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4/3/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Leviticus 6     Psalm 5-6     Proverbs 21     Colossians 4

Leviticus 6

Leviticus 6:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor 3 or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— 4 if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found 5 or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. 6 And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent, for a guilt offering. 7 And the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.”

The Priests and the Offerings

8  The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 9 “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering. The burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. 10 And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. 12 The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. 13 Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.

14 “And this is the law of the grain offering. The sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD in front of the altar. 15 And one shall take from it a handful of the fine flour of the grain offering and its oil and all the frankincense that is on the grain offering and burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 16 And the rest of it Aaron and his sons shall eat. It shall be eaten unleavened in a holy place. In the court of the tent of meeting they shall eat it. 17 It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their portion of my food offerings. It is a thing most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 18 Every male among the children of Aaron may eat of it, as decreed forever throughout your generations, from the LORD’s food offerings. Whatever touches them shall become holy.”

19 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 20 “This is the offering that Aaron and his sons shall offer to the LORD on the day when he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening. 21 It shall be made with oil on a griddle. You shall bring it well mixed, in baked pieces like a grain offering, and offer it for a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 22 The priest from among Aaron’s sons, who is anointed to succeed him, shall offer it to the LORD as decreed forever. The whole of it shall be burned. 23 Every grain offering of a priest shall be wholly burned. It shall not be eaten.”

24 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 25 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering. In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD; it is most holy. 26 The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. In a holy place it shall be eaten, in the court of the tent of meeting. 27 Whatever touches its flesh shall be holy, and when any of its blood is splashed on a garment, you shall wash that on which it was splashed in a holy place. 28 And the earthenware vessel in which it is boiled shall be broken. But if it is boiled in a bronze vessel, that shall be scoured and rinsed in water. 29 Every male among the priests may eat of it; it is most holy. 30 But no sin offering shall be eaten from which any blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place; it shall be burned up with fire.

Psalm 5

Lead Me in Your Righteousness


1  Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
2  Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3  O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

4  For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5  The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6  You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

7  But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
8  Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

9  For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
10  Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

11  But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
12  For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Psalm 6

The Reign of the LORD’s Anointed

Psalm 4  Answer Me When I Call

1  Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

2  O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
3  But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

4  Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5  Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.

6  There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
7  You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

8  In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21:1

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD;
he turns it wherever he will.
2  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the LORD weighs the heart.
3  To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
4  Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
5  The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
6  The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
7  The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.
8  The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright.
9  It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
10  The soul of the wicked desires evil;
his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.
11  When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise;
when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.
12  The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
he throws the wicked down to ruin.
13  Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.
14  A gift in secret averts anger,
and a concealed bribe, strong wrath.
15  When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous
but terror to evildoers.
16  One who wanders from the way of good sense
will rest in the assembly of the dead.
17  Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man;
he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
18  The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
and the traitor for the upright.
19  It is better to live in a desert land
than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.
20  Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling,
but a foolish man devours it.
21  Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.
22  A wise man scales the city of the mighty
and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
23  Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself out of trouble.
24  “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
who acts with arrogant pride.
25  The desire of the sluggard kills him,
for his hands refuse to labor.
26  All day long he craves and craves,
but the righteous gives and does not hold back.
27  The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;
how much more when he brings it with evil intent.
28  A false witness will perish,
but the word of a man who hears will endure.
29  A wicked man puts on a bold face,
but the upright gives thought to his ways.
30  No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel
can avail against the LORD.
31  The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the LORD.

Colossians 4

Colossians 4:1 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Further Instructions

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Final Greetings

7 Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.

10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

A statement Christians should stop saying: “It’s all Part of God’s Plan”

By Noah Myers 2/25/2017

     I recently wrote a blog about a statement that damages the Christian worldview more than any other: “You just need to have faith”. It seemed to hit a nerve with people in a way that a lot of my other blogs haven’t. My friend, Beth, then gave me the great idea that this could be whole blog series on statements that Christians make that are damaging to the Christian faith. I followed her lead, and figured I should throw the question out to my friends on Facebook to see what they thought were some of those statements. I soon found my Facebook flooded with some amazing answers that I hadn’t thought of, as a result I’ve decided I should take Beth’s advice and start this blog series. I hope you all enjoy it and please let me know if there are any other statements you think I need to include!

     Check out the  statement Christians Shouldn’t Say: You just need to have faith

     Many of us have heard this one before, perhaps said in a different way, but in one way or another we’ve heard someone say it to us and maybe even said it ourselves.  Maybe instead we’ve said, ‘God’s ways are not our ways’, or ‘God has a plan for all of this’, or even ‘God works in mysterious ways’

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     My name is Noah Myers, I am from Fort Collins Colorado, probably the best city in the good ole US of A. Despite my love and pride for of Fort Collins I can’t seem to avoid a desire to travel the world. I went to a one year bible college in England called Capernwray straight out of high school. It was an amazing year and I learned so much. Afterword I returned home to attend Colorado State University and graduated with a Religious Philosophy Degree and an English minor.
     God gave me the opportunity after CSU to take part in an amazing trip called World Race. The trip had an amazing impact on my life and I will be posting a lot of blogs from that time on this site eventually. For now I will just say it was an 11 month journey to 11 countries that truly changed my life.
     I have been back now for three years that have flown by. I am now attending Southern Evangelical Seminary online to earn a Master of Arts in Apologetics. I have recently been hired by Ratio Christi, a college apologetics ministry, to start a chapter at Colorado State. I hope to serve the Lord by writing this blog and sharing both what I am learning at school and what God is teaching me in lifes little lessons. I hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think.
     If you would like email updates about everything happining with Ratio Christi at CSU Click Here. 

Glitter Ash and the Spirit of the Age

By Melinda Penner 2/28/2017

     This was a pretty shocking headline to read: “‘Glitter Ash Wednesday’ Hopes to Sparkle for LGBT Christians, Supporters.”

     A New York-based advocacy group called Parity is asking Christians who favor LGBT equality — “queer positive Christians,” in their parlance — to show support by wearing “glitter ash” on their foreheads to mark Ash Wednesday on March 1.

     Even though there have been massive shifts in our culture, it’s still a bit shocking that apparently nothing at all is sacred anymore. But this is another time we can step back and reflect from the Bible’s worldview rather than react to the specific issue.

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     Melinda graduated from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska with her B.S. in Education, and then earned a B.A. in theology from Christ College in Irvine, CA. She also completed her M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology. She taught middle school in Christian schools until founding Stand to Reason with Greg. She is the executive director of Stand to Reason.

Billy Graham Rules!

By Samuel James 3/30/2017

     Right now the Big Thing On Twitter™ is the “Billy Graham Rule.” A new debate was flared up by news that Vice President Mike Pence practiced his own form of the rule. Some well-followed progressives wasted no time before lambasting Mr. Pence as a sexist. Some well-followed progressive evangelicals likewise jumped in by chastising the rule and Christians who practice it. Apparently, pastors who won’t meet 1 on 1 with a woman who is not family are guilty of “anti-gospel” objectification.

     I’ve defended the Billy Graham rule before. I’ve also written about the many issues I have with the particular quadrant of progressive evangelicalism that concerns itself with “purity culture.” While some of the critiques that come from this space are good and helpful, a suffocating amount of them are, in my view, thinly-veiled gospel revisionism, pretenses for protesting the Bible’s clear teaching on fornication, marriage, and homosexuality. Most of the derogatory comments I’ve seen from bloggers about the BG rule confirm this suspicion. I cannot imagine this kind of hostility against a personal policy designed to protect spouses and families, except hostility that is aimed at a much wider target.

     But I honestly have no desire to retread my arguments in favor of a Billy Graham rule. I do favor it, but I don’t necessarily look down on men who don’t. Issues of prudential wisdom require context and nuance. Where Scripture refuses to lay down a binding on the conscience, we shouldn’t either.

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     Samuel D. James serves in the Office of the President at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. You can follow him on Twitter @samueld_james.

A Social Justice Warrior in King Roderick’s Court

By Matthew Loftus 3/24/2017

     Last Thursday’s “Time for the Benedict Option?” discussion hosted by Plough, First Things, and The American Conservative was a great summary of the Benedict Option debate so far and where things ought to go from here. You can watch the entire thing here:

     Noah Millman has a good summary of the event here, so I will not reproduce his work. Rather, I’ll jump into interactions with each of the respondents, since I think that’s the most fertile ground left to be explored as reviews of the book pile up.

     I (and several others) have spent some time now arguing that the Benedict Option is dead on arrival if doesn’t integrate the work of social justice and evangelism into its formation. Rod Dreher and other BenOp proponents would say that you can’t really love your neighbors unless you’ve been properly catechized, which I agree with but would add that you’re not catechizing people into Christianity if their formation doesn’t include the regular practice of neighbor-love. I have further argued that a truly strategic Benedict Option would choose the places most in need of revival to locate: we need more monasteries, yes, but we should mostly be starting new monasteries in Kabul or West Baltimore if we want to form Christians that will be strong enough to endure the post-modern deluge.

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     Matthew Loftus lives with his family in South Sudan, where he teaches and practices Family Medicine at a hospital for women and children. He is a columnist for Christianity Today and a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org

Alexander Vilenkin: “All The Evidence We Have Says That The Universe Had A Beginning”

By Wintery Knight 3/16/2017

     I’ve decided to explain why physicists believe that there was a creation event in this post. That is to say, I’ve decided to let famous cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin do it.

     From Uncommon Descent.


Did the cosmos have a beginning? The Big Bang theory seems to suggest it did, but in recent decades, cosmologists have concocted elaborate theories – for example, an eternally inflating universe or a cyclic universe – which claim to avoid the need for a beginning of the cosmos. Now it appears that the universe really had a beginning after all, even if it wasn’t necessarily the Big Bang.

Click here to go to source

     The video mentioned is at the bottom of the page, the last video.

     RE: Wintery Knight: For now, I prefer to keep anonymous, although I may add additional details to this page later.

     My political views are a mixture of conservative and libertarian. I believe in free market capitalism and liberty, and especially in religious liberty.  I favor a strong defense abroad, “peace through strength”, as Reagan would have it.

     Theologically, I am a conservative evangelical Protestant Christian. I favor the old-earth (14 billion-year universe) perspective, and I am a firm supporter of intelligent design. Socially, I am pro-life, pro-chastity, pro-abstinence and pro-traditional-marriage.

     You can read my story in more detail here.

5 Reasons It's Dumb To Panic Over Global Warming

By John Hawkins 4/1/2017

     “In 2015, President Barack Obama created the Clean Power Plan to slow climate disruption. It was the first action ever taken by the US government to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants.

