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8/27/2017
1 Kings 20-21
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Ahab’s Wars with the Arameans

1 Kings 20:1     King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were with him, along with horses and chariots. He marched against Samaria, laid siege to it, and attacked it. 2 Then he sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel, and said to him: “Thus says Ben-hadad: 3 Your silver and gold are mine; your fairest wives and children also are mine.” 4 The king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” 5 The messengers came again and said: “Thus says Ben-hadad: I sent to you, saying, ‘Deliver to me your silver and gold, your wives and children’; 6 nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants, and lay hands on whatever pleases them, and take it away.”

     7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, “Look now! See how this man is seeking trouble; for he sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold; and I did not refuse him.” 8 Then all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” 9 So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king: All that you first demanded of your servant I will do; but this thing I cannot do.” The messengers left and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria will provide a handful for each of the people who follow me.” 11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: One who puts on armor should not brag like one who takes it off.” 12 When Ben-hadad heard this message—now he had been drinking with the kings in the booths—he said to his men, “Take your positions!” And they took their positions against the city.

Prophetic Opposition to Ahab

     13 Then a certain prophet came up to King Ahab of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Look, I will give it into your hand today; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 14 Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the Lord, By the young men who serve the district governors.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.” 15 Then he mustered the young men who served the district governors, two hundred thirty-two; after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.

     16 They went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings allied with him. 17 The young men who served the district governors went out first. Ben-hadad had sent out scouts, and they reported to him, “Men have come out from Samaria.” 18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

     19 But these had already come out of the city: the young men who served the district governors, and the army that followed them. 20 Each killed his man; the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, but King Ben-hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. 21 The king of Israel went out, attacked the horses and chariots, and defeated the Arameans with a great slaughter.

     22 Then the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do; for in the spring the king of Aram will come up against you.”


The Arameans Are Defeated

     23 The servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 Also do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in place of them; 25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot; then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” He heeded their voice, and did so.

     26 In the spring Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 After the Israelites had been mustered and provisioned, they went out to engage them; the people of Israel encamped opposite them like two little flocks of goats, while the Arameans filled the country. 28 A man of God approached and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the Lord: Because the Arameans have said, ‘The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 29 They encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle began; the Israelites killed one hundred thousand Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The rest fled into the city of Aphek; and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men that were left.

     Ben-hadad also fled, and entered the city to hide. 31 His servants said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings; let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 So they tied sackcloth around their waists, put ropes on their heads, went to the king of Israel, and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please let me live.’ ” And he said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men were watching for an omen; they quickly took it up from him and said, “Yes, Ben-hadad is your brother.” Then he said, “Go and bring him.” So Ben-hadad came out to him; and he had him come up into the chariot. 34 Ben-hadad said to him, “I will restore the towns that my father took from your father; and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” The king of Israel responded, “I will let you go on those terms.” So he made a treaty with him and let him go.

A Prophet Condemns Ahab

     35 At the command of the Lord a certain member of a company of prophets said to another, “Strike me!” But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, as soon as you have left me, a lion will kill you.” And when he had left him, a lion met him and killed him. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Strike me!” So the man hit him, striking and wounding him. 38 Then the prophet departed, and waited for the king along the road, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 As the king passed by, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the thick of the battle; then a soldier turned and brought a man to me, and said, ‘Guard this man; if he is missing, your life shall be given for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ 40 While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” 41 Then he quickly took the bandage away from his eyes. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 Then he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let the man go whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’ ” 43 The king of Israel set out toward home, resentful and sullen, and came to Samaria.


Naboth’s Vineyard

1 Kings 21:1     Later the following events took place: Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2 And Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” 4 Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you my ancestral inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.

     5 His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?” 6 He said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it’; but he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ ” 7 His wife Jezebel said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

     8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. 9 She wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; 10 seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.” 11 The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 12 they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. 13 The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him; and the scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

     15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Elijah Pronounces God’s Sentence

     17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: 18 Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19 You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Have you killed, and also taken possession?” You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.”

     20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, 21 I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. 23 Also concerning Jezebel the Lord said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’ 24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.”

     25 (Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel. 26 He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites.)

     27 When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. 28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster on his house.”

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



What I'm Reading

Most Cops Know That A Healthy Fear of Punishment Is… Healthy!

By J. Warner Wallace 1/4/2013

     Yesterday I was interviewed on the radio and the discussion wandered to the issue of violence in schools and the recent school shooting in Connecticut. I sometimes get asked about this topic due to my background as a homicide detective, and I’m happy to share my three pronged (and hopefully balanced) view related to the issue. I do believe that one leg of this controversial “stool” involves the secularization of our culture. It’s not the only factor that is in play (issues related to gun control and mental health are also important parts of the equation), but I think it’s impossible to deny that a culture that slowly rejects the transcendent grounding of objective moral truth (and, therefore, an eternal consequence for violating such truth) will eventually become more and more violent. Current surveys and investigations have only confirmed this truth.

     A recent study published by the Public Library of Science journal, “PLoS ONE” reported that criminal activity is lower in societies that are more focused on “supernatural punishment” rather than “supernatural benevolence”. In other words, the fear of hell is far more likely to motivate people to do the right thing than the promise of heaven. This is supported by a 2011 Harvard study that found that undergraduate students were far more likely to cheat if they saw God as loving and forgiving than if they saw God as punishing. A 2008 study also found that opportunistic selfishness is restrained by a belief in, and fear of, eternal punishment. Finally, a 2003 Harvard study found that the gross domestic product of developed countries was higher when people believed in hell than when they believed in heaven alone.

