Daily Archives: December 1, 2019

December 1 Hope for the Future

Scripture Reading: Titus 2:11–15

Key Verse: Titus 2:13

… looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

No matter how shaky things in this world are, we find assurance in the fact that God remains the same as He changes us and those around us. God doesn’t expect us to change into perfect human beings overnight, but He does desire to begin a process that changes our lives forever.

Once we enter into a relationship with God by receiving His forgiveness and grace and then inviting Him to be Lord over our lives, He begins to transform us in ways we never imagined possible.

When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, God calls us His own, His sons and daughters, joint heirs with Jesus. No longer does He view us as sinners—He sees us as saints. However, there is still much work to be done in our hearts.

We can rest in the assurance that there is no time limit to the process of renewing our hearts and minds. God touches our hearts in calling us His children, but the work of transforming us into His image is a long-term plan.

When looking at our own hearts, we could despair when we realize just how much we need to be transformed. But we don’t have to despair, because we receive hope in Him, hope that His Holy Spirit will indeed complete the work that He has begun in the lives of each man and woman who would be willing to live for Him.

Lord, thank You for the work of transformation that You are doing in my life, and that You have a master plan for me.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 352). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 1 Spiritual Slippage

Scripture Reading: Psalm 31:19–24

Key Verses: Colossians 2:6–7

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

No-till farming has become a standard practice in the Midwest. To prevent the loss of fertile topsoil, crop stubble is left after harvest instead of plowed under, maximizing dirt and moisture retention.

Spiritual slippage can likewise be minimized and steady growth fostered as the Holy Spirit applies these time-tested principles to the soil of our souls:

A renewed concentration on the Word of God. We become firmly rooted in Christ as the principles and power of God’s Word are implanted into our minds and woven into our behavior. Regular reading, studying, and meditating upon the Scriptures add solid layers of Christlike character to our lives, which act as invisible seawalls against the forces of spiritual erosion.

A heightened attention to worship and praise. The less awesome God becomes in our eyes, the easier it is to drift. Praise and adoration lead to an exalted view of God and restore our spiritual passion.

A revived focus on service to others. Ministering to the practical needs of others is a great stimulus for reversing spiritual erosion because it releases the power and love of God.

You can regain the joy, peace, and confidence you once had in your relationship with Christ. Apply at least one principle today, and watch God rebuild your life.

Dear Lord, I pledge renewed consecration to Your Word. Show me ways I can minister to practical needs of others. Reverse the effects of spiritual erosion in my life.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 352). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 1 A Bright Beginning

Scripture reading: Acts 1:1–14

Key verse: Acts 1:8

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

The Crucifixion left the disciples stunned and bewildered. When they were sure all hope was gone, Jesus came to them. All that He had told them was true! He was with them again, only this time it was even better. Then came the day that He returned to heaven.

The Bible tells us that the group gathered at Christ’s ascension stood gazing into heaven. Do you wonder what they were thinking? Whatever it was, God knew they needed immediate direction and hope.

Two angels appeared and spoke to them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

As they dispersed and went back to their homes, Jesus’ last words filled their thoughts: “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

They had heard the words of Christ and understood His desire, yet it took angels from heaven to move the disciples to the next step.

Don’t let the disappointments of this world discourage you. What you see as an ending, God sees as a bright and glorious beginning. Therefore, as you go, share His love and hope with everyone.

Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for endings that are really new beginnings. Help me move on by faith to take the next step.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 352). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 1, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Return of the Conqueror

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. (19:11–13)

As it did in 4:1, heaven opened before John’s wondering eyes. But unlike 4:1, heaven opens this time not to let John in, but to let Jesus out. The time has come at last for the full, glorious revelation of the sovereign Lord. This is the time to which all of Revelation (as well as all of redemptive history) has been pointing, the time of which Jesus Himself spoke in Matthew 24:27–31:

“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”

As the dramatic scene unfolds, John stands transfixed, his attention riveted on the majestic, regal, mighty Rider. Jesus, the One who ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9–11) where He has been seated at the Father’s right hand (Acts 5:31; 7:55–56; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22), is about to receive the kingdom that the Father promised Him. In an earlier vision, John saw Jesus receive the title deed to the earth:

I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. (5:1–7)

The Lamb of that vision has become the conquering King.

No longer is Jesus portrayed as He was in His humiliation, “humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). Instead, He rides the traditional white horse ridden by victorious Roman generals in their triumphal processions through the streets of Rome. White also symbolizes the spotless, unblemished, absolutely holy character of the Rider. The horse, like the crowns (v. 12), the sharp sword (v. 15), the rod of iron (v. 15), and the wine press (v. 15) is symbolic; Christ’s coming is reality. The symbolic language represents various aspects of that reality—Christ’s victory over His enemies, His sovereign rule, and His judgment of sinners.

Continuing his description of the astonishing scene before him, John notes that He who sat on the white horse is called Faithful and True. There is no more appropriate name for the Lord Jesus Christ, who earlier in Revelation was called “the faithful and true Witness” (3:14). He is faithful to His promises (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20) and what He speaks is always true (John 8:45–46; Titus 1:2). Though some would like to pick and choose which teachings of Jesus they wish to accept, He is just as faithful to His promises of wrath and judgment as He is to His promises of grace and salvation. The description of Jesus as Faithful and True is in marked contrast with the unfaithfulness and lies of Satan (12:9), Antichrist’s evil empire (18:23), and wicked people (2 Tim. 3:13). The very fact that He is coming again as He promised confirms that Jesus is Faithful and True.

Because Jesus is faithful to His word and righteous character, it follows that in righteousness He judges. His holy nature demands a holy, righteous reaction to sin. And because He always does what He says, He must judge the wicked (Matt. 16:27; 25:31–46; John 5:22, 27; cf. Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom. 2:16; 2 Thess. 1:7–9; 2 Tim. 4:1). Jesus came the first time as Savior; He will return as Judge. When He came the first time, wicked people, including Pilate, Herod, Annas, and Caiaphas judged Him; when He returns, He will judge all wicked people (Acts 17:31). And He will not only be their judge, but also their executioner (vv. 15, 21). Angels may gather the wicked for judgment (Matt. 13:41), but the Lord Jesus will pass sentence on them.