     And this week, with the stroke of a pen, President Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take steps to end it.

     Trump may have just signed a death warrant for our planet (at least, for a planet that is livable for humans). And the lies he told to justify it have real consequences for real Americans, here and now.” – Van Jones

     "Historians in the near future will mark today, March 28, 2017, as the day the extinction of human life on earth began, thanks 2 Donald Trump....Trump has signed orders killing all of Obama's climate change regulations. The EPA is prohibited henceforth from focusing on climate change." -- Michael Moore

     The liberal hysteria over global warming is hard for normal people to comprehend. Leftists don’t worry about deficits or about terrorists who are looking for any way to kill Americans. They don’t care about the health care costs they drove into the stratosphere, the way teachers’ unions have ruined public education, or the out-of-control growth of the federal government that takes more of our money and freedom every day. However, the possibility of global warming 100 years from now freaks them the hell out. Then the rest of us get treated to people -- who don’t know anything about global warming other than “I heard it is scientific consensus” and “What about the polar bears?” -- screaming about how the rest of us are wrecking the planet.

Click here to go to source

     John Hawkins runs Right Wing News and Linkiest. Additionally, he does weekly appearances on the #1 in it's market Jaz McKay show and writes two weekly columns for Townhall. Additionally, his work has also been published at the Washington Examiner, The Hill, TPNN, Hot Air, The Huffington Post and at Human Events.
     Furthermore, he's also the premier interviewer on the Right and has interviewed conservatives like Andrew Breitbart, Thomas Sowell, Mark Levin, Victor Davis Hanson, Robert Novak, Mark Steyn, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Jonah Goldberg, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Malkin, Jim DeMint, Ben Carson, Walter Williams, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and Milton Friedman among others.
     Moreover, John Hawkins' work has been linked and discussed in numerous publications and on TV and radio shows including ABC News, BusinessWeek, C-Span, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Editor & Publisher, Fox News, Hannity and Colmes, The Laura Ingraham Show, Minneapolis Star Tribune, MSNBC, National Journal, National Post, Newsmax, Newsweek, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Tammy Bruce Show, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Hugh Hewitt Show, The Washington Post, Salt Lake Tribune, Scarborough Country, U.S. News & World Report, WorldNetDaily and Human Events, where he had a weekly column. Right Wing News has been studied by college classes and even inspired an urban legend that was covered at Snopes.
     Last but not least, John Hawkins also founded and led the Rightroots group, a grassroots effort that collected almost $300,000 for Republican candidates in the last 3 months of the 2006 election cycle. In 2008, he consulted for Duncan Hunter's presidential campaign and was on the board of Slatecard, which raised more than $600,000 for Republican candidates in the 2008 election cycle. In 2011, he helped found Raising Red, although he left the organization the same year and went on to become one of the co-founders of Not Mitt Romney.com.

Did the Apostle Paul “Invent” Christianity?

By Ted Wright 1/10/2013

     The writer of Ecclesiastes instructs his students “…of making many books there is no end.” (Eccl. 12:2) and this is certainly true. A similar thing could certainly be said in responding to the continual flow of misinformation and outright falsehoods about Christianity from popular books, media and television documentaries. This is the second blog-article I am writing in response to the History Channel’s recent documentary “Mankind: The Story of All of Us” which I had the opportunity to appear as a guest speaker. In Episode 3 titled “Empires” the producers present the advent of Christianity as essentially the invention of the Apostle Paul and the result of an historical stroke of luck in which early Christians used Roman infrastructure (cities, roads, etc..) to spread the Christian message.

     To be fair, not everything in the episode was wrong or misleading. There were, however, several statements made by the commentators which need to be answered. First, were statements by Muslim writer Reza Aslan (prominently featured in the episode about the early Church) about Paul and early Christianity. Reza made statements that are flatly incorrect. The first statement he makes is that the Apostle Paul is “…the man who fundamentally defines, invents even, what we now call Christianity” (emphasis mine). Aslan further states “For Christianity in the Jerusalem church, Christianity is Judaism. For them, to become a follower of Jesus, you must be a Jew. Paul has a completely different view. He argues that Jesus obliterates the Law of Moses” (emphasis mine). Secondly, were statements made by historian Henry Lewis Gates Jr. that are somewhat misleading. He stated that Christianity was, “…a religion for the dispossessed, for the extremely poor, for the slaves, and for many women. Basically anyone who didn’t have a voice in Roman society could find a voice in the Christian movement.”

     To say that Paul of Tarsus is an important figure in the Early Church is no understatement. Without him two-thirds of the New Testament would not be there. Perhaps it is for this reason that so many people believe that the Christian message is essentially his invention. But, was the Christian message Paul’s invention or was he merely proclaiming the same message Jesus’ disciples first preached? Furthermore, did Paul preach and exhort the obliteration of the Law of Moses rather than its fulfillment and completion in the person of Christ? To answer these questions we must first note Paul’s background and conversion experience.

Click here to go to source

A Review of Patterns of Evidence: Exodus

By Ted Wright 1/21/2015

     On Monday evening I went to see the much anticipated documentary film, Patterns of Evidence: Exodus by filmmaker Tim Mahoney and Thinking Man Films. Overall, I very much liked the film and my impression is that it was very well produced and thought out. In short, it was a very high quality production and has great potential to be effective for those on the fence about the historical account of the Exodus in the Bible.

     I offer the following thoughts to those who watched it on the night of its release, and for those who plan to watch it in the future, perhaps on the History Channel or on DVD.

     First I would like to state what I liked about the film and offer some positive comments. Secondly, I will point out where I think Mahoney missed a couple of valuable opportunities apologetically, historically and archaeologically.

     Yesterday I posted an article titled Navigating “Patterns of Evidence for the Biblical Exodus which essentially outlined where the film would focus most of its attention. That focus was on the dating of the Exodus or the chronology (or when it happened), and that was correct. More on this in a moment, but first some positive observations of the film.

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Lament Like a Christian Hedonist

By Matthew Westerholm 4/2/2017

     If God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, then Christians have every reason to be the happiest people in the world. But does that leave us with one-dimensional emotions? How should believers act and feel when surrounded by brokenness and sin?

     The Bible teaches us that we have many reasons to mourn. We mourn the sin in our lives (Romans 7:15–20) and the brokenness of this present evil age (Galatians 1:4). We mourn while we wait for Christ to return and make all things right. Following Christ’s ascension, the church laments because her bridegroom has been taken away (Matthew 9:15). Even the glorified martyrs in the book of Revelation, who have already been given white robes of victory, mourn as they still are waiting and longing for justice (Revelation 6:9–11). “Blessed are those who mourn,” Jesus taught, “for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

     The Bible calls us to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). But often that tension seems impossible for our hearts. Our emotions can feel too rigid, slow, and clumsy to obey those words. Is there a way to make our hearts more agile, more ready to navigate this disorienting world?

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      (@mwesterholm) serves at Bethlehem Baptist Church as a pastor for worship and music. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three sons.

"My Sheep Hear My Voice"

By Greg Koukl 2/4/2013

     Many have taken this statement by Jesus in John 10 to refer to the Christian's acquired ability to "hear" God's personal instructions to him. "Hearing God's voice" is advocated as a very useful skill that aids optimal Christian living. Allegedly, this is a learned ability one gains as he matures in Christ. It enables him to sense Jesus' will in any given situation as he "hears" Jesus' voice.

     Jesus has nothing like this in mind, though. I know because of the context surrounding the verse and a key clarification John himself gives early in the chapter. In verse six, John explicitly states that when Jesus speaks of His sheep "hearing His voice" He is using a figure of speech.

     The word "voice," then, can't actually mean some kind of inner voice because a thing is never a metaphor of itself. It's a picture of something else. Jesus must be referring, in a figure, to something else that the phrase "hear my voice" represents. What is it?

     The context tells the story. Jesus says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me," and then adds, "and I give eternal life to them" (27-28). Note the sequence: His sheep hear His voice. They follow Him in response. He then gives them eternal life. Hearing Jesus' voice is a figure of speech for the inner working of the Holy Spirit that leads to our salvation. It results in salvation; it's not the result of salvation. It's applied here to non-believers destined for the Kingdom, not believers already in the Kingdom.

     This makes perfect sense in the broader context of the chapter. The Jews have no trouble hearing Jesus' words. They know what Jesus is saying. Their problem is that they don't respond with belief. Why don't the Jews "hear" Jesus by responding with belief? Jesus tells us plainly. They don't "hear" because God is not "speaking" to them. They are not among the sheep the Father has given to the Son (26).

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     Greg Koukl: Founder and President, Stand to Reason

     Greg started out thinking he was too smart to become a Christian and ended up giving his life for the defense of the Christian faith. A central theme of Greg's speaking and writing is that Christianity—if it's properly understood and properly communicated—makes the most sense of the world as we find it.

     Greg has spoken on more than 70 college and university campuses both in the U.S. and abroad and has hosted his own call-in radio show for 27 years advocating “Christianity worth thinking about.” He’s debated atheist Michael Shermer on national radio and Deepak Chopra on national television on Lee Strobel's “Faith Under Fire.” He is an award-winning writer and best-selling author. Greg has been featured on Focus on the Family radio and has been interviewed for CBN and the BBC. He's been quoted in Christianity Today, the U.S. News & World Report, and the L.A. Times.

     Greg received his Masters in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology, graduating with high honors, and his Masters in Christian Apologetics with honors from Simon Greenleaf University. He is an adjunct professor in Christian apologetics at Biola University.
Greg Koukl Books:

Leviticus 6; Psalms 5-6; Proverbs 21; Colossians 4

By Don Carson 4/3/2018

     At The Beginning Of Leviticus 6, the Lord lays down through Moses what must take place when someone in the covenant community has lied to a neighbor about something entrusted to him, has cheated him, has lied about recovered property so that he can keep it, or has committed perjury or a range of other sins. Two observations will clarify what these verses (6:1-7) contribute to the unfolding legal and moral structure.

     (1) Readers of Leviticus, not least of the NIV, have by now become familiar with the distinction between unintentional sins (e.g., much of Lev. 4) and intentional sins. Some interpreters have argued that there are no sacrificial offerings to pay for intentional sins. Those who sin intentionally are to be excluded from the community.

     Part of the problem is with our rendering of intentional and unintentional. Intentional commonly reflects a Hebrew expression meaning “with a high hand”; unintentional renders “not with a high hand.” That background is important as we think through Leviticus 6:1-7. The sins described here are all intentional in the modern sense: one cannot lie, cheat, or commit perjury without intending to do so. There are God-given steps to be followed: restitution where possible (following the principles laid out in Ex. 22), and prescribed confession and sacrifices.

