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Leviticus 11-12     Psalm 13-14     Proverbs 26     1 Thessalonians 5


Leviticus 11

Clean and Unclean Animals

Leviticus 11:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. 3 Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 4 Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 5 And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 6 And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 7 And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 8 You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.

9 “These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. 10 But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. 11 You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. 12 Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you.

13 “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind, 16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

20 “All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. 21 Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. 22 Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. 23 But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you.

24 “And by these you shall become unclean. Whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, 25 and whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening. 26 Every animal that parts the hoof but is not cloven-footed or does not chew the cud is unclean to you. Everyone who touches them shall be unclean. 27 And all that walk on their paws, among the animals that go on all fours, are unclean to you. Whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, 28 and he who carries their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening; they are unclean to you.

29 “And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground: the mole rat, the mouse, the great lizard of any kind, 30 the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. 31 These are unclean to you among all that swarm. Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until the evening. 32 And anything on which any of them falls when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is an article of wood or a garment or a skin or a sack, any article that is used for any purpose. It must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the evening; then it shall be clean. 33 And if any of them falls into any earthenware vessel, all that is in it shall be unclean, and you shall break it. 34 Any food in it that could be eaten, on which water comes, shall be unclean. And all drink that could be drunk from every such vessel shall be unclean. 35 And everything on which any part of their carcass falls shall be unclean. Whether oven or stove, it shall be broken in pieces. They are unclean and shall remain unclean for you. 36 Nevertheless, a spring or a cistern holding water shall be clean, but whoever touches a carcass in them shall be unclean. 37 And if any part of their carcass falls upon any seed grain that is to be sown, it is clean, 38 but if water is put on the seed and any part of their carcass falls on it, it is unclean to you.

39 “And if any animal which you may eat dies, whoever touches its carcass shall be unclean until the evening, 40 and whoever eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening. And whoever carries the carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening.

41 “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten. 42 Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable. 43 You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. 44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

46 This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, 47 to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.


Leviticus 12

Purification After Childbirth

Leviticus 12:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. 5 But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.

6 “And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, 7 and he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. 8 And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”


Psalm 13

How Long, O LORD?

Psalm 13:1 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

1  How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2  How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3  Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4  lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5  But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6  I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.


Psalm 14

The Fool Says, There Is No God

Psalm 14:1 To The Choirmaster. Of David.

1  The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.

2  The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

3  They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

4  Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the LORD?

5  There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6  You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is his refuge.

7  Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.


Proverbs 26

Proverbs 26:1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
so honor is not fitting for a fool.
2  Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
a curse that is causeless does not alight.
3  A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the back of fools.
4  Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
5  Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
6  Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
7  Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless,
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
8  Like one who binds the stone in the sling
is one who gives honor to a fool.
9  Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
10  Like an archer who wounds everyone
is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
11  Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
12  Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
13  The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
14  As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
15  The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.
16  The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.
17  Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
18  Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
19  is the man who deceives his neighbor
and says, “I am only joking!”
20  For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
21  As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
22  The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
23  Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24  Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
25  when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart;
26  though his hatred be covered with deception,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27  Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
28  A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.


1 Thessalonians 5

The Day of the Lord

1 Thessalonians 5:1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Final Instructions and Benediction

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

With Heart and Mind

By R.C. Sproul Jr. 4/1/2002

     Reformed folk have not earned a reputation for hearts overflowing with love. We tend to be the cerebral ones, very careful to dot our theological I’s and cross our philosophical T’s. Given our peculiar gift, it is no small wonder that we react to the charge of having cold hearts with carefully reasoned arguments. Sometimes we stack syllogism upon syllogism to prove our warmth; other times we stack syllogism upon syllogism to prove that warm hearts are a bad thing to begin with. But all too often, the charges against us are true. Instead of constructing another argument, the proper thing is to repent and beseech God to inflame our hearts.

     Our brothers in the charismatic movement have different problems and strengths, but they are not often accused of being cold. Perhaps, then, we Reformed might learn something from them.

     As we compare our strengths, we need to see that they are but strengths. Charismatics are not ignoramuses with hearts bursting with love. Reformed folk are not eggheads with hearts made of ice. But such doesn’t mean that these tendencies don’t exist. And that they exist is not an excuse for a happy relativism. The answer to having half an equation cannot be found by affirming that both answers are half right. In short, all Christians need to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths.

     Sound theology doesn’t deaden the heart. Neither does great zeal fuzzy up the mind. This is not a zero-sum game we are playing. We study carefully the things of God so that we might better love Him with reckless abandon. And our love for Him should drive us to precision in our study of Him. The mind ought not to say to the heart, “What need have I of thee?” and the heart should not speak such to the mind.

     It is our contention that when it comes to the sign gifts, our charismatic brothers have not been sufficiently careful in their thinking. But we want also to give credit where it is due. We do have much to learn from our friends. Together we live coram Deo, before the face of God. Such a truth ought to melt our hearts of ice. Such a truth ought to drive us to praise. But it also ought to drive us to care in handling His Word. May we all be whole Christians, giving Him all that we are, in grateful adoration.

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

R.C. Sproul Jr. Books

The Holy Spirit

By Patrick Lennox 4/1/2002

     Are you Spirit-filled? Have you received the “second blessing”? Are you seeking it? For many, these questions have become the litmus test for the true Christian experience. Sadly, questions such as these leave many confused and disheartened as they await their “personal” Pentecost. Even worse, they lead to complacency about pneumatology, the study of the Holy Spirit.

     Ironically, in a time when the Holy Spirit’s popularity is at an all-time high, “communion with Him in a developing knowledge of Him is much less frequently explored.” So writes Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson in The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology), a volume of the Contours of Christian Theology series. The book offers refreshment to those pursuing “intimate communion with Him by whom we are brought to worship, glorify and obey the Father and the Son.”

     Ferguson, a former professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and now minister of St. George’s-Tron Parish Church in Glasgow, Scotland, traces the person and work of the Spirit theologically, redemptive-historically, and devotionally, leaving the reader Biblically reacquainted with the third person of the Trinity. We are introduced to the Spirit during His work at creation. We meet Him again later as the “executive of Exodus,” and again in Isaiah 63:10 as the One who was grieved. We receive comfort from the Paraclete, “[who] comes as the Spirit of Christ in such a way that to possess Him is to possess Christ Himself.”

     This book also provides a sober assessment of contemporary issues, such as tongues and prophecy, in light of Scripture. Special attention is given to the modern continuationist/cessationist debate.

     The book’s readability is characteristic of the Contours series. The language is a masterful blend of precision and eloquence. The usage of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin is insightful without being overly “technical.” Another feature is a six-page reading list for further study.

     The Holy Spirit, published by InterVarsity Press, is recommended to laity and clergy alike.

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The Puritans: Jeremiah Burroughs

By Tim Challies 7/21/2013

     Jeremiah Burroughs was a man of conviction and a faithful pastor. Born in 1600, he was tutored by Thomas Hooker and educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. After graduating with a Master of Arts degree in 1624 he went into ministry in England, serving first as a pastoral assistant in Suffolk and then as a rector in Norfolk. Burroughs lost his job in Norfolk because, for reasons of conscience, he could not obey several dictates from the bishop, including the requirement that he read King James’ The Book of Sports in church, which declared dancing, archery and other recreations permissible on the Lord’s Day.

     From 1638-1640 Burroughs lived in Rotterdam, Netherlands, serving as teacher in a congregation of English Independents who had relocated there.

     Then, from 1640 until his death in 1646, Burroughs was back in England, serving as pastor of two of the largest congregations in London. It was at this time that he became recognized as a great preacher and leading Puritan. Thomas Brooks called him “a prince of preachers,” and the House of Commons and House of Lords invited him to preach before them several times.

     In 1646 Burroughs died from complications resulting from a fall from his horse.

     Unique Contribution | Burroughs was an Independent–an Anglican who believed church and state should be separate and local congregations should be autonomous. This set him at odds with Presbyterians on how churches should be governed. This was a contentious issue in England in his day and led to much strife and division personally, politically, and ecclesiastically.

     Burroughs, however, was a stabilizing force who acted in moderation in his support of Independency. On his study door was the motto, in Latin and Greek, “Opinionum varietas et opinantium unitas non sunt hasustata…” which translates to “Variety of opinion and unity of opinion are not incompatible.” This was Burroughs’ way of affirming the authenticity of faith in other denominations, as well as the unity of the global church, while at the same time freeing him to advocate for beliefs that were not yet held by all.

     Richard Baxter wrote, “If all the Episcopalians had been like Archbishop Ussher, all the Presbyterians like Stephen Marshall, and all the Independents like Jeremiah Burroughs, the breaches of the church would soon have been healed.”

     If You Read Just One | If you are going to read just one work by Jeremiah Burroughs, make it The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment. This, of all his works, has stood the test of time as a truly unique work. It is among the very first Puritan works I read and one that made a deep impact in my life.

     Follow the link below to read the rest of the article. R.C. Sproul recommends Gospel Worship: The Right Way of Drawing Near to God.

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Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:

I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

The Gift of the Spirit

By Jim Fitzgerald 4/1/2002

     Callers to a psychiatric hotline heard the following message:

     “If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly. If you are co-dependent, please ask someone else to press 2. If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6. If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want—just stay on the line so we can trace the call. If you are an evangelical, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.”

     It’s true, isn’t it? Many in the church today seem to rely more on a little voice than on the Bible as their rule of faith and life. However, as our little anecdote above suggests, this is not so much error as it is madness. Indeed, John Calvin made just this assertion, saying: “Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much under the influence of error as madness. For certain giddy men have lately appeared, who, while they make a great display of the superiority of the Spirit, reject all reading of the Scriptures themselves, and deride the simplicity of those who only delight in what they call the dead and deadly letter” (Institutes of the Christian Religion).