No longer the Suffering Servant of His incarnation, the Lord Jesus Christ is seen in this vision as the warrior King who wages war against His foes. He is the executioner of all ungodly, unbelieving sinners. The only other reference in Scripture to Jesus waging war is in 2:16, when He warned the worldly church at Pergamum, “Repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” This is not out of keeping with God’s character, however. After their deliverance from the Egyptian forces at the Red Sea, Israel sang, “The Lord is a warrior” (Ex. 15:3; cf. Pss. 24:8; 45:3–5). John Phillips writes:

The Lord is a man of war! It is an amazing title for the Son of God. Says Alexander White, comenting on Bunyan’s Holy War,

Holy Scripture is full of wars and rumours of wars; the wars of the Lord; the wars of Joshua and the Judges; the wars of David, with his and many other magnificient battle-songs; till the best known name of the God of Israel in the Old Testament is the Lord of Hosts; and then in the New Testament we have Jesus Christ described as the Captain of our salvation.… And then the whole Bible is crowned with a book all sounding with battle-cries.… till it ends with that city of peace where they hang the trumpet in the hall and study war no more.

The Lord is a man of war! In righteousness He judges and makes war. The judging has been going on throughout the breaking of the seals, the blowing of the trumpets, and the pouring out of the bowls. Now He makes war. He, who for long centuries has endured patiently the scoffings, the insults, the bad manners of men; who for ages has contemplated Calvary and all that it displayed of human hatred and contempt; and who, through the millennia has made peace through the blood of that cross, now makes war over that blood. (Exploring Revelation, rev. ed. [Chicago: Moody, 1987; reprint, Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux, 1991], 232)

Jesus’ adversaries this time will be the hardened sinners who have defied His judgments and scorned the gospel message during the Tribulation. Despite all the devastating judgments they will have experienced, and the powerful gospel preaching they will have heard, they will stubbornly refuse to repent (9:20–21; 16:9, 11). Since neither judgment nor preaching moves them to repent, Jesus will return to destroy them and send them to hell.

Unlike other conquerors the world has seen, covetousness, ambition, pride, or power will not motivate this Conqueror. He will come in utter righteousness, in perfect holiness, and in strict accord with every holy interest. Heaven cannot be at peace with sin, for God’s “eyes are too pure to approve evil, and [He] can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13). There is a limit to God’s patience. Justice cannot always tolerate injustice; truth cannot forever tolerate lies; rebellion cannot be permitted to go on forever. Incorrigible, incurable, hardened sinners will face destruction; mercy abused and grace rejected will ultimately bring judgment.

Describing the personal appearance of the majestic, awe-inspiring Rider, John writes that His eyes are a flame of fire (see the discussion of 1:14 in Revelation 1–11, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1999], 46). Nothing escapes the notice of His penetrating, piercing vision. He can see into the deepest recesses of the human heart, because “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). Those eyes had reflected tenderness and joy as He gathered little children to Himself. They had reflected compassion when He observed distressed and dispirited people, wandering aimlessly through life like sheep without a shepherd. And they had reflected forgiveness when He restored Peter, who had been crushed by guilt over his shocking denial of his Master. The eyes that wept over the fate of unrepentant Jerusalem and over the sorrow, suffering, and death in this sin-cursed world, John sees flashing with the fire of judgment.

On His head John noted that Christ wore many diadems, a transliteration of the Greek word diadēma, which refers to a ruler’s crown (cf. 12:3; 13:1). In this case, they are worn by Jesus to signify His royal rank and regal authority. Many indicates His collecting of all the rulers’ crowns, signifying that He alone is the sovereign ruler of the earth. Collecting the crown of a vanquished king was customary in the ancient world. After defeating the Ammonites, David “took the crown of their king from his head … and it was placed on David’s head” (2 Sam. 12:30). Christ alone will be sovereign, since He alone is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (v. 16), and “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (11:15). The many crowns Christ will wear are indeed a fair exchange for a crown of thorns (cf. Phil. 2:8–11).

Further, John notes that Jesus had a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. All speculation as to the meaning of that name is obviously pointless, since the text plainly states that no one knows it except Jesus Himself. Even the inspired apostle John could not comprehend it. Maybe it will be made known after His return.

Describing the final element of Christ’s appearance, John writes that He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood. The blood is not representative of that which He shed on the cross; this is a picture of judgment, not redemption. The blood is the blood of His slaughtered enemies. The imagery of this passage is similar to that of Isaiah 63:1–6:

Who is this who comes from Edom,

With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah,

This One who is majestic in His apparel,

Marching in the greatness of His strength?

“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”

Why is Your apparel red,

And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?

“I have trodden the wine trough alone,

And from the peoples there was no man with Me.

I also trod them in My anger

And trampled them in My wrath;

And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments,

And I stained all My raiment.

For the day of vengeance was in My heart,

And My year of redemption has come.

I looked, and there was no one to help,

And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold;

So My own arm brought salvation to Me,

And My wrath upheld Me.

I trod down the peoples in My anger

And made them drunk in My wrath,

And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

The question arises as to why His garments are blood spattered before the battle has begun. But this is not His first battle; it is His last battle. He has fought for His people throughout redemptive history, and His war clothes bear the stains of many previous slaughters. At that day, they will be stained as never before when He “treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty” (v. 15).

That the Rider’s name is called The Word of God identifies Him unmistakably as the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1). The second Person of the Trinity, the incarnate Son of God is called The Word of God because He is the revelation of God. He is the full expression of the mind, will, and purpose of God, “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3).[1]


12 The reference to the blazing eyes definitely connects this vision with that of ch. 1 (cf. 1:14; 2:18). On his head are not just seven crowns (12:3), or ten (13:1), but many crowns of royalty (diadēmata, GK 1343). Perhaps they signify that the royal power to rule the world has now passed to Christ by virtue of the victory of his followers (11:15). All the diadems of their newly won empire meet on his brow (cf. Caird).

