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1 Samuel 11     Romans 9     Jeremiah 48     Psalm 25

1 Samuel 11

Saul Defeats the Ammonites

1 Samuel 11 1 Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days' respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud.

5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. 7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man. 8 When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9 And they said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation.’” When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad. 10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

The Kingdom Is Renewed

12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

Romans 9

God's Sovereign Choice

Romans 9 1 I am speaking the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad — in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls — 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory — 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”

Israel's Unbelief

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Jeremiah 48

Judgment on Moab

Jeremiah 48 1 Concerning Moab.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:

“Woe to Nebo, for it is laid waste!
Kiriathaim is put to shame, it is taken;
the fortress is put to shame and broken down;
2 the renown of Moab is no more.
In Heshbon they planned disaster against her:
‘Come, let us cut her off from being a nation!’
You also, O Madmen, shall be brought to silence;
the sword shall pursue you.

3 “A voice! A cry from Horonaim,
‘Desolation and great destruction!’
4 Moab is destroyed;
her little ones have made a cry.
5 For at the ascent of Luhith
they go up weeping;
for at the descent of Horonaim
they have heard the distressed cry of destruction.
6 Flee! Save yourselves!
You will be like a juniper in the desert!
7 For, because you trusted in your works and your treasures,
you also shall be taken;
and Chemosh shall go into exile
with his priests and his officials.
8 The destroyer shall come upon every city,
and no city shall escape;
the valley shall perish,
and the plain shall be destroyed,
as the Lord has spoken.

9 “Give wings to Moab,
for she would fly away;
her cities shall become a desolation,
with no inhabitant in them.

10 “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed.

11 “Moab has been at ease from his youth
and has settled on his dregs;
he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
nor has he gone into exile;
so his taste remains in him,
and his scent is not changed.

12 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I shall send to him pourers who will pour him, and empty his vessels and break his jars in pieces. 13 Then Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.

14 “How do you say, ‘We are heroes
and mighty men of war’?
15 The destroyer of Moab and his cities has come up,
and the choicest of his young men have gone down to slaughter,
declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.
16 The calamity of Moab is near at hand,
and his affliction hastens swiftly.
17 Grieve for him, all you who are around him,
and all who know his name;
say, ‘How the mighty scepter is broken,
the glorious staff.’

18 “Come down from your glory,
and sit on the parched ground,
O inhabitant of Dibon!
For the destroyer of Moab has come up against you;
he has destroyed your strongholds.
19 Stand by the way and watch,
O inhabitant of Aroer!
Ask him who flees and her who escapes;
say, ‘What has happened?’
20 Moab is put to shame, for it is broken;
wail and cry!
Tell it beside the Arnon,
that Moab is laid waste.

21 “Judgment has come upon the tableland, upon Holon, and Jahzah, and Mephaath, 22 and Dibon, and Nebo, and Beth-diblathaim, 23 and Kiriathaim, and Beth-gamul, and Beth-meon, 24 and Kerioth, and Bozrah, and all the cities of the land of Moab, far and near. 25 The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, declares the Lord.

26 “Make him drunk, because he magnified himself against the Lord, so that Moab shall wallow in his vomit, and he too shall be held in derision. 27 Was not Israel a derision to you? Was he found among thieves, that whenever you spoke of him you wagged your head?

28 “Leave the cities, and dwell in the rock,
O inhabitants of Moab!
Be like the dove that nests
in the sides of the mouth of a gorge.
29 We have heard of the pride of Moab—
he is very proud—
of his loftiness, his pride, and his arrogance,
and the haughtiness of his heart.
30 I know his insolence, declares the Lord;
his boasts are false,
his deeds are false.
31 Therefore I wail for Moab;
I cry out for all Moab;
for the men of Kir-hareseth I mourn.
32 More than for Jazer I weep for you,
O vine of Sibmah!
Your branches passed over the sea,
reached to the Sea of Jazer;
on your summer fruits and your grapes
the destroyer has fallen.
33 Gladness and joy have been taken away
from the fruitful land of Moab;
I have made the wine cease from the winepresses;
no one treads them with shouts of joy;
the shouting is not the shout of joy.

34 “From the outcry at Heshbon even to Elealeh, as far as Jahaz they utter their voice, from Zoar to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah. For the waters of Nimrim also have become desolate. 35 And I will bring to an end in Moab, declares the Lord, him who offers sacrifice in the high place and makes offerings to his god. 36 Therefore my heart moans for Moab like a flute, and my heart moans like a flute for the men of Kir-hareseth. Therefore the riches they gained have perished.

37 “For every head is shaved and every beard cut off. On all the hands are gashes, and around the waist is sackcloth. 38 On all the housetops of Moab and in the squares there is nothing but lamentation, for I have broken Moab like a vessel for which no one cares, declares the Lord. 39 How it is broken! How they wail! How Moab has turned his back in shame! So Moab has become a derision and a horror to all that are around him.”

40 For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, one shall fly swiftly like an eagle
and spread his wings against Moab;
41 the cities shall be taken
and the strongholds seized.
The heart of the warriors of Moab shall be in that day
like the heart of a woman in her birth pains;
42 Moab shall be destroyed and be no longer a people,
because he magnified himself against the Lord.
43 Terror, pit, and snare
are before you, O inhabitant of Moab!
declares the Lord.
44 He who flees from the terror
shall fall into the pit,
and he who climbs out of the pit
shall be caught in the snare.
For I will bring these things upon Moab,
the year of their punishment,
declares the Lord.

45 “In the shadow of Heshbon
fugitives stop without strength,
for fire came out from Heshbon,
flame from the house of Sihon;
it has destroyed the forehead of Moab,
the crown of the sons of tumult.
46 Woe to you, O Moab!
The people of Chemosh are undone,
for your sons have been taken captive,
and your daughters into captivity.
47 Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
in the latter days, declares the Lord.”
Thus far is the judgment on Moab.

Psalm 25

Teach Me Your Paths

Of David.  See Psalm 25 article below

Psalm 25 1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11 For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.

The Reformation Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Psalm 25 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     TITLE. A Psalm of David. David is pictured in this Psalm as in a faithful miniature. His holy trust, his many conflicts, his great transgression, his bitter repentance, and his deep distresses are all here; so that we see the very heart of "the man after God's own heart." It is evidently a composition of David's later days, for he mentions the sins of his youth, and from its painful references to the craft and cruelty of his many foes, it will not be too speculative a theory to refer it to the period when Absalom was heading the great rebellion against him. This has been styled the second of the seven Penitential Psalms. It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.

     SUBJECT AND DIVISION. The twenty-two verses of this Psalm begin in the original with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their proper order. It is the first instance we have of an inspired acrostic or alphabetical song. This method may have been adopted by the writer to assist the memory; and the Holy Spirit may have employed it to show us that the graces of style and the arts of poetry may lawfully be used in his service. Why should not all the wit and ingenuity of man be sanctified to noblest ends by being laid upon the altar of God? From the singularity of the structure of the Psalm, it is not easy to discover any marked divisions; there are great changes of thought, but there is no variation of subject; the moods of the writer's mind are twofold — prayer and meditation; and as these appear in turns, we should thus divide the verses. Prayer from Ps 25:1-7; meditation, Ps 25:8-10; prayer, Ps 25:11; meditation, Ps 25:12-15; prayer, Ps 25:16-22.


     Verse 1. Unto thee, O Lord. See how the holy soul flies to its God like a dove to its cote. When the storm winds are out, the Lord's vessels put about and make for their well remembered harbour of refuge. What a mercy that the Lord will condescend to hear our cries in time of trouble, although we may have almost forgotten him in our hours of fancied prosperity. Unto thee, O Jehovah, do I lift up my soul.  It is but a mockery to uplift the hands and the eyes unless we also bring our souls into our devotions.  True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob's ladder, leaving our cares and fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top. Very often the soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth bound; more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons we must not give over prayer, but must, by God's assistance, exert all our powers to lift up our hearts. Let faith be the lever and grace be the arm, and the dead lump will yet be stirred. But what a lift it has sometimes proved! With all our tugging and straining we have been utterly defeated, until the heavenly loadstone of our Saviour's love has displayed its omnipotent attractions, and then our hearts have gone up to our Beloved like mounting flames of fire.

     Verse 2. O my God. This title is more dear than the name Jehovah, which is used in the first sentence. Already the sweet singer has drawn nearer to his heavenly helper, for he makes bold to grasp him with the hand of assured possession, calling him, my God. Oh the more than celestial music of that word — "My God!" It is to be observed that the psalmist does not deny expression to those gracious feelings with which God had favoured him; he does not fall into loathsome mock modesty, but finding in his soul a desire to seek the Lord he avows it; believing that he had a rightful interest in Jehovah he declares it, and knowing that he had confidence in his God he professes it; O my God, I trust in thee. Faith is the cable which binds our boat to the shore, and by pulling at it we draw ourselves to the land; faith unites us to God, and then draws us near to him. As long as the anchor of faith holds there is no fear in the worst tempest; if that should fail us there would be no hope left. We must see to it that our faith is sound and strong, for otherwise prayer cannot prevail with God. Woe to the warrior who throws away his shield; what defence can be found for him who finds no defence in his God? Let me not be ashamed. Let not my disappointed hopes make me feel ashamed of my former testimonies of thy faithfulness. Many were on the watch for this. The best of men have their enemies, and should pray against them that they may not see their wicked desires accomplished. Let not mine enemies triumph over me. Suffer no wicked mouth to make blasphemous mirth out of my distresses by asking, "Where is thy God?" There is a great jealousy in believers for the honour of God, and they cannot endure that unbelievers should taunt them with the failure of their expectations from the God of their salvation. All other trusts will end in disappointment and eternal shame, but our confidence shall never be confounded.

     Verse 3. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed. Suffering enlarges the heart by creating the power to sympathize. If we pray eagerly for ourselves, we shall not long be able to forget our fellow sufferers. None pity the poor like those who have been or are still poor, none have such tenderness for the sick as those who have been long in ill health themselves. We ought to be grateful for occasional griefs if they preserve us from chronic hardheartedness; for of all afflictions, an unkind heart is the worst, it is a plague to its possessor, and a torment to those around him. Prayer when it is of the Holy Ghost's teaching is never selfish; the believer does not sue for monopolies for himself, but would have all in like case to partake of divine mercy with him. The prayer may be viewed as a promise; our Heavenly Father will never let his trustful children find him untrue or unkind. He will ever be mindful of his covenant. Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. David had given his enemies no provocation; their hatred was wanton. Sinners have no justifiable reason or valid excuse for transgressing; they benefit no one, not even themselves by their sins; the law against which they transgress is not harsh or unjust; God is not a tyrannical ruler, providence is not a bondage: men sin because they will sin, not because it is either profitable or reasonable to do so. Hence shame is their fitting reward. May they blush with penitential shame now, or else they will not be able to escape the everlasting contempt and the bitter shame which is the portion of fools in the world to come.

