(ctrl) and (+) magnifies screen if type too small.              me         quotes             scripture verse             footnotes       Words of Jesus      Links

4/18/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Leviticus 22     Psalm 28-29     Ecclesiastes 5     2 Timothy 1

Leviticus 22

Leviticus 22:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the LORD. 3 Say to them, ‘If any one of all your offspring throughout your generations approaches the holy things that the people of Israel dedicate to the LORD, while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD. 4 None of the offspring of Aaron who has a leprous disease or a discharge may eat of the holy things until he is clean. Whoever touches anything that is unclean through contact with the dead or a man who has had an emission of semen, 5 and whoever touches a swarming thing by which he may be made unclean or a person from whom he may take uncleanness, whatever his uncleanness may be— 6 the person who touches such a thing shall be unclean until the evening and shall not eat of the holy things unless he has bathed his body in water. 7 When the sun goes down he shall be clean, and afterward he may eat of the holy things, because they are his food. 8 He shall not eat what dies of itself or is torn by beasts, and so make himself unclean by it: I am the LORD.’ 9 They shall therefore keep my charge, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby when they profane it: I am the LORD who sanctifies them. 10 “A lay person shall not eat of a holy thing; no foreign guest of the priest or hired worker shall eat of a holy thing, 11 but if a priest buys a slave as his property for money, the slave may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food. 12 If a priest’s daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the contribution of the holy things. 13 But if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and has no child and returns to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food; yet no lay person shall eat of it. 14 And if anyone eats of a holy thing unintentionally, he shall add the fifth of its value to it and give the holy thing to the priest. 15 They shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, which they contribute to the LORD, 16 and so cause them to bear iniquity and guilt, by eating their holy things: for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”

Acceptable Offerings

17 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of the house of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel presents a burnt offering as his offering, for any of their vows or freewill offerings that they offer to the LORD, 19 if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats. 20 You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. 21 And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. 22 Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the LORD or give them to the LORD as a food offering on the altar. 23 You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted. 24 Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the LORD; you shall not do it within your land, 25 neither shall you offer as the bread of your God any such animals gotten from a foreigner. Since there is a blemish in them, because of their mutilation, they will not be accepted for you.”

26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “When an ox or sheep or goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be acceptable as a food offering to the LORD. 28 But you shall not kill an ox or a sheep and her young in one day. 29 And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. 30 It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am the LORD.

31 “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD. 32 And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, 33 who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.”

Psalm 28

The LORD Is My Strength and My Shield

Psalm 28 Of David.

1  To you, O LORD, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
2  Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,
when I cry to you for help,
when I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.

3  Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with the workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors
while evil is in their hearts.
4  Give to them according to their work
and according to the evil of their deeds;
give to them according to the work of their hands;
render them their due reward.
5  Because they do not regard the works of the LORD
or the work of his hands,
he will tear them down and build them up no more.

6  Blessed be the LORD!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7  The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

8  The LORD is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9  Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 29

Ascribe to the LORD Glory

Psalm 29 A Psalm Of David.

1  Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

3  The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
4  The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5  The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6  He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7  The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8  The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9  The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10  The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11  May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Ecclesiastes 5

Fear God

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2  Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.

4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.

The Vanity of Wealth and Honor

8 If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. 9 But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields. 10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

2 Timothy 1


2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You

3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

The Reformation Study Bible

What I'm Reading

No Accounting

By R.C. Sproul Jr. 2/1/2005

     There’s no accounting for taste. Or to put it another way, the taste has reasons that reason knows not of. We like what we like, and we don’t like having to explain it. Which is why postmodernism fits us so well. Here it’s not just flavors of ice cream, but all of goodness, truth, and beauty that gets reduced to a matter of taste. And no one has to defend their tastes, for we can all be right. What makes less sense, however, is why, if there are indeed no standards, our tastes tend to follow patterns. If taste is simply random, then it seems there ought to be as many folks who prefer the sound of fingernails on chalkboards (sorry for those of you who get the sensation at the mere mention of the act) as there are folks who prefer Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Ask any record store manager — it just isn’t so. One would think that the Uniform Commercial Code would sell as many copies as Tolkien. But it doesn’t happen.

     We aren’t the products of chance, else our choice in products would come out like chance. Instead we are what we are, and what we are is rebels. That we prefer Pachelbel to fingernails is a reflection of our Maker, evidence that we are, even in our rebellion, made in His image. That we don’t much care for the Pentateuch shows that though we bear His image, we are in rebellion against Him.

     In recent years all the world has gone gaga over The Lord of the Rings, especially the movie adaptation. Though as I write it is still September, my eight-year-old son already has visions of extended versions dancing in his head. He has read and loved The Hobbit for much the same reason. Tolkien has given us another land, a land filled both with bucolic villages and epic battles, with fidelity and treachery, maidens and a mysterious hero who is heir to the throne. It stirs the hearts not only of children, but of men.

     Which is why it is so puzzling that we, both within and without the church, are more enamored with the four books of Tolkien than the five books of Moses. What does Tolkien have that Moses has not? Here we find not a bucolic village, but better still, an edenic garden. Here we find betrayal on an immeasurable scale, and fidelity to the infinite degree. Here we have wicked tyrants who are brought down low, slavery and freedom, miracles and talking beasts and bushes, dragons and damsels, and in the shadows, the promise of an heir.

     The difference in our taste then isn’t in what Moses left out and Tolkien put in. Instead it is found in what Moses put in, and Tolkien left out. We turn up our noses at the Pentateuch not because of the adventure therein, but the Law. It isn’t the parts that read like titanic battles, but the parts that read like the Uniform Commercial Code. The problem with the Pentateuch to our postmodern ears isn’t the story, but the Law. Tolkien, to be sure, gave us characters who were driven by law, enemies that acted lawlessly. But for all his attention to detail in creating his “alternate universe,” for all the language, music and arcana, there is no law.

     Moses, on the other hand, not only gives us the great commandment, but he opens it up for us, twice, giving us the Ten Commandments both in Exodus and Deuteronomy. But just as the ten stones fill out the meaning of the great commandment, so does the rest of the Law fill out the ten. We are told by Moses exactly how many sheep must be returned for one stolen sheep, for proper restitution, and how many goats must be returned in like manner when a goat is stolen. We are told what to do with a bull that gores a man, and what to do with a bull that has simply wandered off the farm. We are given instructions on how to sacrifice a bull, and how to build the grate on which he will burn. And no one could be interested in that.

     Except David, a man after God’s own heart. “Oh how I love your law” David cries, “It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97.) Psalm 119 in fact is the longest chapter in all the Bible, and is nothing more than an extended poem praising the law of God.

     There is not only a connection between this psalm and the Pentateuch, but a connection between our love of story, and David’s love of Law. The glory of the story isn’t found in the high drama, but in the high Dramatist. The glory of the story is the glory of the Father. The great purpose of the Pentateuch is that we would more clearly behold the glory of God. What we have missed is that the same is true of His law. Yes the Law shows us our need for Christ. Yes it restrains the heathen. And yes it shows us how to please our Father. But we long to please our Father because of His glory, and the Law shows us that glory. It is lovely for precisely the same reason that Pachelbel’s “Canon” is lovely, because it shows forth the glory of God.

     Such is the purpose of all that is true, all that is good, and all that is beautiful. It all exists to show us God. May we by His grace, and for His glory, learn to see His grace in revealing His glory, in giving us His law.

Click here to go to source

     R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.

R.C. Sproul Jr. Books

Ancient Promises

By R.C. Sproul 2/1/2005

     “The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.” This famous statement by Saint Augustine expresses the remarkable way in which the two testaments of the Bible are so closely interrelated with each other. The key to understanding the New Testament in its fullest is to see in it the fulfillment of those things that were revealed in the background of the Old Testament. The Old Testament points forward in time, preparing God’s people for the work of Christ in the New Testament.

     The history of redemption began with creation itself. The book of Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch, starts with the beginning, or the “genesis,” of the universe as expressed in the revelation of God’s mighty work of creation. The creation of the universe culminated in the narrative of the creation of humanity. This was followed very shortly by humanity’s cataclysmic plunge into ruin as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. From the third chapter of Genesis through the end of the Bible, the rest of the narrative history is the history of God’s work of redeeming a fallen humanity. Genesis shows that the same God who is the God of creation is also the God of our redemption.

     The book of Genesis gives us an overview of the patriarchal period and the covenants that God made with them. They form the foundation for everything that follows in redemptive history. Beginning with Noah and moving toward Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob, the story unfolds God’s consistent pattern of redemption, which looks ahead for centuries, as God’s people awaited the ultimate fulfillment of the patriarchal promises. These promises were fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus.

     The book of Genesis ends with the children of Israel migrating into Egypt to be rescued by the intervention of Joseph, who ruled as the nation’s prime minister. Exodus opens with the scene having changed from one of benevolent circumstances under Joseph to one of dire circumstances, as the immigrant nation of Israel had been enslaved by Pharaoh. The stirring account in Exodus is the Old Testament, watershed work of divine redemption. It sets forth for us the narrative of the divine rescue of the slaves held captive in Egypt. The captives were redeemed by the triumph of God and His mercy over the strongest military force of this world embodied in Pharaoh and his army. It points forward to an even greater liberation by a greater Mediator from slavery to sin.

     From this Old Testament group of slaves, God molded a nation and called them His people. Through the mediatorial work of their earthly leader, Moses, God gave to this people His law. The ultimate expression of the Law is found in the Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments. The Decalogue sets forth the moral law, by which God’s people are to live. Ultimately the Law was designed to drive people to an awareness of their need for a redeemer. Exodus also added to the Ten Commandments a multitude of laws called the Holiness Code, which demonstrated, by way of case law, the practical applications of the moral law found in the Decalogue.

     In the latter part of Exodus, and moving into the book of Leviticus, we see the laws governing worship, ritual, and the establishment of the priesthood, all of which are engaged as anticipating types, or shadows, of the work of the Christ who was to come. Of particular import is the institution of sacred festivals such as the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of the Ingathering, and, most importantly, the Day of Atonement. The drama of these events again prefigures the fulfillment of them in their ultimate form in the perfect sacrifice that was offered on the cross by Jesus.