     Now, none of this serves as evidence that our beliefs in heaven or hell are actually true, and as an atheist for most of my life, I simply argued that hell was an evolutionary construct that emerged within the species because it assisted us in “getting along” and surviving. But if there is no God, and evolution alone accounts for the existence of beliefs related to heaven and hell, this same process now seems to be moving the species away from such beliefs. As societies become less and less religious, the results seem less than beneficial. Evolution, as an explanation, seems rather slippery; it appears to be leading us toward an understanding of reality that results in more crime, more dishonesty, more selfishness and less productivity. How precisely does this benefit the species?

     If an understanding of eternal punishment and reward is simply a social construction, don’t expect it to have any staying power. Unless the reality of eternal punishment is transcendently true, it can come and go like other societal fads and fashions. A healthy fear of eternal punishment has a long term benefit to our species only if it is grounded in transcendent truth. The fear of punishment must be something more than a temporary, useful delusion; it needs to be rooted in an eternal reality. Thankfully, it is.

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

     

Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride

By Francis Chan 10/2/2010

     Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:1–3)

     I don’t know if there is a more appropriate passage for us to turn to at this point in the book than 1 Corinthians 8:1–3. It is a passage directed toward those whose have their facts right but hearts wrong. Here Paul addresses the intelligent but unloving.

     It has been wonderful and challenging for me to study this passage. Meditating on 1 Corinthians 8:1–3 caused me to realize how many statements I make each day that are not motivated by love. It has caused me to pray that God would remind me to love each person I encounter and to seek to build up each individual with my words.

     Do I Genuinely Love? | Years ago, a friend of mine asked me how I prepared to preach. I told him how I pictured God in the room and that I would tell him that I wanted to please him alone. I then asked my friend how he would prepare. He told me how he would look at the crowd and pray, “God, you know how I love these people. Give me the right words to bring them closer to you.

     He then explained that there are other times that he would have to pray, “Father, I don’t love these people like I should. Give me a greater love for them.” It is sad that I had been preaching for years, I realized then, without thinking about really loving the people to whom I preached.

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     Francis Chan is an American preacher. He is the former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, a church he and his wife started in 1994. Francis Chan Books:

The Bible is God's Word: The Proof and Evidence

By Mike Robinson 5/24/2017

     [The New Atheists] are not open or willing to go where the evidence leads, unless that evidence sustains their own naturalistic assumptions. They have covertly reduced all philosophical thought and deduction to--ironically—faith! (Ravi Zacharias).

     I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book (Abraham Lincoln).

     Often skeptics argue that the Bible was written many years after the events it records, thus it was corrupted over time. Abrasive atheist Sam Harris notified the world that “the Gospels are ancient fiction.” But papyrus expert Peter Thiede has demonstrated that a copy of the Gospel of Luke, housed in a French museum, is dated approximately 50 AD. Thiede has also determined that the Magdalyn Manuscript of the Book of Matthew is dated circa 40-50 AD. And finally, Thiede has dated a copy of the Gospel written by Mark to be from about 50 AD.

     The age of the Gospels demonstrates that there was not enough time between the events and their transcription for the Bible to be tainted or altered in the manner the critics allege. Ramm acknowledged, “Divine inspiration of the Bible is the only adequate hypothesis to account for the Bible.”

     Your religious beliefs typically depend on the community in which you were raised or live. The spiritual experiences of people in ancient Greece, medieval Japan or 21st-century Saudi Arabia do not lead to belief in Christianity. It seems, therefore, that religious belief very likely tracks not truth but social conditioning (Gary Gutting).

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     CAA author Mike A. Robinson utilizes recent research in Christian apologetics, philosophy, and biblical truth as he provides books that make an impact on average people. These high-impact works train you to evangelize atheists, cult members, false religionists and agnostics. The deep intellectual truths that modern and ancient Christian scholars and philosophers have produced are formatted in simple and easy-to-follow steps. This fresh approach makes it real and assists you to be an effective witness in your personal evangelism to the followers of Richard Dawkins, Joseph Smith, the Watchtower, Buddha, Islam, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, other anti-theists and cultists.

Mike Robinson Books:

The Cross Is Everything!

By Malcolm Yarnell 6/14/2017

     The following was written in support of the great works being done by all at the convention, on the floor and on the platform. I am proud of our Resolutions Committee and of our messengers, real proud, and I stand fully behind the resolutions, including the upcoming Resolution on Alt-Right White Supremacy:

     While I skipped the Southern Baptist Convention in order to polish an overdue essay responding to my recently deceased friend, the Reformed theologian John Webster, my heart has been unable to escape the profound events occurring in Phoenix, Arizona. So many of my living friends and colleagues in ministry are there, and I have watched them with love and concern, exchanging messages with good people who are under both public and personal pressure to do well. With the incredible responsibilities placed on their shoulders, I want them to know they are doing well in spite of the heartache and disappointment all around. The churches of the Southern Baptist Convention are working together slowly but carefully toward the future that God has planned for them. And the men leading the way are in a pressure cooker, and it hurts.

     I have one word of advice to the leaders of the SBC and to every convention messenger and every spectator. It is an idea that could be taken contritely as a mere mantra were it not central to everything occurring this year: The Cross is at the center of everything the SBC is doing. But we may be somewhat oblivious to it. Some have glibly dismissed the resolution on the atonement that Owen Strachan and I offered as so much window dressing, but that is utterly wrongheaded. The Cross of Jesus Christ is at the center of everything that the SBC is doing this year. The Cross makes sense of the other significant resolutions, such as the ones on the Alt-Right and on Planned Parenthood. The Cross makes sense of the mission board reports and of Steve Gaines’s proposed task force. The Cross is everything!

