Daily Archives: November 25, 2019

November 25 A Passion to Serve Him

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:12–15

Key Verse: Philippians 3:14

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever noticed the passion of football players and coaches? It is often difficult to determine who has more adrenaline going, the 260-pound linebacker or the fifty–five-year-old man wearing a headset on the sidelines.

But this passion is quick-burning and explosive. The average tenure of a professional football player is about four years, and there have been several high-profile cases of coaches suffering heart trouble or leaving the game because of “burnout.” Often these men relied on their own limited strength.

One of the common mistakes believers make in serving God is attempting to labor in their own strength and not in the power of His Spirit. It becomes a trap the enemy uses to discourage those laborers who may have started out in complete sincerity but who somewhere lost sight of the true objective. Sometimes believers focus mostly on the work they perform and gradually lose focus on the God whom they originally were honoring.

The key to fruitful service is remembering to place God first. It is difficult for many of us to intentionally dodge the spotlight, but God’s Word and creation costars no one. We should press on “for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” and allow Christ to work through us. That is reward in itself. Like the old football coach’s T-shirt says: There is no “I” in “TEAM.”

Lord Jesus, let me not seek to be a costar in Your service, but rather a servant seeking only the prize of the upward call of God in You.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 344). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

November 25 God’s Goal in Speaking

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:44–49

Key Verse: Isaiah 52:10

The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

When God speaks to us, He has these goals in mind:

He wants us to understand His truth. God has written the Bible in such a way that we cannot read through it and think we know everything about Him. The more you read God’s Word, the more He reveals Himself to you. The more He reveals, the more you will understand His will for your life.

He seeks to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. God wants us to take His truth and apply it to our lives. As we do, He molds us and conforms us to the likeness of His Son. Jesus is our example. In Him we discover we are wonderfully accepted and loved.

He wants us to communicate His truth to others. As we grow in Christ, God empowers us to teach others about Him. He may not call you to be a pastor or missionary, but He calls each of us to share His love with others. Our communication does not begin and end with words. It goes much deeper to our attitudes, values, convictions, and desires. What does your life say to others about Christ? Do they see a God who loves, forgives, and encourages all people?

Father God, help me to understand Your truth. I want to be conformed to the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I want to communicate Your truth to others.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 344). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

November 25 Comforting Others

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 1:3–11

Key verse: 2 Corinthians 1:5

As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote to a church that had just gone through a difficult time of discipline. He reminded them that since they had corrected the problem, they needed to turn and comfort one another, just as God comforted them.

It is true; the believers knowingly allowed sin to come into their fellowship. However, once it was dealt with, they needed to give the entire matter to God. Dwelling on sin, wishing we could go back and erase what happened in the past, and carrying guilt that God never intended for us to bear weary us spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

“Put it behind you and comfort those who have turned away from sin” was the basis of Paul’s opening words. God is able to forgive, cleanse, and restore those who have yielded to temptation. They don’t need our reminder of failure; they need our understanding and godly love.

Paul wrote, “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3–4). The message is clear—once we were trapped in sin. But it was God’s holy intent to forgive us, and it should be our goal to do the same for others. Therefore, open your heart, and allow Him to use you to soothe a hurting soul.

Thank You for deliverance, Lord. I praise You for setting me free. Work through me to comfort others.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 344). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

November 25, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

thanksgiving

Election

Ephesians 1:4–6

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

It is wonderful to be told, as Paul does tell us in the third verse of Ephesians 1, that God “has blessed us … with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” But as soon as that is said we immediately want to ask how such great blessing actually becomes ours. Paul describes it as “spiritual” blessing “in the heavenly realms.” But we are not in heaven; we are on earth. How can we possess the blessings God has for us?

We can imagine a number of wrong ways. The blessings of heaven might be thought to be possessed by force, which is what Satan tried to do. He tried to conquer heaven; he was conquered instead. We might try to earn these great blessings. But with what would we earn them? Heaven’s blessings must be bought by heaven’s coin. We possess no spiritual currency. Perhaps we can inherit them when the owner dies. Alas, the owner is the eternal God, who does not die. Perhaps God is gracious and is only waiting for us to ask him for these blessings. Even this will not work. For according to Scripture, we are not the kind of persons who, unaided by God, will even ask him for blessings. On the contrary, we despise God’s blessings. We want our will and our way and left to ourselves, we would never ask God for anything.

Then how is it that some people receive these blessings, as Paul says they do? The answer is in verses 4–6. It is the result of God’s own sovereign act, election. Paul says, “For [the Greek word is kathōs, meaning ‘just as’ or ‘because’; it links verses 4 and 3, as an explanation] he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

This teaches that the blessings of salvation come to some people because God has determined from before the creation of the world to give them to them—and for that reason only.

Election and Human Depravity

This doctrine is difficult for many persons, of course. But before we deal with their objections we would do well to consider the various views that people hold about election. There are three of them.

The first position is a denial of election outright. No one is saved because of some supreme hidden purpose of God, these objectors say. We can speak of grace, for God chose to reveal himself to fallen men and women and to provide a way of salvation through the death of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That he did so proves him to be gracious. But having spoken of the grace of God in this sense, we must stop there and turn the entire situation over to human beings. God graciously offers salvation, but people must choose this salvation of their own free will. Election simply does not enter into it.

The strength of this view is that it conforms to what we all naturally like to think about our abilities. The difficulty is that, whether we like it or not, the Bible does teach this doctrine. John R. W. Stott calls election “a divine revelation, not a human speculation.” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones refers to this teaching as “a statement, not an argument.”2 In his study of election J. C. Ryle begins by listing eleven texts (including Ephesians 1:4) that teach election in the simplest and most undeniable language and urges his readers to consider them well.

It is hard to imagine anyone doing this and then continuing to deny that election is the Bible’s teaching.

According to the second view, election is taught in Scripture but it is election based on foreknowledge. This is a mediating position, held by those who acknowledge that election is taught but who do not want to admit to a doctrine which they consider unjust and arbitrary. They would argue that God elects some to salvation and its blessings but that he does so on the basis of a choice, a response of faith, or some other good that he foresees in them.

This is patently impossible. One problem is that an election like that is not really election. In such a reconstruction God does not preordain an individual to anything; the individual actually ordains himself.

Another, greater problem is, if what the Bible tells us about the hopeless condition of man in sin is true, what good could God possibly see in anyone to cause him to elect that one to salvation? Goodness is from God. Faith is from God. If God is eliminated as a first cause of goodness or faith or a God-directed human choice (whatever it may be), how could there ever be any faith for God to foresee?

Calvin put it like this: “How should [God] foresee that which could not be? For we know that all Adam’s offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought of doing well, and much less therefore are we able to commence to do good. Although God should wait a hundred thousand years for us, if we could remain so long in the world, yet it is certain that we should never come to him nor do anything else but increase the mischief continually to our own condemnation. In short, the longer men live in the world, the deeper they lunge themselves into their own damnation. And therefore God could not foresee what was not in us before he himself put it into us.”

When people have trouble with election—and many do—their real problem is not with the doctrine of election, although they think it is, but with the doctrine of depravity that makes election necessary.

The question to settle is: How far did the human race fall when it fell? Did man fall upward? That is the view of secular evolutionists, that we are all getting better and better. Did man fall part way but not the whole way, so that he is damaged by sin but not ruined? That is the view of Pelagians or Arminians. It affirms that we are affected by sin but insists that we nevertheless possess the ability to turn from it and believe in Christ when the gospel is offered—by our own power. Or did man fall the whole way so that he is no longer capable of making even the smallest movement back toward God unless God first reaches down and performs the miracle of the new birth in him? That is the view of Scripture.

The Bible says that we are “dead in … transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1).

It says, “There is no one … who seeks God” (Rom. 3:11).

Jesus declared, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

It is written in Genesis: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5).

What good could God possibly foresee in hearts that are dead in transgressions and sins and inclined only to evil all the time? What good could God anticipate in people who cannot come to him and do not even seek him unless he first draws them to himself? If that is the situation, as the Bible says it is, then the only way any man or woman can be saved is by the sovereign election of God by which he first chooses some for salvation and then leads them to faith.

The third position is election pure and simple. It teaches that we are too hopelessly lost in sin ever to partake of God’s great spiritual blessings on our own. Instead, God in his mercy chose us and then made his choice effectual. First he made our salvation possible by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sin. Then he made us capable of responding to him by sending the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the truth and glory of the gospel. Thus, all the blessings we enjoy must be traced back to this sovereign electing purpose of God toward us in Jesus Christ. And Paul does exactly that in these opening verses of Ephesians.

Arminian Objections

Objections to the Bible’s teaching about election have been around for a long time, and there are many of them. Here I consider two: that election is arbitrary and that it is unjust.

When election is described as arbitrary we need to understand precisely what we are talking about. If we are basing the accusation on any supposed quality in man that is imagined to call forth election, then there is a sense in which election is arbitrary. From our perspective there is no reason why one individual rather than another should be elected. But generally that is not the way the charge is made. Generally the objector means that election is arbitrary, not from our perspective, but from God’s perspective. It amounts to saying that God has no reason for what he does. He is utterly arbitrary in picking one individual rather than another. It could as easily have been the other way around. Or God could have picked no one.

That last sentence indicates the way through this problem. For as soon as we think of the possibility of no one being saved we run against the very purpose Paul talks about in Ephesians 1:6, namely, that salvation is “to the praise of his [God’s] glorious grace.” That is, God purposed to glorify himself by saving some. Since that is so, election is not arbitrary. It has a purpose from God’s point of view.

