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Acts 21-23
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Warnings on the Journey to Jerusalem

Acts 21:1     Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo. 4 And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem. 5 When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed. 6 When we had taken our leave of one another, we boarded the ship, and they returned home.

     7 And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day. 8 On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. 10 And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ”

     12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

     14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”

Paul Urged to Make Peace

     15 And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge.

     17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

Arrested in the Temple

     26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

     27 Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

     30 And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. 31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another.

     So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. 35 When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. 36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”

Addressing the Jerusalem Mob

     37 Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?”

     He replied, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”

     39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”

     40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

Acts 22:1     “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” 2 And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent.

     Then he said: 3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, 5 as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.

     6 “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

     9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.

     12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

     17 “Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ 19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ 21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ”

Paul’s Roman Citizenship

     2 And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” 23 Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. 25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”

     26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”

     27 Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?”

     He said, “Yes.”

     28 The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.”

     And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”

     29 Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

The Sanhedrin Divided

     30 The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

Acts 23:1     Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”

     4 And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”

     5 Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

     6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”

     7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. 8 For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. 9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

     10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.

The Plot Against Paul

     11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

     12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy. 14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”

     16 So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.”

     19 Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”

     20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. 21 But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.”

     22 So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”

Sent to Felix

     23 And he called for two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night; 24 and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 He wrote a letter in the following manner:

     26     Claudius Lysias,

     To the most excellent governor Felix:


     27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28 And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. 29 I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. 30 And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him. Farewell.

     31 Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks. 33 When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34 And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.

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American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “There she blows!” was the cry as the lookout sighted Moby Dick. Captain Ahab, with his chief mate Starbuck, sailed the oceans of the world to capture this great white whale. But as fate would have it, when the harpoon struck, the rope flew out so fast it entangled Captain Ahab, pulling him under. This American classic was written by Herman Mehlville, who was born this day, August 1, 1819. In the opening chapters Mehlville warned: “With this sin of disobedience… Jonah flouts at God… He thinks that a ship made by men will carry him into countries where God does not reign.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

And what we’ve tried to do is cover the earth with the Gospel of a man
we don’t really know.
We have implemented all kinds of ridiculous,
preposterous programs
that try to get people to know a Jesus that we can’t really even describe.
And we have become like some kind of glorified salesmen
that if we properly (sell the) product we are trying to push,
then maybe you would be willing to give down your life,
lay down your life for somebody that we said is incredible
instead of just allowing you to experience it for yourself.
--- Damon Thompson

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
--- Wendell Berry   Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays

Life with Christ is an endless hope; without Him a hopeless end.
--- Unknown

Original sin distorts us. Actual sin distracts us, and indwelling sin manipulates us.
--- Rosaria Butterfield (interview)
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History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 20.

     Cestius Sends Ambassadors To Nero. The People Of Damascus Slay Those Jews That Lived With Them. The People Of Jerusalem After They Had [Left Off] Pursuing Cestius, Return To The City And Get Things Ready For Its Defense And Make A Great Many Generals For Their Armies And Particularly Josephus The Writer Of These Books. Some Account Of His Administration.

     1. After this calamity had befallen Cestius, many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the city, as from a ship when it was going to sink; Costobarus, therefore, and Saul, who were brethren, together with Philip, the son of Jacimus, who was the commander of king Agrippa's forces, ran away from the city, and went to Cestius. But then how Antipas, who had been besieged with them in the king's palace, but would not fly away with them, was afterward slain by the seditious, we shall relate hereafter. However, Cestius sent Saul and his friends, at their own desire, to Achaia, to Nero, to inform him of the great distress they were in, and to lay the blame of their kindling the war upon Florus, as hoping to alleviate his own danger, by provoking his indignation against Florus.

     2. In the mean time, the people of Damascus, when they were informed of the destruction of the Romans, set about the slaughter of those Jews that were among them; and as they had them already cooped up together in the place of public exercises, which they had done out of the suspicion they had of them, they thought they should meet with no difficulty in the attempt; yet did they distrust their own wives, which were almost all of them addicted to the Jewish religion; on which account it was that their greatest concern was, how they might conceal these things from them; so they came upon the Jews, and cut their throats, as being in a narrow place, in number ten thousand, and all of them unarmed, and this in one hour's time, without any body to disturb them.

     3. But as to those who had pursued after Cestius, when they were returned back to Jerusalem, they overbore some of those that favored the Romans by violence, and some them persuaded [by en-treaties] to join with them, and got together in great numbers in the temple, and appointed a great many generals for the war. Joseph also, the son of Gorion, 31 and Ananus the high priest, were chosen as governors of all affairs within the city, and with a particular charge to repair the walls of the city; for they did not ordain Eleazar the son of Simon to that office, although he had gotten into his possession the prey they had taken from the Romans, and the money they had taken from Cestius, together with a great part of the public treasures, because they saw he was of a tyrannical temper, and that his followers were, in their behavior, like guards about him. However, the want they were in of Eleazar's money, and the subtle tricks used by him, brought all so about, that the people were circumvented, and submitted themselves to his authority in all public affairs.