     Verse 4. Shew me thy ways, O Lord. Unsanctified natures clamour for their own way, but gracious spirits cry, "Not my will, but thine be done." We cannot at all times discern the path of duty, and at such times it is our wisdom to apply to the Lord himself. Frequently the dealings of God with us are mysterious, and then also we may appeal to him as his own interpreter, and in due time he will make all things plain. Moral, providential and mental forms of guidance are all precious gifts of a gracious God to a teachable people. The second petition, teach me thy paths, appears to mean more than the first, and may be illustrated by the case of a little child who should say to his father, "Father, first tell me which is the way, and then teach my little trembling feet to walk in it." What weak dependent creatures we are! How constantly should we cry to the Strong for strength!

     Verse 5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me. The same request as in the last verse. The little child having begun to walk, asks to be still led onward by its parent's helping hand, and to be further instructed in the alphabet of truth. Experimental teaching is the burden of this prayer. Lead me according to thy truth, and prove thyself faithful; lead me into truth that I may know its preciousness, lead me by the way of truth that I may manifest its spirit. David knew much, but he felt his ignorance and desired to be still in the Lord's school; four times over in these two verses he applies for a scholarship in the college of grace. It were well for many professors if instead of following their own devices, and cutting out new paths of thought for themselves, they would enquire for the good old ways of God's own truth, and beseech the Holy Ghost to give them sanctified understandings and teachable spirits. For thou art the God of my salvation. The Three One Jehovah is the Author and Perfector of salvation to his people. Reader, is he the God of your salvation? Do you find in the Father's election, in the Son's atonement, and in the Spirit's quickening all the grounds of your eternal hopes? If so, you may use this as an argument for obtaining further blessings;  if the Lord has ordained to save you, surely he will not refuse to instruct you in his ways.  It is a happy thing when we can address the Lord with the confidence which David here manifests, it gives us great power in prayer, and comfort in trial. On thee do I wait all the day. Patience is the fair handmaid and daughter of faith; we cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait in vain. It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our life. Our faith will be tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously he once waited for us.

     Verse 6. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses. We are usually tempted in seasons of affliction to fear that our God has forgotten us, or forgotten his usual kindness towards us; hence the soul doth as it were put the Lord in remembrance, and beseech him to recollect those deeds of love which once he wrought towards it. There is a holy boldness which ventures thus to deal with the Most High, let us cultivate it; but there is also an unholy unbelief which suggests our fears, let us strive against it with all our might. What gems are those two expressions, "tender mercies and lovingkindnesses!" They are the virgin honey of language; for sweetness no words can excel them; but as for the gracious favours which are intended by them, language fails to describe them.

"When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I am lost
In wonder, love and praise."

     If the Lord will only do unto us in the future as in the past, we shall be well content. We seek no change in the divine action, we only crave that the river of grace may never cease to flow.  Amen!   For they have been ever of old. A more correct translation would be "from eternity." David was a sound believer in the doctrine of God's eternal love. The Lord's lovingkindnesses are no novelties. When we plead with him to bestow them upon us, we can urge use and custom of the most ancient kind. In courts of law men make much of precedents, and we may plead them at the throne of grace. "Faith, "saith Dickson, "must make use of experiences and read them over unto God, out of the register of a sanctified memory, as a recorder to him who cannot forget." With a unchangeable God it is a most effectual argument to remind him of his ancient mercies and his eternal love. By tracing all that we enjoy to the fountain head of everlasting love we shall greatly cheer our hearts, and those do us but sorry service who try to dissuade us from meditating upon election and its kindred topics.

     Verse 7. Remember not the sins of my youth. Sin is the stumbling block. This is the thing to be removed. Lord, pass an act of oblivion for all my sins, and especially for the hot blooded wanton follies of my younger years. Those offences which we remember with repentance God forgets, but if we forget them, justice will bring them forth to punishment. The world winks at the sins of younger men, and yet they are none so little after all; the bones of our youthful feastings at Satan's table will stick painfully in our throats when we are old men.  He who presumes upon his youth is poisoning his old age.  How large a tear may wet this page as some of us reflect upon the past! Nor my transgressions. Another word for the same evils. Sincere penitents cannot get through their confessions at a gallop; they are constrained to use many bemoanings, for their swarming sins smite them with so innumerable griefs. A painful sense of any one sin provokes the believer to repentance for the whole mass of his iniquities. Nothing but the fullest and clearest pardon will satisfy a thoroughly awakened conscience. David would have his sins not only forgiven, but forgotten. According to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O Lord. David and the dying thief breathe the same prayer, and doubtless they grounded it upon the same plea, viz., the free grace and unmerited goodness of Jehovah. We dare not ask to have our portion measured from the balances of justice, but we pray to be dealt with by the hand of mercy.

     Verses 8-10. These three verses are a meditation upon the attributes and acts of the Lord. He who toils in the harvest field of prayer should occasionally pause awhile and refresh himself with a meal of meditation.

     Verse 8. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. Here the goodness and rectitude of the divine character are beheld in friendly union; he who would see them thus united in bonds of perfect amity must stand at the foot of the cross and view them blended in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. It is no less true than wonderful that through the atonement the justice of God pleads as strongly as his grace for the salvation of the sinners whom Jesus died to save. Moreover, as a good man naturally endeavours to make others like himself, so will the Lord our God in his compassion bring sinners into the way of holiness and conform them to his own image; thus the goodness of our God leads us to expect the reclaiming of sinful men. We may not conclude from God's goodness that he will save those sinners who continue to wander in their own ways, but we may be assured that he will renew transgressors' hearts and guide them into the way of holiness. Let those who desire to be delivered from sin take comfort from this. God himself will condescend to be the teacher of sinners. What a ragged school is this for God to teach in! God's teaching is practical; he teaches sinners not only the doctrine but the way.

     Verse 9. The meek will he guide in judgment. Meek spirits are in high favour with the Father of the meek and lowly Jesus, for he sees in them the image of his only begotten Son. They know their need of guidance, and are willing to submit their own understandings to the divine will, and therefore the Lord condescends to be their guide. Humble spirits are in this verse endowed with a rich inheritance; let them be of good cheer. Trouble puts gentle spirits to their wit's ends, and drives them to act without discretion, but grace comes to the rescue, enlightens their minds to follow that which is just, and helps them to discern the way in which the Lord would have them to go. Proud of their own wisdom fools will not learn, and therefore miss their road to heaven, but lowly hearts sit at Jesu's feet, and find the gate of glory, for the meek will he teach his way. Blessed teacher! Favoured scholar! Divine lesson! My soul, be thou familiar with the whole.

     Verse 10. This is a rule without exception. God is good to those that be good. Mercy and faithfulness shall abound towards those who through mercy are made faithful. Whatever outward appearances may threaten we should settle it steadfastly in our minds that while grace enables us to obey the Lord's will we need not fear that Providence will cause us any real loss. There shall be mercy in every unsavoury morsel, and faithfulness in every bitter drop; let not our hearts be troubled, but let us rest by faith in the immutable covenant of Jehovah, which is ordered in all things and sure. Yet this is not a general truth to be trampled upon by swine, it is a pearl for a child's neck. Gracious souls, by faith resting upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus, keep the covenant of the Lord, and, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, they walk in his testimonies; these will find all things working together for their good, but to the sinner there is no such promise. Keepers of the covenant shall be kept by the covenant; those who follow the Lord's commandments shall find the Lord's mercy following them.

     Verse 11. This sentence of prayer would seem out of place were it not that prayer is always in its place, whether in season or out of season. Meditation having refreshed the Psalmist, he falls to his weighty work again, and wrestles with God for the remission of his sin. For thy name's sake, O Lord. Here is a blessed, never failing plea. Not for our sakes or our merit's sake, but to glorify thy mercy, and to show forth the glory of thy divine attributes. Pardon mine iniquity. It is confessed, it is abhorred, it is consuming my heart with grief; Lord forgive it; let thine own lips pronounce my absolution. For it is great. It weighs so heavily upon me that I pray thee remove it. Its greatness is no difficulty with thee, for thou art a great God, but the misery which it causes to me is my argument with thee for speedy pardon. Lord, the patient is sore sick, therefore heal him. To pardon a great sinner will bring thee great glory, therefore for thy name's sake pardon me. Observe how this verse illustrates the logic of faith, which is clean contrary to that of a legal spirit; faith looks not for merit in the creature, but hath regard to the goodness of the Creator; and instead of being staggered by the demerits of sin it looks to the precious blood, and pleads all the more vigorously because of the urgency of the case.

     Verse 12. What man is he that feareth the Lord? Let the question provoke self examination. Gospel privileges are not for every pretender. Art thou of the seed royal or no? Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. Those whose hearts are right shall not err for want of heavenly direction.  Where God sanctifies the heart he enlightens the head.  We all wish to choose our way; but what a mercy is it when the Lord directs that choice, and makes free will to be goodwill! If we make our will God's will, God will let is have our will. God does not violate our will, but leaves much to our choice; nevertheless, he instructs our wills, and so we choose that which is well pleasing in his sight. The will should be subject to law; there is a way which we should choose, but so ignorant are we that we need to be taught, and so wilful that none but God himself can teach us effectually.

     Verse 13. He who fears God has nothing else to fear. His soul shall dwell at ease. He shall lodge in the chamber of content. One may sleep as soundly in the little bed in the corner as in the Great Bed of Ware; it is not abundance but content that gives true ease. Even here, having learned by grace both to abound and be empty, the believer dwells at ease; but how profound will be the ease of his soul for ever! There he will enjoy the otium cum dignitate; ease and glory shall go together. Like a warrior whose battles are over, or a husbandman whose barns are full, his soul shall take its ease, and be merry for ever. His seed shall inherit the earth. God remembers Isaac for the sake of Abraham, and Jacob for the sake of Isaac. Good men's sons have a goodly portion to begin the world with, but many of them, alas! turn a father's blessing into a curse. The promise is not broken because in some instances men wilfully refuse to receive it; moreover, it is in its spiritual meaning that it now holds good; our spiritual seed do inherit all that was meant by "the earth, "or Canaan; they receive the blessing of the new covenant. May the Lord make us the joyful parents of many spiritual children, and we shall have no fears about their maintenance, for the Lord will make each one of them princes in all the earth.