But why one person rather than another? Why more than one? Or why not everyone? These are good questions, but it does not take a great deal of understanding to recognize that they are of another order entirely. Once we admit that God has a purpose in election, it is evident that the purpose must extend to the details of God’s choice. We do not know why he elects one rather than another, but that is quite a different thing from saying that he has no reasons. In fact, in so great an enterprise, an enterprise which forms the entire meaning of human history, it would be arrogant for us to suppose that we could ever understand the whole purpose. We can speculate. We can see portions of God’s purpose in specific instances of election. But on the whole we will have to do as Paul does and confess that predestination is simply “in accordance with [God’s] pleasure and will” (v. 5).

The second objection is that election is unjust. It is unjust for God to choose one rather than another, we are told. All must be given an equal chance. But is it possible that a person can still so misunderstand what is involved as to think in these categories? An equal chance! We have had a chance, but we have wasted it by rejecting the gospel. And it makes no difference how many “chances” are given, or to how many. Apart from God’s sovereign work no one follows Jesus. So far as justice is concerned, what would justice decree for us, if justice (and nothing but justice) should be done? Justice would decree our damnation! Justice would sentence us to hell!

It is not justice we want from God; it is grace. And grace cannot be commanded. It must flow to us from God’s sovereign purposes decreed before the foundation of the world, or it must not come at all.

Blessings of Election

Election is not the problem some have made it to be. In fact, it is actually a great blessing of the gospel. It is so in at least four areas.

  1. Election eliminates boasting. Critics of election talk as if the opposite were true. They think it is the height of arrogance, something hardly to be tolerated, for a person to claim that he or she has been chosen to salvation. They suppose it is a claim to be worth more or to have done something better than other people. But, of course, election does not imply that at all. Election means that salvation is utterly of God. As Paul says, “he chose,” “he predestined,” “he has freely given,” and this is “to the praise of his glorious grace” and not to our glory.

Only election eliminates all grounds for boasting. Suppose it were otherwise. Suppose that in the final analysis a person could get to heaven on the basis of something he or she had done. In that case, that individual could claim some part (small or large) of the glory. In fact, it would be the critical part, the part that distinguished him or her from those who were not saved. That is why salvation’s blessings have to be ours by election alone.

  1. Election gives assurance of salvation. Suppose it were otherwise. Suppose the ultimate grounds of salvation were in ourselves. In that case, salvation would be as unstable as we are. We might be saved one moment and lost the next. As Calvin says, “If … our faith were not grounded in God’s eternal election, it is certain that Satan might pluck it from us every minute.”

Calvin found security of salvation in the “adoption,” which verse 5 says God’s election provides for us. Adoption means that we are taken into God’s family so that we become his children and he becomes our heavenly Father. Calvin points out that when we pray to God we must call him Father, for that is what Jesus taught us to do (see Matt. 6:9). But how can we do that, he asks, unless we are sure that he really is our Father? If not, then our prayers are mere hypocrisy and the first words we utter in them (“Our Father …”) are a lie. “We must be thoroughly resolved and persuaded in ourselves that God counts us as his children. And how may that be but by embracing his mercy through faith, as he offers it to us in his gospel, and by assuring ourselves also that we are grounded in his eternal election?”

  1. Election leads to holiness. A person might say, “Well, if I am elect, I suppose I’ll be saved regardless of what I do; therefore, I’ll enjoy myself and sin all I please.” Those who say that either are not elect or else are elect but are not yet regenerate. Why? Because, as verse 3 says, election is to holiness. That is, election to salvation and election to holiness go together. They are never separated. So, as John Stott says, “Far from encouraging sin, the doctrine of election forbids it and lays upon us instead the necessity of holiness.” If we are not growing in holiness, we are not elect. We are still in our sins.
  2. Finally, election promotes evangelism. Some think that election makes evangelism unnecessary. “For if God is going to save certain individuals anyway,” the argument goes, “then he will save them, and there is no point in my having anything to do with it.” It does not work that way. The fact that God elects to salvation does not eliminate the means by which he calls those elect persons to faith. One of those means is the proclamation of the gospel to sinners by those who already believe (1 Cor. 1:21). The very Paul who wrote this letter was the first great missionary.

Moreover, it is only as we recognize the importance of election that we gain hope in evangelism. Think about it. If the hearts of men and women are as opposed to God and his ways as the Bible says they are, and if God does not elect people and then call them effectively by means of the Holy Spirit so that they respond in saving faith, what hope could you or I possibly have of winning them? If God cannot call effectively, it is certain that you and I cannot. On the other hand, if God is doing this work on the basis of his prior election of some, then we can speak the word of truth boldly, knowing that all whom God has previously determined to come to faith will come to him.

We do not know who God’s elect are. The only way we can find them out is by their response to the gospel and by their subsequent growth in holiness. Our task is to proclaim the Word boldly, knowing that all whom God has elected in Christ before the foundation of the world will surely come to Jesus.[1]


5 In addition to God’s election of the church in Christ, he predestined us for adoption as his children, this time not “in” but “through” (dia) the work of Jesus Christ. Paul makes explicit the instrumental nature of Christ’s action. The verb “predestine” (proorizō, GK 4633) means “to decide on before-hand” or “to predetermine” (cf. BDAG, 873). By pre-destination in his various uses, Paul asserts that God determined ahead of time certain states of affairs: that he conform believers to Christ’s image (Ro 8:29–30), that wisdom achieve the glory of his people (1 Co 2:7), and that we be for the praise of his glory (Eph 1:11–12). The verb’s only other use in the NT, Acts 4:28, specifies God’s determination of details of Christ’s death. In keeping with these uses, then, Paul affirms that God determined to adopt us into his family through the redemptive work of Christ (1:7) as his own. Christ’s death was no “plan gone awry” but was a component of God’s determined plan to assemble a family of sons and daughters who praise him.

Because of heated debates surrounding “predestination,” I must observe that Paul never uses this verb to assert that God has determined the specific individuals to save, nor has he predetermined the means for a specific individual’s salvation. In other words, God does not predestine that some have faith. From Paul’s uses we see that predestination concerns God’s predetermination of certain goals for his people, here that they become members of his family through adoption.

Adoption signifies the great honor that it is for people who were once alienated from God and were his enemies, whether Jews or Gentiles (2:1–3, 11–13), to join his family with all the rights and privileges of those naturally born (cf. Gal 3:26; 4:5). No longer outsiders, strangers, or aliens, they are now sons and daughters.

Paul makes it clear that God did not perform this action grudgingly or reluctantly; rather, this determination to adopt a people expressed his good pleasure and his will (the same word used in v. 1). God was delighted to adopt a people who become the objects of his divine favor.

6 Paul appends another outcome of predestination: the beneficiaries of God’s “glorious grace” heap praise on him. That God has “graced” (recall v. 2) his people with grace (the redundancy is present in the Greek text) emphasizes his unmerited favor on them mediated in (or through) Christ (lit., “in the beloved one,” a unique title for Jesus). The One whom God loves (cf. Mt 3:17 par.; Col 1:13, “the Son he loves”) secures all of these undeserved benefits for his people such that they praise his glorious grace (see also 1:12, 14). Glory (doxa, GK 1518), a common term in the NT and for Paul, here denotes splendor and radiance. What can compare with God’s grace, for it reflects the glory of God himself?[2]


5  If, on the other hand, the phrase “in love” is attached to what follows (as it is in the RSV and the NIV), it expresses God’s attitude to his people when he foreordained them for adoption into his family. “Those whom he foreknew,” according to Rom. 8:29, “he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” The fulfilment of this purpose is the “adoption” confidently expected by those “who have the first fruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:23). It is that “revealing of the sons of God” for which “the creation waits with eager longing” (Rom. 8:19), their public instatement, investiture, and manifestation as members of that family in which Christ is the firstborn. But, thanks to “the first fruits of the Spirit,” the enjoyment of the new relationship as children of God is theirs already. The Spirit is “the Spirit of adoption”; so, “when we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:15–16).

The legal process of adoption was apparently unknown in Hebrew society. The levirate marriage, by which a dead man might acquire by proxy a posthumous son who would perpetuate his name and inheritance in Israel, is nowhere referred to in terms of adoption. Adoption may have been practiced in patriarchal times, in a manner similar to that attested in the Nuzu texts—one might compare Eliezer’s potential relation to Abraham (Gen. 15:2–3) or Jacob’s to Laban (Gen. 29:14ff.)—but it left no trace in post-settlement legislation or custom. Yet something analogous to the NT doctrine of adoption appears in Yahweh’s relation to Israel: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hos. 11:1). Commenting on the prophet’s language G. A. Smith wrote: “God’s eyes, passing the princes of the world, fell upon this slave boy, and He loved him and gave him a career.” D. J. Theron’s conclusion, that “Paul’s metaphor of adoption … might even have been derived from Israel’s deliverance out of bondage in Egypt,”41 is rendered the more probable by Paul’s own reference to “Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption” (Rom. 9:4).

In some of his references to adoption Paul seems to trace an analogy between the divine act and current Roman legal procedure, with its requirement of seven witnesses to the transaction. There is little evidence of this here, unless a relation is discerned between the adoption and the inheritance of v. 14.

Since incorporation into the family of God comes about “through Christ,” that is, by union with the Son of God, God’s foreordaining his people to adoption is another aspect of his electing them for holiness. To be conformed to the image of Christ is to reflect his character (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18). To be chosen in Christ involves both wearing his image and sharing his holiness.

God’s election and foreordaining of his people are alike “according to the good pleasure of his will.” Since God is God, his purpose and activity have no ultimate cause outside his own being. “God’s will has no ‘Why,’ ” said Luther. But since God in his own person is “the love which moves the sun and the other stars,”44 his purpose and activity express the divine love. Whatever be the syntactical relation of the phrase “in love” between vv. 4 and 5, it was in love that God chose his people before the world’s foundation and foreordained them to be his sons and daughters through Christ.