     4. They also chose other generals for Idumea; Jesus, the son of Sapphias, one of the high priests; and Eleazar, the son of Ananias, the high priest; they also enjoined Niger, the then governor of Idumea, 32 who was of a family that belonged to Perea, beyond Jordan, and was thence called the Peraite, that he should be obedient to those fore-named commanders. Nor did they neglect the care of other parts of the country; but Joseph the son of Simon was sent as general to Jericho, as was Manasseh to Perea, and John, the Esscue, to the toparchy of Thamna; Lydda was also added to his portion, and Joppa, and Emmaus. But John, the son of Matthias, was made governor of the toparchies of Gophnitica and Acrabattene; as was Josephus, the son of Matthias, of both the Galilees. Gamala also, which was the strongest city in those parts, was put under his command.

     5. So every one of the other commanders administered the affairs of his portion with that alacrity and prudence they were masters of; but as to Josephus, when he came into Galilee, his first care was to gain the good-will of the people of that country, as sensible that he should thereby have in general good success, although he should fail in other points. And being conscious to himself that if he communicated part of his power to the great men, he should make them his fast friends; and that he should gain the same favor from the multitude, if he executed his commands by persons of their own country, and with whom they were well acquainted; he chose out seventy of the most prudent men, and those elders in age, and appointed them to be rulers of all Galilee, as he chose seven judges in every city to hear the lesser quarrels; for as to the greater causes, and those wherein life and death were concerned, he enjoined they should be brought to him and the seventy 33 elders.

     6. Josephus also, when he had settled these rules for determining causes by the law, with regard to the people's dealings one with another, betook himself to make provisions for their safety against external violence; and as he knew the Romans would fall upon Galilee, he built walls in proper places about Jotapata, and Bersabee, and Selamis; and besides these, about Caphareccho, and Japha, and Sigo, and what they call Mount Tabor, and Taricheae, and Tiberias. Moreover, he built walls about the caves near the lake of Gennesar, which places lay in the Lower Galilee; the same he did to the places of Upper Galilee, as well as to the rock called the Rock of the Achabari, and to Seph, and Jamnith, and Meroth; and in Gaulonitis he fortified Seleucia, and Sogane, and Gamala; but as to those of Sepphoris, they were the only people to whom he gave leave to build their own walls, and this because he perceived they were rich and wealthy, and ready to go to war, without standing in need of any injunctions for that purpose. The case was the same with Gischala, which had a wall built about it by John the son of Levi himself, but with the consent of Josephus; but for the building of the rest of the fortresses, he labored together with all the other builders, and was present to give all the necessary orders for that purpose. He also got together an army out of Galilee, of more than a hundred thousand young men, all of which he armed with the old weapons which he had collected together and prepared for them.

     7. And when he had considered that the Roman power became invincible, chiefly by their readiness in obeying orders, and the constant exercise of their arms, he despaired of teaching these his men the use of their arms, which was to be obtained by experience; but observing that their readiness in obeying orders was owing to the multitude of their officers, he made his partitions in his army more after the Roman manner, and appointed a great many subalterns. He also distributed the soldiers into various classes, whom he put under captains of tens, and captains of hundreds, and then under captains of thousands; and besides these, he had commanders of larger bodies of men. He also taught them to give the signals one to another, and to call and recall the soldiers by the trumpets, how to expand the wings of an army, and make them wheel about; and when one wing hath had success, to turn again and assist those that were hard set, and to join in the defense of what had most suffered. He also continually instructed them in what concerned the courage of the soul, and the hardiness of the body; and, above all, he exercised them for war, by declaring to them distinctly the good order of the Romans, and that they were to fight with men who, both by the strength of their bodies and courage of their souls, had conquered in a manner the whole habitable earth. He told them that he should make trial of the good order they would observe in war, even before it came to any battle, in case they would abstain from the crimes they used to indulge themselves in, such as theft, and robbery, and rapine, and from defrauding their own countrymen, and never to esteem the harm done to those that were so near of kin to them to be any advantage to themselves; for that wars are then managed the best when the warriors preserve a good conscience; but that such as are ill men in private life will not only have those for enemies which attack them, but God himself also for their antagonist.

     8. And thus did he continue to admonish them. Now he chose for the war such an army as was sufficient, i.e. sixty thousand footmen, and two hundred and fifty horsemen; 34 and besides these, on which he put the greatest trust, there were about four thousand five hundred mercenaries; he had also six hundred men as guards of his body. Now the cities easily maintained the rest of his army, excepting the mercenaries, for every one of the cities enumerated above sent out half their men to the army, and retained the other half at home, in order to get provisions for them; insomuch that the one part went to the war, and the other part to their work, and so those that sent out their corn were paid for it by those that were in arms, by that security which they enjoyed from them.