So great is Christ’s power that his name is known only by himself. Knowledge of the name is in antiquity associated with the power of the god. When a name becomes known, then the power is shared with those to whom the disclosure is made (cf. comments at 2:17). But since two names of Christ are revealed in this vision—“the Word of God” (v. 13) and “king of kings and lord of lords” (v. 16)—we may conclude that the exclusive power of Christ over all creation is now to be shared with his faithful followers (3:21; 5:10; 22:5). On the other hand, the secret name may be one that will not be revealed till Christ’s return.[2]


12 The first thing that John records about the Rider of the white horse is that his eyes are a flame of fire. Nothing can be hidden from the penetrating gaze of the Messiah. Upon his head are many crowns. Here is an obvious contrast to the seven crowns of the dragon (12:3) and the ten crowns of the beast out of the sea (13:1). Many crowns indicate unlimited sovereignty. Since he is King of kings, all authority is his. The entire description is obviously symbolic and should not be visualized in any concrete way. The Rider also bears a name that only he knows. Some find here a reference to the sacred tetragrammaton, YHWH, a name too holy to pronounce so that the vowels of another name for God (Adonai) are read with the consonants of the holy name, with the resulting combination usually represented (in English) as Yahweh. Others hold the name to be “the name that is above every name” (“the Lord,” Phil 2:9–11) given to Christ in fulfillment of his messianic ministry. One writer suggests that it may be the name inscribed upon the Rider’s thigh in v. 16, which was not legible at first because of the radiance of the vision. The most common interpretation is that it is a secret name whose meaning is veiled from all created beings. It expresses the mystery of his person. There will always remain a mystery about Christ that finite minds will never fully grasp. There exists an ancient idea that to know the name of a god or demon is to possess certain powers over him. This could account for the refusal of the divine visitors in Gen 32:29 and Judg 13:18 to identify themselves (cf. 1 Enoch 69:14; Asc. Isa. 9:5). It is highly questionable, however, that the returning Messiah would share such a reluctance.[3]


THE UNKNOWABLE NAME

Revelation 19:12

His eyes are a flame of fire, and on his head are many royal crowns, and he has a name written which no one knows except himself.

We begin the description of the conquering Christ.

His eyes are a flame of fire. We have already met this description in 1:14 and 2:18. It stands for the consuming power of the victorious Christ. On his head, he has many crowns. The word used here for crown is diadēma, which is the royal crown, as opposed to stephanos, which is the crown of victory. To be crowned with more than one crown may seem strange, but in the time of John it was quite natural. It was not uncommon for a monarch to wear more than one crown in order to show that he was the king of more than one country. For instance, when Ptolemy entered Antioch, he wore two crowns or diadems—one to show that he was lord of Asia and one to show that he was lord of Egypt (1 Maccabees 11:13). On the head of the victor Christ, there are many crowns to show that he is lord of all the kingdoms of the earth.

He has a name known to no one but himself. This is a passage whose meaning is obscure. What is this name? Many suggestions have been made.

(1) It has been suggested that the name is kurios, Lord. In Philippians 2:9–11, we read of the name above every name which God has given to Jesus Christ because of his complete obedience; and there the name is almost certainly Lord.

(2) It is suggested that the name is IHWH. That was the Jewish name for God. In Hebrew writing, there were no vowels; the I was a Y rather than an I in pronunciation; the vowels had to be supplied by the reader. No one really knows what the vowels in IHWH were. The name was in fact so holy that it was never pronounced. In the past, it was pronounced JEHOVAH; but the vowels in Jehovah are really those of the Hebrew word Adonai, which means Lord, the name by which the Jews called God in order to avoid pronouncing the sacred name. Scholars now think that the name should be IAHWEH. The letters IHWH are called the sacred tetragrammaton, the sacred four letters. It may be that the secret name is the real name of God, which no one knows.

(3) It may be that the name is one which can be revealed only at the final union of Christ and the Church. In the Ascension of Isaiah (9:5), there is a saying: ‘You cannot bear his name until you shall have ascended out of the body.’ There was a Jewish belief that no one could know the name of God before entering into the life of heaven.

(4) It may be that there is here a lingering relic of the old idea that to know the name of a divine being was to have a certain power over that being. In two Old Testament stories, the wrestling of Jacob at Peniel (Genesis 32:29) and the appearance of the angelic messenger to Gideon (Judges 13:18), the divine visitor refuses to tell his name.

(5) It may be that we shall never know the symbolism of the unknown name; but H. B. Swete has the very fine idea that in the essence of the being of Christ there must always remain something beyond human understanding. ‘Notwithstanding the dogmatic helps which the Church offers, the mind fails to grasp the inmost significance of the Person of Christ, which eludes all efforts to bring it within the terms of human knowledge. Only the Son of God can understand the mystery of his own being.’[4]


12. And his eyes are as a flame of fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written that no one knows except he himself.

This verse describes three aspects of Christ: his eyes, his head, and his name. The first two are visible and known, but the third, although written, only he himself knows. The description of Jesus’ eyes as flames of fire resembles a clause in Daniel 10:6, “his eyes like flaming torches.” And John’s portrayal of Jesus on Patmos has similar wording, “His eyes were like a flame of fire” (1:14; 2:18). These flames of fire convey Christ’s holy anger toward his enemies and his wrath against sin that is piled up to heaven (18:5).

The second aspect is that Christ wears many crowns, which the Greek text conveys as diadems (see 12:3; 13:1, where this word is applied to Satan and the beast as they imitate Christ). Diadems in John’s day were individual ribbons tied around someone’s head. Here the many diadems represent Christ’s supremacy in countless areas. The picture is purely symbolic of his complete sovereignty in the universe and does not lend itself to literalism. We assume that these diadems on Christ’s head displayed names to indicate the areas of his sovereignty (compare Isa. 62:2–3).