     Verse 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him. Some read it "the friendship:" it signifies familiar intercourse, confidential intimacy, and select fellowship. This is a great secret. Carnal minds cannot guess what is intended by it, and even believers cannot explain it in words, for it must be felt to be known. The higher spiritual life is necessarily a path which the eagle's eye hath not known, and which the lion's whelp has not travelled; neither natural wisdom nor strength can force a door into this inner chamber. Saints have the key of heaven's hieroglyphics; they can unriddle celestial enigmas. They are initiated into the fellowship of the skies; they have heard words which it is not possible for them to repeat to their fellows. And he will shew them his covenant. Its antiquity, security, righteousness, fulness, graciousness and excellence, shall be revealed to their hearts and understandings, and above all, their own part in it shall be sealed to their souls by the witness of the Holy Spirit. The designs of love which the Lord has to his people in the covenant of grace, he has been pleased to show to believers in the Book of Inspiration, and by his Spirit he leads us into the mystery, even the hidden mystery of redemption. He who does not know the meaning of this verse, will never learn it from a commentary; let him look to the cross, for the secret lies there.

     Verse 15. Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord. The writer claims to be fixed in his trust, and constant in his expectation; he looks in confidence, and waits in hope. We may add to this look of faith and hope the obedient look of service, the humble look of reverence, the admiring look of wonder, the studious look of meditation, and the tender look of affection. Happy are those whose eyes are never removed from their God. "The eye, "says Solomon, "is never satisfied with seeing, "but this sight is the most satisfying in the world. For he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Observe the conflicting condition in which a gracious soul may be placed, his eyes are in heaven and yet his feet are sometimes in a net; his nobler nature ceases not to behold the glories of God, while his baser parts are enduring the miseries of the world. A net is the common metaphor for temptation. The Lord often keeps his people from falling into it, and if they have fallen he rescues them. The word "pluck" is a rough word, and saints who have fallen into sin find that the means of their restoration are not always easy to the flesh; the Lord plucks at us sharply to let us feel that sin is an exceeding bitter thing. But what a mercy is here: Believer, be very grateful for it. The Lord will deliver us from the cunning devices of our cruel enemy, and even if through infirmity we have fallen into sin, he will not leave us to be utterly destroyed but will pluck us out of our dangerous state; though our feet are in the net, if our eyes are up unto God, mercy certainly will interpose.

     Verse 16. His own eyes were fixed upon God, but he feared that the Lord had averted his face from him in anger. Oftentimes unbelief suggests that God has turned his back upon us. If we know that we turn to God we need not fear that he will turn from us, but may boldly cry, Turn thee unto me. The ground of quarrel is always in ourselves, and when that is removed there is nothing to prevent our full enjoyment of communion with God. Have mercy upon me. Saints still must stand upon the footing of mercy; notwithstanding all their experience they cannot get beyond the publican's prayer, "Have mercy upon me." For I am desolate and afflicted. He was lonely and bowed down. Jesus was in the days of his flesh in just such a condition; none could enter into the secret depths of his sorrows, he trod the winepress alone, and hence he is able to succour in the fullest sense those who tread the solitary path.

"Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than he went through before;
He that into God's kingdom comes,
Must enter by this door."

     Verse 17. The troubles of my heart are enlarged. When trouble penetrates the heart it is trouble indeed. In the case before us, the heart was swollen with grief like a lake surcharged with water by enormous floods; this is used as an argument for deliverance, and it is a potent one. When the darkest hour of the night arrives we may expect the dawn; when the sea is at its lowest ebb the tide must surely turn; and when our troubles are enlarged to the greatest degree, then we may hopefully pray, O bring thou me out of my distresses.

     Verse 18. Look upon mine affliction and my pain. Note the many trials of the saints; here we have no less than six words all descriptive of woe. "Desolate, and afflicted, troubles enlarged, distresses, affliction, and pain." But note yet more the submissive and believing spirit of a true saint; all he asks for is, "Lord, look upon my evil plight; "he does not dictate, or even express a complaint; a look from God will content him, and that being granted he asks no more. Even more noteworthy is the way in which the believer under affliction discovers the true source of all the mischief, and lays the axe at the root of it.  Forgive all my sins, is the cry of a soul that is more sick of sin than of pain, and would sooner be forgiven than healed. Blessed is the man to whom sin is more unbearable than disease, he shall not be long before the Lord shall both forgive his iniquity and heal his diseases.  Men are slow to see the intimate connection between sin and sorrow, a grace taught heart alone feels it.

     Verse 19. Consider mine enemies. Watch them, weigh them, check them, defeat them. For they are many. They need the eyes of Argus to watch them, and the arms of Hercules to match them, but the Lord is more than sufficient to defeat them. The devils of hell and the evils of earth are all vanquished when the Lord makes bare his arm. They hate me with cruel hatred. It is the breath of the serpent's seed to hate; their progenitor was a hater, and they themselves must needs imitate him. No hate so cruel as that which is unreasonable and unjust. A man can forgive one who had injured him, but one whom he has injured he hates implacably. "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, "is still our Master's word to us.

     Verse 20. O keep my soul out of evil, and deliver me when I fall into it. This is another version of the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Let me not be ashamed. This is the one fear which like a ghost haunted the psalmist's mind. He trembled lest his faith should become the subject of ridicule through the extremity of his affliction. Noble hearts can brook anything but shame. David was of such a chivalrous spirit, that he could endure any torment rather than be put to dishonour. For I put my trust in thee. And therefore the name of God would be compromised if his servants were deserted; this the believing heart can by no means endure.

     Verse 21. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me. What better practical safeguards can a man require? If we do not prosper with these as our guides, it is better for us to suffer adversity. Even the ungodly world admits that "honesty is the best policy." The heir of heaven makes assurance doubly sure, for apart from the rectitude of his public life, he enlists the guardian care of heaven in secret prayer: for I wait on thee. To pretend to wait on God without holiness of life is religious hypocrisy, and to trust to our own integrity without calling upon God is presumptuous atheism. Perhaps the integrity and uprightness referred to are those righteous attributes of God, which faith rests upon as a guarantee that the Lord will not forfeit his word.

     Verse 22. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. This is a very comprehensive prayer, including all the faithful and all their trials. Sorrow had taught the psalmist sympathy, and given him communion with the tried people of God; he therefore remembers them in his prayers. Israel, the tried, the wrestling, the conquering hero, fit representative of all the saints. Israel in Egypt, in the wilderness, in wars with Canaanites, in captivity, fit type of the church militant on earth. Jesus is the Redeemer from trouble as well as sin, he is a complete Redeemer, and from every evil he will rescue every saint. Redemption by blood is finished: O God, send us redemption by power. Amen and Amen.

The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)

     Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) served for 30 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He was the great Victorian preacher and was one of the most influential people of the second half of the 19th Century. At the heart of his desire to preach was a fierce love of people, a desire that meant he did not neglect his pastoral ministry. It is estimated that during his lifetime he spoke to 10 million people, and he became known as the "Prince of Preachers." His works fill over 60 volumes; and more than a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike with their biblical grounding, eloquent text, and simple encouragement. Among his published books are  Lectures To My StudentsThe Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set),  a devotional commentary on the Psalms;  All of Grace: Revised & updated , the first Christian pocket-paperback published in the United States; numerous volumes of topical sermon collections; and the best-selling  Morning And Evening (Daily Readings).

The Coming of the Kingdom

By R.C. Sproul 3/01/2012

     The gospel of Mark is notable for its lack of extended accounts of Jesus’ teaching. Furthermore, Mark gives us noticeably fewer parables than do Matthew and Luke. However, in chapter 4 of his gospel, Mark records four parables. He begins with the lengthy parable of the sower, then follows with three short, pithy parables, each clearly communicating one central idea, as do most parables. All three of these parables teach us something about the kingdom of God.

     In 4:26–29, Mark writes:

     And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

     In this parable, as in the parable of the sower, Jesus taps the metaphor of sowing and seed. Here, however, Jesus does not talk about the different soils into which seed is sown, but about one of the most remarkable dimensions of nature. We plant seeds and go to bed. Overnight, rain falls on the seeds. The next day, sunlight warms them. Germination occurs and tiny green shoots emerge from the ground. Soon, the crop is ready for harvesting. Jesus said the spread of the kingdom of God is much like this process. It begins small, but while our attention is elsewhere, so to speak, the kingdom grows. Like the growth of a seed, it is a mysterious process.

     I find it comforting to know that this is how God’s kingdom works. This parable teaches me that the things I say and do, though they seem infinitely insignificant to me, may have eternal significance as God uses me in the building of His kingdom. Of His own good pleasure, He works through what we do and say not to exalt us but to glorify Himself.

     Once, when I was standing at the church door after a service, a young man came up to me and began to tell me that he had heard me speak fifteen years before at a small church in Pennsylvania. He told me that following that service, he had asked me a question, and he was able to repeat my answer to him verbatim all those years later. He said, “When I went home, I could not get your words out of my head, and God used the comment you made that day to convict me to go into the ministry.” As I reflected on his story, I wondered how many other words I had spoken to people that had helped them or, perhaps, wounded them, leaving scars on their souls that they carry to this day. We have no idea how powerful a simple word can be, for good or ill.

     Every year in the United States, thousands of pastors leave the ministry. Some leave for moral reasons, but most leave because they feel unappreciated by their congregations. They feel like they’re spinning their wheels, that they’re preaching their hearts out but nothing is happening. They need to hear this parable. Or they need to listen to Paul when he says, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:7). God can and does use their faithful preaching of His Word, though the preachers themselves may never see their words’ effect.

     Yet sometimes God does give us a glimpse into how He has used us and our words to glorify Himself. Over the years, I’ve been a part of countless pastors conferences and seminars. It always amazes me how ministers in vastly different settings have similar stories about their preaching experiences. So often, I have heard preachers talk about those occasions when they stood in the pulpit and gave a sermon that they did not consider particularly compelling, even though they put their heart and soul into preparing for it. These same pastors have told me that those sermons are what their people remembered and benefitted from years later. God used what these preachers considered weak and unremarkable for great good. I can also testify that this has often been my own experience.

     That’s the way the kingdom is. We often do not know what God does with our service. We plant the seed, go to bed, and, while we sleep, God germinates the seed so that life grows and eventually produces a full harvest. Then God Himself reaps for His own glory. We simply need to forget about trying to see the fruit of our service immediately. It does not matter if we ever see it. We are called to take the light and let it shine, then let God do with it whatever He pleases.

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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:

Scripture and Science in Conflict?: An Interview with Stephen C. Meyer

By Stephen Meyer 3/01/2012

     Tabletalk: What is your book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design all about?

     Stephen Meyer: It’s about what I call “the DNA enigma,” the mystery of the origin of the information in living cells and the closely related question of the origin of life, that is, the origin of the first living cell.

     TT: Your book used discoveries about DNA to argue for intelligent design. Other scientists use the evidence of DNA to argue for common ancestry and naturalistic evolution. How can non-specialists evaluate these complicated arguments?