          The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 22:8
     by D.H. Stern

8     He who sows injustice reaps trouble,
and the rod of his angry outburst will fail.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Mushrooms On The Moor
     by Frank W. Boreham


     It was a sunny autumn afternoon. The leaves were rustling about my feet, and the first nip of winter was in the air. It was Saturday, and I was out for a stroll. Suddenly a crowd attracted my attention, and, impelled by that curiosity which such a concourse invariably excites, I drew near to see whether it meant a fire or a fight. It was neither. As I approached I caught sight of young fellows moving in and out among the people, wearing light many-coloured garments, and I guessed that a race was about to be run. Almost as soon as I arrived, the men were called up, arranged in a long line, and preparations made for the start. At a signal two or three of them sprang out from the line and bounded with an easy stride along the load. A few seconds later, three or four more followed; then others; until at last only one was left; and, after a brief period of further waiting, he also left the line and set out in pursuit. It was a handicap, I was told, and this man had started from scratch. It was to be a long race, and it would be some time before any of the runners could be expected back again. The crowd, therefore, dispersed for the time being, breaking up into knots and groups, each of which strolled off to while away the waiting time as its own taste suggested. I turned into a lane that led up into the bush on the hillside, and, from that sheltered and sunny eminence, watched for the first sign of the returning runners.

     Sitting there with nothing to do, it flashed upon me that the scene I had just witnessed was a reflection, as in a mirror, of all human experience and endeavour. Most men are heavily handicapped; it is no good blinking the fact. Ask a man to undertake some office or assume some responsibility in connexion with the church, and he will silence you at once with a narration of the difficulties that stand in his way. Ask a man to act on some board or committee for the management of some charitable or philanthropic enterprise, and he will explain to you that he has not a minute to spare. Ask a man to subscribe to some most necessary or deserving object, and he will tell you of the incessant demands to which he is subjected. Now it is no good putting all this down to cant. We have no right to assume that these are merely the lame excuses of men who, in their secret souls, do not desire to assist us. We must not hastily hurl at them the curse that fell upon Meroz because it came not to the help of the Lord against the mighty. All that they say is perfectly true. The difficulties that debar the first of these men from undertaking the work to which you are calling him are both real and formidable; the second man has every moment of his time fully occupied; the third man, because he is known to be generous, is badgered to death with collecting-lists from the first thing in the morning till the last thing at night. We must not judge these men too harshly. In the uncharitableness of our hearts we imagine that they have given us excuses which are not reasons. The fact is that they have done exactly the reverse; they have given us reasons which are not excuses. We are on safer ground when we recognize frankly that it is very difficult for many men to devote much time, much energy, and much money to the kingdom of God. Many men are heavily handicapped.

     'Isn't that one of the runners just coming in sight now?' a friend asked, pointing along the road. I fancied that he was right, so we rose and strolled down to the spot from which the race had started. We must have been mistaken, for when we emerged from the lane there was no sign of the competitors, I was not sorry, however, that we had returned prematurely; for I noticed the handicapper strolling idly about, and got into conversation with him.

     'There seems to me to be very little sense in a race of this kind,' I suggested to him. 'If those men win who started first, the honour is very small in view of the start they received; whilst if the man who started last fails to win, he feels it to be no disgrace, and comforts himself with the reflection that he was too heavily handicapped. Is that not so?'

     'Oh, no,' replied the handicapper, politely concealing his pity for my simplicity; 'it works out just the other way. It isn't fair, don't you see, to keep those chaps that got away first always running in a class by themselves. It does not call out the best that is in them. But to-day it does them good to feel that they are being matched against some of the finest runners in the State, and they will strain every effort to try to beat the champions. And it does a man like Brown, who started from scratch, no harm to see those fellows all getting ahead of him at the start. He knows very well that he can beat any man in the country on level terms, and in such races he will only put forth just as much effort as is needed to get ahead of his opponent. But there is nothing to show that he could not do much better still if only his opponent were more formidable. In a race like this, however, he knows that anything may happen. His usual rivals have all got a start of him; if he is to defend his good name, he must beat all his previous records and bring his utmost power into play. And so every man in the race is put on his mettle. We consider the handicap a very useful race indeed!'

     'Perhaps so,' I said, feeling that I was beaten, but feebly attempting to cover my retreat; 'but how do you compute the exact starts and handicaps which the different men are to take?'

     'Ah,' he said, 'now you've touched the vital question.' I was gratified at his recognition of the good order of my retirement. 'You see,' he went on, 'we have to look up the men's previous performances and work out the differences in their records with mathematical exactness. But there is something more than that. We have to know the men. You can't adjust the handicaps by rule of three. Anybody who has seen Jones run must have noticed that he's a bit downhearted. He has been beaten every time, and he goes into a race now expecting to be beaten, and is therefore beaten before he starts. He needs encouragement, and we have to consider that fact in arranging his handicap. Then there's Smith. He's too cocksure. He has never had any difficulty in beating men of his own class. He needs putting on his mettle. So we increase his handicap accordingly. It takes a lot of working out, and a lot of thinking about, I tell you. But here they come!'