6  There is little distinction between God’s love and his grace, except that the word “grace” emphasizes its free and sovereign character. God’s grace is his eternal and unconditioned good will which found decisive expression in time in the saving work of Christ. In this saving work, and in its becoming effective in the lives of believers, God is glorified: his grace is manifested as worthy of “glorious praise.”46 In Ps. 66:2 the whole earth is summoned to give God “glorious praise”; if this was the fitting response to his acts of deliverance in national and personal life which the psalmist celebrates, it is supremely fitting as a response to his delivering act in Christ. This note of glorious praise is repeatedly sounded throughout the eulogia of vv. 3–14.

God’s grace has extended to his people and enfolded them: he has “be-graced” them, says Paul (using a verb derived from the Greek word for “grace”). But, like every other phase of God’s dealings with them, this “be-gracing” is received by them not in their own right but in Christ: God’s grace is freely bestowed on them “in the Beloved One.” This designation marks Christ out as the supreme object of the Father’s love—“the Son of his love,” as he is called in Col. 1:13. A slightly different form is used in the report of the heavenly voice which addressed Jesus at his baptism and on the mount of transfiguration (Mark 1:11; 9:7 and parallels), but the sense is the same: God acclaims him as “my Son, the beloved,” or, as the words are regularly rendered in the Old Syriac version, “my Son and my Beloved” (indicating two distinct titles). J. A. Robinson, surveying the literary usage, concludes that “The Beloved (One)” may have been in use as a messianic title among Jews before it came to be used by Christians with reference to Jesus.51[3]


1:5 / It is difficult to know what to do with the phrase in love. The niv (as rsv, gnb) takes it to go with verse 5, thereby indicating that God’s choosing was motivated by his love. On the basis of this love, God predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ. But the phrase could be taken with the action described in verse 4, as humanity’s love to God rather than God’s love for humanity. Thus the meaning would be that believers should be holy and without fault before him in love (en agapē). Agapē is used elsewhere in Ephesians for Christian love (3:17; 4:2, 15, 16; 5:2). Still, it is fitting to mention God’s love so early in the epistle, and that this is what motivated him to decide (lit., “foreordain”) to redeem humanity: adopted as his sons and daughters … in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Sonship—referring to being a child of God (i.e., eligible to inherit his promises)—is the second blessing listed in this passage, and this, too, is a gift mediated through Jesus Christ. Paul uses this term in Romans 8:15, 23, 29, and Galatians 4:5 to indicate the special relationship that believers have to God. Here sonship is tied in with God’s elective purpose for humanity.

The language of this passage is similar to that in the accounts of Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21, 22) and transfiguration (Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). In these Gospel accounts of Christ’s baptism, as in Ephesians 1:5 and 6, baptism and sonship are closely related and Christ is given the title “beloved” or the One he loves (1:6). This similarity of language and ideas (sonship, huiothesia; good pleasure, eudokia; and beloved, agapētos) leads one to infer that this reference to the election and sonship of the Christian may have some connection with the baptism of Jesus. Thus one could say that as Jesus was proclaimed Son at his baptism, baptism is the event whereby believers obtain their sonship. This thought is quite explicit in the baptismal passage in Galatians 3:26–27 that states that “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

1:6 / Theology is doxology! In other words, sonship (the indicative) is a summons to praise God for his glorious grace. Literally, from the Greek, the phrase reads, “to the praise of the glory of the grace of him of which he graced us in the beloved.” This reading helps one to see how much emphasis the writer puts upon grace (cf. 1:2). He seems so enraptured by the thought of God’s grace that he does not want to let it go. Also, it is a fitting way to end a section devoted to the work of the Father (1:3–6). That almost identical phrases are used in 1:12 and 1:14 (“the praise of his glory”) confirms the hymnic nature of this entire section.[4]


THE PLAN OF GOD

Ephesians 1:5–6

He determined in his love before time began to adopt us to himself through Jesus Christ, in the good purpose of his will, so that all might praise the glory of the generous gift which he freely gave us in the Beloved.

In this passage, Paul speaks to us of the plan of God. One of the pictures that he uses more than once to illustrate what God does for us is that of adoption (cf. Romans 8:23; Galatians 4:5). God adopted us into his family as his children.

In the ancient world, where Roman law prevailed, this would be an even more meaningful picture than it is to us. For there, the family was based on what was called the patria potestas, the father’s power. A father had absolute power over his children as long as he and they lived. He could sell his children as slaves or even kill them. The Roman historian Dio Cassius tells us that ‘the law of the Romans gives a father absolute authority over his son, and that for the son’s whole life. It gives him authority, if he so chooses, to imprison him, to scourge him, to make him work on his estate as a slave in fetters, even to kill him. That right still continues to exist even if the son is old enough to play an active part in political affairs, even if he has been judged worthy to occupy the magistrate’s office, and even if he is held in honour by all men.’ It is quite true that, when a father was judging his son, he was supposed to call the adult male members of the family into consultation; but it was not necessary that he should do so.

There are actual instances of a father condemning a son to death. The Roman historian and politician Sallust (The Catiline Conspiracy, 39) tells how Aulus Fulvius joined the rebel Catiline. He was arrested on the journey and brought back. And his father ordered that he should be put to death. The father did this on his own private authority, giving as his reason that ‘he had begotten him, not for Catiline against his country, but for his country, against Catiline’.

Under Roman law, children could not possess anything; and any inheritance willed to them, or any gifts given to them, became the property of their father. It did not matter how old a son was, or to what honours and responsibility he had risen; he was absolutely in his father’s power.

In circumstances like that, it is obvious that adoption was a very serious step. It was, however, not uncommon, for children were often adopted to ensure that some family line should not die out. The ritual of adoption must have been very impressive. It was carried out by a symbolic sale in which copper and scales were used. Twice the biological father sold his son, and twice he symbolically bought him back; finally he sold him a third time, and at the third sale he did not buy him back. After this, the adopting father had to go to the praetor, one of the principal Roman magistrates, and plead the case for the adoption. Only after all this had been gone through was the adoption complete.

When the process had been completed, the adoption was indeed complete. The person who had been adopted had all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family and lost absolutely all rights in his old family. In the eyes of the law, he was a new person. So new was he that even all debts and obligations connected with his previous family were abolished as if they had never existed.

That is what Paul says that God has done for us. We were absolutely in the power of sin and of the world; God, through Jesus, took us out of that power into his; and that adoption wipes out the past and makes us new.[5]


5. A further definition of election, showing the form it takes, is found in the words, having in love foreordained us to adoption as sons. This foreordination is not to be regarded as a divine activity prior to election. It is the latter’s synonym, a further elucidation of its purpose. The Father is described as having pre-horizoned or pre-encircled his chosen ones. In his boundless love, motivated by nothing outside of himself, he set them apart to be his own sons. “As the hills are round about Jerusalem, so Jehovah is round about his people” (Ps. 125:2). He destined them to be members of his own family (cf. Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5). It is rather useless to look for human analogies, for the adoption of which Paul speaks surpasses anything that takes place on earth. It bestows upon its recipients not only a new name, a new legal standing, and a new family-relationship, but also a new image, the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Earthly parents may love an adopted child ever so much. Nevertheless, they are, to a large extent, unable to impart their spirit to the child. They have no control over hereditary factors. When God adopts, he imparts his Spirit! This adoption is through Jesus Christ for himself. It is through the work of Christ that this adoption becomes a reality. By his atonement the new standing and also the transformation into the spirit of sonship were merited for the chosen ones. Thus, they become God’s children who glorify him.

The modifier according to the good pleasure of his will not only fits the immediate context (“for himself”), but also harmonizes excellently with the words “having in love foreordained us.” When the Father chose a people for himself, deciding to adopt them as his own children, he was motivated by love alone. Hence, what he did was a result not of sheer determination but of supreme delight. A person may be fully determined to submit to a very serious operation. Again, he may be just as fully determined to plant a beautiful rose garden. Both are matters of the will. However, the latter alone is a matter of delight, that is, of his will’s good pleasure. Thus, God, who does not afflict from the heart (Lam. 3:33), delights in the salvation of sinners (Is. 5:4; Ezek. 18:23; 33:11; Hos. 11:8; Matt. 23:37; cf. Luke 2:14; Rom. 10:1).

6. This election, which was further described as a foreordination to adoption as sons, is to the praise of the glory of his [the Father’s] grace. That is its ultimate purpose. The immediate (or intermediate) design has already been designated, namely, “that we should be holy and faultless before him,” and along the same line, that we should receive “adoption as sons.” The final goal, to which everything else is contributory, is the adoring recognition (“praise”) of the manifested excellence (“glory”) of the favor to the undeserving (“grace”) of him who was called “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (The concept glory has been treated rather fully in N.T.C. on Philippians, p. 62 footnote 43. For the meaning of grace see also on 1:2; 2:5, 8.)

It is clear that it is especially that marvelous grace to which the emphasis now shifts. It was the rapturous contemplation of that freely bestowed love to those viewed as lost in sin and ruin which moved the soul of the apostle to cry out, “Blessed (be) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That exclamation, moreover, was genuine. Heathen also at times ascribe praise and honor to their gods, but in their case the motivation is entirely different. They do it to appease them or to extract some favor from them. Actually, therefore, such praise ends in man, not in the god to whom honor is ascribed. It resembles Cain’s offering, which the Lord could not accept. Here in Ephesians, however, at the close of each paragraph (see verses 6, 12, 14) there is genuine adoration, such adoration as was not only God’s intention in saving man, but also the thanksgiving offering presented to God by his servant Paul, whose heart is in harmony with the purpose of his Maker-Redeemer.

