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8/21/2017
Romans 9-12
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God’s Election of Israel (Gen 25.19—23)

Romans 9:1     I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— 2 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 own people, my kindred 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 them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

     6 It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, 7 and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” 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 descendants. 9 For this is what the promise said, “About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. 11 Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, 12 not by works but by his call) she was told, “The elder shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written,

“I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.”

     14 What then are we to say? 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 it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.

God’s Wrath and Mercy

     19 You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 including 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 shall be called children of the living God.”

     27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us,
we would have fared like Sodom
and been made like Gomorrah.”


Israel’s Unbelief

     30 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 31 but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 32 Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“See, I am laying in Zion
a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock that will make them fall,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”


Romans 10:1     Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness.

     4 For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Salvation Is for All

     Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

     14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 16 But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says,

“Lord, who has believed our message?”

     17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”
19     Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
20     Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

     21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”


Israel’s Rejection Is Not Final (Cp Ps 69.22—23; Isa 29.10)

Romans 11:1     I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets,
they have demolished your altars;
I alone am left,
and they are seeking my life.”

     4 But what is the divine reply to him?

“I have kept for myself seven thousand
who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

     5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

     7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,

“God gave them a sluggish spirit,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”

9     And David says,

“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10     let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and keep their backs forever bent.”


The Salvation of the Gentiles

     11 So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

     13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry 14 in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead! 16 If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy.

     17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say,

“Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”

     20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

All Israel Will Be Saved

     25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,

Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”
27     “And this is my covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.”

     28 As regards the Gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

     33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34     “For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35     “Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?”

     36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.


The New Life in Christ

Romans 12:1     I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

     3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Marks of the True Christian

     9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

     14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]



What I'm Reading

Four Things We Won’t Need in Heaven (But Ought to Pursue Here on Earth)

By J. Warner Wallace 3/5/2014

     As a Christian, I have a reasonable expectation of Heaven, based on the clear teaching of Scripture and the logical consequence of God’s nature. I also anticipate a particular experience in Heavenbased on the teaching of the Old and New Testament. I’m looking forward to what each of us will become when we are united with God. At the same time, I recognize there are some earthly pursuits I will abandon in the next life. While many of our cravings and desires will be satisfied once we are reunited with the One who has created us in His Image, some needs will simply vanish once we leave this world. As we think about the future with God, let’s remember what won’t be needed in Heaven so we can live differently while we are here on Earth:

     The Need to Have Faith | Faith is the mechanism through which we are saved, and although the nature of faith (as it is described in Scripture) is not blind, it does require us to trust in the most reasonable inference from the evidence Jesus provided, even though we don’t have first-hand access to Jesus or the eyewitnesses who wrote the Gospels:

     Hebrews 11:1-2 | Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

     In this life, we are asked to trust in something often unseen (God), on the basis of something that was seen (Jesus as He was described in the Gospels) and for which there is sufficient evidence (as observed in our universe and world). God’s “hiddenness” requires us to draw conclusions and inferences from evidence, but a day is coming when we will see him directly. In that day, faith (as we understand and experience it here on earth) will no longer exist. We will simply know.

     The Need to Study | We won’t find ourselves cracking the books in Heaven to have knowledge about God. We won’t be in seminary classes, trying to understand the complexity of the Trinity or the nature of God. In Heaven, our direct contact with the God of the universe will open our eyes to the mysteries we’ve been struggling to understand:

     1 Corinthians 13:11-12 | Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Click here to read all of the article

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:

     

How God Saved My Marriage | One Formula for Fighting Better

By Olan Stubbs 8/14/2017

     My wife and I fought a lot early in our marriage. My wife became increasingly emotional and hypersensitive. I became increasingly cold and insensitive. We had a shouting match almost every day about something.

     Typically I could catch myself and turn my emotions off. I would wait for my wife to say something that was slightly irrational in my opinion, and I would pounce like a lion. She would usually just walk away in anger.

     I would quickly try to reconcile, admitting to the one or two things I had done wrong. “I probably raised my voice a little.” Then I would proceed to list the seven or eight things she had done wrong. “I repent of my two sins. Now you repent of yours. Then we can forgive each other and move on.”

     She would respond, “My emotions aren’t a light switch! I can’t just instantly forgive!”

     I would answer, “I’m trying not to let the sun go down on anger. But you are still sinning.”

Click here to read all of the article

     Olan Stubbs is director of Campus Outreach Birmingham, Alabama, at Briarwood Presbyterian Church. He is a husband and father of four. He writes more at his ministry blog.

Race, the Gospel, and the Moment

By Tim Keller 8/15/2017

     How should Christians, and especially those with an Anglo-white background, respond to last weekend’s alt-right gathering in Charlottesville and its tragic aftermath?

     Three brief things need to be said.

     First, Christians should look at the energized and emboldened white nationalism movement, and at its fascist slogans, and condemn it—full stop. No, “But on the other hand.” The main way most people are responding across the political spectrum is by saying, “See? This is what I have been saying all along! This just proves my point.” The conservatives are using the events to prove that liberal identity politics is wrong, and liberals are using it to prove that conservatism is inherently racist. We should not do that.

