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1 Samuel 17     Romans 15     Lamentations 2     Psalm 33


1 Samuel 17

David and Goliath

1 Samuel 17 1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.[d] 13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”

19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, 39 and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.

41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”

48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.

55 As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” 56 And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” 57 And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”


Romans 15

The Example of Christ

Romans 15 1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles

8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”

10 And again it is said,

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, 21 but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”

Paul's Plan to Visit Rome

22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.


Lamentations 2

The Lord Has Destroyed Without Pity

Lamentations 2 1 How the Lord in his anger
has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!
He has cast down from heaven to earth
the splendor of Israel;
he has not remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger.

2 The Lord has swallowed up without mercy
all the habitations of Jacob;
in his wrath he has broken down
the strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
he has brought down to the ground in dishonor
the kingdom and its rulers.

3 He has cut down in fierce anger
all the might of Israel;
he has withdrawn from them his right hand
in the face of the enemy;
he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob,
consuming all around.

4 He has bent his bow like an enemy,
with his right hand set like a foe;
and he has killed all who were delightful in our eyes
in the tent of the daughter of Zion;
he has poured out his fury like fire.

5 The Lord has become like an enemy;
he has swallowed up Israel;
he has swallowed up all its palaces;
he has laid in ruins its strongholds,
and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah
mourning and lamentation.

6 He has laid waste his booth like a garden,
laid in ruins his meeting place;
the Lord has made Zion forget
festival and Sabbath,
and in his fierce indignation has spurned king and priest.

7 The Lord has scorned his altar,
disowned his sanctuary;
he has delivered into the hand of the enemy
the walls of her palaces;
they raised a clamor in the house of the Lord
as on the day of festival.

8 The Lord determined to lay in ruins
the wall of the daughter of Zion;
he stretched out the measuring line;
he did not restrain his hand from destroying;
he caused rampart and wall to lament;
they languished together.

9 Her gates have sunk into the ground;
he has ruined and broken her bars;
her king and princes are among the nations;
the law is no more,
and her prophets find
no vision from the Lord.

10 The elders of the daughter of Zion
sit on the ground in silence;
they have thrown dust on their heads
and put on sackcloth;
the young women of Jerusalem
have bowed their heads to the ground.

11 My eyes are spent with weeping;
my stomach churns;
my bile is poured out to the ground
because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
because infants and babies faint
in the streets of the city.

12 They cry to their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”
as they faint like a wounded man
in the streets of the city,
as their life is poured out
on their mothers' bosom.

13 What can I say for you, to what compare you,
O daughter of Jerusalem?
What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you,
O virgin daughter of Zion?
For your ruin is vast as the sea;
who can heal you?

14 Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
that are false and misleading.

15 All who pass along the way
clap their hands at you;
they hiss and wag their heads
at the daughter of Jerusalem:
“Is this the city that was called
the perfection of beauty,
the joy of all the earth?”

16 All your enemies
rail against you;
they hiss, they gnash their teeth,
they cry: “We have swallowed her!
Ah, this is the day we longed for;
now we have it; we see it!”

17 The Lord has done what he purposed;
he has carried out his word,
which he commanded long ago;
he has thrown down without pity;
he has made the enemy rejoice over you
and exalted the might of your foes.

18 Their heart cried to the Lord.
O wall of the daughter of Zion,
let tears stream down like a torrent
day and night!
Give yourself no rest,
your eyes no respite!

19 “Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the night watches!
Pour out your heart like water
before the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint for hunger
at the head of every street.”

20 Look, O Lord, and see!
With whom have you dealt thus?
Should women eat the fruit of their womb,
the children of their tender care?
Should priest and prophet be killed
in the sanctuary of the Lord?

21 In the dust of the streets
lie the young and the old;
my young women and my young men
have fallen by the sword;
you have killed them in the day of your anger,
slaughtering without pity.

22 You summoned as if to a festival day
my terrors on every side,
and on the day of the anger of the Lord
no one escaped or survived;
those whom I held and raised
my enemy destroyed.


Psalm 33

The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Of David.  See Psalm 33 article below

Psalm 33 1 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

4 For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

Why Is God So Hidden?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/25/2013

     As a young atheist, I denied the existence of Godfor practical, experiential reasons. During my elementary school years, I found it difficult to understand why anyone would believe in God without visible evidence. I knew my parents, teachers and friends were real, because I could see them and I could see their impact on the world around me. God, however, seemed completely hidden. I often thought, “If God exists, why would He hide in this way? Why wouldn’t God just come right out and make it obvious to everyone He exists?” As I examined these questions many years later, I began to consider other factors and considerations, particularly related to the nature of “love”.

     I held love and compassion in high regard, even as an unbeliever. These were values I embraced as essential to our survival as a species, and values I considered to be foundational to human “flourishing”(as many atheists commonly describe it). But love requires a certain kind of world, and if loving God does exist, it is reasonable that He would create a universe in which love is possible; a universe capable of supporting humans with the ability to love God and love one another. This kind of universe requires a number of pre-requisites, however, and these pre-requisites are best achieved when God is “hidden” in the way He often seems to be:

     Love Requires Freedom | True love cannot be coerced. We love our children and we want them to love us. We cannot, however, force them to do so. When we give our kids direction and ask them to accept this direction as a reflection of their love for us, we must step away and give them the freedom to respond (or rebel) freely. If we are “ever-present”, their response will be coerced; they will behave in a particular way not because they love us, but because they know we are present (and they fear the consequence of rebellion). If God exists, it is reasonable that He would remain hidden (to some degree) to allow us the freedom to respond from a position of love, rather than fear.

     Love Requires Faith | Love requires a certain amount of trust; we must trust the person who loves us has our best interest in mind, even in times of doubt. There are occasions when trust requires us to accept something as true, even though we can’t immediately see this to be the case. In essence, trust often requires “hiddenness” on the part of the “lover” if love is to be confident, powerful and transformational.

     Love Requires Evidence | Love does, however, require sufficient evidence. While we may not want to coerce our children, we do need to give them sufficient reason to believe we exist, support and love them. While many non-believers may deny there is any evidence for the existence of God, the natural world has provided us with sufficient (albeit non-coercive) evidence God exists. We have the ability, however, to deny this evidence if we choose.

Click here to go to source

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

Romans 14:11 & Isaiah 45:23

By James S. Stewart

     (Is 45:23) 23 By myself I have sworn,
     from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
     a word that shall not return:
     “To me every knee shall bow,
     every tongue shall swear.”
NRSV

     (Ro 14:11) For it is written,
     “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
     and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
NRSV

     The first is the subject-matter of the teaching itself. What are Paul's leading themes ? The righteousness of God, the death of Jesus on Calvary, the reconciliation of the world, the eternally living and present Christ. Paul at least recognised, if some of his commentators have not, that where themes like these are concerned, you cannot in the last resort measure and explain : you can only wonder and adore. We may take it for certain that any formula or system which claims to gather up into itself the whole meaning of God's righteousness, or of Christ's redeeming work, is ipso facto wrong. The only right way to see the cross of Jesus is on your knees. The apostle himself reminds us of that, when he declares, immediately after one of his greatest accounts of his Lord's atoning death, "Before the name of Jesus every knee should bow." In this world, men kneel to what they love. And love has a way of breaking through every carefully articulated system : it sees so much more than the system-makers. Hence it is a right instinct that bids us beware of reconstructions of Paul's doctrine which claim to co-ordinate every aspect of the apostle's religious thought into a complete and perfect whole, leaving no loose ends anywhere. It is one of the great services of the Barthian movement to our generation that it keeps up an energetic protest against what it regards as a quite arrogant tendency to push systems and definitions into that ultimate region where God alone can speak. Such definitions merely indicate, as Barth declares, that "man has taken the divine into his possession ; he has brought it under his management" \ he has been forgetting that "only God Himself can speak of God." 2 But Paul never forgot that; and therefore at point after point his line of thought is interrupted by a sudden burst of doxology. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out !"  "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"    "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory."

     (Ro 11:33–36) 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.
NRSV

     (2 Co 1:3–5) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4 who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. NRSV

     (1 Co 15:57) 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. NRSV

A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul's Religion (Classic Reprint)

Your Inner Pharisee

By Josh Moody 8/11/2017

     The Pharisees are boogeymen among evangelicals, and as such, it is hard to conceive that we ourselves might be Pharisees. They are other people—bad people, legalists, judgmentalists, those who attack Christ and defend fake, hypocritical religion. “Hypocrites” is the most important descriptor. Pharisees act as if they are righteous; while they “strain out a gnat” of sin, they “swallow a camel” of evil (Matt. 23:24). They travel over land and sea to win a single convert, only to make him twice a son of hell as before (Matt. 23:15).

     Surely, we are not them.

     In a strict historical sense, Christians are not Pharisees. Pharisaic religion rejected Jesus as the Christ, and therefore when someone worships him as God’s Son, he is no longer a Pharisee.

     But is there an essence of Pharisaism alive today, even active within creeds that embrace the divinity of Jesus, the doctrines of grace, and Trinitarian orthodoxy? If we leave aside the doctrinal and historical elements of Pharisaism, the following six areas of examination might expose our own inner Pharisee.

     1. Our Prayers | Are our prayers, even if explicitly God-honoring, implicity self-exalting (Luke 18:9–11Matt. 6:5)? For instance, do we pray to sound impressive to those who hear us? 

Click here to go to source

     Josh Moody (PhD, University of Cambridge) is senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, in the Chicago area, and the author of several books. His latest is John 1–12 for You.

Josh Moody Books:

Psalm 33 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     TITLE. This song of praise bears no title or indication of authorship; to teach us, says Dickson, "to look upon Holy Scripture as altogether inspired of God, and not put price upon it for the writers thereof."