It is but natural that the grace of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” should center in the Beloved. Hence, Paul continues, which he graciously bestowed on us in the Beloved. One might translate as follows: “with which he has generously blessed us.” But the rendering, as given in bold type above, to some extent preserves the wordplay of the original.20 When the Father imparts a favor he does so with gladness of heart, without stint. Moreover, his gift reaches the very heart of the recipient and transforms it. It is, of course, as explained earlier, in connection with the Son that the Father so generously bestows his grace on us (see on verses 3 and 4 above). That Son is here called “the Beloved.” Cf. Col. 1:13, “the Son of his love.” Since Christ by means of his death earned every spiritual blessing for us, and therefore wants us to have these goods, and since the Father loves the Son, it stands to reason that, for the sake of this Beloved One, the Father would gladly grant us whatever we need. To this must be added the fact that the Father himself gave his Son for this very purpose. Hence, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also together with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

It is said at times that Christ is the Father’s Beloved because he always obeyed the Father. This is true and scriptural (John 8:29). However, it is necessary in this connection to point out that it was especially the quality of this obedience that evoked the Father’s love. The Son, knowing what is pleasing to the Father and in harmony with his will, does not wait until the Father orders him to do this or that, but willingly offers himself. He volunteers to do the Father’s will. He is not passive even in his death, but lays down his life. “For this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life in order that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17, 18; cf. Is. 53:10). It is this marvelous delight, on the part of the Son, in doing the Father’s will and thereby saving his people even at the cost of his own death, yes, death by means of a cross (Phil. 2:8), that causes the Father, again and again, to exclaim, “This is my beloved Son.” In substance the Father already made this exclamation “before the world began.” Even then he bestowed his infinite love upon his Son (John 17:24), moved, no doubt, among other things, by the latter’s glorious resolution, “Lo, I come” (Ps. 40:7; cf. Heb. 10:7). To be sure, this is a very human way of speaking about these realities, but how else can we speak about them? The Father’s exclamation was repeated in connection with the Son’s baptism (Matt. 3:17), when in a visible manner the Son took upon himself the sin of the world (John 1:29, 33); and once more in connection with the transfiguration (Matt. 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17, 18), when again, and most strikingly, the Son voluntarily chose the way of the cross.[6]


1:5–6. He made us his full-fledged children by formally adopting us into his spiritual family. In adoption, a child is brought into a family and given the same rights as a child born into that family. God did this through Jesus, and it pleased him.

We have two spiritual blessings from God the Father: We have been chosen and adopted by him to be his spiritual children. He made this choice before the creation of the world with the result that we will someday stand before him holy and blameless. God the Father accomplished this through the work of his Son, Jesus, motivated by his desire to be kind to us and by his desire to receive praise for his grace.[7]


[1] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 14–19). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

[2] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 49–50). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (pp. 256–258). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (pp. 153–154). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Barclay, W. (2002). The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 90–92). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, pp. 78–81). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 92). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

November 25 Keys to a Glad Heart

scripture reading: Psalm 16
key verse: Isaiah 6:3

One cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

Isaiah was overcome with awe at the wonders he beheld in his vision. He saw the Lord, sitting on a throne with a train that filled the entire temple and surrounded by seraphim with six majestic wings. It was a sight he never forgot, and it is a picture of the awe we experience when we get a glimpse of our holy, righteous, loving God.

Carole Mayball in her book When God Whispers takes a look at how this awe translates into everyday living:

What makes a person old at twenty and keeps another young at eighty? I think it is that sense of wonder—the insatiable curiosity and delight concerning God, the world, and people. Solomon, for all his wisdom, was jaded. When I read the book of Ecclesiastes, I see that he had too much of everything.…

For the wisest man on earth, Solomon was kind of dumb! He knew great truth.… But apparently knowing that and experiencing it were two different things for Solomon.… We Christ–ones know the keys to having a glad heart. They are spelled out for us clearly.…

Enjoy what we have (enabled by God) as we accept our “lot”—which means accepting whatever “portion and cup” (Psalm 16:5) God has given. If we do that we won’t feel guilty if we “have” or cheated if we “have not.”

… Live in the present with each moment being lived “to the hilt” and let God keep us occupied with gladness of heart.

Lord, make me thankful for what I have. Make me accepting of my lot in life. Let me live each moment and savor it with gladness of heart.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

25 november (1855) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Comfort for the desponding

“Oh that I were as in months past.” Job 29:2

suggested further reading: Galatians 4:11–20

There is such a thing, my dear friends, as your getting into a terribly bad condition through the ministry that you attend. Can it be expected that men should grow in grace when they are never watered with the streams that make glad the city of our God? Can they be supposed to grow strong in the Lord Jesus, when they do not feed on spiritual food? We know some who grumble, Sabbath after Sabbath, and say they can’t hear such and such a minister. Why don’t you buy an ear-trumpet then? Ah! But I mean, that I can’t hear him to my soul’s profit. Then do not go to hear him, if you have tried for a long while and don’t get any profit. I always think that a man who grumbles as he goes out of chapel ought not to be pitied, but whipped, for he can stay away if he likes, and go where he will be pleased. There are plenty of places where the sheep may feed in their own manner; and everyone is bound to go where he gets the pasture most suited to his soul. But you are not bound to run away directly your minister dies, as many of you did before you came here. You should not run away from the ship directly the storm comes, and the captain is gone, and you find her not exactly sea-worthy; stand by her, begin caulking her, God will send you a captain, there will be fine weather by and by, and all will be right. But very frequently a bad minister starves God’s people into walking skeletons, so that you can tell all their bones; and who wonders that they starve out their minister, when they get no nourishment from his ministrations.

for meditation: God provides leaders to build up his people so that they can go on to build up one another (Ephesians 4:11–12). The absence of the leader will show whether the flock can stand on their own feet in the Lord (Philippians 1:27; Colossians 2:5).

sermon no. 51[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 336). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

25 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Rightly Fearing God

And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me? 2 Samuel 6:9

suggested further reading: Psalm 25

In fearing God, we must maintain perspective in knowing where this fear should lead us. Well, where should it lead us?

We will never answer this unless we first see a specific illustration of it. Many who truly fear God are unnecessarily agitated with despair when they hear certain sentences from Scripture, such as: “God is a consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29), and he consumes all before him (Joel 2:3). Or they hear such statements as: The day of the Lord is terrible, and, “Who can dwell with a devouring fire?” (Isa. 33:14). These verses can make them draw back from the service of God, saying, “Alas, what will happen to a poor creature like me? Since God is so severe and strict, how shall I approach him?”

For this reason, Paul advises us not to be overwhelmed by our disappointments (2 Cor. 2:7). When we only think about our sins, that may serve to abase and confound us, but let us also remember how to find in the goodness of God the remedy to sweeten our grief. Let us not let unbelief plunge us into the depths of an abyss.

When we come to God, let us fear, let us be stunned by his majesty, and let us above all realize that we are full of nothing but rottenness and infection. However, let us also not fail to taste the goodness of God, indeed, to drink in the infinite number of good benefits that we receive from him.

So, let us realize that, however innumerable our needs may be, God will always continue to be generous toward us and answer our requests. This is the kind of fear we ought to have of God.

for meditation: We are to tremble before the majesty of God, but we must also remember that he is full of grace and mercy. If we are in Christ, we have the assurance that we are forever safe from the consuming fire of God’s majesty. Knowing that we are safe from total destruction, our fear of God should be childlike rather than slavish. How should you be fearing him today?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 348). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Are the Pincers Closing on the Deep State? — American Thinker

President Trump has an in-your-face challenge for Democrats hell-bent on impeachment, saying, “I want a trial.”

Despite several years living through “the calm before the storm,” it now appears that storm clouds are building on the horizon.  Many of us are impatient and growing weary of “tick tock” bombshells that turn out to be firecrackers.  Long promised “pain” for Deep State bad actors has turned out to be anything but, unless pain means being hired as an analyst at CNN or MSNBC.

Will December be the month the pincers close in on the Deep State?  Some promising storm clouds are building.  Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz will appear before Senator Lindsey Graham’s Judiciary Committee on December 11, with the long promised I.G. report on FISA abuse to be released December 9.

The report is already being downplayed by the media, with the New York Times warning, “DOJ watchdog report expected to clear Comey, McCabe, and Strzok of bias in Trump-Russia probe.”  Okey-dokey, case closed.  The storm will be only a light breeze — at least according to their “unnamed sources” and “officials familiar with the report.”

What do those in the know say?  Rep. John Ratcliffe, who has likely seen the report, says it is “likely to be damning.”  Former acting A.G. Matt Whitaker, overseeing the report creation while serving as A.G., believes that the I.G. report will be “most consequential.”  President Trump, certainly briefed on the report, said in a recent Fox and Friends interview that the report will be “historic.”

Trump went farther: “They were spying on my campaign, and it went right to the top, and everybody knows it.  They tried to overthrow the presidency.  This is a disgrace.”

Whom to believe?  Those who have seen the report or media outlets, known for fabricating news, trying to put a shine on the turd about to drop on Democrats and the Deep State?

Senator Lindsey Graham appears to have been activated, roused from a Rip Van Winkle nap lasting for years. Why now?  Did he drink a cup of strong covfefe, or is he part of an intricate plan we have been told to trust?

Activated Lindsey is seizing on the precedent set by President Trump in releasing transcripts of his calls with the Ukrainian president.  Several days ago, Graham “[s]ent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting documents related to contacts between Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden, other Obama administration officials and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.”

Why not?  Transparency can play both ways.  Maybe we can see transcripts of calls between President Obama and certain foreign leaders, such as those in Ukraine, Russia, or Iran.

FISA warrants can play both ways, too.  While the Obama administration used FISA warrants to spy on political opponents, what if the Trump administration used FISA warrants to track leakers and those seditiously attempting to undermine his administration?  What goes around comes around.