     Second, this is a time to present the Bible’s strong and clear teachings about the sin of racism and of the idolatry of blood and country—again, full stop. In Acts 17:26, in the midst of an evangelistic lecture to secular, pagan philosophers, Paul makes the case that God created all the races “from one man.” Paul’s Greek listeners saw other races as barbarian, but against such views of racial superiority Paul makes the case that all races have the same Creator and are of one stock. Since all are made in God’s image, every human life is of infinite and equal value (Gen. 9:5–6). When Jonah puts the national interests of Israel ahead of the spiritual good of the racially “other” pagan city of Nineveh, he is roundly condemned by God (Jonah 4:1–11). One main effect of the gospel is to shatter the racial barriers that separate people (Gal. 3:28Eph. 2:14–18), so it is an egregious sin to do anything to support those barriers. When Peter sought to do so, Paul reprimanded him for losing his grasp on the gospel (Gal. 2:14). 

     Racism should not be only brought up at moments such as we witnessed in Charlottesville this past weekend. The evil of racism is a biblical theme—a sin the gospel reveals and heals—so we should be teaching about it routinely in the course of regular preaching. Which brings me to a final point.

Click here to read all of the article

     Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons.  For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.

     He is also Chairman of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and publishes books and resources for faith in an urban culture. In over ten years they have helped to launch over 250 churches in 48 cities. More recently, Dr. Keller’s books, including the New York Times bestselling The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, have sold over 1 million copies and been translated into 15 languages.

     Christianity Today has said, “Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians.

     Dr. Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. He previously served as the pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Virginia, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and Director of Mercy Ministries for the Presbyterian Church in America.

Tim Keller Books:




  • Same Sex Marriage 1
  • & Catholic Church 2
  • & Catholic Church 3

#2 Discussion   
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#3 Discussion   
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  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Born in Scotland, he was one of only six founding fathers to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. President George Washington appointed him a Justice on the Supreme Court. One of the most active members at the Constitutional Convention, he spoke one hundred and sixty-eight times. His name was James Wilson and he died this day, August 21, 1798. James Wilson wrote: “It should always be remembered, that this law, natural or revealed… flows from the same divine source; it is the law of God…. Human law must rest… ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


True self-control means willingness
to resign the small for the sake of the great,
the present for the future,
the material for the spiritual,
and that is what faith makes possible.
--- Hugh Black


Non-violence and truth are inseparable
and presuppose one another.
Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will.
Its seat is in the heart,
and it must be an inseparable part of our being.
Non-violence is the article of faith.
Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind.
It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction
devised by the ingenuity of man.
--- Mohandas Gandhi


O cleansing Word, O precious Word, Your promises are true;
They keep and purify my heart; Your truths are ever new.
--- Unknown

... from here, there and everywhere

Book Recommendation
     The Cross Of Christ


     Imagine a stranger visiting St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Having been brought up in a non-Christian culture, he knows next to nothing about Christianity. Yet he is more than a tourist; he is personally interested and keen to learn.
     Walking along Fleet Street, he is impressed by the grandeur of the building’s proportions, and marvels that Sir Christopher Wren could have conceived such an edifice after the Great Fire of London in 1666. As his eyes attempt to take it in, he cannot help noticing the huge golden cross which dominates the dome.
     He enters the cathedral and stands at its central point, under the dome. Trying to grasp the size and shape of the building, he becomes aware that its ground plan, consisting of nave and transepts, is cruciform. He walks round and observes that each side chapel contains what looks to him like a table, on which, prominently displayed, there stands a cross. He goes downstairs into the crypt to see the tombs of famous men such as Sir Christopher Wren himself, Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington: a cross is engraved or embossed on each.
     Returning upstairs, he decides to remain for the service which is about to begin. The man beside him is wearing a little cross on his lapel, while the lady on his other side has one on her necklace. His eye now rests on the colourful, stained-glass east window. Though he cannot make out the details from where he is sitting, he cannot fail to notice that it contains a cross.
     Suddenly, the congregation stands up. The choir and clergy enter, preceded by somebody carrying a processional cross. They are singing a hymn. The visitor looks down at the service paper to read its opening words:

   We sing the praise of him who died,
   Of him who died upon the cross;
   The sinner’s hope let men deride,
   For this we count the world but loss.

     From what follows he comes to realize that he is witnessing a Holy Communion service, and that this focuses upon the death of Jesus. For when the people around him go forward to the communion rail to receive bread and wine, the minister speaks to them of the body and blood of Christ. The service ends with another hymn:

   When I survey the wondrous cross
   On which the Prince of glory died,
   My richest gain I count but loss,
   And pour contempt on all my pride.

   Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
   Save in the cross of Christ my God;
   All the vain things that charm me most,
   I sacrifice them to his blood.

     Although the congregation now disperses, a family stays behind. They have brought their child to be baptized. Joining them at the font, the visitor sees the minister first pour water over the child and then trace a cross on its forehead, saying ‘I sign you with the cross, to show that you must not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified...’.
     The stranger leaves the cathedral impressed, but puzzled. The repeated insistence by word and symbol on the centrality of the cross has been striking. Yet questions have arisen in his mind. Some of the language used has seemed exaggerated. Do Christians really for the sake of the cross ‘count the world but loss’, and ‘boast’ in it alone, and ‘sacrifice’ everything for it? Can the Christian faith be accurately summed up as ‘the faith of Christ crucified’? What are the grounds, he asks himself, for this concentration on the cross of Christ?

The Cross of Christ

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 8.

     How Josephus Was Discovered By A Woman, And Was Willing To Deliver Himself Up To The Romans; And What Discourse He Had With His Own Men, When They Endeavored To Hinder Him; And What He Said To Vespasian, When He Was Brought To Him; And After What Manner Vespasian Used Him Afterward.