     As Leon Morris and John Stott demonstrated years ago, the Cross of Jesus Christ provides the meaning of the biblical text. The Cross is both center and circumference; it is both pervasive and without parallel; it is both paradigmatic and problematic. Open any New Testament book and before long, the Cross will dominate the discussion. For Paul, a highly educated Biblicist with pristine religious credentials, the Cross which was earlier a scandal to him subsequently became so big that he could see nothing else. In Galatians 6:14f, he stated,

     But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation (Christian Standard Bible).

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     Malcolm B. Yarnell III was born in upstate New York, grew up in numerous North and Central American subcultures, and became a Southern Baptist minister, holding church pastorates in Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. After receiving degrees from Louisiana State University (BS-Finance), Southwestern Seminary (MDivBL), Duke University (ThM), and the University of Oxford (DPhil), he served as a faculty member at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and academic dean at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

     Yarnell is a prolific author. His latest book, God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits, was published by B&H Academic in April 2016. His most widely reviewed volume, on historical and theological method, is The Formation of Christian Doctrine (2007). He is also the author of Royal Priesthood in the English Reformation, released by Oxford University Press in 2014, and The Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists, a Festschrift honoring Paige Patterson, released in 2013. Yarnell has contributed over 100 essays to academic journals and books published in America, England, France, and Nigeria, as well as in more popular venues. He was also the longest-serving editor of the nearly century-old Southwestern Journal of Theology, and has edited four academic books. His next two monographs are provisionally entitled Popular Theology and The Image of the Trinity, the latter of which will serve as the third volume in his Systematic Theology.

     While traveling to lecture in universities worldwide (including in recent years, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Kenya, Russia, Scotland, and the Ukraine), Yarnell is a fellow in research institutes and a member of editorial boards in Fort Worth, Nashville, New Orleans, Oxford, and Bonn. He has been involved for over a decade in a series of Evangelical-Catholic Theological Conversations in St. Paul, Minnesota, and formerly served as a leading member of the Baptist World Alliance-Anglican Communion Theological Conversations. He has served as a trustee for the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Wroclaw, Poland for the last five years.

     Malcolm currently resides with his family of seven in Fort Worth, Texas, where he is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary. His weekly passion is to lead the Sunday morning Men's Bible Study at Birchman Baptist Church. He preaches the gospel regularly in churches and conferences, and has recently led church conferences in the Cayman Islands, England, France, and Germany.

Malcolm Yarnell Books:

Does God Want Me to Suffer?

By John Piper 7/12/2017

     What makes a person a theologian is not a college education, and not a seminary education, and sure not a doctorate. What makes a person a theologian is seeing things in the Bible and getting on their knees and thinking until they see harmony and unity coming together at the root of their being. They just won’t let go. They won’t let any scripture go. They’re pondering and praying and say,

     Keep me faithful to the whole counsel of God. Don’t let me run off in one direction and ride that hobby horse and don’t let me run off in the other direction and ride that hobby horse. Let me get it all together, Lord, as much as a human brain can get it together. Help me to be faithful, to hold in tension what has to be kept tension. I want to be true to the word of God.

     My conclusion is that the will of God in the Bible has two meanings. It’s not rocket science. On the one hand, it sometimes means God’s absolute sovereign control over all things, which can never be broken and never frustrated. And sometimes it refers to what you ought to do because he commands you to do it: don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery. You can break that will. You can disobey it. So we need to ask from text to text which of these two is being spoken of.

     Before I do that in Romans 12:2, let me pause here and try to help you feel why what I just said is precious beyond words to know and believe. I don’t think that it’s possible to handle deep hurt and great loss in your life without these two categories. Knowing God as sovereign and in control corresponds to a need that we have, and knowing God as a God who commands and commends and entreats his will — which can be broken — corresponds to a profound need that we have. And to know him in both of these ways can get us through situations where if we try to choose the one or the other will leave us very vulnerable.

     Let me try to give you an example: Suppose that you were abused as a child. I mean, really badly abused — sexually abused, physically abused, and it has wrought havoc in your life. It begins to come out and you deal with it. Somebody asks you, “Do you think that was the will of God?,” which is a very common question, and a good one. “Do you think that was the will of God?” My earnest prayer is that after this sermon, you will be able to answer that question biblically in a way that doesn’t contradict the bible — as strange, as mysterious, as painful, as perplexing as it may sound. It would go like this:

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     John Piper Books:

A Scientist Discovers God

By Lee Strobel 7/10/2017

     Allan Rex Sandage, the greatest observational cosmologist in the world — who deciphered the secrets of the stars, plumbed the mysteries of quasars, revealed the age of globular clusters, pinpointed the distances of remote galaxies, and quantified the universe’s expansion through his work at the Mount Wilson and Palomar observatories — prepared to step onto the conference platform.

     Few scientists were as widely respected as this one-time protégé of legendary astronomer Edwin Hubble. Sandage had been showered with prestigious honors from the American Astronomical Society, the Swiss Physical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Swedish Academy of Sciences, receiving astronomy’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The New York Times dubbed him the “grand old man of cosmology.”

     As he approached the stage at this conference on science and religion, there was little doubt where he would sit. The discussion would be about the origin of the universe, and the panel would be divided among those scientists who believed in God and those who didn’t, with each faction sitting on its own side of the stage. Many of the attenders probably knew the ethnically Jewish Sandage had been a virtual atheist even as a child. Others undoubtedly believed that a scientist of his stature must surely be skeptical about God. As Newsweek put it, “The more deeply scientists see into the secrets of the universe, you’d expect, the more God would fade away from their hearts and minds.”

     So Sandage’s seat among the doubters seemed a given.