     SM: First, the arguments are not actually that complicated. Most people can follow them if they acquaint themselves with a bit of basic biology. Second, it’s important to keep some basic distinctions in mind.

     My book addresses the fundamental question of the origin of the information in DNA and presents intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life.

     Those arguing for universal common ancestry and biological evolution are not addressing that question. Instead, they are typically comparing pre-existing genes (sections of the genetic text, that is, information) in different organisms. They assume that the degree of difference in the sequences of similar genes from different organisms indicates how long ago they diverged from a common ancestor. Whether readers judge the evidence that scientists muster in support of universal common ancestry to be compelling or not, they should recognize that scientists making these arguments are addressing a different question than I address in my book. My argument could be right and there could also be evidence for universal common ancestry, though I am personally skeptical of that thesis (see below).

     In any case, a good book that evaluates the arguments for and against universal common ancestry is the supplementary textbook Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism. It will help readers who want to examine responsibly the evidence on both sides of that question.

     TT: Is the idea of an original human couple (Adam and Eve) in conflict with science? Does DNA tell us anything about the existence of Adam and Eve?

     SM: Readers have probably heard that the 98 percent similarity of human DNA to chimp DNA establishes that humans and chimps had a common ancestor. Recent studies show that number dropping significantly. More important, it turns out that previous measures of human and chimp genetic similarity were based upon an analysis of only 2 to 3 percent of the genome, the small portion that codes for proteins. This limited comparison was justified based upon the assumption that the rest of the genome was non-functional “junk.” Since the publication of the results of something called the “Encode Project,” however, it has become clear that the noncoding regions of the genome perform many important functions and that, overall, the non-coding regions of the genome function much like an operating system in a computer by regulating the timing and expression of the information stored in the “data files” or coding regions of the genome. Significantly, it has become increasingly clear that the non-coding regions, the crucial operating systems in effect, of the chimp and human genomes are species specific. That is, they are strikingly different in the two species. Yet, if alleged genetic similarity suggests common ancestry, then, by the same logic, this new evidence of significant genetic disparity suggests independent separate origins. For this reason, I see nothing from a genetic point of view that challenges the idea that humans originated independently from primates, possibly even from a single breeding pair.

     TT: Recently, a number of professing Christians have claimed that the evidence for evolution has reached the point where to deny it is actually damaging to the cause of Christ. How do you respond to those who say that we now know evolution is simply the means by which God created life?

     SM: I find this claim extremely ironic in light of the growing skepticism about the adequacy of neo-Darwinism among leading secular biologists and even among evolutionary biologists. There is currently a group of leading evolutionary biologists called the Altenburg 16 who are calling for a new theory of evolution because they recognize that the neo-Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection does not have the power that has long been attributed to it. If such experts can openly question the standard theory of evolution, I fail to see how it brings disrepute on anyone else, Christian or otherwise, to raise thoughtful scientific questions about the adequacy of the theory.

     I also think it is important for people evaluating claims about evolution to keep in mind the different meanings of the term that are in play. Evolution can have several different meanings. It can mean change over time, or it can mean that all organisms share a common ancestor such that the history of life looks like the great branching tree that Darwin used to depict the history of life. Or it can mean that a purely undirected process — namely, natural selection acting on random mutations — has produced all the change that has occurred over time. This last meaning of evolution is central to classical and modern Darwinian theory. And it is the meaning of evolution that the theory of intelligent design is challenging. We do not think that there is evidence that a purely undirected mechanism has produced every appearance of design in nature or in biology. Neither do I see, as a matter of logic, how even God could have used a purely undirected process to create life. Not even God can direct an undirected process because as soon as He does, it is no longer undirected. If God is directing the process of evolution, it is no longer Darwinian; instead, at that point it becomes a mode or form of intelligent design.

     TT: Some scientists argue that intelligent design is not real science because it “gives up” looking for the observable explanation too soon. How do you respond to such charges?

     SM: Neo-Darwinism does not posit an observable explanation for the origin of new forms of life from simpler pre-existing forms. It posits unobservable past entities and events — transitional intermediate forms of life and unobservable past mutational events. But positing unobservable entities or events is nothing unusual in science. Scientists often posit unobservable entities to explain observable phenomena. For this reason, I have argued that positing the unobservable activity of a designing intelligence violates no sound canon of scientific reasoning. What matters is not whether the explanatory entity can be observed, but how well it explains the evidence. In any case, I am happy to have scientists continue to try to find materialistic explanations for the origin of life and the origin of biological information. Their attempts to date have only strengthened my case for intelligent design because all attempts to simulate the origin of digital or genetic information have invariably involved the use of intelligence, typically the intelligence of a scientist or computer programmer.

     TT: The age of the earth remains a highly contentious point of disagreement among Christians. How should believers deal with this subject?

     SM: The case for intelligent design that I make does not depend upon a particular view of the age of the earth. Neither is the age of the earth a primary concern of the intelligent design research community. My own view is that the earth is very old, but I have some colleagues who take the opposite view. We tend not to make it an issue in our scientific work on design. This seems like a good policy generally.

     TT: Many Christians believe science is in conflict with Scripture and with faith. Should Christians have this fear of science?

     SM: Definitely not. I think many discoveries of modern science have positive, faith-affirming implications, including the discovery that the universe, time, and space had a beginning; that the laws and constants of physics are finely tuned to allow for the possibility of life; and that biological systems display striking evidence of design, in particular, the molecular machinery and digital information we find in living cells. It’s a great time for Christians to work in science.

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     Stephen C. Meyer is director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC) and a founder of both the intelligent design movement and of the CSC, intelligent design’s primary intellectual and scientific headquarters. Dr. Meyer is a Cambridge University trained philosopher of science and the author of peer-reviewed books and journal articles in science, philosophy, and other technical matters. His significant contribution to ID theory is given most fully in Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. Meyer’s many other publications include a contribution to, and the editing of, the peer-reviewed volume Darwinism, Design and Public Education and the innovative textbook Explore Evolution.

Stephen Meyer Books:

The Challenge of Same-Sex Unions

By Albert Mohler 4/01/2012

     In the world but not of the world? From the very beginning, the church has faced the challenge of responding to external events, trends, ideologies, and controversies. By definition, the church does not get to choose these challenges, but they have been thrust upon Christians by the world. The question always comes down to this: What now?

     That question seems especially urgent in light of the emergence of same-sex unions and marriage in the United States and the world over. How must the church answer this challenge?

     To answer that question, we need to think about the speed of the moral revolution that has pushed this question to the forefront of our culture. In less than a generation, homosexuality has gone from being almost universally condemned to being almost fully normalized in the larger society.

     We are facing a true moral inversion — a system of moral understandings turned upside down. Where homosexuality was even recently condemned by the society, now it is considered a sin to believe that homosexuality is wrong in any way. A new sexual morality has replaced the old, and those who hold to the old morality are considered morally deficient. The new moral authorities have one central demand for the church: get with the new program.

     This puts the true church, committed to the authority of God’s Word, in a very difficult cultural position. Put simply, we cannot join the larger culture in normalizing homosexuality and restructuring society to match this new morality. Recognizing same-sex unions and legalizing same-sex marriage is central to this project.

     Liberal churches and denominations are joining the project, some more quickly and eagerly than others. The cultural pressure is formidable, and only churches that are truly committed to Scripture will withstand the pressure to accommodate themselves and their message to the new morality.

     What, then, is the true church to do? First, we must stand without compromise on the authority of the Bible and the principles of sexual conduct and morality that God has revealed so clearly in His Word. The Bible’s sexual morality is grounded in the creation of humanity in God’s image; we are created as male and female and given the gift of sex within the marriage covenant — and only within the marriage covenant between one man and one woman for as long they both shall live.

     The easiest way to summarize the Bible’s teaching on sexuality is to begin with God’s blessing of sex only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Then, just remember that sex outside of that covenant relationship, whatever its form or expression, is explicitly forbidden. Christians know that these prohibitions are for our good and that rejecting them is tantamount to a moral rebellion against God Himself. We also know that the Bible forbids all same-sex sexual acts and behaviors. Thus, we know that homosexuality is a sin, that blessing it in any way is also sin, and that normalizing sin cannot lead to human happiness.

     Second, we must realize what is at stake. Marriage is first and foremost a public institution. It has always been so. Throughout history, societies have granted special recognition and privileges to marriage because it is the central organizing institution of human culture. Marriage regulates relationships, sexuality, human reproduction, lineage, kinship, and family structure. But marriage has also performed another crucial function — it has regulated morality.

     This is why the challenge of samesex unions is so urgent and important. Redefining marriage is never simply about marriage. It leads to the redefinition of reproduction and parenthood, produces a legal revolution with vast consequences, replaces an old social order with something completely new, and forces the adoption of a new morality. This last point is especially important. Marriage teaches morality by its very centrality to the culture. With a new concept of marriage comes a new morality, enforced by incredible social pressure and, eventually, legal threats.

     Third, we must act quickly to teach Christians the truth about marriage and God’s plan for sexuality in all its fullness and beauty. We must develop pastoral approaches that are faithful to Scripture and arm this generation of believers to withstand the cultural pressure and respond in ways that are truly Christian.

     Last, and most important, this challenge must drive us to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians must be the first to understand this challenge in light of the gospel. After all, we know spiritual rebellion when we see it, for we ourselves were rebels before God’s grace conquered us. We know what moral confusion means because without the light of God’s Word, we are just as confused.

     There is no rescue from the self-deception of sin except for the salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ. While doing everything else required of us in this challenge, the faithful church must center its energies on the one thing that we know we must do above all else — preach, teach, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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

Albert Mohler Books:

God-Centered Preaching

By Bernie van Eyk 4/01/2012

     “People are starving for the greatness of God,” observes John Piper, “but most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Thus preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: ‘Show me your glory.’” Our greatest need, as we walk through the wilderness of this present age, is to see what the Apostle John saw on the Isle of Patmos — a glimpse of the glory of God.

     Yet, as preachers we want to connect with the congregation, don’t we? We want to be relevant. We want to meet our flocks where they are. We have heard the protests for more “practical sermons.” These critics desire sermons that instruct on “how I can be a better self,” “how I can deal with stress in my life,” or “how I can be more successful.” And so, acquiescing to these laments, therapy has replaced theology in much contemporary preaching. The self has acquired center stage, and God, if He is there at all, has been marginalized. The focus has shifted from God, who He is and what He has done, to self and our activity, our needs, and our experiences. The assumption, of course, is that theology is not practical, that the study of God is irrelevant for our daily lives. But nothing could be further from the truth. What our people need is God-centered preaching.