     The books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, which round out the first five books of the Bible called the “Pentateuch,” or the “Torah,” continue to develop the historical patterns of the experiences of Israel from the days of the exodus up until the departure of Moses at Moab. In these books, we also see the roles God assigns to the various tribes of Israel, as well as the giving of the second law (dueteronomos, the book of Deuteronomy), which again set forth the terms of the covenant God made with Israel. It spelled out the obligations, responsibilities, sanctions, and the blessings that were integral to that covenant. The establishment of curses and blessings set the foundation for the perfect ministry of Jesus, who, as our Mediator in the New Testament, satisfied the demands of the curse of our sin upon us and won for us, through His perfect obedience, the blessings promised in that covenant.

     From Genesis through Deuteronomy, we have the most important theological foundation to provide the framework for our comprehensive understanding of the Christian faith. In earlier centuries, for someone to be recognized as a serious theologian, it would have been expected of that person to have written at least a commentary on the book of Genesis, because so many of the themes found in Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch are central to understanding the work of Christ. Indeed, in the Pentateuch, the entire New Testament is concealed, yet the revelation therein opens a gateway for us to understand all of the rest of the revelation that God provides from Joshua through Revelation.

     In our day the covenantal structure of redemption is often obscured. What should be plain by even a cursory reading of the Pentateuch is passed off into darkness and replaced by some other structure or framework invented by human speculation.

     The covenant structure of redemption does not end in the fifth book of the Pentateuch. It continues throughout the Old Testament.

     At the advent of Christ, Mary sang the Magnificat, in which she rejoiced in the mercy of God that is “from generation to generation.” She sang of the remembrance of God’s ancient promises to the Patriarchs:

     He has helped His servant Israel,
     In remembrance of His mercy.
     As He spoke to our fathers.
     To Abraham and to his seed forever
     (Luke 1:54–55 NKJV).

Click here to go to source

Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.

R.C. Sproul Books:

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You

By David King 2/1/2005

     The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, ‘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.’ So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Num. 6:23–26).

     These familiar words constitute one of several scriptural forms most commonly used by Reformed pastors as a benedictory pronouncement upon the congregation at the conclusion of a Lord’s day worship service. For reformational churches, the use of the Aaronic benediction can be traced as far back as the Genevan Psalter of 1542. However, it is often the case that we yield but a cursory consideration to familiar words when we hear or read them. Indeed, such words can become so familiar to us that we are able to recite them with scarcely any mental effort, and thereby run the risk of drawing from them little or no benefit beyond a passing thought of nostalgic reflection and/or ephemeral good feeling. I can still recall and appreciate the warning of my systematic theology professor, Dr. John R. de Witt, who often admonished us as seminary students against the tendency of becoming so familiar with holy things in an academic or ministerial setting, that we begin to regard them no longer as being particularly holy. Familiarity can breed not only contempt, but it can inculcate an indifference that lulls us into a spirit of unresponsiveness, where the words are still embraced with a form of godliness. Nonetheless, bankrupt of the effect, calculated under the blessing of God, to produce good for our souls. Now, to be sure, familiarity can result in great help to the people of God by calling to our minds afresh God’s blessings to His people and renewed hope in His mercies. Thus, I speak of familiarity here in the negative sense, and in a way that Bishop J. C. Ryle cautioned us against when he wrote: “The regular return of the same voice, and the same kind of words, and the same ceremonies, is likely to make us sleepy and callous and unfeeling. Here is a snare into which too many professing Christians fall. If we would grow, we must be on our guard here” (Holiness, p. 89). With this caution in mind, let us consider afresh these wonderful words of biblical benediction, taking heed to the admonition of Bishop Ryle.

     These words were first given in the context of a book written at the end of Israel’s wilderness wanderings and as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. It is a book that looks backward and forward, reminding God’s covenant people of their past blessings, as well as encouraging them concerning God’s future promises.

     The first, and perhaps most obvious, import of these words underscores the intent of God to confer blessings on His covenant people. The Aaronic benediction begins and ends with this motif: “The Lord bless … I will bless them.” Thus everything enclosed by these two phrases is to be understood as God’s intention to bless His people. In verses 24–26, the second part of each verse accents the meaning of the first. To bless is to keep; the radiance of the Lord’s face indicates His gracious will for us, and the lifting up of His countenance is the sign and pledge of His peace toward us. God’s covenant people are the bull’s-eye, as it were, of His targeted kindness and love.

     Secondly, it is the Lord Himself who speaks and commands this benediction. Thus when the priest utters these words, it is not He who confers the benediction, but the God in whose name He speaks. The pronouncement of this blessing is God’s own gracious word to His people. The God who spoke worlds into being ex nihilo, out of nothing, likewise calls into being the very benediction that He commands.

     Thirdly, this benediction, according to verse 27, is the placing of God’s name upon His people, marking them out with His special covenant name Yahweh. He binds Himself to His people in covenant mercy by placing His name upon them. To invoke the covenantal name of Yahweh is a constant reminder to the people of God of their salvation in Him; and so cried the Psalmist: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 124:8). It is Yahweh who gives Himself to His people in giving them His name, and in covenant mercy He has marked them out with His own blood (see Ex. 24:8; Heb. 9:19–20, 25–26). Yahweh’s blessing is the gift of His name to His people, and it is signed with His own blood. That gift is efficaciously conferred on His people in the pronouncement of these gracious words of benediction.

     Fourthly, as the conferral of God’s name upon His ancient people prepared them for taking possession of the Promised Land, so it prepares His new covenant people for taking possession of the new heavens and new earth as joint heirs with Christ. For in that day, “they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads” (Rev 22:4), and which, to be sure, eternity itself shall never erase.

     These are the gracious words of the Aaronic benediction. It is a benediction, moreover, that should never cease to move and amaze us, and which should leave us always lost in a posture of wonder, love, and praise that God would ever be pleased to bless and mark us with His own name.

Click here to go to source

     Could not find any info about David King.

The Pornographic Seduction

By Albert Mohler 6/1/2005

     Every culture is challenged by its own seductions, but our culture is confronted with the present undeniable fact that we have transformed seduction into an art form. In essence, the cultures of the West are now examples of what the late sociologist Pitirim Sorokin called a “late, degenerate sensate culture.” Our twisted desires have become the celebrated engines of culture and the economy.

     The rise of America’s pornographic culture may be the clearest evidence of this seduction. Once peddled in the back alleys, porn has now become big business — the seventh-largest industry in America, by some estimates. Pornography is no longer limited to seedy peep shows and garish magazines. The sex industry now features well-lit “superstores” and receives mainstream acceptance.

     According to a recent 60 Minutes broadcast, Americans now spend more than ten billion dollars a year on “adult entertainment” products. Major American corporations, including some of the most recognizable brand names, are deeply involved and invested in the porn industry. Beyond this, the Internet has spawned the largest multiplication of pornographic options in human history — with the most perverted, twisted, and corrupted visions of sexuality now just clicks away from any computer. As Marshall McLuhan would remind us from the grave, the medium has become the message.

     Pornography now reaches into every American home — in its effects, if not in exposure. We are becoming a pornographic society that can no longer distinguish between sexuality and its perversions. Innocence is becoming a quaint concept, with children exposed to pornography and its seductions.

     In one sense, Internet pornography is the crack cocaine of the sex trade. Men and boys, enticed by pornographic images and stimulation, are drawn deeper and deeper into patterns of lust and sexual seduction. Women, young and old, are increasingly drawn into Internet chat rooms, where simulated sensuality is combined with simulated intimacy.

     East of Eden, humanity has always grappled with the corruption of sexuality. Pornography is hardly a new development. What makes our situation new is the radical transformation of pornography into an accepted component of the economy — even celebrated as a healthy and essential part of our popular culture.

     One major indication of moral seduction is the inability to draw distinctions. This is clearly the case with our culture’s increasing blindness to any distinction between entertainment and debauchery, art and perversion. Who is to say? Our culture is now virtually without moral monitors. The legal system has been unable (or unwilling) to stem the tide, the mavens of the art world are afraid to confront the avant- garde, and the politicians claim to be stymied by the courts. Incredibly, many parents have proven unwilling to take this challenge seriously. Just ask your local youth minister. Millions of teenagers have virtually unrestricted access to the Internet. Are we surprised when they are seduced by the enticements of a sensate culture?

     Beyond this, pornography has even become a major challenge for some Christian leaders and ministers. This largely unspoken dimension of the problem indicates the depth of the seduction. Where are the prophets?

     This society shows no indication of any desire for recovery. Indeed, every day seems to bring a newly celebrated opportunity for further seduction. The narcotizing effects of pornography will not be surrendered without a fight, but there is no fight evident on this culture’s horizon. For Christians, separation from the pornographic culture is not going to be easy. Sexually explicit images and styles drive the American advertising, fashion, entertainment, and sports industries. A drive down the average commercial boulevard (or a few minutes’ exposure to television) should be enough to convince all but the most brazen souls that pornography is not exceptional — it is fast becoming normalized.

     Resistance to this seduction will require more than moral revulsion, though that is a natural place to start. True Christian resistance will mean a bold confrontation with the spirit of the age and the totality of our societal life. A true Christian resistance will push back against the purveyors of porn—even when this hits close to home.

     Christians must confront a sensate culture with the biblical vision of human sexuality. The Bible offers more than a fallen world can ever imagine, placing sexual pleasure within the holy covenant of marriage, combining restraint with passion, pleasure with protection, sense with sensibility. As a matter of fact, sex makes sense only within the Christian worldview. Christians, alone on the earth, understand by the grace of revelation that God has a purpose for sexuality that eclipses any human aspiration. At the same time, we understand that sex isn’t everything, and everything isn’t sex.

     That’s the tragic problem at the core of America’s pornographic seduction. Pornography simply cannot deliver on its perverted promises. It’s that simple.

Click here to go to source

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Albert Mohler Books:

Let It Not Be Named Once

By R.C. Sproul Jr. 6/1/2005

     A given culture’s depravity isn’t measured simply by the percentage of Christians in that culture. Vital to the equation are two other factors. First, and most important, is how spiritually mature those Christians are. Corinth remained a sewer not because there weren’t enough Christians there, but because the Christians there weren’t Christian enough. But there is another important part of the calculus, the common grace of God in the lives of the lost. God sometimes gives over not only people but cultures to the depravity of their minds. Other times chastity, fidelity, and love are given a fighting chance.