     Of course, some unintentional guilt is gained when one is unaware of committing an offense (as in 5:3); there is still guilt, for the action is prohibited, even though the offender may not have been personally aware of committing an offense. Other unintentional guilt does not refer to guilt accumulated unknowingly, but to guilt consciously accumulated even though the offense was not committed “with a high hand.” Many is the sin committed because one is attracted on the instant to it, or because one has been nurturing resentments, or because it seems less risky to lie than to tell the truth. This is still not the yet more appalling sin “with a high hand,” where the sinner looks at the sin directly, self-consciously reflects that this defies God, and openly and brazenly opts for the sin in order to defy God. As far as I can see, the old covenant does not prescribe atonement for such defiance, but judgment.

     (2) Even the sins mentioned in this passage — all sins against some other human party — are treated first of all in relation to God: “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor” (6:2). The guilt offering is brought to the priest; the offender must not only provide restitution to the offended human, but must seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Defiance of God is what makes wrongdoing sin, what makes sin odious.

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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 36

How Precious Is Your Steadfast Love
36 To The Choirmaster. Of David, The Servant Of The Lord.

1 Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
4 He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.

5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O LORD.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 14.


To illustrate what has been already said, and show what kind of righteousness man can have during the whole course of his life, mankind are divided into four classes. I. First class considered, sec. 1-6. II. Second and third classes considered together, sec. 7, 8. III. Fourth class considered, sec. 9 to end.


1. Men either idolatrous, profane, hypocritical, or regenerate. 1. Idolaters void of righteousness, full of unrighteousness, and hence in the sight of God altogether wretched and undone.

2. Still a great difference in the characters of men. This difference manifested. 1. In the gifts of God. 2. In the distinction between honorable and base. 3. In the blessings of he present life.

3. All human virtue, how praiseworthy soever it may appear, is corrupted. 1. By impurity of heart. 2. By the absence of a proper nature.

4. By the want of Christ, without whom there is no life.

5. Natural condition of man as described by Scripture. All men dead in sins before regeneration.

6. Passages of Scripture to this effect. Vulgar error confounding the righteousness of works with the redemption purchased by Christ.

7. The second and third classes of men, comprehending hypocrites and Christians in name only. Every action of theirs deserves condemnation. Passage from Haggai. Objection. Answer.

8. Other passages. Quotations from Augustine and Gregory.

9. The fourth class--viz. the regenerate. Though guided by the Spirit, corruption adheres to all they do, especially when brought to the bar of God.

10. One fault sufficient to efface all former righteousness. Hence they cannot possibly be justified by works.

11. In addition to the two former arguments, a third adduced against the Sophists, to show that whatever be the works of the regenerate, they are justified solely by faith and the free imputation of Christ's righteousness.

12. Sophism of the Schoolmen in opposition to the above doctrine. Answer.

13. Answer explained. Refutation of the fiction of partial righteousness, and compensation by works of supererogation. This fiction necessarily falls with that of satisfaction.

14. Statement of our Savior--viz. that after we have done all, we are still unprofitable servants.

15. Objection founded on Paul's boasting. Answer, showing the Apostle's meaning. Other answers, stating the general doctrine out of Chrysostom. Third answer, showing that supererogation is the merest vanity.

16. Fourth answer, showing how Scripture dissuades us from all confidence in works. Fifth answer, showing that we have no ground of boasting.

17. Sixth answer, showing, in regard to four different classes, that works have no part in procuring our salvation. 1. The efficient cause is the free love of the Father. 2. The material cause is Christ acquiring righteousness for us. 3. The instrumental cause is faith. 4. The final cause the display of the divine justice and praise of the divine goodness.

18. A second objection, founded on the glorying of saints. An answer, explaining these modes of expression. How the saints feel in regard to the certainty of salvation. The opinion they have of their own works as in the sight of God.

19. Another answer--viz. that the elect, by this kind of glorying, refer only to their adoption by the Father as proved by the fruits of their calling. The order of this glorying. Its foundation, structure, and parts.

20. Conclusion. The saints neither attribute anything to the merits of works, nor derogate in any degree from the righteousness which they obtain in Christ. Confirmation from a passage of Augustine, in which he gives two reasons why no believer will presume to boast before God of his works.

21. A third objection--viz. that the good works of believers are the causes of divine blessings. Answer. There are inferior causes, but these depend on free justification, which is the only true cause why God blesses us. These modes of expression designate the order of sequence rather than the cause.

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

  • W. Robert Godfrey
  • R.C. Sproul
  • Mark Dever

#1 Statism | Ligonier


#2 One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church | Ligonier


#3 No Creed but Christ? | Ligonier


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     7/1/2007    Kingdom Prayer

     Just the other day my family and I were walking carefully through an antique store when I noticed an old painting sitting on the floor. It was a replica of Raphael’s famous work Sistine Madonna (cir. 1512–1514). It brought to mind the first occasion when I encountered Raphael’s masterpiece. My wife and I were studying in Germany several years ago, and we traveled to Dresden for some sightseeing. Upon our visit to the Zwinger palace and the Old Masters Picture Gallery, we soon found ourselves standing in front of Raphael’s original nine-foot tall painting. The oil-on-canvas piece features the Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus in her arms while standing on a bed of clouds, framed by heavy curtains that open to either side. In the painting, Mary appears to descend from heavenly space, through the picture plane, out into the real space in which the painting is hung on the gallery wall.

     Though it is a magnificent work to behold, from the moment I first set eyes on it I have been troubled by one particular scene. At the bottom of the painting two angels lean casually on a ledge with their heads resting on their arms as they gaze nonchalantly at the heavenly scene above.

     These two young little angels are perhaps the world’s most famous angels. We see them everywhere, and no matter their location — on greeting cards, living-room walls, or coffee mugs — they always appear to be bored — similar to the seemingly dispassionate “pensive angel” on the cover of this month’s issue of Tabletalk.

     Although Raphael studied the works of great artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, examining their depictions of angels and other beings within the spiritual realm, I wish he would have spent more time studying the Word of God. He would have realized very quickly that angels are never bored, nor do they ever go about their work casually. They are messengers of Almighty God who are always about God’s eternal business. And just as we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, and the spiritual hosts of wickedness, so the messengers of our sovereign King fight on our behalf so that we might be more than conquerors through Him who loved us, living coram Deo, before the face of God. Deus pro nobis, “God is for us,” and if God and His heavenly hosts are for us, then who, or what, can be against us?

     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

     The story “A Man Without a Country” was based on Benedict Arnold, the patriot turned traitor, yet the British never trusted him so he died a lonely man without a county. This classic was written by Edward Everett Hale, born this day, April 3, 1822. The nephew of Revolutionary hero Nathan Hale, Edward was editor of the Boston Daily and Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. Edward Everett Hale wrote: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do and, with the help of God, I will do.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

I spent twenty years of my life trying to recruit people out of local churches and into missions structures so that they could be involved in fulfilling God's global mission. Now I have another idea. Let's take God's global mission and put it right in the middle of the local church!
--- George Miley   A Defense of Calvinism

How many weary and starved congregations listen hopelessly to a dejected preacher who will never give them a word, a phrase, or a thought they have not heard hundreds of times.
--- Henry Ward Beecher   Ten-minute sermons

A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words.
--- Phillips Brooks   Charles Stanley's Handbook for Christian Living: Biblical Answers to Life's Tough Questions

I would rather live and love where death is king than have eternal life where love is not.
--- Robert G. Ingersoll   Ingersoll the Magnificent

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 4/3
     University of Virginia Libray 1994

     Chapter X.

     1769, 1770. Bodily Indisposition -- Exercise of his Mind for the Good of the People in the West Indies -- Communicates to Friends his Concern to visit some of those Islands -- Preparations to embark -- Considerations on the Trade to the West Indies -- Release from his Concern and return Home -- Religious Engagements -- Sickness, and Exercise of his Mind therein."

     TWELFTH of third month, 1769. -- Having for some years past dieted myself on account of illness and weakness of body, and not having ability to travel by land as heretofore, I was at times favored to look with awfulness towards the Lord, before whom are all my ways, who alone hath the power of life and death, and to feel thankfulness raised in me for this fatherly chastisement, believing that if I was truly humbled under it all would work for good. While under this bodily weakness, my mind was at times exercised for my fellow-creatures in the West Indies, and I grew jealous over myself lest the disagreeableness of the prospect should hinder me from obediently attending thereto; for, though I knew not that the Lord required me to go there, yet I believed that resignation was now called for in that respect. Feeling a danger of not being wholly devoted to him, I was frequently engaged to watch unto prayer that I might be preserved; and upwards of a year having passed, as I one day walked in a solitary wood, my mind being covered with awfulness, cries were raised in me to my merciful Father, that he would graciously keep me in faithfulness; and it then settled on my mind, as a duty, to open my condition to Friends at our Monthly Meeting, which I did soon after, as follows: -- An exercise hath attended me for some time past, and of late hath been more weighty upon me, which is, that I believe it is required of me to be resigned to go on a visit to some parts of the West Indies." In the Quarterly and General Spring Meetings I found no clearness to express anything further than that I believed resignation herein was required of me. Having obtained certificates from all the said meetings, I felt like a sojourner at my outward habitation, and kept free from worldly encumbrances, and I was often bowed in spirit before the Lord, with inward breathings to him that I might be rightly directed. I may here note that the circumstance before related of my having, when young, joined with another executor in selling a negro lad till he might attain the age of thirty years, was now the cause of much sorrow to me; and, after having settled matters relating to this youth, I provided a sea-store and bed, and things for the voyage. Hearing of a vessel likely to sail from Philadelphia for Barbadoes, I spake with one of the owners at Burlington, and soon after went to Philadelphia on purpose to speak to him again. He told me there was a Friend in town who was part owner of the said vessel. I felt no inclination to speak with the latter, but returned home. Awhile after I took leave of my family, and, going to Philadelphia, had some weighty conversation with the first-mentioned owner, and showed him a writing, as follows: -- "On the 25th of eleventh month, 1769, as an exercise with respect to a visit to Barbadoes hath been weighty on my mind, I may express some of the trials which have attended me, under which I have at times rejoiced that I have felt my own self-will subjected.

