Advent in a Time of COVID

BreakPoint Daily

Advent in a Time of COVID

What “Jesus is Lord” Really Means

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Black Friday will be different this year, thanks to COVID-19. Instead of a single day of sleep-deprived consumers trampling security guards for flatscreen TV’s, it’s more a couple weeks of online over-marketing. While the presumed decrease in physical violence is certainly an improvement, the additional appeals to fill the voids in our hearts and minds with material goods isn’t…

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Thanksgiving Proclamations

American Minute with Bill Federer

Thanksgiving Proclamations: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Roosevelt, & more –

During the days of America’s founding, colonies would declare:
  • days of prayer when times were bad;
  • days of fasting when times were real bad; and
  • days of thanksgiving when things turned around.

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Devotional Thought for Today – 11/25/2020

10+ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ideas | bonhoeffer, dietrich bonhoeffer, dietrich

What led Dietrich Bonhoeffer to prison and writing about “stupid people?” The story begins back in 1933 with the rise of the Nazi party beginning back in 1930 and culminating with Hitler becoming supreme ruler in 1934.  By 1937 all pretense of civility in government had vanished (government officials decided they could better “handle the affairs of the people, sound familiar) and clergy like Bonhoeffer were told to get on board with the Nazi party platform or else.  Bonhoeffer chose the or else and in 1945 was executed.


PSALM 58

A Psalm of Judgment or of Vengeance? 


CONTEXT: 

In response to the Nazi party arresting key church leaders in 1937 Bonhoeffer preached a sermon on Psalm 58 immediately following their arrests. One fact I found interesting was Bonhoeffer a Lutheran pastor did not have Psalm 58 in his Lutheran book of liturgy as it was considered a Psalm of Vengeance and therefore something not to be recited and considered.  

Bonhoeffer was never one to be deterred and ever mindful of the event and evil around him chose Psalm 58 to call upon God not for hateful Vengeance but Righteous Judgement. He made clear that the Psalm calls us to leave vengeance in the hands of God. This he did at Calvary, and Righteous Judgement which is all we can ask for those that oppress us  is God’s work, not ours. Bonhoeffer made this clear for his own church under Nazi oppression:

 

It would mean much if we would learn that we must earnestly pray to God in such distress and that whoever entrusts revenge to God dismisses any thought of ever taking revenge himself. Whoever does take revenge himself still does not know whom he is up against and still wants to take charge of the cause by himself. But whoever leaves revenge in God’s hands alone has become willing to suffer and bear it patiently-without vengeance, without a thought of one’s own revenge, without hate and without protest; such a person is meek, peaceable, and loves his enemies. God’s cause has become more important to him than his own sufferings. He knows God will win the victory in the end. “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will retaliate” (Deut. 32:35)-and he will retaliate. But we are free from vengeance and retribution. Only the person who is totally free of his own desire for revenge and free of hate and who is sure not to use his prayers to satisfy his own lust for revenge-only such a person can pray with a pure heart: ‘Shatter the fangs of the young lions, O Lord, break the teeth in their mouth’.

What a prayer what a blessing to be able to stand before God some day and have Him declare  My cause was more important to you than your own sufferings.  How are you handling adversity today? 


Bonhoeffer’s Sermon on Psalm 58¹

In his sermon on Psalm 58, Bonhoeffer comments that this particular “psalm of vengeance is the prayer of the innocent.”33  Who are the innocent?  Following his strict view of prayer, Bonhoeffer answers this question: “we sinners do not pray this psalm of vengeance, innocence alone prays with this psalm.”34  What, or whom, is this “innocence alone”?  Bonhoeffer reasons that the “innocence of Christ steps before the world and accuses it.  And when Christ accuses the world of sin, are we not ourselves also among the accused?”35  We find answers to these questions in Bonhoeffer’s verse-by-verse commentary of Psalm 58.