     1. And now the Romans searched for Josephus, both out of the hatred they bore him, and because their general was very desirous to have him taken; for he reckoned that if he were once taken, the greatest part of the war would be over. They then searched among the dead, and looked into the most concealed recesses of the city; but as the city was first taken, he was assisted by a certain supernatural providence; for he withdrew himself from the enemy when he was in the midst of them, and leaped into a certain deep pit, whereto there adjoined a large den at one side of it, which den could not be seen by those that were above ground; and there he met with forty persons of eminency that had concealed themselves, and with provisions enough to satisfy them for not a few days. So in the day time he hid himself from the enemy, who had seized upon all places, and in the night time he got up out of the den and looked about for some way of escaping, and took exact notice of the watch; but as all places were guarded every where on his account, that there was no way of getting off unseen, he went down again into the den. Thus he concealed himself two days; but on the third day, when they had taken a woman who had been with them, he was discovered. Whereupon Vespasian sent immediately and zealously two tribunes, Paulinus and Gallicanus, and ordered them to give Josephus their right hands as a security for his life, and to exhort him to come up.

     2. So they came and invited the man to come up, and gave him assurances that his life should be preserved: but they did not prevail with him; for he gathered suspicions from the probability there was that one who had done so many things against the Romans must suffer for it, though not from the mild temper of those that invited him. However, he was afraid that he was invited to come up in order to be punished, until Vespasian sent besides these a third tribune, Nicanor, to him; he was one that was well known to Josephus, and had been his familiar acquaintance in old time. When he was come, he enlarged upon the natural mildness of the Romans towards those they have once conquered; and told him that he had behaved himself so valiantly, that the commanders rather admired than hated him; that the general was very desirous to have him brought to him, not in order to punish him, for that he could do though he should not come voluntarily, but that he was determined to preserve a man of his courage. He moreover added this, that Vespasian, had he been resolved to impose upon him, would not have sent to him a friend of his own, nor put the fairest color upon the vilest action, by pretending friendship and meaning perfidiousness; nor would he have himself acquiesced, or come to him, had it been to deceive him.

     3. Now as Josephus began to hesitate with himself about Nicanor's proposal, the soldiery were so angry, that they ran hastily to set fire to the den; but the tribune would not permit them so to do, as being very desirous to take the man alive. And now, as Nicanor lay hard at Josephus to comply, and he understood how the multitude of the enemies threatened him, he called to mind the dreams which he had dreamed in the night time, whereby God had signified to him beforehand both the future calamities of the Jews, and the events that concerned the Roman emperors. Now Josephus was able to give shrewd conjectures about the interpretation of such dreams as have been ambiguously delivered by God. Moreover, he was not unacquainted with the prophecies contained in the sacred books, as being a priest himself, and of the posterity of priests: and just then was he in an ecstasy; and setting before him the tremendous images of the dreams he had lately had, he put up a secret prayer to God, and said, "Since it pleaseth thee, who hast created the Jewish nation, to depress the same, and since all their good fortune is gone over to the Romans, and since thou hast made choice of this soul of mine to foretell what is to come to pass hereafter, I willingly give them my hands, and am content to live. And I protest openly that I do not go over to the Romans as a deserter of the Jews, but as a minister from thee."

     4. When he had said this, he complied with Nicanor's invitation. But when those Jews who had fled with him understood that he yielded to those that invited him to come up, they came about him in a body, and cried out, "Nay, indeed, now may the laws of our forefathers, which God ordained himself, well groan to purpose; that God we mean who hath created the souls of the Jews of such a temper, that they despise death. O Josephus! art thou still fond of life? and canst thou bear to see the light in a state of slavery? How soon hast thou forgotten thyself! How many hast thou persuaded to lose their lives for liberty! Thou hast therefore had a false reputation for manhood, and a like false reputation for wisdom, if thou canst hope for preservation from those against whom thou hast fought so zealously, and art however willing to be preserved by them, if they be in earnest. But although the good fortune of the Romans hath made thee forget thyself, we ought to take care that the glory of our forefathers may not be tarnished. We will lend thee our right hand and a sword; and if thou wilt die willingly, thou wilt die as general of the Jews; but if unwillingly, thou wilt die as a traitor to them." As soon as they said this, they began to thrust their swords at him, and threatened they would kill him, if he thought of yielding himself to the Romans.