     "Some years ago I retailed rum, sugar, and molasses, the fruits of the labor of slaves, but had not then much concern about them save only that the rum might be used in moderation; nor was this concern so weightily attended to as I now believe it ought to have been. Having of late years been further informed respecting the oppressions too generally exercised in these islands, and thinking often on the dangers there are in connections of interest and fellowship with the works of darkness (Eph. v. 11), I have felt an increasing concern to be wholly given up to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, and it hath seemed right that my small gain from this branch of trade should be applied in promoting righteousness on the earth. This was the first motion towards a visit to Barbadoes. I believed also that part of my outward substance should be applied in paying my passage, if I went, and providing things in a lowly way for my subsistence; but when the time drew near in which I believed it required of me to be in readiness, a difficulty arose which hath been a continual trial for some months past, under which I have, with abasement of mind from day to day, sought the Lord for instruction, having often had a feeling of the condition of one formerly, who bewailed himself because the Lord hid his face from him. During these exercises my heart hath often been contrite, and I have had a tender feeling of the temptations of my fellow-creatures, laboring under expensive customs not agreeable to the simplicity that 'there is in Christ' (2 Cor. ii. 3), and sometimes in the renewings of gospel love I have been helped to minister to others.

     "That which hath so closely engaged my mind, in seeking to the Lord for instruction, is, whether, after the full information I have had of the oppression which the slaves lie under who raise the West India produce, which I have gained by reading a caution and warning to Great Britain and her colonies, written by Anthony Benezet, it is right for me to take passage in a vessel employed in the West India trade.

     "To trade freely with oppressors without laboring to dissuade them from such unkind treatment, and to seek for gain by such traffic, tends, I believe, to make them more easy respecting their conduct than they would be if the cause of universal righteousness was humbly and firmly attended to by those in general with whom they have commerce; and that complaint of the Lord by his prophet, "They have strengthened the hands of the wicked," hath very often revived in my mind. I may here add some circumstances which occurred to me before I had any prospect of a visit there. David longed for some water in a well beyond an army of Philistines who were at war with Israel, and some of his men, to please him, ventured their lives in passing through this army, and brought that water.

     "It doth not appear that the Israelites were then scarce of water, but rather that David gave way to delicacy of taste; and having reflected on the danger to which these men had been exposed, he considered this water as their blood, and his heart smote him that he could not drink it, but he poured it out to the Lord. The oppression of the slaves which I have seen in several journeys southward on this continent, and the report of their treatment in the West Indies, have deeply affected me, and a care to live in the spirit of peace and minister no just cause of offence to my fellow-creatures having from time to time livingly revived in my mind, I have for some years past declined to gratify my palate with those sugars.

     "I do not censure my brethren in these things, but I believe the Father of Mercies, to whom all mankind by creation are equally related, hath heard the groans of this oppressed people and that he is preparing some to have a tender feeling of their condition. Trading in or the frequent use of any produce known to be raised by the labor of those who are under such lamentable oppression hath appeared to be a subject which may hereafter require the more serious consideration of the humble followers of Christ, the Prince of Peace.

     "After long and mournful exercise I am now free to mention how things have opened in my mind, with desires that if it may please the Lord further to open his will to any of his children in this matter they may faithfully follow him in such further manifestation.

     "The number of those who decline the use of West India produce, on account of the hard usage of the slaves who raise it, appears small, even among people truly pious; and the labors in Christian love on that subject of those who do are not very extensive. Were the trade from this continent to the West Indies to be stopped at once, I believe many there would suffer for want of bread. Did we on this continent and the inhabitants of the West Indies generally dwell in pure righteousness, I believe a small trade between us might be right. Under these considerations, when the thoughts of wholly declining the use of trading-vessels and of trying to hire a vessel to go under ballast have arisen in my mind, I have believed that the labors in gospel love hitherto bestowed in the cause of universal righteousness have not reached that height. If the trade to the West Indies were no more than was consistent with pure wisdom, I believe the passage-money would, for good reasons be higher than it is now; and therefore, under deep exercise of mind, I have believed that I should not take advantage of this great trade and small passage-money, but, as a testimony in favor of less trading, should pay more than is common for others to pay if I go at this time." The first-mentioned owner, having read the paper, went with me to the other owner, who also read over the paper, and we had some solid conversation, under which I felt myself bowed in reverence before the Most High. At length one of them asked me if I would go and see the vessel. But not having clearness in my mind to go, I went to my lodging and retired in private under great exercise of mind; and my tears were poured out before the Lord with inward cries that he would graciously help me under these trials. I believe my mind was resigned, but I did not feel clearness to proceed; and my own weakness and the necessity of Divine instruction were impressed upon me.

     I was for a time as one who knew not what to do and was tossed as in a tempest; under which affliction the doctrine of Christ, "Take no thought for the morrow," arose livingly before me, and I was favored to get into a good degree of stillness. Having been near two days in town, I believed my obedience to my Heavenly Father consisted in returning homeward; I therefore went over among Friends on the Jersey shore and tarried till the morning on which the vessel was appointed to sail. As I lay in bed the latter part of that night my mind was comforted, and I felt what I esteemed a fresh confirmation that it was the Lord's will that I should pass through some further exercises near home; so I went thither, and still felt like a sojourner with my family. In the fresh spring of pure love I had some labors in a private way among Friends on a subject relating to truth's testimony, under which I had frequently been exercised in heart for some years. I remember, as I walked on the road under this exercise, that passage in Ezekiel came fresh upon me, "Whithersoever their faces were turned thither they went." And I was graciously helped to discharge my duty in the fear and dread of the Almighty.

John Woolman's Journal

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Twenty-Fifth Chapter / The Basis Of Firm Peace Of Heart And True Progress


     MY CHILD, I have said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you.” (
John 14:27)

     All men desire peace but all do not care for the things that go to make true peace. My peace is with the humble and meek of heart: your peace will be in much patience. If you hear Me and follow My voice, you will be able to enjoy much peace.

     The Disciple

     What, then, shall I do, Lord?


     Watch yourself in all things, in what you do and what you say. Direct your every intention toward pleasing Me alone, and desire nothing outside of Me. Do not be rash in judging the deeds and words of others, and do not entangle yourself in affairs that are not your own. Thus, it will come about that you will be disturbed little and seldom.

     Yet, never to experience any disturbance or to suffer any hurt in heart or body does not belong to this present life, but rather to the state of eternal rest. Do not think, therefore, that you have found true peace if you feel no depression, or that all is well because you suffer no opposition. Do not think that all is perfect if everything happens just as you wish. And do not imagine yourself great or consider yourself especially beloved if you are filled with great devotion and sweetness. For the true lover of virtue is not known by these things, nor do the progress and perfection of a man consist in them.

     The Disciple

     In what do they consist, Lord?


     They consist in offering yourself with all your heart to the divine will, not seeking what is yours either in small matters or great ones, either in temporal or eternal things, so that you will preserve equanimity and give thanks in both prosperity and adversity, seeing all things in their proper light.

     If you become so brave and long-suffering in hope that you can prepare your heart to suffer still more even when all inward consolation is withdrawn, and if you do not justify yourself as though you ought not be made to suffer such great things, but acknowledge Me to be just in all My works and praise My holy name—then you will walk in the true and right path of peace, then you may have sure hope of seeing My face again in joy. If you attain to complete contempt of self, then know that you will enjoy an abundance of peace, as much as is possible in this earthly life.

The Imitation Of Christ

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

     Then the second thought--God is willing and able to reveal to His servants what His will is.

     Yes, blessed be God, communications still come down from Heaven! As we read here what the Holy Spirit said, so the Holy Spirit will still speak to His Church and His people. In these later days He has often done it. He has come to individual men, and by His divine teaching He has led them out into fields of labor that others could not at first understand or approve, into ways and methods that did not recommend themselves to the majority. But the Holy Spirit does still in our time teach His people. Thank God, in our foreign missionary societies and in our home missions, and in a thousand forms of work, the guiding of the Holy Spirit is known, but (we are all ready, I think, to confess) too little known. We have not learned enough to wait upon Him, and so we should make a solemn declaration before God: O God, we want to wait more for Thee to show us Thy Will.

     Do not ask God only for power. Many a Christian has his own plan of working, but God must send the power. The man works in his own will, and God must give the grace--the one reason why God often gives so little grace and so little success. But let us all take our place before God and say:

     "What is done in the will of God, the strength of God will not be withheld from it; what is done in the will of God must have the mighty blessing of God."

     And so let our first desire be to have the will of God revealed.

     If you ask me, Is it an easy thing to get these communications from Heaven, and to understand them? I can give you the answer. It is easy to those who are in right fellowship with Heaven, and who understand the art of waiting upon God in prayer.

Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)

Proverbs 14:5-6
     by D.H. Stern

5     An honest witness will not lie,
but a false witness lies with every breath.

6     A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge comes easily to someone with discernment.

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


     There was a little pause. ‘That will be delightful,’ said the Ghost presently in a rather dull voice.

     ‘Come, then,’ said the Spirit, offering it his arm.

     ‘How soon do you think I could begin painting?’ it asked.

     The Spirit broke into laughter. ‘Don’t you see you’ll never paint at all if that’s what you’re thinking about?’ he said.

     ‘What do you mean?’ asked the Ghost.

     ‘Why, if you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you’ll never learn to see the country.’

     ‘But that’s just how a real artist is interested in the country.’

     ‘No. You’re forgetting,’ said the Spirit. ‘That was not how you began. Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.’

     ‘Oh, that’s ages ago,’ said the Ghost. ‘One grows out of that. Of course, you haven’t seen my later works. One becomes more and more interested in paint for its own sake.’

     ‘One does, indeed. I also have had to recover from that. It was all a snare. Ink and catgut and paint were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him. For it doesn’t stop at being interested in paint, you know. They sink lower—become interested in their own personalities and then in nothing but their own reputations.’

     ‘I don’t think I’m much troubled in that way,’ said the Ghost stiffly.

     ‘That’s excellent,’ said the Spirit. ‘Not many of us had quite got over it when we first arrived. But if there is any of that inflammation left it will be cured when you come to the fountain.’

     ‘What fountain’s that?’

     ‘It is up there in the mountains,’ said the Spirit. ‘Very cold and clear, between two green hills. A little like Lethe. When you have drunk of it you forget forever all proprietorship in your own works. You enjoy them just as if they were someone else’s: without pride and without modesty.’

     ‘That’ll be grand,’ said the Ghost without enthusiasm.

The Great Divorce

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                If thou hadst known!

     If thou hadst known … in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
Luke 19:42.

     Jesus had entered into Jerusalem in triumph, the city was stirred to its foundations; but a strange god was there, the pride of Pharisaism; it was religious and upright, but a ‘whited sepulchre.’

     What is it that blinds me in this my day? Have I a strange god—not a disgusting monster, but a disposition that rules me? More than once God has brought me face to face with the strange god and I thought I should have to yield, but I did not do it. I got through the crisis by the skin of my teeth and I find myself in the possession of the strange god still; I am blind to the things which belong to my peace. It is an appalling thing that we can be in the place where the Spirit of God should be getting at us unhinderedly, and yet increase our condemnation in God’s sight.