          Psalm 58:1 – “Are you then dumb, that you will not speak what is right, and judge the children of men with equity?”  Bonhoeffer focuses upon the word, “children,” and equates the meaning of children in this verse with “the poor and afflicted.”  He does not perform a logic of substitution; he thinks that the verse means children, but it also involves “the poor and afflicted.”  He understands the lack of “equity” as forms of injustice, and all forms of injustice lead to (what he calls) “an evil time.”  In this “evil time,” the unjust remain silent in the face of their own inequities/injustices.  Because the children – the poor and afflicted – are children of God, then God becomes vengeful toward the unjust.36

          Psalm 58:2 – “No; you devise evil in your hearts, and your hands deal out violence in the land.”  Bonhoeffer argues that political authorities tend toward silence concerning injustice while simultaneously continuing acts of violence.  While the rest of us blame political authorities for this problem, all of us are at fault because we continue in our sinful human nature.  The innocence of Christ means that all of us stand under God’s judgment.37

          Psalm 58:3 – “The wicked are perverse from the womb; liars go astray from their birth.”  Bonhoeffer contrasts “the wicked” from the category of innocence, and he explains how innocence responds to “the wicked.”  He claims that only innocence grasps the dark mysteries of the world; only innocence understands how Satan takes hold of human beings in the womb, even before our births; and in “this abyss of understanding,” innocence alone “achieves perfect peace.”  Bonhoeffer’s interpretive strategy for this verse involves making his own contrast between the innocent and the wicked and then commenting upon what innocence achieves and accomplishes in relation to the results of the wicked.  There are two ways to take Bonhoeffer’s interpretive strategy.  First, we might make the judgment that Bonhoeffer misinterprets the verse – that he is not careful exegetically – because he comments upon his forced or invented distinction rather than the content and words of the verse.  Alternatively, we might recognize that Bonhoeffer interprets this difficult verse in light of the virtue of hope.  The verse, on its own, welcomes despair.  Bonhoeffer does not counter the content of the verse; rather, for purposes of a Christian sermon, he displays hopefulness in his act of interpretation.38

          Psalm 58:4 & 5 – “They are venomous as a serpent, they are like the deaf adder which stops its ears, which does not heed the voice of the charmer, no matter how skillful his charming.”  Bonhoeffer’s explanation of these two verses is quite simple: he argues that these verses prove that no human craft or skill can defeat the serpent.  The only practice that humans have that works is the act of prayer.  Through prayer, we call upon God “to take vengeance against the enemies.”39

          Psalm 58:6 – “O God, break their teeth in their mouths; pull the fangs of the young lions, O Lord.”  According to Bonhoeffer, once we call upon the vengeance of God, we necessarily renounce our own quest for vengeance.  How do we know that we seek God’s vengeance and not our own vengeance?  Bonhoeffer writes, “the [person] who consigns vengeance to God alone is prepared to suffer and to endure, without a thought of [their] own revenge, without hatred or recrimination.”  This person becomes “gentle in spirit, peaceable, loving the enemy.”40   

          Psalm 58:7-9 – “Let them vanish like water that runs off; let the arrows they aim break into two.  Let them be like the snail that melts away, like stillborn child that sees the sun.  Before they bear fruit, let them be cut down like a brier; like the thorns and thistles let them be swept away.”  How do we know that the vengeance is God’s and not ours?  Our human strategies and weapons will not work in the ways that we craft and plan.  If we do not fight our enemies in the ways that we arrange and desire, then “God’s anger will not allow the plans of his enemies to come to fruition.”  The “wicked will be swept away with force.” The force might be implemented through us, but it will be “God’s punishment.”41  Lastly, it will come about “more quickly than we anticipate” with our own military strategies and weapons.42

          Psalm 58:10 – “The righteous will be glad when they see the vengeance; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.”  Interpreting this verse invites immoderate celebration in victory (what we call jus post bellum, standards of justice after war), as well as different forms of self-deception concerning justice and righteousness.  Bonhoeffer’s interpretation attempts to hold off both of these temptations.  He writes, “This [verse] concerns God and his righteousness only.  The wicked must die so that God’s righteousness may triumph.  This does not have to do with human friendship and human compassion.  It has to do only with God maintaining the victory.”  At this point in his interpretation, Bonhoeffer turns to a robust Christological reading of Psalm 58: “God’s righteous vengeance on the wicked has already been achieved.  The blood of the wicked has already flowed.  God’s judgment on death upon godless humanity has been spoken.  God’s righteousness is fulfilled on the cross of Christ.”  He continues, “Jesus Christ died the death of the godless; he was stricken by God’s wrath and vengeance.  His blood is the blood which God’s righteousness required for the transgression of his commandments.  God’s vengeance has been carried out in the midst of the earth in a manner more fearful than even this psalm knows about.  Christ, the innocent, died the death of the wicked, so that we need not die.”  Bonhoeffer concludes his interpretation of this verse with the claim: “Christ bore the whole vengeance of God for all.” For Bonhoeffer, a Christological interpretation of this psalm prevents the self-deception of thinking that we are “the righteous” who “will be glad when they see the vengeance.”  All of humanity remain in the category of “the wicked,” and Jesus Christ – “the innocent” – dies for “the wicked.”  While humanity ought to be glad, through gratitude toward the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, our gladness does not come from our own righteousness.  Instead, it comes from the recognition that even in our wickedness, Jesus Christ died for us.43              