     SUBJECT AND DIVISION. The praise of Jehovah is the subject of this sacred song. The righteous are exhorted to praise him, Ps 33:1-3; because of the excellency of his character, Ps 33:4-5; and his majesty in creation, Ps 33:6-7. Men are bidden to fear before Jehovah because his purposes are accomplished in providence, Ps 33:8-11. His people are proclaimed blessed, Ps 33:12. The omniscience and omnipotence of God, and his care for his people are celebrated, in opposition to the weakness of an arm of flesh, Ps 33:13-19; and the Psalm concludes with a fervent expression of confidence, Ps 33:20-21, and an earnest prayer, Ps 33:22.


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. Rejoice in the Lord. Joy is the soul of praise. To delight ourselves in God is most truly to extol him, even if we let no notes of song proceed from our lips. That God is, and that he is such a God, and our God, ours for ever and ever, should wake within us an unceasing and overflowing joy. To rejoice in temporal comforts is dangerous, to rejoice in self is foolish, to rejoice in sin is fatal, but to rejoice in God is heavenly. He who would have a double heaven must begin below to rejoice like those above. O ye righteous. This is peculiarly your duty, your obligations are greater, and your spiritual nature more adapted to the work, be ye then first in the glad service. Even the righteous are not always glad, and have need to be stirred up to enjoy their privileges. For praise is comely for the upright. God has an eye to things which are becoming. When saints wear their choral robes, they look fair in the Lord's sight. A harp suits a blood washed hand. No jewel more ornamental to a holy face than sacred praise. Praise is not comely from unpardoned professional singers; it is like a jewel of gold in a swine's snout. Crooked hearts make crooked music, but the upright are the Lord's delight. Praise is the dress of saints in heaven, it is meet that they should fit it on below.

     Verse 2. Praise the Lord with harp. Men need all the help they can get to stir them up to praise. This is the lesson to be gathered from the use of musical instruments under the old dispensation. Israel was at school, and used childish things to help her to learn; but in these days, when Jesus gives us spiritual manhood, we can make melody without strings and pipes. We who do not believe these things to be expedient in worship, lest they should mar its simplicity, do not affirm them to be unlawful, and if any George Herbert or Martin Luther can worship God better by the aid of well tunes instruments, who shall gainsay their right? We do not need them, they would hinder than help our praise, but if others are otherwise minded, are they not living in gospel liberty? Sing unto him. This is the sweetest and best of music. No instrument like the human voice. As a help to singing the instrument is alone to be tolerated, for keys and strings do not praise the Lord. With the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. The Lord must have a full octave, for all notes are his, and all music belongs to him. Where several pieces of music are mentioned, we are taught to praise God with all the powers which we possess.

     Verse 3. Sing unto him a new song. All songs of praise should be unto him. Singing for singing's sake is nothing worth; we must carry our tribute to the King, and not cast it to the winds. Do most worshippers mind this? Our faculties should be exercised when we are magnifying the Lord, so as not to run in an old groove without thought; we ought to make every hymn of praise a new song. To keep up the freshness of worship is a great thing, and in private it is indispensable. Let us not present old worn out praise, but put life, and soul, and heart, into every song, since we have new mercies every day, and see new beauties in the work and word of our Lord. Play skilfully. It is wretched to hear God praised in a slovenly manner. He deserves the best that we have. Every Christian should endeavour to sing according to the rules of the art, so that he may keep time and tune with the congregation. The sweetest tunes and the sweetest voices, with the sweetest words, are all too little for the Lord our God; let us not offer him limping rhymes, set to harsh tunes, and growled out by discordant voices. With a loud noise. Heartiness should be conspicuous in divine worship. Well bred whispers are disreputable here. It is not that the Lord cannot hear us, but that it is natural for great exultation to express itself in the loudest manner. Men shout at the sight of their kings: shall we offer no loud hosannahs to the Son of David?

     Verse 4. For the word of the Lord is right. His ordinances both natural, moral, and spiritual, are right, and especially his incarnate Word, who is the Lord our righteousness. Whatever God has ordained must be good, and just, and excellent. There are no anomalies in God's universe, except what sin has made; his word of command made all things good. When we look at his word of promise, and remember its faithfulness, what reasons have we for joy and thankfulness! And all his works are done in truth. His work is the outflow of his word, and it is true to it. He neither doth nor saith anything ill; in deed and speech he agrees with himself and the purest truth. There is no lie in God's word, and no sham in his works; in creation, providence, and revelation, unalloyed truth abounds. To act truth as well as to utter it is divine. Let not children of God ever yield their principles in practice any more than in heart. What a God we serve! The more we know of him, the more our better natures approve his surpassing excellence; even his afflicting works are according to his truthful word.

"Why should I complain of want of distress,
Afflictions or pain? he told me no less;
The heirs of salvation, I know from his word,
Through much tribulation must follow their Lord."

     God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips, acts with a hand which never fails. Bless his name.

     Verse 5. He loveth righteousness and judgment. The theory and practice of right he intensely loves. He doth not only approve the true and the just, but his inmost soul delights therein. The character of God is a sea, every drop of which should become a wellhead of praise for his people. The righteousness of Jesus is peculiarly dear to the Father, and for its sake he takes pleasure in those to whom it is imputed. Sin, on the other hand, is infinitely abhorrent to the Lord, and woe unto those who die in it; if he sees no righteousness in them, he will deal righteously with them, and judgment stern and final will be the result. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Come hither, astronomers, geologists, naturalists, botanists, chemists, miners, yea, all of you who study the works of God, for all your truthful stories confirm this declaration. From the midge in the sunbeam to leviathan in the ocean all creatures own the bounty of the Creator. Even the pathless desert blazes with some undiscovered mercy, and the caverns of ocean conceal the treasures of love. Earth might have been as full of terror as of grace, but instead thereof it teems and overflows with kindness. He who cannot see it, and yet lives in it as the fish lives in the water, deserves to die. If earth be full of mercy, what must heaven be where goodness concentrates its beams?

     Verse 6. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made. The angelic heavens, the sidereal heavens, and the firmament or terrestrial heavens, were all made to start into existence by a word; what if we say by the Word, "For without him was not anything made that is made." It is interesting to note the mention of the Spirit in the next clause, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth; the breath is the same as is elsewhere rendered Spirit. Thus the three persons of the Godhead unite in creating all things. How easy for the Lord to make the most ponderous orbs, and the most glorious angels! A word, a breath could do it. It is as easy for God to create the universe as for a man to breathe, nay, far easier, for man breathes not independently, but borrows the breath in his nostrils from his Maker. It may be gathered from this verse that the constitution of all things is from the infinite wisdom, for his word may mean his appointment and determination. A wise and merciful Word has arranged, and a living Spirit sustains all the creation of Jehovah.

     Verse 7. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap. The waters were once scattered like corn strewn upon a threshing floor: they are now collected in one spot as an heap. Who else could have gathered them into one channel but their great Lord, at whose bidding the waters fled away? The miracle of the Red Sea is repeated in nature day by day, for the sea which now invades the shore under the impulse of sun and moon, would soon devour the land if bounds were not maintained by the divine decree. He layeth up the depth in storehouses. The depths of the main are God's great cellars and storerooms for the tempestuous element. Vast reservoirs of water are secreted in the bowels of the earth, from which issue our springs and wells of water. What a merciful provision for a pressing need? May not the text also refer to the clouds, and the magazines of hail, and snow, and rain, those treasures of merciful wealth for the fields of earth? These aqueous masses are not piled away as in lumber rooms, but in storehouses for future beneficial use. Abundant tenderness is seen in the foresight of our heavenly Joseph, whose granaries are already filled against earth's time of need. These stores might have been, as once they were, the ammunition of vengeance, they are now a part of the commissariat of mercy.

     Verse 8. Let all the earth fear the Lord. Not only Jews, but Gentiles. The psalmist was not a man blinded by national prejudice, he did not desire to restrict the worship of Jehovah to the seed of Abraham. He looks for homage even to far off nations. If they are not well enough instructed to be able to praise, at least let them fear. There is an inferior kind of worship in the trembling which involuntarily admits the boundless power of the thundering God. A defiant blasphemer is out of place in a world covered with tokens of the divine power and Godhead: the whole earth cannot afford a spot congenial for the erection of a synagogue of Atheism, nor a man in whom it is becoming to profane the name of God. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. Let them forsake their idols, and reverently regard the only living God. What is here placed as a wish may also be read as a prophecy: the adoration of God will yet be universal.

     Verse 9. For he spake, and it was done. Creation was the fruit of a word. Jehovah said, "Light be, "and light was. The Lord's acts are sublime in their ease and instantaneousness. "What a word is this?" This was the wondering enquiry of old, and it may be ours to this day. He commanded, and it stood fast. Out of nothing creation stood forth, and was confirmed in existence. The same power which first uplifted, now makes the universe to abide; although we may not observe it, there is as great a display of sublime power in confirming as in creating. Happy is the man who has learned to lean his all upon the sure word of him who built the skies!

     Verse 10. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought. While his own will is done, he takes care to anticipate the wilfulness of his enemies. Before they come to action he vanquishes them in the council chamber; and when, well armed with craft, they march to the assault, he frustrates their knaveries, and makes their promising plots to end in nothing. Not only the folly of the heathen, but their wisdom too, shall yield to the power of the cross of Jesus: what a comfort is this to those who have to labour where sophistry, and philosophy, falsely so called, are set in opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus. He maketh the devices of the people of none effect. Their persecutions, slanders, falsehoods, are like puff balls flung against a granite wall—they produce no result at all; for the Lord overrules the evil, and brings good out of it. The cause of God is never in danger: infernal craft is outwitted by infinite wisdom, and Satanic malice held in check by boundless power.