The third aspect is the name that no one knows except Christ. This sentence has caused at least one commentator who examined the parallel lines in verses 12 and 13 to assert that the sentence. “He has a name written that no one knows except he himself” is a gloss. By deleting this line, he says that the parallelism of verses 12 and 13 is restored. But is there really a contradiction in these two verses, where verse 12c states an inability to know the name of Christ and verse 13b divulges this name as “the Word of God”? To be sure, the names for Christ are numerous in the New Testament; the Apocalypse calls him the Lamb. Faithful and True, Lord of lords and King of kings, Root, offspring of David, Morning Star, and others. In verse 13 the written name of the rider on the white horse is “the Word of God.” A name refers to the very being of a person; for instance, an overcomer is given a white stone on which “is written a new name which no one knows except the one who receives it” (2:17). When on the island of Patmos John hears a divine voice and describes the speaker as “a son of man” (1:13), he declines to identify Jesus by name. In fact, he is unable to utter the name of this divine person. This corresponds with the mysterious wording in an early Christian hymn, “God … gave him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). We know that the appellation Jesus is his earthly name and Christ his official designation, but he still has another name that remains hidden from us. This mysterious name will be revealed to his people when his redemptive work has been brought to completion. Certainly at the wedding banquet of the Lamb (v. 9) when his bride enjoys perfect blessedness, the Lord will reveal the mystery of his name.

There is still another explanation, namely, that God shares his name with Christ, whereby the divinity of Christ is expressed. At three other places in the Apocalypse, John identifies Christ with God by ascribing divinity to Jesus when he mentions him together with God with reference to God’s kingdom and throne. There is one kingdom, not two; and one throne, not two (11:15; 20:6; 22:3).[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2000). Revelation 12–22 (pp. 214–218). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 758). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (p. 353). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Barclay, W. (2004). Revelation of John (Vol. 2, pp. 201–203). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Vol. 20, pp. 520–521). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

December 1 A Tragic End to a Promising Beginning

scripture reading: 1 Samuel 15:13–23
key verse: 1 Samuel 15:29

The Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.

The race of life that God has placed us in requires daily, deliberate exercise as well as a good start if we are to finish well and strong. Many of us know Christians who started with great promise but ended in tragedy and despair.

Initially Saul loved God and did His will. God even changed his heart for good, and before long, Saul had captured the hearts of his countrymen and countrywomen. However, this great man’s life was spent in bitterness, hatred, and depression.

Saul offered a sacrifice when he became impatient for Samuel to arrive. It didn’t seem that much at the time, but it grew into increased rationalization. He began to blame others—“the people took some of the spoil” (1 Sam. 15:21 nasb)—until Saul no longer took responsibility for his sin, and his self–will loomed larger than God’s will for him.

The process hasn’t changed. We flirt with a particular sin, we rationalize it—and before long we are captive to it. Our hearts are hardened to God’s loving conviction, and we pursue our own destruction.

Are you rationalizing a sin today? Is there a known area of disobedience in your life? If so, go to God and confess and repent of it. God will restore you.

Lord, I want to end well. Reveal any disobedience so that I can deal with each issue. Restore me so that I can finish strong.[1]

 

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

1 december (preached 2 december 1855) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Free-will—a slave

“And ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” John 5:40

suggested further reading: John 6:60–65

It is certain that men will not come unto Christ, that they might have life. We might prove this from many texts of Scripture, but we will take one parable. You remember the parable where a certain king had a feast for his son, and invited a great number to come; the oxen and fatlings were killed, and he sent his messengers inviting many to the supper. Did they go to the feast? No; but they all, with one accord, began to make excuse. One said he had married a wife, and therefore he could not come, whereas he might have brought her with him. Another had bought a yoke of oxen, and went to prove them; but the feast was in the night-time and he could not prove his oxen in the dark. Another had bought a piece of land, and wanted to see it; but I should not think he went to see it with a lantern. So they all made excuses and would not come. Well the king was determined to have the feast; so he said, “Go into the highways and hedges,” and invite them—stop! Not invite—“compel them to come in;” for even the ragged fellows in the hedges would never have come unless they were compelled. Take another parable; a certain man had a vineyard; at the appointed season he sent one of his servants for his rent. What did they do to him? They beat that servant. He sent another; and they stoned him. He sent another and they killed him. And, at last, he said “I will send them my son, they will reverence him.” But what did they do? They said, “This is the heir, let us kill him, and cast him out of the vineyard.” So they did. It is the same with all men by nature. The Son of God came, yet men rejected him.

for meditation: When you thank God for your salvation, do you give him all the credit for your conversion as well (John 15:16)?

sermon no. 52[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 342). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

1 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Treasuring Grace and Peace

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:3

suggested further reading: 2 John

Notice that, in all his epistles, Paul constantly reminds us of the grace of God and the love he bears toward all believers. He says, Grace be to you and peace. This word peace includes all worldly prosperity. By it Paul is asking God to provide those things that he considers for our good. He will shower his riches upon us and reveal his bounty so that we might praise him for his goodness.

However, the wealth of this world will be harmful for us unless we have found favor with the Lord. Hence, Paul speaks here in an orderly way, always placing God’s grace and free pardon before an increase in worldly prosperity. Though we may ask God to bless us with those things he thinks we need, we must not forget the most important blessing is to be members of his church and assured of God’s love in our hearts.

The light of God’s countenance should suffice us. Although God permits us to ask for good things from his hand, we must keep a tight rein on our desires. God may afflict us with many sorrows, and at such times we need to value his grace above anything else. We should then be content, even if everything else was taken away. If we live in comfort, surrounded by all kinds of pleasures and delights, we will still be miserable if we do not have the peace of conscience that comes from knowing that God loves and accepts us.

We should not desire earthly goods more than the love of God. For what if God, who loves us, wishes to test our patience by making us suffer in this world and subjects us to many trials? Even then, we must prize his love above all else and patiently bear all trials, though it seems as if everything is against us.

for meditation: How quick we are to assume that if we were greatly blessed with earthly goods, we would be happy. The broken lives of many of the rich and famous should be enough to convince us otherwise. Earthly blessings must be combined with the grace of God in our hearts if they are to bring us true joy. What is your attitude toward earthly wealth?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 354). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

SSB Sunday Gathering – December 1, 2019 — Spiritual Sounding Board

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

Scripture is taken from the Book of Common Prayer, Readings for Advent 2 and may be found here.

