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8/28/2017
1 Kings 22
2 Chronicles 18
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Joint Campaign with Judah against Aram (2 Chr 18:1–11)

1 Kings 22:1     For three years Aram and Israel continued without war. 2 But in the third year King Jehoshaphat of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 The king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, yet we are doing nothing to take it out of the hand of the king of Aram?”

Deuteronomy 4:43     Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.

Joshua 21:38     and from the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its common-land (a city of refuge for the slayer), Mahanaim with its common-land,

1 Kings 4:13     Ben-Geber, in Ramoth Gilead; to him belonged the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, in Gilead; to him also belonged the region of Argob in Bashan—sixty large cities with walls and bronze gate-bars;

     4 He said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are; my people are your people, my horses are your horses.”

     5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred of them, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” They said, “Go up; for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 7 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no other prophet of the Lord here of whom we may inquire?” 8 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one other by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies anything favorable about me, but only disaster.” Jehoshaphat said, “Let the king not say such a thing.” 9 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah son of Imlah.” 10 Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 Zedekiah son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron, and he said, “Thus says the Lord: With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.” 12 All the prophets were prophesying the same and saying, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”

Micaiah Predicts Failure (2 Chr 18:12–27)

     13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 14 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak.”

     15 When he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” He answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 16 But the king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 17 Then Micaiah said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep that have no shepherd; and the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each one go home in peace.’ ” 18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy anything favorable about me, but only disaster?”

     19 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the host of heaven standing beside him to the right and to the left of him. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, so that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ Then one said one thing, and another said another, 21 until a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 ‘How?’ the Lord asked him. He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do it.’ 23 So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

     24 Then Zedekiah son of Chenaanah came up to Micaiah, slapped him on the cheek, and said, “Which way did the spirit of the Lord pass from me to speak to you?” 25 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on that day when you go in to hide in an inner chamber.” 26 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son, 27 and say, ‘Thus says the king: Put this fellow in prison, and feed him on reduced rations of bread and water until I come in peace.’ ” 28 Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, you peoples, all of you!”

Defeat and Death of Ahab (2 Chr 18:28–34)

     29 So the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.

     31 Now the king of Aram had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel.” 32 When the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him; and Jehoshaphat cried out. 33 When the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 34 But a certain man drew his bow and unknowingly struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate; so he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around, and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” 35 The battle grew hot that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans, until at Evening he died; the blood from the wound had flowed into the bottom of the chariot. 36 Then about sunset a shout went through the army, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!”

     37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; they buried the king in Samaria. 38 They washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria; the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord that he had spoken. 39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house that he built, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 40 So Ahab slept with his ancestors; and his son Ahaziah succeeded him.

Jehoshaphat Reigns over Judah (2 Chr 20:31–21:1)

     41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of King Ahab of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. 43 He walked in all the way of his father Asa; he did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord; yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and offered incense on the high places. 44 Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel.

     45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his power that he showed, and how he waged war, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? 46 The remnant of the male temple prostitutes who were still in the land in the days of his father Asa, he exterminated.

     47 There was no king in Edom; a deputy was king. 48 Jehoshaphat made ships of the Tarshish type to go to Ophir for gold; but they did not go, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion-geber. 49 Then Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships,” but Jehoshaphat was not willing. 50 Jehoshaphat slept with his ancestors and was buried with his ancestors in the city of his father David; his son Jehoram succeeded him.

Ahaziah Reigns over Israel

     51 Ahaziah son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of King Jehoshaphat of Judah; he reigned two years over Israel. 52 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father and mother, and in the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 53 He served Baal and worshiped him; he provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.


Micaiah Predicts Failure (1 Kings 22:1–28)

2 Chronicles 18     Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he made a marriage alliance with Ahab. 2 After some years he went down to Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered an abundance of sheep and oxen for him and for the people who were with him, and induced him to go up against Ramoth-gilead. 3 King Ahab of Israel said to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” He answered him, “I am with you, my people are your people. We will be with you in the war.”

     4 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” 5 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred of them, and said to them, “Shall we go to battle against Ramoth -gilead, or shall I refrain?” They said, “Go up; for God will give it into the hand of the king.” 6 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no other prophet of the Lord here of whom we may inquire?” 7 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one other by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies anything favorable about me, but only disaster.” Jehoshaphat said, “Let the king not say such a thing.” 8 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah son of Imlah.” 9 Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes; and they were sitting at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 10 Zedekiah son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron, and he said, “Thus says the Lord: With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.” 11 All the prophets were prophesying the same and saying, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”

     12 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 13 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.”

     14 When he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?” He answered, “Go up and triumph; they will be given into your hand.” 15 But the king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 16 Then Micaiah said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd; and the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each one go home in peace.’ ” 17 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy anything favorable about me, but only disaster?”

     18 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the host of heaven standing to the right and to the left of him. 19 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice King Ahab of Israel, so that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ Then one said one thing, and another said another, 20 until a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ The Lord asked him, ‘How?’ 21 He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do it.’ 22 So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets; the Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

     23 Then Zedekiah son of Chenaanah came up to Micaiah, slapped him on the cheek, and said, “Which way did the spirit of the Lord pass from me to speak to you?” 24 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on that day when you go in to hide in an inner chamber.” 25 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son; 26 and say, ‘Thus says the king: Put this fellow in prison, and feed him on reduced rations of bread and water until I return in peace.’ ” 27 Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, you peoples, all of you!”

Defeat and Death of Ahab (1 Kings 22:29–40)

     28 So the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle. 30 Now the king of Aram had commanded the captains of his chariots, “Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel.” 31 When the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him; and Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him. God drew them away from him, 32 for when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 33 But a certain man drew his bow and unknowingly struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate; so he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around, and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” 34 The battle grew hot that day, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Arameans until Evening; then at sunset he died.