          Psalm 58:11 – “And they will say, ‘Surely, there is a reward for the righteous; surely, there is a God who rules in the earth’.”  Bonhoeffer maintains his Christological interpretation of this verse and says that when we find ourselves doubting “God’s righteousness upon [the] earth,” we should “look upon the cross of Christ: [where] there is judgment, there is pardon.”  Bonhoeffer returns to the question of how this psalm becomes a prayer that Christians must declare and recite.  He writes, “Christ prays this psalm as our representative.  He accuses the wicked, he calls down upon them God’s vengeance and his righteousness, and he gives himself for all the wicked in his innocent suffering on the cross.”  He continues, “And now we too pray this psalm with him, in humble thanks that we have been granted deliverance from wrath through the cross of Christ; in the fervent plea that God will bring all of our enemies under the cross of Christ and grant them grace; in the burning desire that the day may soon come in which Christ visibly triumphs over his enemies and establishes his kingdom.  Thus have we learned to pray this psalm.”44  If Christians believe in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross, then they should pray this psalm, and the psalms of vengeance in general.  Our own insecurities and self-deception prevent us from praying these psalms in our liturgies and our prayer books, because these Psalms bluntly and honestly remind us of “who we are,” who Christ is, and what Christ accomplishes for us.45

¹ = THE JOURNAL OF SCRIPTURAL REASONING

Dinosaurs and Darwin: Why Charles Got It Wrong

The Sword & The Trowel Podcast

This week on The Sword and The Trowel, Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore welcome Dr. Brian Thomas, a Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research, on the show to discuss Darwinism, Creation, religion vs. science and how we can help others understand the truth we know from Genesis 1:1.

Devotional Thought for Today – 11/24/2020

Satellite View of the Americas on Earth Day | NASA

Psalm 57

 Glory and Majesty Over all the Earth


CONTEXT: The title given in most bibles is: To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.” A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave or something very similar.  Of note is the commentary by Agustus F. Tholuck on the title: 

A Psalm composed when David fled from Saul in the cave, which is referred to in Psalm 143, and which, because it is without any other distinction called “the cave, “is probably that celebrated cave where David with his six hundred followers lay concealed when Saul entered and David cut off the skirt of his robe. The king, accompanied by three thousand followers, chased him to the loftiest alpine heights–“to the sheepcotes, “where the cattle were driven in the hottest summer months only–to hunt him in every hiding place. There was a cave, in the darkened cool of which David and his men were hid. Such caves in Palestine and the East are frequently enlarged by human hands, and so capacious that they accommodate thousands of people. This song of complaint was written during the hours of suspense which David spent there, to wait until the calamity was overpass (Ps 57:2); in which he only gradually gains a stout heart (Ps 57:8). His life was really suspended by a hair, if Saul or any of his attendants had espied him! 

Once again in this psalm we find David on the run from Saul. The simplest division can be set up as a prayer v.1-5 and praise v.6-11 although element of both are contained found in both. The verses that connects the two sections are v.5 and 11 for they are identical.  


V.5 and 11 Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory and majesty be over all the earth.  – no matter the ailments, persecutions, or the trials David’s steadfastly holds God in His proper place King of Kings and Lord over all creation. 

v.5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens. This is the chorus of the Psalm. Before he has quite concluded his prayer the good man interjects a verse of praise; and glorious praise too, seeing it comes from the lion’s den and from amid the coals of fire. Higher than the heavens is the Most High, and so high ought our praises to rise. Above even the power of cherubim and seraphim to express it, the glory of God is revealed and is to be acknowledged by us. Let thy glory be above all the earth. As above, so below, let thy praises, O thou great Jehovah, be universally proclaimed. As the air surrounds all nature, so let thy praises gird the earth with a zone of song. – C. H. Spurgeon 

v.11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, etc. Greater words of prayer than these never came from human lips. Heaven and earth have as they imply, a mutually interwoven history, and the blessed, glorious end of this is in the sunrise of the Divine glory over both.  Franz Delitzsch, 1869.