Psalm 113

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5: 1 – 11

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Luke 21: 5 – 19

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.”

***

***

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

***

Feel free to join the discussion.

You can share your church struggles and concerns.

Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.

What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?

Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

via SSB Sunday Gathering – December 1, 2019 — Spiritual Sounding Board

11.30.2019: EChurch@Wartburg: Wade Burleson: The Danger of Loveless Truth — The Wartburg Watch


link

Prayer of Thanksgiving link

God of all blessings,
source of all life,
giver of all grace:

We thank you for the gift of life:
for the breath
that sustains life,
for the food of this earth
that nurtures life,
for the love of family and friends
without which there would be no life.

We thank you for the mystery of creation:
for the beauty
that the eye can see,
for the joy
that the ear may hear,
for the unknown
that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,
for the expanse of space
that draws us beyond the definitions of our selves.

We thank you for setting us in communities:
for families
who nurture our becoming,
for friends
who love us by choice,
for companions at work,
who share our burdens and daily tasks,
for strangers
who welcome us into their midst,
for people from other lands
who call us to grow in understanding,
for children
who lighten our moments with delight,
for the unborn,
who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for this day:
for life
and one more day to love,
for opportunity
and one more day to work for justice and peace,
for neighbors
and one more person to love
and by whom be loved,
for your grace
and one more experience of your presence,
for your promise:
to be with us,
to be our God,
and to give salvation.

For these, and all blessings,
we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,
through Jesus Christ we pray.
Amen.

A Morning Prayer: (Syrian Clementine Liturgy) link

O God, Who are the unsearchable abyss of peace,
the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings,
and the bestower of affection, Who sends peace to those that receive it;
open to us this day the sea of Your love,
and water us with the plenteous streams from the riches of Your grace.
Make us children of quietness, and heirs of peace.
Kindle in us the fire of Your love; sow in us Your fear;
strengthen our weakness by Your power;
bind us closely to You and to each other in one firm bond of unity;
for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Amen

A Prayer of St. Ambrose: (St. Ambrose of Milan, c. 339-397) link

O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore thee, a heart to delight in thee,
to follow and to enjoy thee, for Christ’s sake.
Amen

1 Corinthians 13:  NIV link

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poorand give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Benediction: (Numbers 6:24-26 RSV)  link

The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.
Amen

via 11.30.2019: EChurch@Wartburg: Wade Burleson: The Danger of Loveless Truth —

December 1 – “Looking forward to the coming of Christ” series — Reformed Perspective

Looking Forward: My guess is that as you turned the page on your calendar from November to December, your first thought might have been, “Wow! Christmas is almost upon us again!” For children and adults alike, Christmas day is often the first thing that comes to mind as we transition into the last month of the year. Understandably so because the celebration of Christ’s birth is something that we look forward to with a sense of excitement and eager anticipation. Christmas lights come out. Christmas trees are put up. Christmas music is turned on. Jesus’ birth is certainly an event worth remembering.

While our thinking turns to Jesus’ birth once again, we do well to remind ourselves that God began thinking about Christ’s coming into the world long before the world even began. And did you know that the first promise about Christ’s coming was given by God in the Garden of Eden over six thousand years ago?

Jump in with us this month to journey through the Bible with the theme “Looking forward to the coming of Christ” as our tour guide. Since the first few chapters of Genesis are so foundational we will spend the first few days camping in the Garden of Eden. Our pace will then pick up as we travel into Egypt (Exodus), through the wilderness (Numbers), into the Promised Land (Joshua), then to a foreign land, and back to the Promised Land again where the long-promised Saviour is born. We will end our journey by looking forward to Christ’s second Advent.

Let’s begin our journey.

Picture perfect paradise

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:1, 31a

Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1, 31; 2:1-15

When God created the universe, everything was perfect. Pristinely perfect! Adam and Eve lived in God’s beautiful garden and pleasures abounded. Flowers to see and smell, birds to hear, playful animals to watch, satisfying sensations from the sense of touch, tasty food to savor, refreshing water to drink, cascading waterfalls, lush valleys and magnificent mountain vistas to view. And to top it all off – the closest of companionship with God and with a spouse in which to enjoy all these blessings. What a joy!

Adam and Eve also worked the garden, but it was pure pleasure to work in God’s service. It’s been said, “Get a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s the way it was for Adam and Eve in Paradise. In this state of supreme happiness and contentment, they did not have to look forward to a better state. They were living in a picture-perfect world. But it wasn’t just a picture. It was real!

Sadly, our experience of life falls so very far short of this perfect Paradise. It is hard for us to even imagine what life was like for Adam and Eve. But take heart! God will restore this world to its pristine and perfect state when Jesus returns. “Behold,” He promises in Isaiah 65:17, “I will create new heavens and a new earth.” You will be among those who enjoy life in this renewed creation if you trust in Jesus as your Saviour and the Lord of all creation.