     It was, I believe, Ruth Graham who first said that if God doesn’t judge these United States, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. We are in the midst of a radical sea change over our understanding of marriage, especially as it relates to homosexuals. There was a time, not too long ago, that this didn’t much worry me. I figured, culturally speaking, that the homosexual agenda would get no where because there existed a grand coalition that wouldn’t budge. The allies were the church, which would stand with the Word of God and roundly condemn perversion as perversion, and the rest of the straight world that had enough common grace to recognize perversion when they saw it. Both fronts are in rapid retreat.

     The church is retreating because the world has fired its biggest cannon against us, suggesting that we aren’t nice. We in turn have responded as we always do, loving the sinner, and quietly hoping the sin will go away. Now the only thing left in the closet is our prophet’s mantle.

     The retreat of the straight world, however, is driven by a whole other cultural phenomenon, the Internet. A curious combination of fiber optics and silicon has given us a technology that has carpet bombed the last great defense against sexual perversion, shame. The reason for the explosion of online pornography is simple enough. The Internet is the first pornography delivery system that doesn’t require any interaction with a live human being. The only thing standing between millions of men and oceans of pornography fifteen years ago was the public shame of consuming it. That public shame is now gone. There is no longer a convenience store clerk, or video store clerk, or bouncer at the “Gentleman’s Club.” On the Internet it’s just you and the pictures.

     The very pleasure of pornography is the shock of it. This explains the all too familiar phenomena of the downward spiral. Like illicit drugs, each “hit” requires a stronger hit the next time to get the desired effect. What was once delightfully forbidden soon becomes all too commonplace. And so darker perversions are pursued. The path from marijuana to crack cocaine runs parallel to the path from Playboy to pedophilia. It is, in the words of Solomon in the Proverbs, the path to death.

     Culturally speaking, we are treading the same path. We are slouching toward Gomorrah. Once, for instance, homosexuality was considered a gross perversion. Then it became an illness. Thirty years ago, when the psychiatric profession removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses, the Christians howled in anger. Better we should have howled when it was first called an illness. Now homosexuality has gone mainstream, and homosexuals have become a protected class.

     It will only get worse. We are culturally treading that path because we are individually treading that path. As more and more men get tangled in this web, we will more and more define deviancy downward. As homosexuals enjoy their moment in the sun, pedophiles wait patiently in the wings, knowing that their time is coming. They are building momentum, as more and more men visit more and more websites, and sink lower and lower. If we were to empty every prison in America tomorrow, and then arrest every man consuming child pornography, there wouldn’t be enough room for them.

     There is never a good time for the church to be worldly. But the least bad times are those when the world is at its most churchy. It is safer to mimic the mores of a decent culture than a decadent one. Which means in turn that it is all the more important to be set apart when the world is at its worst. Our standards are not their standards. We don’t define deviancy by the culture, but by the Word of God.

     Now more than ever, we as a body must manifest chastity and fidelity. How might the world change if all the world knew that within the church one could find faithful spouses? Now more than ever we must covenant with our eyes. Now more than ever we must cherish our spouses, the wives of our youth. Now more than ever we must encourage one another onto righteousness. Now more than ever we must be a body that calls sin “sin,” and grace “grace.” Now more than ever we must believe the promises of God, who has told us not only that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, but that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now more than ever we must eschew not only the filth that passes for normal all around us, but the despair that it will ever be like this. He can change men, and He can change cultures. He can and will make all His enemies a footstool. The darkness hates the light, but the light has already come into the world. Indeed we must be of good cheer, for the light has already overcome the world.

Click here to go to source

     R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.

R.C. Sproul Jr. Books

Leviticus 22; Psalms 28-29; Eccl. 5; 2 Timothy 1

By Don Carson 4/18/2018

     The opening verses of Psalm 29 suggest that a great part of what it means to “worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” is to ascribe to him the praise that is his due: ascribe to him glory and strength, “the glory due his name”(29:1-2).

     In this light, the central section of the psalm (29:3-9) is remarkable, for it focuses on just one element in God’s activity, viz. the voice of the Lord. “The voice of the LORD is over the waters” — possibly an allusion both to the original creation, when God simply “spoke” and the universe came into being and took form, and to the spectacular deliverance when God parted the Red Sea, but also to every storm-swept current; “the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.” The voice of the Lord is both powerful and majestic. It “breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon,” proverbial for their size and strength — an allusion to the unleashed storms that God’s voice calls forth. Indeed, this is nothing to him, for nations and mountains alike perform his bidding, and all of them hear the thunder of his voice in the storm that traverses from Lebanon in the north to Kadesh in the south.

     The secularist looks at a storm and thinks exclusively of the physical properties that have brought it about. The believer understands that those properties have been built into the material world by its Creator, and that God himself speaks in thunder and lightning. The only proper response is to gather in his temple, and in a spirit of mingled awe and humility cry, “Glory!” (29:9).

     Small wonder that the psalm ends (29:10-11) by focusing on the universal reign of God: “the LORD is enthroned as King forever,” whether at the time of the deluge (the Hebrew word for “flood” in this passage is found only here and in Gen. 6-11) — the very deluge that most powerfully demonstrated God’s power to deploy the forces of “nature” as he sees fit — or in the perpetual blessings and strength God confers on his people.

     Isaiah foresees the day when the “Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples,” when the nations will rally to him and his place of rest will be, literally, “the glory” (Isa. 11:10). When Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was about to be sent into eternity by the furious mob, his eyes were opened, and he looked up to heaven and saw “the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).

     His is the final voice of God; he is the Word of God. “Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength” (29:1). Let all cry, “Glory!”

Click here to go to source

Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

Don Carson Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 40

My Help and My Deliverer
40 To The Choirmaster - A Psalm of David.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is the man who makes
the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 20.


The principal divisions of this chapter are,--I. Connection of the subject of prayer with the previous chapters. The nature of prayer, and its necessity as a Christian exercise, sec. 1, 2. II. To whom prayer is to be offered. Refutation of an objection which is too apt to present itself to the mind, sec. 3. III. Rules to be observed in prayer, sec. 4-16. IV. Through whom prayer is to be made, sec. 17-19. V. Refutation of an error as to the doctrine of our Mediator and Intercessor, with answers to the leading arguments urged in support of the intercession of saints, sec. 20-27. VI. The nature of prayer, and some of its accidents, sec. 28-33. VII. A perfect form of invocation, or an exposition of the Lord's Prayer, sec. 34-50. VIII. Some rules to be observed with regard to prayer, as time, perseverance, the feeling of the mind, and the assurance of faith, sec. 50-52.


1. A general summary of what is contained in the previous part of the work. A transition to the doctrine of prayer. Its connection with the subject of faith.

2. Prayer defined. Its necessity and use.

3. Objection, that prayer seems useless, because God already knows our wants. Answer, from the institution and end of prayer. Confirmation by example. Its necessity and propriety. Perpetually reminds us of our duty, and leads to meditation on divine providence. Conclusion. Prayer a most useful exercise. This proved by three passages of Scripture.

4. Rules to be observed in prayer. First, reverence to God. How the mind ought to be composed.

5. All giddiness of mind must be excluded, and all our feelings seriously engaged. This confirmed by the form of lifting the hand in prayer. We must ask only in so far as God permits. To help our weakness, God gives the Spirit to be our guide in prayer. What the office of the Spirit in this respect. We must still pray both with the heart and the lips.

6. Second rule of prayer, a sense of our want. This rule violated, 1. By perfunctory and formal prayer 2. By hypocrites who have no sense of their sins. 3. By giddiness in prayer. Remedies.

7. Objection, that we are not always under the same necessity of praying. Answer, we must pray always. This answer confirmed by an examination of the dangers by which both our life and our salvation are every moment threatened. Confirmed farther by the command and permission of God, by the nature of true repentance, and a consideration of impenitence. Conclusion.

8. Third rule, the suppression of all pride. Examples. Daniel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch.

9. Advantage of thus suppressing pride. It leads to earnest entreaty for pardon, accompanied with humble confession and sure confidence in the Divine mercy. This may not always be expressed in words. It is peculiar to pious penitents. A general introduction to procure favour to our prayers never to be omitted.

10. Objection to the third rule of prayer. Of the glorying of the saints. Answer. Confirmation of the answer.

11. Fourth rule of prayer,--a sure confidence of being heard animating us to prayer. The kind of confidence required--viz. a serious conviction of our misery, joined with sure hope. From these true prayer springs. How diffidence impairs prayer. In general, faith is required.

12. This faith and sure hope regarded by our opponents as most absurd. Their error described and refuted by various passages of Scripture, which show that acceptable prayer is accompanied with these qualities. No repugnance between this certainty and an acknowledgment of our destitution.

13. To our unworthiness we oppose, 1. The command of God. 2. The promise. Rebels and hypocrites completely condemned. Passages of Scripture confirming the command to pray.

14. Other passages respecting the promises which belong to the pious when they invoke God. These realized though we are not possessed of the same holiness as other distinguished servants of God, provided we indulge no vain confidence, and sincerely betake ourselves to the mercy of God. Those who do not invoke God under urgent necessity are no better than idolaters. This concurrence of fear and confidence reconciles the different passages of Scripture, as to humbling ourselves in prayer, and causing our prayers to ascend.

15. Objection founded on some examples--viz. that prayers have proved effectual, though not according to the form prescribed. Answer. Such examples, though not given for our imitation, are of the greatest use. Objection, the prayers of the faithful sometimes not effectual. Answer confirmed by a noble passage of Augustine. Rule for right prayer.

16. The above four rules of prayer not so rigidly exacted, as that every prayer deficient in them in any respect is rejected by God. This shown by examples. Conclusion, or summary of this section.

17. Through whom God is to be invoked--viz. Jesus Christ. This founded on a consideration of the divine majesty, and the precept and promise of God himself. God therefore to be invoked only in the name of Christ.

18. From the first all believers were heard through him only: yet this specially restricted to the period subsequent to his ascension. The ground of this restriction.

19. The wrath of God lies on those who reject Christ as a Mediator. This excludes not the mutual intercession of saints on the earth.

20. Refutation of errors interfering with the intercession of Christ. 1. Christ the Mediator of redemption; the saints mediators of intercession. Answer confirmed by the clear testimony of Scripture, and by a passage from Augustine. The nature of Christ's intercession.

21. Of the intercession of saints living with Christ in heaven. Fiction of the Papists in regard to it. Refuted. 1. Its absurdity. 2. It is no where mentioned by Scripture. 3. Appeal to the conscience of the superstitious. 4. Its blasphemy. Exception. Answers.