     We need to preach the Word if God’s people are ever to catch a glimpse of the glory of God (1 Tim. 4:4). It’s through the Word that the Spirit reveals to us God — His person, name, attributes, work, and glory. The Bible was given to reveal God to His people so that they might know, love, and worship Him. The Bible is fundamentally a book about God. This might come as a surprise to some. Because of our natural bent toward self, we tend to think that the Bible is a book about us. It is not. It is, from beginning to end, a book about God: “In the beginning, God” (Gen. 1:1).

     If the Word is theocentric (God-centered), how can our preaching be anything other that theocentric? Our preaching is a reflection of our theology. When our theology is focused on God and His glory, our preaching will be the same. In our narcissistic culture, plagued with materialism, pragmatism, and relativism, a concentrated emphasis on God and His glory is precisely what our people need. Our minds and our hearts need to be lifted from the things that can be seen and directed to the things that are unseen and eternal. Wasn’t this the remedy for Asaph’s troubled soul (Ps. 73)? He had become so absorbed with self and the comforts of this present age that he became envious of the wicked — until, that is, he entered the temple of God. It was only as his eyes shifted from things temporal to things eternal that his mind and heart were recalibrated.

     God-centered preaching, however, does not negate the need for preaching Christ; rather, it requires it. God-centered preaching must necessarily be focused on Christ, for it is only as we see Christ that we can know God (John 1:18). It is only through Christ, who is the exact imprint of God, that we come to know and love God. Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of all the Scriptures: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20). That’s why Paul can boldly declare to the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2); to the Colossians succinctly state, “Him we proclaim” (Col. 1:28); and at the same time acknowledge to the elders at Ephesus that he “did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Jesus Christ is the One sent from heaven (John 6) to deliver us from this present evil age and bring us to God. He is Immanuel — God with us — and He is God for us and, by his Holy Spirit, God in us.

     Only preaching that is centered on the triune God and His majesty and condescending love for sinners, demonstrated in Jesus Christ, will solicit the eternal doxology: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever” (Rev. 5:13).

     God-centered preaching exposes the things of this passing age as forfeit and rouses the soul to confess with Asaph: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:25–26). It is only as God’s people catch a vision of God in all of His splendid glory that they will begin to ache for uninterrupted communion with Him and more earnestly pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Can anything be more relevant to our daily lives than God-centered preaching? And can anything be more satisfying than to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ?

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     Rev. Bernie van Eyk is pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America), in Stuart, Florida.

Jesus: The Only Savior

By R.C. Sproul 4/01/2012

     I cannot imagine an affirmation that would meet with more resistance from contemporary Westerners than the one Paul makes in 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”This declaration is narrow and downright un-American. We have been inundated with the viewpoint that there are many roads that lead to heaven, and that God is not so narrow that He requires a strict allegiance to one way of salvation. If anything strikes at the root of the tree of pluralism and relativism, it is a claim of exclusivity to any one religion. A statement such as Paul makes in his first letter to Timothy is seen as bigoted and hateful.

     Paul, of course, is not expressing bigotry or hatefulness at all. He is simply expressing the truth of God, the same truth Jesus taught when He said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Paul is affirming the uniqueness of Christ, specifically in His role as Mediator. A mediator is a go-between, someone who stands between two parties that are estranged or involved in some kind of dispute. Paul declares that Christ is the only Mediator between two parties at odds with one another — God and men.

     We encounter mediators throughout the Bible. Moses, for example, was the mediator of the old covenant. He represented the people of Israel in his discussions with God, and he was God’s spokesman to the people. The prophets in the Old Testament had a mediatorial function, serving as the spokesmen for God to the people. Also, the high priest of Israel functioned as a mediator; he spoke to God on behalf of the people. Even the king of Israel was a kind of mediator; he was seen as God’s representative to the people, so God held him accountable to rule in righteousness according to the law of the Old Testament.

     Why, then, does Paul say there is only one mediator between God and man? I believe we have to understand the uniqueness of Christ’s mediation in terms of the uniqueness of His person. He is the God-man, that is, God incarnate. In order to bring about reconciliation between God and humanity, the second person of the Trinity united to Himself a human nature. Thus, Jesus has the qualifications to bring about reconciliation — He represents both sides perfectly.

     People ask me, “Why is God so narrow that He provided only one Savior?” I do not think that is the question we ought to ask. Instead, we should ask, “Why did God give us any way at all to be saved?” In other words, why did He not just condemn us all? Why did God, in His grace, give to us a Mediator to stand in our place, to receive the judgment we deserve, and to give to us the righteousness we desperately need? The astonishing thing is not that He did not do it in multiple ways, but that He did it in even one way.

     Notice that Paul, in declaring the uniqueness of Christ, also affirms the uniqueness of God: “There is one God.” This divine uniqueness was declared throughout the Old Testament; the very first commandment was a commandment of exclusivity: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3).

     So Paul brings all these strands together. There is only one God, and God has only one Son, and the Son is the sole Mediator between God and mankind. As I said above, that is very difficult for people who have been immersed in pluralism to accept, but they have to quarrel with Christ and His Apostles on this point. The Bible offers no hope that sincere worshipers of other religions will be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul said in Athens, “The times of ignorance God has overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). There is a universal requirement for people to profess faith in Christ.

     Perhaps you are concerned to hear me talk in such narrow terms of the exclusivity of Christ and of the Christian faith. If so, let me ask you to think through the ramifications of putting leaders of other religions on the same level as Christ. In one sense, there is no greater insult to Christ than to mention Him in the same breath as Muhammad, for example. If Christ is who He claims to be, no one else can be a way to God. Furthermore, if it is true that there are many ways to God, Christ is not one of them, because there is no reason one of many ways to God would declare to the world that He is the only way to God.

     As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ this month, it is good for us to remember the uniqueness of Christ. May we never suggest that God has not done enough for us, considering what He has done for us in Christ Jesus.

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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:

1 Samuel 11; Romans 9; Jeremiah 48; Psalm 25

By Don Carson 8/19/2018

     One of the important questions that the first Christians had to answer, as they bore witness to Jesus the Messiah, went something like this: “If Jesus really is the promised Messiah, how come so many Jews reject the claim?” Inevitably, there were variations: e.g., “If you Christians are right, doesn’t this mean that God didn’t keep his promises to the Jews?” or: “Why do apostles like Paul spend so much time evangelizing Gentiles, as if they’ve walked away from their own group?”

     Many complementary answers are provided in the pages of the New Testament to respond to these and similar questions. Here we note components of Paul’s answer (Rom. 9).

     First, whatever the focus on Gentiles within Paul’s ministry, he has never written off those of his own race. Far from it: he could wish himself damned if by so doing he could save them (Rom. 9:3). It would be easy to dismiss such language as hyperbole grounded in a merely hypothetical possibility. But the fact that Paul can write in such terms discloses, not an apostle who is merely a cool and analytic expert in apologetics, but a man with passion and extraordinary love for his own people. The church today urgently needs evangelists with the same kind of heart.

     Second, Paul insists that even if many Jews do not believe, it is not because God’s word has failed (Rom. 9:6). Far from it: it has never been the case that all of Abraham’s children would be included in the covenant. God insisted that the line would be through Isaac, not Ishmael or the children of Keturah (Rom. 9:7). To put the matter differently, only the “children of the promise” are regarded as Abraham’s offspring, not all the natural children (Rom. 9:8). Moreover, Paul had already reminded his readers of the promise to Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Rom. 4:16–17), not Jews only.

     Third, the defense of these propositions takes a dramatic turn. God arranged a selection among the children of Abraham—and not only in Abraham’s generation but also with respect to the children of Isaac (Rom. 9:8–13)—“in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls” (Rom. 9:11–12). Nothing makes clearer the ultimacy of grace than the doctrine of election. God did not have to save any. If he saved one, it would be a great act of grace. Here he saves a vast number of guilty people, out of his grace alone, having compassion on whom he will (Rom. 9:15), as is his right (Rom. 9:16–24).

     Fourth, Old Testament Scripture had foreseen that one day the people of God would not be restricted to the Jewish race (Rom. 9:25–26).

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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 89

I Will Sing of the Steadfast Love of the LORD
89 A Maskil Of Ethan The Ezrahite.

34 I will not violate my covenant
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36 His offspring shall endure forever,
his throne as long as the sun before me.
37 Like the moon it shall be established forever,
a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah

38 But now you have cast off and rejected;
you are full of wrath against your anointed.
39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant;
you have defiled his crown in the dust.
40 You have breached all his walls;
you have laid his strongholds in ruins.
41 All who pass by plunder him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
you have made all his enemies rejoice.
43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword,
and you have not made him stand in battle.
44 You have made his splendor to cease
and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him with shame. Selah

ESV Study Bible

  • 4 -- 1 Sam. 5-6
  • 5 -- 1 Sam. 7
  • 6 -- 1 Sam. 8

#1 Dr. Robert Chisholm | Biblical E-Learning


#2 Dr. Robert Chisholm | Biblical E-Learning


#3 Dr. Robert Chisholm | Biblical E-Learning


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     2/1/2017    Joy in Christ Alone

     Christianity is a religion of joy. Real joy comes from God, who has invaded us, conquered us, and liberated us from eternal death and sadness—who has given us hope and joy because He has poured out His love within our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us (Rom. 5:5). Joy comes from God, not from within. When we look within, we just get sad. We have joy only when we look outside ourselves to Christ. Without Christ, joy is not only hard to find, it’s impossible to find. The world desperately seeks joy, but in all the wrong places. However, our joy comes because Christ sought us, found us, and keeps us. We cannot have joy apart from Christ, because it doesn’t exist. Joy is not something we can conjure up.

     Joy isn’t the absence of sadness—it’s the presence of the Holy Spirit. And although the Holy Spirit produces joy within us, He often does so by humbling us so that we would take our eyes off ourselves and fix our eyes on Christ. Real joy exists even amid real sadness, and real joy doesn’t always mean there’s a smile on our faces. It sometimes means we are on our knees with tears of repentance. Charles Spurgeon admitted, “I do not know when I am more perfectly happy than when I am weeping for sin at the foot of the cross.” Joy comes in repentance and forgiveness and by daily looking to Christ and living for His glory, not by looking to self and living for our glory. But if we live each day bearing the shame of yesterday and the anxieties of tomorrow, we will never experience the joys of today. So let us always be quick to run to the cross to seek the joy that only Christ can give, for trying to find joy apart from Christ is like trying to find day without the sun.

     Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief in order that we might have fullness of joy, now and forever. This is why the first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches us that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” C.S. Lewis rightly said that “joy is the serious business of heaven.” But having real joy that comes from enjoying God is not something we will experience only in heaven. It is what we experience now. For the greatest joy in this life is to know that our greatest joy is not in this life but in the one to come. We live each day in light of our hope for the future, when Christ “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21). And when we see Christ, He will dry every tear from our eyes—not just our tears of sadness, but our tears of joy as well. Otherwise, we would never be able to see Him.