     There was no mistake this time. A batch of runners came into sight all at once, the officials took their places, and the crowd clustered excitedly round. As we waited, the remarks to which I had just listened took powerful hold upon my mind. The handicaps of life may have been more carefully calculated and more beneficently designed than we have sometimes been inclined to suppose.

     It was a fine finish. As the first batch of men drew nearer I was pleased to notice that Brown, the fellow in light blue, who had started last, was among them. Gradually he drew out from the rest, and, with a magnificent spurt, asserted his superiority and won the race. A few minutes later I took the tram citywards. Just as it was starting, Brown also entered the car. I could not resist the opportunity of congratulating him.

     'It must have taken the heart out of you,' I said, 'to see all the other fellows getting away in front of you, and to find yourself left to the last?'

     'Oh, no,' he replied, with a laugh, 'it's a bit of an honour, isn't it, to see that they think me so much better than everybody else that they fancy I have a sporting chance under such conditions? And, besides, it spurs a fellow to do his best. When you are accustomed to winning races, it doesn't feel nice to be beaten, even in a handicap, and to avoid being beaten you've got to go for all you're worth.'

     I shook hands and left him. But I felt that he had given me something else to think about.

     'It's a bit of an honour!' he had said. 'And, besides, it spurs a fellow to do his best!'

     The next time a man tells me that he cannot help me because he is so heavily handicapped, what a tale I shall have to tell him!

     My Saturday afternoon experience has convinced me that, in the Church, we have tragically misinterpreted the significance of handicaps.

     'I am very heavily handicapped,' we say in the Church, 'therefore I must not attempt this thing!'

     'I am very heavily handicapped,' they say out there at their sports, 'therefore I must put all my strength into it!'

     And who can doubt that the philosophy of the Churchmen is false, or that the philosophy of the sportsmen is sound? There is a great saying of Bacon's that every handicapped man should learn by heart. 'Whosoever,' he says, 'hath anything fixed in his person that doth induce contempt hath also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn.' Is that why so many of the world's greatest benefactors were men who bore in their bodies the marks of physical affliction—blindness, deafness, disease, and the like? They felt that they were heavily handicapped, and that their handicap called them to make a supreme effort 'to rescue and deliver themselves from scorn.'

     When speaking of the difficulty which a black boy experiences in America in competing with his white rivals, Booker Washington tells us that his own pathetic and desperate struggle taught him that 'success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.' There is a good deal in that. I was once present at a meeting of a certain Borough Council, at which an engineer had to report on a certain proposal which the municipal authorities were discussing. The engineer contented himself with remarking that there were serious difficulties in the way of the execution of the plan. Whereupon the Mayor turned upon the unfortunate engineer and remarked, 'We pay you your salary, Mr. Engineer, not to tell us that difficulties exist, but to show us how to surmount them!' I thought it rather a severe rebuke at the time, but very often since, when I have been tempted to allow my handicaps to divert me from my duty, I have been glad that I heard the poor engineer censured.

     I was once deeply and permanently impressed by a chairman's speech at a meeting in Exeter Hall. That noble old auditorium was crowded from floor to ceiling for the annual missionary demonstration of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. The chair was occupied by Mr. W. E. Knight, of Newark. In the course of a most earnest plea for missionary enthusiasm, Mr. Knight suddenly became personal. 'I was born in a missionary atmosphere,' he said. 'I have lived in it ever since; I hope I shall die in it. Over forty years ago my heart was touched with the story of the world's needs; when I heard such men as Gervase Smith, Dr. Punshon, Richard Roberts, G. T. Perks, and others, I said, "Lord, here am I, send me." I came up to London forty-one years ago as a candidate for the Methodist ministry. I offered myself, but the Church did not see fit to accept my offer. I remember well coming up to the college at Westminster and being told of the decision of the committee by that sainted man, William Jackson. I went to the little room in which I had slept with a broken heart. I despised myself. I was rejected of men, and I felt that I was forsaken of God.' Now here is a man heavily handicapped; but let him finish his story. 'In that moment of darkness,' Mr. Knight continued, 'the deepest darkness of my life, there came to me a voice which has influenced my life from then till now. It said. "If you cannot go yourself, send some one else." I was a poor boy then; I knew that I could not pay for anybody else to go. But time rolled on. I prospered in business. And to-night I shall lay on the altar a sum which I wish the committee to invest, and the interest on that sum will support a missionary in Africa, not during my lifetime only, but as long as capital is capable of earning interest. And, ladies and gentlemen, I assure you that this is a red-letter day in my life!'

     Of course it was! It was the day on which he had turned his handicap to that account for which all handicaps were intended.

     'My handicap was an honour and a spur!' said the champion in the tramcar.

     'My handicap was an honour and a spur!' said the chairman at Exeter Hall.

     Both the champion and the chairman did by means of their handicaps what they could never have done without those handicaps. There can be no doubt about it; handicaps were designed, not as the pitiful excuses of the indolent, but as the magnificent inspirations of the brave.

