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     Daniel 1 - 3

Daniel 1

Daniel Taken to Babylon

Daniel 1 1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

Daniel’s Faithfulness

8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Daniel 2

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Daniel 2 1 In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. 2 Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3 And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” 4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. 6 But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” 7 They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” 8 The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm— 9 if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

12 Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. 14 Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. 16 And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king.

God Reveals Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

17 Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 20 Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21  He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22  he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
23  To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

24 Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”

25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

Daniel Interprets the Dream

31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

Daniel Is Promoted

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.

Daniel 3

Esther Saves the Jews

Daniel 3 1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” 7 Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

The Fiery Furnace

8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9 They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

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What I'm Reading

Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/30/2016

     Much has been written about both the illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself. I’m going to organize the recent findings in a way that illuminates the problem:

     Research Related to Spiritual Life of Teenagers:

     Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

     Book Findings: The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’: A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and good people go to heaven when they die.

     Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church

     Book Findings: Dean affirms what Soul Searching called ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”

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

Where to Bring Your Broken Heart

By Josh Squires 8/12/2017

     “Help. My heart is broken.”

     This is one of the most common refrains in my counseling ministry. There are many causes: love unrequited, jobs lost, dreams quashed, spouses and children taken. No matter its roots, the pain is unbearably similar for its sufferers. And the question that hangs over it all is this: “Now what?”

     Weep Well | Grief is an act as well as a feeling. When hearts are broken, cheeks should be wet. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. There is something about weeping that is incredibly scary. It’s a vulnerable act that floods our thoughts and feelings, leaving us fatigued. Little wonder then that people avoid it like the plague, or feel that they need to make an excuse for it.

     But Scripture itself does not take such a negative view on mourning. God does not tell his children to “dry it up!” Rather, God stores our tears in his bottle (Psalm 56:8). In an ancient, arid land where bottles were not a dime a dozen, only precious things were kept in bottles. Even more, God himself weeps and makes no apology for it (Luke 19:41–44John 11:35). When God finds his heart hurting, his cheeks are not dry, and you should not be ashamed if yours aren’t either.

     It’s not enough to merely give our emotions vent; they need to be shepherded (Psalm 120:1130:1). Christians are not merely those who weep, but those who weep well. It is not true that our stress, sadness, anger, and negative emotions just need an emotional outlet to release the pressure. This “hydraulic” view of the affections often does more harm than good — before we know it, we can barely put our emotional kettle on the burner before the whistle begins to wail for relief.

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     Josh Squires (@jsquires12) serves as pastor of counseling and congregational care at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He and his wife have five children.

What Can Christians Learn from the Apostolic Fathers? Interview with Author Ken Berding

By Sean McDowell 8/3/2017

     Dr. Ken Berding is a colleague of mine at Biola University. Like me, he is very interested in the Apostolic Fathers. He recently wrote a brief and interesting introduction to the Apostolic Fathers called The Apostolic Fathers: A Narrative Introduction, which is different from any other book of its kind. Professor Berding was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about some of the earliest church fathers and his recent book. Enjoy!

     SEAN MCDOWELL: I've been reading your new book on the Apostolic Fathers. Can you tell us who the Apostolic Fathers are and why they are important?

     KEN BERDING: I’m so glad you’re reading the book! The Apostolic Fathers are a name given in the modern era to the earliest Christian writers who wrote just after the age of the apostles. Their writings span A.D. 95-160. They include 1 Clement, the letters of Ignatius, Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians, The Didache, fragments from Papias, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Letter of Barnabas (not Paul’s co-worker), 2 Clement, Diognetus, and The Martyrdom of Polycarp. Why are they important? The reason they’re important is because of how early they were written. Some of these authors actually knew apostles or companions of apostles. If we could talk to them, they could answer many questions (and actually did answer a few of them in their writings!) that get asked about the apostolic age. They also help us observe early developments in Christian doctrine and church polity. Besides, they’re really interesting…for the most part…

     MCDOWELL: The back cover of your book claims, "The Apostolic Fathers: A Narrative Introduction is the most engaging introduction to the Apostolic Fathers you will ever read." Most introductions to ancient texts aren't very interesting. What makes this different?

     BERDING: There are two things that make this introduction to the Apostolic Fathers different from anything else out there. First, and perhaps most important, it’s short! The crucial things you need to know about these writings, including key excerpts from their writings, are included in the book. Second, it’s a story—and everyone loves a story. We know that Polycarp hid from the police in a country-house just outside Smyrna during the week before he was captured and burned at the stake in Smyrna. This book imagines the conversations he had with his friends about the Christian writings composed during Polycarp’s lifetime. (He lived through the entire period.) This book is different because it’s easy to read since it is written in story form.