     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

     A graduate of Georgetown University, he was a Rhodes Scholar before becoming the Governor of Arkansas and then America’s 42nd President. In 1998, he became the 2nd president ever to be impeached. His original name was William Jefferson Blythe IV, born this day, August 19, 1946. At age 15, he took his stepfather’s name Clinton. Also on this day, August 19, 1785, Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend: “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual… This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart.”

American Minute
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

A carefully cultivated heart will,
assisted by the grace of God,
foresee, forestall,
or transform most of the painful situations
before which others stand
like helpless children saying “Why?"
--- Dallas Willard
Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ

A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.
--- Henri J.M. Nouwen

I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
--- Martin Luther

The cross undermines our self-righteousness. We can stand before it only with a bowed head and a broken spirit. And there we remain until the Lord Jesus speaks to our hearts his word of pardon and acceptance, and we, gripped by his love and brimful of thanksgiving, go out into the world to live our lives in his service.
--- John Stott
The Cross of Christ
... from here, there and everywhere

What About The 12 Apostles?
     Were They Real?

     You might be wondering, “Why on earth are you offering evidence for the existence of the apostles? Does anyone really question that they were real?” Well, yes, some do. Recently I had a debate about the fate of the apostles with mythicist Ken Humphreys on Premier Christian Radio. Unsurprisingly, he began by questioning that the apostles even existed.

     If you are surprised that the existence of the apostles is questioned, then you are in good company. In the third volume of his massive text, A Marginal Jew, historical Jesus scholar John Meier laments that he even needs to defend that Jesus had a group of followers known as the Twelve: “Fortunately we don’t need to spend a great deal of time on the question of whether Jesus in fact had disciples during his lifetime, since the historicity of some such group is rarely if ever denied.” A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume III: Companions and Competitors (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library)

     Nevertheless, here is a simple case for the historicity of the Twelve from my book The Fate of the Apostles: Examining the Martyrdom Accounts of the Closest Followers of Jesus:

     1. Multiple Attestation

     A group known as “The Twelve” is multiple attested in various sources and forms. Reference to the Twelve appears ten times in Mark (some of these cases, such as 3:13-19, may even be pre-Markan). Mention of the disciples also exists in John (e.g., 6:67, 20:24), Q (Matt 19:28 || Luke 22:30), and in the writings of Paul (1 Cor. 15:5).

     2. Criterion of Embarrassment

     It would have been embarrassing for the early church to invent a disciple of Jesus who betrayed him. Meier observes, “The criterion of embarrassment clearly comes in to play as well, for there is no cogent reason why the early church should have gone out of its way to invent such a troubling tradition as Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, one of his chosen Twelve.” The Fate of the Apostles: Examining the Martyrdom Accounts of the Closest Followers of Jesus

     3. Lack of Flowery Details in the Early Church

     To provide evidence against the existence of the apostles, Humphreys writes:

     “The apostles should be twelve of the most famous people in history. We're told they were hand picked by Jesus to witness his wondrous deeds, learn his sublime teachings, and take the good news of his kingdom to the ends of the earth. Which makes it all the more surprising that we know next to nothing about them. We can't even be sure of their names: It should be apparent that if the twelve were actual historical figures, with such an important role in the foundation and growth of the Church, it would be impossible to have such wild confusion over the basic question of who they really were.” Ken Humphreys, “The 12 Apostles: Fabricated Followers of a Fabricated Saviour,” accessed August 13, 2016: http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/apostles.html.

     He makes a fair point, but in reality, I think the evidence points the exact other direction. Think about it: If the early church had invented the apostles, then we would expect the earliest records (such as Acts) to be filled with details about their lives and exploits. If the early church made them up, they would have likely felt the need to give us substantial details of about their lives and ministries to justify their existence. The mere fact that these flowery details are scant in the earliest records is evidence that the early church did not invent their existence and that they go back to the time of the historical Jesus. Craig S. Keener explains why there is not more focus in the early church on the individual apostles:

     “Although these witnesses were foundational (cf. similarly Eph 2:20), from the standpoint of Luke’s theology, such choices did not exalt the individuals chosen as individuals (hence the emphasis on their backgrounds, e.g., Luke 5:8; 22:34; Acts 8:3); rather, these choices highlighted God’s sovereign plan to fulfill the mission effectively … apart from Jesus, all the protagonists would be like David, who passed from the scene after fulfilling God’s purpose in his generation (Acts 13:36).” Acts: An Exegetical Commentary

     4. Onomastic Studies

     Richard Bauckham recently completed an onomastic study of Jewish names in the first century that lends additional support to the authenticity of the Twelve. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony Among Jews in first century Palestine there were a small number of very popular names and a large number of rare ones. As would be expected, if the tradition of the Twelve were reliable, a combination of common and rare names would be on the lists. This is exactly what we find.


     Taken together, these facts make it highly likely the Twelve existed as a special group of disciples who formed an inner circle around Jesus. Some scholars do doubt the existence of the Twelve (such as Rudolf Bultmann). Yet given the nature of the evidence, the vast majority accepts it. In fact, E.P. Sanders considers the existence of the Twelve among the “(almost) indisputable facts about Jesus.” Jesus and Judaism

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     31. About this time it was that Vespasian sent out Trajan against a city called Japha, that lay near to Jotapata, and that desired innovations, and was puffed up with the unexpected length of the opposition of Jotapata. This Trajan was the commander of the tenth legion, and to him Vespasian committed one thousand horsemen, and two thousand footmen. When Trajan came to the city, he found it hard to be taken, for besides the natural strength of its situation, it was also secured by a double wall; but when he saw the people of this city coming out of it, and ready to fight him, he joined battle with them, and after a short resistance which they made, he pursued after them; and as they fled to their first wall, the Romans followed them so closely, that they fell in together with them: but when the Jews were endeavoring to get again within their second wall, their fellow citizens shut them out, as being afraid that the Romans would force themselves in with them. It was certainly God therefore who brought the Romans to punish the Galileans, and did then expose the people of the city every one of them manifestly to be destroyed by their bloody enemies; for they fell upon the gates in great crowds, and earnestly calling to those that kept them, and that by their names also, yet had they their throats cut in the very midst of their supplications; for the enemy shut the gates of the first wall, and their own citizens shut the gates of the second, so they were enclosed between two walls, and were slain in great numbers together; many of them were run through by swords of their own men, and many by their own swords, besides an immense number that were slain by the Romans. Nor had they any courage to revenge themselves; for there was added to the consternation they were in from the enemy, their being betrayed by their own friends, which quite broke their spirits; and at last they died, cursing not the Romans, but their own citizens, till they were all destroyed, being in number twelve thousand. So Trajan gathered that the city was empty of people that could fight, and although there should a few of them be therein, he supposed that they would be too timorous to venture upon any opposition; so he reserved the taking of the city to the general. Accordingly, he sent messengers to Vespasian, and desired him to send his son Titus to finish the victory he had gained. Vespasian hereupon imagining there might be some pains still necessary, sent his son with an army of five hundred horsemen, and one thousand footmen. So he came quickly to the city, and put his army in order, and set Trajan over the left wing, while he had the right himself, and led them to the siege: and when the soldiers brought ladders to be laid against the wall on every side, the Galileans opposed them from above for a while; but soon afterward they left the walls. Then did Titus's men leap into the city, and seized upon it presently; but when those that were in it were gotten together, there was a fierce battle between them; for the men of power fell upon the Romans in the narrow streets, and the women threw whatsoever came next to hand at them, and sustained a fight with them for six hours' time; but when the fighting men were spent, the rest of the multitude had their throats cut, partly in the open air, and partly in their own houses, both young and old together. So there were no males now remaining, besides infants, which, with the women, were carried as slaves into captivity; so that the number of the slain, both now in the city and at the former fight, was fifteen thousand, and the captives were two thousand one hundred and thirty. This calamity befell the Galileans on the twenty-fifth day of the month Desius [Sivan.] 32. Nor did the Samaritans escape their share of misfortunes at this time; for they assembled themselves together upon the mountain called Gerizzim, which is with them a holy mountain, and there they remained; which collection of theirs, as well as the courageous minds they showed, could not but threaten somewhat of war; nor were they rendered wiser by the miseries that had come upon their neighboring cities. They also, notwithstanding the great success the Romans had, marched on in an unreasonable manner, depending on their own weakness, and were disposed for any tumult upon its first appearance. Vespasian therefore thought it best to prevent their motions, and to cut off the foundation of their attempts. For although all Samaria had ever garrisons settled among them, yet did the number of those that were come to Mount Gerizzim, and their conspiracy together, give ground for fear what they would be at; he therefore sent thither Cerealis, the commander of the fifth legion, with six hundred horsemen, and three thousand footmen, who did not think it safe to go up to the mountain, and give them battle, because many of the enemy were on the higher part of the ground; so he encompassed all the lower part of the mountain with his army, and watched them all that day. Now it happened that the Samaritans, who were now destitute of water, were inflamed with a violent heat, [for it was summer time, and the multitude had not provided themselves with necessaries,] insomuch that some of them died that very day with heat, while others of them preferred slavery before such a death as that was, and fled to the Romans; by whom Cerealis understood that those which still staid there were very much broken by their misfortunes. So he went up to the mountain, and having placed his forces round about the enemy, he, in the first place, exhorted them to take the security of his right hand, and come to terms with him, and thereby save themselves; and assured them, that if they would lay down their arms, he would secure them from any harm; but when he could not prevail with them, he fell upon them and slew them all, being in number eleven thousand and six hundred. This was done on the twenty-seventh day of the month Desius [Sivan]. And these were the calamities that befell the Samaritans at this time.

          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 23:9
     by D.H. Stern

9     Don’t speak in the ears of a fool,
     for he will only despise the common sense in your words.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


     Come unto Me. --- Matthew 11:28.

     God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.

     Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one—“Come unto Me.” The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come.

My Utmost for His Highest
All Right
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                All Right

I look. You look
  Away. No colour,
  No ruffling of the brow's
  Surface betrays
  Your feeling. As though I
  Were not here; as
  Though you were your own
  Mirror, you arrange yourself
  For the play. My eyes'
  Adjectives; the way that
  I scan you; the
  Conjunction the flesh
  Needs -- all these
  Are as nothing
  To you. Serene, cool,
  Motionless, no statue
  Could show less
  The impression of
  My regard. Madam, I
  Grant the artistry
  Of your part. Let us
  Consider it, then,
  A finished performance.