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



What I'm Reading

How to Handle Your Doubt When Times Get Tough

By J. Warner Wallace 6/29/2015

     If you’re watching the culture closely, you’ve probably noticed it’s increasingly difficult (and unpopular) to hold a Christian worldview in America. Fewer and fewer of us identify as Christians in what is quickly becoming a “post-Christian” culture. Some predict it’s only going to get worse, and I tend to agree. That’s why I’m so glad I’m a Christian evidentialist. If you’re a believer, your definition of Biblical “faith” will determine the way you process your own doubt and it will shape your response in difficult times. The God of the Bible admonished Old and New Testament believers when they struggled with doubt in times of crisis, and His and response was consistently grounded in His evidential nature.

     The Christian definition of “faith” is not simply “blind,” unsupported belief. Instead, Biblical faith is a reasonable trust in what cannot be seen, given the strength of the evidence that has been seen. When God’s children floundered in their faith, He repeatedly called them to a reasonable trust in the evidence He had provided them. Let me give you two examples of God’s evidential response to doubt; one from the Old Testament and one from the New:

     An Example From the Old Testament: When the Israelites struggled with doubt and fear as they faced hostile cultures and difficult times, God provided them with an approach to help them overcome their uncertainty:

     (Dt 7:18–19) 18 do not be afraid of them. Just remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, 19 the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. NRSV

     God commanded the Israelites to recall the public miracles He worked when He saved them from the Egyptian army. Yahweh told the Jewish nation to remember how He parted the Red Sea, and He used this supernatural act as an evidential point of reference. He didn’t simply tell his people to remember their own subjective, personal experiences with Him, but He instead asked them to recall the miracles He performed publicly. He gave them the evidence they needed to confirm His existence, even when they were starting to doubt this reality. In tough times, the Israelites simply needed to recall the evidence. If their faith was properly grounded and properly evidential, they could withstand even the worst of times. For this reason, they were commanded to respond rationally rather than emotionally.

     An Example from the New Testament: When John the Baptist struggled with doubt while he was incarcerated (and just prior to his execution), he sent his disciples with a question. Jesus provided the same time-tested approach to help John overcome his doubt:

     (Lk 7:19–23) 19 and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 20 When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ ” 21 Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. 23 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” NRSV

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

Some Things You Should Know About Christians Who Struggle With Anxiety

By Tim Challies 8/15/2016

     You have probably bumped into Adam Ford before, either through his comics at Adam4d.com or through his satire at The Babylon Bee. Over the past couple of years I’ve come to enjoy Adam as a friend and recently asked if he’d like to try his hand at another medium by penning a guest article. He obliged and this is the result. I trust you’ll benefit from it.

     For 7 years I have lived with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety. It has completely changed my life. I have written and drawn about these things before and the response has proven to me that there are tons of Christians who relate to my story. This probably includes people you know. I also know that many are hesitant to tell others about their struggles. So for them, based on my experience, I compiled a little list of things you should know about your Christian friends and family who struggle with anxiety.

     It changes us. | Before I had these issues I was an outgoing, type-A extrovert. I fed off social situations and loved being the center of attention. Today I’m a serious introvert who struggles mightily with social situations, unfamiliar settings, having any attention on me, meeting new people, talking on the phone, or even writing an article like this one. More often than not, I just can’t do it. I’ve been unable to leave my house for stretches of time. I’ve almost crashed my car while having a panic attack. I hate going to the doctor or the barber shop. I can’t do small groups with people I don’t know. I’ve tried so, so hard to go to conferences (I wanted to go to T4G so bad this year!), but I’ve never been able to go through with it. I’m a mess, really.

     It’s not a Matthew 6 or Philippians 4 issue—it’s a physiological issue. | Pre-anxiety-me would probably have scoffed at this. But having an anxiety disorder is not the same thing as being a worrywart. Most people with anxiety don’t go to the doctor and say, “I dunno doc, I can’t stop worrying about stuff.” Most of us go to the doctor with troubling physical symptoms, and only then do we learn that anxiety is the cause. In my case, I went to the doctor thinking I was having a stroke or some major brain issue. In reality, I was having my first panic attack. When the doctor told me it was anxiety I thought he was crazy or that he was not taking me seriously. I was convinced I was experiencing medical trauma! My entire central nervous system was telling me so. And then this guy tells me I have anxiety. It was surreal. I’ve had tons of people tell me that this is their story as well. This is not the same type of anxiety that manifests mainly as nagging worry. We have a mental disorder, not a control problem.

     We know it doesn’t make any sense. | It doesn’t make sense to you—or us, most of the time. It’s called a disorder because it is a disorder—our brains are malfunctioning. We know our thoughts are illogical. We know there is no good reason for our adrenaline to be pumping like we’re running from a T-Rex. We know it’s just the anxiety messing with us. But knowing that doesn’t help a single bit.

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     Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:

     I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

Tim Challies Books:

Seeing Through, Not With, The Eye

By Justin Taylor 10/13/2009

     Ravi Zacharias: “We now learn to listen with our eyes and think with our feelings. . . . We are meant to see through the eye, with the conscience; when we start seeing with the eye devoid of the conscience, all kinds of belief can invade your imagination.”

     This life’s dim windows of the soul
     Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
     And leads you to believe a lie
     When you see with, not through, the eye.

     I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.

     Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences. --- C.S. Lewis

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Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

Are All Your Friends Your Age?

By Calley Sivils 7/17/2017

     It’s a strange thing to see arguments for why an entire demographic of people are “the worst.” But as a member of the “Millennial” generation, it is apparently not only acceptable, but almost trendy (just try googling Millennial and worst). But disesteem doesn’t only run downhill. Many Millennials roll their eyes not only at the clichéd caricatures of themselves they hear from older generations, but at the older generations themselves.