     Then the unexpected happened. Sandage set the room abuzz by turning and taking a chair among the theists. Even more dazzling, in the context of a talk about the big bang and its philosophical implications, he disclosed publicly that he had become a Christian at age fifty. The big bang, he told the rapt audience, was a supernatural event that cannot be explained within the realm of physics as we know it.

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     Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel is the former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and best-selling author of more than twenty books. His classic, The Case for Christ, is a perennial favorite which details his conversion to Christianity. His recent release, The Case for Grace, just won the 2016 Nonfiction Book of the Year from the EPCA. For the last twenty-five years, his life’s work has been to share the evidence that supports the truth and claims of Christianity and to equip believers to share their faith with the people they know and love.

     Lee earned his Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri and his Master of Studies in Law at Yale Law School. He was a journalist for fourteen years at The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois' highest honor for public service journalism from United Press International. He also led a team that won UPI's top award for investigative reporting in Illinois.

     Lee has been a featured guest on national networks including ABC, Fox, Discovery, PBS, and CNN. He was the host of Faith Under Fire, a provocative program that brought together some of the brightest Christians and skeptics to debate issues central to the Christian faith. He also appeared in the feature film, God's Not Dead 2, as an expert witness for the defense. In 2017 Pure Flix Entertainment will release a major motion picture depicting Lee's journey from atheism to faith. You can learn more about the film, watch the trailer, and subscribe for updates at thecaseforchristmovie.com.

     As part of his speaking ministry, Lee travels across the country (and sometimes the world) sharing his testimony, encouraging believers, and challenging skeptics. He regularly speaks at conferences, commencements, fundraisers, and other major events.

     Lee is currently a teaching pastor at Woodlands Church in Texas where he speaks multiple times each year. He recently joined the faculty at Houston Baptist University as a Professor of Christian Thought.

     Lee and his wife, Leslie, have been married for over 40 years and live in Texas. Their daughter, Alison, is the author of six inspirational women's fiction novels and co-author (with her husband, Daniel) of two books for children. After teaching for six years, she now homeschools her daughters. Their son, Kyle, having earned a PhD in Theology from the University of Aberdeen and two Master's degrees, is an accomplished author, Jonathan Edwards scholar, and Professor of Spiritual Theology at Talbot School of Theology at BIOLA University in Southern California where he lives with his wife and two children.

Lee Strobel Books:

The Great Prize in Christian Dating

By Marshall Segal 7/12/2017

     I got lots of things wrong in dating, but as I think back over my mistakes and failures — dating too young, jumping from relationship to relationship, not being honest with myself or with others, failing to set or keep boundaries, not listening to friends and family, not prizing and pursuing purity — one error rises above the others, and in many ways explains the others:

     My dating relationships were mainly a pursuit of intimacy with a girlfriend, not clarity about whether to marry her.

     In my best moments, I was pursuing clarity through intimacy, but in a lot of other moments, if I’m honest, I just wanted intimacy at whatever cost. “The pursuit of marriage” was a warm and justifying pullover to wear over my conscience when things started to go too far physically and emotionally. But even clarity through intimacy misses the point and gets it backwards. I should have been pursuing clarity in dating, and then intimacy in marriage. That simple equation would have saved me and the girls I dated all kinds of grief, heartache, and regret.

     Your Last First Kiss | Most of us date because we want intimacy. We want to feel close to someone. We want to be known deeply and loved deeply. We want sex. We want to share life with someone of the opposite sex who will be involved and invested in what we’re doing and what we care about. With the right heart, and in the right measure, and at the right time, these are all good desires. God made many of us to want these things, and therefore wants us to want these things — with the right heart, in the right measure, and at the right time.

     Think about your last first kiss in a relationship (if you’ve already kissed someone). Why did you do it? You knew you were risking something, that this wasn’t the safest way to give yourself to someone. What was driving you most in those brief moments before you let your lips touch?

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Marshall Segal is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife Faye have a son and live in Minneapolis.




  • Christian Apologetics Principles
  • N-Testament Biblical Theology
  • Pt 2

#1 Scott Oliphint  Westminster Theological Seminary

 

#2 Greg Beale   Westminster Theological Seminary

 

#3 Greg Beale   Westminster Theological Seminary

 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     August 27, 1776, British General Howe had trapped 8,000 American troops on Brooklyn Heights, intending to crush them the next Morning. Desperate, Washington spent all night ferrying his army across the East River. Morning came yet half his troops were still in danger. Surprisingly a fog arose, allowing the entire army to evacuated! Never again could the British trap Washington. Major Ben Tallmadge wrote: “As the dawn… approached, those of us who remained in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety… At this time a very dense fog began to rise… I recollect this peculiar providential occurrence perfectly well.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


What doubt can you have of the Creator when you behold His creation?...
Who has decked the heavenly firmament with its stars?
Who has clothed the earth in its beauty?
How could it be without the creator?
--- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


In the law of God,
there is no statute of limitations.
--- Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in,
That He may speak, perchance through grief or pain;
And softly, heart to heart, above the din
May teach some precious truth to us again.
--- Unknown


Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.
--- Malcolm Muggeridge

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     BOOK IV.

     Containing The Interval Of About One Year. From The Siege Of Gamala To The Coming Of Titus To Besiege Jerusalem.

     CHAPTER 1.

     The Siege And Taking Of Gamala.