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Exodus 31:1–5

     BIBLE TEXT / Exodus 31:1–5 / The Lord spoke to Moses; See, I have singled out by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have endowed him with a divine spirit of skill, ability, and knowledge in every kind of craft; to make designs for work in gold, silver, and copper, to cut stones for setting and to carve wood—to work in every kind of craft.

     MIDRASH TEXT / Exodus Rabbah 40, 1 / The Lord spoke to Moses: See, I have singled out by name Bezalel.… Rabbi Tanḥuma bar Abba began this way, “Then He saw it and recounted it; He prepared it and searched it” (
Job 28:27, authors’ translation). The Rabbis said: A person should learn by [God’s] example, saying his chapter or his aggadah or his Midrash [privately] before he plans to say it in public. He shouldn’t say: Since I know it so well, when I go to teach, I’ll just say it.

     Rabbi Aḥa said, “You can learn this from God, for when He sought to say the Torah to Israel, He said it four times to Himself before He ever said it to Israel, as it says, ‘Then He saw it and recounted it; He prepared it and searched it.’ Only afterward, ‘He said to the man’ (
Job 28:28, authors’ translation). So too ‘God spoke all these words’ (Exodus 20:1) and only afterwards, ‘saying’—to Israel.”

     The Rabbis said: Once, Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Torta came before Rabbi Akiva. He said to him, “Come up and read from the Torah.” He said to them, “I haven’t gone over the portion,” and the Sages praised him. This is “then he saw it, and recounted it.”

     Rabbi Hoshaya said, “A person who has knowledge but doesn’t possess fear of sin has nothing. A carpenter who doesn’t have a tool isn’t a carpenter. Why? For the mantle of Torah is the fear of sin, as it says, ‘Fear of God is his treasure chest’ ” (
Isaiah 33:6, authors’ translation).

     CONTEXT / In this Midrash, the Rabbis teach a very practical lesson: A person should learn by [God’s] example, saying his chapter or his aggadah or his Midrash in private, practicing it before he plans to say it in public. He shouldn’t say: Since I know it, the teaching, so well, when I go to teach, I’ll just say it, without first reviewing it. The Rabbis find their proof in God’s actions, reading the verse from Job—“Then He saw it and recounted it; He prepared it and searched it”—as referring to the giving of the Torah, where even God reviewed the Torah before presenting it. The Rabbis read the four verbs in one verse (“saw,” “recounted,” “prepared,” “searched”) as meaning that God (the teacher) reviewed the material (the Torah) four times before presenting it to the students (the Israelites on Mount Sinai): “God spoke all these words”—going over them mentally—before “saying” them—out loud—to the people. Only afterward, after reviewing it, “He, God, said the Torah to the man,” whom the Rabbis interpret to mean the man, Moses.

     The Rabbis now bring a human example of the same principle: Once, Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Torta came before Rabbi Akiva. He, Rabbi Akiva, said to him: “Come up and read from the Torah.” He, Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Torta, said to them, those present, “I haven’t gone over the portion,” and the Sages praised him because he would not repeat in public words of Torah that he had not first reviewed in private. This is another proof of the verse “then he saw it, and recounted it.”

     Our final verse, from Isaiah, emphasizes the importance of the fear of God. Rabbi Hoshaya said, “A person who has knowledge but doesn’t possess fear of sin has nothing.” In bringing the image of the carpenter—A carpenter who doesn’t have a tool isn’t a carpenter—we connect the Midrash back to the Torah verse and Bezalel. He was the artisan chosen by God to oversee the building of the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary that the Israelites carried with them in the wilderness. The word used for the skill that God gave to Bezalel (“I have endowed him with a divine spirit of skill”) is the same word as for “wisdom,” חָכְמָה/ḥokhmah, used in Job. The Rabbis understood חָכְמָה/ḥokhmah in both instances to mean the Torah.

     Why is a carpenter without a tool not a carpenter? For the mantle of Torah is the fear of sin, as it says, “Fear of God is his treasure chest.” The word אוֹצָר/otzar can mean “a treasure,” but is probably understood by Rabbi Hoshaya in a very concrete way, as a treasure chest, and is thus analogous to the carpenter’s tool box. Knowledge of Torah alone is not enough; one must also posses a fear of, or reverence for, God. This is the Rabbi’s “set of tools” that enable him to build and fashion a world based on Torah.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Take Heart
     August 19

     I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father.
John 17:20–21.

     The third petition. (
John A. Broadus, “The Saviour Praying for Us,” downloaded from the Blessed Hope Ministries of Shiloh Baptist Church, Gainesville, Ga. at members.aol.com/blesshope, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) I see Jesus Christ standing in that night hour with his little company of eleven. He sends his thoughts down the years to dwell on those who would believe on him, and his heart went out toward them, praying “that all of them may be one.” Jesus Christ bends now from the mediator’s throne with endless solicitude for every human heart that looks lovingly up to him, knowing them all, the sheep of his flock on earth, and praying still “that all of them may be one.”

     You expect me to contrast with this prayer the divisions of the Christian world. But I will not. The prayer is answered—imperfectly, certainly—and so is that other prayer, “Sanctify them.” You may deem it strange that Jesus prayed that his people might be holy, and they are so unholy, yet you do not say his prayer is not answered. So with this other prayer; Christ’s true people are one. All who truly trust in Jesus Christ are more one than they know, and in proportion as they are united to the Redeemer, they are united with each other.

     This prayer will be more fully answered in the same way as the previous prayer—by the truth. The more Gospel truth we know and believe and live by, the more we will be one. One of the problems of our day is to know how to cling to Gospel truth in kindliness toward those who differ from us as to what is Gospel truth.

     Many people are possessed with the idea that everything must be given up to outward union. They have so liberalized the Christian faith that they say there is no assured truth; one thing is as true as another. Other people set their heads on certain views of truth until there is not anything in their view but those particular tenets that distinguish them from other Christians.

     Now it is a fact that people are made better only by truth and that Christians will be made more thoroughly one through truth, and it is folly to sacrifice truth for the sake of outward union. The problem is how to maintain devotion to God’s truth and yet deal in all loving-kindness and affection and cooperation with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. You say it is hard to do both of these things! Of course, it is hard to do anything well, always hard to do right and to do good, with this poor human nature of ours.
--- John A. Broadus

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day
     A Dog’s Tale  August 19

     God both guides and provides. He leads and feeds his people, and sometimes in ways unusual—as John Craig once learned. Craig was born in Scotland in 1512, studied at the University of St. Andrews, and entered the ministry. While living on the Continent, he found a copy of Calvin’s Institutes and in reading them found himself becoming a Protestant. As a result, he was arrested by agents of the Inquisition, taken prisoner to Rome, and condemned to death at the stake. On the Evening of August 19, 1559, while awaiting execution the next day, dramatic news arrived that Pope Paul IV had died. According to custom, the prisons in Rome were thrown open, the prisoners temporarily released.

     Craig took advantage of the opportunity, escaping to an inn on the city’s outskirts. A band of soldiers tracked him down, but as the captain of the guard arrested him, he paused, looking at him intently. Finally he asked Craig if he remembered helping a wounded soldier some years before in Bologna. “I am the man you relieved,” said the captain, “and providence has now put it into my power to return the kindness—you are at liberty.” The soldier gave Craig the money in his pockets and marked out an escape route for him.

     As he made his way through Italy, Craig avoided public roads, taking the circuitous route suggested by the captain and using the money for food. But at length Craig’s money was exhausted, and so were his spirits. He lay down in the woods and gloomily considered his plight. Suddenly the sound of steps was heard, and Craig tensed. It was a dog, and in its mouth, a purse. Craig waved the animal away, fearing a trick. But the dog persisted, fawned on him, and left the purse in his lap.

     Using money from the purse, Craig reached Austria where Emperor Maximilian listened to his sermon and gave him safe conduct. He thus returned to his native Scotland where he preached Christ and abetted the Reformation until his death many years later at age 88.

     Elijah was a prophet from Tishbe in Gilead. The LORD said to Elijah, “Leave and go across the Jordan River so you can hide near Cherith Creek. You can drink water from the creek, and eat the food I’ve told the ravens to bring you.” Elijah obeyed the LORD and went to live near Cherith Creek. Ravens brought him bread and meat twice a day, and he drank water from the creek.
--- 1 Kings 17:1a,2–6.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 19

     “He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord.” --- Micah 5:4.

     Christ’s reign in his Church is that of a shepherd-king. He has supremacy, but it is the superiority of a wise and tender shepherd over his needy and loving flock; he commands and receives obedience, but it is the willing obedience of the well-cared-for sheep, rendered joyfully to their beloved Shepherd, whose voice they know so well. He rules by the force of love and the energy of goodness.

     His reign is practical in its character. It is said, “He shall stand and feed.” The great Head of the Church is actively engaged in providing for his people. He does not sit down upon the throne in empty state, or hold a sceptre without wielding it in government. No, he stands and feeds. The expression “feed,” in the original, is like an analogous one in the Greek, which means to shepherdize, to do everything expected of a shepherd: to guide, to watch, to preserve, to restore, to tend, as well as to feed.

     His reign is continual in its duration. It is said, “He shall stand and feed”; not “He shall feed now and then, and leave his position”; not, “He shall one day grant a revival, and then next day leave his Church to barrenness.” His eyes never slumber, and his hands never rest; his heart never ceases to beat with love, and his shoulders are never weary of carrying his people’s burdens.

     His reign is effectually powerful in its action; “He shall feed in the strength of Jehovah.” Wherever Christ is, there is God; and whatever Christ does is the act of the Most High. Oh! it is a joyful truth to consider that he who stands to-day representing the interests of his people is very God of very God, to whom every knee shall bow. Happy are we who belong to such a shepherd, whose humanity communes with us, and whose divinity protects us. Let us worship and bow down before him as the people of his pasture.

          Evening - August 19

     “Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.” --- Psalm 31:4.

     Our spiritual foes are of the serpent’s brood, and seek to ensnare us by subtlety. The prayer before us supposes the possibility of the believer being caught like a bird. So deftly does the fowler do his work, that simple ones are soon surrounded by the net. The text asks that even out of Satan’s meshes the captive one may be delivered; this is a proper petition, and one which can be granted: from between the jaws of the lion, and out of the belly of hell, can eternal love rescue the saint. It may need a sharp pull to save a soul from the net of temptations, and a mighty pull to extricate a man from the snares of malicious cunning, but the Lord is equal to every emergency, and the most skilfully placed nets of the hunter shall never be able to hold his chosen ones. Woe unto those who are so clever at net laying; they who tempt others shall be destroyed themselves.