     “If thou hadst known”—God goes direct to the heart, with the tears of Jesus behind. These words imply culpable responsibility; God holds us responsible for what we do not see. “Now they are hid from thine eyes”—because the disposition has never been yielded. The unfathomable sadness of the ‘might have been’! God never opens doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut, doors which need never have been shut, imaginations which need never have been sullied. Never be afraid when God brings back the past. Let memory have its way. It is a minister of God with its rebuke and chastisement and sorrow. God will turn the ‘might have been’ into a wonderful culture for the future.

My Utmost for His Highest

A Marriage
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

           A Marriage

We met
under a shower
of bird-notes.
Fifty years passed,
love's moment
in a world in
servitude to time.
She was young;
I kissed with my eyes
closed and opened
them on her wrinkles.
'Come.' said death,
choosing her as his
partner for
the last dance. And she,
who in life
had done everything
with a bird's grace,
opened her bill now
for the shedding
of one sigh no
heavier than a feather.

Thomas, R. S.

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Rosh Hashanah 9a


     It goes without saying that we should not overlook severe wrongdoings that we see others committing. Even more minor personality faults were subsumed under the biblical injunction to “reprove your kinsman” (Leviticus 19:17). The Rabbis of the Talmud interpreted this to mean that we must correct the faults we see in others, the human imperfections that we cannot see in ourselves. Often, only an outsider can point out these shortcomings.

     Yet, we may carry this ideal to an extreme. It is often difficult for us to look the other way when someone we know and care for does something wrong. In addition, our sense of justice and right may compel us to correct others even for the most minor of misdemeanors, or if their wrongs cannot be changed, or for people we do not know. Most of us have witnessed someone telling a stranger: “You shouldn’t bite your fingernails” or “Those chips that you’re buying really aren’t healthy; you should stick to fruits and vegetables.” The Rabbis were aware of this tendency in others as well as in themselves. They knew that some more minor actions cannot be legislated or changed and thus should be allowed to exist, even if unlawful. They would not allow Jews to be deliberate transgressors of major Shabbat, theft, or sexual prohibitions, but they had no problem saying, from time to time: “We cannot change everything. In this case, they’re going to do it anyway, so let it be.”

     The Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once penned a “Serenity Prayer.” His words sound like a modern reworking of this idea:

     God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

     We have all met people who have not yet learned this credo. At a testimonial dinner or organizational banquet, an acquaintance will harp on the poor service or the quality of the food. We are not in charge, and once the meal has begun, there is little we can do to change things. Better to accept the inadequacies than to ruin the evening by deliberate, repeated critiques of transgressions which cannot be corrected.

     As our children grow up, we see imperfections in their personalities. We try our hardest as parents to help them change, to grow, to improve. And then one day, we realize that our criticisms will not make them any better than they now are. They will continue to mature on their own, making of themselves better people. Time will help them lose some of these bad habits; others may, admittedly, remain. Is it right to constantly harp on these shortcomings? The Rabbis would likely whisper in our ears: Better that we not inform our children of all their minor imperfections than constantly reminding them of that which they cannot, or will not, change. It is better for them, and it is certainly better for us.

     We add from the ordinary onto the sacred.

     Text / From where do we learn that we add from the ordinary onto the sacred? As it is taught: “You shall cease from labor even at plowing time and harvest time” [Exodus 34:21]. Rabbi Akiva says: “This text could not be referring to the [prohibition of] plowing and harvesting during the Sabbatical year, for it already says: ‘You shall not sow your field’ [Leviticus 25:4]. Therefore it must refer to plowing on the eve of the Sabbatical year that leads into the Sabbatical year, and to harvesting in the Sabbatical year which leads into the year following the Sabbatical year.” Rabbi Yishmael says: “Just as plowing is optional, so too harvesting is optional, except for harvesting the Omer, which is a mitzvah.” From where does Rabbi Yishmael derive the principle that we add from the ordinary onto the sacred? He learns it from that which is taught: “And you shall practice self-denial; on the ninth day” [Leviticus 23:32]. One might think it is on the ninth; therefore the text says “at evening.” If at evening, one might think after it gets dark. Therefore the text says “on the ninth.” How can this be? We begin to afflict ourselves while it is still day. This teaches that we add from the ordinary onto the sacred.

     Context / Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor; you shall cease from labor even at plowing time and harvest time. (Exodus 34:21)
     When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the Lord. Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield. But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. (Leviticus 25:2–4)
     And should you ask, “What are we to eat in the seventh year, if we may neither sow nor gather in our crops?” I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it shall yield a crop sufficient for three years. When you sow in the eighth year, you will still be eating old grain of that crop; you will be eating the old until the ninth year, until its crops come in.” (Leviticus 25:20–22)
     Mark, the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion for you: you shall practice self-denial, and you shall bring an offering by fire to the Lord.… It shall be a sabbath of complete rest for you, and you shall practice self-denial; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall observe this your sabbath. (Leviticus 23:27, 32)

     One of the hallmarks of the Jewish religion is the sacred times, or holy days, that mark the calendar. By definition, a holiday is a twenty-four-hour period. But the Rabbis ordered that these holidays began just a little earlier and end just a little bit later. We are to “borrow” time from the ordinary days that precede and follow the holy day, and add it onto the holy day itself. Shabbat, for example, technically should begin Friday at sunset and end Saturday at sunset. Instead, we begin Shabbat earlier, lighting candles at least eighteen minutes before the sun goes down, and end it later, no earlier than when three stars appear in the sky. Shabbat lasts closer to twenty-five, not twenty-four, hours.

     Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yishmael attempt to find a basis for this practice in the Torah. Rabbi Akiva does it by turning to the laws about the Sabbatical year. Since it is in Leviticus 25 that the law itself is taught, the reference in Exodus 34:21 must come to teach some other law or principle. (Rabbi Akiva believes that laws are not just repeated; each time something is mentioned again, it must be to teach a specific, new lesson.) He interprets Exodus 34:21 as teaching that the Sabbatical year actually begins a few months earlier, with a prohibition of plowing in the last weeks of the sixth year, and it ends a few months late, with the prohibition of harvesting in the first weeks of the eighth year.

     Rabbi Yishmael disagrees with Rabbi Akiva on the meaning of this particular verse. Whereas Akiva connected the verse with the Sabbatical year, Yishmael connects it to Shabbat, learning that the Omer offering of grain brought beginning on the second day of Passover may be cut and harvested even on Shabbat. Rabbi Yishmael derives the basis of the principle “We add from the ordinary onto the sacred” from the laws concerning Yom Kippur (which falls on the tenth day of Tishrei). The Torah mentions that the fast is supposed to begin on the ninth of Tishrei, late in the afternoon, earlier than we would have expected.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

     What is it?

     Walter Elwell, a biblical scholar and former colleague at Wheaton College, taught me a helpful distinction between kindness, mercy and grace. A kind person is caring and gentle. Mercy is a particular sort of kindness; mercy is kindness to those who do not deserve it. Grace is a subset of mercy; grace is merciful kindness to those who cannot desert it. We often see kindness in daily interactions. I complement my wife for the cheerful, loving way she wakes each morning, and she tells me later that evening how she appreciates the way I interact with our children. Perhaps she gives me a back rub before we fall off to sleep in the evening, and I give her a back rub in the morning. In these examples we make positive exchanges, following the social contract implicit in all satisfying relationships (I’ll be nice to you, and you be nice to me), and at least according to social exchange theory our relationship is likely to do quite well under these circumstances. This is a relationship based on mutual kindness. But what if I am particularly grumpy some day, criticizing Lisa for the way she drives and parents and brushes her teeth, and in response she looks at me and says how glad she is that she married me? This is more than kindness, more than I deserve. This is mercy: kindness express to one who does not deserve it. Now fast-forward 25 years into the future. I now have advanced Alzheimer’s disease and struggle with the most basic functions. My personality has changed so that I am suspicious, accusing an angry. Without constant attention I would be dangerous to myself or others, and I would surely end up lost and alone. My wife continues to show kindness, though she receives little appreciation. Not only do I not deserve her kindness, but I can never again function in a way that makes me worthy of a kind social exchange. She is extending grace: merciful kindness to one who cannot deserve it.

     If we view God apart from our sin, we may see God’s kindness. We may call it grace, but that is some combination of semantic confusion and sloppy doctrine. Only when we apprehend the depth of our transgression, the ubiquity of our sin problem, our inability to escape sin, and God’s abhorrence of sin can we really grasp the meaning of grace. Grace is merciful kindness offered by God to those who do not and cannot ever deserve God’s kindness, and it is our only hope.

Sin and Grace in Christian Counseling: An Integrative Paradigm

The Shepherd and His Sheep: John 10
     Teacher's Commentary

     Unlike the other Gospels, which trace the development of Jesus’ ministry over three years, the Gospel of John focuses on the final months of Christ’s life, when the issues had been clearly drawn.

     Jesus, the Son of God, revealed over and over again the truth about life and light, and confronted His listeners with the necessity of choice.

     John 10 through 12 depicts events that lead up to the Upper Room Discourse. In these chapters we see the final confrontation, and catch a glimpse of the ultimate evidence that will soon be offered to prove Jesus’ claims.

     In the Old Testament, the picture of a shepherd and his sheep was often used to illustrate the relationship between God and His people. “The Lord is my Shepherd,” one psalmist said. Another added, “We are the sheep of His pasture.”

     Shepherd was also a term applied to spiritual leaders in the Old Testament. Jeremiah chose harsh words to describe leaders who perverted their spiritual role: “ ‘Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 23:1). The prophet declared that God would set His own Shepherd over His sheep when the promised Son of David (Jesus) reigns.

     The people would have had these symbolic pictures of divine leadership in mind when Jesus announced, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). Jesus then developed a contrast between Himself and the religious authorities of His day. Jesus was concerned for God’s people, and exemplified the morality of grace. The Jewish rulers, on the other hand, ignored the welfare of their people. They, therefore, were false shepherds.

     By this time, the leaders of Israel were firmly committed not only to rejecting Jesus’ claim to divine authority but to destroying Him as well. So in this message Jesus did not speak to the rulers; He appealed directly to the individuals who made up the nation.

     True Shepherd recognized (John 10:1–6). In Israel sheep were not herded with dogs or by men who walked behind them. The shepherd of the Middle East led his sheep. He knew each one by name, and the sheep recognized his voice. At night several herds of sheep might sleep in the same fold. In the morning, when the one door was unbarred, each shepherd could unerringly pick out his own flock. And each member of that flock would be able to distinguish his shepherd from the others because the sheep would know the shepherd’s voice, just as God’s people would recognize Jesus as the living Word of God.