Mushrooms on the Moor
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Something more about his ways

     He comes where He commands us to leave.

     When Jesus had made an end of commanding His disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. --- Matthew 11:1.

     If when God said ‘Go,’ you stayed, because you were so concerned about your people at home, you robbed them of the teaching and preaching of Jesus Christ Himself. When you obeyed and left all consequences to God, the Lord went into your city to teach; as long as you would not obey, you were in the way. Watch where you begin to debate and to put what you call duty in competition with your Lord’s commands. ‘I know God told me to go, but then my duty was here’; that means you do not believe that Jesus means what he says.

     He teaches where He instructs us not to.

     “Master, … let us make three tabernacles.”

     Are we playing the spiritual amateur providence in other lives? Are we so noisy in our instruction of others that God cannot get anywhere near them? We have to keep our mouths shut and our spirits alert. God wants to instruct us in regard to His Son, He wants to turn our times of prayer into mounts of transfiguration, and we will not let Him. When we are certain of the way God is going to work, He will never work in that way any more.

     He works where He sends us to wait.

     “Tarry ye … until …”" Wait on God and He will work, but don’t wait in spiritual sulks because you cannot see an inch in front of you! Are we detached enough from our own spiritual hysterics to wait on God? To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told.

     These are phases of His ways we rarely recognize.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

This One
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                This One

Oh, I know it: the long story,
  The ecstasies, the mutilations;
  Crazed, pitiable creatures
  Imagining themselves a Napoleon,
  A Jesus; letting their hair grow,
  Shaving it off; gorging themselves
  On a dream; kindling
  A new truth, withering by it.

While patiently this poor farmer
  Purged himself in his strong sweat,
  Ploughing under the tall boughs
  Of the tree of the knowledge of
  Good and evil, watching its fruit
  Ripen, abstaining from it.


Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Exodus 13:17–18

     Say to a good worker: “Well done!”

     BIBLE TEXT / Exodus 13:17–18 / Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, “The people may have a change of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt.” So God led the people roundabout, by way of the wilderness at the Sea of Reeds.

     MIDRASH TEXT / Exodus Rabbah 20, 10 / Thus it is written, “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds, Your enemies cower before Your great strength’ ” (Psalm 66:3). Rabbi Yoḥanan in the name of Rabbi Elazar the son of Rabbi Yosé ha-G’lili says, “Say to a good worker: ‘Well done!’ ” Those who were to be crucified crucified those who were to crucify them; those who were to be killed killed those who were to kill them. Haman plotted to hang Mordecai, and they hung him and his sons. Pharaoh said, “Every boy that is born you shall throw into the Nile …”
(Exodus 1:22), and he was thrown into the sea, as it says, “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea” (Exodus 15:4). Thus, “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds.’ ”

     CONTEXT / Someone reading the account of the Exodus from Egypt might question God’s decision to lead the Israelites into the desert. Wouldn’t the shorter, more direct route into Israel have been preferable to the trek through the wilderness? True, God was concerned that the shorter way might have led the Israelites into conflict with the Egyptian troops. But they still faced that superior enemy and overcame them at the Sea of Reeds. What was gained by leading the people on the longer, more circuitous way?

     What was gained, of course, was the miracle at the Sea of Reeds and the ultimate settling of the score with Pharaoh and the Egyptians. What seemed at first like poor planning turned out to be a brilliant strategy. The Israelites—and every subsequent reader of their story—learned critical lessons about God’s awesome might and about God’s attribute of justice.

     The Midrash begins with a quote from the Psalms calling on us to praise God’s power: “How awesome are your deeds, Your enemies cower before Your great strength.” This is a doubly appropriate verse because three lines later we read:

He turned the sea into dry land;
they crossed the river on foot;
we therefore rejoice in Him. (Psalm 66:6)

     Though this connection to the Sea of Reeds is not quoted in our Midrash, the Rabbis were clearly aware of the appropriateness of this verse. They expected the reader either to know it or to look it up and discover it for him or herself. Just as we are surprised to stumble upon the Sea of Reeds in our Psalm, so too the Israelites were surprised to stumble upon the Sea of Reeds in their desert journey. The reader’s experience should mirror that of the Israelites.

     The Psalmist chose elegant language in teaching us how to praise God. Rabbi Yoḥanan, quoting Rabbi Elazar, chooses a more common, earthy way to shower praise: “Say to a good worker: ‘Well done!’ ” The Hebrew phrase translated as “Well done!” is יִישַׁר כֹּחֲךָ/yishar ko-ḥa-kha, which literally means “May your strength be firm (or straight).” To this day, these words are the traditional salutation offered to a person who has had an Aliyah (the honor of being called to the Torah in the synagogue service).