Let’s see what the pincers of the I.G. report on FISA abuse reveal.  Could there be criminal referrals?  U.S. attorney John Durham’s inquiry is now a “criminal investigation,” and both he and his fellow U.S. attorney, John Huber, can convene grand juries and issue indictments.

Leaks have already begun, weeks ahead of the I.G. report’s release, with a former FBI lawyer reportedly under criminal investigation for altering documents used to obtain a FISA warrant on Carter Page.  This warrant allowed the Obama administration to spy on the entire Trump campaign, transition, and then administration.  Remember how the media said President Trump was crazy when he accused Obama of “wiretapping” Trump Tower?  Crazy, but like a fox, not a loon.

Durham has expanded his probe to include investigating a Pentagon office that contracted with FBI spy Stephan Halper.  That should be a familiar name to anyone familiar with SpyGate, as he is a key player in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax that was the genesis of the Mueller investigation.

Pincers are also squeezing Congress.  The Pelosi-Schiff impeachment carnival has produced clapping seals, clowns, and carnival barkers but no actual evidence or witnesses to quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, or any of the other high crimes Rep. Schiff claims to have proven.  Instead, all we have seen is several weeks of bureaucratic apparatchiks upset that they alone don’t determine U.S. foreign policy, rather than the elected president of the United States who actually has that constitutional prerogative.

No one actually witnessed any wrongdoing; all they have done is believe, surmise, or presume that Trump meant something other than what he actually said on a phone call, verified by others on the call and in the call transcript.  I can believe or presume that Elvis and bigfoot were singing a duet in the woods based on what someone told me he overheard someone on a phone telling someone else, but that doesn’t make it so.

While Rep. Schiff is braying about impeachment, and Rep. Swalwell is passing gas, a funny thing happened in Ukraine, which the diplomatic corps experts believe is only Russian propaganda.  Ukraine is indicting the head of Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company that served as a money-laundering nexus for members of some famous families named Biden, Clinton, Pelosi, Kerry, and Romney.

Interestingly, the indictment names one of the above families, specifically “Hunter Biden and his partners — who allegedly received $16.5 million for their services.”

Speaking of Hunter Biden, the Daily Mail recently gave us this headline, inconvenient for the Democrat Get Trump narrative: “Hunter Biden, 49, IS the father of Arkansas woman’s child, paternity test confirms and the 28-year-old is demanding child support for their baby, who is eligible for Secret Service protection because of grandpa Joe’s political status.”

This is just what sleepy Joe wants to be asked about during his infrequent press gaggles.  The article also points out Hunter’s rich history, “including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations.”  Along with the shady business dealings, Hunter’s lurid past will close the pincers on his father’s presidential aspirations.

President Trump has an in-your-face challenge for Democrats hell-bent on impeachment, saying, “I want a trial.”  That’s a lose-lose proposition for Democrats.  If they back off House impeachment, their base will be livid and likely stay home next November.  They can campaign on how they wasted everyone’s time with this nonsense rather than doing their jobs on trade, drug costs, taxes, immigration, and infrastructure.

If they take Trump’s bait, a Senate trial means witnesses, including Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Clinton, and even Obama, among many others.  They will be cross-examined under oath by Trump’s legal counselors.  What perjury traps will be set for them?

Instead of a Festivus airing of grievances, this will be a winter airing of seditious conspiracy plots, covered in real time by all the television and cable networks, while four Democrat presidential primary candidates are forced to spend weeks in the Senate chamber rather than on the campaign trail, leaving Joe Biden as the only serious contender in the campaign.

Perhaps December will be Trump time, a chance for him to resurrect words from a long-forgotten speech he gave on October 24, 2016, shortly before the election, but ignored by the media.  His opening:

Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American People. There is nothing the political establishment will not do, and no lie they will not tell, to hold on to their prestige and power at your expense.

The pincers were set before Trump was even elected.  Hopefully they begin closing in the upcoming weeks.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D. is a Denver-based physician, freelance writer, and occasional radio talk show host whose pieces have appeared in American Thinker, the Daily Caller, and other publications.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and QuodVerum.

via Are the Pincers Closing on the Deep State? — American Thinker

The Democratic Cold War on Christianity Heating Up — American Thinker

Democrats can no longer hide their contempt and hatred towards those who “cling to religion” and believe that the Bible is God’s word and means what it says.

One of the great unknowns in terms of the future electorate is the effect the Democrats’ increasingly radical anti-faith stance will have on its voting coalition.   

Black and Hispanic Democrats tend to be far more religious than the white Democrats who are driving the party’s agenda.  Will this alliance hold as the party increasingly kowtows to vocal anti-Christian Marxists?  Will these voters start to defect as Democrats intensify their open war on people of faith?

These questions arose this week when the sad story emerged that Chick-fil-A would no longer support three mainstream Christian-based charities; the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, all under the auspices that they are anti-LGBTQ. 

Despite Franklin Graham’s well-meaning defense of the company, not only did the company’s leadership cave but they made a public announcement clearly aimed at appeasing liberals. 

Like the Salvation Army, Chick-fil-A never expected to find itself on the frontline in Democrats open war against Christianity.  But, they were there nonetheless, and surrendering ground against these enemies was a mistake.  The only way liberals will back off the attacks against Chick-fil-A is if the company heartily endorses and celebrates the full LGBTQ agenda.  In other words, they expect either the destruction or total surrender of their religious foes.    

They elevated their attacks far beyond the usual slanderous name calling, which is really what put Chick-fil-A on the defensive.  The fast food chain was under assault in every Democratic-controlled area and institution in the country. Democratic mayors in many key cities, to include Boston, Chicago, San Antonio, Buffalo, and San Jose worked to either prevent the restaurant from opening in the city or at its airport, or planned to drive it out.  No doubt, Democrat governors would be the next to take up the fight.  That they were all trigged by a chicken restaurant shows the powerful counter-cultural force its very existence conveyed. 

People who took pride in patronizing an organization that reflected their values will be a little less excited to do so.      

Democrats can no longer hide their contempt and hatred towards those who “cling to religion” and believe that the Bible is God’s word and means what it says.  That’s really the rub.  Liberals hate the Bible and they know if they can force people to compromise on Biblical teaching, Christianity will lose its effectiveness as a countercultural force.

The LGBTQ movement is best understood as a liberal weapon, and it is an effective one.  It has become the spearhead in the attack against Christianity and it will increasingly be used in an attempt to achieve the goal of driving meaningful Christian thought from the public square. 

Democrats mumble the occasional platitude and claim to be Christian since they still need to hoodwink a sizable portion of their voting base, but it is far more important to pay attention to their actions.  The vile Equality Act being pushed openly by Democrat politicians is meant as a frontal attack on Christianity and to open the door for unending lawfare against Christians.  It will almost assuredly be rushed into law the minute Democrats control government. 

Consider the nondiscriminatory nature of the organizations under attack.  The Salvation Army does not discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation and may indeed be the top provider of poverty relief to the whole alphabet of people. These organizations bear no hatred towards people based upon their lifestyles.  They simply believe in Biblical Christianity.  Because of that, they are unwilling to celebrate something the Bible teaches is sinful.  And they are despised for it.  These are the modern equivalent of the thoughtcrimes in George Orwell’s 1984

Any public person, group, company or church that identifies as Christian will be forced to take a stand on the question of whether or not they celebrate the LGBTQ lifestyle regardless of whether they want to or not, even if they barely care about the issue.  That’s the plan.  Because the Bible presents a clear position that is counter to the prevailing culture, it is an easy avenue of attack.  The hate on this issue is one-sided.  Christian theology teaches to love the sinner while hating the sin.  Anti-Christian leftists practice hating the Christian while celebrating the sin.  Christian unwillingness to celebrate the sin is the offense that cannot be overlooked. 

A front-page article in USA Today noted that the Methodist church is about to split over this issue.  Naturally, the article was sympathetic towards the LGBTQ movement and disparaging of Bible-believing Christians. But, churches that reject Biblical teaching have nothing left to stand on, for if some verses are untrue, then all of them can be cast into the fire.  Churches that make these compromises become just another reflection of the dominant culture, salt that has lost its saltiness, which is indeed the point of the attacks.    

Democratic hatred of Christians extends well beyond the LGBTQ movement.  That’s just their most effective weapon for attacking those they hate.  What most drives their hatred is that Bible-believing Christians stand for the unborn. 

It is this element of Judeo-Christian faith that inspired Diane Feinstein’s “the Dogma lives loudly within you” comment to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, as if she was infected by some horrible disease, unfit to serve on the bench. 

As the left has grown more secular and fiercer in its attacks on people of faith, the number of people identifying as Christians in America is rapidly trending downwards.  Currently, 65% of American adults identify as Christians.  But, that is down from 85% in 1990 and 82% in 2001. Church membership among Democrats dropped precipitously, from 71% to 48% over the course of a couple decades.   

When I lived in Europe in the mid-1990s, the biggest surprise to me was that meaningful Christianity had all but disappeared.  Beautiful chapels gave silent testament to the continent’s heritage, but no longer held any meaning to the people.  The rise of big-government socialism led to the collapse of faith and left the continent vulnerable to the reemergence of a muscular Islamic faith. 

We are treading a similar path, even if it took a little longer to get there.  As Christianity is maligned and attacked by the full power and fury of America’s cultural institutions, more people will fall away, especially on the left.  More will make the kind of compromises to the culture that Chick-fil-A made this week. 