Today’s question is two fold are you feeling the pressure of hostile forces closing in on you? Are you crying out like David v.1 Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious and merciful to me?  I pray if that is the case you are (as we all should be daily) proclaiming, God’s Glory and Majesty Over all the Earth. 

The War on Thanksgiving (and other resources)

The War on Thanksgiving

The War on Thanksgiving

Will Americans still be celebrating Thanksgiving 100 years from now?

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in America. The moment, which deserved wider recognition, was celebrated in an excellent speech by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

“A great American anniversary is upon us,” Cotton said on Nov. 18. “Regrettably, we haven’t heard much about this anniversary of the Mayflower; I suppose the Pilgrims have fallen out of favor in fashionable circles these days. I’d therefore like to take a few minutes to reflect on the Pilgrim story and its living legacy for our nation.”

Cotton delivered a fitting tribute to the Pilgrims and their story of faith and perseverance, which is so intertwined with the Thanksgiving holiday and the values we cherish most.

Perhaps predictably, the speech was attacked by media outlets and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who hurled an ad hominem attack at Cotton on Twitter...

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OTHER RESOURCES AND NEWS:

7 Ways the 2005 Carter-Baker Report Could Have Averted Problems With 2020 Election

7 Ways the 2005 Carter-Baker Report Could Have Averted Problems With 2020 Election

7 Ways the 2005 Carter-Baker Report Could Have Averted Problems With 2020 Election

They called on states to increase voter ID requirements; to be leery of mail-in voting; to halt ballot harvesting; to maintain voter lists, in part to ensure dead people are promptly removed from them; to allow election observers to monitor ballot counting; and to make sure voting machines are working properly. 

They also wanted the media to refrain from calling elections too early and from touting exit polls. 

All of this may sound eerily similar to the issues in the prolonged presidential election battle of 2020. But these were among the 87 recommendations from the 2005 report of the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, known informally as the Carter-Baker Commission….

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Sunday Sermon Series – Revival of Holiness

Northwest Baptist Church: Oklahoma City, OK > Pastors' Roundtable

Ezra 9-10


CONTEXT

Ezra being informed, by some of the princes who complained unto him, of the marriages of many of the Israelites with the people of the land, the Canaanites and others, was greatly grieved and distressed, Ezra 9:1-5, upon which he made a confession of their sins to God, with great shame, sorrow, and contrition, and deprecated the evils which they deserved, Ezra 9:6-15.

Upon Ezra’s prayer and confession, it was proposed by Shechaniah, that those who had married strange wives should put them away with their children, which they swore to do, Ezra 10:1-5, and proclamation was made throughout the land for all to meet at Jerusalem in three days’ time, and accordingly they did, Ezra 10:6-9 when, at the exhortation of Ezra, all agreed to it, and persons were appointed to see it done, and the work was finished in the space of three months, Ezra 10:10-17 and a list of the names of those is given who had married such wives, and now put them away; of the priests, Ezra 10:18-22, of the Levites, Ezra 10:23,24, of the other Israelites, Ezra 10:24-44.  – John Gill’s Commentary


SERMON

A Revival of Holiness – Ezra 9 &10

Other Resources

If you enjoy Pastor Sills sermon, here is a link to the rest of his series on Ezra. https://christchurchfareham.co.uk/our-sermons/sermon-series-ezra-spiritual-restoration-in-jerusalem-and-fareham/

 

Geoff Thomas Sermon on Ezra 9 man of Prayer

 

Devotional Thought For Today – 11/20/2020

Psalm 52: A Prayer for District 52 – HRA 18AMP and RVR 1960

Olive Tree in the House of God? 


CONTEXT: This Psalm was written during the events described in 1 Samuel 21 & 22.  David having fled from Saul, came to Ahimelech the priest at Nob, and desired bread and a sword of him, (unawares of his true identity) which were given him. Doeg the Edomite being present at the same time was a unscrupulous fellow and when the opportunity arose he came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech. Of course Saul quickly accused all in the house of Ahimelech of aiding and abetting David. When Saul’s guard refused to kill off the house of Ahimelech, Doeg quickly stepped up and did the dirty deed.  In response David pens this passionate expression of grief.