22. Monstrous errors resulting from this fiction. Refutation. Exception by the advocates of this fiction. Answer.

23. Arguments of the Papists for the intercession of saints. 1. From the duty and office of angels. Answer. 2. From an expression of Jeremiah respecting Moses and Samuel. Answer, retorting the argument. 3. The meaning of the prophet confirmed by a similar passage in Ezekiel, and the testimony of an apostle.

24. 4. Fourth Papistical argument from the nature of charity, which is more perfect in the saints in glory. Answer.

25. Argument founded on a passage in Moses. Answer.

26. Argument from its being said that the prayers of saints are heard. Answer, confirmed by Scripture, and illustrated by examples.

27. Conclusion, that the saints cannot be invoked without impiety. 1. It robs God of his glory. 2. Destroys the intercession of Christ. 3. Is repugnant to the word of God. 4. Is opposed to the due method of prayer. 5. Is without approved example. 6. Springs from distrust. Last objection. Answer.

28. Kinds of prayer. Vows. Supplications. Petitions. Thanksgiving. Connection of these, their constant use and necessity. Particular explanation confirmed by reason, Scripture, and example. Rule as to supplication and thanksgiving.

29. The accidents of prayer--viz. private and public, constant, at stated seasons, &c. Exception in time of necessity. Prayer without ceasing. Its nature. Garrulity of Papists and hypocrites refuted. The scope and parts of prayer. Secret prayer. Prayer at all places. Private and public prayer.

30. Of public places or churches in which common prayers are offered up. Right use of churches. Abuse.

31. Of utterance and singing. These of no avail if not from the heart. The use of the voice refers more to public than private prayer.

32. Singing of the greatest antiquity, but not universal. How to be performed.

33. Public prayers should be in the vulgar, not in a foreign tongue. Reason, 1. The nature of the Church. 2. Authority of an apostle. Sincere affection always necessary. The tongue not always necessary. Bending of the knee, and uncovering of the head.

34. The form of prayer delivered by Christ displays the boundless goodness of our heavenly Father. The great comfort thereby afforded.

35. Lord's Prayer divided into six petitions. Subdivision into two principal parts, the former referring to the glory of God, the latter to our salvation.

36. The use of the term Father implies, 1. That we pray to God in the name of Christ alone. 2. That we lay aside all distrust. 3. That we expect every thing that is for our good.

37. Objection, that our sins exclude us from the presence of him whom we have made a Judge, not a Father. Answer, from the nature of God, as described by an apostle, the parable of the prodigal son, and from the expression, Our Father. Christ the earnest, the Holy Spirit the witness, of our adoption.

38. Why God is called generally, Our Father.

39. We may pray specially for ourselves and certain others, provided we have in our mind a general reference to all.

40. In what sense God is said to be in heaven. A threefold use of this doctrine for our consolation. Three cautions. Summary of the preface to the Lord's Prayer.

41. The necessity of the first petition a proof of our unrighteousness. What meant by the name of God. How it is hallowed. Parts of this hallowing. A deprecation of the sins by which the name of God is profaned.

42. Distinction between the first and second petitions. The kingdom of God, what. How said to come. Special exposition of this petition. It reminds us of three things. Advent of the kingdom of God in the world.

43. Distinction between the second and third petitions. The will here meant not the secret will or good pleasure of God, but that manifested in the word. Conclusion of the three first petitions.

44. A summary of the second part of the Lord's Prayer. Three petitions. What contained in the first. Declares the exceeding kindness of God, and our distrust. What meant by bread. Why the petition for bread precedes that for the forgiveness of sins. Why it is called ours. Why to be sought this day, or daily. The doctrine resulting from this petition, illustrated by an example. Two classes of men sin in regard to this petition. In what sense it is called, our bread. Why we ask God to give it to us.

45. Close connection between this and the subsequent petition. Why our sins are called debts. This petition violated, 1. By those who think they can satisfy God by their own merits, or those of others. 2. By those who dream of a perfection which makes pardon unnecessary. Why the elect cannot attain perfection in this life. Refutation of the libertine dreamers of perfection. Objection refuted. In what sense we are said to forgive those who have sinned against us. How the condition is to be understood.

46. The sixth petition reduced to three heads. 1. The various forms of temptation. The depraved conceptions of our minds. The wiles of Satan, on the right hand and on the left. 2. What it is to be led into temptation. We do not ask not to be tempted of God. What meant by evil, or the evil one. Summary of this petition. How necessary it is. Condemns the pride of the superstitious. Includes many excellent properties. In what sense God may be said to lead us into temptation.

47. The three last petitions show that the prayers of Christians ought to be public. The conclusion of the Lord's Prayer. Why the word Amen is added.

48. The Lord's Prayer contains every thing that we can or ought to ask of God. Those who go beyond it sin in three ways.

49. We may, after the example of the saints, frame our prayers in different words, provided there is no difference in meaning.

50. Some circumstances to be observed. Of appointing special hours of prayer. What to be aimed at, what avoided. The will of God, the rule of our prayers.

51. Perseverance in prayer especially recommended, both by precept and example. Condemnatory of those who assign to God a time and mode of hearing.

52. Of the dignity of faith, through which we always obtain, in answer to prayer, whatever is most expedient for us. The knowledge of this most necessary.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain      Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Living in Globalization
  • Preaching Lessons
  • Noah

#1 Os Guinness, David Wells | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary


#3 Carol Kaminski | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     4/1/2001    Christ is Risen: So What?

     We live amid a culture that revels in its efficiency. Thus, to a large degree, evangelicalism has grown apathetic to its own message, the message of the Resurrection. This predicament is often demonstrated in Gospel presentations that more or less leave Jesus on the cross. This cannot be the predicament for those who proclaim Jesus as the risen and reigning Christ of the world.

     Michael Green’s book Christ Is Risen: So What addresses the predominant evangelical attitude of indifference toward the fundamental doctrine of the Resurrection. The title question is quite brash. Still, it is a question we ought to repeat to ourselves and to one another persistently so that we do not fall into that inexcusable mass of evangelicalism that has swapped its faith for a bumper sticker. Instead of asking the nauseating question, “Got Jesus?” we should be asking the pertinent question, “Does Jesus Got You?” Chiefly, we should be asking ourselves: “Do we rightly understand the absolute necessity and ultimate significance of the resurrection of Christ?”

     Green’s response is unusual. He does not provide a discussion on the rationality of the Resurrection. Neither does he set in order 10 points on why the Resurrection is important. He presupposes the veracity of the Resurrection and displays the Biblical and theological foundations of the doctrine, assuming its significance at the outset. After all, Jesus did not principally call us to prove the Resurrection but to proclaim it. Nevertheless Peter wrote, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15a, nasb). Green aids us in formulating a Biblical defense so that we might more adequately proclaim the Gospel of our risen Lord.

     I recommend Green’s book to all men and women who have found themselves in an apathetic condition regarding the truth of the resurrection of Christ, whom we humbly love and worship.
Christ Is Risen: So What.

     click here for article source

     Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Plymouth Colony founder William Brewster died this day, April 18, 1644. He helped lead the Pilgrim’s church in England, allowing them to meet for worship at his home. He was captured, imprisoned, and later fled with them to Holland. He sailed with the Pilgrims to America, signed the Mayflower Compact and was elected a ruling elder. Governor William Bradford wrote of him: “My dear and loving friend, Mr. William Brewster… had… suffered much… for… the gospel’s sake and… this poor persecuted church for over thirty-five years in England, Holland, and this wilderness.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Pain is a kindly, hopeful thing, a certain proof of life, a clear assurance that all is not yet over, that there is still a chance. But if your heart has no pain -- well, that may betoken health, as you suppose: but are you certain that it does not mean that your soul is dead?
--- Arthur John (A. J.) Gossip
The Hero In Thy Soul: Being An Attempt To Face Life Gallantly

The breaking of the alabaster box and the anointing of the Lord filled the house with the odor, with the sweetest odor. Everyone could smell it. Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered; been limited, gone through things for the Lord, willing to be imprisoned by the Lord, just being satisfied with Him and nothing else, immediately you scent the fragrance. There is a savour of the Lord. Something has been crushed, something has been broken, and there is a resulting odor of sweetness.
--- Watchman Nee
The Spiritual Man (3 volume set)

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship

Grief can take care of itself; but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
--- Mark Twain
Mark Twain: 10 Books in 1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer Abroad, Tom Sawyer, Detective, Huckleberry Finn, Life On The Mississippi, The ... Court, Roughing It, and Following The Equator

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 4/18
     University of Virginia Libray 1994

     1. There is a story told of his first appearance in England which I have from my friend, William J. Allinson, editor of the Friends' Review, and which he assures me is well authenticated. The vessel reached London on the morning of the fifth day of the week, and John Woolman, knowing that the meeting was then in Session, lost no time in reaching it. Coming in late and unannounced, his peculiar dress and manner excited attention and apprehension that he was an itinerant enthusiast. He presented his certificate from Friends in America, but the dissatisfaction still remained, and someone remarked that perhaps the stranger Friend might feel that his dedication of himself to this apprehended service was accepted, without further labor, and that he might now feel free to return to his home. John Woolman sat silent for a space, seeking the unerring counsel of Divine Wisdom. He was profoundly affected by the unfavorable reception he met with, and his tears flowed freely. In the love of Christ and his fellow-men he had, at a painful sacrifice, taken his life in his hands, and left behind the peace and endearments of home. That love still flowed out toward the people of England; must it henceforth be pent up in his own heart? He rose at last, and stated that he could not feel himself released from his prospect of labor in England. Yet he could not travel in the ministry without the unity of Friends; and while that was withheld he could not feel easy to be of any cost to them. He could not go back as had been suggested; but he was acquainted with a mechanical trade, and while the impediment to his services continued he hoped Friends would be kindly willing to employ him in such business as he was capable of, that he might not be chargeable to any.

     A deep silence prevailed over the assembly, many of whom were touched by the wise simplicity of the stranger's words and manner. After a season of waiting, John Woolman felt that words were given him to utter as a minister of Christ. The spirit of his Master bore witness to them in the hearts of his hearers. When he closed, the Friend who had advised against his further service rose up and humbly confessed his error, and avowed his full unity with the stranger. All doubt was removed; there was a general expression of unity and sympathy, and John Woolman, owned by his brethren, passed on to his work.