     This is, of course, nothing close to a new phenomenon. Envy, conflict, and disrespect have never been confined to the “neighbors” within our own generation. We all need Jesus to restore relationships not only with those who are near to us, but to those who are different.

     Without Christ’s restorative grace, such intergenerational pride will endure. “But it shall not be so” in Jesus’s church (Mark 10:43). We need each other. And God provides the grace for both young and old to reach out to one another in grace and understanding. The church is not only forties and under (woe to us if it were!). And the church is not only fifties and over (again, woe to us if it were!). God calls, utilizes, and sanctifies his children of all ages.

     Exhortation for Younger Believers | Pride is a species-wide disease for humans, reflective of our enmity with God and inheritance from Adam. However, its manifestations are many and some are subtle and difficult to detect.

     In young people, our pride is often manifested in the illusion that youth is forever. In foolishness, we forget old age. No matter how young you are, old age is coming for you — unless God wills your time be short. Wisdom only comes when God helps us “to number our days” and enables that truth to penetrate our hearts so that we use what time we have wisely and in a manner glorifying to him.

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     Calley Sivils is a college graduate (B.S. Linguistics) growing in love and service to others in a small Missouri town. She writes on her blog, Washedwanderer, and you can reach her on Facebook.

The New/Old Way Our Culture Pressures Us To Conform

By Tim Challies 8/11/2017

     Every culture has certain standards that distinguish good and respectable people from the bad and disreputable people. Every culture has ways of compelling people to adhere to its standards. Some force adherence through guilt, some through fear, and some through shame.

     In a guilt-innocence culture, your standing before others depends upon your level of guilt or innocence. Your reputation is measured by adherence to laws, so nations and cities and even organizations all have their laws carefully codified. If you break one of these laws you enter into a state of guilt and can only have your innocence restored by satisfying the requirements of the laws you’ve broken, perhaps by paying a fine or serving a jail sentence.

     In a fear-power culture, your standing before others depends upon your level of fear or power, especially over gods and spirits. Your reputation is measured by the amount of power you gain and maintain. Fear comes when power has been taken by others or ceded through a failure to conform to society’s expectations. The way to overcome fear is to gain power, perhaps by offering a sacrifice (with the most costly sacrifices gaining the greatest amount of power) or by consulting with a shaman or witch doctor.

     In a shame-honor culture, your standing before others depends upon your level of shame or honor. When you fail to maintain cultural norms, you gain shame and need to restore it with acts of honor. The greater the shame, the greater the act of honor needed to balance the scales. This is why we sometimes hear of honor killings in which a man will murder members of his family. The horror of bearing shame is greater than the horror of slaughtering his own child.

     Every culture has elements of all three, but one always predominates. You probably see that western cultures tend to be guilt-innocence, southern cultures tend to be fear-power, and eastern cultures tend to be shame-honor.

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     Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:

     I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

Tim Challies Books:

When God Messes with Your Life Plan

By Stephen Altrogge 8/14/2017

     Creating life plans is big business these days. For a sum of money, you can hire a Life Coach (Life Guru, Life Master, Life Sensei, whatever it’s called), and they will then help you construct a master life plan. The life plan will probably contain some, or all, of the following items:

  • A grandiose life mission statement, which makes you sound pretty awesome.
  • One-year goals, five-years goals, and life goals.
  • Specific areas of focus in your life (spiritual, physical, familial, etc.).
  • A specific trajectory for your life. In other words, a specific description of where you want to be in five years. Most likely, this will include a specific job, a specific level of income, a specific geographic location, and perhaps a specific body mass index.
     And the reality is, even if you don’t have a formal, written life plan, you have a life plan in your head. We all do. You have an imagined future in your head. You want to have a family, have kids, get a college degree, start a business, travel to Europe, etc. You get the point. I don’t have a formally stated life plan, but I want to accomplish certain things. I want to attain a certain level of comfort and stability for me and my family. I want my life to actually mean something. To reference a well-known author who seems to get quoted a lot on this site, I don’t want to waste my life.

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Stephen Altrogge is a husband, dad, and writer. His most recent book is entitled, Untamable God: Encountering the One Who Is Bigger, Better, and More Dangerous Than You Could Possibly Imagine. He also writes regularly at The Blazing Center.

Stephen Altrogge Books:

The God Who Commands Our Emotions

By John Piper 8/12/2015

     To obey God is to love God, right? Well, it depends on what you mean, as John explained in his message titled “What Jesus Demands from the World” at The Gospel Coalition 2015 conference. Here’s what he said:

     And how many people have you ever heard say, “Loving God or loving Jesus is obeying Jesus”? They base it on the text, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). That text says the exact opposite.

     Conditions | An “if-then” sentence doesn’t say that the then or the if are the same, but “If I am hungry, I will eat lunch” doesn’t mean hunger is lunch. “If you love me, you will obey” doesn’t mean love is obedience. It means, in fact, it comes before and enables — “If you love me, you will obey.” They are not the same.

     Love goes first. Love is underneath, holding up, staying in the yoke, abiding, enjoying, treasuring, marveling, being entranced by, being filled with. And out of that, a good tree bears good fruit. A bad tree bears bad fruit. Make the tree good. That is another command that comes later in the book.

     So my answer to the question, “What is this love?” is, first, that it is not synonymous with obedience.

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     John Piper Books:

Shedd, Plato, and the Nature of Human Thinking

By E.J. Hutchinson 8/13/2017

     In the first chapter of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, “Relation of Sacred Eloquence to Biblical Exegesis,” W.G.T. Shedd discusses what “originality” might mean for the “sacred orator,” for he has just said that the study of sacred revelation does indeed grant an originality to “religious thinking and discourse.”