     5. Upon this Josephus was afraid of their attacking him, and yet thought he should be a betrayer of the commands of God, if he died before they were delivered. So he began to talk like a philosopher to them in the distress he was then in, when he said thus to them: "O my friends, why are we so earnest to kill ourselves? and why do we set our soul and body, which are such dear companions, at such variance? Can any one pretend that I am not the man I was formerly? Nay, the Romans are sensible how that matter stands well enough. It is a brave thing to die in war; but so that it be according to the law of war, by the hand of conquerors. If, therefore, I avoid death from the sword of the Romans, I am truly worthy to be killed by my own sword, and my own hand; but if they admit of mercy, and would spare their enemy, how much more ought we to have mercy upon ourselves, and to spare ourselves? For it is certainly a foolish thing to do that to ourselves which we quarrel with them for doing to us. I confess freely that it is a brave thing to die for liberty; but still so that it be in war, and done by those who take that liberty from us; but in the present case our enemies do neither meet us in battle, nor do they kill us. Now he is equally a coward who will not die when he is obliged to die, and he who will die when he is not obliged so to do. What are we afraid of, when we will not go up to the Romans? Is it death? If so, what we are afraid of, when we but suspect our enemies will inflict it on us, shall we inflict it on ourselves for certain? But it may be said we must be slaves. And are we then in a clear state of liberty at present? It may also be said that it is a manly act for one to kill himself. No, certainly, but a most unmanly one; as I should esteem that pilot to be an arrant coward, who, out of fear of a storm, should sink his ship of his own accord. Now self-murder is a crime most remote from the common nature of all animals, and an instance of impiety against God our Creator; nor indeed is there any animal that dies by its own contrivance, or by its own means, for the desire of life is a law engraven in them all; on which account we deem those that openly take it away from us to be our enemies, and those that do it by treachery are punished for so doing. And do not you think that God is very angry when a man does injury to what he hath bestowed on him? For from him it is that we have received our being, and we ought to leave it to his disposal to take that being away from us. The bodies of all men are indeed mortal, and are created out of corruptible matter; but the soul is ever immortal, and is a portion of the divinity that inhabits our bodies. Besides, if any one destroys or abuses a depositum he hath received from a mere man, he is esteemed a wicked and perfidious person; but then if any one cast out of his body this Divine depositum, can we imagine that he who is thereby affronted does not know of it? Moreover, our law justly ordains that slaves which run away from their master shall be punished, though the masters they run away from may have been wicked masters to them. And shall we endeavor to run away from God, who is the best of all masters, and not guilty of impeity? Do not you know that those who depart out of this life according to the law of nature, and pay that debt which was received from God, when he that lent it us is pleased to require it back again, enjoy eternal fame; that their houses and their posterity are sure, that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolutions of ages, they are again sent into pure bodies; while the souls of those whose hands have acted madly against themselves are received by the darkest place in Hades, and while God, who is their Father, punishes those that offend against either of them in their posterity? for which reason God hates such doings, and the crime is punished by our most wise legislator. Accordingly, our laws determine that the bodies of such as kill themselves should be exposed till the sun be set, without burial, although at the same time it be allowed by them to be lawful to bury our enemies [sooner]. The laws of other nations also enjoin such men's hands to be cut off when they are dead, which had been made use of in destroying themselves when alive, while they reckoned that as the body is alien from the soul, so is the hand alien from the body. It is therefore, my friends, a right thing to reason justly, and not add to the calamities which men bring upon us impiety towards our Creator. If we have a mind to preserve ourselves, let us do it; for to be preserved by those our enemies, to whom we have given so many demonstrations of our courage, is no way inglorious; but if we have a mind to die, it is good to die by the hand of those that have conquered us. For my part, I will not run over to our enemies' quarters, in order to be a traitor to myself; for certainly I should then be much more foolish than those that deserted to the enemy, since they did it in order to save themselves, and I should do it for destruction, for my own destruction. However, I heartily wish the Romans may prove treacherous in this matter; for if, after their offer of their right hand for security, I be slain by them, I shall die cheerfully, and carry away with me the sense of their perfidiousness, as a consolation greater than victory itself."

     6. Now these and many the like motives did Josephus use to these men to prevent their murdering themselves; but desperation had shut their ears, as having long ago devoted themselves to die, and they were irritated at Josephus. They then ran upon him with their swords in their hands, one from one quarter, and another from another, and called him a coward, and everyone of them appeared openly as if he were ready to smite him; but he calling to one of them by name, and looking like a general to another, and taking a third by the hand, and making a fourth ashamed of himself, by praying him to forbear, and being in this condition distracted with various passions, [as he well might in the great distress he was then in,] he kept off every one of their swords from killing him, and was forced to do like such wild beasts as are encompassed about on every side, who always turn themselves against those that last touched them. Nay, some of their right hands were debilitated by the reverence they bare to their general in these his fatal calamities, and their swords dropped out of their hands; and not a few of them there were, who, when they aimed to smite him with their swords, they were not thoroughly either willing or able to do it.

     7. However, in this extreme distress, he was not destitute of his usual sagacity; but trusting himself to the providence of God, he put his life into hazard [in the manner following]: "And now," said he, "since it is resolved among you that you will die, come on, let us commit our mutual deaths to determination by lot. He whom the lot falls to first, let him be killed by him that hath the second lot, and thus fortune shall make its progress through us all; nor shall any of us perish by his own right hand, for it would be unfair if, when the rest are gone, somebody should repent and save himself." This proposal appeared to them to be very just; and when he had prevailed with them to determine this matter by lots, he drew one of the lots for himself also. He who had the first lot laid his neck bare to him that had the next, as supposing that the general would die among them immediately; for they thought death, if Josephus might but die with them, was sweeter than life; yet was he with another left to the last, whether we must say it happened so by chance, or whether by the providence of God. And as he was very desirous neither to be condemned by the lot, nor, if he had been left to the last, to imbrue his right hand in the blood of his countrymen, he persuaded him to trust his fidelity to him, and to live as well as himself.