     Verse 11. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever. He changes not his purpose, his decree is not frustrated, his designs are accomplished. God has a predestination according to the counsel of his will, and none of the devices of his foes can thwart his decree for a moment. Men's purposes are blown to and from like the thread of the gossamer or the down of the thistle, but the eternal purposes are firmer than the earth. The thoughts of his heart to all generations. Men come and go, sons follow their sires to the grave, but the undisturbed mind of God moves on in unbroken serenity, producing ordained results with unerring certainty. No man can expect his will or plan to be carried out from age to age; the wisdom of one period is the folly of another, but the Lord's wisdom is always wise, and his designs run on from century to century. His power to fulfil his purposes is by no means diminished by the lapse of years. He who was absolute over Pharaoh in Egypt is not one whit the less today the King of kings and Lord of lords; still do his chariot wheels roll onward in imperial grandeur, none being for a moment able to resist his eternal will.

     Verse 12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Israel was happy in the worship of the only true God. It was the blessedness of the chosen nation to have received a revelation from Jehovah. While others grovelled before their idols, the chosen people were elevated by a spiritual religion which introduced them to the invisible God, and led them to trust in him. All who confide in the Lord are blessed in the largest and deepest sense, and none can reverse the blessing. And the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Election is at the bottom of it all. The divine choice rules the day; none take Jehovah to be their God till he takes them to be his people. What an ennobling choice this is! We are selected to no mean estate, and for no ignoble purpose: we are made the peculiar domain and delight of the Lord our God. Being so blessed, let us rejoice in our portion, and show the world by our lives that we serve a glorious Master.

     Verse 13. The Lord looketh from heaven. The Lord is represented as dwelling above and looking down below; seeing all things, but peculiarly observing and caring for those who trust in him. It is one of our choicest privileges to be always under our Father's eye, to be never out of sight of our best Friend. He beholdeth all the sons of men. All Adam's sons are as well watched as was Adam himself, their lone progenitor in the garden. Ranging from the frozen pole to the scorching equator, dwelling in hills and valleys, in huts and palaces, alike doth the divine eye regard all the members of the family of man.

     Verse 14. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. Here the sentiment is repeated: it is worth repeating, and it needs repeating, for man is most prone to forget it. As great men sit at their windows and watch the crowd below, so doth the Lord; he gazes intently upon his responsible creatures, and forgets nothing of what he sees.

     Verse 15. He fashioneth their hearts alike. By which is meant that all hearts are equally fashioned by the Lord, kings' hearts as well as the hearts of beggars. The text does not mean that all hearts are created originally alike by God, such a statement would scarcely be true, since there is the utmost variety in the constitutions and dispositions of men. All men equally owe the possession of life to the Creator, and have therefore no reason to boast themselves. What reason has the vessel to glorify itself in presence of the potter? He considereth all their words. Not in vain doth God see men's acts: he ponders and judges them. He reads the secret design in the outward behaviour, and resolves the apparent good into its real elements. This consideration foretokens a judgment when the results of the divine thoughts will be meted out in measures of happiness or woe. Consider thy ways, O man, for God considereth them!

     Verse 16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host. Mortal power is a fiction, and those who trust in it are dupes. Serried ranks of armed men have failed to maintain an empire, or even to save their monarch's life when a decree from the court of heaven has gone forth for the empire's overthrow. The all seeing God preserves the poorest of his people when they are alone and friendless, but ten thousand armed men cannot ensure safety to him whom God leaves to destruction. A mighty man is not delivered by much strength. So far from guarding others, the valiant veteran is not able to deliver himself. When his time comes to die, neither the force of his arms nor the speed of his legs can save him. The weakest believer dwells safely under the shadow of Jehovah's throne, while the most mighty sinner is in peril every hour. Why do we talk so much of our armies and our heroes? the Lord alone has strength, and let him alone have praise.

     Verse 17. An horse is a vain thing for safety. Military strength among the Orientals lay much in horses and scythed chariots, but the psalmist calls them a lie, a deceitful confidence. Surely the knight upon his gallant steed may be safe, either by valour or by flight? Not so, his horse shall bear him into danger or crush him with its fall. Neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Thus the strongest defences are less than nothing when most needed. God only is to be trusted and adored. Sennacherib with all his calvary is not a match for one angel of the Lord, Pharaoh's horses and chariots found it vain to pursue the Lord's anointed, and so shall all the leaguered might of earth and hell find themselves utterly defeated when they rise against the Lord and his chosen.

     Verse 18. Behold. For this is a greater wonder than hosts and horses, a surer confidence than chariots or shields. The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him. That eye of peculiar care is their glory and defence. None can take them at unawares, for the celestial watcher foresees the designs of their enemies, and provides against them. They who fear God need not fear anything else; let them fix their eye of faith on him, and his eye of love will always rest upon them. Upon them that hope in his mercy. This one would think to be a small evidence of grace, and yet it is a valid one. Humble hope shall have its share as well as courageous faith. Say, my soul, is not this an encouragement to thee? Dost thou not hope in the mercy of God in Christ Jesus? Then the Father's eye is as much upon thee as upon the elder born of the family. These gentle words, like soft bread, are meant for babes in grace, who need infant's food.

     Verse 19. To deliver their soul from death. The Lord's hand goes with his eye; he sovereignly preserves those whom he graciously observes. Rescues and restorations hedge about the lives of the saints; death cannot touch them till the King signs his warrant and gives him leave, and even then his touch is not so much mortal as immortal; he doth not so much kill us as kill our mortality. And to keep them alive in famine. Gaunt famine knows its master. God has meal and oil for his Elijahs somewhere. "Verily thou shalt be fed" is a divine provision for the man of faith. The Preserver of men will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish. Power in human hands is outmatched by famine, but God is good at a pinch, and proves his bounty under the most straitened circumstances. Believer, wait upon thy God in temporals. His eye is upon thee, and his hand will not long delay.

     Verse 20. Our soul waits for the Lord. Here the godly avow their reliance upon him whom the Psalm extols. To wait is a great lesson. To be quiet in expectation, patient in hope, single in confidence, is one of the bright attainments of a Christian. Our soul, our life, must hang upon God; we are not to trust him with a few gewgaws, but with all we have and are. He is our help and our shield. Our help in labour, our shield in danger. The Lord answereth all things to his people. He is their all in all. Note the three "ours" in the text. These holdfast words are precious. Personal possession makes the Christian man; all else is mere talk.

     Verse 21. For our hearts shall rejoice in him. The duty commended and commanded in the first verse is here presented to the Lord. We, who trust, cannot but be of a glad heart, our inmost nature must triumph in our faithful God. Because we have trusted in his holy name. The root of faith in due time bears the flower of rejoicing. Doubts breed sorrow, confidence creates joy.

     Verse 22. Here is a large and comprehensive prayer to close with. It is an appeal for mercy, which even joyful believers need; and it is sought for in a proportion which the Lord has sanctioned. "According to your faith be it unto you, "is the Master's word, and he will not fall short of the scale which he has himself selected. Yet, Master, do more than this when hope is faint, and bless us far above what we ask or even think.


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).

Five Things We Forget About Heaven

By Gavin Ortlund 8/11/2017

     In 1952, Florence Chadwick tried to swim from Catalina Island to the coast of California. For fifteen hours, she endured choppy waters, possible shark attacks, and extreme fatigue. Then a thick fog set in. She gave up.

     Two months later, she tried again. This time, though it was foggy again, she made it. When asked what made the difference, she said, “The first time all I could see was the fog. The second time I kept a mental image of that shoreline in my mind while I swam.”

     For me, Chadwick’s comment gives a great image of how heaven should function in our lives as we follow Jesus. In order to persevere through the fog and fatigue of life, we need a mental image of the eternal shoreline toward which we swim.

     But if you’re like me, you tend to think about heaven far less than you should. Many days it’s completely off my radar screen. What’s more, when we do think about heaven, we have a lot of misconceptions about it, as Randy Alcorn has helped us understand.

     So lately, I’ve been trying to think more about heaven. As I’ve done so, several features of heaven have surprised me. Think of these as qualities we often forget about heaven — parts of the shoreline most likely to be overlooked.


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     Gavin Ortlund (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a husband, father, minister, and writer, currently working as a research fellow at the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of Ascending Toward the Beatific Vision: Heaven as the Climax of Anselm’s Proslogion (Brill). Gavin blogs regularly at Soliloquium. You can follow him on Twitter.

But Jesus Never CLAIMED to be God? Actually, He Did—3 Times

By Alisa Childers 8/2/2017

     One of the most common objections skeptics raise to the deity of Christ is the idea that Jesus never actually claimed to be God. Sure the church ended up worshiping Him as such, but this was a later development that was projected onto Jesus but wasn't something He intended to claim for Himself....or so the argument goes.

     If you are expecting to find a Bible verse in which Jesus stands on the Mount of Olives and proclaims in English, and every other known language, "I am God!" You won't find it. He actually did one better....but we'll save that for the end.

     Biblically, there are several ways to know that Jesus is God. He accepted worship, possessed all the eternal attributes of God, did things only God can do, and was given titles of deity. (Those are all great subjects for future blog posts.)

     But Jesus did also CLAIM to be God, and here are 3 times He did just that:

     Mark 14:61-62 | After His arrest, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court. The high priest asked him point blank: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus replied, "I am...and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven."

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     As a lifelong church-goer, follower of Jesus, and former CCM recording artist, I experienced a period of profound doubt about my faith in my early thirties. I felt as though I had been tossed in a stormy ocean of uncertainty with no life jacket or lifeboat in sight. I didn't know where to find answers to my questions, or if answers existed at all. Did I have to accept it all on some kind of blind faith? This is my journey from unreasoned doubt into vibrant, intellectually informed faith.