     This section of Midrash ends with a thought about divine justice. Those who were to be crucified crucified those who were to crucify them; those who were to be killed killed those who were to kill them. Our enemies, we are reminded, got what they deserved. The punishment neatly fits the crime. Haman, the villain of the Purim story in the Scroll of Esther, wanted to have Mordecai hanged. In the end, that was the very fate he met. Similarly, Pharaoh began his persecution of the Israelites by ordering that their baby boys be thrown into the waters of the Nile and drowned. He and his people were punished by being thrown into the waters of the Sea of Reeds, where they were drowned. We sometimes find ourselves second-guessing God’s justice when we see bad things occurring in our world. The Midrash tries to assure us: In the end, everything will work out for the best.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 1

     Delight yourself in the LORD.
--- Psalm 37:4.

     This delight in prayer is a delight in the precepts and promises of God, which are the ground and rules of prayer. Works of Stephen Charnock (5 Volume Set) First, David delights in God’s testimonies and then calls on him with his whole heart. A gracious heart must first delight in precepts and promises before it can turn them into prayers, for prayer is nothing else but presenting God with his own promise, desiring that which he has promised to us. No one was more cheerful in prayer than David, because no one was more rejoicing in the statutes of God. God’s statutes were David’s songs (Ps. 119:54). And the divine Word was sweeter to him than honey. If our hearts do not leap at divine promises, we are likely to have drowsy souls in desiring them. If our eyes are not on the delicacies God sets before us, our desires cannot be strong for him. If we have no delight in the rich legacies of God, how can we sue for them? If we do not delight in the covenant of grace, we will not delight in prayers for grace. The hopes of reward made Moses valiant in suffering, and the joy set before Christ made him so cheerful in enduring the shame (Heb. 12:1–2).

     A delight in prayer itself. A Christian’s heart is—in secret—transported into heaven. There is a delight in coming near God and warming the soul by the fire of his love.

     The angels are cheerful in the act of praise; their work is their glory. Holy souls so delight in this duty that if there were no command, no promise, they would be stepping into God’s courts. They do not think it a good day that passes without some communion with God. David would have taken up his lodgings in the courts of God and regards it as the only blessedness (Ps. 65:4). And so great a delight he had in being in God’s presence that he envies the birds the happiness of building their nests near God’s tabernacle. There is a delight in the holiness of prayer; natural men or women under some troubles may delight in God’s comforting and easing presence—but not in his sanctifying presence. They may delight to pray to God as a storehouse to supply their wants—but not as a refiner’s fire to purge away thir dross. Prayer, as praise, is a melody to God in the heart (Eph. 5:19). And the soul loves to be fingering the instrument and touching the strings.
--- Stephen Charnock

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

On This Day
     The Protestant Passover  August 1

     We can’t blame churchmen in England for agonizing every time a new monarch was crowned, for the religious persuasion of the kings determined who would be burned. Anxiety continued even in the days of Isaac Watts and his fellow pastor, Thomas Bradbury. During their day, Queen Anne and the parliament passed the “Schism Bill,” to take effect August 1, 1714. Many predicted it would reestablish Catholicism in England “with mighty gust,” and that Baptists and other Dissenters would again be racked and burned. A terrible storm gathered, and even the stalwart Bradbury grew anxious.

     In the early hours of August 1, Bishop Burnet was passing through Smithfield in London where martyrs of previous eras had died. Seeing Bradbury there, he asked, “Why are you so buried in thought, Mr. Bradbury?”

     “I have been wondering, bishop,” replied Bradbury, “whether I shall have the resolution of that noble army of martyrs whose ashes are deposited in this place. Similar times of persecution are at hand, and I shall be called to suffer.”

     “Then you have not heard the news! The queen is seriously ill. I am on my way to obtain the latest particulars. I will dispatch a messenger with the earliest intelligence of her death. If you are in the pulpit when he arrives he will drop a handkerchief from the gallery.”

     Later that Morning Bradbury ascended his pulpit, and in the middle of his sermon a handkerchief fluttered from the gallery. For weeks he had lived in suspense. Now the news descended with the handkerchief: Anne is dead; the Schism bill, lost; the danger, past. His blood surged, but he continued his sermon without pause. Only in his concluding prayer did he reveal to his stunned congregation that God had “delivered these kingdoms from evil counsels.” He prayed for “His Majesty, King George,” then quoted Psalm 89.

     For years, Dissenters regarded August 1, 1714 as a day of deliverance, the “Protestant Passover.” And the commemoration continues every time we sing the anthem Watts wrote on that occasion: O God Our Help in Ages Past, Our Hope for Years to Come.

     Our LORD, I will sing of your love forever.
     Everyone yet to be born
     Will hear me praise your faithfulness.
     I will tell them,
     “God’s love can always be trusted,
     And his faithfulness lasts as long as the heavens.”
     --- Psalm 89:1,2.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 1

     “Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn.” --- Ruth 2:2.