     1. Now all those Galileans who, after the taking of Jotapata, had revolted from the Romans, did, upon the conquest of Taricheae, deliver themselves up to them again. And the Romans received all the fortresses and the cities, excepting Gischala and those that had seized upon Mount Tabor; Gamala also, which is a city ever against Taricheae, but on the other side of the lake, conspired with them. This city lay upon the borders of Agrippa's kingdom, as also did Sogana and Seleucia. And these were both parts of Gaulanitis; for Sogana was a part of that called the Upper Gaulanitis, as was Gamala of the Lower; while Seleucia was situated at the lake Semechouitis, which lake is thirty furlongs in breadth, and sixty in length; its marshes reach as far as the place Daphne, which in other respects is a delicious place, and hath such fountains as supply water to what is called Little Jordan, under the temple of the golden calf, 1 where it is sent into Great Jordan. Now Agrippa had united Sogana and Seleucia by leagues to himself, at the very beginning of the revolt from the Romans; yet did not Gamala accede to them, but relied upon the difficulty of the place, which was greater than that of Jotapata, for it was situated upon a rough ridge of a high mountain, with a kind of neck in the middle: where it begins to ascend, it lengthens itself, and declines as much downward before as behind, insomuch that it is like a camel in figure, from whence it is so named, although the people of the country do not pronounce it accurately. Both on the side and the face there are abrupt parts divided from the rest, and ending in vast deep valleys; yet are the parts behind, where they are joined to the mountain, somewhat easier of ascent than the other; but then the people belonging to the place have cut an oblique ditch there, and made that hard to be ascended also. On its acclivity, which is straight, houses are built, and those very thick and close to one another. The city also hangs so strangely, that it looks as if it would fall down upon itself, so sharp is it at the top. It is exposed to the south, and its southern mount, which reaches to an immense height, was in the nature of a citadel to the city; and above that was a precipice, not walled about, but extending itself to an immense depth. There was also a spring of water within the wall, at the utmost limits of the city.

     2. As this city was naturally hard to be taken, so had Josephus, by building a wall about it, made it still stronger, as also by ditches and mines under ground. The people that were in it were made more bold by the nature of the place than the people of Jotapata had been, but it had much fewer fighting men in it; and they had such a confidence in the situation of the place, that they thought the enemy could not be too many for them; for the city had been filled with those that had fled to it for safety, on account of its strength; on which account they had been able to resist those whom Agrippa sent to besiege it for seven months together.

     3. But Vespasian removed from Emmaus, where he had last pitched his camp before the city Tiberias, [now Emmaus, if it be interpreted, may be rendered "a warm bath," for therein is a spring of warm water, useful for healing,] and came to Gamala; yet was its situation such that he was not able to encompass it all round with soldiers to watch it; but where the places were practicable, he set men to watch it, and seized upon the mountain which was over it. And as the legions, according to their usual custom, were fortifying their camp upon that mountain, he began to cast up banks at the bottom, at the part towards the east, where the highest tower of the whole city was, and where the fifteenth legion pitched their camp; while the fifth legion did duty over against the midst of the city, and whilst the tenth legion filled up the ditches and the valleys. Now at this time it was that as king Agrippa was come nigh the walls, and was endeavoring to speak to those that were on the walls about a surrender, he was hit with a stone on his right elbow by one of the slingers; he was then immediately surrounded with his own men. But the Romans were excited to set about the siege, by their indignation on the king's account, and by their fear on their own account, as concluding that those men would omit no kinds of barbarity against foreigners and enemies, who where so enraged against one of their own nation, and one that advised them to nothing but what was for their own advantage.

     4. Now when the banks were finished, which was done on the sudden, both by the multitude of hands, and by their being accustomed to such work, they brought the machines; but Chares and Joseph, who were the most potent men in the city, set their armed men in order, though already in a fright, because they did not suppose that the city could hold out long, since they had not a sufficient quantity either of water, or of other necessaries. However, these their leaders encouraged them, and brought them out upon the wall, and for a while indeed they drove away those that were bringing the machines; but when those machines threw darts and stones at them, they retired into the city; then did the Romans bring battering rams to three several places, and made the wall shake [and fall]. They then poured in over the parts of the wall that were thrown down, with a mighty sound of trumpets and noise of armor, and with a shout of the soldiers, and brake in by force upon those that were in the city; but these men fell upon the Romans for some time, at their first entrance, and prevented their going any further, and with great courage beat them back; and the Romans were so overpowered by the greater multitude of the people, who beat them on every side, that they were obliged to run into the upper parts of the city. Whereupon the people turned about, and fell upon their enemies, who had attacked them, and thrust them down to the lower parts, and as they were distressed by the narrowness and difficulty of the place, slew them; and as these Romans could neither beat those back that were above them, nor escape the force of their own men that were forcing their way forward, they were compelled to fly into their enemies' houses, which were low; but these houses being thus full, of soldiers, whose weight they could not bear, fell down suddenly; and when one house fell, it shook down a great many of those that were under it, as did those do to such as were under them. By this means a vast number of the Romans perished; for they were so terribly distressed, that although they saw the houses subsiding, they were compelled to leap upon the tops of them; so that a great many were ground to powder by these ruins, and a great many of those that got from under them lost some of their limbs, but still a greater number were suffocated by the dust that arose from those ruins. The people of Gamala supposed this to be an assistance afforded them by God, and without regarding what damage they suffered themselves, they pressed forward, and thrust the enemy upon the tops of their houses; and when they stumbled in the sharp and narrow streets, and were perpetually falling down, they threw their stones or darts at them, and slew them. Now the very ruins afforded them stones enow; and for iron weapons, the dead men of the enemies' side afforded them what they wanted; for drawing the swords of those that were dead, they made use of them to despatch such as were only half dead; nay, there were a great number who, upon their falling down from the tops of the houses, stabbed themselves, and died after that manner; nor indeed was it easy for those that were beaten back to fly away; for they were so unacquainted with the ways, and the dust was so thick, that they wandered about without knowing one another, and fell down dead among the crowd.