     Whether you're a seeker, a doubting Christian, or strong Christian wanting to become better at articulating your faith, I pray that this website will be a lifeboat for you. So jump in and let’s tackle the tough questions together.

     I am currently a member of Grace Chapel Church in Franklin, TN and an artist in residence at Whitewater Crossing Christian Church in Cleves, Ohio.

     Feel free to contact me with any questions or subjects you would like me to write about.

The Final Divide

By John Piper 11/29/1998

(Ro 2:6–11) 6 For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7 to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. NRSV

     Heaven or Hell Awaits | Whatever else this text teaches — and it teaches many things — one thing is abundantly clear and immeasurably important for us and for our mission in this modern, secular world: namely, when your life is over on this earth, and this present age is over on this planet, God will give you either eternal life or wrath and indignation. You will receive either glory and honor and peace or you will receive tribulation and distress. Heaven or hell awaits you when you die. And both will last forever.

     Let’s make sure we see this fundamental reality in this text. Verse 6: “God will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, [he will render] eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [he will render] wrath and indignation. [Now he reverses the order and gives the same alternatives again, lest we miss the point.] There will be tribulation and distress [corresponding to verse 8: “wrath and indignation”] for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace [corresponding to verse 7: “eternal life”] to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

     So, whatever else you see here, please don’t miss this. What could be more important or more relevant or more urgent or more immense or more captivating than your happiness or misery for all eternity?

     For all Stages of Life | Children, this is very important for you. Someday you are going to die. I hope it will be when you are very old and full of years. But you might be six or sixteen when you die. And when you die, you will either enter eternal life with God or go away under his eternal anger and misery forever. You don’t have to be afraid about this. God has given his Son, Jesus, to die for sinners so that everyone who trusts in him will not go to hell, but have eternal life (John 3:16). But you do need to care about this. So listen carefully today and ask your daddy or mommy to help you be sure that you will go to heaven and not to hell.

     And teenagers, be wise and set your minds to think about what really matters in this world. Don’t be foolish and give your best energies to things that last a moment and then are gone. Don’t think that you will live a long time and deal with heaven and hell when you are old. Every day the news carries stories about teenagers dying suddenly. And if you put it off, what you may find is that your heart is so infused with the mindset of this world that you are no longer able to feel a serious spiritual affection. Oh how many times I heard my father say the ominous words of Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’”
Few things are more to be feared than a godless, miserable old age unable to delight in heaven or fear hell. Do not presume that you will get serious about eternity when you are old. Do it now.

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     John Piper Books:

1 Samuel 17; Romans 15; Lamentations 2; Psalm 33

By Don Carson 8/25/2018

     The names of David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17) conjure up a story many have known from their youth. Sometimes David is made into a very little boy, though in reality he is at least a young man who has bested both a lion and a bear. But today the pair of names becomes evocative of little people and organizations taking on the “Goliaths.” Doubtless there are lessons to be learned about courage and boldness, but the most important lessons lie on slightly different lines.

     (1) Perhaps one should first reflect on the slightly obscure chronology. At the end of 1 Samuel 16, David already appears in Saul’s court to play soothing music; yet after David’s fight with Goliath, Saul must still find out who the young man is (1 Sam. 17:55–58). Skeptical scholarship insists the problem cannot be resolved, and therefore infers that there is plenty of nonhistorical material here. Yet: (a) There is no particular reason why Saul should have made special inquiries into the background of just one more musician in the royal court, no matter how soothing he was. Saul may not have been motivated to find out until after the events in chapter 17. (b) More probably, the events in chapter 17 may have taken place before 15:14–23. Hebrew verbs do not convey time distinctions the way English verbs do, and it has been shown that there is no reason why we could not translate 17:1, “Now the Philistines had gathered …” etc., establishing important background for the relationship between Saul and David that occupies the attention of the succeeding chapters.

     (2) Although David’s words to army personnel (1 Sam. 17:26) could be taken as the impetuous arrogance of untested youth (and certainly David’s brother Eliab took them that way, 1 Sam. 17:28), behind the brashness is a transparent concern for the glory of God, a concern that drives him to answer Goliath without a hint of personal bravado but with an abundance of faith (1 Sam. 17:45–47). Of course, manipulators sometimes hide behind God-talk. But David is not of that ilk. At this stage of life he might be faulted for lacking the polish of self-restraint, but at least his heart is in the right place.

     (3) Above all, one must not read this chapter without remembering Samuel’s anointing of David: “from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power” (1 Sam. 16:13). There lies the source of the God-centeredness, the source of the courage, of the unerring aim, the great victory, and the elevation of the name and glory of God.

     The text calls us not to admire David the man and no more, but to ponder what the Spirit of God may do with one person.

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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:

The Gnawing Worm of the Soul

By Cyprian of Carthage 8/23/2017

     In her book Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, author Rebecca DeYoung writes about envy and its destructive power:

     “Why are we envious? Whom do we envy? And why does envy lead to such destructive impulses? While there is something ugly and malicious about envy—Gregory the Great lists anger as a vice that arises from it—there is obviously something self-destructive, self-hating about envy too. A poem by Victor Hugo recounts an opportunity granted to Envy and Avarice to receive whatever they wished, on the condition the other receive a double portion. Envy replied, ‘I wish to be blind in one eye.’ The envious person resents another person’s good gifts because they are superior to his or her own. It’s not just that the other person is better; it is that by their comparison their superiority makes you feel your own lack, your own inferiority, more acutely”.

     Cyprian of Carthage joins us today to offer some thoughts on this vice and ways to guard against it. —Renovaré Team

     But what a gnawing worm of the soul is it, what a plague-spot of our thoughts, what a rust of the heart, to be jealous of another, either in respect of his virtue or of his happiness; that is, to hate in him either his own deservings or the divine benefits—to turn the advantages of others into one’s own mischief—to be tormented by the prosperity of illustrious men—to make other people’s glory one’s own penalty, and, as it were, to apply a sort of executioner to one’s own breast, to bring the tormentors to one’s own thoughts and feelings, that they may tear us with intestine pangs, and may smite the secret recesses of the heart with the hoof of malevolence. To such, no food is joyous, no drink can be cheerful. They are ever sighing, and groaning, and grieving; and since envy is never put off by the envious, the possessed heart is rent without intermission day and night.

     Other ills have their limit; and whatever wrong is done, is bounded by the completion of the crime. In the adulterer the offense ceases when the violation is perpetrated; in the case of the murderer, the crime is at rest when the homicide is committed; and the possession of the booty puts an end to the rapacity of the thief; and the completed deception places a limit to the wrong of the cheat. Jealousy has no limit; it is an evil continually enduring, and a sin without end. In proportion as he who is envied has the advantage of a greater success, in that proportion the envious man burns with the fires of jealousy to an increased heat. …

Click here to go to source

     Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200 – September 14, 258 AD) was bishop of Carthage and a notable Early Christian writer of Berber descent, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education. Soon after converting to Christianity, he became a bishop in 249. A controversial figure during his lifetime, his strong pastoral skills, firm conduct during the Novatianist heresy and outbreak of the plague, and eventual martyrdom at Carthage vindicated his reputation and proved his sanctity in the eyes of the Church. His skillful Latin rhetoric led to his being considered the pre-eminent Latin writer of Western Christianity until Jerome and Augustine.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 92

How Great Are Your Works
92 A Psalm. A Song For The Sabbath.

1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

5 How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6 The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
7 that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
8 but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
9 For behold, your enemies, O LORD,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

ESV Study Bible

  • 7 Wonders of History
  • Part 2
  • Part 3

Jesus - His Birth | David Pawson

 

Jesus - His Conception | David Pawson

 

Jesus - His Death 1 | David Pawson

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     8/1/2017    Searching for Truth

     Whenever people ask me what I do for a living, I respond by telling them I am a pastor. When I tell them I am a pastor, people appear to be instantly filled with a range of emotions as they try to figure out how to respond. Depending on their spiritual state and their relationship to Christ and the church, their responses range from fear to comfort, from anxiety to delight. Some people attempt to change the subject as quickly as possible, some want to tell me all about their spiritual journey, some want to unload all their burdens, some talk about why they leftˆ the church, and others rejoice in our common faith in Christ. But more oftˆen than not, when I tell people I’m a pastor, they have questions–questions about our church, about what I believe, about the Bible, God, and the aftˆerlife. All people have questions. We are inquisitive by nature. And in this age of pluralism, atheism, and skepticism, many people are searching for truth and the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

     In some ways, pastors have more opportunities than other Christians to proclaim and explain the gospel and do the work of an evangelist and apologist. It is one of the joys of being a pastor. By the very nature of what we do, pastors are theologians and apologists. But in truth, every Christian is a theologian and an apologist. The question for all of us is whether we are good theologians and apologists and whether we are serious students of Scripture and the theology and answers that come from Scripture. Every Christian is called to be ready to give an answer for the hope that’s within us, as Peter commands us, and never to forget that we are to give our answers with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

     As we do our good works before the watching world—not to be seen by men in order to get glory for ourselves, but so that the world might see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven—people will naturally ask us why we do all that we do, why we believe what we believe, and why we hold to the hope that is within us. And when they do, we must not be afraid, for Christ has promised that the Holy Spirit is with us to give us the courage and compassion to speak the truth in love. For this is one of the chief ways we shine as lights in the darkness of the world, knowing that people can only see the light if the Holy Spirit opens their eyes, expels the darkness, regenerates their hearts, and makes them alive to the light of the glory of Jesus Christ.