     Shedd writes: | Originality is a term often employed, rarely defined, and very often misunderstood. It is frequently supposed to be equivalent to the creation of truth. An original mind, it is vulgarly imagined, is one that gives expression to ideas and truths that were never heard of before,–ideas and truths “of which the human mind never had even an intimation or presentiment, and which come into it by a mortal leap, abrupt and startling, without antecedents and without premonitions.”

     But Shedd finds such vulgarizing silly, and its silliness is predicated on a failure to observe the distinction between creature and creator. For creatures, such “originality” is impossible. He goes on:

     But no such originality as this is possible to a finite intelligence. Such aboriginality as this is the prerogative of the Creator alone, and the results of it are a revelation, in the technical and strict sense of the term. Only God can create de nihilo, and only God can make a communication of truth that is absolutely new. Originality in man is always relative, and never absolute.

     Shedd then takes Plato as an example. Shedd gives Plato the highest praise and comments:

     Select, for illustration, an original thinker within the province of philosophy,–select the contemplative, the profound, the ever fresh and living Plato. Thoughtfully peruse his weighty and his musical periods, and ask yourself whether all this wisdom is the sheer make of his intellectual energy, or whether it is not rather an emanation and efflux from a mental constitution which is as much yours as his. He did not absolute originate these first truths of ethics, these necessary forms of logic, these fixed principles of physics. They were inlaid in his rational structure by a higher author, and by an absolute authorship; and his originality consists solely in their exegesis and interpretation. And this is the reason that, on listening to his words, we do not seem to be hearing tones that are wholly unknown and wholly unheard of. We find an answering voice to them in our own mental and moral constitution.

Click here to read all of the article

     E. J. Hutchinson | Associate Professor of Classics, Hillsdale College. Director, Collegiate Scholars Program (formerly Honors Program), Hillsdale College | 33 East College Street | Kendall 211 | Hillsdale, MI 49242

     Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. Ph.D., Classics, 2009. | Dissertation: “Quid facit cum evangeliis Maro?: The Cultural Background of Sedulius' Intertextual Argument with Vergil in the Paschale carmen.”

     Affiliated Fellow, American Academy in Rome, 2005-2006, Classical Summer School, American Academy in Rome, 2004, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. M.A., Classics, 2004, Thesis: “Exegesis and Exclusion: Concepts of Lex in the Apotheosis of Prudentius.”

     Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI. B.A. summa cum laude, Classics (Departmental Honors), 2002.




  • Prayer of 1 or 2
  • Science Discovers God?
  • Atheists vs Evidence

#1 Tim Barnett  
Georgetown Universty


 

#2    
T, P and S


 

#3 Frank Turek   
T, P and S


 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     August 28, 1963. The event: the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., declared: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character…. where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together… I have a dream that one day… the glory of the Lord shall be revealed… when all of God’s children, black and white, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing… ‘Free at Last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’"

American Minute

Is Science the Sole Means
     of Knowing Truth?


     Modern culture esteems science as the preeminent means of understanding the world. If something cannot be established by science, then, according to many, it is either unknowable or simply a matter of personal faith.
     While science is an undeniably important means of discovering truths about our world, and it has contributed greatly to human flourishing, it is unwarranted to claim that it’s the sole—or even the best—means of knowing truth.
     In his excellent book, The Experience of God, philosopher David Bentley Hart provides a penetrating response to the claim that science is the sole means of knowing truth:
     Quite a few otherwise intelligent men and women take it as established principle that we can know as true only what can be verified by empirical method of experimentation and observation. This is, for one thing, a notoriously self-refuting claim, inasmuch as it cannot itself be demonstrated to be true by any application of empirical method.
     More to the point, though, it is transparent nonsense: most of the things we know to be true, often quite indubitably, do not fall within the realm of what can be tested by empirical methods; they are by their nature episodic, experiential, local, personal, intuitive, or purely logical. The sciences concern certain facts as organized by certain theories, and certain theories as constrained by certain facts; they accumulate evidence and enucleate hypotheses within very strictly limited paradigms; but they do not provide proofs of where reality begins or ends, or of what the dimensions of truth are. They cannot even establish their own working premises—the real existence of the phenomenal world, the power of the human intellect accurately to reflect that reality, the perfect lawfulness of nature, its mathematical regularity, and so forth—and should not seek to do so, but should confine themselves to the truths to which their methods give them access.
     They should also recognize what the boundaries of the scientific rescript are. There are, in fact, truths of reason that are far surer than even the most amply supported findings of empirical science because such truths are not, as those findings must always be, susceptible of later theoretical revision; and then there are truths of mathematics that are subject to proof in the most proper sense and so are more irrefutable still. And there is no single discourse of truth as such, no single path to the knowledge of reality, no single method that can exhaustively define what knowledge is, no useful answer whose range has not been limited in advance by the kinds of questions that prompted them.
     The failure to realize this can lead only to the delusions of the kind expressed in, for example, G.G. Simpson’s self-parodying assertion that all attempts to define the meaning of life or the nature of humanity made before 1859 are not entirely worthless, or in Peter Atkin’s ebulliently absurd claims that modern science can “deal with every aspect of existence” and that it has never in fact “encountered a barrier.” Not only do sentiments of this sort verge upon the deranged, they are nothing less than violent assaults upon the truth dignity of science.
     Science is an unbelievably value means of knowing the world. We should never downplay its significance. But, as Hart points out, we should avoid the temptation to overplay its significance as well.

     Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


A man's most glorious actions
will at last be found to be but glorious sins,
if he hath made himself,
and not the glory of God,
the end of those actions.
--- Thomas Brooks


God shall be all in all.
--- John Milton   Paradise Lost (Hackett Classics)


We often learn more of God under the rod that strikes us
than under the staff that comforts us.
--- Stephen Charnock

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     5. Those therefore that were able to find the ways out of the city retired. But now Vespasian always staid among those that were hard set; for he was deeply affected with seeing the ruins of the city falling upon his army, and forgot to take care of his own preservation. He went up gradually towards the highest parts of the city before he was aware, and was left in the midst of dangers, having only a very few with him; for even his son Titus was not with him at that time, having been then sent into Syria to Mucianus. However, he thought it not safe to fly, nor did he esteem it a fit thing for him to do; but calling to mind the actions he had done from his youth, and recollecting his courage, as if he had been excited by a divine fury, he covered himself and those that were with him with their shields, and formed a testudo over both their bodies and their armor, and bore up against the enemy's attacks, who came running down from the top of the city; and without showing any dread at the multitude of the men or of their darts, he endured all, until the enemy took notice of that divine courage that was within him, and remitted of their attacks; and when they pressed less zealously upon him, he retired, though without showing his back to them till he was gotten out of the walls of the city. Now a great number of the Romans fell in this battle, among whom was Ebutius, the decurion, a man who appeared not only in this engagement, wherein he fell, but every where, and in former engagements, to be of the truest courage, and one that had done very great mischief to the Jews. But there was a centurion whose name was Gallus, who, during this disorder, being encompassed about, he and ten other soldiers privately crept into the house of a certain person, where he heard them talking at supper, what the people intended to do against the Romans, or about themselves [for both the man himself and those with him were Syrians]. So he got up in the night time, and cut all their throats, and escaped, together with his soldiers, to the Romans.

     6. And now Vespasian comforted his army, which was much dejected by reflecting on their ill success, and because they had never before fallen into such a calamity, and besides this, because they were greatly ashamed that they had left their general alone in great dangers. As to what concerned himself, he avoided to say any thing, that he might by no means seem to complain of it; but he said that "we ought to bear manfully what usually falls out in war, and this, by considering what the nature of war is, and how it can never be that we must conquer without bloodshed on our own side; for there stands about us that fortune which is of its own nature mutable; that while they had killed so many ten thousands of the Jews, they had now paid their small share of the reckoning to fate; and as it is the part of weak people to be too much puffed up with good success, so is it the part of cowards to be too much affrighted at that which is ill; for the change from the one to the other is sudden on both sides; and he is the best warrior who is of a sober mind under misfortunes, that he may continue in that temper, and cheerfully recover what had been lost formerly; and as for what had now happened, it was neither owing to their own effeminacy, nor to the valor of the Jews, but the difficulty of the place was the occasion of their advantage, and of our disappointment. Upon reflecting on which matter one might blame your zeal as perfectly ungovernable; for when the enemy had retired to their highest fastnesses, you ought to have restrained yourselves, and not, by presenting yourselves at the top of the city, to be exposed to dangers; but upon your having obtained the lower parts of the city, you ought to have provoked those that had retired thither to a safe and settled battle; whereas, in rushing so hastily upon victory, you took no care of your safety. But this incautiousness in war, and this madness of zeal, is not a Roman maxim. While we perform all that we attempt by skill and good order, that procedure is the part of barbarians, and is what the Jews chiefly support themselves by. We ought therefore to return to our own virtue, and to be rather angry than any longer dejected at this unlucky misfortune, and let every one seek for his own consolation from his own hand; for by this means he will avenge those that have been destroyed, and punish those that have killed them. For myself, I will endeavor, as I have now done, to go first before you against your enemies in every engagement, and to be the last that retires from it."

     7. So Vespasian encouraged his army by this speech; but for the people of Gamala, it happened that they took courage for a little while, upon such great and unaccountable success as they had had. But when they considered with themselves that they had now no hopes of any terms of accommodation, and reflecting upon it that they could not get away, and that their provisions began already to be short, they were exceedingly cast down, and their courage failed them; yet did they not neglect what might be for their preservation, so far as they were able, but the most courageous among them guarded those parts of the wall that were beaten down, while the more infirm did the same to the rest of the wall that still remained round the city. And as the Romans raised their banks, and attempted to get into the city a second time, a great many of them fled out of the city through impracticable valleys, where no guards were placed, as also through subterraneous caverns; while those that were afraid of being caught, and for that reason staid in the city, perished for want of food; for what food they had was brought together from all quarters, and reserved for the fighting men.

     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 23:24-25
     by D.H. Stern

24     A righteous person’s father will be filled with joy;
     yes, he whose son is wise will rejoice in him.
25     So let your father and mother be glad;
     let her who gave you birth rejoice.

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


                What’s the good of prayer?

     Lord, teach us to pray. --- Luke 11:1.

     It is not part of the life of a natural man to pray. We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray; I question it. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished, not by food, but by prayer. When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

     
“Ask and ye shall receive.” We grouse before God, we are apologetic or apathetic, but we ask very few things. Yet what a splendid audacity a childlike child has! Our Lord says—“Except ye become as little children.” Ask, and God will do. Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room, and no man will ever do this unless he is at his wits’ end. When a man is at his wits’ end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get into touch with Reality. Be yourself before God and present your problems, the things you know you have come to your wits’ end over. As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.

     It is not so true that “prayer changes things” as that prayer changes me and I change things. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of Redemption alters the way in which a man looks at things. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man’s disposition.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

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


                The One Furrow (Song At The Year's Turning)

When I was young, I went to school
  With pencil and foot-rule
  Sponge and slate,
  And sat on a tall stool
  At learning's gate.