     The seriousness of this madness is little understood. The Scriptures say that when God spoke to Moses, the people saw thunder and lightning, heard the trumpet, and beheld the mountain in smoke, and so they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “ ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die’ ” (Ex. 20:18–19). As John Frame has correctly said, “People who want God to speak directly to them without mediation don’t know what they are asking for.”

     More than that, they don’t know what they are missing. Scripture is an incomparable gift from God. As B.B. Warfield has said, “The fundamental fact in all revelation is that it is from God”—He is the “Divine Giver.” However, those who emphasize spiritual gifts often overlook the more important and enduring gift of God’s Word. In the Scriptures, God has bestowed a wonderful treasure on the church, a gift of immeasurable worth. It would be hard to overestimate the value of this gift since the Scriptures say that God has exalted His Word above His name (Ps. 138:2). Thus, those who exult in private, subjective, and individualized revelation not only denigrate the Scriptures, they dishonor God’s name.

     Scripture is also inseparably linked to the Spirit. The apostle Peter says that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21). The concept of Word apart from the Spirit is foreign in the Scriptures; it is always Word and Spirit (Spiritus cum verbo). This is an unbreakable bond. So those who most value the work of the Spirit are the same as those who most appreciate the Scriptures. Likewise, those who insist that the Spirit speaks apart from the Scriptures end up denying what they wish to affirm.

     The Westminster divines avoided this trap when they wrote that, “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” (Westminster Confession of Faith, I, 10). As John Murray has rightly said, the expression “the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” is to remind us that Scripture is not a dead letter but the living and abiding language of the Holy Spirit. Far from a dead letter, “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). So those who want to honor the Spirit will not revel in private, subjective, and individualized revelation. Rather, they will rejoice in the inseparable link between Word and Spirit.

     Finally, Scripture is supernatural. Anyone who really esteems the supernatural must hold Scripture in the highest regard. Scripture is supernatural in both its source and mode. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16). This means that Scripture is supernatural in its source. In times past, God spoke in various ways or modes, each of which was supernatural—He revealed Himself in theophanies, dreams, and visions. He put His Word in the mouths of the prophets and in Balaam’s beast alike. The inert stones were prepared to cry out should these other means hold their silence. Each of these modes is absolutely supernatural. And the written Word is no less supernatural. Again, those who wish to argue for the continuation of supernatural revelation today need to consider the supernatural nature of the finality of Scripture.

     In the final analysis, the church is richer, not poorer, for having the completed canon of Scripture instead of continuing private, subjective, individualized revelation. In the finality of Scripture there are inexhaustible treasures given to the church by God, inseparably linked to the Holy Spirit, and supernatural in source and mode. Let all those who seek a deeper appreciation of the gifts, the Spirit, and the supernatural find these blessings in the finality of the Scriptures.

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     Rev. Jim Fitzgerald served as the senior pastor of Covenant Prestyerian Church in Winter Park, FL.

Zeal Without Knowledge

By R.C. Sproul 4/1/2002

     Many people are surprised, and some are shocked, when they hear of my involvement in the charismatic movement years ago.

     It began in 1965, shortly after I returned from graduate study in Holland to teach philosophy and theology at my alma mater. Some of my senior students who were preparing for ministry kept talking to me excitedly about their experiences with the Holy Spirit and about receiving the gift of tongues. My first response was profound skepticism, because my only previous experience had been with hardcore Pentecostals whose views of sanctification I deemed aberrant. Soon, however, the sheer number of my students involved in this phenomenon, coupled with their high level of competence as students, provoked me to give them the “philosophy of the second glance.” I also saw reports that tongues-speaking was breaking out in mainline denominations such as the Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches. Reports of outbreaks at Notre Dame and at Duquesne University also piqued my curiosity.

     I began meeting with my students to discuss the matter at my home. These meetings became regular times of prayer that lasted several hours or, on at least one occasion, all night. Because of the marvelous ardor for prayer these students displayed, I began to wonder whether I was missing something in my own spiritual life.

     My attention then turned to the New Testament, particularly to Paul’s teaching on tongues in 1 Corinthians. In chapters 12–14, Paul deals with abuses of tongues in the Corinthian church and rebukes those who had elevated their gifts over those of others. It was clear that Paul did not put tongues, or glossolalia, at the apex of gifts and did not teach tongues as an indispensable sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

     In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul gives detailed instructions about the use of tongues. Though he warns sharply against many abuses of tongues, he does not outlaw their use. Indeed, he explicitly says, “do not forbid to speak with tongues” (v. 39b). Paul also writes: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied” (vv. 4– 5a). Paul clearly is teaching the comparative superiority of prophecy over tongues. But he is comparing the good and the better, not the good and the bad.

     Two things struck me in this passage. The first is that Paul says tongues are edifying for the individual. As a Christian, I certainly wanted everything the Holy Spirit had available to me. Second, the apostle says he wishes all the Corinthian Christians speak with tongues. Even though he also expresses his preference for prophecy, he still asserts his desire that all speak in tongues. Finally, in verse 18, Paul says, “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.”

     Since Paul was a tongues-speaker and expressed his desire for all to speak in tongues, I took this to mean that I should pursue this spiritual gift.

     The major obstacle I still faced was the question of whether what was happening in the contemporary charismatic movement was indeed a revival of the New Testament gifts. That is, was the modern outbreak of glossolalia the same thing that was practiced in the apostolic church? I found this to be an extremely difficult question to answer given the paucity of references to the phenomenon throughout church history, save for its dawn among deeply heretical groups such as the Montanists.

     In any case, I sought the gift and soon was able to join my friends in praying in tongues. But I found no great edification from it and still preferred to pray with understanding.

     In the meantime, I continued to investigate the question of whether this was the New Testament phenomenon. As the movement expanded, reports began to come in of people in non-Christian religions practicing “tongues.” There were also reports that tongues had been identified as known foreign languages, but none of these reports was verified.

     As time passed, several things became clear. First, a neo-Pentecostal theology was becoming popular. Though not monolithic among charismatics, it stressed tongues-speaking as a necessary and indispensable sign of the Biblical concept of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It also was marked by fantastic claims of miracles and supernatural prophecies with new revelation. The more interpretations of tongues-speaking and prophecies I heard, the more false doctrine and false prophecy I heard. Several people spoke “prophecies” to me about specific things that would occur within a specific time period. Every single prophecy of that sort failed to materialize. I heard manifestly false doctrine, doctrine in clear antithesis to Scripture, being urged upon people via tongues interpretations. Extravagant claims of miracles that I was able to investigate proved to be unfounded. Something obviously was deeply wrong with the picture. In short, the charismatic movement was not delivering the goods.

     More and more people were seeking to live the Christian life on the basis of subjective feelings rather than on the Word. I saw a strong revival of “Deeper Life” type views of sanctification that promised Christians a special second work of grace by which they could live the “victorious” Christian life through being “filled with the Spirit.”

     The church now had two classes of Christians—those who were baptized in the Spirit and those who were not; those who were “spirit-filled” and those who were not. This dichotomy, I became convinced, not only was not taught in the New Testament but was contrary to what is taught there. I came to realize that the charismatic view of the Day of Pentecost represented a distortion of its Biblical significance. The charismatic view of Pentecost was a low one, not a high one.

     I began to see that anyone who is uninhibited enough can utter unintelligible sounds while in a posture of prayer. I don’t doubt anyone’s experience of praying in such a fashion, but I am concerned it is not a supernatural event and is not the same as what was experienced in the early church.

     My final departure from the movement came when I realized that I must live by the Word, as the Spirit never works against the Word but always with it and through it.

     I still enjoy fellowship with my charismatic friends and delight in their love for prayer. I am grateful for the real revival in interest in the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church that this movement has spawned. However, I am very concerned about the false doctrine it has brought in its wake.

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

R.C. Sproul Books:

Leviticus 11-12; Psalms 13-14; Prov. 26; 1 Thess. 5

By Don Carson 4/8/2018

     In this meditation I want to bring two passages together: “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45); “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1).

     What does holy mean? When the angels cry “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty” (Isa. 6:3; cf. Rev. 4:8), do they mean “Moral, moral, moral is the LORD Almighty”? Or “Separate, separate, separate is the LORD Almighty”? Just to ask such questions demonstrates how inadequate such common definitions of holy really are.

     At its core, holy is almost an adjective corresponding to the noun God. God is God; God is holy. He is unique; there is no other. Then, derivatively, that which belongs exclusively to him is designated holy. These may be things as easily as people: certain censers are holy; certain priestly garments are holy; certain accouterments are holy, not because they are moral, and certainly not because they are themselves divine, but because in this derivative sense they are restricted in their use to God and his purposes, and thus are separate from other use. When people are holy, they are holy for the same reason: they belong to God, serve him and function with respect to his purposes. (Occasionally in the Old Testament there is a further extension of the term to refer to the realm of the sacred, such that even pagan priests can in this sense be called holy. But this further extension does not concern us here.)

     If people conduct themselves in a certain way because they belong to God, we may say that their conduct is moral. When Peter quotes these words, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), the entailment, in his context, is a turning away from “evil desires” (1:14) and living life “in reverent fear” (1:17). But it is no accident that these words in Leviticus 11 are found not in a context of moral commands and prohibitions but of ceremonial restrictions dealing with clean and unclean foods. For belonging to God, living on his terms, reserving ourselves for him, delighting in him, obeying him, honoring him — these are more fundamental than the specifics of obedience that we label moral or ceremonial.

     Indeed, this stance is so basic in God’s universe that only the fool says, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). This is the precise opposite of holiness, the most conspicuous and fundamental demonstration, “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile” (14:1).

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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 37

He Will Not Forsake His Saints
37 Of David.