     Downcast and troubled Christian, come and glean to-day in the broad field of promise. Here are abundance of precious promises, which exactly meet thy wants. Take this one: “He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.” Doth not that suit thy case? A reed, helpless, insignificant, and weak, a bruised reed, out of which no music can come; weaker than weakness itself; a reed, and that reed bruised, yet, he will not break thee; but on the contrary, will restore and strengthen thee. Thou art like the smoking flax: no light, no warmth, can come from thee; but he will not quench thee; he will blow with his sweet breath of mercy till he fans thee to a flame. Wouldst thou glean another ear? “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” What soft words! Thy heart is tender, and the Master knows it, and therefore he speaketh so gently to thee. Wilt thou not obey him, and come to him even now? Take another ear of corn: “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, I will help thee, saith the Lord and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” How canst thou fear with such a wonderful assurance as this? Thou mayest gather ten thousand such golden ears as these! “I have blotted out thy sins like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thy transgressions.” Or this, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Or this, “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come, and let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” Our Master’s field is very rich; behold the handfuls. See, there they lie before thee, poor timid believer! Gather them up, make them thine own, for Jesus bids thee take them. Be not afraid, only believe! Grasp these sweet promises, thresh them out by meditation and feed on them with joy.

          Evening - August 1

     “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness.” --- Psalm 65:11.

     All the year round, every hour of every day, God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake his mercy waits upon us. The sun may leave us a legacy of darkness, but our God never ceases to shine upon his children with beams of love. Like a river, his lovingkindness is always flowing, with a fulness inexhaustible as his own nature. Like the atmosphere which constantly surrounds the earth, and is always ready to support the life of man, the benevolence of God surrounds all his creatures; in it, as in their element, they live, and move, and have their being. Yet as the sun on summer days gladdens us with beams more warm and bright than at other times, and as rivers are at certain seasons swollen by the rain, and as the atmosphere itself is sometimes fraught with more fresh, more bracing, or more balmy influences than heretofore, so is it with the mercy of God; it hath its golden hours; its days of overflow, when the Lord magnifieth his grace before the sons of men. Amongst the blessings of the nether springs, the joyous days of harvest are a special season of excessive favour. It is the glory of autumn that the ripe gifts of providence are then abundantly bestowed; it is the mellow season of realization, whereas all before was but hope and expectation. Great is the joy of harvest. Happy are the reapers who fill their arms with the liberality of heaven. The Psalmist tells us that the harvest is the crowning of the year. Surely these crowning mercies call for crowning thanksgiving! Let us render it by the inward emotions of gratitude. Let our hearts be warmed; let our spirits remember, meditate, and think upon this goodness of the Lord. Then let us praise him with our lips, and laud and magnify his name from whose bounty all this goodness flows. Let us glorify God by yielding our gifts to his cause. A practical proof of our gratitude is a special thank-offering to the Lord of the harvest.

Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

Amazing Grace
     August 1

          I AM THINE, O LORD

     Fanny J. Crosby, 1820–1915

     Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. (Hebrews 10:22)

     Each new day requires a fresh renewal of our dedication to the Lord. The strongest of Christians can be drawn away by the pressures of daily living. And we are vulnerable to the lusts of the flesh and the eyes as well as the subtle temptations that constitute the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16). The warning of Scripture is clear: “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). God must always have His rightful place on the throne of the heart. Nothing in life—not job, not recreation, not even family—should have the top priority of our daily concerns. Anything that replaces the Lordship of Christ can become idolatrous and cause us to be susceptible to a spiritual disaster. We must each day say, “I am Thine, O Lord.”

     Fanny Crosby wrote this consecration hymn while visiting in the home of the composer of the music, William H. Doane, in Cincinnati. The family’s conversation that night centered around the blessedness of enjoying the nearness of God. Suddenly in a moment of inspiration, Fanny started giving the words of the hymn—line by line, verse by verse, and then the chorus. Soon after Doane supplied the music, and another of the more than 8,000 Fanny Crosby hymns was born. Since that day in 1875, these moving lines have ministered to and challenged countless numbers of God’s people to keep their lives dedicated to their Lord:

     I am Thine, O Lord—I have heard Thy voice, and it told Thy love to me; but I long to rise in the arms of faith and be closer drawn to Thee.
     Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, by the pow’r of grace divine; let my soul look up with a steadfast hope and my will be lost in Thine.
     O the pure delight of a single hour that before Thy throne I spend, when I kneel in pray’r and with Thee, my God, I commune as friend with friend.
     There are depths of love that I cannot know till I cross the narrow sea; there are heights of joy that I may not reach till I rest in peace with Thee.
     Chorus: Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to the cross where Thou hast died; draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to Thy precious, bleeding side.

     For Today: Psalm 16:11; 73:28; Romans 12:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 7:22–24; Hebrews 12:28

     Begin this new day, with all of its unknown pressures and temptations, with this musical prayer upon your lips ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Tuesday, August 1, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 12, Tuesday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 61, 62
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 68:1–20 (21–23) 24–35
Old Testament     2 Samuel 3:6–21
New Testament     Acts 16:6–15
Gospel     Mark 6:30–46

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 61, 62

To the leader: with stringed instruments. Of David.