When I was older, the gate swung wide;
  Clever and keen-eyed
  In I pressed,
  But found in the mind's pride
  No peace, no rest.

Then who was it taught me back to go
  To cattle and barrow,
  Field and plough;
  To keep to the one furrow,
  As I do now?


Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     D’RASH


     There is an old Yiddish saying: “Shikker iz a goy,” meaning “Only a gentile gets drunk.” It seems to encapsulate an attitude that Jews were not susceptible to the dangers of alcohol, that though Kiddush wine and schnapps were a part of Jewish culture, Jews knew “when to say when.”

     Abraham Joshua Heschel makes a similar point in his book about eastern European Jewry, The Earth Is the Lord's: The Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe (Jewish Lights Classic Reprint):

     Drunkards were rarely seen among Jews. When night came and a man wanted to pass away time, he did not hasten to a tavern to take a drink, but went to pore over a book or joined a group which—either with or without a teacher—revered books, (p. 45)

     Was this an idealized view of the traditional world of the shtetl? Does nostalgia make us see that world through rose-colored glasses? Or did Jews throughout the past struggle with wine and liquor just as everyone else did? After all, according to the Midrash, Aaron’s two sons died because of their abuse of alcohol, and the Book of Proverbs probably wouldn’t have spent time warning people about the dangers of drink if that danger hadn’t been a very real one.

     Rabbi Isaac Trainin, in the introduction to the book Addictions in the Jewish Community, reports that in the early 1950s banquet managers in New York City hotels were unable to bring down the cost of kosher dinners; they made their money on liquor sales and, as they explained, “Jews don’t drink.” Twenty years later, the same banquet managers were actually soliciting Jewish business. Why the change? “You Jews drink like everyone else now.” Today, Jews are to be found in significant numbers at AA meetings, in alcohol detox facilities, and in all manner of therapeutic situations seeking to battle the disease of alcoholism and the devastation of drinking.

     Even if we believe that the values of Judaism and the cohesiveness of the Jewish community once kept Jews immune from drinking problems, that is certainly no longer the case. Over the course of the twentieth century, Jews became more and more a part of the larger American culture, and ties to their religion and people were weakened. Behaviors that were once not spoken about—such as domestic violence, gambling, and drug abuse—were now as commonplace within the Jewish community as they were in the outside world.

     Drinking in the time of the shtetl took place in the tavern after a long day of work. Today, when a Jew is tempted to imbibe, it is in very different situations. Drinking to excess has become a part of the culture on many college campuses. It is not limited to weekend fraternity parties, but for vast numbers of students becomes a daily routine. Since going off to college is an almost universal phenomenon among Jewish high school seniors, the exposure to binge drinking will continue to increase.

     Even sadder is what takes place at many Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations. It is an almost routine “game” at many of these parties for thirteen-year-olds to try and obtain hard liquor by any means possible. This includes from parents, who want to be thought of as “good guys,” or from bartenders who are worn down saying “No” over and over again, or even by kids stealing a bottle when no one is looking. How ironic that a lifetime problem with alcohol may begin at a function meant to mark the coming of age and maturity of a Jewish teenager.

     While the drunk has his eye on his cup, we—the parents, we—the Jewish community, need to keep our eyes set on the drunk.

     ANOTHER D’RASH

     “No, you cannot.”

     “What do you mean, ‘No, you cannot’? It’s my car, and I’ll drive it if I want.”

     “It’s your car, but you’re my friend. You had a couple of drinks—fine, that’s what people do at parties. But I can’t let you drive home like this. So the answer remains ‘No.’ You may not have the keys to your car back.”

     Who are our friends? Whom do we trust? Sometimes, it’s hard for us to see what they see. At times, a friend may be doing us a favor by denying us what we want. At other times, a “friend” may do exactly what we ask but may actually be looking out for his or her best interests, and not ours. This is especially true when our own ability to reason is impaired.

     This Midrash text is reminding us to keep our eyes open, to be careful of those who would give us what we want, because this may not always be in our own best interest. There is a prayer that asks God to grant us not what we want, but what we need. The friend who takes our keys away when we are impaired and unable to drive with full faculties is doing just that. The relative who tells us “No” when we want to hear “Yes” may be doing us a favor, though we may be too emotionally impaired to comprehend this at the time.

     The Rabbis who wrote the Midrash were not cynical or pessimistic. It would be best to call them realistic. They knew that when one person is defenseless, there will be another person who is willing to advantage by saying, “Hey, he was asking for it.” Thus, our challenge is twofold: to watch out for the best interests of others when their judgment is lacking and to keep our wits about us when we are vulnerable.


Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 28

     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.

     What Saint Paul said to the people of Athens Christ says to everybody, to you and me and all these multitudes. (
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.) He comes to you and says it: You are restless, always on the brink of something that you never reach, always on the point of grasping something that eludes you, always haunted by something that makes it impossible for you to settle down into absolute rest. I tell you what it means. It is God with you. It is Immanuel. His presence it is that will not let you be at peace. You don’t see him, but he is close by you. You never will have peace until you do see him and turn to him to find the peace that he will not let you find away from him. “Come to me,… and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). That was the revelation of the Incarnation. Listen, how across all the centuries you can hear the Savior giving that revelation, that interpretation of their own troubled lives to multitudes; now to Nicodemus, now to the Samaritan woman, now to Pontius Pilate, and all along, every day, to his disciples by what they saw from hour to hour of his peace in his Father.