     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 23:22-23
     by D.H. Stern

22     Listen to your father, who gave you life;
     and don’t despise your mother when she gets old.

23     Buy the truth, don’t sell it,
     also wisdom, discipline and discernment.

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


                Theology alive

     Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you. --- John 12:35.

     Beware of not acting upon what you see in your moments on the mount with God. If you do not obey the light, it will turn into darkness. “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” The second you waive the question of sanctification or any other thing upon which God gave you light, you begin to get dry rot in your spiritual life. Continually bring the truth out into actuality; work it out in every domain, or the very light you have will prove a curse.

     The most difficult person to deal with is the one who has the smug satisfaction of an experience to which he can refer back, but who is not working it out in practical life. If you say you are sanctified, show it. The experience must be so genuine that it is shown in the life. Beware of any belief that makes you self-indulgent; it came from the pit, no matter how beautiful it sounds.

     Theology must work itself out in the most practical relationships. “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, …” said Our Lord, i.e., you must be more moral than the most moral being you know. You may know all about the doctrine of sanctification, but are you running it out into the practical issues of your life? Every bit of our life, physical, moral and spiritual, is to be judged by the standard of the Atonement.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Soil (Song At The Year's Turning)
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Soil (Song At The Year's Turning)

A field with tall hedges and a young
  Moon in the branches and one star
  Declining westward set the scene
  Where he works slowly astride the rows
  Of red mangolds and green swedes
  Plying mechanically his cold blade.

This is his world, the hedge defines
  The mind's limits; only the sky
  Is boundless, and never looks up;
  His gaze is deep in the dark soil,
  As are his feet. The soil is all;
  His hands fondle it, and his bones
  Are formed out of it with the swedes.
  And if sometimes the knife errs,
  Burying itself in is shocked flesh,
  Then out of the wound the blood seeps home
  To the warm soil from which it came.


Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Leviticus 10:8–10


     BIBLE TEXT / Leviticus 10:8–10 / And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: Drink no wine or other intoxicant, you or your sons, when you enter the Tent of Meeting, that you may not die. This is a law for all time throughout the ages, for you must distinguish between the sacred and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean.…

     MIDRASH TEXT / Tanḥuma Shemini 5 / “[Do not look at the wine, that it is so red] for he sets his eye on the cup, בַּכּוֹס/ba-kos” [
Proverbs 23:31, authors’ translation]. On the pocket, בַּכִּיס/ba-kis, is the ketiv. The drunk sets his eye on the cup while the storekeeper sets his eye on the pocket. For he sets his eye on the cup: He sees his friend drinking, and he says to him, “Pour for me and I will drink,” and he soils himself with excrement and urine.

     “It goes down smoothly” [ibid.]. In the end he will sell all his household articles and all his personal articles until he has no clothing or any household articles, or anything else, and the house will be completely empty. “It goes down smoothly.” In the end, he permits transgressions and makes them as available as an open plain. He talks with a woman in the market, and speaks filth and says bad things in drunkenness and is not ashamed because his reasoning has been taken from him and he doesn’t know what he is saying or what he is doing.

     CONTEXT / Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu, had entered the Tent of Meeting to present an offering of incense. God was displeased with their offering, apparently because it was done in an inappropriate way, and they were consumed by fire. The Torah is not clear exactly what they did wrong or why God chose to kill them. But a few verses later, we read the command given to Aaron and his remaining two sons that they are not to drink wine or liquor when they enter the Tent of Meeting. The Rabbis deduce that these two sections—the death of Nadab and Abihu and the command not to drink intoxicants in the sanctuary—are connected: it was because they were drunk that Aaron’s sons were killed.

     Our Midrash goes on to recount the evils of drunkenness—not merely for those engaged in the service of God, but for everyone. A classical biblical passage on this subject is quoted (
Proverbs 23:29–35), and each of its verses is expounded upon. “[Do not look at the wine, that it is so red] for he sets his eye on the cup, בַּכִּוֹם/ba-kos.” Our maxim is based upon a wordplay on two similar sounding Hebrew words: כּוֹם/kos, which means “cup,” and כּוֹם/kis, which means “pocket.” It is the biblical text itself (not merely the Rabbis) that suggests this pun. “On the pocket, בַּכִּים/ba-kis,” is the ketiv. There are numerous places in the Bible where, following tradition, a word is written one way but read another way. The written version is called כְּתִיב/ketiv (from the Hebrew word for “write”), while the traditional reading is referred to as קְרִי/keri (from the Hebrew root “read”). In certain cases, some suggest, a scribal error crept into the text long ago. Since we can’t be entirely certain why or when it happened, we are obligated to maintain the sanctity of the received version. Tradition has also preserved for us the appropriate reading of the word so that we can understand its proper meaning. Another, more traditional view of the ketiv and keri words is that, in this manner, the text is able to suggest (or explicitly say) two things simultaneously, instead of merely one. In our case, the ketiv or written version is כִּים/kis (pocket), while the keri, the to-be-read version, is כּוֹם/kos (cup). The Rabbis use both words to create a bit of folk wisdom that teaches us a lesson about the person who drinks and the person who sells the drinks.

     There is one additional wordplay in our Midrash. The verse in
Proverbs (23:31) says יִתְהַלֵּךְ בְּמֵישָׁרִים/yit-ha-lekh b’mei-sharim, which means “It, the wine, goes down smoothly.” But the Rabbis connect the word מֵישָׁרִים/mei-sharim, “smoothly,” to the word מֵישׁוֹר/mei-shor, a “plain” or open stretch of barren land, devoid of living things. This pun enables the Rabbis to highlight the effects of drunkenness: It will cause a person to lose everything of value and end up empty and barren. In the end he will sell all his household articles and all his personal articles until he has no clothing or any household articles, or anything else, and the house will be completely empty.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 27

     God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
---
Acts 17:27.