     There is no portrait of John Woolman; and had photography been known in his day it is not at all probable that the sun-artist would have been permitted to delineate his features. That, while eschewing all superfluity and expensive luxury, he was scrupulously neat in his dress and person may be inferred from his general character and from the fact that one of his serious objections to dyed clothing was that it served to conceal uncleanness, and was, therefore, detrimental to real purity. It is, however, quite probable that his outer man, on the occasion referred to, was suggestive of a hasty toilet in the crowded steerage. -- Note from the edition published by Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

John Woolman's Journal

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Fortieth Chapter / Man Has No Good In Himself And Can Glory In Nothing

     The Disciple

     LORD, what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You visit him? What has man deserved that You should give him Your grace? What cause have I, Lord, to complain if You desert me, or what objection can I have if You do not do what I ask? This I may think and say in all truth: “Lord, I am nothing, of myself I have nothing that is good; I am lacking in all things, and I am ever tending toward nothing. And unless I have Your help and am inwardly strengthened by You, I become quite lukewarm and lax.”

     But You, Lord, are always the same. You remain forever, always good, just, and holy; doing all things rightly, justly, and holily, disposing them wisely. I, however, who am more ready to go backward than forward, do not remain always in one state, for I change with the seasons. Yet my condition quickly improves when it pleases You and when You reach forth Your helping hand. For You alone, without human aid, can help me and strengthen me so greatly that my heart shall no more change but be converted and rest solely in You. Hence, if I knew well how to cast aside all earthly consolation, either to attain devotion or because of the necessity which, in the absence of human solace, compels me to seek You alone, then I could deservedly hope for Your grace and rejoice in the gift of new consolation.

     Thanks be to You from Whom all things come, whenever it is well with me. In Your sight I am vanity and nothingness, a weak, unstable man. In what, therefore, can I glory, and how can I wish to be highly regarded? Is it because I am nothing? This, too, is utterly vain. Indeed, the greatest vanity is the evil plague of empty self-glory, because it draws one away from true glory and robs one of heavenly grace. For when a man is pleased with himself he displeases You, when he pants after human praise he is deprived of true virtue. But it is true glory and holy exultation to glory in You and not in self, to rejoice in Your name rather than in one’s own virtue, and not to delight in any creature except for Your sake.

     Let Your name, not mine, be praised. Let Your work, not mine, be magnified. Let Your holy name be blessed, but let no human praise be given to me. You are my glory. You are the joy of my heart. In You I will glory and rejoice all the day, and for myself I will glory in nothing but my infirmities.

     Let the Jews seek the glory that comes from another. I will seek that which comes from God alone. All human glory, all temporal honor, all worldly position is truly vanity and foolishness compared to Your everlasting glory. O my Truth, my Mercy, my God, O Blessed Trinity, to You alone be praise and honor, power and glory, throughout all the endless ages of ages.

The Imitation Of Christ

Andrew Murray's Absolute Surrender
     Practical religion. The Christian life


     "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:24, 25).

     You know the wonderful place that this text has in the wonderful epistle to the Romans. It stands here at the end of the seventh chapter as the gateway into the eighth. In the first sixteen verses of the eighth chapter the name of the Holy Spirit is found sixteen times; you have there the description and promise of the life that a child of God can live in the power of the Holy Spirit. This begins in the second verse: "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:12). From that Paul goes on to speak of the great privileges of the child of God, who is to be led by the Spirit of God. The gateway into all this is in the twenty-fourth verse of the seventh chapter:

     "O wretched man that I am!"

     There you have the words of a man who has come to the end of himself. He has in the previous verses described how he had struggled and wrestled in his own power to obey the holy law of God, and had failed. But in answer to his own question he now finds the true answer and cries out: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." From that he goes on to speak of what that deliverance is that he has found.

     I want from these words to describe the path by which a man can be led out of the spirit of bondage into the spirit of liberty. You know how distinctly it is said: "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear." We are continually warned that this is the great danger of the Christian life, to go again into bondage; and I want to describe the path by which a man can get out of bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Rather, I want to describe the man himself.

     First, these words are the language of a regenerate man; second, of an impotent man; third, of a wretched man; and fourth, of a man on the borders of complete liberty.

     The Regenerate Man

     There is much evidence of regeneration from the fourteenth verse of the chapter on to the twenty-third. "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom. 7:17): that is the language of a regenerate man, a man who knows that his heart and nature have been renewed, and that sin is now a power in him that is not himself. "I delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man" (Rom. 7:22): that again is the language of a regenerate man. He dares to say when he does evil: "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." It is of great importance to understand this.

     In the first two great sections of the epistle, Paul deals with justification and sanctification. In dealing with justification, he lays the foundation of the doctrine in the teaching about sin, not in the singular, sin, but in the plural, sins--the actual transgressions. In the second part of the fifth chapter he begins to deal with sin, not as actual transgression, but as a power. Just imagine what a loss it would have been to us if we had not this second half of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, if Paul had omitted in his teaching this vital question of the sinfulness of the believer. We should have missed the question we all want answered as to sin in the believer. What is the answer? The regenerate man is one in whom the will has been renewed, and who can say: "I delight in the law of God after the inward man."

Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)

Proverbs 15:3-4
     by D.H. Stern

3     The eyes of ADONAI are everywhere,
watching the evil and the good.

4     A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but when it twists things, it breaks the spirit.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Great Divorce - A Dream
     C.S. Lewis


     ‘No, Frank, not here,’ said the Lady. ‘Listen to reason. Did you think joy was created to live always under that threat? Always defenceless against those who would rather be miserable than have their self-will crossed? For it was real misery. I know that now. You made yourself really wretched. That you can still do. But you can no longer communicate your wretchedness. Everything becomes more and more itself. Here is joy that cannot be shaken. Our light can swallow up your darkness: but your darkness cannot now infect our light. No, no, no. Come to us. We will not go to you. Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? Did you not know they were stronger than their opposites?’

     ‘Love? How dare you use that sacred word?’ said the Tragedian. At the same moment he gathered up the chain which had now for some time been swinging uselessly at his side, and somehow disposed of it. I am not quite sure, but I think he swallowed it. Then for the first time it became clear that the Lady saw and addressed him only.

     ‘Where is Frank?’ she said. ‘And who are you, Sir? I never knew you. Perhaps you had better leave me. Or stay, if you prefer. If it would help you and if it were possible I would go down with you into Hell: but you cannot bring Hell into me.’

     ‘You do not love me,’ said the Tragedian in a thin bat-like voice: and he was now very difficult to see.

     ‘I cannot love a lie,’ said the Lady. ‘I cannot love the thing which is not. I am in Love, and out of it I will not go.’

     There was no answer. The Tragedian had vanished. The Lady was alone in that woodland place, and a brown bird went hopping past her, bending with its light feet the grasses I could not bend.

     Presently the lady got up and began to walk away. The other Bright Spirits came forward to receive her, singing as they came:

     ‘The Happy Trinity is her home: nothing can trouble her joy.
     She is the bird that evades every net: the wild deer that leaps every pitfall.
     Like the mother bird to its chickens or a shield to the arm’d knight: so is the Lord to her mind, in His unchanging lucidity.
     Bogies will not scare her in the dark: bullets will not frighten her in the day.
     Falsehoods tricked out as truths assail her in vain: she sees through the lie as if it were glass.
     The invisible germ will not harm her: nor yet the glittering sun-stroke.
     A thousand fail to solve the problem, ten thousand choose the wrong turning: but she passes safely through.
     He details immortal gods to attend her: upon every road where she must travel.
     They take her hand at hard places: she will not stub her toes in the dark.
     She may walk among Lions and rattlesnakes: among dinosaurs and nurseries of lionets.
     He fills her brim-full with immensity of life: he leads her to see the world’s desire.’

     ‘And yet … and yet …,’ said I to my Teacher, when all the shapes and the singing had passed some distance away into the forest, ‘even now I am not quite sure. Is it really tolerable that she should be untouched by his misery, even his self-made misery?’

     ‘Would ye rather he still had the power of tormenting her? He did it many a day and many a year in their earthly life.’

     ‘Well, no. I suppose I don’t want that.’

     ‘What then?’

     ‘I hardly know, Sir. What some people say on Earth is that the final loss of one soul gives the lie to all the joy of those who are saved.’

The Great Divorce

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


     God called unto him … and he said, Here am I. ---
Exodus 3:4.

     When God speaks, many of us are like men in a fog, we give no answer. Moses’ reply revealed that he was somewhere. Readiness means a right relationship to God and a knowledge of where we are at present. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. The man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who carries off the prize when the summons comes. We wait with the idea of some great opportunity, something sensational, and when it comes we are quick to cry—“Here am I.” Whenever Jesus Christ is in the ascendant, we are there; but we are not ready for an obscure duty.

     Readiness for God means that we are ready to do the tiniest little thing or the great big thing, it makes no difference. We have no choice in what we want to do; whatever God’s programme may be we are there, ready. When any duty presents itself we hear God’s voice as Our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with all the alertness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us as His Father did with Him. He can put us where He likes, in pleasant duties or in mean duties, because the union is that of the Father and Himself. “That they may be one, even as We are one.”

     Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God. A ready person never needs to get ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready when God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the ready soul, it is ablaze with the presence of God.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Cynddylan on a Tractor
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

           Cynddylan on a Tractor

Ah, you should see Cynddylan on a tractor.
  Gone the old look that yoked him to the soil,
  He's a new man now, part of the machine,
  His nerves of metal and his blood oil.
  The clutch curses, but the gears obey
  His least bidding, and lo, he's away
  Out of the farmyard, scattering hens.
  Riding to work now as a great man should,
  He is the knight at arms breaking the fields'
  Mirror of silence, emptying the wood
  Of foxes and squirrels and bright jays.
  The sun comes over the tall trees
  Kindling all the hedges, but not for him
  Who runs his engine on a different fuel.
  And all the birds are singing, bills wide in vain,
  As Cynddylan passes proudly up the lane.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

JPS Torah commentary
     Moses’ Poem (Haʾazinu) (vv. 1–43)

     The poem of Moses, known from its first Hebrew word as Shirat Haʾazinu, describes the consequences of Israel’s anticipated betrayal of God. The style is typical of biblical poetry. Each line consists of at least two phrases or clauses that are “parallel”—synonymous, antithetic, or complementary—to each other. Scholars refer to the phrases or clauses as “colons,” and to pairs and trios of colons as “bicolons” and “tricolons.” The poem is usually laid out in explicitly poetic form. The outline of the poem is as follows:

I.     Exordium, inviting heaven and earth to pay attention
          as the poet declares God’s qualities (vv.
II.     History of God’s Relations with Israel (vv.
     A.     Thesis: God’s justice and Israel’s disloyalty (vv.
     B.     History of God’s benefactions to Israel (vv.
     C.     Israel’s disloyalty (vv. 15–18)
III.     God’s decisions (vv.
     A.     To punish Israel (vv.
     B.     To limit Israel’s punishment and punish the enemy
       1.     God’s reason for limiting Israel’s punishment
       2.     His decision to punish the enemy, lest it draw
               the wrong inferences from its success (vv.
       3.     His plan to deliver Israel and punish the enemy
IV.     Coda: Celebration of God’s deliverance of Israel

     Section II, showing God’s faithfulness and Israel’s betrayal of Him, is the core of the poem and the basis for its earlier personification as a “witness” indicting Israel for its sin (
31:19 and 21).

     EXORDIUM (vv.

     The poem opens with a call to heaven and earth to pay attention to a valuable lesson and a discourse on the nature of God. According to a variant reading in verse
43, heaven is called upon again at the end of the poem.

     1. Heaven and earth are also addressed in similar prophetic speeches that censure Israel for faithlessness to God after all His benefactions. (
Isa. 1:2–3; Jer 2:4–13; cf. Ps. 50:4 and the address to the mountains and foundations of the earth in Mic. 6:1–8.") Earlier in Deuteronomy they are invoked, apparently as witnesses to the covenant and the poem and as instruments of punishment for violation of the covenant (see 4:26; 30:19; and 31:28). According to the Sifrei, Moses invoked them as witnesses because they are eternal and could refute Israel if, after his death, it should deny having accepted the covenant. According to the Midrash Tanḥuma, Moses summoned them to punish Israel with drought and crop failure if it should violate the covenant, on the principle that the hand of the witnesses should be the first to act against the violator (17:7). Modern scholars have made similar suggestions. In this poem, however, heaven and earth play no such role. They are summoned only to hear, and it seems that they are employed as a literary device, functioning as objective onlookers who witness the justice of the poem’s charges and the fairness of Israel’s punishment. This is similar to their use in a speech by Jeremiah, who describes Israel’s faithlessness to God and exclaims, “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; Be horrified, utterly dazed!” (Jer. 2:12).

     2. The poem expresses the hope and expectation that its words—its demonstration of God’s justice in all His dealings with Israel will be received as eagerly as the rain is welcomed and have the same life-giving effect. (See
Job 29:21–23; Hos. 14:6; Isa. 55:10; Ps. 72:6–7; Prov. 19:12b; Ecclus. 43:22.) The order of the similes in this verse matches the order of clauses in verse 1: the first two refer to the rain falling from heaven; the second two, to their effect on earth.

The JPS Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy

CHAPTER 33 / Moses’ Blessing
     Pulpit Commentary

     Before ascending Mount Nebo, to take a view of the land he was not permitted to enter and then to die, Moses took farewell of the people he had so long guided and ruled, by pronouncing on them a blessing in their several tribes. This blessing was probably spoken on the same day as the song recorded in the preceding chapter, and to the same assembly. The one may be regarded as the counterpart of the other. In the song, Moses dwells chiefly on the calamities that were to befall the people because of their apostacy; in the blessing, he depicts the benefits that were to be enjoyed by them through the Divine favour. The tone of the one is sombre and minatory; the tone of the other is serene and cheering. The one presents the darker side, the other the brighter side, of Israel’s fortunes. Both were fitting utterances for the occasion: the one the farewell warning, the other the farewell benediction, of him who had so long proved them and known their ways; who, whilst he desired their welfare, feared they might forfeit this by their folly and sin; and who sought, both by warning and by blessing, to encourage them to pursue that course by which alone prosperity and happiness could be secured.

     The blessing consists of a series of benedictions on the several tribes (vers.
6–25), preceded by an introduction (vers.1–5), and followed by a conclusion (vers. 26–29).

The Pulpit Commentary (23 Volume Set)

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Yevamot 63b


     Kids used to flock to a general store and spend hours around the candy barrels, dreaming of how they would spend their precious pennies and which of the sweets they would choose. One particular merchant had a clever way of teaching the children a lesson about greed. Instead of weighing out the candy by the pound, he offered a new method: “All you can grab for one penny!” The kids could not believe their ears. “It’s not a joke; pay me one penny and then stick your hand into the barrel, palm side down. Whatever you can grab, you can keep!”

     The kids were delighted. This was a dream come true. They lined up, eagerly waiting for their turn to grab the treasure. The children stuck their hands into the barrel; they stretched their tiny fingers as far apart as possible, then closed them into a fist to capture the candy. But before pulling out their hands, each one thought: “Am I getting as much as I can? Let me try to grab a little more.” So they relaxed their grasp to grab again; in doing so, they lost control of whatever it was that they had already captured. By trying to grab more, the kids always ended up with less. The merchant watched and smiled, wondering how long it would take the children to figure out this lesson of life.

     Some of us never grow up. As adults we continue to grab for more and more. Material possessions, power and control, honors: We never seem satisfied no matter how much we have. But there ultimately comes a point when we stop to assess what we have attained in life, and we are overcome by a terrible sense that we may have allowed all that really matters to slip through our fingers.

     Rest Stop - “They set out from Elim and encamped by the Sea of Reeds.” --- Numbers 33:10.

     Words of Torah are compared to water, as it says: “Ho, all who are thirsty, come for water.” [Isaiah 55:1] … Just as water comes down drop by drop and forms many rivers, so too with Torah: One learns two laws today and two tomorrow until it becomes a mighty river. (Song of Songs Rabbah 1, 3)

     Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol once started to study a volume of the Talmud. A day later, his disciples noticed that he was still dwelling on the first page. They assumed that he must have encountered a difficult passage and was trying to solve it. But when a number of days passed and he was still immersed in the first page, they were astonished, but did not dare to query the master. Finally one of them gathered courage and asked him why he did not proceed to the next page. And Rabbi Zusya answered: “I feel so good here, why should I go elsewhere?” (Abraham Joshua Heschel. The Earth is the Lord's: The Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe (Jewish Lights Classic Reprint)

     At times you should study one page of Gemara ten hours, and at times ten pages of Gemara one hour. Ḥayyim ben Yitzḥak - The Earth Is the Lord's: The Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe (Jewish Lights Classic Reprint)

     Introduction to Seder Nashim

     The third Order of the Mishnah is Nashim, meaning “Women.” The seven tractates in this Order cover the crucial issues of marriage (including marriage documents and levirate marriage, where a man was obligated to marry the childless widow of his dead brother), divorce, adultery, and the tangential topics of vows and the institution of the nazir. (The nazir was a person who vowed not to cut his hair, drink wine, or come in contact with the dead, as an act of piety and devotion to God.)

     There are those who preach well and practice well.

     Text / It was taught: Rabbi Eliezer says: “Anyone who does not engage in increasing the species is like one who sheds blood, as it says: ‘Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by man shall his blood be shed’ [Genesis 9:6], and it is written after that: ‘Be fertile, then, and increase’ [Genesis 9:7].” Rabbi Yaakov says: “It is as if he diminished the image [of God], as it says: ‘For in His image did God make man’ [Genesis 9:6], and it is written after that: ‘Be fertile, then, and increase’ [Genesis 9:7].” Ben Azzai says: “It is as if he sheds blood and diminishes the image [of God], as it says: ‘Be fertile, then, and increase.’ ” They said to Ben Azzai: “There are those who preach well and practice well; those who practice well, but do not preach well. You preach well, but do not practice well!” Ben Azzai said to them: “What can I do? My soul is in love with the Torah. It is possible for the world to be carried on by others.”

     Context / According to other traditions in the Talmud, Ben Azzai did marry:

     Rabbi Akiva was a shepherd of Ben Kalba Savua. The daughter saw that he was modest and noble. She said to him: “If I were to become betrothed to you, would you go to study?”

     He answered: “Yes.” (Ketubbot 62b)

     The daughter of Rabbi Akiva did the very same thing with Ben Azzai. (Ketubbot 63a)

     If you wish, you can say that he [Ben Azzai] had been married, but then separated from her. (Sotah 4b)

     There are in the Torah, according to the Rabbis, 613 commandments. The very first one, given to Adam and Eve and again later to Noah and his family after the flood is: Be fertile and increase (or, in the well known phrase, “Be fruitful and multiply”). The Rabbis took this commandment very seriously. Not to marry and bring children into the world was likened by Rabbi Eliezer to murder: Both acts had the effect of decreasing the population in the world. Though this may sound foreign to our ears, we need to remember that two thousand years ago, our modern concerns about a population explosion were nonexistent. In addition, infant mortality was extremely high and many children never grew to adulthood. There were real concerns as to whether individual families, or the Jewish people as a nation, would survive.

     Rabbi Yaakov goes even further than Rabbi Eliezer: He believes that not bearing children actually reduces the very presence of God in the world. Human beings are created in the image of God; fewer people means God’s manifestation on earth is diminished.

     Shimon Ben Azzai believes so strongly in the need to bring children into the world that he agrees with both Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yaakov. However, the Rabbis then turn on Ben Azzai, who himself was single and childless, and accuse him of hypocrisy: How could he preach something but not do it in practice? He answers that he indeed has fallen short of the ideal but that because of his desire and love for the Torah, he never had the time to be a husband and father.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

Jewish History from Alexander to Hadrian
     Antiochus III

     With the reign of Antiochus III (223–187 B.C.E.), Jewish history became inextricably bound up with the fortunes of the Seleucid dynasty. When he came to power, Antiochus presided over a failing empire. Challenged internally by secessionist forces and confined from without by Ptolemy IV, the young monarch spent the better part of two decades reconsolidating Seleucid hegemony over Syria, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Iran, and central Asia. Jews appear to have played some role in this process. Josephus reproduces the text of a letter announcing Antiochus’ decision to transplant 2,000 Jewish families from Mesopotamia and Babylonia to western Asia Minor, in hopes of establishing a loyalist presence in the rebellious satrapies of Phrygia and Lydia (Ant. 12.148–53).