     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

     An English astronomer, he became world renown for the discovery of the planet “Uranus.” He was noted for his recognition of double stars. Using the technology of the late eighteenth century, he constructed the greatest reflecting telescopes of his time, and with them cataloged and studied the nebulae and galaxies as had never been done before. For his accomplishments, he was knighted by the Royalty. His name was Sir William Herschel, and he died this day, August 25, 1822. Commenting on the grandeur of the heavens, Sir William Herschel stated: “The undevout astronomer must be mad.”

American Minute
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


There is another kind of virtue that may find employment for those retired hours in which we are altogether left to ourselves and destitute of company and conversation; I mean that intercourse and communication which every reasonable creature ought to maintain with the great Author of his being. The man who lives under an habitual sense of the divine presence keeps up a perpetual cheerfulness of temper, and enjoys every moment the satisfaction of thinking himself in company with his dearest and best of friends. The time never lies heavy upon him: it is impossible for him to be alone. His thoughts and passions are the most busied at such hours when those of other men are the most inactive. He no sooner steps out of the world but his heart burns with devotion, swells with hope, and triumphs in the consciousness of that presence which everywhere surrounds him; or, on the contrary, pours out its fears, its sorrows, its apprehensions, to the great Supporter of its existence.
--- Joseph Addison


You don’t have to read very far in your Bible to discover that God forgives His servants and restores them to ministry. --- Warren Wiersbe”   Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship (The BE Series Commentary)

Speak, Lord, in the stillness while I wait on Thee;
Hushed my heart to listen in expectancy.
Speak, Thy servant heareth! Be not silent, Lord;
Waits my soul upon Thee for the quick’ning word!
--- E. May Grimes

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     4. But now there fell out a terrible sedition among them within the city; for the inhabitants themselves, who had possessions there, and to whom the city belonged, were not disposed to fight from the very beginning; and now the less so, because they had been beaten; but the foreigners, which were very numerous, would force them to fight so much the more, insomuch that there was a clamor and a tumult among them, as all mutually angry one at another. And when Titus heard this tumult, for he was not far from the wall, he cried out, "Fellow soldiers, now is the time; and why do we make any delay, when God is giving up the Jews to us? Take the victory which is given you: do not you hear what a noise they make? Those that have escaped our hands are in an uproar against one another. We have the city if we make haste; but besides haste, we must undergo some labor, and use some courage; for no great thing uses to be accomplished without danger: accordingly, we must not only prevent their uniting again, which necessity will soon compel them to do, but we must also prevent the coming of our own men to our assistance, that, as few as we are, we may conquer so great a multitude, and may ourselves alone take the city."

     5. As soon as ever Titus had said this, he leaped upon his horse, and rode apace down to the lake; by which lake he marched, and entered into the city the first of them all, as did the others soon after him. Hereupon those that were upon the walls were seized with a terror at the boldness of the attempt, nor durst any one venture to fight with him, or to hinder him; so they left guarding the city, and some of those that were about Jesus fled over the country, while others of them ran down to the lake, and met the enemy in the teeth, and some were slain as they were getting up into the ships, but others of them as they attempted to overtake those that were already gone aboard. There was also a great slaughter made in the city, while those foreigners that had not fled away already made opposition; but the natural inhabitants were killed without fighting: for in hopes of Titus's giving them his right hand for their security, and out of a consciousness that they had not given any consent to the war, they avoided fighting, till Titus had slain the authors of this revolt, and then put a stop to any further slaughters, out of commiseration of these inhabitants of the place. But for those that had fled to the lake, upon seeing the city taken, they sailed as far as they possibly could from the enemy.

     6. Hereupon Titus sent one of his horsemen to his father, and let him know the good news of what he had done; at which, as was natural, he was very joyful, both on account of the courage and glorious actions of his son; for he thought that now the greatest part of the war was over. He then came thither himself, and set men to guard the city, and gave them command to take care that nobody got privately out of it, but to kill such as attempted so to do. And on the next day he went down to the lake, and commanded that vessels should be fitted up, in order to pursue those that had escaped in the ships. These vessels were quickly gotten ready accordingly, because there was great plenty of materials, and a great number of artificers also.

     7. Now this lake of Gennesareth is so called from the country adjoining to it. Its breadth is forty furlongs, and its length one hundred and forty; its waters are sweet, and very agreeable for drinking, for they are finer than the thick waters of other fens; the lake is also pure, and on every side ends directly at the shores, and at the sand; it is also of a temperate nature when you draw it up, and of a more gentle nature than river or fountain water, and yet always cooler than one could expect in so diffuse a place as this is. Now when this water is kept in the open air, it is as cold as that snow which the country people are accustomed to make by night in summer. There are several kinds of fish in it, different both to the taste and the sight from those elsewhere. It is divided into two parts by the river Jordan. Now Panium is thought to be the fountain of Jordan, but in reality it is carried thither after an occult manner from the place called Phiala: this place lies as you go up to Trachonitis, and is a hundred and twenty furlongs from Cesarea, and is not far out of the road on the right hand; and indeed it hath its name of Phiala [vial or bowl] very justly, from the roundness of its circumference, as being round like a wheel; its water continues always up to its edges, without either sinking or running over. And as this origin of Jordan was formerly not known, it was discovered so to be when Philip was tetrarch of Trachonitis; for he had chaff thrown into Phiala, and it was found at Paninto, where the ancients thought the fountain-head of the river was, whither it had been therefore carried [by the waters]. As for Panium itself, its natural beauty had been improved by the royal liberality of Agrippa, and adorned at his expenses. Now Jordan's visible stream arises from this cavern, and divides the marshes and fens of the lake Semechonitis; when it hath run another hundred and twenty furlongs, it first passes by the city Julias, and then passes through the middle of the lake Gennesareth; after which it runs a long way over a desert, and then makes its exit into the lake Asphaltites.

     8. The country also that lies over against this lake hath the same name of Gennesareth; its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty; its soil is so fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants accordingly plant all sorts of trees there; for the temper of the air is so well mixed, that it agrees very well with those several sorts, particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty; there are palm trees also, which grow best in hot air; fig trees also and olives grow near them, which yet require an air that is more temperate. One may call this place the ambition of nature, where it forces those plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together; it is a happy contention of the seasons, as if every one of them laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruit beyond men's expectation, but preserves them a great while; it supplies men with the principal fruits, with grapes and figs continually, during ten months of the year 7 and the rest of the fruits as they become ripe together through the whole year; for besides the good temperature of the air, it is also watered from a most fertile fountain. The people of the country call it Capharnaum. Some have thought it to be a vein of the Nile, because it produces the Coracin fish as well as that lake does which is near to Alexandria. The length of this country extends itself along the banks of this lake that bears the same name for thirty furlongs, and is in breadth twenty, And this is the nature of that place.

     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 23:19
     by D.H. Stern

19     You, my son: listen, be wise,
and set your mind on the right way.


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 fruitfulness of friendship

     I have called you friends. --- John 15:15.

     We never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we abandon in every particular. Self-surrender is the most difficult thing—‘I will if …!’ ‘Oh well, I suppose I must devote my life to God.’ There is none of the joy of self-sacrifice in that.

     As soon as we do abandon, the Holy Ghost gives us an intimation of the joy of Jesus. The final aim of self-sacrifice is laying down our lives for our Friend. When the Holy Ghost comes in, the great desire is to lay down the life for Jesus; the thought of sacrifice never touches us because sacrifice is the love passion of the Holy Ghost.

     Our Lord is our example in the life of self-sacrifice—
“I delight to do Thy will, O My God.” He went on with His sacrifice with exuberant joy. Have I ever yielded in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? If Jesus Christ is not the lodestar, there is no benefit in the sacrifice; but when the sacrifice is made with the eyes on Him, slowly and surely the moulding influence begins to tell.

     Beware of letting natural affinities hinder your walk in love. One of the most cruel ways of killing natural love is by disdain built on natural affinities. The affinity of the saint is the Lord Jesus. Love for God is not sentimental; to love as God loves is the most practical thing for the saint.

     
“I have called you friends.” It is a friendship based on the new life created in us, which has no affinity with our old life, but only with the life of God. It is unutterably humble, unsulliedly pure, and absolutely devoted to God.

My Utmost for His Highest
Song (Song at the Year's Turning)
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Song (Song at the Year's Turning)

Wandering, wandering, hoping to find
  The ring of mushrooms with the wet rind,
  Cold to the touch, but bright with dew,
  A green asylum from time's range.

And finding instead the harsh ways
  Of the ruinous wind and the clawed rain;
  The storm's hysteria in the bush;
  The wild creatures and their pain.

Selected poems, 1946-1968
Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Leviticus 4:1–3


     BIBLE TEXT / Leviticus 4:1–3 / The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelite people thus: When a person unwittingly incurs guilt in regard to any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done, and does one of them—If it is the anointed priest who has incurred guilt, so that blame falls upon the people, he shall offer for the sin of which he is guilty a bull of the herd without blemish as a sin offering to the Lord.

     MIDRASH TEXT / Leviticus Rabbah 5, 6 / If it is the anointed priest who has incurred guilt. The anointed priest brings about atonement, and [he himself] requires atonement. Rabbi Ḥiyya taught, “Since the anointed one brings about atonement and the community [requires] atonement, it is best that the one who brings about atonement should come before those who require atonement, as it has been taught, ‘[Aaron shall then offer his bull of sin offering,] to make expiation for himself and his household’ (
Leviticus 16:11). ‘His household’—this is his wife.”

     Another interpretation: If it is the anointed priest who has incurred guilt. Does the anointed priest sin? Rabbi Levi said: “Pitiful is the province where the physician has gout, and the foreman has only one eye, and whose defender turns prosecutor in capital cases.”