Suggestions for prayer

As you worship today on this first Sunday of Advent, thank God for the promise of Jesus’ second coming and the new creation He promises to usher in when He comes again.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God DevotionalRev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015.

via December 1 – “Looking forward to the coming of Christ” series — Reformed Perspective

December 1, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

147.—“I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried.” He was up before the sun, and began his pleadings before the dew began to leave the grass. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing speedily. This is the third time that he mentions that he cried. He cried, and cried, and cried again. His supplications had become so frequent, fervent, and intense, that he might hardly be said to be doing anything else from morning to night but crying unto his God. So strong was his desire after salvation that he could not rest in his bed; so eagerly did he seek it that at the first possible moment he was on his knees. “I hoped in thy word.” Hope is a very powerful means of strengthening us in prayer. Who would pray if he had no hope that God would hear him? Who would not pray when he has a good hope of a blessed issue to his entreaties? His hope was fixed upon God’s word, and this is a sure anchorage, because God is true, and in no case has he ever run back from his promise, or altered the thing that has gone forth from his mouth. He who is diligent in prayer will never be destitute of hope. Observe that as the early bird gets the worm, so the early prayer is soon refreshed with hope.[1]


119:147 Weigle writes, “This is a description of the devotional habits of a pious (man) who rises before dawn to begin his day with meditation and prayer.” Our motto should be, “No Bible, no breakfast.”[2]


119:147 I rise before dawn. The poet’s first thought as he awakens is the Lord. His prayer is frequent as well as fervent.[3]


147. I have prevented the twilight. The Hebrew noun נשף, nesheph, is in this place improperly translated by crepusculum, twilight; for it rather signifies the dawn of morning. But as the Latins derive the word crepusculum from creperus, which signifies doubtful or uncertain, so that it may signify the doubtful and intermediate time between light and darkness, I have not been particularly nice in the selection of the term: only let my readers understand that the evening twilight commencing with sunset is not here denoted, but the imperfect light which precedes the rising of the sun. David then expresses the most eager haste when ho says, that he prevented the dawn of the morning by his prayers. The verb cry always conveys the idea of earnestness; referring, as it does, not so much to the loudness of the voice as to the vehemency and ardour of the mind. In mentioning his haste, his object is the better to set forth his perseverance; for he tells us, that although he betook himself to prayer with such promptitude, yet he did not immediately become weary of that exercise, like the unbelieving, who, if God does not suddenly grant them their requests, murmur and complain against him. Thus, in conjoining patience of hope with earnestness of desire, he shows what is the true manner of praying; even as Paul, in Philip. 4:6, when he exhorts us to “let our requests be made known unto God with thanksgiving,” admonishes us, while engaged in the exercise of prayer, to bridle our turbulent affections, because one of the ends of prayer is to nourish our hope. Nor is the mention made of the word in the close of the verse superfluous; for it is only by having the Word of God continually before our eyes, that we can bridle the wanton impetuosity of our corrupt nature.[4]


147. prevented—literally, “came before,” anticipated not only the dawn, but even the usual periods of the night; when the night watches, which might be expected to find me asleep, come, they find me awake (Ps 63:6; 77:4; La 2:19). Such is the earnestness of the desire and love for God’s truth.[5]


Ver. 147.—I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried (comp. ver. 62). Evening, morning, and noonday were the three usual times of prayer (Ps. 55:17). The writer could not wait for morning. Either he woke up to pray at midnight, or at any rate he anticipated the dawn, and began his morning prayer while it was still dark. I hoped in thy Word. Hope was so strong in him that it did not suffer him to rest.[6]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 402). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 746). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 849). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] Calvin, J., & Anderson, J. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 5, pp. 25–26). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 384). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Psalms (Vol. 3, p. 111). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

Advent Sunday Praise — Do Not Be Surprised…

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

The people who walked in darknesshave seen a great light;those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,on them has light shone. (Isaiah 9:2)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousnessfrom this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “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 1:26-33)

via Advent Sunday Praise — Do Not Be Surprised…

12/01/19 Practical Discipleship: Discipling Non-Believers — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Matthew 28:18-20

I suspect that many believers hear the “making disciples” component of the Great Commission, and they assume that Jesus was talking about discipling believers. Surely He was speaking of those who believed, but the mandate to baptize – “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19) – shows that He was also calling His followers to lead others to Him. Indeed, the essence of “making disciples” in this verse is both evangelizing and equipping. One New Testament scholar describes the process this way: “The verb ‘make disciples’ also commands a kind of evangelism that does not stop after someone makes a profession of faith. The truly subordinate participles in v. 19 explain what making disciples involves: ‘baptizing’ them and ‘teaching’ them obedience to all of Jesus’ commandments. The first of these will be a once-for-all, decisive initiation into Christian community. The second proves a perennially incomplete, life-long task.”*

This truth has at least these practical implications for me as a disciple-maker:

  • I must not limit my discipling relationship to only believers. Even as I evangelize a non-believer, I’m working on the front end to make him a disciple of Jesus.
  • I need to think more strategically about inviting non-believers to study the Bible with me, discuss Christianity, and consider the claims of Christ. I need to plan more breakfasts or lunches with folks who don’t know Jesus.
  • Without neglecting on-the-spot, lovingly confrontational evangelism, I want to become more comfortable with evangelism built around relationships.
  • I should never grow comfortable with simply watching believers grow. Instead, I should grieve when I can’t name the persons I’m investing in so they will follow Christ.
  • Great joy comes when we’re privileged to equip new believers that we’ve personally led to the Lord.

So, today, who’s your disciple that you seeking to lead to be a disciple?

PRAYER: “God, burden me even more to invest in non-believers in discipling relationships.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Ezekiel 30-32, 1 Peter 4-5

*  Craig Blomberg (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 431). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

via 12/01/19 Practical Discipleship: Discipling Non-Believers — ChuckLawless.com

The Annunciation (Part 2 of 2) | Truth For Life Programs

The incarnation is an absolutely astonishing doctrine. When the angel informed Mary that she would conceive miraculously and give birth to the Messiah, though, she responded with humble faith. That’s our subject on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.

Listen…

Source: The Annunciation (Part 2 of 2)

Sin and Our Relationship to God — Christian Research Network

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”  – Psalm 85:10

Atonement is central to Christian theology, and without the cross we do not have Christianity. Much of the New Testament is devoted to explicating what happened on the cross of Christ, and the atonement was necessitated by the problems that sin brought to our relationship with God (Rom. 3:21–26). To understand the atonement, therefore, we must first understand how our transgressions affect our relationship with our Creator.