     The letter is not dated but cannot have been penned earlier than 213, the year Antiochus completed his reduction of Anatolia and began turning his attention to eastern affairs. If authentic, it supplies the earliest unambiguous testimony for Jewish settlement here. It also implies that Antiochus had reason to trust the Jewish communities of Babylonia and Mesopotamia. The justifications offered in the letter, however, are less than convincing (devotion to their God and loyalty toward the king’s forefathers), prompting some to regard the document as a pious fiction—but one undoubtedly concocted by Jewish inhabitants of the regions mentioned. (Other documents in Josephus relating to Asia Minor in the late second and mid-first century B.C.E. provide ample evidence for Jews living there.)

     The death of Ptolemy IV in 204 B.C.E. offered Antiochus a window of opportunity to recapture the southern Levant (which he had been forced to evacuate after an abortive conquest a decade and a half earlier). The details of the Fifth Syrian War that followed are imperfectly known. For the Jews of Palestine, the decisive turning point was the Battle of Panion (200 B.C.E.), which put Ptolemaic forces on the run. Subsequent coastal victories over Sidon (199) and Gaza (198) sealed Seleucid control over the region. According to Polybius (apud Josephus, Ant. 12.136), Jerusalem was captured soon after Panion, the Jews having assisted Antiochus in dislodging the city’s Egyptian garrison (Ant. 12.138).

     Josephus adduces two documents of Antiochus regarding Jerusalem and its people in the aftermath of Panion. The first promises royal financial underwriting for the Temple service and its physical repair from damages suffered in the conflict, mandates restoration to their homes of war captives and other displaced persons, guarantees the Jews shall live according to their traditional laws, exempts Temple personnel and other notables from certain taxes, and offers partial remission of tribute until the city and its hinterland recover from the ravages of war (Ant. 12.138–44). The second document asserts the sanctity of the Temple and its city, upholding purity regulations defined by “the ancestral law” and prescribing a fine to be paid in the event of their violation (Ant. 12.145–46).

     The first of these documents is presented as a letter from Antiochus to a “Ptolemy” (probably to be identified with the Seleucid governor of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia attested in other contemporary sources). Its historicity is today generally accepted on the grounds that it conforms in most respects to known patterns of Seleucid beneficence. The second document is more problematic because it lacks a preamble identifying the king as its author. Some of the prohibitions it mandates find echoes in the Temple Scroll from Qumran (thought to have been composed half a century later). If Antiochus did promulgate such a decree, its stipulations were clearly governed by Jewish conceptualities, rather than conventional Hellenistic notions of temple inviolability.

     Having secured his southern frontier against Egypt, Antiochus trained his gaze westward to the remaining Ptolemaic dependencies along the coasts of Anatolia. But his ambitions went beyond neutralizing the Ptolemaic Empire. In that same year (197), the Romans defeated Philip V of Macedon, erstwhile hegemon of Antigonid Greece. Stepping into this political vacuum, Antiochus crossed the Hellespont in 196 and began projecting Seleucid power into Europe. Four years later, the king’s involvement in Greece precipitated war with Rome. Repulsed by Roman arms, Antiochus withdrew to Asia, where he was defeated at the Battle of Magnesia late in 190. Two years later, the humbled monarch ratified the Peace of Apamea, whose terms included a sizable war-indemnity, the transfer to Rome of royal hostages as surety for the king’s good behavior, and a total ban on military involvement in Anatolia or Europe.

     Antiochus himself died the following year on campaign in the east. But the terms of Apamea remained in force, and would have a significant impact on Seleucid relations with Judea for the next twenty-five years. The imperative to raise money to pay off annual installments of the indemnity frequently strained Seleucid resources. It may be that the attempt by Seleucus IV (Antiochus’ son and successor) to plunder the Jerusalem Temple treasury a decade after Apamea reflects these pressures (2 Maccabees 3). The shadow of Apamea undoubtedly also increased the willingness of Antiochus’ descendants to accept monetary bribes from rival Jewish aspirants to the high priestly office, setting a precedent that would persist even after the indemnity was paid off. Another long-term effect of Apamea on Jewish-Seleucid relations was the political instability it engendered. The treaty’s stipulation that a scion of the House of Seleucus be held hostage in Rome created, in effect, a potential usurper “waiting in the wings.” Dynastic rivalry resulting from this heightened the claimants’ need to solicit support from their subjects. The factionalism fueled by this dynamic would prove to be one of the central engines of Jewish history during the second half of the second century B.C.E.

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

Take Heart
     April 18

     There will be no more… pain. --- Revelation 21:4.

     What has the gospel done to help us to bear pain? ( Classic Sermons on Suffering (Kregel Classic Sermons Series) )

     1. The gospel has quieted those questionings that are often sorer than the pain itself. It has helped us to believe that God is love, in the teeth of all the suffering in the world. Have you ever noticed about Jesus Christ that he was never perplexed by the great fact of pain? Death troubled him, for he was moved in spirit and troubled when he stood before the grave of Lazarus. But there is no trace that the dark fact of pain did so—yet was there ever one on earth so sensitive to pain as Jesus Christ? Here was someone who saw pain at its bitterest, yet not for an instant did he doubt his Father. Here was one who had to suffer terribly, yet, through all his sufferings, God loved him—it is these facts that, for the believing soul, silence the obstinate questionings forever. We may not see why we should have to suffer. We may not see why our loved ones have to suffer. Now we know in part and see in part. But we see Jesus, and that is enough for us. We see how he trusted. We know how he was loved. And knowing that, we may doubt many things, but we never can doubt the love of God again, nor Christ’s promise never to leave us.

     2. The gospel has helped us here by giving us the hope of immortality. It has set our pain in quite a new environment, that of an eternal hope. I wonder if you have ever thought of the place and power of hope in human suffering? Hope is mighty in all we have to bear. When once you get the glow of a great hope right in the heart of what you have to suffer, I tell you that that suffering is transfigured. It is just there that Jesus Christ steps in. He has brought immortality to light.

     3. Christ has helped us to bear suffering by the medical science and skill he has inspired. And I close with that, just mentioning it because I am speaking on Hospital Sunday. As a simple matter of historical fact, our hospitals are in the world today not because people are tenderer of heart but because Jesus lived and Jesus died. Without Christ, we would have had no Florence Nightingale. Without Christ, we would never have had Lord Lister—think what that would have meant for countless sufferers! Tell me if you have ever realized what Jesus Christ has done for the community. If you have, go out and reverence him. Go out into the night and call him wonderful. Go out into the night and say, “God helping me, I will follow that leader to the end.”
--- George H. Morrison

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day
     Book of Martyrs  April 18

     John Foxe entered Oxford still a boy. He was eventually elected a fellow of Magdalen College, and from 1539 to 1545 he studied church history. He converted to Protestantism and was forced to resign his academic position as a result. In 1550 he was ordained by Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, and he became friends with Hugh Latimer, William Tyndale, and Thomas Cranmer. But when Queen Mary ascended the throne, tilting England back into Catholicism, Foxe fled. In Switzerland he heard horrible news filtering from England. Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer, and countless others were being captured and burned.

     An idea formed in Foxe’s mind, soon obsessing him. He would compile a record of the persecution of God’s people. Living on the edge of poverty, Foxe spent every spare moment on his project. He labored by day in a printing shop to support his family, but by night he pored over his manuscript. He wrote vividly, giving details, painting word pictures. In 1559 Foxe published his book on the continent—732 pages in Latin. Returning to England under Protestant Elizabeth, he resumed pastoral work and translated his book into English. John Day published it in London in 1563 under the title Acts and Monuments of These Latter and Perilous Days Touching Matters of the Church.

     But Foxe wasn’t finished. He spent four years interviewing witnesses, tracking down documents, finding letters. After long days of church ministry, he sat by flickering candlelight, continuing his writing. In 1570 a second edition appeared—two large volumes totaling 2,315 pages—then a third and a fourth. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was one of the most important publications in Elizabeth’s reign, having an extraordinary impact. It was in every cathedral alongside the Bible. Vicars read from it during Sunday services. Francis Drake read it aloud on the Western seas. It inspired the Puritans. It took the world by storm.

     But it also took a toll on Foxe’s personal health, and he never recovered. He died from weariness on April 18, 1587. But he had given us his life’s crowning achievement.

     At that time the church in Jerusalem suffered terribly. All of the Lord’s followers, except the apostles, were scattered everywhere in Judea and Samaria. … The Lord’s followers who had been scattered went from place to place, telling the good news.
--- Acts 8:1-4.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - April 18

     "She bound the scarlet line in the window."
--- Joshua 2:21.

     Rahab depended for her preservation upon the promise of the spies, whom she looked upon as the representatives of the God of Israel. Her faith was simple and firm, but it was very obedient. To tie the scarlet line in the window was a very trivial act in itself, but she dared not run the risk of omitting it. Come, my soul, is there not here a lesson for thee? Hast thou been attentive to all thy Lord’s will, even though some of his commands should seem non-essential? Hast thou observed in his own way the two ordinances of believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper? These neglected, argue much unloving disobedience in thy heart. Be henceforth in all things blameless, even to the tying of a thread, if that be matter of command.

     This act of Rahab sets forth a yet more solemn lesson. Have I implicitly trusted in the precious blood of Jesus? Have I tied the scarlet cord, as with a Gordian knot in my window, so that my trust can never be removed? Or can I look out towards the Dead Sea of my sins, or the Jerusalem of my hopes, without seeing the blood, and seeing all things in connection with its blessed power? The passer-by can see a cord of so conspicuous a colour, if it hangs from the window: it will be well for me if my life makes the efficacy of the atonement conspicuous to all onlookers. What is there to be ashamed of? Let men or devils gaze if they will, the blood is my boast and my song. My soul, there is One who will see that scarlet line, even when from weakness of faith thou canst not see it thyself; Jehovah, the Avenger, will see it and pass over thee. Jericho’s walls fell flat: Rahab’s house was on the wall, and yet it stood unmoved; my nature is built into the wall of humanity, and yet when destruction smites the race, I shall be secure. My soul, tie the scarlet thread in the window afresh, and rest in peace.

          Evening - April 18

     "And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good." Genesis 32:12.