     8. Thus Josephus escaped in the war with the Romans, and in this his own war with his friends, and was led by Nicanor to Vespasian. But now all the Romans ran together to see him; and as the multitude pressed one upon another about their general, there was a tumult of a various kind; while some rejoiced that Josephus was taken, and some threatened him, and some crowded to see him very near; but those that were more remote cried out to have this their enemy put to death, while those that were near called to mind the actions he had done, and a deep concern appeared at the change of his fortune. Nor were there any of the Roman commanders, how much soever they had been enraged at him before, but relented when they came to the sight of him. Above all the rest, Titus's own valor, and Josephus's own patience under his afflictions, made him pity him, as did also the commiseration of his age, when he recalled to mind that but a little while ago he was fighting, but lay now in the hands of his enemies, which made him consider the power of fortune, and how quick is the turn of affairs in war, and how no state of men is sure; for which reason he then made a great many more to be of the same pitiful temper with himself, and induced them to commiserate Josephus. He was also of great weight in persuading his father to preserve him. However, Vespasian gave strict orders that he should be kept with great caution, as though he would in a very little time send him to Nero.

     9. When Josephus heard him give those orders, he said that he had somewhat in his mind that he would willingly say to himself alone. When therefore they were all ordered to withdraw, excepting Titus and two of their friends, he said, "Thou, O Vespasian, thinkest no more than that thou hast taken Josephus himself captive; but I come to thee as a messenger of greater tidings; for had not I been sent by God to thee, I knew what was the law of the Jews in this case? and how it becomes generals to die. Dost thou send me to Nero? For why? Are Nero's successors till they come to thee still alive? Thou, O Vespasian, art Caesar and emperor, thou, and this thy son. Bind me now still faster, and keep me for thyself, for thou, O Caesar, are not only lord over me, but over the land and the sea, and all mankind; and certainly I deserve to be kept in closer custody than I now am in, in order to be punished, if I rashly affirm any thing of God." When he had said this, Vespasian at present did not believe him, but supposed that Josephus said this as a cunning trick, in order to his own preservation; but in a little time he was convinced, and believed what he said to be true, God himself erecting his expectations, so as to think of obtaining the empire, and by other signs fore-showing his advancement. He also found Josephus to have spoken truth on other occasions; for one of those friends that were present at that secret conference said to Josephus, "I cannot but wonder how thou couldst not foretell to the people of Jotapata that they should be taken, nor couldst foretell this captivity which hath happened to thyself, unless what thou now sayest be a vain thing, in order to avoid the rage that is risen against thyself." To which Josephus replied, "I did foretell to the people of Jotapata that they would be taken on the forty-seventh day, and that I should be caught alive by the Romans." Now when Vespasian had inquired of the captives privately about these predictions, he found them to be true, and then he began to believe those that concerned himself. Yet did he not set Josephus at liberty from his hands, but bestowed on him suits of clothes, and other precious gifts; he treated him also in a very obliging manner, and continued so to do, Titus still joining his interest in the honors that were done him.

     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 23:12
     by D.H. Stern

12     Apply your mind to discipline
and your ears to words of knowledge.

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


                The ministry of the unnoticed

     Blessed are the poor in spirit. --- Matthew 5:3.

     The New Testament notices things which from our standards do not seem to count. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” literally—Blessed are the paupers—an exceedingly commonplace thing! The preaching of today is apt to emphasize strength of will, beauty of character—the things that are easily noticed. The phrase we hear so often, ‘Decide for Christ,’ is an emphasis on something Our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to Him, a very different thing. At the basis of Jesus Christ’s Kingdom is the unaffected loveliness of the commonplace. The thing I am blessed in is my poverty. If I know I have no strength of will, no nobility of disposition, then Jesus says—Blessed are you, because it is through this poverty that I enter His Kingdom. I cannot enter His Kingdom as a good man or woman, I can only enter it as a complete pauper.

     The true character of the loveliness that tells for God is always unconscious. Conscious influence is priggish and un-Christian. If I say, ‘I wonder if I am of any use,’ I instantly lose the bloom of the touch of the Lord. “He that believeth in Me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water.” If I examine the outflow, I lose the touch of the Lord.

     Which are the people who have influenced us most? Not the ones who thought they did, but those who had not the remotest notion that they were influencing us. In the Christian life the implicit is never conscious; if it is conscious, it ceases to have this unaffected loveliness which is the characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

That Day
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                That Day

Stopped the car, asked a man the way
To some place; he rested on it
Smiling, an impression of charm
As of ripe fields; talking to us
He held a reflection of the sky
In his brushed eyes. We lost interest
In the way, seeing him old
And content, feeling the sun's warmth
In his voice, watching the swallows
Above him -- thirty years back
To this summer. Knowing him gone,
We wander the same flower-bordered road,
Seeing the harvest ripped from the land,
Deafened by the planes' orchestra;
Unable to direct the lost travellers
Of convince them this is a good place to be.


H'm: Poems by R. S. Thomas

God hardened
     Pharaoh's Heart


                Is It Pharaoh's Fault?

     Now I know I may be reading more into the text then I should, but it is well to remember that the Gospel can be intensely and deeply personal. Our relationship with God has a tremendous impact on our understanding of Scripture.

     How does God harden our hearts? You know what hardens or breaks our heart? Mercy! When we do something and nothing happens we are convicted. This is a critical moment. Ashamed, we tell God and ourselves we will not do it again, or the opposite happens. We are emboldened to do it again or something even more serious. Are laws for good people?

     When God takes you to the wood shed you react with anger or conviction. Your heart is stiffened or broken, but we always have a choice. God knows the future, whether we will react in the flesh or respond in the spirit. God always ... always gives you, me, Pharaoh, a choice. God says to choose, but God knows how we will choose. God hardened Pharaoh's heart with mercy.