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     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, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell Books:

Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter

Unclean: Leviticus and Total Depravity

By Steven J. Lawson 8/12/2017

     The word unclean is used more than one hundred times in Leviticus 11–15. It is an apt description of the condition of the people; they were morally unclean because of their failure to obey God’s commands. The law of Moses was issued, first and foremost, to reveal the holiness of God. The Ten Commandments, as well as the ceremonial and civil laws, were designed to keep God’s people distinct from the surrounding idolatrous nations. These laws made a clear distinction between what was clean and unclean. But Israel could not keep these laws perfectly. As a result, the people were spiritually unclean, each and every one of them:

     For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten. —Leviticus 11:44–47.

     In this representative text, God called His people to be holy, separated from all that is unclean (19:2; 20:7, 26). Through dietary laws and religious rituals, God was teaching them the necessity of being set apart from the defilements of the world. MacArthur comments, “Sacrifices, rituals, diet, and even clothing and cooking are all carefully ordered by God to teach them that they are to live differently from everyone else. This is to be an external illustration for the separation from sin in their hearts.” But no one could keep these laws and regulations perfectly; to break one point of the law was to be guilty of it all (James 2:10). The law was a continual reminder to the Israelites of their uncleanness as they stood before their holy God. Every part of the divine law was an indictment of their sinfulness. Thus, the law testified to their moral separation from God.

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     Steven J. Lawson is president of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to bring about biblical reformation in the church today, as well as the Professor of Preaching in the masters and doctoral programs at The Master's Seminary, Sun Valley, California. Steven J. Lawson Books:

The Human Condition And Christian Psychology

By Andrew Fulford 7/8/2017

     Since Jay Adams and no doubt earlier, the Christian world has been arguing amongst itself over the relationship between its faith and the modern science of psychology. And this is not only a disciplinary division issue, for the modern field of inquiry has experienced a history of its own, with influential luminaries who not only searched for answers, but promulgated ones they thought they found. Many of those answers were not in agreement with the Christian faith, though some were. So the church finds itself needing to do critical and correlational work with the situation.

     Beyond this question, Christianity makes claims about the human soul and its experience. And since the religion is doctrinally diverse, with pluriformity and even famous disagreement, its not surprising to find that specific Christians and Christian traditions make very different claims about the human condition. This is done both in a catechetical context and in apologetic, or evangelistic ones. Yet, we think that as ever, all our communication, even catechetical and apologetic, needs to be examined in light of reality and of scripture, and that not every past or contemporary commonplace can survive that scrutiny. Below we discuss both of these issues in brief.

     The Real Experienced Condition Of The Human Race

     Assuming a natural law and biblical approach to ethics, a fundamental axiom would be that the right and the good are identical, and that in principle we are directed toward what is good for us, with good being understood at base as “that which is desirable.” Yet, these traditions also acknowledge that it is possible for our desires to be twisted, such that we anticipate and receive pleasure in things that are ultimately not good for us in the objective sense. When Christians interact on issues of ethics, we sometimes don’t acknowledge this point, or if we do, we don’t do it very clearly. Sometimes we can switch into a kind of Kantian mode, where we simply issue prohibitions toward behaviour that people find pleasure in, without any acknowledgement or sense that the right is supposed to be ultimately the most pleasurable thing to do (at least, if things are functioning properly). A big scandal of Christian moral teaching is the secret Kantianism (what’s fun is bad) of much of it, which shrewd unbelievers are very quick to discern and understandably reject.

     But the Christian claim is not simply that refraining from sin in the face of strong desires will bring more joy than engaging in sin. It is rather more specific: it’s that if one is regenerate, and if one is living out that regeneration with a fundamental psychological desire for God, and if one is walking with Christ in such a way that that desire is stoked (and by God’s grace, satisfied), then one would be happier in refraining from sin than in practicing it. But we’re not required to make a definitive claim about what would make people happier apart from those conditions being met.

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     andrew.fulford@mail.mcgill.ca | Andrew Fulford (McGill University) received his MA in Theology from the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, where his research focused on contemporary theological approaches to the interpretation of the Bible. His current research interests are in the relationship between the Anglican theologian Richard Hooker and several subjects of contemporary interest: “the secular”, the use of reason in religion and religious disputes, and the psychology of radicalization and deradicalization. He will be presenting a paper on Hooker’s religious epistemology and apologetical method at the upcoming Sixteenth Century Society meeting.