     When Jacob was on the other side of the brook Jabbok, and Esau was coming with armed men, he earnestly sought God’s protection, and as a master reason he pleaded, “And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good.” Oh, the force of that plea! He was holding God to his word—“Thou saidst.” The attribute of God’s faithfulness is a splendid horn of the altar to lay hold upon; but the promise, which has in it the attribute and something more, is a yet mightier holdfast—“Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good.” And has he said, and shall he not do it? “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Shall not he be true? Shall he not keep his word? Shall not every word that cometh out of his lips stand fast and be fulfilled? Solomon, at the opening of the temple, used this same mighty plea. He pleaded with God to remember the word which he had spoken to his father David, and to bless that place. When a man gives a promissory note, his honour is engaged; he signs his hand, and he must discharge it when the due time comes, or else he loses credit. It shall never be said that God dishonours his bills. The credit of the Most High never was impeached, and never shall be. He is punctual to the moment: he never is before his time, but he never is behind it. Search God’s word through, and compare it with the experience of God’s people, and you shall find the two tally from the first to the last. Many a hoary patriarch has said with Joshua, “Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass.” If you have a divine promise, you need not plead it with an “if,” you may urge it with certainty. The Lord meant to fulfil the promise, or he would not have given it. God does not give his words merely to quiet us, and to keep us hopeful for awhile with the intention of putting us off at last; but when he speaks, it is because he means to do as he has said.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     April 18


     Elvina M. Hall, 1820–1889

     “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

     It has been stated that all religious systems can be spelled with just two letters—D O. The gospel of Christ, however, is spelled with four letters—D O N E! This hymn text, written by a lay woman named Elvina Hall, speaks pointedly to this basic truth, which is the very basis of our Christian faith.

     Mrs. Hall wrote these words one Sunday morning while seated in the choir loft of the Monument Street Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland, supposedly listening to the sermon by her pastor, the Rev. George Schrick. One can imagine a conversation something like this following the service:

     Pastor Schrick, I must confess that I wasn’t listening too closely to your message this morning. Because, you see, once you started preaching about how we can really know God’s love and forgiveness, I began thinking about all that Christ has already done to provide our salvation. Then these words came to me, and I just had to get them down on paper. And the only paper I could find at the time was the flyleaf of this hymnal. So I scribbled the words on that.

     The pastor recalled that the church organist, John Grape, had just previously given him a copy of a new tune that he had composed, which he had titled “All to Christ I Owe.” To the amazement of all, they soon discovered that John Grape’s tune fit perfectly with Elvina Hall’s words scribbled on the flyleaf page of the hymnal. Since its first published appearance in 1874, this hymn has been widely used in churches, especially for the communion services.

     I hear the Savior say,
     “Thy strength indeed is small!
     Child of weakness, watch and pray;
     find in Me thine all in all.”

     Lord, now indeed I find Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
     can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone.

     For nothing good have I whereby Thy grace to claim—
     I’ll wash my garments white in the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

     And when before the throne I stand in Him complete,
     “Jesus died my soul to save,” my lips shall still repeat.

     Chorus: Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
     Sin had left a crimson stain—He washed it white as snow.

     For Today: Romans 3:24-26; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 1:7–9.

     Breathe a prayer of thanksgiving even now that our eternal standing with God is dependent only on the redemptive work of Christ. Seek to share this good news with someone who may be confused about this.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

A Guide to Fervent Prayer
     A.W. Pink | (1886-1952)

          The Superiority of Self-Government over Secular Rule

     The work that is assigned to the Christian as a king is to govern himself. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Prov. 16:32). As a king the Christian is called on to mortify his own flesh, to resist the devil, to discipline his temper, to subdue his lusts, and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). That is a lifelong task. Nor can the Christian accomplish it in his own strength. It is his duty to seek enablement from above, and to draw upon the fullness of grace that is available for him in Christ. The heart is his kingdom (Prov. 4:23); and it is his responsibility to make reason and conscience, both formed by God's Word, to govern his desires so that his will is subject to God. He is required to be the master of his appetites and the regulator of his affections, to deny ungodly and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. He is to be “temperate in all things” (1 Cor. 9:25). He is to subdue his impetuosity and impatience, to refuse to take revenge when others wrong him, to bridle his passions, to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21), and to have such control of himself that he “rejoice[s] with trembling” (Ps. 2:11). He is to learn contentment in every state or condition of life that God in His wise and good providence may be pleased to put him (Phil. 4:11).

     Some earthly monarchs have not a few faithless and unruly subjects who envy and hate them, who chafe under their scepter, and who want to depose them. Nevertheless, they still maintain their thrones. In like manner, the Christian king has many rebellious lusts and traitorous dispositions that oppose and continually resist his rule, yet he must seek grace to restrain them. Instead of expecting defeat, it is his privilege to be assured, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). The Apostle Paul was exercising his royal office when he declared, “all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6:12). Therein he has left us an example (1 Cor. 11:1). He was also conducting himself as a king when he said, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27). Yet, like everything else in this life, the exercise of our regal office is very imperfect. Not yet have we fully entered into our royal honors or acted out our royal dignity. Not yet have we received the crown, or sat down with Christ on His throne, which ceremonies of coronation are essential for the complete manifestation of our kingship. Yet the crown is laid up for us, a mansion (infinitely surpassing Buckingham Palace) is being prepared for us, and this promise is ours: “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20).

          The Sacerdotal Privileges and Duties of the Believer

     Following my usual custom, I have endeavored to supply the most help where the commentators and other expositors afford the least. Having sought to explain at some length the kingly office of the believer, less needs to be said upon the sacerdotal office. A priest is one who is given a place of nearness to God, who has access to Him, who holds holy intercourse with Him. It is his privilege to be admitted into the Father's presence and to be given special tokens of His favor. He has a Divine service to perform. His office is one of high honor and dignity (Heb. 5:4, 5). However, it pertains to no ecclesiastical hierarchy, but is common to all believers. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.” Christians are “an holy priesthood” ordained “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5, 9). They are worshipers of the Divine majesty, and bring with them a sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15). “The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth” (Mal. 2:7). As priests they are to be intercessors for all men, especially for kings and for all that are in authority (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). But the full and perfect exercise of our priesthood lies in the future, when, rid of sin and carnal fears, we shall see God face to face and worship Him uninterruptedly.

          A Fitting Doxology Based on Who Christ Is and What He Has Done

     “To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” This is an act of worship, an ascription of praise, a breathing of adoration to the Redeemer from the hearts of the redeemed. Christians vary a great deal in their capacities and attainments, and they differ in many minor views and practices. But they all unite with the apostle in this. All Christians have substantially the same views of Christ and the same love for Him.. Wherever the Gospel has been savingly apprehended, it cannot but produce this effect. First there is a devout acknowledgment of what the Lord Jesus has done for us, and then a doxology rendered to Him. As we contemplate who it was that loved us — not a fellow mortal, but the everlasting God — we cannot but prostrate ourselves before Him in worship. As we consider what He did for us — shed His precious blood — our hearts are drawn out in love to Him. As we realize how He has bestowed such marvelous dignities upon us — made us kings and priests — we cannot but cast our crowns at His feet (Rev. 4:10). Where such sentiments truly possess the soul, Christ will be accorded the throne of our hearts. Our deepest longing will be to please Him and to live to His glory.

     “To him be glory.” This is a word that signifies (1) visible brightness or splendor, or (2) an excellence of character that places a person (or thing) in a position of good reputation, honor, and praise. The “glory of God” denotes primarily the excellence of the Divine being and the perfections of His character. The “glory of Christ” comprehends His essential Deity, the moral perfections of His humanity, and the high worth of all His offices. Secondarily, the physical manifestations of the glory of Jehovah (Ex. 3:2-6; 13:2 1, 22) and of His Anointed (Matthew 17:1-9) are derived from the great holiness of the triune God (Ex. 20:18, 19; 33:17-23; Judges 13:22; 1 Tim. 6:16). Christ has an intrinsic glory as God the Son (John 17:5). He has an official glory as the God-man Mediator (Heb. 2:9). He has a merited glory as the reward of His work, and this He shares with His redeemed (John 17:5). In our text glory is ascribed to Him for each of the following reasons. Christ is here magnified both for the underived excellence of His Person that exalts Him infinitely above all creatures and for His acquired glory that will yet be displayed before an assembled universe. There is a glory that exalts Him infinitely above all creatures and for His acquired glory as the Redeemer that will yet be displayed before an assembled universe. There is a glory pertaining to Him as God incarnate, and this was proclaimed by the angels over the plains of Bethlehem (Luke 2:14). There is a glory belonging to Him in consequence of His mediatorial office and work, and that can be appropriately celebrated only by the redeemed.

     “And dominion.” This, too, belongs to Him first by right as the eternal God. As such Christ's dominion is underived and supreme. As such He has absolute sovereignty over all creatures, the devil himself being under His sway. Furthermore, universal dominion is also His by merit. God has made “that same Jesus,” whom men crucified, “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). All authority is given to Him both in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18). It was promised Him in the everlasting covenant as the reward of His great undertaking. The mediatorial kingdom of Christ is founded upon His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection. These dignities of His are “for ever and ever,” for “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isa. 9:7; cf. Dan. 7:13, 14). By a faithful “Amen” let us set our seal to the truthfulness of God's declaration.

     How blessed is this, that before any announcement is made of the awful judgments described in the Apocalypse, before a trumpet of doom is sounded, before a vial of God's wrath is poured on the earth, the saints (by John's inspired benediction) are first heard lauding in song the Lamb:

     Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests [not unto ourselves, but] unto God and his Father [for his honor]; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen!

     THE END

A Guide to Fervent Prayer

Faith on the Move | Todd Johnson

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Caring for Those Who Experience

Same Sex Attraction | Bill Henson

8 Things Not Taught in Seminary

John Huffman | Gordon-Conwell

... Taught in Seminary 2 | John Huffman


Train Yourself To Be Godly

Benjamin Shin | Biola University

You Can Make a Difference

Alex and Jackie Cooke | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Church & Immigration

Samuel Rodriguez | Gordon-Conwell

Power of Praise

Kenneth Young | Gordon-Conwell

The Miraculous

John Matthew Borders IV | Gordon-Conwell

Workplace Discipleship

Katherine Leary Alsdorf | Gordon-Conwell

Christ & Postmodernism

Dennis Hollinger | Gordon-Conwell

Leviticus 22

m2-069 4-29-2015 | Brett Meador