     The Bible is all about Jesus and Jesus permeates the Bible from beginning to end. Jesus stands between us and destruction. I see this pattern over and over in the Old Testament. Dr. Delamarter called it the Cycle of Discipline. Indeed, mercy is a two edged sword. God knows whether we will respond with the mind of Christ or be hardened in our own stubborness. In that sense God hardened Pharaoh's heart, Esau's heart. Remember, we are told God shows no partiality. You and I must choose whether to react or respond to the mercy God continues to show us.

Seeking to establish
     their own righteousness


                Self-determined to a fault

     There is no place in God’s economy for our agendas. Neither can we have any hope of establishing our own righteousness because there is no righteousness apart from God.

     Try as we might God will always steer us back to God, unless we are so headstrong to think we can make our own way, find our identity in what we do, or in who we think we are. We are nothing apart from God, pure and simple, nothing. Our schemes and dreams, whatever our motivations and despite even our best intentions are only vapors, dust, nothing.

     God’s desire is that we trust God and get on board with what God is doing. We are supposed to stand where God has placed us, keeping our eyes fixed and focused on Jesus.

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Exodus 32:9–11


     BIBLE TEXT / Exodus 32:9–11 / The Lord further said to Moses, “I see that this is a stiffnecked people. Now, let Me be, that My anger may blaze forth against them and that I may destroy them, and make of you a great nation.” But Moses implored the Lord his God, saying, “Let not Your anger, O Lord, blaze forth against Your people, whom You delivered from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand.”

     MIDRASH TEXT / Exodus Rabbah 42, 9 / The Lord further said to Moses, “I see that this is a stiffnecked people.” What does “stiffnecked people” mean? Rabbi Yehudah son of Polvaya said in the name of Rabbi Meir, “They deserve to have their necks broken!” Rav Yakim said, “Three are arrogant: among the animals, the dog; among the fowl, the rooster; and among the nations, Israel.” Rabbi Yitzḥak bar Radifa said in the name of Rabbi Ammi, “You think it’s disparaging, but it’s really in praise: Either a Jew or hanged!” Rabbi Avin said, “Now Israel in the Diaspora is called ‘the stiffnecked people.’ ” Rav Naḥman said, “Know that they are stiff [inflexible]: When the Holy One, praised is He, came to give them the Torah, what does it say about them? ‘On the third day, as Morning dawned [there was thunder, and lightning …]’ [
Exodus 19:16]. The Holy One, praised is He, said: ‘I will show them all My signs. Would that they work!’ ”

     CONTEXT / The biblical chapter cited above deals with the incident of the Golden Calf. Moses has been on the mountain forty days:

     When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who shall go before us, for that man Moses, who brought us from the land of Egypt—we do not know what has happened to him.”

     Aaron fashions an idol, a calf, from the people’s gold. God tells Moses: “Hurry down, for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted basely.” Note that God calls the Israelites Moses’ people whom he—Moses—took out of Egypt. This is not unlike the mother who, as her husband walks in the house from work, blurts out, “Just look at what your child did today!” When Moses and Joshua come down the mountain, they find the Israelites dancing around this golden idol.

     The Lord further said to Moses, “I see that this is a stiffnecked people.” Rabbi Yehudah son of Polvaya said in the name of Rabbi Meir, “They deserve to have their necks broken!” God accuses the Israelites of being stiffnecked and tells Moses to step aside so that the people can be destroyed and a new nation created from Moses. Moses uses several arguments, including that of the embarrassment that God will sustain, to convince God not to do this. Thus, the Israelites are accused by God, and cursed by God, for being stiffnecked.

     Rabbi Yitzḥak bar Radifa said in the name of Rabbi Ammi, “You think it’s disparaging, but it’s really in praise: Either a Jew or hanged!” Rabbi Ammi had a different understanding of the stiffnecked Jewish people. To him, the stubbornness and inflexibility of the Jews were actually a virtue and an advantage. In order for Jews to survive in these later, and often more difficult, times, the Jews would require a certain obstinate side. Rabbi Ammi, living in fourth-century Israel, quotes an apparently well-known aphorism, “Either a Jew or hanged!” to mean Jews in his day are so “stubborn” that nothing short of death will sway them from their devotion to their religion.

     “On the third day, as Morning dawned, [there was thunder, and lightning …]” [
Exodus 19:16]. The Midrash understands the thunder and lightning that accompanied Sinai as a sign from God of the people’s stubbornness. God, in effect, has to “wow” this stiffnecked people, the Israelites, with divine wonders and marvels. Only then are they willing to listen and obey.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 21

     The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. --- John 3:35.

     That everything is in Christ’s hands will be evident from the following demonstrations.
(
The RS Thomas And Other Practical Works Of The Late Reverend And Learned Mr. Ralph Erskine V9)

     All good things in the world are only shadows of what is in Christ. Outward riches are but a shadow of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Outward life is only a shadow of him who is the way, the truth, and the life. Outward liberty is only a shadow of that freedom which is to be had in Christ,
“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”
(
John 8:36), meaning that no freedom is freedom indeed and in truth but this. Outward rest is only a shadow of the rest that is to be had in him: “Come to me,… and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). The sun in the sky is only a shadow of the Sun of righteousness and of his glory. Rivers and fountains are only shadows of his fullness who is the fountain of living waters. Plants and trees are only a shadow of the foliage of him who is the tree of life. All things that have any excellence in them are only shadows of him in whom all worthwhile qualities come to a common center. All the stars are only shadows of him who is the bright and Morning Star.