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     4. I know that the Sophists abuse some passages in order to prove that the Scriptures use the term merit with reference to God. They quote a passage from Ecclesiasticus: "Mercy will give place to every man according to the merit of his works," (Ecclesiasticus 16:14); and from the Epistle to the Hebrews: "To do good and communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased," (Heb. 13:16). I now renounce my right to repudiate the authority of Ecclesiasticus; but I deny that the words of Ecclesiasticus, whoever the writer may have been, are faithfully quoted. The Greek is as follows: Pa'se eleemosu'ne poie'sei to'pon` e'kastos ga'r kata` ta` e'rga autou eure'sei. "He will make room for all mercy: for each shall find according to his works." That this is the genuine reading, and has been corrupted in the Latin version, is plain, both from the very structure of the sentence, and from the previous context. In the Epistle to the Hebrews there is no room for their quibbling on one little word, for in the Greek the Apostle simply says, that such sacrifices are pleasing and acceptable to God. This alone should amply suffice to quell and beat down the insolence of our pride, and prevent us from attaching value to works beyond the rule of Scripture. It is the doctrine of Scripture, moreover, that our good works are constantly covered with numerous stains by which God is justly offended and made angry against us, so far are they from being able to conciliate him, and call forth his favor towards us; and yet because of his indulgence, he does not examine them with the utmost strictness, he accepts them just as if they were most pure; and therefore rewards them, though undeserving, with innumerable blessings, both present and future. For I admit not the distinction laid down by otherwise learned and pious men, that good works merit the favors which are conferred upon us in this life, whereas eternal life is the reward of faith only. The recompense of our toils, and crown of our contest, our Lord almost uniformly places in heaven. On the other hand, to attribute to the merit of works, so as to deny it to grace, that we are loaded with other gifts from the Lord, is contrary to the doctrine of Scripture. For though Christ says, "Unto every one that has shall be given;" "thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things," (Mt. 25:29, 21), he, at the same time, shows that all additional gifts to believers are of his free benignity: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that has no money, come ye, buy, and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price," (Isaiah 55:1). Therefore, every help to salvation bestowed upon believers, and blessedness itself, are entirely the gift of God, and yet in both the Lord testifies that he takes account of works, since to manifest the greatness of his love toward us, he thus highly honors not ourselves only, but the gifts, which he has bestowed upon us.

5. Had these points been duly handled and digested in past ages, never could so many tumults and dissensions have arisen. Paul says, that in the architecture of Christian doctrine, it is necessary to retain the foundation which he had laid with the Corinthians, "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ," (1 Cor. 3:11). What then is our foundation in Christ? Is it that he begins salvation and leaves us to complete it? Is it that he only opened up the way, and left us to follow it in our own strength? By no means, but as Paul had a little before declared, it is to acknowledge that he has been given us for righteousness. No man, therefore, is well founded in Christ who has not entire righteousness in him, since the Apostle says not that he was sent to assist us in procuring, but was himself to be our righteousness. Thus, it is said that God "has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world," not according to our merit, but "according to the good pleasure of his will;" that in him "we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins;" that peace has been made "through the blood of his cross;" that we are reconciled by his blood; that, placed under his protection, we are delivered from the danger of finally perishing; that thus ingrafted into him we are made partakers of eternal life, and hope for admission into the kingdom of God. [430] Nor is this all. Being admitted to participation in him, though we are still foolish, he is our wisdom; though we are still sinners he is our righteousness; though we are unclean, he is our purity; though we are weak, unarmed, and exposed to Satan, yet ours is the power which has been given him in heaven and in earth, to bruise Satan under our feet, and burst the gates of hell (Mt. 28:18); though we still bear about with us a body of death, he is our life; in short, all things of his are ours, we have all things in him, he nothing in us. On this foundation, I say, we must be built, if we would grow up into a holy temple in the Lord.

6. For a long time the world has been taught very differently. A kind of good works called moral has been found out, by which men are rendered agreeable to God before they are ingrafted into Christ; as if Scripture spoke falsely when it says, "He that has the Son has life, and he that has not the Son of God has not life," (1 John 5:12). How can they produce the materials of life if they are dead? Is there no meaning in its being said that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin?" (Rom. 14:23); or can good fruit be produced from a bad tree? What have these most pestilential Sophists left to Christ on which to exert his virtue? They say that he merited for us the first grace, that is, the occasion of meriting, and that it is our part not to let slip the occasion thus offered. O the daring effrontery of impiety! Who would have thought that men professing the name of Christ would thus strip him of his power, and all but trample him under foot? The testimony uniformly borne to him in Scripture is that whose believeth in him is justified; the doctrine of these men is, that the only benefit which proceeds from him is to open up a way for each to justify himself. I wish they could get a taste of what is meant by these passages: "He that hath the Son hath life." "He that hearth my word, and believeth in him that sent me," "is passed from death unto life." Whose believeth in him "is passed from death unto life." "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." "He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him." God "has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ." "Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." [431] There are similar passages without number. Their meaning is not, that by faith in Christ an opportunity is given us of procuring justifications or acquiring salvation, but that both are given us. Hence, so soon as you are ingrafted into Christ by faith, you are made a son of God, an heir of heaven, a partaker of righteousness, a possessor of life, and (the better to manifest the false tenets of these men) you have not obtained an opportunity of meriting, but all the merits of Christ, since they are communicated to you.

7. In this way the schools of Sorbonne, the parents of all heresies, have deprived us of justification by faith, which lies at the root of all godliness. They confess, indeed, in word, that men are justified by a formed faith, but they afterwards explain this to mean that of faith they have good works which avail to justification, so that they almost seem to use the term faith in mockery, because they were unable, without incurring great obloquy, to pass it in silence, seeing it is so often repeated by Scripture. And yet not contented with this, they by the praise of good works transfer to man what they steal from God. And seeing that good works give little ground for exultation, and are not even properly called merits, if they are regarded as the fruits of divine grace, they derive them from the power of free-will; in other words extract oil out of stone. They deny not that the principal cause is in grace; but they contend that there is no exclusion of free-will through which all merit comes. This is the doctrine, not only of the later Sophists, but of Lombard their Pythagoras (Sent. Lib. 2, Dist. 28), who, in comparison of them, may be called sound and sober. It was surely strange blindness, while he had Augustine so often in his mouth, not to see how cautiously he guarded against ascribing a single particle of praise to man because of good works. Above, when treating of free-will, we quoted some passages from him to this effect, and similar passages frequently occur in his writings (see in Psal. 104; Ep. 105), as when he forbids us ever to boast of our merits, because they themselves also are the gifts of God, and when he says that all our merits are only of grace, are not provided by our sufficiency, but are entirely the production of grace, &c. It is less strange that Lombard was blind to the light of Scripture, in which it is obvious that he had not been a very successful student. [432] Still there cannot be a stronger declaration against him and his disciples than the words of the Apostles who, after interdicting all Christians from glorying, subjoins the reason why glorying is unlawful: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them," (Eph. 2:10). Seeing, then, that no good proceeds from us unless in so far as we are regenerated--and our regeneration is without exception wholly of God--there is no ground for claiming to ourselves one iota in good works. Lastly, while these men constantly inculcate good works, they, at the same time, train the conscience in such a way as to prevent it from venturing to confide that works will render God favorable and propitious. We, on the contrary, without any mention of merit, give singular comfort to believers when we teach them that in their works they please, and doubtless are accepted of God. Nay, here we even insist that no man shall attempt or enter upon any work without faith, that is, unless he previously have a firm conviction that it will please God.

8. Wherefore, let us never on any account allow ourselves to be drawn away one nail's breadth [433] from that only foundation. After it is laid, wise architects build upon it rightly and in order. For whether there is need of doctrine or exhortation, they remind us that "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil;" that "whosoever is born of God does not commit sin;" that "the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles;" that the elect of God are vessels of mercy, appointed "to honor," purged, "sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work." The whole is expressed at once, when Christ thus describes his disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." [434] He who has denied himself has cut off the root of all evils so as no longer to seek his own; he who has taken up his cross has prepared himself for all meekness and endurance. The example of Christ includes this and all offices of piety and holiness. He obeyed his Father even unto death; his whole life was spent in doing the works of God; his whole soul was intent on the glory of his Father; he laid down his life for the brethren; he did good to his enemies, and prayed for them. And when there is need of comfort, it is admirably afforded in these words: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." " For if we be dead with him we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him;" by means of "the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;" the Father having predestinated us "to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren." Hence it is, that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord;" [435] nay, rather all things will work together for our good. See how it is that we do not justify men before God by works, but say, that all who are of God are regenerated and made new creatures, so that they pass from the kingdom of sin into the kingdom of righteousness. In this way they make their calling sure, and, like trees, are judged by their fruits.

__________________________________________________________________

[430] 1. Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:3-5; Col. 1:14, 20; John 1:12; 10:28.

[431] John 5:12; John 5:24; Rom. 3:24; John 3:24; Eph. 2:6; Col. 1:13

[432] French, "d'autant qu'il n'y estoit gueres exercité;"--inasmuch as he was little versant in it.

[433] French, "ne fust ce que de la pointe d'une sepingle;"--were it only a pin's point.

[434] John 3:8; 1 Pet. 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:20, 21; Luke 9:23.

[435] 2 Cor. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:11; Phil. 3:10; Rom. 7:29, 39.

__________________________________________________________________

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



  • Steven Lawson
  • Steven Lawson
  • Lawson, Nichols, Sproul

#1 The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther | Ligonier

 

#2 Blessing and Curse | Ligonier

 

#3 2014 Regional Conference Q&A 1 | Ligonier

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     12/1/2007    Two Kingdoms

     What is the kingdom of God? It’s a simple question, yet if I were to ask that same question to a hundred theologians I would likely get a hundred different answers. The kingdom of God is not some sort of ancient or obsolete doctrine that no one has ever heard of. Rather, it is something we hear about all the time as a fundamental component of Jesus’ teaching and a primary theme throughout sacred Scripture. Although few would admit it, when most Christians think about the kingdom of God, their minds are strained to conceive of anything beyond some ethereal notion of mustard seeds, lost coins, different soils, and undefined future bliss.