The Democrat war on faith will become ever more apparent and aggressive.  Bible-believing white Christians are now largely gone from the Democrat party. Democrats believe that changing demographics will soon deliver electoral dominance.  But, when forced to choose between faith and an increasingly Marxist anti-religious party platform, some black, Hispanic, and Jewish Americans will likely walk away from the Democrats, and that could be a political game-changer that nobody is yet seeing.      

via The Democratic Cold War on Christianity Heating Up — American Thinker

SJW Zombies Turning Against Their Creators — American Thinker

Baby-boomer hippies have created an army of SJW zombies infected with hatred for America more extreme than they anticipated.

In 1969, I was drafted into the Army and stationed at Ft Bragg, North Carolina. I remember a discussion in our room in the barracks in which white draftees Perkins and Carter ranted about America. “This f***ing country is so f***ed up. I would never bring a child into this f***ing country!” I was the black guy from the Baltimore projects amid our trio of hippies. While I knew America had problems, I did not hate or view my country as evil. What were these guys from upper-middle-class families so angry about?

Little did I know that the likes of Perkins and Carter would infiltrate government, Hollywood, and academia, creating a generation poisoned against their country.

Baby-boomer hippies have created an army of SJW (social-justice-warrior) zombies infected with hatred for America more extreme than they anticipated. Like movies in which a mad scientist loses control of his monster, old hippies have lost control of their SJW monsters. SJW zombies seek to eat the brains of all who do not have vitriolic hatred for America, capitalism, Christianity, gun-owners, free speech, normal Americans, and straight white men.

SJWs scored a huge victory when SCOTUS outrageously awarded civil rights to sexual behavior. The ruling empowered SJWs to declare war on normal. Backed by government, SJWs punish anyone whose conscience prevents them from surrendering to the LGBTQ agenda. SJWs intend to legalize 12 new perversions, which include pedophilia and bestiality.  They say opposing deviant behavior is bigotry, hate, and discrimination.

SJWs have added the word “triggered” to their lexicon. Speaking opinions about women, race, homosexuality, and transgenderism that SJWs do not like “triggers” them; justifying them physically beating the crap out of you. Obesity has been added to SJWs’ list of things they no longer allow us to speak the truth about. A study cited obesity as a cause of cancer. SJWs attacked the study, calling it fat-phobic, bigotry and hate speech. SJWs want to repeal our constitutional right to free speech, empowering them to throw you into jail for whatever they declare “hate speech.”

When hippies like Perkins and Carter took over public education decades ago, they banned free speech and free thinking. Consequently, SJWs are programmed to “cancel” anyone who dares to behave or think on their own.

For example: A photo of black actor, Michael B. Jordan, was posted on social media of him vacationing on a yacht in Italy. SJW zombies went ballistic because all the women on the yacht were white. They launched a vitriolic campaign to “cancel” Jordan; attempting to end his career. SJW zombies tried to cancel a student for her Asian-influenced prom dress, calling her dress oppressive, bigotry, and “cultural appropriation.”

While schadenfreude is not good, I feel vindicated hearing extreme leftist comedians complain that SJWs are out-of-control. Comics say they are forbidden to joke about anything that has negatively impacted their careers.

Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar, AOC, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley are poster girls for the horrific consequence of hippies dominating Hollywood and public education. These four SJWs seek to overthrow leftist Nancy Pelosi as House majority leader. They believe Pelosi is not on board with their party’s move to the far left, passionately committed to an anti-American, socialist/communist agenda.

SJWs believe the entire planet is victimized by America and straight white men. Therefore, illegals have moral authority to invade our country. Women and minorities should not be held accountable for bad behavior. Vagrants in California have a right to create obstacle courses of piles of poop on the streets.

California’s proposition 47 allows theft of up to $950 per day without it being a felony. Law enforcement says why bother arresting criminals for misdemeanors when they will be released back on the streets within hours? Shoplifting in California has skyrocketed. Gee, I wonder why?

Here’s another crazy SJW demand. “White males should be banned from speaking during university classes so women and transgender students are more willing to contribute to discussions.” 

Black SJWs at Evergreen State College demanded that all whites leave the campus for a day, giving them a time-out from having to deal with Caucasians. 

SJWs celebrate the destruction of marriage, claiming that heterosexuality is “just not working.” “Women are realizing not only that they don’t need heterosexuality, but that it also is often the bedrock of their global oppression.” 

Quoting Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In the midst of all this out-of-control SJW craziness, I see evidence of young people recognizing and rejecting it. Movies like Terminator: Dark Fate which promote SJW political correctness have bombed at the box office.

A minister said whenever he hears “impeachment,” in his mind, he hears “crucify him!” This minister has an excellent point. Despite all the miracles Trump has achieved for America, SJW zombies are essentially screaming, “crucify him!” SJWs dominated fake news media for two weeks with their kangaroo court impeachment hearings. Incredibly, Trump’s approval numbers improved

Everyone knows the way to stop a zombie is to shoot him in the head. Young people are fed up. They are bravely shooting SJW zombies between the eyes with logic, truth, and common sense.

Winston Churchill said, “If you are not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at forty, you have no brain.” I wonder what my old hippie Army buddies, Perkins and Carter, think about walking-brain-dead SJW zombies terrorizing America today.

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American

via SJW Zombies Turning Against Their Creators — American Thinker

2019 Advent Devotionals — Week 1 — Things Above Us

Whether or not the liturgical calendar is even on your radar, we hope these devotions give you an opportunity to think about the incarnation, the reason Jesus came, and afford you the opportunity to dialogue with your family and others about the glory and greatness of Christ, our treasure and King.

Our Routine

Christmas is one month away and Advent begins this coming Sunday, 12/1/19. I’m not trying to skip Thanksgiving, but as we approach this season, I wanted to write something that I hope will be a help to you and your family as we celebrate Christ.

Our first Advent Candle of 2015

My family does Advent candles each Sunday of Advent (December 1, 8, 15, and 22 in 2019). After evening worship at our local church, we gather at home and light one candle (then 2 on 12/8, 3 on 12/15,  4 on 12/22, and the 5th one on Christmas Eve). We usually sing one or two songs, read Scripture and discuss (shortly), and pray.

We have five kids, so we let them take turns oldest to youngest in lighting candles. This is just something we’ve come to love each year as a family. You aren’t more or less spiritual if you celebrate Advent. But it is a focused season to talk about the things of the Lord and to instill helpful and joyful traditions into your home.

Off with His Head

Our first devotion is a bit gruesome. The text before us is Genesis 3:15 which reads:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

This is war language. The offspring of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head. Notice, not the serpent’s offspring, but the serpent’s head himself. This is more than just a revelation of why we don’t like snakes. This is a promise of God that prepared our first parents for Christmas.

If your children think waiting 24 more days until Christmas is a long time, how about 4,000 years!? God promised Adam and Eve something for which humanity would have to wait a very long time.

A Quick Exegesis

Genesis 3:15 comes at the center of God’s addressing Adam and Eve for their disobedience. God goes to Adam, then Eve, then the Serpent, then back to Eve, and ends with Adam. The beginning and ending with Adam highlights his priority in the human race.

But the centering of Genesis 3:15 and the judgment of the Serpent also highlights that this is a significant promise. Notice too in the verse itself that the text moves from the Serpent to the woman in the first two instances and then reverses that order and moves from the offspring to the Serpent:

  • I will put enmity between you and the woman
  • between your offspring and her offspring
  • But then: he shall bruise your head

If the pattern were consistent, it would be: you, woman, your offspring, her offspring, you, he. The reversal of the order is another signal that this is important — as if to put our focus on this offspring of the woman who would bruise the Serpent’s head.

And notice too — it is not the offspring of the woman who will bruise the offspring of the Serpent. Rather, it is the offspring of the woman who will bruise the head of Satan himself — for that is whom the victory will ultimately be over.

Here is a flicker of light in the midst of darkness. In the midst of judgment, there is hope for rescue. We don’t see the full plan of redemption laid out here. But we see enough to know that sin does not have the final say. In the distance, we see a glimmer.

This Evil One who beguiled Eve will one day be destroyed by her offspring. That’s the Hebrew word for “seed.” The Seed of the Woman is promised to one day strike the head of the Serpent.

Post Tenebras Lux

After darkness, light. In the darkness of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God promised light to come. I think there is evidence that Eve thought it would be Cain. But it wasn’t Cain. Maybe it will be Noah? But it wasn’t Noah. Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob? No, not them either.

Really, the whole Old Testament anticipates the messianic promise of Genesis 3:15. Who will arrive, the offspring of a woman, to crush the Serpent’s head?

David? No, but it will be his Son. Well, is it Solomon? No. What about Asa or Josiah? No, not them either.

The Law and the Prophets bear witness to Him. The Psalms expect Him. Isaiah says He will be called Immanuel — God with us. And the angst and longing of the faithful in the OT is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel! And ransom captive Israel!” Deliver us! Crush the Enemy!

Where is He? The One promised of Old? Where is the One to bruise the Serpent’s head?

And then, light.

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:30–32)

Nelson Advent Candles 2018

Hebrews 2:14 tells us:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…

Adam and Eve and all humanity deserve God’s wrath. And honestly, many will receive that wrath in righteous judgment. “But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God in His sovereign love said sin will not have the final say. God created mankind to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever and God will have that realized in a people redeemed by the Serpent-crushing Savior, Jesus Christ.

And Christmas is about this offspring of the woman come to save His people from their sins by bearing God’s wrath on their behalf on the Cross and resurrecting from the dead, defeating Satan.

Praise God for His promises which all find their yes in Christ Jesus.