     If Christ can supply all wants, then everything must be in his hands, [and] so it is, he can supply all wants: “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (
Phil. 4:19). Whatever you suffer from, there is in Christ that which can supply and support. Do you suffer from desertion? Then, he says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Do you suffer from corruption and bondage to sin? It is he who says, “Sin shall not be your master” (Rom. 6:14). Do you suffer from temptation? It is he who, as “the God of peace will… crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20) and says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). Do you suffer from weakness? It is he who says, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9). Do you suffer from affliction, inward or outward? “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” (Ps. 34:19). Do you suffer from fears of public calamities? It is said of him, “He will be their peace”
(
Mic. 5:5). Do you suffer from the fears of death? It is he who says, “I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”
(
Hos. 13:14).
--- Ralph Erskine


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

On This Day
     The Warrior Pope  August 21

     Giuliano della Rovere began climbing the ecclesiastical ladder as a youth, aided by his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV. In 1503 Giuliano himself became Pope Julius II. He secured his office by promising the cardinals to seek their advice on important issues, to call a general council, and to continue the war against the Turks.

     He kept his promises just as he had kept his monastic vow of celibacy, which is to say loosely. He was a powerful, restless man—massive head, deep eyes, lips tight with resolution, face somber, temper violent. He kept Italy in war and Rome in turmoil. He liberated the papal states, leading his own troops and actually scaling the walls of Bologna himself.

     He tore down the old St. Peter’s Cathedral, and at age 63 climbed down a long, trembling rope ladder to lay the cornerstone for the new one; and he instituted the sale of indulgences to pay for the new basilica, provoking Luther. His love for architecture prompted prelates, nobles, bankers, and merchants to build opulent palaces. Broad avenues were cut through the ancient city, hundreds of new streets opened, and Rome again began looking like the home of a Caesar.

     Julius discovered and developed Michelangelo and Raphael; moved the center of the Renaissance from Florence to Rome; financed hundreds of promising artists; and gave the world the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

     But his enemies and adversities increased. Julius was stricken with a severe illness and hovered near death three days. On August 21, 1511, as he lay unconscious, the cardinals prepared to name his successor. Julius disappointed them by recovering. He wasn’t finished yet. He soon formed England’s King Henry VIII, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland into a military alliance against France. They launched the war, but during the campaign the warrior-pope’s energy finally ran out. Consumed by a fever (thought by some to be caused by venereal disease or by his immoderate eating and drinking), he gave instructions for his funeral, confessed himself a great sinner, and died.

     The LORD says: Don’t brag about your wisdom or strength or wealth. If you feel you must brag, then have enough sense to brag about worshiping me, the LORD. What I like best is showing kindness, justice, and mercy To everyone on earth.
--- Jeremiah 9:23,24.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 21

     “He that watereth shall be watered also himself.” --- Proverbs 11:25.

     We are here taught the great lesson, that to get, we must give; that to accumulate, we must scatter; that to make ourselves happy, we must make others happy; and that in order to become spiritually vigorous, we must seek the spiritual good of others. In watering others, we are ourselves watered. How? Our efforts to be useful, bring out our powers for usefulness. We have latent talents and dormant faculties, which are brought to light by exercise. Our strength for labour is hidden even from ourselves, until we venture forth to fight the Lord’s battles, or to climb the mountains of difficulty. We do not know what tender sympathies we possess until we try to dry the widow’s tears, and soothe the orphan’s grief. We often find in attempting to teach others, that we gain instruction for ourselves. Oh, what gracious lessons some of us have learned at sick beds! We went to teach the Scriptures, we came away blushing that we knew so little of them. In our converse with poor saints, we are taught the way of God more perfectly for ourselves and get a deeper insight into divine truth. So that watering others makes us humble. We discover how much grace there is where we had not looked for it; and how much the poor saint may outstrip us in knowledge. Our own comfort is also increased by our working for others. We endeavour to cheer them, and the consolation gladdens our own heart. Like the two men in the snow; one chafed the other’s limbs to keep him from dying, and in so doing kept his own blood in circulation, and saved his own life. The poor widow of Sarepta gave from her scanty store a supply for the prophet’s wants, and from that day she never again knew what want was. Give then, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and running over.


          Evening - August 21

     “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.”
--- Isaiah 45:19.

     We may gain much solace by considering what God has not said. What he has said is inexpressibly full of comfort and delight; what he has not said is scarcely less rich in consolation. It was one of these “said nots” which preserved the kingdom of Israel in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, for “the Lord said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven.” 2 Kings 14:27. In our text we have an assurance that God will answer prayer, because he hath “not said unto the seed of Israel, Seek ye me in vain.” You who write bitter things against yourselves should remember that, let your doubts and fears say what they will, if God has not cut you off from mercy, there is no room for despair: even the voice of conscience is of little weight if it be not seconded by the voice of God. What God has said, tremble at! But suffer not your vain imaginings to overwhelm you with despondency and sinful despair. Many timid persons have been vexed by the suspicion that there may be something in God’s decree which shuts them out from hope, but here is a complete refutation to that troublesome fear, for no true seeker can be decreed to wrath. “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I have not said,” even in the secret of my unsearchable decree, “Seek ye me in vain.” God has clearly revealed that he will hear the prayer of those who call upon him, and that declaration cannot be contravened. He has so firmly, so truthfully, so righteously spoken, that there can be no room for doubt. He does not reveal his mind in unintelligible words, but he speaks plainly and positively, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Believe, O trembler, this sure truth—that prayer must and shall be heard, and that never, even in the secrets of eternity, has the Lord said unto any living soul, “Seek ye me in vain.”