     However, when it comes right down to it, the kingdom of God should be more simple to define than just about any other theological term. It’s quite plain really: God reigns. Or, to say it another way: The kingdom of God is the omnipotent rule and sovereign reign of Almighty God over all things, the inauguration of which came with the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus and the fullness of which is yet to come.

     Nevertheless, while it is important to have a good, biblical answer to the question, what is the kingdom of God? it is just as important to have an honest answer to the question, whose kingdom do you serve? These are the questions that are at the very heart of the Sermon on the Mount: Are you the king of your own kingdom? Are you the self-appointed potentate of your own, private little empire? You may answer with a hearty no, but does your life demonstrate that you are a servant of God or a servant of self? We all certainly want to be part of the kingdom, but most Christians want to serve the kingdom on their own terms.

     As divinely appointed citizens of the kingdom of God we are foreigners in the kingdom of this world. We are real characters in the real story of redemptive history in real space and real time who have been summoned to follow the King of kings as servants, saints, and soldiers - coram Deo, before His face, in life and in death. Augustine understood this well: “We want to reach the kingdom of God, but we don’t want to travel by way of death. And yet there stands necessity saying: ‘This way, please.’ Do not hesitate, man, to go this way, when this is the way that God came to you.”

     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

     Five Star General Omar Bradley died this day, April 8, 1981. During World War II, he commanded the Army in North Africa and in 1944, led the 12th Army Group in France and Germany, which consisted of one million men in four armies. In 1950, he became the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Omar Bradley stated: “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount…. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


The readiest way to escape from our sufferings is, to be willing they should endure as long as God pleases.
--- John Wesley
Living Thoughts of John Wesley: A Comprehensive Selection of the Living Thoughts of the Founder of Methodism As Contained in His Miscellaneous Works

Jesus didn't save you so you could cruise to heaven in a luxury liner. He wants you to be useful in His kingdom! The moment you got saved, He enrolled you in His school the school of suffering and affliction.
--- David Wilkerson
Hungry for More of Jesus: Experiencing His Presence in These Troubled Times

God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice.
--- John Donne
The Works of John Donne, D.D. Dean of Saint Paul's, 1621-1631: With a Memoir of His Life, Volume 3

Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent.
--- Issac Asimov
Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, July 1983 (Vol. 7, No. 7) (Whole 67)

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 4/8
     University of Virginia Libray 1994

     Tenth of fifth month. -- It being the first day of the week and fine weather, we had a meeting in the cabin, at which most of the seamen were present; this meeting was to me a strengthening time. 13th. -- As I continue to lodge in the steerage I feel an openness this morning to express something further of the state of my mind in respect to poor lads bound apprentice to learn the art of sailing. As I believe sailing is of use in the world, a labor of soul attends me that the pure counsel of truth may be humbly waited for in this case by all concerned in the business of the seas. A pious father whose mind is exercised for the everlasting welfare of his child may not with a peaceable mind place him out to an employment among a people whose common course of life is manifestly corrupt and profane. Great is the present defect among seafaring men in regard to virtue and piety; and, by reason of an abundant traffic and many ships being used for war, so many people are employed on the sea that the subject of placing lads to this employment appears very weighty.

     When I remember the saying of the Most High through his prophet, "This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise," and think of placing children among such to learn the practice of sailing, the consistency of it with a pious education seems to me like that mentioned by the prophet, "There is no answer from God."

     Profane examples are very corrupting and very forcible. And as my mind day after day and night after night hath been affected with a sympathizing tenderness towards poor children who are put to the employment of sailors, I have sometimes had weighty conversation with the sailors in the steerage, who were mostly respectful to me and became more so the longer I was with them. They mostly appeared to take kindly what I said to them; but their minds were so deeply impressed with the almost universal depravity among sailors that the poor creatures in their answers to me have revived in my remembrance that of the degenerate Jews a little before the captivity, as repeated by Jeremiah the prophet, "There is no hope."

     Now under this exercise a sense of the desire of outward gain prevailing among us felt grievous; and a strong call to the professed followers of Christ was raised in me that all may take heed lest, through loving this present world, they be found in a continued neglect of duty with respect to a faithful labor for reformation.

     To silence every motion proceeding from the love of money and humbly to wait upon God to know his will concerning us have appeared necessary. He alone is able to strengthen us to dig deep, to remove all which lies between us and the safe foundation, and so to direct us in our outward employments, that pure universal love may shine forth in our proceedings. Desires arising from the spirit of truth are pure desires; and when a mind divinely opened towards a young generation is made sensible of corrupting examples powerfully working and extensively spreading among them, how moving is the prospect! In a world of dangers and difficulties, like a desolate, thorny wilderness, how precious, how comfortable, how safe, are the leadings of Christ the good Shepherd, who said, "I know my sheep, and am known of mine!"

John Woolman's Journal

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Thirtieth Chapter / The Quest Of Divine Help And Confidence In Regaining Grace

     THE VOICE OF CHRIST

     MY CHILD, I am the Lord Who gives strength in the day of trouble. Come to Me when all is not well with you. Your tardiness in turning to prayer is the greatest obstacle to heavenly consolation, for before you pray earnestly to Me you first seek many comforts and take pleasure in outward things. Thus, all things are of little profit to you until you realize that I am the one Who saves those who trust in Me, and that outside of Me there is no worth-while help, or any useful counsel or lasting remedy.

     But now, after the tempest, take courage, grow strong once more in the light of My mercies; for I am near, says the Lord, to restore all things not only to the full but with abundance and above measure. Is anything difficult for Me? Or shall I be as one who promises and does not act? Where is your faith? Stand firm and persevere. Be a man of endurance and courage, and consolation will come to you in due time. Wait for Me; wait—and I will come to heal you.

     It is only a temptation that troubles you, a vain fear that terrifies you.

     Of what use is anxiety about the future? Does it bring you anything but trouble upon trouble? Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. It is foolish and useless to be either grieved or happy about future things which perhaps may never happen. But it is human to be deluded by such imaginations, and the sign of a weak soul to be led on by suggestions of the enemy. For he does not care whether he overcomes you by love of the present or fear of the future.

     Let not your heart be troubled, therefore, nor let it be afraid. Believe in Me and trust in My mercy. When you think you are far from Me, then often I am very near you. When you judge that almost all is lost, then very often you are in the way of gaining great merit.

     All is not lost when things go contrary to your wishes. You ought not judge according to present feelings, nor give in to any trouble whenever it comes, or take it as though all hope of escape were lost. And do not consider yourself forsaken if I send some temporary hardship, or withdraw the consolation you desire. For this is the way to the kingdom of heaven, and without doubt it is better for you and the rest of My servants to be tried in adversities than to have all things as you wish. I know your secret thoughts, and I know that it is profitable for your salvation to be left sometimes in despondency lest perhaps you be puffed up by success and fancy yourself to be what you are not.

     What I have given, I can take away and restore when it pleases Me. What I give remains Mine, and thus when I take it away I take nothing that is yours, for every good gift and every perfect gift is Mine.

     If I send you trouble and adversity, do not fret or let your heart be downcast. I can raise you quickly up again and turn all your sorrow into joy. I am no less just and worthy of great praise when I deal with you in this way.

     If you think aright and view things in their true light, you should never be so dejected and saddened by adversity, but rather rejoice and give thanks, considering it a matter of special joy that I afflict you with sorrow and do not spare you.
“As the Father hath loved Me, so also I love you,” I said to My disciples, and I certainly did not send them out to temporal joys but rather to great struggles, not to honors but to contempt, not to idleness, but to labors, not to rest but to bring forth much fruit in patience. Do you, My child, remember these words.

The Imitation Of Christ

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

     Then comes my fifth thought, and it is this--This holy partnership with the Holy Spirit in this work becomes a matter of consciousness and of action.

     These men, what did they do? They set apart Paul and Barnabas, and then it is written of the two that they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia. Oh, what fellowship! The Holy Spirit in Heaven doing part of the work, men on earth doing the other part. After the ordination of the men upon earth, it is written in God's inspired Word that they were sent forth by the Holy Spirit.

     And see how this partnership calls to new prayer and fasting. They had for a certain time been ministering to the Lord and fasting, perhaps days; and the Holy Spirit speaks, and they have to do the work and to enter into partnership, and at once they come together for more prayer and fasting. That is the spirit in which they obey the command of their Lord. And that teaches us that it is not only in the beginning of our Christian work, but all along that we need to have our strength in prayer. If there is one thought with regard to the Church of Christ, which at times comes to me with overwhelming sorrow; if there is one thought in regard to my own life of which I am ashamed; if there is one thought of which I feel that the Church of Christ has not accepted it and not grasped it; if there is one thought which makes me pray to God:

     "Oh, teach us by Thy grace, new things"--it is the wonderful power that prayer is meant to have in the kingdom. We have so little availed ourselves of it.

     We have all read the expression of Christian in Bunyan's great work, when he found he had the key in his breast that should unlock the dungeon. We have the key that can unlock the dungeon of atheism and of heathendom. But, oh! we are far more occupied with our work than we are with prayer. We believe more in speaking to men than we believe in speaking to God. Learn from these men that the work which the Holy Spirit commands must call us to new fasting and prayer, to new separation from the spirit and the pleasures of the world, to new consecration to God and to His fellowship. Those men gave themselves up to fasting and prayer, and if in all our ordinary Christian work there were more prayer, there would be more blessing in our own inner life. If we felt and proved and testified to the world that our only strength lay in keeping every minute in contact with Christ, every minute allowing God to work in us--if that were our spirit, would not, by the grace of God, our lives be holier? Would not they be more abundantly fruitful?


Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)

Proverbs 14:16-17
     by D.H. Stern

16     A wise person fears and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and overconfident.

17     He who is quick-tempered does stupid things,
and one who does vile things is hated.


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

          11

     ‘But, Pam, do think! Don’t you see you are not beginning at all as long as you are in that state of mind? You’re treating God only as a means to Michael. But the whole thickening treatment consists in learning to want God for His own sake.’

     ‘You wouldn’t talk like that if you were a mother.’

     ‘You mean, if I were only a mother. But there is no such thing as being only a mother. You exist as Michael’s mother only because you first exist as God’s creature. That relation is older and closer. No, listen, Pam! He also loves. He also has suffered. He also has waited a long time.’

     ‘If He loved me He’d let me see my boy. If He loved me why did He take Michael away from me? I wasn’t going to say anything about that. But it’s pretty hard to forgive, you know.’

     ‘But He had to take Michael away. Partly for Michael’s sake …’

     ‘I’m sure I did my best to make Michael happy. I gave up my whole life …’

     ‘Human beings can’t make one another really happy for long. And secondly, for your sake. He wanted your merely instinctive love for your child (tigresses share that, you know!) to turn into something better. He wanted you to love Michael as He understands love. You cannot love a fellow-creature fully till you love God. Sometimes this conversion can be done while the instinctive love is still gratified. But there was, it seems, no chance of that in your case. The instinct was uncontrolled and fierce and monomaniac. (Ask your daughter, or your husband. Ask our own mother. You haven’t once thought of her.) The only remedy was to take away its object. It was a case for surgery. When that first kind of love was thwarted, then there was just a chance that in the loneliness, in the silence, something else might begin to grow.’

     ‘This is all nonsense—cruel and wicked nonsense. What right have you to say things like that about Mother-love? It is the highest and holiest feeling in human nature.’

     ‘Pam, Pam—no natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God’s hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.’

     ‘My love for Michael would never have gone bad. Not if we’d lived together for millions of years.’

     ‘You are mistaken. And you must know. Haven’t you met—down there—mothers who have their sons with them, in Hell? Does their love make them happy?’

     ‘If you mean people like the Guthrie woman and her dreadful Bobby, of course not. I hope you’re not suggesting … If I had Michael I’d be perfectly happy, even in that town. I wouldn’t be always talking about him till everyone hated the sound of his name, which is what Winifred Guthrie does about her brat. I wouldn’t quarrel with people for not taking enough notice of him and then be furiously jealous if they did. I wouldn’t go about whining and complaining that he wasn’t nice to me. Because, of course, he would be nice. Don’t you dare to suggest that Michael could ever become like the Guthrie boy. There are some things I won’t stand.’

     ‘What you have seen in the Guthries is what natural affection turns to in the end if it will not be converted.’

     ‘It’s a lie. A wicked, cruel lie. How could anyone love their son more than I did? Haven’t I lived only for his memory all these years?’

     ‘That was rather a mistake, Pam. In your heart of hearts you know it was.’

     ‘What was a mistake?’

     ‘All that ten years’ ritual of grief. Keeping his room exactly as he’d left it; keeping anniversaries; refusing to leave that house though Dick and Muriel were both wretched there.’

The Great Divorce

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                His resurrection destiny

     Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? --- Luke 24:26.

     Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life: His Resurrection means that He has power now to convey His life to me. When I am born again from above, I receive from the risen Lord His very life.

     Our Lord’s Resurrection destiny is to bring “many sons unto glory.” The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We are never in the relationship to God that the Son of God is in; but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When Our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life, to a life He did not live before He was incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before; and His resurrection means for us that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we shall have a body like unto His glorious body, but we can know now the efficacy of His resurrection and walk in newness of life. “I would know Him in the power of His resurrection.”

     “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.” “Holy Spirit” is the experimental name for Eternal Life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the Deity in proceeding power Who applies the Atonement to our experience. Thank God it is gloriously and majestically true that the Holy Ghost can work in us the very nature of Jesus if we will obey Him.


My Utmost for His Highest

Souillac: Le Sacrifice
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

           Souillac: Le Sacrifice

And he grasps him by the hair
With innocent savagery
And the son's face is calm;
There is trust there.

And the beast looks on.

This is what art can do,
Interpreting faith
With serene chisel.
The resistant stone
Is quiet as our breath,
And is accepted.

R.S. Thomas

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Ta’anit 20a–b

     D’RASH

     A man returned to his doctor, six months after being diagnosed with emphysema caused primarily by smoking. Although his condition had improved somewhat after the initial diagnosis and treatments, the painful symptoms, including the difficult breathing, had recently returned. During the course of the examination, the doctor found that the patient had, in the past two months, taken up smoking again.

     “Doc, you’ve got to help me. I can hardly catch my breath, and the coughing is torture.”

     “John, I’ve explained this to you before: Until you stop the smoking, there’s nothing that I can do to help you. It’s really up to you. You want to get better? First get rid of the cigarettes.”

     Before we can move ahead and try to become better, we need to get rid of the bad and leave it behind. This law of nature apparently applies not only to the ritual of mikveh and to the science of medicine, but also to the realm of ethics as well. The Rabbis teach us that the power of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is such that if we seek God’s forgiveness for sins we have committed against God, we are automatically forgiven. However, all the crimes and transgressions we have committed and all the wrongs we have done to our fellow human beings in the past year are not forgiven unless and until we go to those we have hurt and offended and make restitution to them. Admitting our errors is the first step but it, by itself, is not sufficient. If we have broken something, we need to replace it. If we have humiliated another person, we need to find a way to restore his or her dignity. To do any less would be the equivalent of immersing in the mikveh with a reptile still in our hands.

     A person should always be as bending as a reed, not as rigid as the cedar.

     Text / A story: Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon came from his master’s house in Migdal Gedor, riding on a donkey, travelling by the river. He was extremely happy, very taken with himself after having learned so much Torah. He came upon a very ugly man who said to him: “Shalom, Rabbi.” He did not return his greeting. He then said [to the ugly man]: “You nothing! How ugly that man is! Are all the people of your town ugly like you?” He answered: “I do not know, but why don’t you go and tell the Craftsman who made me?” When he [Rabbi Elazar] himself realized that he had sinned, he got off his donkey and bowed before him and said to him: “I have spoken improperly to you. Forgive me!” He said to him: “I will not forgive you until you go and tell the Craftsman who made me ‘How ugly is this thing You have made!’ ” He [Rabbi Elazar] followed him until he reached his town. The townspeople came out to greet him, saying: “Shalom, Rabbi, Rabbi! Master, Master!” He [the ugly man] said to them: “Who are you calling ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’?” They said: “This man, walking behind you.” He said to them: “If this is a Rabbi, may there not be more like him in Israel!” They said to him: “Why?” He said to them: “This is what he did to me.…” They said to him: “Nevertheless, forgive him, for he is a great man of the Torah.” He said: “For your sakes, I will forgive him, on the condition that he not do this again.” Immediately, Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon came in and preached: “A person should always be as bending as a reed, not as rigid as a cedar. Therefore has the reed merited to be used for the quills with which we write the Torah scroll, tefillin, and mezuzzot.”

     Context / On the Gemara, Rashi comments: “There are books in which it is written that it was Elijah, may his memory be for a blessing, and his intention was to reprove him so he would not do this again.”

     The Gemara notes the similarities of the Jews to the reed: Both desperately need water in order to survive. In addition, the Jews were simple, weak, and humble like the reed. The strong, tall, and noble cedar tree was seen as symbolic of the nations of the world and, specifically, the Romans. Yet, the poor reed was the ultimate survivor. It was able to bend and give in the face of a strong wind or a storm. The mighty cedar, because it was not as pliant, was more likely to be uprooted. This message was to become an important strategy in coping with persecution.

     Because of its “easy-going” nature and its willingness to show flexibility, the reed was, according to tradition, rewarded with the privilege of being used in the holy task of writing Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzzot. (Tefillin are the two boxes strapped on to the arm and head during the morning weekday service; the boxes contain parchment on which sections from the Torah are written; mezuzzot are containers attached to the doorpost which also contain selections of the Torah written on parchment.)

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

Teacher's Commentary
     The Foundation is love

     Overview / Following the form of ancient treaties, Moses now introduced the basic stipulations which explained how persons were to live in relationship with God under Law.

     To this expression of underlying principle, the Old Testament brings one dominant theme: the theme of love. We cannot understand the Old Testament or its Law without seeing it in love’s perspective, as a way of working out our relationships with God and with other human beings.

     Jealous. Here we meet the idea of God as a jealous person. What does this term mean? The Hebrew root portrays a very strong emotion, even a passionate desire. In a negative sense the emotion is directed against another person, or when directed to an object, is envy. There is a positive aspect when the Old Testament speaks of God’s jealousy. In this case jealousy is intense love: a high level of commitment that demands expression in a relationship which excludes all others.

     No wonder God said to Israel, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (
Ex. 20:5). God loved Israel as He loves us, totally and completely. And He asks that we love Him in this same, intense way.

     To memorize: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4–5).

     Commentary / The other day one of the neighborhood children went to court. The judge warned him: “Once more, and you’ll be locked up.” That very afternoon, that same 13-year-old stole money from our car to buy a birthday present. And that evening he insisted, “Mom doesn’t really love me.”

     Young Nat needs love. But he is constantly testing the limits: constantly pushing to see how far he can go before the inevitable rejection. Sure that he’s not loved, Nat is driven to prove over and over that he is right about his unloveliness. When he is rejected or disciplined because of his actions, he confirms what he has decided his identity to be.

     I have another friend who was brought up in a home without love. Married now, she is unable to express love for her husband, or to sense his love for her. The cause has been traced and understood. But the void that lovelessness has left in her personality has scarred her and, against her will, has hurt others as well.