     The Pharisees who claimed to speak for Moses would be followed, but not by those who belonged to God. The true sheep would hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.

     Good Shepherd identified (John 10:7–17). Now Jesus condemned the leaders of Israel, saying, “All who ever came before Me were thieves and robbers.” Such men care “nothing for the sheep.” Jesus, on the other hand, is the Good Shepherd. The Palestinian shepherd commonly slept in the single opening to the fold through which wild animals might attack. As “the door” Jesus protects His own, by placing His body between the sheep and their enemies. The Good Shepherd guides His sheep to pasture, concerned not only that they have life, but that they “have it to the full.” How deep is the commitment of the Good Shepherd to His sheep? “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

     How clearly this must have spoken to the men and women of Israel. Their rulers, like religious leaders of many times and many faiths, were quick to demand respect and obedience. They were quick to lord it over others; quick to judge, advise, condemn. But no one in Israel would imagine for a moment that one of the authorities would lay down his life for one of the common people. Those leaders might lay down their lives for truth. More than once the men of Israel had refused to fight on the Sabbath, and had been killed easily by pagans. More than one Israelite had offered his body to Roman swords rather than permit a statue of Caesar, or even the Legion Eagles, to enter Jerusalem. To die for a conviction was not that uncommon. But to die for love of the sheep? Never! Truth was important to the authorities; people were not.

     But to Jesus, the sheep—sinners not worth the contempt of the righteous—were worth dying for!

     One with the Father (John 10:18–30). Jesus could die for the sheep because He had the authority from God to lay down His life, and “authority to take it up again. This command,” Jesus continued, “I received from My Father” (John 10:18).

     These words sent the Jews back to the old debate. “He is demon-possessed and raving mad,” some said. But others answered, “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

     Again the Jews asked the central question: “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24).

     Once again Jesus explained that His sheep hear and respond to His voice. To such He gives eternal life. He can bestow this gift because, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30).

     When pictures are drawn, have each member show his or hers, and explain it. In the process your group will develop a much better picture of all that Jesus’ presentation of Himself as the Good Shepherd means to us today.

     Refusal to believe (John 10:31–42). Jesus’ renewed claim to be God the Son was recognized by the people: “Again the Jews picked up stones to stone Him.”

     How strange. “Tell us if You are the Christ.” And when Jesus told them, they tried to kill Him because they did not want to hear the truth!

     The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy “because You, a mere Man, claim to be God.”

     Jesus stunned them with a quote from the Psalms: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If He called them ‘gods’ to whom the Word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken—what about the One whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world?” (John 10:34–36) If those who receive the Word are exalted by the Lord Himself and called “gods,” how much more deserving of that name is the One who is the Word?

     The passage Jesus quoted is Psalm 82:6, “I say, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ ” The life Jesus offers us is eternal life, God’s life. When we receive Jesus, we become the sons of God.

     As Peter put it, “You are sons of God now; the live, permanent Word of the living God has given you His own indestructible heredity” (1 Peter 1:23, PH). Unable to grasp grace, the Pharisees and other leaders had no concept of what a personal relationship with God meant. They were no more able to understand the gift Jesus offered than they could imagine God could care enough for human beings to become a Man in order to bring us to Himself.

     But while the leaders continued to try to arrest Jesus (John 10:39), many others heard in Jesus the voice of God, and began to believe.

The Teacher's Commentary

Luke 10:17-21
     Pulpit Commentary

     Ver. 17.—And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy Name. How wavering and hesitating the faith of the chosen followers of Jesus was, even at this late period of his public ministry, is clear from this frank confession of surprise at their powers. They were contrasting the present with what had lately happened at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration, where the disciples were utterly unable to heal the possessed boy. What a contrast do these true writers of the gospel story paint between themselves and their Master! They never seem to tire in their self-depreciatory de scriptions. They describe with the same careful, truthful pen their slowness to understand what afterwards became so clear to them—their mutual jealousies, their cove tous hopes of a brilliant future, their shrink ing from pain and suffering, their utter failure when they try to imitate their Master; and now we find them marvelling at their own—to them—unexpected success in their imitation of him.

     Ver. 18.—And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. The Lord’s words here were prophetic rather than descriptive of what had taken, or was then taking place. The seventy were telling him their feelings of joy at finding that his Name in their mouths enabled them to cast out evil spirits from the possessed. Their Master replied in an exalted and exultant strain—strange and rare sounds on the lips of the Man of sorrows—telling them how he had been looking—not on a few spirits of evil driven out of unhappy men, but on the king and chief of all evil falling from his sad eminence and throne of power like a flash of lightning. Jesus Christ saw, in the first success of these poor servants of his, an earnest of that wonderful and mighty victory which his followers, simply armed with the power of his Name, would shortly win over paganism. He saw, too, in the dim far future, many a contest with and victory over evil in its many forms. He looked on, we may well believe, to the final defeat which at length his servants, when they should have learned the true use and the resistless power of that glorious Name of his, should win over the restless enemy of the souls of men.

     Ver. 19.—Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. The older authorities read here, “I have given.” The only recorded instance of a literal fulfilment of this promise was in the case of Paul at Melita, after the shipwreck (Acts 24:3–5). A similar promise was made during the “forty days” (Mark 16:17, 18). It seems, however, best, in the case of this peculiar promise, to interpret the Lord’s words as referring to spiritual powers of evil, taking the serpent and scorpion as symbols of these. It should be remembered that the subject of conversation between the Master and his servants was the conflict with and victory over these awful powers restlessly hostile to the human race (see Ps. 91:13).

     Ver. 20.—But rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. “After all,” went on the wise and loving Master, “though you have made the glad discovery of the power you possess, if, as my servants, you use aright my Name, after all, your real reason for joy is, not the possession of a new, mighty power. but the fact of your name having been written in the book of life as one of my servants commissioned to do my work.” Many commentators here cautiously point out that even this legitimate Joy should be tempered with fear and trem bling, for even this true title to honour might be blotted out of that golden book of heaven (see Exod. 32:33; Jer. 17:13; Ps. 69:28; Rev. 22:19). In this deep legitimate joy men and women of all callings, who try to follow the Master, in every age, may share.

     Ver. 21.—In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit. More than “rejoiced;” the Greek word rather signifies “exulted.” Very rarely in the holy story of the life of lives is a hint given us of any gleam of gladness or of joy irradiating the spirit of the Man of sorrows. The exultation of the Blessed here was based upon his conviction that this first success of his own was but the commencement of a long and weary, but yet, in the end, of a triumphant campaign against the spirits of sin and evil. What these, in their mortal weakness by the aid of their poor imperfect faith in his Name, had been able to accomplish, was an earnest, a pledge, of the mighty work which his followers would, in the power of the same Name, be enabled to effect in the coming ages In that solemn hour did Messiah see, in the far future, of “the travail of his soul,” and was satisfied. The absence of all sign of joy in the life of our Lord is well brought out in that touching legend which we find in the spurious letter of P. Lentulus to the senate, that he wept often, but that no one had ever seen him smile. That thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Looking upon his servants after their return from their successful mission, a group made up certainly for the most part of poor untutored men—fishers, artisans, and the like, children of the people, without rank or position—Jesus thanks the Father that, in the persons of the men chosen to be the instruments of his work, he has looked away from all the ordinary machinery of human influence. As he gazes upon the band of successful missionaries, Jesus thanks the Father that henceforth his servants, if they would be successful, must owe the powers which gave them success entirely to his training, and not to the world’s. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. This is “the only record, outside St. John’s Gospel, of a prayer like that which we find in John 17. For the most part, we may believe, those prayers were offered apart, on the lonely hillside, in the darkness of night; or, it may be, the disciples shrank in their reverence, or perhaps in the consciousness of their want of capacity, from attempting to record what was so unspeakably sacred. But it is noteworthy that in this exceptional instance we find, both in the prayer and the teaching that follows it in St. Matthew and St. Luke, turns of thought and phrase almost absolutely identical with what is most characteristic of St. John. It is as though this isolated fragment of a higher teaching had been preserved by them as a witness that there was a region upon which they scarcely dared to enter, but into which men were to he led after. wards by the beloved disciple, to whom the Spirit gave power to recall what had been above the reach of the other reporters of his Master’s teaching” (Dean Plumptre).

The Pulpit Commentary-Book of Numbers (Old Testament)

Luke 11:49
     Son Of Man / Wisdom

     Luke 11:49, the speaker in this saying (in the words of R. Bultmann) is ‘a supra-historical entity namely, [the pre-existent] Wisdom’, (R. Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition, trans, from the second edition by John Marsh; rev. ed. (New York 1968), p. 114.) who sends the prophets and messengers of God, and who, in Sir. 24, receives from God himself the Temple in Jerusalem as her dwelling place. According to Sir. 1:15, Wisdom builds her nest among the God-fearers, while in Sir. 14:26 the wise man builds his nest in the branches of Wisdom, which thereby becomes the Tree of Life. The LXX of Prov. 16:16 understands the קנה or קנות of the MT as ‘nest’, קֵן , and translates it with νοσσία σοΦίας or νοσσία φρονήσεως, an indication that the motif of Wisdom as mother bird and refuge, following older models where this picture is applied to God (Job 39:26f.; Deut. 32:11; Ps. 84:3, and often), was not unusual. The verdict on the Holy City is thus as unconditional and absolute as that on ‘this generation’ in Luke 11:49. Her inhabitants have continually slain the messengers of God and rejected the offer of salvation by the Wisdom of God, who hovers about them like an anxious mother bird. Here again, there is not a word about the sending or the fate of Jesus. By the continual rejection of the offer of salvation, the disobedience of the city of God leads to a catastrophic end. The passivum divinum ἀΦίεται with the dativus incommodi ὑμῖν announces that the presence of Wisdom on Zion (Sir. 24:10ff.), that God’s presence in the Temple has an end. Analogous to this is the later rabbinic concept that the Shekinah, or the Holy Spirit, dwelt in the Tabernacle and later on Zion, but then forsook Israel because she had despised God’s prophets. A similar thought is expressed in Mark 15:38 by the tearing of the curtain to the Holy of Holies in the Temple. The wisdom of God withdraws from Jerusalem just as, according to Ezek. 10:18ff. and Josephus, War 6.300 (cf. Tacitus, Hist. 5.13), God forsakes the Temple. The ‘you will not see me until’ refers to the wisdom, who, having been rejected on earth, returns to Heaven. Not until the coming of the Kingdom of God will its inhabitants—whether they wish it or not—greet the ‘One Who Comes’ for the Judgement in the figure of the Son of Man, with the words of the Hallel Psalm 118:26, the same cry with which the Galileans accompanying Jesus acclaimed him at his entry in Jerusalem (Mark 11:9). Indeed, the unstated relationship between the wisdom of God as the representative of the now closed, failed salvation-history of Israel, and the coming Son of Man-Judge indicates the antiquity of the logion, not yet ‘christologically alienated’ from its origin.