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

Amazing Grace
     August 21

          MORE ABOUT JESUS

     Eliza E. Hewitt, 1851–1920

     I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:10, 11)

     The Christian Gospel is thrilling to contemplate. It is so simple that even a small child can understand and respond to its basic message—the necessity of placing one’s implicit faith in Christ. But, on the other hand, it is so profound that a lifetime is far too brief to fully comprehend it, since its message is really a person—a growing knowledge and relationship to the eternal Son of God.

     The author of this hymn text, Eliza Edmunds Hewitt, was an invalid for an extended period of her life. Out of this experience she developed an intimate relationship with God and the Scriptures and a desire to share her feelings with others through writing. She became a prolific author of children’s poetry and Sunday school literature. Various Gospel musicians soon became aware of her many fine poems and set them to suitable music. In later years, Eliza’s physical condition improved and she was able to be even more active in her Christian ministries. She was a close friend of Fanny Crosby and often met with her for fellowship and discussion of new hymns they had written. “More About Jesus” was first published in 1887. Miss Hewitt’s prayer, “Spirit of God, my teacher be, showing the things of Christ to me,” was beautifully answered in her many hymns with heart-felt words such as these:

     More about Jesus would I know, more of His grace to others show, more of His saving fullness see, more of His love who died for me.
     More about Jesus let me learn, more of His holy will discern; Spirit of God my teacher be, showing the things of Christ to me.
     More about Jesus—in His Word holding communion with my Lord, hearing His voice in ev’ry line, making each faithful saying mine.
     More about Jesus on His throne, riches in glory all His own, more of His kingdom’s sure increase, more of His coming-—Prince of Peace.
     Refrain: More, more about Jesus, more, more about Jesus; more of His saving fullness see, more of His love who died for me.


     For Today: 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 3:19; Philippians 3; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 1:4

     A person who has had an intimate relationship with Christ radiates much more Gospel truth to our world than volumes of theological arguments do. Strive to experience more of Christ’s love so that you may “more of His grace to others show.” Sing this prayer as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Monday, August 21, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 15, Monday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 106:1–18
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 106:19–48
Old Testament     2 Samuel 17:24–18:8
New Testament     Acts 22:30–23:11
Gospel     Mark 11:12–26

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 106:1–18

1 Praise the LORD!
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD,
or declare all his praise?
3 Happy are those who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times.

4 Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you deliver them;
5 that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory in your heritage.

6 Both we and our ancestors have sinned;
we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.
7 Our ancestors, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wonderful works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea.
8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
so that he might make known his mighty power.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry;
he led them through the deep as through a desert.
10 So he saved them from the hand of the foe,
and delivered them from the hand of the enemy.
11 The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them was left.
12 Then they believed his words;
they sang his praise.

13 But they soon forgot his works;
they did not wait for his counsel.
14 But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness,
and put God to the test in the desert;
15 he gave them what they asked,
but sent a wasting disease among them.

16 They were jealous of Moses in the camp,
and of Aaron, the holy one of the LORD.
17 The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan,
and covered the faction of Abiram.
18 Fire also broke out in their company;
the flame burned up the wicked.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 106:19–48

19 They made a calf at Horeb
and worshiped a cast image.
20 They exchanged the glory of God
for the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God, their Savior,
who had done great things in Egypt,
22 wondrous works in the land of Ham,
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.

24 Then they despised the pleasant land,
having no faith in his promise.
25 They grumbled in their tents,
and did not obey the voice of the LORD.
26 Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them
that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
27 and would disperse their descendants among the nations,
scattering them over the lands.

28 Then they attached themselves to the Baal of Peor,
and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
29 they provoked the LORD to anger with their deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas stood up and interceded,
and the plague was stopped.
31 And that has been reckoned to him as righteousness
from generation to generation forever.

32 They angered the LORD at the waters of Meribah,
and it went ill with Moses on their account;
33 for they made his spirit bitter,
and he spoke words that were rash.

34 They did not destroy the peoples,
as the LORD commanded them,
35 but they mingled with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
36 They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
38 they poured out innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
and the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and prostituted themselves in their doings.

40 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
41 he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their power.
43 Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes,
and were brought low through their iniquity.
44 Nevertheless he regarded their distress
when he heard their cry.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and showed compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
46 He caused them to be pitied
by all who held them captive.

47 Save us, O LORD our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.

48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
And let all the people say, “Amen.”
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
2 Samuel 17:24–18:8

24 Then David came to Mahanaim, while Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army in the place of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigal daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26 The Israelites and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, “The troops are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”

18 Then David mustered the men who were with him, and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 And David divided the army into three groups: one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the men, “I myself will also go out with you.” 3 But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.” 4 The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. 5 The king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders concerning Absalom.

6 So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest claimed more victims that day than the sword.

New Testament
Acts 22:30–23:11

30 Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them.

23 While Paul was looking intently at the council he said, “Brothers, up to this day I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God.” 2 Then the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near him to strike him on the mouth. 3 At this Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting there to judge me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those standing nearby said, “Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not realize, brothers, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a leader of your people.’ ”

6 When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) 9 Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees’ group stood up and contended, “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks.

11 That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”

Gospel
Mark 11:12–26

12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16 and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.”

18 And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19 And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. 24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”


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