     The effects of lack of love have been noted and traced by generations of psychologists—and myriads of sufferers. Some substitute food for affection, and grow fat. Others feel worthless, unable to value a personality that their parents rejected. Still others are driven to prove themselves and try to earn love by accomplishments that stretch their nerves and energies to the breaking point. No wonder social psychologist Abraham Maslow places a need for “love and belongingness” as a basic need of the human personality; a need which must be met if a person is to grow toward becoming his potential self.
I like the video below, Universal Love.

     “Do I belong [acceptance]?” and “Am I loved?” are perhaps two of the most basic questions that can be asked in thinking about any relationship. It’s not surprising, then, to realize that these basic questions are answered for Israel in an unmistakable way. Moses, speaking to a new generation of Hebrews about to cross into the Promised Land, brought into clearest focus God’s great assurance, “You are loved!” (Deut. 7:7–8) The heritage of the Jews was a living heritage—God Himself, walking in personal relationship with them.

     Sometimes you feel unloved and unaccepted. So do I. But something both of us need to do is to learn that we are loved: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up” (Ps. 27:10).

     As we teach these vital chapters of
Deuteronomy, let’s remember that these same affirmations of love are made to you and to me. We too have a heritage in our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In Him we are accepted and loved.

The Teacher's Commentary

Deut 8
     Pulpit Commentary

     Vers. 1–6.—Life’s meaning discerned by the retrospect of it. The remark has not unfrequently been made that incidents closely connected cannot be rightly understood till the time has come for them to be reviewed in their entirety as matters of history What is true of events generally, applies in all its force to the wonders included in the rescue and wanderings of the people of Israel. And that which may be said of them, holds good, in this respect, of the life-story of God’s children now. Two words would sum up the pith of their experience—“redemption,” “training.” Redeemed first, trained afterwards. Redeemed, that they might be trained; trained, that they might become worthy of the redemption. Both the redemption and the training had in Israel’s case a depth of meaning of which the people knew little at the time, but which Israel’s God intended from the first. Afterwards, their varied experiences, when reviewed as a piece of history, became matter for grateful record and adoring praise. The paragraph before us now is “the aged lawgiver reviewing the experiences of Israel in their wanderings.” Four lines of meditation open up—

     I. THERE ARE MANY LESSONS WHICH GOD’S CHILDREN NEED TO LEARN. 1. “To humble thee” (ver. 2), i.e. to bring them to feel their dependence on God. This, indeed, seems such an obvious truth, that men ought not to need to be taught it. But we must remember that, before we are redeemed, our training for eternity has never begun at all, and that when redemption is with us a realized fact, we then present ourselves to God only in the rough, relying on his love to make us what we should be. And one of the lessons we have thoroughly to learn is that “without Christ we can do nothing.” 2. “To prove thee” (ver. 2). A double proof is indicated. (1) What they were: “To know what was in thine heart.” (2) What they would do: “Whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” There is no subject on which the young convert is so ignorant as—himself; and he never can become what a Christian should be till he sees his own conceit. He must become a sadder man ere he can be a wiser one 3. “That he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread alone.” It has been remarked that, as Moses in this clause refers to the manna, the meaning is: (1) That it is not from nature but from nature’s God that supplies come. (2) That God is free to adopt any course he pleases in providing food. Doubtless this is true. But it is not the whole truth, nor do we deem it the truth here intended. We know that with these words our Saviour repelled one assault of the tempter. This being so, we are set somewhat on a different track for their interpretation (cf. Matt. 4:3, 4). Our Saviour’s reply is, in effect, “Man has a double life, not only that of the body, but also that of the spirit; you ask me to nourish the lower at the expense of the higher—to get food for the body by a negation of the self-sacrifice for which I came. It is not bread alone which sustains the man. He has a higher self, which lives on higher food, and I cannot pamper the lower at the cost of the prostration of the higher.” Now, with such light thrown on the passage by our Lord, we are led to regard the words of Moses as referring not only to the supply of food, but rather to the entire discipline in the wilderness, as intended by God to bring out to the people the reality and worth of the nobler part of man. Our God cares more for growth of soul than for comfort of body. His aim is not only to find us food, but to train us for himself. Nor was it that they only might learn these lessons, but that others in after time might see on what rough and raw material the Great Educator will condescend to work, and with what care he will work upon it.

     II. GOD ADOPTS VARIED METHODS OF TEACHING THESE NEEDED LESSONS. The clauses in the paragraph indicate these. 1. There was “the way” by which they were led. It was not given to Israel to choose it. It was not the shortest way. It was “the right” way, appointed by God. 2. The method of sending supplies: “Day by day the manna fell.” They were thus taught to live by the day. 3. The disappointments they met: “These forty years.” If they had been told, when they set out from Egypt, that so long a period intervened between them and Canaan, they would scarcely have set out. And if God were to unveil to us the incidents of coming years, we could not bear the sight. 4. The wants they felt: “He suffered thee to hunger.” God sometimes lets his people feel how completely they are shut up to him. 5. Yet there were constant proofs of thoughtful care (ver. 4). We do not understand any miracle involved here, still less so odd a one as the rabbis suggested, that the children’s clothes grew upon their backs. The meaning of Moses surely is, “God so provided for their wants that they needed not to wear tattered garments, nor to injure their feet by walking without shoes or sandals.” 6. There was also chastening (ver. 5). This word includes not only correction but all that belongs to the training of a child (cf. Heb. 12:7; 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 89:32; Job 7:17, 18; Prov. 3:11, 12; Rev. 3:19).

     III. THERE IS A REASON INDICATED HERE WHY GOD TAKES SO MUCH PAINS TO TEACH THESE LESSONS. Ver. 5, “As a man chasteneth his son.” We might well ask, Why should the Great Supreme do so much to educate into shape such raw and rough natures as ours? That he should do so at all is, per se, far harder to believe than any apparent variation of the ordinary course of physical nature. The reason is found in the words, “Ye are sons.” Israel was God’s son, even his firstborn. Believers are the adopted children of God; hence the greatness of their destiny, and the earnestness of their Leader in training them for it. It may be said, indeed, by an unbeliever, “I have all these changes in life, but they are not training me,” etc. No, because the one condition is wanting under which all these come to be a training—sonship. This order is never reversed—rescued, then educated. If men have not known the first, they cannot understand the second.

     IV. IF GOD CARES SO MUCH TO TRAIN, WE SHOULD CAREFULLY CONSIDER WHAT HIS TRAINING MEANS. (Vers. 2, 5.) Let us understand what a high moral and spiritual aim God has in the culture of this life of ours! The life of a man is not a mere material something, on a physical basis; it is the expression of a plan of God. Then let us be as anxious to be rightly educated for eternity, as God is so to educate us. Never let us allow the lower ends of life to master the higher (Ver. 6). Ever let us keep the end of life in view. For eternity we are meant, and for eternity we should live. Some have life largely in retrospect, even now. Do they not see that the past is explained by the present? Even so the present will be explained by the future (John 13:7). Let them rejoice that they have a Father who guides by the way which he sees to be right, and not “according to their mind.” Some have life before them. 1. Let it be the supreme desire to let life become what God wants it to be—a continuous advance in preparation for heaven. This is of more consequence than all the ease and comfort in the world. 2. Recognize and praise the kindness of God in giving men these chequered experiences of life, if they do but educate for higher service. Don’t let us wonder if we cannot understand God’s ways at the time. We shall in the end. 3. If we want God to train us for glory—first, we must come out of Egypt. The education cannot begin in the land of bondage,—we must first be the Lord’s free men; then, let us leave the way and method of the culture entirely to God. If he were to let us choose the way, what mistakes we should make! Our faith in God even in youth should be such as to lead us to say, “Father, my supreme desire is to grow like thee, and to live with thee. I know not by what paths I need to be led, nor through what discipline I need to be brought, to bring about this end. I leave all in thy gracious hands, desiring that thine infinite wisdom and love should order all things for me. Here I am. Take me as I am, all guilty and defiled. Make me what I should be; and if by thy grace I am ripened for and led to Canaan, then will I sing, ‘Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, to him which sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever!’ ”

The Pulpit Commentary (23 Volume Set)

Interpretation inside the Bible
     JAMES L. KUGEL / The Mode of Restoration

     If the Bible provides no solid leads in the case of Ezra’s reading, it does offer a number of other examples of ancient biblical interpretation; in fact, the most ancient p 128 examples of biblical interpretation that we have are found within the Bible itself, where later books explain or expand on things that appear in earlier books. Often, the things that ancient interpreters felt called to comment upon were apparent inconsistencies or contradictions within the biblical text. Take, for example, the law in Exodus about the Passover meal:

     Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.… They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. (Exod. 12:3–9)

     This passage could hardly be less ambiguous: the Passover meal was to feature the meat of a lamb (though, apparently, goat meat was also acceptable, “from the sheep or from the goats”), and it was not to be boiled, but roasted. But if so, then how is one to explain this passage from Deuteronomy?

     You shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the LORD your God, from the flock and the herd, at the place that the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall boil it and eat it at the place that the LORD your God will choose; the next morning you may go back to your tents. (
Deut. 16:2, 7)

     The phrase “from the flock and the herd” presumably means that a calf or a bull would be just as acceptable as a lamb or goat, and whichever animal was chosen, its meat was apparently to be boiled—precisely what the earlier passage had forbidden. What was a person to do?