     CONTEXT / The first section of chapter four of the Book of
Leviticus (4:3–12) deals with the priest who has sinned. “If it is the anointed priest who has incurred guilt.…” It is followed by paragraphs that then deal with the whole community of Israel, which has sinned (13–21), a chieftain who has sinned (22–26), and finally the individual who has sinned (27–31). The Midrash is addressing the question: Why this particular order? A logical response is that the anointed priest must first seek atonement for himself before he can effect it for others: It is best that the one who brings about atonement should come before those who require atonement.… A proof for this view comes from Leviticus 16:11, in the description of the Yom Kippur ritual on the great Day of Atonement. The text says Aaron was to make expiation “for himself and his household.” The Rabbis interpreted this as meaning first for himself, next for his wife, and finally for the whole house of Israel.

     “His household”—this is his wife. In the Talmud (Gittin 52a), we read: Rabbi Yosé taught, “I never referred to my wife as ‘my wife’ … but rather as ‘my house’.” Rashi explains this by saying, “For all the needs of the house were taken care of by her hands, and she is the essence of the house!”

     Does the anointed priest sin? The Midrash has a hard time believing that a religious leader like the anointed priest could actually have committed a sin. There is an expectation that such a figure would live by a higher moral code than the average person. Rabbi Levi emphasizes this point by the analogy to a doctor, a foreman, and a lawyer. If a doctor can’t keep himself healthy, how can he be expected to take care of his patients? If the building foreman, the one who levels walls during construction by means of his expert eye, is half blind, then he can’t do an adequate job. (The rare Aramaic word is alternately explained as “overseer of the treasury,” “watchman,” or “guide.”) If the defending attorney acts like the prosecutor, woe to the client!

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Take Heart
     August 25

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

     Let us come to and believe in this glorious One.
(
The RS Thomas And Other Practical Works Of The Late Reverend And Learned Mr. Ralph Erskine V9) For a stimulus to action, consider, is it possible that we can desire a better pattern to follow in trusting in Christ than his eternal Father, who has entrusted him with everything? “Here is my servant, whom I uphold” (Isa. 42:1), or, as the word signifies, “my servant, whom I trust.” Isn’t it best loving whom God loves and trusting whom he trusts?

     Consider, too, that those who believe cannot miss salvation, for it is in the hands of Christ to give to all comers. Those who do not believe cannot escape damnation, for, “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (
Heb. 2:3)—so great a Savior, who has everything in his hands?

     His Father crowned Christ with this honor, so you cannot put more honor on the Father or on Christ than by putting everything you have in his hands and going to him for everything you stand in need of. When you go to him and make use of this treasure, you join with his Father in putting a crown of glory on his head.

     Consider for reason to look to this Jesus that everything is placed in Christ’s hands so that he may give it out to you. Why has our Lord Jesus received gifts, even the gift of everything? He “gave gifts to men” (
Eph. 4:8).

     Do not say, then, “It cannot be for me”; yes, it is for you. Let faith say, “It is for me—for me—that everything was placed in Christ’s hands.”

     It is not possible that he will keep all closed in his hands and give out nothing. No; it stands on his honor as Mediator; it stands on his credit as the church’s treasurer and the Father’s trustee to give from that treasure of grace and fullness that is given to him for our behalf. He would not be faithful to his trust if he would give out none of that treasure to poor sinners. When unbelief says, “Oh! He will give out nothing to me,” let faith step in and say, “I hope he will give to me from his fullness, because his name is Faithful and True.” And here is a door of faith even for sinners who are yet unbelievers, that there is a glorious and sweet necessity lying on Christ to give from his grace and fullness to human sinners—and why not to you?
--- Ralph Erskine

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day
     Curtain Call  August 25

     The last great Roman persecution against the church occurred during the reign of Diocletian, a son of slaves, who became emperor in 284. Diocletian seemed tolerant of Christians at first. His wife and daughter studied Christian writings. But as the new faith grew and large church buildings began appearing in major cities, the emperor put Christianity to the rack. One of the strangest incidents occurred in 303 when Diocletian attended a play in Rome. In the performance, actors clothed in white made fun of Christian rituals and habits. One of them, Genesius, ran onto the stage and fell to the floor crying, “I feel so heavy. I want to be made light. I want to die as a Christian that on that day I may fly up to God as a refuge.” A mock priest and an exorcist ran to his side, performing rituals including a fake baptism.

     The crowd roared with laughter. But Genesius had grown up in a Christian home, and his pagan ways had failed to destroy his Christian roots. He was suddenly haunted with pangs of conviction so strong that he cried out, “I want to receive the grace of Christ, that I may be born again, and be set free from the sins which have been my ruin.”

     Many in the crowd thought he was still acting. But he rose, interrupting the play. Looking at the audience he said, “Illustrious emperor, and all you people who have laughed loudly at this parody, believe me! Christ is the true Lord!”

     Diocletian, enraged, immediately ordered Genesius stretched onto a device of agony called the hobbyhorse. As the tortures increased, his skin was torn with sharp hooks and his sides burned with torches. But the actor kept repeating, “There is no king except Christ, whom I have seen and worship. For him I will die a thousand times. I am sorry for my sin, and for becoming so late a soldier of the true king.”

     The tortures failed to dissuade him, and the curtain fell on his life when he was beheaded on this day, August 25, 303.

     The LORD our God was with our ancestors to help them, and I pray that he will be with us and never abandon us. May the LORD help us obey him and follow all the laws and teachings he gave our ancestors. I pray that the LORD our God will remember my prayer day and night.
--- 1 Kings 8:57-59a.

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

          Morning - August 25

     “His fruit was sweet to my taste.”
--- Song of Solomon 2:3.

     Faith, in the Scripture, is spoken of under the emblem of all the senses. It is sight: “Look unto me and be ye saved.” It is hearing: “Hear, and your soul shall live.” Faith is smelling: “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia”; “thy name is as ointment poured forth.” Faith is spiritual touch. By this faith the woman came behind and touched the hem of Christ’s garment, and by this we handle the things of the good word of life. Faith is equally the spirit’s taste. “How sweet are thy words to my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my lips.” “Except a man eat my flesh,” saith Christ, “and drink my blood, there is no life in him.”

     This “taste” is faith in one of its highest operations. One of the first performances of faith is hearing. We hear the voice of God, not with the outward ear alone, but with the inward ear; we hear it as God’s Word, and we believe it to be so; that is the “hearing” of faith. Then our mind looketh upon the truth as it is presented to us; that is to say, we understand it, we perceive its meaning; that is the “seeing” of faith. Next we discover its preciousness; we begin to admire it, and find how fragrant it is; that is faith in its “smell.” Then we appropriate the mercies which are prepared for us in Christ; that is faith in its “touch.” Hence follow the enjoyments, peace, delight, communion; which are faith in its “taste.” Any one of these acts of faith is saving. To hear Christ’s voice as the sure voice of God in the soul will save us; but that which gives true enjoyment is the aspect of faith wherein Christ, by holy taste, is received into us, and made, by inward and spiritual apprehension of his sweetness and preciousness, to be the food of our souls. It is then we sit “under his shadow with great delight,” and find his fruit sweet to our taste.


          Evening - August 25

     “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” --- Acts 8:37.

     These words may answer your scruples, devout reader, concerning the ordinances. Perhaps you say, “I should be afraid to be baptized; it is such a solemn thing to avow myself to be dead with Christ, and buried with him. I should not feel at liberty to come to the Master’s table; I should be afraid of eating and drinking damnation unto myself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” Ah! poor trembler, Jesus has given you liberty, be not afraid. If a stranger came to your house, he would stand at the door, or wait in the hall; he would not dream of intruding unbidden into your parlour—he is not at home: but your child makes himself very free about the house; and so is it with the child of God. A stranger may not intrude where a child may venture. When the Holy Ghost has given you to feel the spirit of adoption, you may come to Christian ordinances without fear. The same rule holds good of the Christian’s inward privileges. You think, poor seeker, that you are not allowed to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; if you are permitted to get inside Christ’s door, or sit at the bottom of his table, you will be well content. Ah! but you shall not have less privileges than the very greatest. God makes no difference in his love to his children. A child is a child to him; he will not make him a hired servant; but he shall feast upon the fatted calf, and shall have the music and the dancing as much as if he had never gone astray. When Jesus comes into the heart, he issues a general licence to be glad in the Lord. No chains are worn in the court of King Jesus. Our admission into full privileges may be gradual, but it is sure. Perhaps our reader is saying, “I wish I could enjoy the promises, and walk at liberty in my Lord’s commands.” “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Loose the chains of thy neck, O captive daughter, for Jesus makes thee free.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     August 25

          TAKE MY LIFE AND LET IT BE

     Frances R. Havergal, 1836–1879

     So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31)

     In this day of self-centered living and pleasure-oriented lifestyle, the total commitment to God of body, mind, and possessions portrayed in this text is difficult for many Christians to achieve. Even though we realize that we have nothing we have not received and that we are only stewards of the good gifts God has entrusted to us, we often fail to apply this basic truth to our daily lives:

     The gold that came from Thee, Lord, to Thee belongeth still;
     Oh, may I always faithfully my stewardship fulfill.

--- Unknown

     It was said of Frances Ridley Havergal, author of this text, that the beauty of a consecrated life was never more perfectly revealed than in her daily living. She has rightfully been called “The Consecration Poet.”

     “These little couplets that chimed in my heart one after another” were for Frances Havergal the result of an Evening in 1874 passed in pursuing a deeper consecration of herself to God. “Take my voice and let me sing always only for my King” was personally significant for Frances. She was naturally very musical and had been trained as a concert soloist with an unusually pleasant voice. Her musical talents could have brought her much worldly fame. However, she determined that her life’s mission was to sing and work only for Jesus. The line “Take my silver and my gold” was also sincerely phrased. At one time Frances gathered together her many fine pieces of jewelry and other family heirlooms and shipped them to the church missionary house to be used for evangelizing the lost. Nearly fifty articles were sent with “extreme delight.”

     Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee; take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love;
     Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee; take my voice and let me sing always only, for my King.
     Take my lips and let them be filled with messages for Thee; take my silver and my gold—not a mite would I withhold.
     Take my love—my God, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store; take myself—and I will be ever, only, all for Thee, ever, only, all for thee.


     For Today: 1 Chronicles 29:5; Matthew 22:37; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20

     Express once more your gratitude for all of God’s gifts. Dedicate yourself more completely to His glory and service. Sing these words of consecration as you go ---

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

          DISCOURSE II - ON PRACTICAL ATHEISM

     Use I. It serves for information.

     1: It gives us occasion to admire the wonderful patience and mercy of God. How many millions of practical atheists breathe every day in his air, and live upon his bounty who deserve to be inhabitants in hell, rather than possessors of the earth! An infinite holiness is offended, an infinite justice is provoked; yet an infinite patience forbears the punishment, and an infinite goodness relieves our wants: the more we had merited his justice and forfeited his favor, the more is his affection enhanced, which makes his hand so liberal to us. At the first invasion of his rights, he mitigates the terror of the threatening which was set to defend his law, with the grace of a promise to relieve and recover his rebellious creature. Who would have looked for anything but tearing thunders, sweeping judgments, to raze up the foundations of the apostate world? But oh, how great are his bowels to his aspiring competitors! Have we not exerimented his contrivances for our good, though we have refused him for our happiness? Has he not opened his arms, when we spurned with our feet; held out his alluring mercy, when we have brandished against him a rebellious sword? Has he not entreated us while we have invaded him, as if he were unwilling to lose us, who are ambitious to destroy ourselves? Has he yet denied us the care of his providence, while we have denied him the rights of his honor, and would appropriate them to ourselves? Has the sun forborne shining upon us, though we have shot our arrows against him? Have not our beings been supported by his goodness, while we have endeavored to climb up to his throne; and his mercies continued to charm us, while we have used them as weapons to injure him? Our own necessities might excite us to own him as our happiness, but he adds his invitations to the voice of our wants. Has he not promised a kingdom to those that would strip him or his crown, and proclaimed pardon upon repentance to those that would take away his glory? and hath so twisted together his own end, which is his honor, and man’s true end, which is his salvation, that a man cannot truly mind himself and his own salvation, but he must mind God’s glory; and cannot be intent upon God’s honor, but by the same act he promotes himself and his own happiness? so loth is God to give any just occasion of dissatisfaction to his creature, as well a s dishonor to himself. All those wonders of his mercy are enhanced by the heinousness of our atheism; a multitude of gracious thoughts from him above the multitude of contempts from us. What rebels in actual arms against their prince, aiming at his life, ever found that favor from him; to have all their necessaries richly afforded them, without which they would starve, and without which. they would be unable to manage their attempts, as we have received from God? Had not God had riches of goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, and infinite riches too, the despite the world had done him, in refusing him as their rule, happiness, and end, would have emptied him long ago.

     2. It brings in a justification of the exercise of his justice. If it gives us occasion loudly to praise his patience, it also stops our mouths from accusing any acts of his vengeance. What can be too sharp a recompense for the despising and disgracing so great a Being? The highest contempt merits the greatest anger; and when we will not own him for our happiness, it is equal we should feel the misery of separation from him. If he that is guilty of treason deserves to lose his life, what punishment can be thought great enough for him that is so disingenuous as to prefer himself before a God so infinitely good, and so foolish as to invade the rights of one infinitely powerful? It is no injustice for a creature to be forever left to himself, to see what advantage he can make of that self he was so busily employed to set up in the place of his Creator. The soul of man deserves an infinite punishment for despising an infinite good; and it is not unequitable, that that self which man makes his rule and happiness above God, should become his torment and misery by the righteousness of that God whom he despised.

     3. Hence ariseth a necessity of a new state and frame of soul, to alter an atheistical nature. We forget God; think of him with reluctancy; have no respect to God in our course and acts: this cannot be our original state. God, being infinitely good, never let man come out of his hands with this actual unwillingness to acknowledge and serve him; he never intended to dethrone himself for the work of his hands, or that the creature should have any other end than that of his Creator: as the apostle saith, in the case of the Galatians’ error (Gal. 5:8), “This persuasion came not of Him that called you;” so this frame comes not from him that created you: how much, therefore, do we need a restoring principle in us! Instead of ordering ourselves according to the will of God, we are desirous to “fulfil the wills of the flesh:” there is a necessity of some other principle in us to make us fulfil the will of God, since we were created for God, not for the flesh. We can no more be voluntarily serviceable to God, while our serpentine nature and devilish habits remain in us, than we can suppose the devil can be willing to glorify God, while the nature he contracted by his fall abides powerfully in him. Our nature and will must be changed, that our actions may regard God as our end, that we may delightfully meditate on him, and draw the motives of our obedience from him. Since this atheism is seated in nature, the change must be in our nature; since our first aspirings to the rights of God were the fruits of the serpent’s breath which tainted our nature, there must be a removal of this taint, whereby our natures may be on the side of God against Satan, as they were before on the side of Satan against God. There must be a supernatural principle before we can live a supernatural life, i. e. live to God, since we are naturally alienated from the life of God: the aversion of our natures from God, is as strong as our inclination to evil; we are disgusted with one, and pressed with the other; we have no will, no heart, to come to God in any service. This nature must be broken in pieces and new moulded, before we can make God our rule and our end: while men’s “deeds are evil” they cannot comply with God; O much less while their natures are evil till this be done, all the service a man performs riseth from some “evil imagination of the heart, which is evil, only evil, and that continually;” from wrong notions of God, wrong notions of duty, or corrupt motives. All the pretences of devotion to God are but the adoration of some golden image. Prayers to God for the ends of self are like those of the devil to our Saviour, when he asked leave to go into the herd of swine: the object was right, Christ; the end was the destruction of the swine, and the satisfaction of their malice to the owners; there is a necessity then that depraved ends should be removed, that that which was God’s end in our framing, may be our end in our acting, viz. his glory, which cannot be without a change of nature. We can never honor him supremely whom we do not supremely love; till this be, we cannot glorify God as God, though we do things by his command and order; no more, than when God employed the devil in afflicting Job. His performance cannot be said to be good, because his end was not the same with God’s; he acted out of malice, what God commanded out of sovereignty, and for gracious designs; had God employed an holy angel in his design upon Job, the action had been good in the affliction, because his nature was holy, and therefore his ends holy; but bad in the devil, because his ends were base and unworthy.

     4. We may gather from hence, the difficulty of conversion, and mortification to follow thereupon. What is the reason men receive no more impression from the voice of God and the light of his truth, than a dead man in the grave doth from the roaring thunder, or a blind mole from the light of the sun? It is because our atheism is as great as the deadness of the one, or the blindness of the other. The principle in the heart is strong to shut the door both of the thoughts and affections against God. If a friend oblige us, we shall act for him as for ourselves; we are won by entreaties; soft words overcome us; but our hearts are as deaf as the hardest rock at the call of God; neither the joys of heaven proposed by him can allure us, nor the flashed terrors of hell affright us to him, as if we conceived God unable to bestow the one or execute the other: the true reason is, God and self contest for the deity. The law of sin is, God must be at the footstool; the law of God is, sin must be utterly deposed. Now it is difficult to leave a law beloved for a law long ago discarded. The mind of man will hunt after anything; the will of man embrace anything: upon the proposal of mean objects the spirit of man spreads its wings, flies to catch them, becomes one with them but attempt to bring it under the power of God, the wings flag, the creature looks lifeless, as though there were no spring of motion in it; it is as much crucified to God, as the holy apostle was to the world. The sin of the heart discovers its strength the more God discovers the “holiness of his will.” The love of sin hath been predominant in our nature, has quashed a love to God, if not extinguished it. Hence also is the difficulty of mortification. This is a work tending to the honor of God, the abasing of that inordinately aspiring humor in ourselves. If the nature of man be inclined to sin, as it is, it must needs be bent against anything that opposes it. It is impossible to strike any true blow at any lust till the true sense of God be re-entertained in the soil where it ought to grow. Who can be naturally willing to crucify what is incorporated with him— his flesh? what is dearest to him—himself? Is it an easy thing for man, the competitor with God, to turn his arms against himself, that self should overthrow its own empire, lay aside all its pretensions to, and designs for, a godhead; to hew off its own members, and subdue its own affections? It is the nature of man to “cover his sin,” to hide it in his bosom, not to destroy it; and as unwillingly part with his carnal affections, as the legion of devils were with the man that had been long possessed;. and when he is forced and fired from one, he will endeavor to espouse some other lust, as those devils desired to possess swine, when they were chased from their possession of that man.