Allen S. Nelson IV is the pastor of Perryville Second Baptist Church in Perryville, Arkansas. He and his wife Stephanie have been married since 2006 and have 5 children. Besides enjoying time with his family, Allen loves teaching the Bible, reading good books, and time outdoors. He is the author of From Death to Life: How Salvation Works and Before The Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness He is an avid Dallas Cowboys and Arkansas Razorbacks fan, which means he’s always excited about ‘next year.’ You can follow him on twitter @cuatronelson.

via 2019 Advent Devotionals — Week 1 — Things Above Us

Have Yourself an Awesome Little Advent 2019: 12 (Mostly FREE) Advent Devotionals, Activities, and Resources — Michelle Lesley

Is your family getting ready for Advent? Loosely defined, Advent is the period of time leading up to Christmas when we commemorate Christ’s first coming and anticipate His second coming. And what better way to do so than by making Bible study and worship part of your family tradition? Here are some awesome Advent resources for young and old alike. Most of them are free, but the ones that aren’t, I’ve marked with a 💰.

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December Advent!– Here’s an advent calendar, craft, and devotional all rolled into one! Naomi’s Table is a women’s Bible study resource that I highly recommend for sound doctrine and right handling of God’s word. Have a listen to their daily Advent podcasts and make the Advent calendar that goes with them!

 

Repeat the Sounding Joy– This Advent devotional by Christopher Ash on Luke 1-2 “will help you to celebrate afresh the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah in history, and learn what it means to wait for him with joyful expectation today. Each day’s reading includes a short reflection, a prayer, a carol, and space to journal…”. Get a $10 off (when you spend $20+) coupon here for The Good Book Co.💰

 

Need a good Advent playlist? I’ve created one on YouTube. Your favorite Advent (not Christmas) song isn’t included? Leave a comment (a link would be helpful) and I’ll add it if appropriate.

 

Joy To The World: Daily Readings For Advent– “In the midst of the business of December, take 5 minutes each day and let Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, warm your heart with joy that can only be found in the good news of Jesus Christ.” A 25-day Advent devotional guide.💰

 

 

Names of Jesus Advent Ornaments– One for each day, December 1-24. Create them on paper, cardboard, or wood, and study one of the names of Jesus each day leading up to Christmas. Free printables, too!

 

The Christmas Promise Advent Calendar– This “attractive lift-the-flap Advent Calendar for children 5-11 years old…comes with a booklet containing 25 devotions for December to help families explore the Bible together in the run up to Christmas.” Get a $10 off (when you spend $20+) coupon here for The Good Book Co.💰

 

Advent: A 31-Day Reading Plan– A “31-day Bible reading plan on ESV.org aimed at helping you enter into and reflect on the story of Advent this season.” Use it during your own quiet time or for family worship. You’ll need to start today in order to finish by Christmas Day.

 

Christmas Messages– Maybe sermons are more to your Advent listening liking than music. “In this set of Christmas sermons, Dr. R.C. Sproul examines the account of the Magi in the gospel according to Matthew and the relationship of David and Saul in order to unfold the significance of Christmas and the incarnation of Christ.”

 

Advent Crafts for Kids–  “Scripture-based crafts from Gail Schoonmaker’s book, Big Picture Bible Crafts, can provide an opportunity to do something with kids that will help you explain the Christmas story in a simple and interactive way.” Download two free crafts.

 

Advent at The End TimeElizabeth Prata has been hard at work on her Advent materials over at her blog, The End Time. Check out her series of articles each Monday during the Advent season, exploring “some of the less ‘famous’ characters or events in the Nativity story.” This series started on November 11, so you’ll want to get caught up! And starting this Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), watch for Thirty Days of Jesus, “Scripture pictures that progressively work through Jesus’ life from incarnation to ascension.” You could share them on social media or change your cover photo every day to celebrate the season!

 

25 Christmas Myths and What the Bible Says– Was Jesus Born on December 25? Did the angels really sing to the shepherds? And what about that inn keeper? In his recently updated book, 25 Christmas Myths…, Gabriel Hughes tackles some of the folklore and false assumptions that have sprung up around the Christmas story and shares what the Bible really teaches. One lesson for each day December 1-25. Get a sneak peek below. Audio is more your thing? Gabe discussed myths 1-10 from the book last year on his podcast. 💰

 

Who says crafts are just for kids? How about making an Advent mini-book for journaling your way through the themes and Scriptures of the Advent season? Use materials you have on hand or head out to the craft store, choose some Scripture passages to add, and create a charming, gospel-centered heirloom you can re-read each year. You might even want to use it along with the 31-Day Bible reading plan above! (The video below is part one of three. Part 2  Part 3)

 

What’s your favorite Advent resource?


I do not endorse anything on any of these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs at the top of this page.

via Have Yourself an Awesome Little Advent 2019: 12 (Mostly FREE) Advent Devotionals, Activities, and Resources — Michelle Lesley

November 25 – Enslaved to love — Reformed Perspective

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:20–23

Scripture reading: Romans 6

“Christ Jesus our Lord” is the last word in salvation. What can we do for such a great Savior? Only what God requires. We are enslaved to thankfulness. We do not obey God out of compulsion, fear, or greed. That would mean we hate sin and fear God only because we fear hell or because we want something – we want our best life now in return. That is enslavement to selfishness. That is not the fruit of justification. Those justified want to be enslaved to righteousness because Christ Jesus our Lord died for us sinners. We want to be enslaved because the Father chose us in Christ Jesus and because the Holy Spirit has sealed us into Christ Jesus. Why do we want to be enslaved to righteousness? Because God first loved us. We are enslaved to the gospel, enslaved to Christ Jesus our Lord, Who suffered and died not only for others but for us also.

Heis greater than my shame. What else can I do, but offer my life as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. I am enslaved to righteousness and willingly and joyfully submit to God’s everlasting love and care in Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.

Suggestions for prayer

Fix your eyes on Christ as your only hope and make it your aim in prayer to please Him all the days of your life. The highest praise is reserved for His great deeds of redemption that Christ has worked in us poor sinners.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church(URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA.

via November 25 – Enslaved to love — Reformed Perspective

Monday Briefing November 25, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

PART I

 Why Are Fewer Babies Being Born? A Warning in the New York Times From Eleven Years Ago Proves Even More Dire Today

PART II

 The Implications of a Religious Worldview on the Falling Birth Rate: Why the Birth Rate Crisis Is a Deeply Spiritual and Theological Problem

PART III

 Why Are Deaths of Despair on the Rise in America? How the Breakdown of the Family Has Led to Lonely Deaths

DOWNLOAD MP3


DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING

PART I

NEW YORK TIMES

 The End of Babies, by Anna Louie Sussman

NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE

 No Babies?, by Russell Shorto

PART III

Is America on a Slippery Slope to Becoming a Banana Republic?

Who would have ever thought the United States could lose its way and find itself on a slippery slope to becoming a banana republic in which political power is typically determined by coups rather than elections?  But it appears that many in the Democrat Party are willing to go down this road and risk the nation’s continuity and stability in a desperate effort to regain power and control.

Since there is simply no greater crime against the United States, its Constitution and its people than subverting the government that is duly elected by the people, Americans need to clearly remind Washington that the legitimacy of our government comes exclusively from the people.

November 25, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

Ver. 34. O give thanks unto the Lord.Thanksgiving due to God for His goodness:

  1. Instances of the loving-kindness and mercy of God.
  2. The unfolding of a plan of salvation for sinners through His well-beloved Son.
  3. The furnishing so fully of the means necessary to salvation.

(1) Birth in a Christian land.

(2) The Bible.

(3) Preaching of the gospel.

  1. Temporal blessings.
  2. The thanksgiving that is due.

III. This goodness ought to lead us to repentance. We ought to improve both the temporal and spiritual privileges we enjoy to the promotion of His glory. (Alex. Davidson.)[1]


[1] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: First Chronicles, Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther (Vol. 1, p. 61). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.

Ticking Time Bomb: Is This Powell’s “Subprime Is Contained” Moment? | Zero Hedge

Is the Fed that blind to reality or just on an elaborate marketing mission to ensure that nobody panics and sells stocks?

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

I’m of the long standing view that Fed chairs have one prime responsibility above all others: Keeping confidence up, and if it requires to sweet talk problems then that’s what it takes

The often classic quote by Ben Bernanke of “subprime is contained” right before it blew up in everybody’s face being a prime example.

Is the Fed that blind to reality or just on an elaborate marketing mission to ensure that nobody panics and sells stocks? I leave that judgment to the reader.

But I can see differing messaging coming out the Fed when people are in office and when not.

Take corporate debt for example.

Here’s Jay Powell in May of this year sweeting talking and dismissing any concerns:

“Business debt does not present the kind of elevated risks to the stability of the financial system that would lead to broad harm to households and businesses should conditions deteriorate. Moreover, banks and other financial institutions have sizable loss-absorbing buffers,” he said. “The growth in business debt does not rely on short-term funding, and overall funding risk in the financial system is moderate.”

Sweet, no worries then. Odd then that Janet Yellen, no longer in office, feels free to say in essence the exact opposite:

“I have expressed concerns about leveraged lending,” Yellen said during a keynote discussion that was closed to the press. “I do think non-financial corporations have run up, really, quite a lot of debt.”

What I would worry about is if the economy encounters a downturn, we could see a good deal of corporate distress. If corporations are in distress, they fire workers and cut back on investment spending. And I think that’s something that could make the next recession a deeper recession,” “I have concerns about the deterioration in lending standards that we have seen,” Yellen said. “A large share of it is covenant-lite and some of the explicit ways in which covenants have weakened are a concern to me.”

No worries from Powell, worries from Yellen.

What’s reality?

Well, for one corporate debt has increased by 64% in the last 9 years now reaching $10 trillion:

Good thing profits have vastly increased in that time:

Oh wait, corporate profits have actually peaked in 2014. Well that’s odd, as markets keep racing higher from high to high you’d think there’d be this massive expansion in profits. Well of course not, profit growth peaked last year on the heels of the corporate tax cuts resulting in corporate tax payments collapsing to levels only seen during big recessions:

Ponder this: Corporations now pay roughly the same about of taxes as they did in the mid 90’s when the economy and aggregate profits were much smaller.