     Saint Paul is preaching on Mars Hill to the Athenians.
(
Phillips Brooks, “The Nearness of God,” downloaded from the Web site The Unofficial Episcopal Preaching Resource Page, at www.edola.org/clergy/episcopalpreaching.html, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) We hear a great deal about the tact of that discourse. The power of his tact was really love. He felt for those people, so he said to them what they needed. Never were people on the brink of so many of the highest things—and missed them—as these Athenians. They felt all the mystery of life. They built their altar to the unknown god. They were always on the brink of faith, without believing; always touched by spirituality, yet with their feet set on the material and carnal.

     Two views [could] be taken by one who looked on their darkness. Easy enough it is to be contemptuous; to condemn as frivolous this life that walked on the brink of earnestness and yet was never earnest. But it is possible to be impressed with reverence and pity that left no room for contempt, reverence for the people who came so near to so much and pity for the people who missed it so sadly. The second thought is the thought of the best and wisest and divinest—the thought of Saint Paul and of Jesus Christ.

     What makes the difference between these two views? People who look on others’ puzzled lives with reverence and pity see God there behind the lives they are looking at. People who look at others’ restless lives with contempt see no God there, but [only] vain and aimless dissatisfaction. If there is no God, whose life and presence, dimly felt, is making people toss and complain, then their tossing and complaining is a contemptible thing. If there is a God to whom they belong, whom they feel through the thinnest of veils, whom they feel even when they do not know that it is he whom they feel—then their restlessness, their hope, their dreams and doubts become solemn and significant.

     And this is just what Saint Paul tells the Athenians. He says, “You are restless and discontented. Your restlessness, your impatience, your discontent, however petty the forms it takes, is solemn and not petty to me, because of what it means. It means that God is not far from every one of you.”

     Oh, what a revelation that was! What a preaching that was that day on Mars Hill!
—Phillips Brooks


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

On This Day
     The Prayer Chain  August 27

     In 1722 Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, troubled by the suffering of Christian exiles from Bohemia and Moravia, allowed them to establish a community on his estate in Germany. The center became known as Herrnhut, meaning “Under the Lord’s Watch.” It grew quickly, and so did its appreciation for the power of prayer.

     On August 27, 1727 24 men and 24 women covenanted to spend an hour each day in scheduled prayer, praying in sequence around the clock. Soon others joined the prayer chain. Days passed, then months. Unceasing prayer rose to God 24 hours a day as someone—at least one—was engaged in intercessory prayer each hour of every day. The intercessors met weekly for encouragement and to read letters and messages from their brothers in different places. A decade passed, the prayer chain continuing nonstop. Then another decade. It was a prayer meeting that lasted over 100 years.

     Undoubtedly this prayer chain helped birth Protestant missions. Zinzendorf, 27, suggested the possibility of attempting to reach others for Christ in the West Indies, Greenland, Turkey, and Lapland. Twenty-six Moravians stepped forward. The first missionaries, Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann, were commissioned during an unforgettable service on August 18, 1732, during which 100 hymns were sung. During the first two years, 22 missionaries perished and two more were imprisoned, but others took their places. In all 70 Moravian missionaries flowed from the 600 inhabitants of Herrnhut, a feat unparalleled in missionary history.

     By the time William Carey became the “Father of Modern Missions” over 300 Moravian missionaries had already gone to the ends of the earth. And that’s not all. The Moravian fervor sparked the conversions of John and Charles Wesley and indirectly ignited the Great Awakening that swept through Europe and America.

     The prayer meeting lasted 100 years. The results will last for eternity.

     Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up. Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night?

… He will surely hurry and help them. --- Luke 18:1,7,8a.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 27

     “How long will it be ere they believe me?”
--- Numbers 14:11.

     Strive with all diligence to keep out that monster unbelief. It so dishonours Christ, that he will withdraw his visible presence if we insult him by indulging it. It is true it is a weed, the seeds of which we an never entirely extract from the soil, but we must aim at its root with zeal and perseverance. Among hateful things it is the most to be abhorred. Its injurious nature is so venomous that he that exerciseth it and he upon whom it is exercised are both hurt thereby. In thy case, O believer! it is most wicked, for the mercies of thy Lord in the past, increase thy guilt in doubting him now. When thou dost distrust the Lord Jesus, he may well cry out, “Behold I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.” This is crowning his head with thorns of the sharpest kind. It is very cruel for a well-beloved wife to mistrust a kind and faithful husband. The sin is needless, foolish, and unwarranted. Jesus has never given the slightest ground for suspicion, and it is hard to be doubted by those to whom our conduct is uniformly affectionate and true. Jesus is the Son of the Highest, and has unbounded wealth; it is shameful to doubt Omnipotence and distrust all-sufficiency. The cattle on a thousand hills will suffice for our most hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating. If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust his fulness, but who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their supplies from him, and not one of them has murmured at the scantiness of his resources. Away, then, with this lying traitor unbelief, for his only errand is to cut the bonds of communion and make us mourn an absent Saviour. Bunyan tells us that unbelief has “as many lives as a cat:” if so, let us kill one life now, and continue the work till the whole nine are gone. Down with thee, thou traitor, my heart abhors thee.


          Evening - August 27

     “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” --- Psalm 31:5.