     5. Here we see the reason of unbelief. That which hath most of God in it, meets with most aversion from us; that which hath least of God, finds better and stronger inclinations in us. What is the reason that the heart of man is more unwilling to embrace the gospel, than acknowledge the equity of the law? because there is more of God’s nature and perfection evident in the gospel than in the law; besides, there is more reliance on God, and distance from self, commanded in the gospel. The law puts a man upon his own strength, the gospel takes him off from his own bottom; the law acknowleges him to have a power in himself, and to act for his own reward; the gospel strips him of all his proud and towering thoughts, brings him to his due place, the foot of God; orders him to deny himself as his own rule, righteousness, and end, “and henceforth not to live to himself.” This is the true reason why men are more against the gospel than against the law; because it doth more deify God, and debase man. Hence it is easier to reduce men to some moral virtue than to faith; to make men blush at their outward vices, but not at the inward impurity of their natures. Hence it is observed, that those that asserted that all happiness did arise from something in a man’s self, as the Stoics and Epicureans did, and that a wise man was equal with God, were greater enemies to the truths of the gospel than others (Acts 17:18), because it lays the axe to the root of their principal opinion, takes the one from their self-sufficiency, and the other from their self- gratification; it opposeth the brutish principle of the one, which placed happiness in the pleasures of the body, and the more noble principle of the other, which placed happiness in the virtue of the mind; the one was for a sensual, the other for a moral self; both disowned by the doctrine of the gospel. 6. It informs us, consequently, who can be the Author of grace and conversion, and every other good work. No practical atheist ever yet turned to God, but was turned by God; and not to acknowledge it to God is a part of this atheism, since it is a robbing God of the honor of one of his most glorious works. If this practical atheism be natural to man ever since the first taint of nature in Paradise, what can be expected from it, but a resisting of the work of God, and setting up all the forces of nature against the operations of grace, till a day of power dawn and clear up upon the soul? Not all the angels in heaven, or men upon earth, can be imagined to be able to persuade a man to fall out with himself; nothing can turn the tide of nature, but a power above nature. God took away the sanctifying Spirit from man, as a penalty for the first sin; who can regain it but by his will and pleasure? who can restore it, but he that removed it? Since every man hath the same fundamental atheism in him by nature, and would be a rule to himself and his own end, he is so far from dethroning himself, that all the strength of his corrupted nature is alarmed up to stand to their arms upon any attempt God makes to regain the fort. The will is so strong against God, that it is like many wills twisted together (Eph. 2:3), “Wills of the flesh;” we translate it the “desires of the flesh;” like many threads twisted in a cable, never to be snapped asunder by a human arm; a power and will above ours, can only untwist so many wills in a knot. Man cannot rise to an acknowledgment of God without God; hell may as well become heaven, the devil be changed into an angel of light. The devil cannot but desire happiness; he knows the misery into which he is fallen, he cannot be desirous of that punishment he knows is reserved for him. Why doth he not sanctify God, and glorify his Creator, wherein there is abundantly more pleasure than in his malicious course? Why doth he not petition to recover his ancient standing? he will not; there are chains of darkness upon his faculties; he will not be otherwise than he is; his desire to be god of the world sways him against his own interest, and out of love to his malice, he will not sin at a less rate to make a diminution of his punishment. Man, if God utterly refuseth to work upon him, is no better; and to maintain his atheism would venture a hell. How is it possible for a man to turn himself to that God against whom he hath a quarrel in his nature; the most rooted and settled habit in him being to set himself in the place of God? An atheist by nature can no more alter his own temper, and engrave in himself the divine nature, than a rock can carve itself into the statue of a man, or a serpent that is an enemy to man could or would raise itself to the nobility of the human nature. That soul that by nature would strip God of his rights, cannot, without a divine power, be made conformable to him, and acknowledge sincerely and cordially the rights and glory of God.

     7. We may here see the reason why there can be no justification by the best and strongest works of nature. Can that which hath atheism at the root justify either the action or person? What strength can those works have which have neither God’s law for their rule, nor his glory for their end? that are not wrought by any spiritual strength from him, nor tend with any spiritual affection to him? Can these be a foundation for the most holy God to pronounce a creature righteous? They will justify his justice in condemning, but cannot sway his justice to an absolution. Every natural man in his works picks and chooses; he owns the will of God no further than he can wring it to suit the law of his members, and minds not the honor of God, but as it jostles not with his own glory and secular ends. Can he be righteous that prefers his own will and his own honor before the will and honor of the Creator? However men’s actions may be beneficial to others, what reason hath God to esteem them, wherein there is no respect to him, but themselves; whereby they dethrone him in their thoughts, while they seem to own him in their religious works? Every day reproves us with something different from the rule; thousands of wanderings offer themselves to our eyes: can justification be expected from that which in itself is matter of despair?

     8. See here the cause of all the apostasy in the world. Practical atheism was never conquered in such; they are still “alienated from the life of God,” and will not live to God, as he lives to himself and his own honor. They loathe his rule, and distaste his glory; are loth to step out of themselves to promote the ends of another; find not the satisfaction in him as they do in themselves; they will be judges of what is good for them and righteous in itself, rather than admit of God to judge for them. When men draw back from truth to error, it is to such opinions which may serve more to foment and cherish their ambition, covetousness, or some beloved lust that disputes with God for precedency, and is designed to be served before him (John 12:42, 43): “They love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” A preferring man before God was the reason they would not confess Christ, and God in him.

     9. This shows us the excellency of the gospel and christian religion. It sets man in his due place, and gives to God what the excellency of his nature requires. It lays man in the dust from whence he was taken, and sets God upon that throne where he ought to sit. Man by nature would annihilate God and deify himself; the gospel glorifies God and annihilates man. In our first revolt we would be like him in knowledge; in the means he hath provided for our recovery, he designs to make us like him in grace; the gospel shows ourselves to be an object of humiliation, and God to be a glorious object for our imitation. The light of nature tells us there is a God; the gospel gives us a more magnificent report of him; the light of nature condemns gross atheism, and that of the gospel condemns and conquers spiritual atheism in the hearts of men.

The Existence and Attributes of God

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


     Sect. CXXVIII. — WHAT, therefore, the Diatribe cannot do in its affirmative, I will do in the negative; and though I am not called upon to prove the negative, yet I will do it here, and will make it by the force of argument undeniably appear, that “nothing,” in this passage, not only may be but ought to be understood as meaning, not a certain small degree, but that which the term naturally signifies. And this I will do, in addition to that invincible argument by which I am already victorious; viz.. ‘that all terms are to be preserved in their natural signification and use, unless the contrary shall be proved:’ which the Diatribe neither has done, nor can do. — First of all then I will make that evidently manifest, which is plainly proved by Scriptures neither ambiguous nor obscure, — that Satan, is by far the most powerful and crafty prince of this world; (as I said before,) under the reigning power of whom, the human will, being no longer free nor in its own power, but the servant of sin and of Satan, can will nothing but that which its prince wills. And he will not permit it to will any thing good: though, even if Satan did not reign over it, sin itself, of which man is the slave, would sufficiently harden it to prevent it from willing good.

     Moreover, the following part of the context itself evidently proves the same: which the Diatribe proudly sneers at, although I have commented upon it very copiously in my Assertions. For Christ proceeds thus, John xv. 6, “Whoso abideth not in me, is cast forth as a branch and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” This, I say, the Diatribe, in a most excellent rhetorical way, passed by; hoping that the intent of this evasion would not be comprehended by the shallow-brained Lutherans. But here you see that Christ, who is the interpreter of His own similitude of the vine and the branch, plainly declares what He would have understood by the term “nothing” — that man who is without Christ, “is cast forth and is withered.”

     And what can the being “cast forth and withered” signify but the being delivered up to the devil, and becoming continually worse and worse; and surely, becoming worse and worse, is not doing or attempting any thing good. The withering branch is more and more prepared for the fire the more it withers. And had not Christ Himself thus amplified and applied this similitude, no one would have dared so to amplify and apply it. It stands manifest, therefore, that “nothing,” ought, in this place, to be understood in its proper signification, according to the nature of the term.

     Sect. CXXIX. — LET us now consider the examples also, by which it proves, that “nothing” signifies, in some places, ‘a certain small degree:’ in order that we may make it evident, that the Diatribe is nothing, and effects nothing in this part of it: in which, though it should do much, yet it would effect nothing: — such a nothing is the Diatribe in all things, and in every way.

     It says — “Generally, he is said to do nothing, who does not achieve that, at which he aims; and yet, for the most part, he who attempts it, makes some certain degree of progress in the attempt.” —

     I answer: I never heard this general usage of the term: you have invented it by your own license. The words are to be considered according to the subject-matter, (as they say,) and according to the intention of the speaker. — No one calls that ‘nothing’ which he does in attempting, nor does he then speak of the attempt but of the effect: it is to this the person refers when he says, he does nothing, or he effects nothing; that is, achieves and accomplishes nothing. But supposing, your example to stand good, (which however it does not) it makes more for me than for yourself. For this is what I maintain and would invincibly establish, that “Free-will” does many things, which, nevertheless, are “nothing” before God. What does it profit, therefore, to attempt, if it effect nothing at which it aims? So that, let the Diatribe turn which way it will, it only runs against, and confutes itself which generally happens to those, who undertake to support a bad cause.

     With the same unhappy effect does it adduce that example out of Paul, “Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God who giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. iii. 7). — “That (says the Diatribe,) which is of the least moment, and useless of itself, he calls nothing.” —

     Who? — Do you, pretend to say, that the ministry of the word is of itself useless, and of the least moment, when Paul everywhere, and especially 2 Cor. iii. 6-9, highly exalts it, and calls it the ministration “of life,” and “of glory?” Here again you neither consider the subject matter, nor the intention of the speaker. As to the gift of the increase, the planter and waterer are certainly ‘nothing;’ but as to the planting and sowing, they are not ‘nothing;’ seeing that, to teach and to exhort, are the greatest work of the Spirit in the Church of God. This is the intended meaning of Paul, and this his words convey with satisfactory plainness. But be it so, that this ridiculous example stands good; again, it stands in favour of me. For what I maintain is this: that “Free-will” is ‘nothing,’ that is, is useless of itself (as you expound it) before God; and it is concerning its being nothing as to what it can do of itself that we are now speaking: for as to what it essentially is in itself, we know, that an impious will must be a something, and cannot be a mere nothing.


The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library


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