1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth I call to you,
when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I;
3 for you are my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.

4 Let me abide in your tent forever,
find refuge under the shelter of your wings.     Selah
5 For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

6 Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
7 May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!

8 So I will always sing praises to your name,
as I pay my vows day after day.

To the leader: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

3 How long will you assail a person,
will you batter your victim, all of you,
as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.
They take pleasure in falsehood;
they bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse.     Selah

5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.     Selah

9 Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no confidence in extortion,
and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all
according to their work.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 68:1–20 (21–23) 24–35

1 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
let those who hate him flee before him.
2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
as wax melts before the fire,
let the wicked perish before God.
3 But let the righteous be joyful;
let them exult before God;
let them be jubilant with joy.

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds—
his name is the LORD—
be exultant before him.

5 Father of orphans and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
6 God gives the desolate a home to live in;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious live in a parched land.

7 O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,     Selah
8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain
at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9 Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;
10 your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

11 The Lord gives the command;
great is the company of those who bore the tidings:
12 “The kings of the armies, they flee, they flee!”
The women at home divide the spoil,
13 though they stay among the sheepfolds—
the wings of a dove covered with silver,
its pinions with green gold.
14 When the Almighty scattered kings there,
snow fell on Zalmon.

15 O mighty mountain, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
16 Why do you look with envy, O many-peaked mountain,
at the mount that God desired for his abode,
where the LORD will reside forever?

17 With mighty chariotry, twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands,
the Lord came from Sinai into the holy place.
18 You ascended the high mount,
leading captives in your train
and receiving gifts from people,
even from those who rebel against the LORD God’s abiding there.
19 Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.     Selah
20 Our God is a God of salvation,
and to GOD, the Lord, belongs escape from death.

[     21 But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.
22 The Lord said,
“I will bring them back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
23 so that you may bathe your feet in blood,
so that the tongues of your dogs may have their share from the foe.”     ]

24 Your solemn processions are seen, O God,
the processions of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
25 the singers in front, the musicians last,
between them girls playing tambourines:
26 “Bless God in the great congregation,
the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
27 There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead,
the princes of Judah in a body,
the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.

28 Summon your might, O God;
show your strength, O God, as you have done for us before.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings bear gifts to you.
30 Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds,
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute;
scatter the peoples who delight in war.
31 Let bronze be brought from Egypt;
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God.

32 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;
sing praises to the Lord,     Selah
33 O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34 Ascribe power to God,
whose majesty is over Israel;
and whose power is in the skies.
35 Awesome is God in his sanctuary,
the God of Israel;
he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed be God!

Old Testament
2 Samuel 3:6–21

6 While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. 7 Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ishbaal said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?” 8 The words of Ishbaal made Abner very angry; he said, “Am I a dog’s head for Judah? Today I keep showing loyalty to the house of your father Saul, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David; and yet you charge me now with a crime concerning this woman. 9 So may God do to Abner and so may he add to it! For just what the LORD has sworn to David, that will I accomplish for him, 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beer-sheba.” 11 And Ishbaal could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

12 Abner sent messengers to David at Hebron, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and I will give you my support to bring all Israel over to you.” 13 He said, “Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall never appear in my presence unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to see me.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ishbaal, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, to whom I became engaged at the price of one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15 Ishbaal sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 But her husband went with her, weeping as he walked behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he went back.

17 Abner sent word to the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. 18 Now then bring it about; for the LORD has promised David: Through my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from all their enemies.” 19 Abner also spoke directly to the Benjaminites; then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin were ready to do.

20 When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 Abner said to David, “Let me go and rally all Israel to my lord the king, in order that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.” So David dismissed Abner, and he went away in peace.

New Testament
Acts 16:6–15

6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8 so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

11 We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13 On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14 A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

Mark 6:30–46

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35 When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And all ate and were filled; 43 and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.

The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church

A Call for the Common Good
Jim Wallis    Claremont School of Theology

Early Women Bishops United Methodist
Steven L. Jacobs    Claremont School of Theology

Learning to Lead as Followers of Jesus
Bob Burns    Covenant Theological Seminary

Leadership with support 2
Bob Burns       Covenant Theological Seminary

Leadership with challenge 3
Bob Burns       Covenant Theological Seminary

Leadership Context Summary 4
Bob Burns       Covenant Theological Seminary

What does it mean to be a follower? 5
Brad Matthews       Covenant Theological Seminary

Jesus' authoritative teaching 6
David Chapman       Covenant Theological Seminary

Jesus' authoritative power 7
David Chapman       Covenant Theological Seminary

The servant leader 8
Greg Perry       Covenant Theological Seminary

Seasons, Rhythms and Agriculture in the Bible   
Kristin Ritzau   Biola University

Simon Peter's Mission   
Danny Strange   Biola University

Lect 33, OT Lit Prophets in Babylon
Dr. Elaine Phillips

Lect 34, OT Lit Prophets of the Exile (Daniel)
Dr. Elaine Phillips