     Listen again. Hear Christ giving the same revelation today, and ask yourself this: “If it were true, if God in his perfection, with his perfect standards in himself, with his perfect hopes for me, God in his complete holiness and his complete love—if he were here close to me, only separated from me by the thin veil of my blindness, wouldn’t it explain everything in my life?” There is the everlasting question, my dear friends, to which there is only one answer. What else can explain this mysterious, bewildering, fluttering, hoping, fearing, dreaming, dreading, waiting, human life—what but this, which is the Incarnation truth, that God from whom this life came is always close to it, that he is always doing what he can do for it, even when people do not see him, and that he cannot do for them all his love would do only because of the veil that hangs between him and them? “Not far from each one of us”—there is the secret of our lives—weak and wicked because we will not live with God; restless, unable to be at peace in our weakness and wickedness, because God is not far from us.
--- Phillips Brooks


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

On This Day
     A Hymnbook Under His Arm  August 28

     Levi (Matthew) wasn’t the only tax collector to follow Christ into full-time ministry. Ira Sankey did, too. Sankey was born on August 28, 1840, in a small Pennsylvania town. His family later moved to New Castle, where his father became president of a local bank. Ira served in the Union Army during the Civil War, then returned home to serve as the local internal revenue collector.

     His real love, however, was singing, and he was in demand through Pennsylvania and Ohio as a soloist at meetings. His father, hoping he would enter politics, complained, “I am afraid that boy will never amount to anything. All he does is run about the country with a hymnbook under his arm.” His mother replied that she would rather see him with a hymnbook under his arm than a whisky bottle in his pocket.

     In 1870 Ira attended the national convention of the YMCA, meeting in Indianapolis. One of the convention sessions was dragging along so badly that Ira offered to lead some hymns. At the end of the session, he was approached by a big, burly man who pelted him with questions. “Where are you from? What is your business? Are you married?”

     When Sankey told him he was married, lived in Pennsylvania, and worked for the government, the man abruptly announced, “You will have to give that up.”

     “What for?” asked Sankey in amazement.

     “To come to Chicago and help me in my work.”

     Sankey replied that he could not possibly leave his business. To this, the man said, “You must; I have been looking for you for the last eight years.”

     Thus began one of the most famous partnerships in evangelistic history—D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey. For the next quarter century, Moody and Sankey traveled around the world. As Moody preached the Gospel, Sankey sang solos, conducted the singing, and composed music for the Gospel hymns. His Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs and Solos sold over 50 million copies. He became his generation’s most beloved Gospel singer.

     Once again, Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee. A large crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he walked along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus. Levi was sitting at the place for paying taxes, and Jesus said to him,
“Come with me!” So he got up and went with Jesus.
--- Mark 2:13,14.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 28

     “Oil for the light.”
--- Exodus 25:6.

     My soul, how much thou needest this, for thy lamp will not long continue to burn without it. Thy snuff will smoke and become an offence if light be gone, and gone it will be if oil be absent. Thou hast no oil well springing up in thy human nature, and therefore thou must go to them that sell and buy for thyself, or like the foolish virgins, thou wilt have to cry, “My lamp is gone out.” Even the consecrated lamps could not give light without oil; though they shone in the tabernacle they needed to be fed, though no rough winds blew upon them they required to be trimmed, and thy need is equally as great. Under the most happy circumstances thou canst not give light for another hour unless fresh oil of grace be given thee.

     It was not every oil that might be used in the Lord’s service; neither the petroleum which exudes so plentifully from the earth, nor the produce of fishes, nor that extracted from nuts would be accepted; one oil only was selected, and that the best olive oil. Pretended grace from natural goodness, fancied grace from priestly hands, or imaginary grace from outward ceremonies will never serve the true saint of God; he knows that the Lord would not be pleased with rivers of such oil. He goes to the olive-press of Gethsemane, and draws his supplies from him who was crushed therein. The oil of Gospel grace is pure and free from lees and dregs, and hence the light which is fed thereon is clear and bright. Our churches are the Saviour’s golden candelabra, and if they are to be lights in this dark world, they must have much holy oil. Let us pray for ourselves, our ministers, and our churches, that they may never lack oil for the light. Truth, holiness, joy, knowledge, love, these are all beams of the sacred light, but we cannot give them forth unless in private we receive oil from God the Holy Ghost.


          Evening - August 28

     “Sing, O barren.” --- Isaiah 54:1.

     Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ, and have a joyful hope that we are “plants of his own right hand planting,” yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, requiring the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? The text is addressed to us in just such a state. “Sing, O barren, break forth and cry aloud.” But what can I sing about? I cannot talk about the present, and even the past looks full of barrenness. Ah! I can sing of Jesus Christ. I can talk of visits which the Redeemer has aforetimes paid to me; or if not of these, I can magnify the great love wherewith he loved his people when he came from the heights of heaven for their redemption. I will go to the cross again. Come, my soul, heavy laden thou wast once, and thou didst lose thy burden there. Go to Calvary again.

     Perhaps that very cross which gave thee life may give thee fruitfulness. What is my barrenness? It is the platform for his fruit-creating power. What is my desolation? It is the black setting for the sapphire of his everlasting love. I will go in poverty, I will go in helplessness, I will go in all my shame and backsliding, I will tell him that I am still his child, and in confidence in his faithful heart, even I, the barren one, will sing and cry aloud.

     Sing, believer, for it will cheer thine own heart, and the hearts of other desolate ones. Sing on, for now that thou art really ashamed of being barren, thou wilt be fruitful soon; now that God makes thee loath to be without fruit he will soon cover thee with clusters. The experience of our barrenness is painful, but the Lord’s visitations are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in him is our fruit found.

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

Amazing Grace
     August 28

          ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOR LEADS ME

     Fanny J. Crosby, 1820–1915

     For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14)

     Often we become discouraged because we cannot see God’s long range plan of guidance for our lives. We need to remember that God has promised to guide our steps, not the miles ahead. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23).