Quite the historic deal.

No, we know why stock markets kept rising in 2019: Thanks to Fed intervention:

Indeed if you take a look at corporate profits versus the market’s ascent we can observe a large deviation from the actually profit picture:

The above mentioned tax cuts did help the bottom line of course and one can argue the picture looks slightly better when viewed on an after tax basis:

Thanks tax cuts, but the deviation remains. And it remains if you view it through the lens of EPS:

The aggregate picture is stunning:

And of course EPS growth is in the eye of the beholder as earnings are regularly overstated via non GAAP versus GAAP accounting:

Not to mention the insidiously deceiving growth illusion created by buybacks.

So what you have is a market disconnecting ever farther from the underlying already weakening and overstated earnings growth picture, earnings that require an exorbitant amount of debt expansion to produce with much of the tax cut benefits going toward buybacks while half of the debt expansion is running on BBB fumes:

“The growing universe of triple-B rated US corporate debt — the lowest rung of the higher-quality bond market — has garnered the most attention. At $2.5tn, it is now twice as big as the entire junk bond market beneath it. The hunger for yield has “paved the way for unprecedented erosion in capital structures and credit quality”, Moody’s noted in a recent report.”

Do worry says Janet Yellen, but don’t worry says Jay Powell. The economy is in a good place he says apparently instructing all the Fed speakers to read off the same script:

Sweet. How do they all get on the same page when determining their market communication strategy? Sadly the Fed minutes are void of any such discussions. Must be a different meeting.

Yea, the economy is in a good place:

And subprime is contained and corporate debt is not a problem as long as you are Fed chair. It only becomes a problem when you’re no longer Fed chair.

No, corporate debt is a massive problem, it’s a ticking time bomb that millions of workers get to pay for during the next recession. That’s not my hyperbole, no Sir, or have you already forgotten what Janet Yellen already told you?

“if the economy encounters a downturn, we could see a good deal of corporate distress. If corporations are in distress, they fire workers and cut back on investment spending. And I think that’s something that could make the next recession a deeper recession”.

No financial crisis in our lifetime when Fed chair, the next recession could be deeper thanks to extended corporate debt when not Fed chair. Funny that.

She knows and so does Jay Powell, he’s just busy keeping confidence up by telling you everything is fine and dandy. After all that’s precisely why he cut rates 3 times and expanded the Fed’s balance sheet by over $280B in 2.5 months. Cause that’s exactly what you do when the economy is in a good place.

— Read on www.zerohedge.com/markets/ticking-time-bomb-powells-subprime-contained-moment

Treasures of the Christian Life, Pt 1: GRACE | The Cripplegate

The great prince of preachers – Charles Spurgeon – tells this story in a sermon entitled “All of Grace”, which he preached a little over 100 years ago, on Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

I was announced to preach in a certain country town in the Eastern Counties…and so it happened that I reached the appointed place considerably behind the time. Like sensible people, they had begun their worship, and had proceeded as far as the sermon. As I neared the chapel, I perceived that someone was in the pulpit preaching, and who should the preacher be but my dear and venerable grandfather! He saw me as I came in at the front door and made my way up the aisle, and at once he said, “Here comes my grandson! He may preach the gospel better than I can, but he cannot preach a better gospel; can you, Charles?”
As I made my way through the throng, I answered, “You can preach better than I can. Pray go on.” But he would not agree to that. I must take the sermon, and so I did, going on with the subject there and then, just where he left off. “There,” said he, “I was preaching of ‘For by grace are ye saved.’ I have been setting forth the source and fountain-head of salvation; and I am now showing them the channel of it, through faith. Now you take it up, and go on.” I am so much at home with these glorious truths that I could not feel any difficulty in taking from my grandfather the thread of his discourse, and joining my thread to it, so as to continue without a break. Our agreement in the things of God made it easy for us to be joint preachers of the same discourse. I went on with “through faith,” and then I proceeded to the next point, “and that not of yourselves.” Upon this I was explaining the weakness and inability of human nature, and the certainty that salvation could not be of ourselves, when I had my coat-tail pulled, and my well-beloved grandsire took his turn again. “When I spoke of our depraved human nature,” the good old man said, “I know most about that, dear friends”; and so he took up the parable, and for the next five minutes set forth a solemn and humbling description of our lost estate, the depravity of our nature, and the spiritual death under which we were found. When he had said his say in a very gracious manner, his grandson was allowed to go on again, to the dear old man’s great delight; for now and then he would say, in a gentle tone, “Good! Good!” Once he said, “Tell them that again, Charles,” and, of course, I did tell them that again. It was a happy exercise to me to take my share in bearing witness to truths of such vital importance, which are so deeply impressed upon my heart.” 

At the beginning of this first chapter of Colossians we see a number of Christian nuggets which we are going to explore over the next few weeks, words on which our entire Christian life is based. Today’s treasure is: grace.

Colossians 1:1–2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

THREE QUESTIONS TO UNDERSTAND GRACE

  1. WHAT IS GRACE?
    Paul says – grace to you, but what does he mean by this? What is he wishing towards the Christians in Colossae?

Grace is an unearned good gift of God that is freely given to one who deserves the opposite.

It is important to understand that there are two types of grace, we talk about common grace and special grace.

Common grace is the underserved and unearned merit given by God to all of mankind. There is common grace in everyone’s life – family, laughter, food, shelter, work, health, talents….

Every goodness that anyone has is because Jesus came to die.

His rain falls on the unjust and waters the fields of farmers who neither acknowledge him nor thank him.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…any good thing that happens to anyone – believers and unbelievers alike – from catching a fish to finding a wife – is a gift from God.

Now I know what you are thinking – ‘Surely some of what I have is from my earnings – I don’t just get a paycheck for nothing. I earned (deserved) my paycheck by my hard work. How can that be grace? How can that be undeserved?’

Stop and think for a moment. It is by God’s grace that you have the job, the health to do it, the education you need, the transport…it all comes from God. Nothing you have is yours. Not even earning your paycheck. And all you have is undeserved, bought by the blood of Christ.

Paul warns the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 4:7 What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Do you try to take credit for the gifts God gave you? Do you boast about your job, your skills, your house, your car, your kids? What do you have that you did not receive?

So what is our responsibility? Praise God for his grace – for every good thing that comes our way.

If you are an unbeliever, you are taking good gifts from God while you are rejecting him. You are biting the hand that is busily feeding you – the least you can do is to be thankful.

The other type of grace is special grace. This is given only to certain people
1 Peter 5:5 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We have just seen that God gives grace to everyone, but in a special way, he gives grace to the humble…

2. HOW DO I GET GRACE?

2 Timothy 1:8–9…..of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”

So special grace is not obtained by works but by grace given before the ages began.

Special grace is only obtained from God. So you don’t get special grace by working. And according to Ephesians 2:8-9 you can only access grace through faith. So don’t try to offer your filthy rags to God and hope he overlooks your sin…..you can’t access grace through your good works, only through faith, which is itself a gift from God.

The humble get common grace and they get special grace – they have their sins covered for all eternity through the blood of Christ. Special grace only comes to those justified by his grace.

Now, if you are following this argument – you might ask ‘So no matter how much I sin – grace covers it all?’ Yes.

‘So can I just sin more if it is all covered by grace?’ well that brings us to our third point.

3. HOW DO I USE GRACE?
If you think you can sin more and grace will cover it, Paul has an answer for you.

Romans 6:1–2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

This is because, as Paul explains in Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing…”

This is the miracle of salvation: when we get this free grace we don’t want to sin any more. This is not natural; this is supernatural. 

So, use this grace to stop sinning. Use this grace to do the good works God has prepared for you. 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Keep coming to the throne of grace, and God will keep supplying you with grace upon grace.

CONCLUSION: 
If you are not a believer, notice God’s common grace in your life: the rain, your family, your work, your paycheck. But know that there is a place where there is no grace… it is called Hell. Right now you are running up a debt you can never pay. Repent of your sin and turn to God and he will give you grace to cover all your sin and erase all your debts.

If you are a believer, you too have a debt you can’t pay. But Jesus paid that debt for you, so rejoice that you can now please God through the free gift of the grace of God.

— Read on thecripplegate.com/treasures-of-the-christian-life-pt-1-grace/

11/25/19 Quick, Slow, Slow — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Ezekiel 16-17, James 1-2

I wonder how much pain among Christian believers would never have happened if all of us listened to and follow James’ simple command: “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:19-20). To be “quick to listen” is, simply stated, to be quiet more than we speak. It means to listen attentively and patiently to others, including those among us who are less fortunate. It is to decide to listen first, and then to give our undivided attention to someone else who needs to speak with us.

Coupled with the words about “being quick to listen” are these words: “[Be] slow to speak.” I’d be ashamed today to list times I’ve spoken words I wish I hadn’t said. Nevertheless, I’m thinking of the times, for example, when I talked back to my mother. Times I jumped to wrong conclusions because I spoke too quickly. Advice I gave without really seeking God’s wisdom. Responding in quick anger and emotion rather than with patience and love. I could list other examples, but here’s my point: it would often do me good to count to 10 before I speak.

The command to be “slow to anger” doesn’t mean anger is never justified, but it does mean that we must consider our heart and our motives before we respond in a situation that might demand a response of anger. Unjustified anger is often selfish and misdirected—and that kind of response doesn’t point to God and His righteousness. So, today, “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

PRAYER: “God, help me to respond in appropriate ways to everything today.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Ezekiel 18:1-20:31, James 3:1-4:12

via 11/25/19 Quick, Slow, Slow — ChuckLawless.com