     The author of the book of Chronicles, an early postexilic work, seems to have been aware of the contradiction between these two texts, since he addressed at least part of it in his own history:

     They [the Israelites] slaughtered the Passover offering, and the priests dashed the blood that they received from them, while the Levites did the skinning.… Then they boiled the Passover offering in fire according to the ordinance.…
(
2 Chron. 35:13)

     “Boiled”—the same word used earlier by Deuteronomy—need not necessarily mean “boiled in water,” this passage suggests; instead, it might just be a circumlocution for roasting, that is, “boiling in fire.” If so, then there really was no contradiction between the Exodus and Deuteronomy passages—both of them really meant “roast”; it was just that Deuteronomy had, for some reason, not used that word explicitly.

     Another little problem found within an early book of the Bible was addressed p 129 by a later one; this time, the issue concerned the inheritance rights of the firstborn son. According to biblical law, the firstborn son was to receive a larger portion of his father’s estate—just because he was the firstborn. But what happened if the father had two wives and wished to give precedence to the son of his other wife, even though that son was not his first? This was probably not an uncommon situation, since the law in Deuteronomy is quite emphatic:

     If a man has two wives, and one of them is favored over the other, and if both the favored one and the other have borne him sons, the firstborn being the son of the disfavored one; then on the day when he wills his possessions to his sons, he is not permitted to grant the son of the favored wife preference over the son of the other, who is the firstborn. Instead, he must acknowledge as firstborn the son of the one who is not favored, giving him a double portion of all that he has; since he is the first issue of his virility, the right of the firstborn is his. (
Deut. 21:15–17)

     The firstborn son is to get the double portion no matter how the father feels about the boy’s mother. But if so, then how does one explain what happened in the biblical story of Jacob and his sons? Jacob marries Leah and Rachel, but it is clear from the start that Rachel is his favorite (
Gen. 29:17–18). Nevertheless, Reuben, Leah’s son, is Jacob’s oldest boy, so by rights the double portion is to be his. As things turn out, however, Reuben gets pushed aside: it is Joseph, Rachel’s son, who effectively ends up with the extra inheritance (Gen. 48:5–6). To later readers of Scripture, this surely seemed to be a blatant violation of biblical law. To make matters worse, Reuben kept being referred to as Jacob’s “firstborn” (Exod. 6:14; Num. 1:20; 26:5; etc.). Was he—and if so, why did he lose his inheritance?

     Once again, the author of Chronicles went out of his way to explain an apparent contradiction in the text:

     The sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel [that is, Jacob]. (He was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel, so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright.) (
1 Chron. 5:1)

     In Reuben’s case, the Chronicler explains, an exception was made to the general rule because of Reuben’s egregious sin with his father’s concubine (
Gen. 35:22). He was still, in genealogical terms, the firstborn, but the firstborn’s special inheritance (the “birthright”) was given instead to Joseph, Rachel’s son.

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

Take Heart
     April 8

     A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?
--- Proverbs 18:14.

     Some have talked about having a crushed spirit. (Twelve sermons for the troubled and tried: Delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle ) One has been disappointed in love—sad, but a trial that can be endured. We have no right to love the creature so much as to make it our idol. Some have been disappointed in their ambition. But who are you that you should not be disappointed, and what are you that you should have everything your way? Surely, if the Lord were to deal with us according to our sins, we would have something to bear worse than the present disappointment. Do not, therefore, allow these things to destroy your peace. About such crushed hearts as these is a good deal of sin mingled with the sorrow, and a great deal of pride, a great deal of creature-worship and of idolatry. Depend on it, if you make an idol, and God loves you, he will break it.

     A mother wore black for years after her child had been taken away; she had never forgiven her God for what he had done. Now this is an evil that is to be rebuked. I dare not comfort those whose spirits are crushed in this fashion. If they carry even their mourning too far, we must say to them, “Dear friend, isn’t this rebellion against God? May this not be petulance instead of patience?” We may sorrow and be grieved when we lose our loved ones, for we are human, but we must moderate our sorrow and bow our wills to the will of the Lord, for aren’t we also people of God?

     Some have crushed spirits through the cruelty of people, the unkindness of children, the ingratitude of those they have helped. It is a terrible crushing when one who should have been your friend becomes your foe and when you, like your Lord, also have your Judas. We should cry to God to help us bear this trial, for after all, who are we that we should not be despised? The wise expect this kind of trial and, expecting it, are not disappointed when it comes.

     Others have been crushed by sorrow. They have had affliction upon affliction, loss after loss, bereavement after bereavement. And we ought to feel these things. Still, every Christian should cry to God for strength to bear repeated losses and bereavements. If we yield to temptation and begin to complain of God for permitting such things to come on us, we will only wound ourselves all the more. Let us be submissive to the hand that wields the rod of correction.
--- C. H. Spurgeon


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

On This Day
     A Mystery of Providence  April 8

     James Chalmers was a carefree, high-spirited Scottish boy. “I dearly loved adventure,” he later said, “and a dangerous position was exhilarating.” Perhaps that’s why he listened carefully one Sunday when his minister read a letter from missionaries in Fiji. The preacher, tears in his eyes, added, “I wonder if there is a boy here who will by and by bring the gospel to the cannibals.” Young James said quietly, “I will!”—and he wasn’t even yet converted.

     In 1866, having been converted and trained, he sailed for the South Pacific as a Presbyterian missionary. Chalmers had a way with people. “It was in his presence, his carriage, his eye, his voice,” a friend wrote. “There was something almost hypnotic about him. His perfect composure, his judgment and tact and fearlessness brought him through a hundred difficulties.” Robert Louis Stevenson, who didn’t like missionaries until he met Chalmers, said, “He is a rowdy, but he is a hero. You can’t weary me of that fellow. He took me fairly by storm.”

     In 1877 Chalmers sailed on to New Guinea. His ministry was successful there. Packed churches replaced feasts of human flesh. But as the years passed he grew lonely. He was delighted when young Oliver Tomkins came to join him in 1901. The two men decided to explore a new part of the islands, and on Easter Sunday they sailed alongside a new village. The next morning, April 8, 1901, Chalmers and Tomkins went ashore. They were never seen again. A rescue party soon learned that the men had been clubbed to death, chopped to pieces, cooked, and eaten.

     News flashed around the world. “I cannot believe it!” exclaimed Dr. Joseph Parker from the pulpit of London’s famous City Temple. “I do not want to believe it! Such a mystery of Providence makes it hard for our strained faith to recover. Yet Jesus was murdered. Paul was murdered. Many missionaries have been murdered. When I think of that side of the case, I cannot but feel that our honored and nobleminded friend has joined a great assembly.”

   These are the ones
   Who have gone through the great suffering.
   They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb
   And have made them white.
   And so they stand before the throne of God. …
    ---Revelation 7:14b,15a.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - April 8

     "If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" --- Luke 23:31.

     Among other interpretations of this suggestive question, the following is full of teaching: “If the innocent substitute for sinners, suffer thus, what will be done when the sinner himself —the dry tree—shall fall into the hands of an angry God?” When God saw Jesus in the sinner’s place, he did not spare him; and when he finds the unregenerate without Christ, he will not spare them. O sinner, Jesus was led away by his enemies: so shall you be dragged away by fiends to the place appointed for you. Jesus was deserted of God; and if he, who was only imputedly a sinner, was deserted, how much more shall you be? “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” what an awful shriek! But what shall be your cry when you shall say, “O God! O God! why hast thou forsaken me?” and the answer shall come back, “Because ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.” If God spared not his own Son, how much less will he spare you! What whips of burning wire will be yours when conscience shall smite you with all its terrors. Ye richest, ye merriest, ye most self-righteous sinners—who would stand in your place when God shall say, “Awake, O sword, against the man that rejected me; smite him, and let him feel the smart for ever?” Jesus was spit upon: sinner, what shame will be yours! We cannot sum up in one word all the mass of sorrows which met upon the head of Jesus who died for us, therefore it is impossible for us to tell you what streams, what oceans of grief must roll over your spirit if you die as you now are. You may die so, you may die now. By the agonies of Christ, by his wounds and by his blood, do not bring upon yourselves the wrath to come! Trust in the Son of God, and you shall never die.


          Evening - April 8

     "I will fear no evil: for thou art with me." Psalm 23:4.

     Behold, how independent of outward circumstances the Holy Ghost can make the Christian! What a bright light may shine within us when it is all dark without! How firm, how happy, how calm, how peaceful we may be, when the world shakes to and fro, and the pillars of the earth are removed! Even death itself, with all its terrible influences, has no power to suspend the music of a Christian’s heart, but rather makes that music become more sweet, more clear, more heavenly, till the last kind act which death can do is to let the earthly strain melt into the heavenly chorus, the temporal joy into the eternal bliss! Let us have confidence, then, in the blessed Spirit’s power to comfort us. Dear reader, are you looking forward to poverty? Fear not; the divine Spirit can give you, in your want, a greater plenty than the rich have in their abundance. You know not what joys may be stored up for you in the cottage around which grace will plant the roses of content. Are you conscious of a growing failure of your bodily powers? Do you expect to suffer long nights of languishing and days of pain? O be not sad! That bed may become a throne to you. You little know how every pang that shoots through your body may be a refining fire to consume your dross—a beam of glory to light up the secret parts of your soul. Are the eyes growing dim? Jesus will be your light. Do the ears fail you? Jesus’ name will be your soul’s best music, and his person your dear delight. Socrates used to say, “Philosophers can be happy without music;” and Christians can be happier than philosophers when all outward causes of rejoicing are withdrawn. In thee, my God, my heart shall triumph, come what may of ills without! By thy power, O blessed Spirit, my heart shall be exceeding glad, though all things should fail me here below.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     April 8

          AT CALVARY

     William R. Newell, 1868–1956

     In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7, 8)

     Calvary, meaning “the place of the skull,” is a place that everyone has heard about and that thousands of Holy Land tourists visit every year. But the significance of the events that took place on this hill nearly two thousand years ago are often not truly realized by many of those who merely view its location. “At Calvary” focuses our attention on the wondrous mercy and grace that Christ demonstrated through His death on the cross. The hymn exalts our Lord for conquering sin and death and bringing salvation to all who will accept Him as Redeemer and Lord. The “mighty gulf” between God and man was bridged with Christ’s sacrificial atonement at Calvary.