     “For thou art my strength.” What an inexpressible sweetness is to be found in these few words! How joyfully may we encounter toils, and how cheerfully may we endure sufferings, when we can lay hold upon celestial strength. Divine power will rend asunder all the toils of our enemies, confound their politics, and frustrate their knavish tricks; he is a happy man who has such matchless might engaged upon his side. Our own strength would be of little service when embarrassed in the nets of base cunning, but the Lord’s strength is ever available; we have but to invoke it, and we shall find it near at hand. If by faith we are depending alone upon the strength of the mighty God of Israel, we may use our holy reliance as a plea in supplication.

     “Lord, evermore thy face we seek:
     Tempted we are, and poor, and weak;
     Keep us with lowly hearts, and meek.
     Let us not fall. Let us not fall.”

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     August 19


     William Cowper, 1731–1800

     So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6

     The Christian life begins with a step of faith for salvation. Then it continues step by step toward spiritual maturity as we develop a growing closeness to God. If we sincerely desire a more intimate relationship with our Lord, we will need perseverance and often personal denial or sacrifice. This thoughtful hymn text teaches that there may be idols that will hinder a close walk with God. It is only as these are forsaken that our way will be characterized by serenity, love, and purity while we go on with the Lord in a daily walk of faith.

     As we endeavor to walk closely with God, unscheduled events will often come into our lives. Yet these unexpected happenings may result in greater blessing than we had ever anticipated. If we learn to be flexible and calmly trust God to lead us in His way, we will not only be drawn closer to Him but will be more aware of “a light to shine upon the road.”

     The life of William Cowper was filled with troubling events. Early in life he began to be plagued with chronic melancholy and depression that afflicted him at various times until his death. At one time he was in such mental torment that he even attempted to drown himself. Eventually he moved to the little village of Olney, England, where he began a close friendship with John Newton, pastor of the Anglican church there. Each day the two men met in the garden of Cowper’s home to write devotional poetry and hymns. In 1779, their combined talents produced the famous Olney Hymns hymnal, one of the most important contributions to evangelical hymnody. Cowper wrote 67 of the texts in this book. This hymn text was originally titled “Walking With God,” based on Genesis 5:24: “And Enoch walked with God: And he was not; for God took him.”

     O for a closer walk with God, a calm and heav’nly frame, a light to shine upon the road that leads me to the Lamb!
     The dearest idol I have known, whate’er that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee.
     So shall my walk be close with God, calm and serene my frame, so purer light shall mark the road that leads me to the Lamb.

     For Today: Genesis 5:24; Psalm 63:7, 8; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:13–18; Ephesians 5:8–10

     Be so sensitive to God’s presence and leading that you will be ready to adjust your schedule and represent Him whenever the slightest opportunity comes your way. Allow this hymn to help in this faith adventure ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock


     6. It is evidenced in positive and bold interpretations of the judgments of God in the world. To interpret the judgments of God to the disadvantage of the sufferer, unless it be an unusual judgment, and have a remarkable hand of God in it, and the sin be rendered plainly legible in the affliction, is a. presumption of this nature. When men will judge the Galileans, whose blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifices, greater sinners than others, and themselves righteous, because no drops of it were dashed upon them; or when Shimei, being of the house of Saul, shall judge according to his own interest, and desires David’s flight upon Absalom’s rebellion to be a punishment for invading the rights of Saul’s family, and depriving him of the succession in the kingdom, as if he had been of God’s privy council, when he decreed such acts of justice in the world. Thus we would fasten our own wills as a law or motive upon God, and interpret his acts according to the motions of self. Is it not too ordinary, when God sends an affliction upon those that bear ill-will to us, to judge it to be a righting of our cause, to be a fruit of God’s concern for us in revenging our wrongs, as if we “had heard the secrets of God,” or, as Eliphaz saith, “had turned over the records of heaven?” (Job 15:8.) This is a judgment according to self-love, not a divine rule; and imposeth laws upon heaven, implying a secret wish that God would take care only of them, make our concerns his own, not in ways of kindness and justice, but according to our fancies; and this is common in the profane world, in those curses they so readily spit out upon any affront, as if God were bound to draw his arrows and shoot them into the heart of all their offenders at their beck and pleasure.

     7. It is evidenced, in mixing rules for the worship of God with those which have been ordered by him. Since men are most prone to live by sense, it is no wonder that a sensible worship, which affects their outward sense with some kind of amazement, is dear to them, and spiritual worship most loathsome. Pompous rites have been the great engine wherewith the devil hath deceived the souls of men, and wrought them to a nauseating the simplicity of divine worship, as unworthy the majesty and excellency of God. Thus the Jews would not understand the glory of the second temple in the presence of the Messiah, because it had not the pompous grandeur of that of Solomon’s erecting. Hence in all ages men have been forward to disfigure God’s models, and dress up a brat of their own; as though God had been defective in providing for his own honor in his institutions, without the assistance of his creature. This hath always been in the world; the old world had their imaginations, and the new world hath continued them. The Israelites in the midst of miracles, and under the memory of a famous deliverance, would erect a calf. The Pharisees, that sate in Moses’ chair, would coin new traditions, and enjoin them to be as current as the law of God. Papists will be blending the christian appointments with pagan ceremonies, to please the carnal fancies of the common people. “Altars have been multiplied” under the knowledge of the law of God. Interest is made the balance of the conveniency of God’s injunctions. Jeroboam fitted a worship to politic ends, and posted up calves to prevent his subjects revolting from his sceptre, which might be occasioned by their resort to Jerusalem, and converse with the body of the people from whom they were separated. Men will be putting in their own dictates with God’s laws, and are unwilling he should be the sole Governor of the world without their counsel; they will not suffer him to be Lord of that which is purely and solely his concern. How often hath the practice of the primitive church, the custom wherein we are bred, the sentiments of our ancestors, been owned as a more authentic rule in matters of worship, than the mind of God delivered in his Word! It is natural by creation to worship God; and it is as natural by corruption for man to worship him in a human way, and not in a divine; is not this to impose laws upon God, to esteem ourselves wiser than he? to think him negligent of his own service, and that our feeble brains can find out ways to accommodate his honor, better than himself hath done? Thus do men for the most part equal their own imaginations to God’s oracles: as Solomon built a high place to Moloch and Chemoch, upon the Mount of Olives, to face on the east part Jerusalem and the temple; this is not only to impose laws on God, but also to make self the standard of them.

     8. It is evidenced, in suiting interpretations of Scripture to their own minds and humors. Like the Lacedæmonians, that dressed the images of their gods according to the fashion of their own country, we would wring Scripture to serve our own designs, and judge the law of God by the law of sin, and make the serpentine seed in us to be the interpreter of divine oracles: this is like Belshazzar to drink healths out of the sacred vessels. As God is the author of his law and word, so he is the best interpreter of it; the Scripture having an impress of divine wisdom, holiness, and goodness, must be regarded according to that impress, with a submission and meekness of spirit and reverence of God in it; but when, in our inquiries into the word, we inquire not of God, but consult flesh and blood, the temper of the times wherein we live, or the satisfaction of a party we side withal, and impose glosses upon it according to our own fancies, it is to put laws upon God, and make self the rule of him. He that interprets the law to bolster up some eager appetite against the will of the lawgiver, ascribes to himself as great an authority as he that enacted it.

     9. In falling off from God after some fair compliances, when his will grateth upon us, and crosseth ours. They will walk with him as far as he pleaseth them, and leave him upon the first distaste, as though God must observe their humors more than they his will. Amos must be suspended from prophesying, because the “land could not bear his words,” and his discourses condemned their unworthy practices against God. The young man came not to receive directions from our Saviour, but expected a confirmation of his own rules, rather than an imposition of new. He rather cares for commendations than instructions, and upon the disappointment turns his back; “he was sad,” that Christ would not suffer him to be rich, and a Christian together; and leaves him because his command was not suitable to the law of his covetousness. Some truths that are at a further distance from us, we can hear gladly; but when the conscience begins to smart under others, if God will not observe our wills, we will, with Herod, be a law to ourselves. More instances might be observed. — Ingratitude is a setting up self, and an imposing laws on God. It is as much as to say, God did no more than he was obliged to do; as if the mercies we have were an act of duty in God, and not of bounty. — Insatiable desires after wealth: hence are those speeches (James 4:13), “We will go into such a city, and buy and sell, &c. to get gain;” as though they had the command of God, and God must lacquey after their wills. When our hearts are not contented with any supply of our wants, but are craving an overplus for our lust; when we are unsatisfied in the midst of plenty, and still like the grave, cry, Give, give.— Incorrigibleness under affliction.

The Existence and Attributes of God

The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)

     Sect. CXXII. — “IF the whole man, (says the Diatribe) even when regenerated by faith, is nothing else but “flesh,” where is the “spirit” born of the Spirit? Where is the child of God? Where is the new-creature? I want information upon these points.” — Thus the Diatribe.

     Where now! Where now! my very dear friend, Diatribe! What dream now! You demand to be informed, how the “spirit” born of the Spirit can be “flesh.” Oh how elated, how secure of victory do you insultingly put this question to me, as though it were impossible for me to stand my ground here. — All this while, you are abusing the authority of the Ancients: for they say ‘that there are certain seeds of good implanted in the minds of men. But, however, whether you use, or whether abuse, the authority of the Ancients, it is all one to me: you will see by and by what you believe, when you believe men prating out of their own brain, without the Word of God. Though perhaps your care about religion does not give you much concern, as to what any one believes; since you so easily believe men, without at all regarding, whether or not that which they say be certain or uncertain in the sight of God. And I also wish to be informed, when I ever taught that, with which you so freely and publicly charge me. Who would be so mad as to say, that he who is “born of the Spirit,” is nothing but “flesh?”

     I make a manifest distinction between “flesh” and “spirit,” as things that directly militate against each other; and I say, according to the divine oracles, that the man who is not regenerated by faith “is flesh;” but I say, that he who is thus regenerated; is no longer flesh, excepting as to the remnants of the flesh, which war against the first fruits of the Spirit received. Nor do I suppose you wish to attempt to charge me, invidiously, with any thing wrong here; if you do, there is no charge that you could more iniquitously bring against me.

     But you either understand nothing of my side of the subject, or else you find yourself unequal to the magnitude of the cause; by which you are, perhaps, so overwhelmed and confounded, that you do not rightly know what you say against me, or for yourself. For where you declare it to be your belief, upon the authority of the ancients, ‘that there are certain seeds of good implanted in the minds of men, you must surely quite forget yourself; because, you before asserted, ‘that “Free-will” cannot will any thing good.’ And how ‘cannot will any thing good,’ and ‘certain seeds of good’ can stand in harmony together, I know not. Thus am I perpetually compelled to remind you of the subject-design with which you set out; from which you with perpetual forgetfulness depart, and take up something contrary to your professed purpose.

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