     These words have been frequently used by holy men in their hour of departure. We may profitably consider them this Evening. The object of the faithful man’s solicitude in life and death is not his body or his estate, but his spirit; this is his choice treasure—if this be safe, all is well. What is this mortal state compared with the soul? The believer commits his soul to the hand of his God; it came from him, it is his own, he has aforetime sustained it, he is able to keep it, and it is most fit that he should receive it. All things are safe in Jehovah’s hands; what we entrust to the Lord will be secure, both now and in that day of days towards which we are hastening. It is peaceful living, and glorious dying, to repose in the care of heaven. At all times we should commit our all to Jesus’ faithful hand; then, though life may hang on a thread, and adversities may multiply as the sands of the sea, our soul shall dwell at ease, and delight itself in quiet resting places.

     “Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Redemption is a solid basis for confidence. David had not known Calvary as we have done, but temporal redemption cheered him; and shall not eternal redemption yet more sweetly console us? Past deliverances are strong pleas for present assistance. What the Lord has done he will do again, for he changes not. He is faithful to his promises, and gracious to his saints; he will not turn away from his people.

     “Though thou slay me I will trust,
     Praise thee even from the dust,
     Prove, and tell it as I prove,
     Thine unutterable love.

     Thou mayst chasten and correct,
     But thou never canst neglect;
     Since the ransom price is paid,
     On thy love my hope is stay’d.”

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

Amazing Grace
     August 27

          LORD, I WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN

     Spiritual

     He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desire. 2 Peter 1:4)

     A CHRISTIAN IS …
     A mind through which Christ thinks;
     A heart through which Christ loves;
     A voice through which Christ speaks;
     A hand through which Christ helps.
--- Unknown

     “Sir, I want to be a Christian.”

     The text for this spiritual song is thought to have been an outgrowth of this remark made by a Negro slave to a minister, William Davis, sometime during the mid 18th century.

     How would you have replied to this request? Many people today use the term Christian simply to mean someone other than a pagan, Buddhist, or Hindu. Or they equate it with a person who is a church member or perhaps someone who has a strong humanitarian concern for others.

     The word Christian was first used with the people of Antioch because they believed the account of the Gospel by personally accepting God’s free gift of salvation and making Christ the Savior and Lord of their lives (Acts 11:26). They literally became CHRIST-ians—little Christs. After he has taken the initial step of salvation, a Christian should develop a growing desire to model the virtues of godly living. The Bible teaches that a Christian should make every effort to add to his faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5–7). Christians, then, are to be effective representatives for God in a corrupt world and a living demonstration of the transforming power of the Gospel.

     Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart.
     Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart.
     Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart.
     Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart.


     For Today: Acts 4:12; 16:30, 31; Romans 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Colossians 3:9, 10; 2 Peter 1:5–10

     Would you be able to explain the term Christian if someone should ask? Are you consciously trying to add Christ-like virtues to your faith? Pray that you will be a worthy representative and demonstration of the Gospel. Carry this spiritual with you to help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Sunday, August 27, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 16, Sunday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 146, 147
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 111, 112, 113
Old Testament     2 Samuel 24:1–2, 10–25
New Testament     Galatians 3:23–4:7
Gospel     John 8:12–20

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 146, 147

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD!

1 Praise the LORD!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds,
prepares rain for the earth,
makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the animals their food,
and to the young ravens when they cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.

12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He grants peace within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down hail like crumbs—
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the LORD!

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 111, 112, 113

1 Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.

1 Praise the LORD!
Happy are those who fear the LORD,
who greatly delight in his commandments.
2 Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
4 They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
5 It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
6 For the righteous will never be moved;
they will be remembered forever.
7 They are not afraid of evil tidings;
their hearts are firm, secure in the LORD.
8 Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
9 They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn is exalted in honor.
10 The wicked see it and are angry;
they gnash their teeth and melt away;
the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD;
praise the name of the LORD.

2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the LORD is to be praised.
4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
2 Samuel 24:1–2, 10–25

24 Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.” 2 So the king said to Joab and the commanders of the army, who were with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and take a census of the people, so that I may know how many there are.”

10 But afterward, David was stricken to the heart because he had numbered the people. David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, I pray you, take away the guilt of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.” 11 When David rose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and say to David: Thus says the LORD: Three things I offer you; choose one of them, and I will do it to you.” 13 So Gad came to David and told him; he asked him, “Shall three years of famine come to you on your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to the one who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into human hands.”

15 So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from that morning until the appointed time; and seventy thousand of the people died, from Dan to Beer-sheba. 16 But when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented concerning the evil, and said to the angel who was bringing destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” The angel of the LORD was then by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 When David saw the angel who was destroying the people, he said to the LORD, “I alone have sinned, and I alone have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.”

18 That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 Following Gad’s instructions, David went up, as the LORD had commanded. 20 When Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming toward him; and Araunah went out and prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the LORD, so that the plague may be averted from the people.” 22 Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him; here are the oxen for the burnt offering, and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23 All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God respond favorably to you.”

24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy them from you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being. So the LORD answered his supplication for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

New Testament
Galatians 3:23–4:7

23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

4 My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; 2 but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. 3 So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Gospel
John 8:12–20

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 13 Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18 I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” 19 Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.


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



Christ-centered Apologetics    
Lane Tipton   
Westminster Theological Seminary






Youth Ministry and Campus Ministry    
Scott Oliphint   
Westminster Theological Seminary







Culture    Jeff Jue   
Westminster Theological Seminary






Spiritual Formation - Natural Part of Salvation    Dallas Willard   
Wheaton College







Our Theology in Our Apologetics   
Scott Oliphint   
Westminster Theological Seminary






The Ontological Argument   
Dr. William Craig





Doctrine of Christ   Lane Tipton   

Westminster Theological Seminary






Doctrine of Salvation   Lane Tipton   
Westminster Theological Seminary






Psalms, L7 Hymn Theology
Dr. Bruce Waltke