     William R. Newell was a noted evangelist, Bible teacher, and later assistant superintendent at the Moody Bible Institute. One day on his way to teach a class, he was meditating about Christ’s suffering at Calvary and all that it meant to him as a lost sinner. These thoughts so impressed themselves on his mind that he stepped into an empty classroom and quickly scribbled down the lines of this hymn on the back of an envelope. A few minutes later he met his friend and colleague, Daniel B. Towner, music director at the institute, and showed him the text he had just written, suggesting that Towner try composing music for it. An hour later as Newell returned from class, Dr. Towner presented him with the melody and they sang their completed hymn together.

     Following its publication in 1895, Christians everywhere have used this hymn enthusiastically to rejoice in the “riches of God’s grace” made available “At Calvary.”

     Years I spent in vanity and pride,
     caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
     By God’s Word at last my sin I learned—
     then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.
     Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus ev’rything;
     now I gladly own Him as my King;
now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary.
     O the love that drew salvation’s plan!
     O the grace that bro’t it down to man!
O the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!
     Chorus: Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
     pardon there was multiplied to me.
There my burdened soul found liberty—at Calvary.


     For Today: Romans 5:6–11; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Colossians 1:19–23.

     Give joyful praise from a grateful heart for what the cross means—an instrument of human indignity became the means of our salvation.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

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


          Our Suffering with Christ Must Precede Our Being Glorified with Christ

     Sixthly, we come to ponder the qualification of this prayer: “after that ye have suffered a while.” This clause is intimately connected with two others: (1) “who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus”; and (2) the petition “himself make you perfect.” The apostle did not pray that believers be removed from this world as soon as they be regenerated, nor that they be immediately relieved of their sufferings. Rather, he prays that their sufferings should give way to eternal glory “after a while,” or, as the Greek signifies, “after a little while,” because all time is short in comparison with eternity. For the same reason the severest afflictions are to be regarded as “light” and “but for a moment” when set over against the “eternal weight of glory” that is awaiting us (2 Cor. 4:17). The sufferings and the glory are inseparably connected, for “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The Apostle Paul clearly teaches that those of us who are God's children shall indeed share in Christ's inheritance, “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17). If one bear no cross, he shall gain no crown (Luke 14:27). All who have suffered for Christ's sake on earth shall be glorified in heaven; but none shall be glorified save those who, in some form or other, have been “made conformable unto his death” (Phil. 3:10). Some of the believer's sufferings are from the hand of God's providence, some from “false brethren” (2 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 2:4), some from the profane world, some from Satan, and some from indwelling sin. Peter speaks of “manifold temptations” or “trials” (1 Peter 1:6), but they are counterbalanced by “manifold grace” (1 Peter 4:10). And both are directed by “the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10)!

          Our Conformity to Christ Necessarily Includes Our Having Fellowship with Him in His Sufferings

     The abounding grace of God does not preclude trials and afflictions, but those who are the recipients of Divine grace have been “appointed thereunto” (1 Thess. 3:3). Then let us not be dismayed or cast down by them, but seek grace to get them sanctified to us. Sufferings are necessary to the saints on various accounts. First and foremost, they are appointed in order that the members might be conformed to their Head. “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10). Sufficient then for the disciple to be like his Master, that he should be made perfect after he has suffered awhile. Peter himself alludes to this Divinely prescribed order in the way of salvation (namely humiliation, then exaltation, which applies not only to the Head but to His members also) when he refers to “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). It was the Divine will that even the incarnate Son should “learn obedience [submission] by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8, brackets mine). There was a turning point in His ministry when Jesus began “to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). Why did He have to suffer thus? It is because God had ordained it (Acts 4:28). Was Christ tempted by the devil merely on account of Satan's malice toward Him? No, for Jesus was “led up of [by] the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1, brackets mine; cf. Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1, 2). Remember, dear saints enduring trials, that the Savior Himself entered the kingdom of God “through much tribulation” (Acts 14:22), even as we must do. Thus, “in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor [“relieve” or “help”] them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18, brackets mine). Therefore, let us “count it all joy when ye [we] fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2, brackets mine), for suffering “as a Christian” is a means by which we can glorify our redeeming God (1 Peter 4:16). The privilege of experiencing “the fellowship of his sufferings” is one of God's appointed means by which we may know that we are in Christ, and no longer identified with the world that now abides under God's wrath (Phil. 3:7-1 1). Hear the words of our Master (Matthew 5:10-12):

     Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

          God's Grace Is Magnified in Meeting Our Needs and Confounding Our Enemies

     Secondly, the God of all grace has made this appointment because His grace is best seen in sustaining us and is most manifest by relieving us. Hence, we find the throne of grace magnified by God's giving us “grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Much of the glory of God's grace appears in His supporting the weak, in delivering the tempted, and in raising the fallen. The Lord exempts us not from conflict, but maintains us in it. Effectual calling ensures our final perseverance, yet it does not render needless continual supplies of grace. As Manton expressed it, “God will not only give them glory at the end of their journey, but bears their expenses by the way.”

     Thirdly, our Father leads us through fiery trials in order to confound those who are opposed to us. Grace reigns (Rom. 5:21), and the greatness of a monarchy is demonstrated by its subduing of rebels and vanquishing of enemies. God raised up the mighty Pharaoh in order to show forth His own power. In the context (I Peter 5:8), as we have seen, He suffers the devil, as a roaring lion, to rage up and down opposing and assaulting us. But He does this only to foil him, for “the prey [shall] be taken from the mighty” (Isa. 49:24, brackets mine), and shortly God shall “bruise Satan under your [our] feet” (Rom. 16:20, brackets mine).

          Suffering Proves Our Graces and Makes Heaven More Glorious

     Fourthly, suffering is necessary for the trying and proving of our graces: “the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:3). Consider what Peter says concerning us who have been “begotten again unto a lively hope”:

     Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6, 7).

     It is the wind of tribulation that separates the wheat from the chaff, the furnace that reveals the difference between dross and gold. The stony-ground hearer is offended and falls away “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word” (Matthew 13:21). So, too, for the purifying and the brightening of our hope, our hearts have to be more completely weaned from this world before they become set upon things above.

     Fifthly, the glory of our eternal inheritance is enhanced by our enduring affliction. Hear the words of Thomas Goodwin:

     “Heaven is not simply joy and happiness, but a glory, and a glory won by conquest—‘to him that overcometh’ [are the promises made] in each one of the seven epistles of Revelation 2 and 3. It is a crown won by mastery, and so by striving, according to certain laws set to be observed by those that win (2 Tim. 2:5). The glory won by conquest and masteries is the more valuable. The portion Jacob won ‘with my sword and with my bow’ was the one he reserved for his beloved Joseph (Gen. 48:22). We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

          Grace Is Provided for Both Internal and External Conflicts

     It is a mistake (made by some) to restrict either the afflictions of verse 9 or the suffering of verse 10 to outward persecutions and trials. But all inward assaults (whether from our own lusts or Satan), and so all temptations whatsoever, are to be included. The context requires this, for the words “be sober, be vigilant” have respect to our lusts as well as to every other provocation to evildoing, so that the call to resist the devil clearly relates to his inward temptations to sin. The experience of all saints requires it, for their acutest pangs are occasioned by their own corruptions. Moreover, as Goodwin has pointed out, our setting of God before the eyes of our faith as “the God of all grace” argues the same; for His grace stands principally ready to help us against inward sins and temptations to sin. Furthermore, the all of His grace extends not only to all sorts of external miseries, but to all internal maladies, which are our greatest grief, which require His abundant grace above all others, and to which His grace is chiefly directed (Ps. 19:14; 119:1-16; Prov. 3:5-7; 4:20-27). His grace is the grand remedy for every evil to which the believer is subject. Some are guilty of worse sins after conversion than before, and were not the God of all grace their God, where would they be?

          Perfection in Grace Is Both Progressive and Eschatological

     “After that ye have suffered a while, Himself make you perfect: stablish, strengthen, settle you.” This may well be regarded as a request for grace to enable us to obey the exhortation found in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” We are to be constantly opposing sin and striving to be holy in all manner of conversation. This request receives a partial fulfillment in this life, but a complete and more transcendent one in heaven. Saints are advanced to further degrees of faith and holiness when, after seasons of wavering and suffering, God strengthens and establishes them in a more settled frame of spirit. Yet only in our fixed condition after death will these blessings be fully ours. Not till then shall we be made perfect in the sense of being fully conformed to the image of God's Son. Our hearts will be established “unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 3:13). Only then will all our weakness end and our bodies be “raised in power” (1 Cor. 15:43). Then indeed shall we be eternally settled, for the Divine promise is this: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out” (Rev. 3:12).

          A Doxology of Infallible Hope

     Seventh and finally, we come to the great ascription of this apostolic prayer: “to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” “The apostle, having added prayer to his doctrine, here added praise to his prayer,” says Leighton. It expressed the apostle's confidence that the God of all grace would grant his request. He was assured that what he had asked for on behalf of the saints would be to the Divine “glory,” and that the Divine “dominion” would infallibly bring it to pass. There is thus a practical hint implied for us in this closing doxology. It intimates where relief is to be obtained and strength is to be found in the midst of our suffering: by eyeing the glory of God, which is the grand end He has in view in all His dealings with us; and by confidently trusting in God's dominion in working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28). For if His be the dominion, and He has called us to His eternal glory, then what have we to fear? So certain is our glorification (Rom. 8:30) that we should give thanks for it now. The abundant and infinite grace of God is engaged to effect it, and His omnipotent power guarantees its performance.

A Guide to Fervent Prayer


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