There are only 9 verses in this very powerful Psalm all worthy of reading and repeating but I will comment on only a few:

v.1 Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?  Just an observation but did you ever notice that the most evil people in the world are usually the most boastful. I wonder if is because they are trying to cover up or deflect attention from their real inadequacies and evil intent?

Why doth he glory in malice that is mighty? that is, he that in malice is mighty, why doth he glory? There is need that a man be mighty, but in goodness, not in malice. Is it any great thing to glory in malice? To build a house belong to few men, any ignorant man you please can pull down. To sow wheat, to dress the crop, to wait until it ripen, and in that fruit on which one has laboured to rejoice, doth belong to few men: with one spark any man you please can burn all the crop. . . . What art thou about to do, O, mighty man, what are thou about to do, boasting thyself much? Thou art about to kill a man: this thing also a scorpion, this also a fever, this also a poisonous fungus can do. To this is thy mightiness reduced, that it be made equal to a poisonous fungus! Augustine.

v.5 But God will break you down forever;  The fate of all evil is this, God’s righteous judgement will prevail and in that we can take comfort even in the midst of the very worst of storms. 

When good men die, they are transplanted from the land of the living on earth, to heaven, the garden of the Lord, where they shall take root for ever; but when wicked men die, they are rooted out, to perish for ever. The believer sees that God will destroy those who make not him their strength. -Matthew Henry CC

V.8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;  Olives were prized for their oil and other properties in the Old Testament times. Even today one can pay a very hefty sum for quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. David here uses the analogy the he is like that prized possession in the House of God. 

We have seen that David was enabled, by the exercise of faith, to look down upon the worldly grandeur of Doeg with a holy contempt; and now we find him rising superior to all that was presently afflictive in his own condition. Though, to appearance, he more resembled the withered trunk of a tree which rots upon the ground, he compares himself, in the confidence of coming prosperity, to a green olive… From his language, it appears that he could conceive of no higher felicity in his condition than being admitted amongst the number of the worshippers of God, and engaging in the exercises of devotion. This was characteristic of his spirit. We have already had occasion to see that he felt his banishment from the sanctuary of God more keenly than separation from his consort, the loss of worldly substance, or the dangers and hardships of the wilderness. The idea of an allusion being here made, by way of contrast, to Doeg, who came to the tabernacle of the Lord merely as a spy, and under hypocritical pretexts, is strained and far-fetched. It is more natural to suppose that David distinguishes himself from all his enemies, without exception, intimating that, though he was presently removed from the tabernacle, he would soon be restored to it; and that they who boasted of possessing, or rather monopolizing, the house of God, would be rooted out of it with disgrace. And here let us engrave the useful lesson upon our hearts, that we should consider it the great end of our existence to be found numbered amongst the worshippers of God; and that we should avail ourselves of the inestimable privilege of the stated assemblies of the Church, which are necessary helps to our infirmity, and means of mutual excitement and encouragement.- Calvin 

Toady many Christians are being persecuted for their faith. Like David they are forced to run, hide and put their unconditional trust in God. Just because you are not being chased or physically persecuted does not mean you do not have enemies of the truth around you. With liberalism invading our government, media, and schools we are more and more becoming surrounded by lies and deceit.  The question today is will you be an Olive Tree in the House of God? 

“Civil Rights in American History”

I received an email yesterday that I thought I would share with everyone since it contained a very interesting 10 question quiz. Take the quiz, no obligation and consider signing up for some of Hillsdale FREE classes. Learn the truth about American History not the revisionist crap being taught in Schools and most colleges today. – Mike

Hillsdale-Logo-WC - Trinity School at River Ridge

How much do you know about the meaning and history of civil rights in America?

If you’re like most Americans—especially our youngest citizens—you probably only learned about a few important stories spread across the long history of our great nation.

That’s why we’re launching our latest free online course, “Civil Rights in American History,” next month.

This new course covers our Founders’ understanding of equality, natural rights, and civil rights; the quest for justice up to and through the Civil War, during Reconstruction, and in the 20th century; and the danger posed to civil rights today by identity politics.

So Mr. or MS. _______, how much do you know about this critical subject?

You can test your knowledge today by taking a brief quiz we’ve put together from the course lectures. You can use the link below to take this short (and fun) quiz.

https://lp.hillsdale.edu/2020-civil-rights-quiz/