Studies in Early Christology

Early Jewish Biblical Interpretation

     Scripture was, by all accounts, a major interest, if not to say an obsession, among a broad spectrum of Jews in the Second Temple period. People argued, sometimes violently, about the meaning of this or that verse in the Torah (Pentateuch), or about the proper way to carry out one or another of its laws. People also wrote a great deal about Scripture: numerous compositions that have survived from the Second Temple period seek to explain various scriptural prophecies and songs and stories, and even those books that are not explicitly exegetical are usually replete with allusions to Scripture and scriptural interpretation. Moreover, a whole new institution emerged in this period, the synagogue, a place where people might gather specifically for the purpose of studying Scripture; indeed, the synagogue went on to become a (one might even say the) major Jewish institution, both within the land of Israel and in the Diaspora.

     But perhaps the most striking evidence of Scripture’s importance comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of writings found at Qumran, south of Jericho. This library, apparently the possession of a particular Jewish community that flourished at the end of the Second Temple period, is itself a most impressive thing, consisting of roughly 800 individual manuscripts. (It was no doubt still larger at one point: some of its original contents have certainly been lost to the depredations of nature or human hands.) The library contained not one or two copies of what was to become our Hebrew Bible, but, for example, thirty-six different manuscripts of the
Psalms, twenty-nine copies of Deuteronomy, and so forth. In all, these scriptural manuscripts made up a little more than a quarter of the library’s total contents. But the remaining three-quarters were scarcely less tied to Scripture: nearly all of these other compositions seek, in one way or another, to explain, allude to, or expand upon things found in biblical books. Indeed, the rules governing the daily life of the community that lived at Qumran specify that the study of Scripture is to be a steady, ongoing activity: “Anywhere where there are ten people, let there not be lacking a man expounding the Torah day and night, continuously, concerning the right conduct of a man with his fellow. And let the [Assembly p 122 of the] Many see to it that in the community a third of every night of the year [is spent] in reading the Book and expounding the Law and offering blessings together” (1QS 6:6–8).

     In short, Scripture was on nearly everyone’s mind. The words of
Ps. 119:97—“How I love your Torah; I speak of it all day long”—might have served as the motto of all the different Jewish communities and sects in Second Temple times. Now when one stops to consider this state of affairs in its larger context, it should appear more than a little strange. After all, religious piety elsewhere in the ancient Near East consisted principally of the offering of animal sacrifices at one or another sanctuary, participation in mass religious revels with singing and dancing, or solemn rites to ward off evil and demonic forces. None of these elements was absent from Second Temple Judaism, but along with them, and ultimately displacing them, was the oddest sort of act: reading words written centuries earlier and acting as if they had the highest significance for people in the present age. How did this come about?

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

Take Heart
     April 3

     See how the lilies of the field grow. --- Matthew 6:28.

     Let me say one thing more that helps to illuminate the mind of Christ. ( Wings of the Morning, The (The Morrison Classic Sermon Series) ) It is how often, when he speaks of nature, he deliberately brings people on the scene. Jesus is not a painter of still life. He loves to have living forms on the scene. He does not regard people as intrusions but always as the completion of the picture. When he walked abroad, he saw more than the lights and shadows of the fields. “A farmer went out to sow his seed”—somehow he could not rest until he had brought a living human being into the picture. And so when he wandered by the Sea of Galilee and watched the waters and listened to the waves, all that, however beautiful, could not content him until the fishers and their nets were in the picture. He could not listen to the chattering sparrows without seeing the human hands that bought and sold them. He could not look at the lilies of the field without seeing Solomon in all his glory.

     And it all means that while the love of nature was one of the deepest passions in Christ’s heart, it was not a love that led to isolation, but it found its crowning in the love of humanity. There is a way of loving nature that chills a little the feeling for humanity. But when someone loves nature as Jesus Christ loved nature, it will deepen and purify the springs of kinship and issue in service that is not less loyal because the music of hill and dale is in it.
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day
     Politician to Preacher  April 3

     Ambrose was born in Gaul, where his father was governor. His family shortly moved to Rome, where Ambrose was raised to be a skilled poet, orator, and lawyer. After practicing law in the Roman courts for a time, he was named governor of an Italian province and headquartered in Milan. There a crisis arose when Bishop Auxentius died in 374. The city was divided over who should replace him, and tensions were high. Ambrose assembled the people and used his oratorical powers to appeal for unity. But while he was speaking, a child cried out: “Let Ambrose be bishop!” The crowd took up the chant, and the 35-year-old governor, to his dismay, was elected the city’s pastor.

     He set himself to study theology, soon becoming a great preacher and a deft defender of orthodox doctrine. He combated paganism and heresy with diligence, maintained the independence of the church against civil powers, and championed morality. He confronted political leaders, even emperors, when necessary. He wrote books and treatises, sermons, hymns, and letters. He tended Milan like a shepherd.

     Perhaps none of that was more important than his influence on a hot-blooded infidel who slipped into town one Sunday to hear him preach. The skeptical Augustine found himself deeply impressed by the power of Ambrose’s sermons, and he sought personal counseling from the bishop. But Ambrose was too busy. Visitors were allowed into his room, but he paid scant attention to them. He just went ahead reading. Several times Augustine sat watching him, but Ambrose remained unaware of it. His preaching, however, reached the prodigal, and shortly afterward Augustine was converted.

     Ambrose continued preaching until he fell sick in 397. When distressed friends prayed for his healing, he said, “I have so lived among you that I cannot be ashamed to live longer, but neither do I fear to die; for we have a good Lord.” On Good Friday, April 3, 397, Ambrose lay with his hands extended in the form of the cross, moving his lips in prayer. His friends huddled in sadness and watched. Sometime past midnight their beloved bishop passed to his good Lord.

     Church officials are in charge of God’s work, and so they must also have a good reputation. They must not be bossy, quick-tempered, heavy drinkers, bullies, or dishonest in business. They must stick to the true message they were taught, so that their good teaching can help others and correct everyone who opposes it.
--- Titus 1:7,9.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - April 3

     "They took Jesus, and led him away." --- John 19:16.

     He had been all night in agony, he had spent the early morning at the hall of Caiaphas, he had been hurried from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate; he had, therefore, but little strength left, and yet neither refreshment nor rest were permitted him. They were eager for his blood, and therefore led him out to die, loaded with the cross. O dolorous procession! Well may Salem’s daughters weep. My soul, do thou weep also.

     What learn we here as we see our blessed Lord led forth? Do we not perceive that truth which was set forth in shadow by the scapegoat? Did not the high-priest bring the scapegoat, and put both his hands upon its head, confessing the sins of the people, that thus those sins might be laid upon the goat, and cease from the people? Then the goat was led away by a fit man into the wilderness, and it carried away the sins of the people, so that if they were sought for they could not be found. Now we see Jesus brought before the priests and rulers, who pronounce him guilty; God himself imputes our sins to him, “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all;” “He was made sin for us;” and, as the substitute for our guilt, bearing our sin upon his shoulders, represented by the cross; we see the great Scapegoat led away by the appointed officers of justice. Beloved, can you feel assured that he carried your sin? As you look at the cross upon his shoulders, does it represent your sin? There is one way by which you can tell whether he carried your sin or not. Have you laid your hand upon his head, confessed your sin, and trusted in him? Then your sin lies not on you; it has all been transferred by blessed imputation to Christ, and he bears it on his shoulder as a load heavier than the cross.

     Let not the picture vanish till you have rejoiced in your own deliverance, and adored the loving Redeemer upon whom your iniquities were laid.

          Evening - April 3

     "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."Isaiah 53:6.

     Here a confession of sin common to all the elect people of God. They have all fallen, and therefore, in common chorus, they all say, from the first who entered heaven to the last who shall enter there, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” The confession, while thus unanimous, is also special and particular: “We have turned every one to his own way.” There is a peculiar sinfulness about every one of the individuals; all are sinful, but each one with some special aggravation not found in his fellow. It is the mark of genuine repentance that while it naturally associates itself with other penitents, it also takes up a position of loneliness. “We have turned every one to his own way,” is a confession that each man had sinned against light peculiar to himself, or sinned with an aggravation which he could not perceive in others. This confession is unreserved; there is not a word to detract from its force, nor a syllable by way of excuse. The confession is a giving up of all pleas of self-righteousness. It is the declaration of men who are consciously guilty—guilty with aggravations, guilty without excuse: they stand with their weapons of rebellion broken in pieces, and cry, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Yet we hear no dolorous wailings attending this confession of sin; for the next sentence makes it almost a song. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” It is the most grievous sentence of the three, but it overflows with comfort. Strange is it that where misery was concentrated mercy reigned; where sorrow reached her climax weary souls find rest. The Saviour bruised is the healing of bruised hearts. See how the lowliest penitence gives place to assured confidence through simply gazing at Christ on the cross!

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     April 3


     Isaac Watts, 1674–1748

     Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified Him.
(John 19:17, 18)

     While preparing for a communion service in 1707, Isaac Watts wrote this deeply moving and very personal expression of gratitude for the amazing love that the death of Christ on the cross revealed. It first appeared in print that same year in Watts’ outstanding collection, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. The hymn was originally titled “Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ.” Noted theologian Matthew Arnold called this the greatest hymn in the English language. In Watts’ day, texts such as this, which were based only on personal feelings, were termed “hymns of human composure” and were very controversial, since almost all congregational singing at this time consisted of ponderous repetitions of the Psalms. The unique thoughts presented by Watts in these lines certainly must have pointed the 18th century Christians to a view of the dying Savior in a vivid and memorable way that led them to a deeper worship experience, even as it does for us today.

     Young Watts showed unusual talent at an early age, learning Latin when he was 5, Greek at 9, French at 11 and Hebrew at 12. As he grew up, he became increasingly disturbed by the uninspiring psalm singing in the English churches. He commented, “The singing of God’s praise is the part of worship most closely related to heaven; but its performance among us is the worst on earth.” Throughout his life, Isaac Watts wrote over 600 hymns and is known today as the “father of English hymnody.” His hymns were strong and triumphant statements of the Christian faith, yet none ever equaled the colorful imagery and genuine devotion of this emotionally stirring and magnificent hymn text.