You Will Never See Death

By John Piper 5/14/2011

     God directed you to this sermon, I believe, so that you would know, first, that you don’t have to die, and, second, so that you would know that Jesus, who makes this promise to you, is God — the God of Israel, the God of all. And, third, you are here because God wants you to see the implication for your life of knowing you will not die.

     Out of Tragedy, Greatness | There is another great reality in John 8:48–59 — namely, the opposition Jesus gets from the Jews.

     The purpose of showing the opposition in this text is not because it’s pleasant to watch. It is tragic to watch. These are his own people calling him demonized. The reason for describing the opposition is that it’s the opposition that brings out the greatness — the mystery — of who Jesus is. They demand it. Look at the end of verse 53: “Who do you make yourself out to be?” And it’s the final answer to that question that brings this story to a fierce conclusion, because they take up stones — their form of capital punishment for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16) — and Jesus hid himself, because his time was not yet come, and stoning was not the way he must die.

     Deity and Deathlessness | So let’s take two of the great realities in this text — the deity of Jesus and the deathlessness of his followers — and open them up with the help of the opposition that they receive in this text. And let’s discover the astonishing implication of our deathlessness for our lives.

     The text starts with opposition because the conflict in the first part of the chapter has already been intense. It ends in verse 47 with Jesus’s words: “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” So they have already shown themselves deaf to the meaning of Jesus’s words. His words only offend them.

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     John Piper Books:

Taking God’s Keys The keys of the kingdom also unlock the joys of your calling.

By Dallas Willard 8/28/2017

     Editor's note: | Acknowledging the tension between a professional life and a ministerial one for many pastors, Dallas Willard offers some counsel today to reignite the energy and joy of serving in the kingdom. We think that his words transcend the pastoral vocation and speak to all of us who serve the Lord wherever the byways and hedges happen to be.

     “Imagine,” Dallas writes, “a man who carefully kept his doors locked and his keys in hand but who never went into his house! Having access to the kingdom, living in it, is what matters.” May you unlock that door with confidence and joy this week! —Renovaré Team

     Every pastor, sooner or later, faces the contradictory demands of being a professional and being in ministry.

     A professional has a schedule to keep, credentials to maintain, a career ladder to ascend. Urgent details crowd out solitude, service, and the deepening of a relationship with God. A life of simplicity and ministry to souls is elbowed aside by ambition and expectation.

     Like doctors, lawyers, and other professionals today, pastors often feel their working conditions conflict with their calling. Heightened frustration leads to decreasing strength, peace, and joy.

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Dallas Willard Books:

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God
The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives
Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God
How God is in Business
Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ
The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus
Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God
The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus&8217;s Essential Teachings on Discipleship
Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence)
Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks
The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation
Knowing Christ Today
Getting Love Right

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 95

Let Us Sing Songs of Praise

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

ESV Study Bible

Heralding the Good News

By R.C. Sproul Jr. 6/01/2012

     It is false to say that what we don’t know can’t hurt us, especially when it comes to the Bible. If ever there were anything we need to know, it is the very Word of God. That said, what is in all likelihood worse than what we don’t know about the Bible is what we do know that just isn’t so. Consider the Great Commission.

     This, of course, is something we ought to be infinitely familiar with. These are not just the words of Jesus, as if that weren’t enough, but the “last” words of Jesus, His parting command just before He ascends to His heavenly throne. Not only that, but, as we might expect, what He commands is of eternal consequence. Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to wash behind their ears or to remember to send thank-you cards after Christmas. No, Jesus tells His disciples to bring in the lost, to go to the four corners of the world that all the elect might be redeemed, forgiven, adopted.

     And that’s where we stop. It is not only true, but a vital truth, that the Great Commission includes the call to preach the good news, to tell others about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, to call all men everywhere to repent. It is also vitally true that this is not at all the whole of the Great Commission.

     Perhaps because we are selfish, or perhaps because we live in an era of cultural decline, too many in the church have adopted a narrow view of the gospel . Jesus, I am told, came to save my soul. Once that is accomplished, my sole calling is to be used by Him to seek the salvation of others. If God should so bless, these new believers in turn have as their sole calling the winning of still more souls. The good news, under this perspective, is that Jesus came to save sinners.

     Yes, of course, Jesus came to save sinners. However, He did not come just to save souls. He came to save bodies. He came to save families. He came to save churches. He came to save communities. He came to save nations. He came to save, to redeem, to remake the whole groaning creation. He calls us, the church, His bride, to be the Eve to His Adam, a help suitable to Him in the great work of dominion.

