternoon.

One resident reported to EMSC earthquake tracker: “I am holidaying with my children we all felt the beds shake.”

We live at a time when seismic activity is becoming more intense and more frequent.  Some of the “experts” in the United States insist that the numbers are rising simply because we are doing a better job of “detecting” seismic activity these days, and they promise that we have absolutely nothing to worry about.  But a lot of people are skeptical of that explanation, because they can see that our planet appears to be getting increasingly unstable.

Could it be possible that an era of dramatically increased seismic activity is about to change all of our lives in a major way?

Earlier today, I came across a British article that discussed the fact that scientists that have studied a supervolcano near Naples, Italy are extremely concerned that it may be “reawakening”…

Yellowstone volcano has a rival in Europe, according to a recent study from scientists based in the region. The volcano is based in Naples to the west, in a place known as Phlegrean fields, once the site of a world-changing eruption. Scientists have now picked up on new signs of the volcano complex starting another cycle. This particular volcano is a threat as the end point of the major cycle could be a significant eruption, rivalling the outcome of a Yellowstone eruption in the US.

Scientists observing the volcanic cycle of one Campi Flegrei, located in Napoli, are concerned of a “potential reawakening”.

Of course we have seen many formerly “dormant volcanoes” reawaken in recent years.

Something very unusual definitely appears to be happening to our planet, and unlike the mainstream media in the United States, this is something that we will be keeping a very close eye on.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.  His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News.  From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites.  If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so.  The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time to do so.
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Russian Foreign Ministry on Syria, Ukraine, and Phony US Election Meddling – Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org  Home – Stephen Lendman)

Endless war in Syria continues despite most parts of the country liberated from US-supported terrorists.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (MZ below) said work continues to implement “the Russian-Turkish Memorandum on Idlib of September 17…to eliminate the terrorist presence in that zone at minimal cost to civilians.”

She failed to explain that Erdogan betrayed Putin straightaway, supporting the scourge of terrorism in Idlib, and elsewhere in the country, he pretends to oppose.

He continues occupying northern Syrian territory illegally – wanting it annexed, a major obstacle to the country’s liberation. Washington’s imperial objective in Syria is the single greatest obstacle to conflict resolution.

The good news is that displaced refugees continue returning to liberated areas. Russia is spearheading the delivery of humanitarian aid to countless thousands of Syrians.

The US, other Western countries and UN supply none, except to areas controlled by terrorists, the pattern throughout years of war – Obama’s war, now Trump’s, wanting Syria transformed into another US vassal state, Assad toppled, a pro-Western puppet replacing him.

That’s what endless war has been about since launched. MZ at best only touches on the hardest of hard truths, including US support for ISIS and other terrorists – pretending to be combatting the scourge of terrorism it supports, in Syria and in other countries.

MZ: “We regard our role in the socio-economic reconstruction of Syria as an important element in strengthening Russia-Syria relations,” adding:

“Intensive contacts are underway which seek to advance the political settlement in Syria, to form a Constitutional Committee and then to launch it in Geneva under the decisions taken by the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi.”

MZ failed to explain that years of diplomatic talks in Geneva, Astana, and Sochi since 2012 achieved no significant breakthroughs – because Washington, NATO, the Saudis and Israel want endless war, not resolution.

Success in the country to liberate areas has come on the ground from Syrian forces, greatly aided by Russian aerial operations – not diplomacy.

To her credit, MZ condemned illegal US occupation of northern and southern Syrian territory. Conflict resolution is unattainable as long as things remain the same – along with support for jihadists in the country by Washington and its imperial allies.

The US-installed regime in Kiev mobilized thousands of forces for war on Donbass along its border. It appears imminent, likely more intensively than in 2014 and 2015.

MZ: “(W)e continue to see alarming reports from that region. According to available information, Kiev is plotting an armed provocation on the line of contact, taking advantage of the imposed martial law, including in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, to stage a surge attack in the direction of Mariupol in order to seize the Donetsk-controlled areas along the Sea of Azov and reach the border with Russia.” 

“The attack is to be conducted by a massed troop contingent that the AFU has been reinforcing over the past few months, as repeatedly reported by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. From December 1 to 7 alone, OSCE monitors discovered 190 units of heavy weapons prohibited by the Minsk Agreements outside the designated storage facilities.”

Puppet president Poroshenko appears hellbent for full-scale war along Russia’s border – in cahoots with the US, Britain and France, perhaps intending another cross-border provocation, aiming to draw Moscow into the conflict, likely wanting the Trump regime to get directly involved.

The human rights situation in Ukraine is deplorable, things deteriorating, not improving, MZ explained.

Nazi-infested fascists run things, contemptuous of fundamental rights of ordinary people, treating them ruthlessly, why Poroshenko is overwhelmingly reviled, his approval rating in single digits.

He’s waging war on independent journalists, human rights workers, and anyone criticizing his regime. Russian nationals in the country are endangered, including Russian diplomatic missions and diplomats, MZ saying:

“We have the capacity to respond to (abusive actions). And we will do so unless measures are taken to protect the security of” Russian personnel in the country.

The Kiev regime “should know (it’s) gone too far. (It) will not get away with” its hostile actions.

“Kiev is using the contrived anti-Russia hysteria to curry favor with the nationalist electorate, intimidate Russian speakers and drive them underground, as well as demonstrating activity, even though the goal of this activity is unclear. Those who refuse to toe the line following such ‘preventive treatment’ are arrested (or) killed.”

“The recent statements made by the Ukrainian authorities regarding their commitment to democratic European values sound especially cynical against the backdrop of the ongoing excesses.” 

“But their Western curators pretend not to see this and even express their support. The flagrant violations of human rights in the fields of language, ethnicity and religion are rapidly pushing Ukraine towards a red line.”

The Big Lie about (nonexistent) Russian US election meddling refuses to die since surfacing in 2016 – proof never backing accusations because none exists.

Virtually everyone in Washington and the West knows what’s going on – while going along with the colossal hoax, part of longstanding Russia bashing.

MZ: “The recent statements made by the Ukrainian authorities regarding their commitment to democratic European values sound especially cynical against the backdrop of the ongoing excesses.” 

“But their Western curators pretend not to see this and even express their support. The flagrant violations of human rights in the fields of language, ethnicity and religion are rapidly pushing Ukraine towards a red line.”

The material was rubbish amounting to nothing. “Even a schoolchild can understand that all this is a fanciful and brazen fake,” said MZ.

“No evidence has been found of the participation of Russian citizens…organizations,” or anyone else connected to the Kremlin involved in US election meddling – a longstanding US specialty worldwide.

Moscow respects international law and the sovereign rights of other nations – polar opposite how the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial allies operate.

Phony claims about Russian meddling amount to “a theater of the absurd,” said MZ, calling for “an end to this farce.”

Hardliners in Washington consider Russia their number one enemy. It’s long past time for Kremlin officials to stop pretending the US and Moscow are partners. Suggesting or believing it is utter nonsense.

US rage against Russia risks direct confrontation. The same goes for China and Iran. It’s why I’ve often said and repeat again that things could be heading for potentially humanity destroying nuclear war by accident or design.

WW I and II were waged with conventional weapons, other than the gratuitous nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the war was won.

The next global war, if waged, could and likely will involve use of nukes in earnest. If so, Einstein was right. Future war(s) thereafter will be with sticks and stones – providing anyone on earth survives.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
— Read on stephenlendman.org/2018/12/russian-foreign-ministry-on-syria-ukraine-and-phony-us-election-meddling/