First, as a result of sin, we have incurred a debt to God. Since God is the Creator and our Sovereign King, He has the absolute right to impose obligations on us. God first imposed His law on us in Eden, commanding Adam to obey Him perfectly by not eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:15–17). Adam stands in a special relationship to the rest of humanity. He is the federal head or representative of the entire human race (except Jesus), which means that his response to God’s command is reckoned as our response to God’s command. Adam’s disobedience, therefore, is our disobedience, and when Adam sinned, we incurred an infinite debt against the Lord (Rom. 3:235:12–211 Cor. 15:22). No sinner can pay this debt, for it takes someone of infinite worth to satisfy this charge against us. Christ, however, could pay this debt because of His infinite worth as the Son of God. His sacrifice pays the debt for Adam’s sin and for all of our individual transgressions when we trust in Him alone. He becomes our new federal head, and we are counted righteous in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). View article →

via Sin and Our Relationship to God — Christian Research Network

December 1 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

1 Chronicles 29; 2 Peter 3; Micah 6; Luke 15

 

there is important common ground in Micah 6 and Luke 15. Yet I shall approach it obliquely.

One of the slogans of the Reformation was simul justus et peccator, a Latin phrase meaning something like “simultaneously just[ified] and a sinner.” It was a way of getting at the legal nature of justification as expounded by Paul. On the ground of Christ’s death, God declares guilty sinners just—not because, from the act of justification itself, they are in their actions and thoughts truly just or righteous, but because they have been acquitted before the bar of God’s justice. Because Christ has paid their penalty, they are just in God’s eyes, even though, at the level of their very being, they are sinners still. Nevertheless, the Reformers never argued that justification stands by itself. Justification is part of salvation, but it is not all of it. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and regeneration; the ultimate step is the final transformation of God’s people in body and spirit at the last day. These elements and more belong together, and all who are truly saved ultimately experience all of them. So while justification in and of itself leaves a person a sinner still, justification never operates all by itself. Genuine salvation not only forgives us but transforms us.

Micah understands this. He does not so much deal with the ground of Israel’s acceptance before God (which is finally tied to God’s grace, Deut. 9) as insist that, if the covenantal relationship with God is genuine, it will not be soaked in idolatry, syncretism, and injustice. So how shall I come before the Lord? Shall I sacrifice the prescribed yearling? (6:6). How about thousands of rams? Or how about sacrificing my own son: will that pay “for the sin of my soul” (6:7)? What the Lord requires is this: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).

Micah is not alone on this point, of course. Jesus preached something similar, quoting Hosea (Matt. 9:13). Paul insists that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9–11). He does not mean that only the perennial goody-goody will make it, for he goes on to say that some of his readers once practiced astonishing evil. But if they have been truly saved, transformation must manifest itself. That is equally true in the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11–27). He is received by the father’s grace. Yet in the complexity of the return, the son abandons his sin even as he casts himself on his father’s mercy. As critically important as simul justus et peccator is, it must never, never be used to justify the practice of sin.[1]

 

[1] Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 2, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Gabbard Derangement Syndrome | Lew Rockwell

Article Image
https://www.lewrockwell.com, By Tim Black

Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii and, since February, Democratic presidential candidate, is highly unlikely to win the Democratic nomination. She has been polling in single digits, well behind the trio of frontrunners: former US vice-president Joe Biden, and senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Yet the Democratic establishment and its media cheerleaders seem to have become fixated on her. She annoys them. She riles them. And it’s not just because of her ambivalence towards identity politics and the other aspects of her Sanders-style progressivism – indeed, she endorsed Sanders in 2016, much to the chagrin of the Democratic establishment at the time. No, it’s also because of her uncompromising opposition to the ‘counterproductive regime-change wars‘ pursued with such ignorant zeal by the likes of Democratic grandee Hillary Clinton. It’s because of her willingness to question the narratives that have justified Western intervention in Syria, including a secret fact-finding mission to Damascus, and a meeting with Bashar al-Assad in 2017. And it’s because she does all this not as a woolly pacifist, but as a war vet.

So where her small but growing band of supporters see a principled 38-year-old, armed with a progressive policy platform, and, above all, a strong commitment to anti-interventionism, her powerful opponents are determined to present her as something altogether more sinister. They talk of her being a poster girl for white supremacists and the alt-right, of her being a Republican stooge in Democratic clothing, and of her being some sort of Russian asset.

Tulsi Gabbard: Wake Up And Smell Our $6.4 Trillion Wars | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Doug Bandow via TheAmericanConservative.com,

Meanwhile, her fellow Democrats appear abysmally unconcerned about the human and financial toll…

The Democratic establishment is increasingly irritated.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard, long-shot candidate for president, is attacking her own party for promoting the “deeply destructive” policy of “regime change wars.” Gabbard has even called Hillary Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party.”

Senator Chris Murphy complained:

“It’s a little hard to figure out what itch she’s trying to scratch in the Democratic Party right now.”

Some conservatives seem equally confused. The Washington Examiner’s Eddie Scarry asked:

“where is Tulsi distinguishing herself when it really matters?”

The answer is that foreign policy “really matters.”

Gabbard recognizes that George W. Bush is not the only simpleton warmonger who’s plunged the nation into conflict, causing enormous harm. In the last Democratic presidential debate, she explained that the issue was “personal to me” since she’d “served in a medical unit where every single day, I saw the terribly high, human costs of war.” Compare her perspective to that of the ivory tower warriors of Right and Left, ever ready to send others off to fight not so grand crusades.

The best estimate of the costs of the post-9/11 wars comes from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. The Institute says that $6.4 trillion will be spent through 2020. They estimate that our wars have killed 801,000 directly and resulted in a multiple of that number dead indirectly. More than 335,000 civilians have died—and that’s an extremely conservative guess. Some 21 million people have been forced from their homes. Yet the terrorism risk has only grown, with the U.S. military involved in counter-terrorism in 80 nations.

Obviously, without American involvement there would still be conflicts. Some counter-terrorism activities would be necessary even if the U.S. was not constantly swatting geopolitical wasps’ nests. Nevertheless, it was Washington that started or joined these unnecessary wars (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen) and expanded necessary wars well beyond their legitimate purposes (Afghanistan). As a result, American policymakers bear responsibility for much of the carnage.