     We need not leave the Great Commission to see this. The command, along with the fullness of the gospel, is there already. We are called here to make disciples of the nations. Now some might argue that this still focuses on the winning of souls. “Nations,” in this view, isn’t the political or cultural institutions of a given land. Instead, it refers to the need to take the message to the outermost parts of the world. We are not to sit on our haunches, content that we and our kindred are redeemed, but we are to cross land and sea, seeking by the Spirit to make children of hell into the children of God.

     Fair enough. Even if this part of the Great Commission is focused on soul winning, what do we do with the next part — “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded”? Jesus certainly commanded throughout His earthly ministry that we repent, that we believe on His name. But is that all that He commanded? Did He not also command us to be meek, to be peacemakers, to mourn? He commanded that we should hunger and thirst for righteousness. He, in turn, told us where to find that righteousness, reminding us that not one jot or tittle of the law would pass away. He taught us to pray that His kingdom would come on earth as it has in heaven. How would we know such was happening? Because His will would be done here, as it is there.

     Our labors, then, in instructing the found, in calling them toward godliness, in pursuing obedience, are not distractions from the Great Commission but fulfillments of it. Of course, we must seek His righteousness, that righteousness that can become ours only by the faith He must first give us. But we are called also to seek His kingdom. That kingdom, as the Lord’s Prayer demonstrates, is not just an invisible realm within the hearts of believers. Rather, it is everywhere, especially where His own joyfully confess Him.

     Discipling the nations, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded, then, isn’t polishing the brass on a sinking ship. It is instead cultivating the mustard seed. A failure to disciple the nations even as we evangelize them, on the other hand, isn’t to be about the most important work. It is instead to run the ship aground.

     The social gospel was all social and no gospel. Mere pietism, on the other hand, is impious. We are to proclaim the lordship of Christ over our souls, over our bodies, over our families, over our churches, over our communities, over our nations, over the whole of the groaning creation. So, let us repent and preach the good news, that the kingdom of God has come, that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father, and that of the increase of His government there will be no end.

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     R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.

R.C. Sproul Jr. Books

  • Lecture 21 Psa 2, 110
  • L22 Psa 110
  • L23 Rhetorical Approach

#1   Dr. Bruce Waltke


#2    Dr. Bruce Waltke


#3    Dr. Bruce Waltke


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Imprisoned for twelve years, his crime: preaching without a license from the Anglican Church. But injustice turned to good for during this time the classic book  The Pilgrim's Progress (Penguin Classics)  was penned by John Bunyan, who died this day, August 31, 1688. It’s a story of a man who flees the City of Destruction, and is directed by Evangelist to follow a narrow path to the City of Zion. The friends and dangers he meets along the way inspired the modern story of the Wizard of Oz. Translated into over one hundred languages, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations. was found in every home in colonial America, along with the Bible.

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Trust God, who is one,
and not the world because it is many.
--- J.B. Lightfoot

My heart hath often been deeply afflicted under a feeling that the standard of pure righteousness is not lifted up to the people by us, as a society, in that clearness which it might have been, had we been as faithful as we ought to be to the teachings of Christ.
--- John Woolman

A proud faith is as much a contradiction as a humble devil.
--- Stephen Charnock

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.
--- John Wooden

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 3.

     Concerning John Of Gischala. Concerning The Zealots And The High Priest Ananus; As Also How The Jews Raise Seditions One Against Another [In Jerusalem].

     1. Now upon John's entry into Jerusalem, the whole body of the people were in an uproar, and ten thousand of them crowded about every one of the fugitives that were come to them, and inquired of them what miseries had happened abroad, when their breath was so short, and hot, and quick, that of itself it declared the great distress they were in; yet did they talk big under their misfortunes, and pretended to say that they had not fled away from the Romans, but came thither in order to fight them with less hazard; for that it would be an unreasonable and a fruitless thing for them to expose themselves to desperate hazards about Gischala, and such weak cities, whereas they ought to lay up their weapons and their zeal, and reserve it for their metropolis. But when they related to them the taking of Gischala, and their decent departure, as they pretended, from that place, many of the people understood it to be no better than a flight; and especially when the people were told of those that were made captives, they were in great confusion, and guessed those things to be plain indications that they should be taken also. But for John, he was very little concerned for those whom he had left behind him, but went about among all the people, and persuaded them to go to war, by the hopes he gave them. He affirmed that the affairs of the Romans were in a weak condition, and extolled his own power. He also jested upon the ignorance of the unskillful, as if those Romans, although they should take to themselves wings, could never fly over the wall of Jerusalem, who found such great difficulties in taking the villages of Galilee, and had broken their engines of war against their walls.