     This beloved hymn came from the grateful heart of Fanny Crosby after she had received a direct answer to her prayer. One day when she desperately needed five dollars and had no idea where she could obtain it, Fanny followed her usual custom and began to pray about the matter. A few minutes later a stranger appeared at her door with the exact amount. “I have no way of accounting for this,” she said, “except to believe that God put it into the heart of this good man to bring the money. My first thought was that it is so wonderful the way the Lord leads me, I immediately wrote the poem and Dr. Lowry set it to music.” The hymn was first published in 1875.

     No one knows the importance of guided steps as much as a blind person like Fanny Crosby, who lost her sight at six weeks of age through improper medical treatment. A sightless person is keenly aware that there will be stumbling and uncertainty as he continues on his way. As Fanny wrote, “Cheers each winding path I tread, gives me grace for every trial,” she has reminded us that God has never promised to keep us from hard places or obstacles in life. He has assured us, however, that He will go with us, guide each step, and give the necessary grace.

     All the way my Savior leads me; what have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my Guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
     All the way my Savior leads me, cheers each winding path I tread, gives me grace for ev’ry trial, feeds me with the living bread. Though my weary steps may falter, and my soul athirst may be, gushing from the Rock before me, lo! a spring of joy I see.
     All the way my Savior leads me; Oh, the fullness of His love! Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above. When my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its flight to realms of day, this my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way.


     For Today: Psalm 32:8; John 10:3–5; Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 10:4

     Ask God to help you find that “perfect rest” in every stressful situation, confident that He is guiding your every step. Sing this musical truth ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Monday, August 28, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 16, Monday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning) Psalm 1, 2, 3
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 4, 7
Old Testament 1 Kings 1:5–31
New Testament Acts 26:1–23
Gospel Mark 13:14–27

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 1, 2, 3

Psalm 1

1 Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the LORD has them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,
with trembling 12 kiss his feet,
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 3
A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.

1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying to me,
“There is no help for you in God.” Selah

3 But you, O LORD, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
4 I cry aloud to the LORD,
and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah

5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
6 I am not afraid of ten thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

7 Rise up, O LORD!
Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

8 Deliverance belongs to the LORD;
may your blessing be on your people! Selah

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 4, 7

Psalm 4
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

4 When you are disturbed, do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.

6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Let the light of your face shine on us, O LORD!”
7 You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.

8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.

Psalm 7
A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjaminite.

1 O LORD my God, in you I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,
2 or like a lion they will tear me apart;
they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.

3 O LORD my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my ally with harm
or plundered my foe without cause,
5 then let the enemy pursue and overtake me,
trample my life to the ground,
and lay my soul in the dust. Selah

6 Rise up, O LORD, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake, O my God; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered around you,
and over it take your seat on high.
8 The LORD judges the peoples;
judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.

9 O let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
but establish the righteous,
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God.
10 God is my shield,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
and a God who has indignation every day.

12 If one does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and strung his bow;
13 he has prepared his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 See how they conceive evil,
and are pregnant with mischief,
and bring forth lies.
15 They make a pit, digging it out,
and fall into the hole that they have made.
16 Their mischief returns upon their own heads,
and on their own heads their violence descends.

17 I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness,
and sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.

Old Testament
1 Kings 1:5–31

5 Now Adonijah son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king”; he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6 His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. 7 He conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with the priest Abiathar, and they supported Adonijah. 8 But the priest Zadok, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the prophet Nathan, and Shimei, and Rei, and David’s own warriors did not side with Adonijah.

9 Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fatted cattle by the stone Zoheleth, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, 10 but he did not invite the prophet Nathan or Benaiah or the warriors or his brother Solomon.

11 Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, “Have you not heard that Adonijah son of Haggith has become king and our lord David does not know it? 12 Now therefore come, let me give you advice, so that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13 Go in at once to King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne? Why then is Adonijah king?’ 14 Then while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.”

15 So Bathsheba went to the king in his room. The king was very old; Abishag the Shunammite was attending the king. 16 Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king, and the king said, “What do you wish?” 17 She said to him, “My lord, you swore to your servant by the LORD your God, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne. 18 But now suddenly Adonijah has become king, though you, my lord the king, do not know it. 19 He has sacrificed oxen, fatted cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the children of the king, the priest Abiathar, and Joab the commander of the army; but your servant Solomon he has not invited. 20 But you, my lord the king—the eyes of all Israel are on you to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21 Otherwise it will come to pass, when my lord the king sleeps with his ancestors, that my son Solomon and I will be counted offenders.”

22 While she was still speaking with the king, the prophet Nathan came in. 23 The king was told, “Here is the prophet Nathan.” When he came in before the king, he did obeisance to the king, with his face to the ground. 24 Nathan said, “My lord the king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne’? 25 For today he has gone down and has sacrificed oxen, fatted cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s children, Joab the commander of the army, and the priest Abiathar, who are now eating and drinking before him, and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But he did not invite me, your servant, and the priest Zadok, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon. 27  Has this thing been brought about by my lord the king and you have not let your servants know who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”

28 King David answered, “Summon Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. 29 The king swore, saying, “As the LORD lives, who has saved my life from every adversity, 30 as I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so will I do this day.” 31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground, and did obeisance to the king, and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”

New Testament
Acts 26:1–23

26 Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and began to defend himself:

2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews; therefore I beg of you to listen to me patiently.

4 “All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, 7 a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

9 “Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. 11 By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.

12 “With this in mind, I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 when at midday along the road, your Excellency, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my companions. 14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.’ 15 I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you. 17 I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “After that, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout the countryside of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: 23 that the Messiah must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

Gospel
Mark 13:14–27

14 “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 15 the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; 16 the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 17 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. 21 And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘Look! There he is!’—do not believe it. 22 False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be alert; I have already told you everything.

24 “But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

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