The Department of Defense is responsible for close to half of the estimated expenditures. About $1.4 trillion goes to care for veterans. Homeland security and interest on security expenditures take roughly $1 trillion each. And $131 million goes to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which have overspent on projects that have delivered little.

More than 7,000 American military personnel and nearly 8,000 American contractors have died. About 1,500 Western allied troops and 11,000 Syrians fighting ISIS have been killed. The Watson Institute figures that as many as 336,000 civilians have died, but that uses the very conservative numbers provided by the Iraq Body Count. The IBC counts 207,000 documented civilian deaths but admits that doubling the estimate would probably yield a more accurate figure. Two other respected surveys put the number of deaths in Iraq alone at nearly 700,000 and more than a million, though those figures have been contested.

More than a thousand aid workers and journalists have died, as well as up to 260,000 opposition fighters. Iraq is the costliest conflict overall, with as many as 308,000 dead (or 515,000 from doubling the IBC count). Syria cost 180,000 lives, Afghanistan 157,000, Yemen 90,000, and Pakistan 66,000.

Roughly 32,000 American military personnel have been wounded; some 300,000 suffer from PTSD or significant depression and even more have endured traumatic brain injuries. There are other human costs—4.5 million Iraqi refugees and millions more in other nations, as well as the destruction of Iraq’s indigenous Christian community and persecution of other religious minorities. There has been widespread rape and other sexual violence. Civilians, including children, suffer from PTSD.

Even stopping the wars won’t end the costs. Explained Nita Crawford of Boston University and co-director of Brown’s Cost of War Project: “the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11 wars will continue to rise as the U.S. pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest no borrowing to pay for the wars.”

People would continue to die. Unexploded shells and bombs still turn up in Europe from World Wars I and II. In Afghanistan, virtually the entire country is a battlefield, filled with landmines, shells, bombs, and improvised explosive devices. Between 2001 and 2018, 5,442 Afghans were killed and 14,693 were wounded from unexploded ordnance. Some of these explosives predate American involvement, but the U.S. has contributed plenty over the last 18 years.

Moreover, the number of indirect deaths often exceeds battle-related casualties. Journalist and activist David Swanson noted an “estimate that to 480,000 direct deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, one must add at least one million deaths in those countries indirectly caused by the recent and ongoing wars. This is because the wars have caused illnesses, injuries, malnutrition, homelessness, poverty, lack of social support, lack of healthcare, trauma, depression, suicide, refugee crises, disease epidemics, the poisoning of the environment, and the spread of small-scale violence.” Consider Yemen, ravaged by famine and cholera. Most civilian casualties have resulted not from Saudi and Emirati bombing, but from the consequences of the bombing.

Only a naif would imagine that these wars will disappear absent a dramatic change in national leadership. Wrote Crawford:

“The mission of the post-9/11 wars, as originally defined, was to defend the United States against future terrorist threats from al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations. Since 2001, the wars have expanded from the fighting in Afghanistan, to wars and smaller operations elsewhere, in more than 80 countries—becoming a truly ‘global war on terror’.”

Yet every expansion of conflict makes the American homeland more, not less, vulnerable. Contrary to the nonsensical claim that if we don’t occupy Afghanistan forever and overthrow Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, al-Qaeda and ISIS will turn Chicago and Omaha into terrorist abattoirs, intervening in more conflicts and killing more foreigners creates additional terrorists at home and abroad. In this regard, drone campaigns are little better than invasions and occupations.

For instance, when questioned by the presiding judge in his trial, the failed 2010 Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, a U.S. citizen, cited the drone campaign in Pakistan. His colloquy with the judge was striking: “I’m going to plead guilty 100 times forward because until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands and stops Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims.”

Ajani Marwat, with the New York City Police Department’s intelligence division, outlined Shahzad’s perspective to The Guardian:

“’It’s American policies in his country.’ …’We don’t have to do anything to attract them,’ a terrorist organizer in Lahore told me. ‘The Americans and the Pakistani government do our work for us. With the drone attacks targeting the innocents who live in Waziristan and the media broadcasting this news all the time, the sympathies of most of the nation are always with us. Then it’s simply a case of converting these sentiments into action’.”

Washington does make an effort to avoid civilian casualties, but war will never be pristine. Combatting insurgencies inevitably harms innocents. Air and drone strikes rely on often unreliable informants. The U.S. employs “signature” strikes based on supposedly suspicious behavior. And America’s allies, most notably the Saudis and Emiratis—supplied, armed, guided, and until recently refueled by Washington—make little if any effort to avoid killing noncombatants and destroying civilian infrastructure.

Thus will the cycle of terrorism and war continue. Yet which leading Democrats have expressed concern? Most complain that President Donald Trump is negotiating with North Korea, leaving Syria, and reducing force levels in Afghanistan. Congressional Democrats care about Yemen only because it has become Trump’s war; there were few complaints under President Barack Obama.

What has Washington achieved after years of combat? Even the capitals of its client states are unsafe. The State Department warns travelers to Iraq that kidnapping is a risk and urges businessmen to hire private security. In Kabul, embassy officials now travel to the airport via helicopter rather than car.

Tulsi Gabbard is talking about what really matters. The bipartisan War Party has done its best to wreck America and plenty of other nations too. Gabbard is courageously challenging the Democrats in this coalition, who have become complicit in Washington’s criminal wars.

Source: Tulsi Gabbard: Wake Up And Smell Our $6.4 Trillion Wars

China Braces For December D-Day: The “Unprecedented” Default Of A Massive State-Owned Enterprise | ZeroHedge

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https://www.zerohedge.com, Tyler Durden

Three days after we described the self-destructive doom loop that is tearing apart China’s smaller banks,  where a second bank run took place in just two weeks – an unprecedented event for a country where until earlier this year not a single bank was allowed to fail publicly and has now had no less than five bank  high profile nationalizations/bailouts/runs so far this year – the Chinese bond market is bracing itself for an unprecedented shock: a major, Fortune 500 Chinese commodity trader is poised to become the biggest and highest profile state-owned enterprise to default in the dollar bond market in over two decades.