     When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
     Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God; all the vain things that charm me most—I sacrifice them to His blood.
     See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down; did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
     Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small: Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

     For Today: Matthew 26:28; Luke 7:47; Romans 5:6–11; Galatians 6:14.

     Can you say with Isaac Watts: “my soul, my life, my all”? Sing as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

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

          Chapter 07 1 Peter 5: 10, 11 – Part 1

     We come now to an apostolic prayer the contents of which, as a whole, are very sublime. Its contents are remarkably full, and a careful study of, and devout meditation upon it shall be richly repaid. My present task will be rendered the easier since I am making extensive use of Thomas Goodwin's excellent and exhaustive exposition of the passage. He was favored with much light on this portion of Scripture, and I wish to share with my readers what has been of no little help and blessing to me personally.

     There are seven things that we should consider regarding this prayer: (1) the supplicant, for there is an intimate and striking relationship between the experiences of Peter and the terms of his prayer; (2) its setting, for it is closely connected with the context, particularly with verses 6-9; (3) its Object, namely, “the God of all grace”—a title especially dear to His people and most appropriate in this context; (4) its plea, for so ought the clause “who hath called us into his eternal glory by Christ Jesus” to be regarded; (5) its petition, “make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you”; (6) its qualification, “after that ye have suffered a while,” for though that clause precedes the petition, yet it logically follows it when the verse is treated homiletically; and (7) its ascription, “to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

(1 Pe 5:10–11) 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.    ESV

     “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (v. 10). In these words the apostle begins his appeal to Him who is the Fountain of grace, and with such a One to look to the chief of sinners need not despair. Next, he mentions that which gives proof to all believers that He is indeed the God of all grace, namely, His having effectually called them from death to life and having brought them out of nature's darkness into His own marvelous light. Nor is that all, for regeneration is but an earnest of what He has designed and prepared for them, since He has called them to His eternal glory. The realization of that truth moves the Apostle Peter to request that, following a season of testing and affliction, God would complete His work of grace within them. Herein we have it clearly implied that God will preserve His people from apostasy, will move them to persevere to the end, and, notwithstanding all the opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil, will bring them safe to heaven.

          The Supplicant's Experience of Restoring and Preserving Grace

     First let us consider this prayer's supplicant. The one who approached God thus was Simon Peter. While Paul had much more to say about the grace of God than any other of the apostles, it was left to poor Peter to denominate Him “the God of all grace.” We shall not have to seek far in order to discover the reason for this and its appropriateness. While Saul of Tarsus is the outstanding New Testament trophy of saving grace (for king Manasseh is an equally remarkable case in the Old Testament), surely it is Simon who is the most conspicuous New Testament example (David supplies a parallel under the Mosaic era) of the restoring and preserving grace of God. What is it that appears the greater marvel to a Christian, that most moves and melts his heart before God? Is it the grace shown to him while he was dead in sin, that which lifted him out of the miry clay and set him upon and within the Rock of ages? Or is it that grace exercised toward him after conversion that bears with his waywardness, ingratitude, departures from his first love, grievings of the Holy Spirit, dishonorings of Christ; and yet, notwithstanding all, loves him to the end and continues ministering to his every need? If the reader's experience be anything like mine, he will have no difficulty in answering.

     Who but one who has been made painfully sensible of the plague within him, who has had so many sad proofs of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of his own heart, and who has perceived something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin—not only in the light of God's holiness but as it is committed against the dying love of his Savior—can rightly estimate the sad fall of Peter? For he was not only accorded a place of honor among the twelve ambassadors of the King of glory, but was privileged to behold Him on the mount of transfiguration, and was one of the three who witnessed more than any others His agonies in the Garden. And then to hear him, a very short time afterwards, denying his Master and Friend with oaths! Who but one who has personally experienced the “longsuffering of God” (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:9, 15), and has himself been the recipient of His “abundant mercy” (1 Peter 1:3), can really estimate and appreciate the amazing, infinite grace (1) that moved the Savior to look so sorrowfully yet tenderly upon the erring one as to cause him to go forth and “weep bitterly” (Luke 22:62), (2) that led Him to have a private interview with Peter after His resurrection (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5), and (3) that, above all, not only recovered His wandering sheep but restored him to the apostolate (John 21:15-17)? Well might Peter own Christ, together with the Father and the Spirit, as “the God of all grace”!

          The Twin Duties of Christian Pastors

     Secondly, let us ponder the setting of this prayer, for if we closely examine it we shall find that there is much to be learned and admired. Before entering into detail, let us observe the context generally. In the foregoing verses the apostle had been making a series of weighty exhortations. And since those in verses 1 Peter 5:6 through 9 are preceded by Peter's impressing upon the public servants of God their several duties (vv. 1-4), allow me to address a word to them first. Let all Christ's undershepherds emulate the example that is here set before them. Having bidden believers to walk circumspectly, the apostle bent his knees and commended them to the gracious care of their God, seeking for them those mercies that he felt they most needed. The minister of Christ has two principal offices to discharge for those souls that are committed to his care (Heb. 13:17): to speak for God to them, and to supplicate God for them. The seed that the minister sows is not likely to produce much fruit unless he personally waters it with his prayers and tears. It is but a species of hypocrisy for him to exhort his hearers to spend more time in prayer if he be not a frequenter of the throne of grace. The pastor has only fulfilled half his commission when he has faithfully proclaimed all the counsel of God; the other part is to be performed in private.

(1 Pe 5:1–9) So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

          The Twin Duties of Hearers and Students of God's Word

     The same principle holds good equally for those in the pew. The most searching sermon will profit the hearer little or nothing unless it be turned into fervent prayer. So too with what we read! The measure in which God is pleased to bless these chapters to you will be determined by the influence they have upon you and the effects they produce in you—the extent to which they bring you to your knees in earnest supplication seeking power from the Lord. From exhortation the apostle turned to supplication. Let us do likewise, or we shall be left without the necessary strength to obey the precepts. To the various duties inculcated in the context was added this prayer for Divine enablement for the discharge of them, however arduous, and for the patient endurance of every trial, however painful. Observe, too, the blessed contrast between the assaults of the enemy in verses 8 and 9 and the character in which God is here viewed in verses 10 and 11. Is not that designed to teach the saint that he has nothing to fear from his vile adversary so long as he has recourse to Him in whom resides every kind of grace that is needed for his present walk, work, warfare, and witness? Surely this is one of the principal practical lessons to be drawn from this prayer as we view it in the light of its context.

          Our Ability to Resist Satan Depends on Prayer

     Unless we daily look to and cast ourselves upon “the God of all grace,” it is certain that we shall never be able to “resist stedfast in the faith” our adversary the devil, who, “as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (v. 8). And equally sure is it that Divine grace is needed by us if we are to “be sober, be vigilant.” We need strengthening grace that we may successfully resist so powerful a foe as the devil; we need courage-producing grace if we are to do so steadfast in the faith; and we need patience-producing grace in order to meekly bear afflictions. Not only is every kind of grace available for us in God but every measure, so that when we find one exhausted we may obtain a fresh one. One of the reasons why God permits Satan to assail His people so frequently and so fiercely is that they may prove for themselves the efficacy of His grace. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). Then let us bring to Him every pitcher of our needs and draw upon His inexhaustible fullness. Says F. B. Meyer, “The ocean is known by several names, according to the shores it washes, but it is the same ocean. So it is ever the same love of God, though each needy one perceives and admires its special adaptation to his needs.”

          The Remarkable Correspondence Between Peter's Experience and His Exhortation and Prayer

     But, as Thomas Goodwin has shown, there is a yet more definite relation between this prayer and its context, and between both of them and the experience of Peter. The parallels between them are so close and numerous that they cannot be undesigned. In Gethsemane Christ bade His servant, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41), and in his Epistle Peter exhorts the saints, “be sober, be vigilant.” Previously, the Savior had warned him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31)- and as the Puritan expressed it, “and shake forth all grace out of him.” So in verse 8 Peter gives point to his call for sobriety and vigilance by saying, “because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” But in connection with the loving admonition Christ comforted him: “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32). As Goodwin points out, “Faith's not failing is Satan's foiling.” Likewise, the Apostle Peter, in his exhortation, adds, “Whom resist stedfast in the faith”—the gift of faith, as Calvin expounds it. Though Peter's self-confidence and courage failed him, so that he fell, yet his faith delivered him from giving way to abject despair, as Luke 22:61, 62, shows.

     Our Lord concluded His address to Simon by saying, “and when thou art converted [brought back, restored], strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32, brackets mine). Likewise, our apostle wrote, “knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (v. 9); and then he prayed that, after they had suffered awhile, the God of all grace would “perfect [or restore], stablish, strengthen, settle you [them].” He prayed for the same kind of deliverance for them as that which he himself had experienced. Finally, Goodwin observes that Christ, when strengthening Peter's faith against Satan, set His “But I have prayed for thee” over against the worst the enemy could do. Therefore Peter also, after portraying the adversary of the saints in his fiercest character—as “a roaring lion”—brings in by way of contrast these words: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” He thereby assures them that God will be their Guardian, Establisher, and Strengthener. If, notwithstanding his sad lapse, he was recovered and preserved to eternal glory, that is a sure pledge that all the truly regenerate will be also. How admirably Scripture (Luke 22) interprets Scripture (1 Peter 5)!

          God's Choice of Instruments for Writing His Scriptures Amazingly Appropriate

     Before passing on to our next section, let us note and admire how the particular instruments whom God employs as His penmen in communicating His Word were personally qualified and experientially fitted for their several tasks. Who but Solomon was so well suited to write the Book of Ecclesiastes? For he was afforded exceptional opportunities to drink from all the poor cisterns of this world, and then to record the fact that no satisfaction was to be found in them. He thereby provided a fitting background for the Song of Solomon, wherein a Satisfying Object is displayed. How appropriate was the selection of Matthew to be the writer of the first Gospel, for he was the only one of the Twelve who held an official position before his call to the ministry (a tax-gatherer in the employ of the Romans). He of the four Evangelists presents Christ most clearly in His official character as the Messiah and King of Israel. Mark, the one who ministered to another (2 Tim. 4:11), is the one chosen to set forth Christ as the servant of Jehovah. Who was so eminently adapted to write upon the blessed theme of Divine love (as he does throughout his Epistles) as the one who was so highly favored as to lean upon the bosom of God's Beloved? So here, Peter is the one who so feelingly styles the Deity “the God of all grace.” And so it is today. When God calls any man to the ministry, He experientially equips him, qualifying him for the particular work He has for him to do.

A Guide to Fervent Prayer

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Broken Vessels | Lev 6-15

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