     2. These harangues of John's corrupted a great part of the young men, and puffed them up for the war; but as to the more prudent part, and those in years, there was not a man of them but foresaw what was coming, and made lamentation on that account, as if the city was already undone; and in this confusion were the people. But then it must be observed, that the multitude that came out of the country were at discord before the Jerusalem sedition began; for Titus went from Gischala to Cesates, and Vespasian from Cesarea to Jamnia and Azotus, and took them both; and when he had put garrisons into them, he came back with a great number of the people, who were come over to him, upon his giving them his right hand for their preservation. There were besides disorders and civil wars in every city; and all those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their hands one against another. There was also a bitter contest between those that were fond of war, and those that were desirous for peace. At the first this quarrelsome temper caught hold of private families, who could not agree among themselves; after which those people that were the dearest to one another brake through all restraints with regard to each other, and every one associated with those of his own opinion, and began already to stand in opposition one to another; so that seditions arose every where, while those that were for innovations, and were desirous of war, by their youth and boldness, were too hard for the aged and prudent men. And, in the first place, all the people of every place betook themselves to rapine; after which they got together in bodies, in order to rob the people of the country, insomuch that for barbarity and iniquity those of the same nation did no way differ from the Romans; nay, it seemed to be a much lighter thing to be ruined by the Romans than by themselves.

     3. Now the Roman garrisons, which guarded the cities, partly out of their uneasiness to take such trouble upon them, and partly out of the hatred they bare to the Jewish nation, did little or nothing towards relieving the miserable, till the captains of these troops of robbers, being satiated with rapines in the country, got all together from all parts, and became a band of wickedness, and all together crept into Jerusalem, which was now become a city without a governor, and, as the ancient custom was, received without distinction all that belonged to their nation; and these they then received, because all men supposed that those who came so fast into the city came out of kindness, and for their assistance, although these very men, besides the seditions they raised, were otherwise the direct cause of the city's destruction also; for as they were an unprofitable and a useless multitude, they spent those provisions beforehand which might otherwise have been sufficient for the fighting men. Moreover, besides the bringing on of the war, they were the occasions of sedition and famine therein.

     4. There were besides these other robbers that came out of the country, and came into the city, and joining to them those that were worse than themselves, omitted no kind of barbarity; for they did not measure their courage by their rapines and plunderings only, but preceded as far as murdering men; and this not in the night time or privately, or with regard to ordinary men, but did it openly in the day time, and began with the most eminent persons in the city; for the first man they meddled with was Antipas, one of the royal lineage, and the most potent man in the whole city, insomuch that the public treasures were committed to his care; him they took and confined; as they did in the next place to Levias, a person of great note, with Sophas, the son of Raguel, both which were of royal lineage also. And besides these, they did the same to the principal men of the country. This caused a terrible consternation among the people, and everyone contented himself with taking care of his own safety, as they would do if the city had been taken in war.

     5. But these were not satisfied with the bonds into which they had put the men forementioned; nor did they think it safe for them to keep them thus in custody long, since they were men very powerful, and had numerous families of their own that were able to avenge them. Nay, they thought the very people would perhaps be so moved at these unjust proceedings, as to rise in a body against them; it was therefore resolved to have them slain accordingly, they sent one John, who was the most bloody-minded of them all, to do that execution: this man was also called "the son of Dorcas," 3 in the language of our country. Ten more men went along with him into the prison, with their swords drawn, and so they cut the throats of those that were in custody there. The grand lying pretence these men made for so flagrant an enormity was this, that these men had had conferences with the Romans for a surrender of Jerusalem to them; and so they said they had slain only such as were traitors to their common liberty. Upon the whole, they grew the more insolent upon this bold prank of theirs, as though they had been the benefactors and saviors of the city.

     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 23:29-35
     by D.H. Stern

29     Who has misery? Who has regret?
     Who fights and complains all the time?
     Who gets bruised for no good reason?
     Who has bloodshot eyes?
30     Those who spend their time over wine,
     those always trying out mixed drinks.
31     Don’t gaze at the red wine
     as it gives its color to the cup.
     It may glide down smoothly now;
32     but in the end, it bites like a serpent—
     yes, it strikes like a poisonous snake.
33     Your eyes will see peculiar things,
     your mind will utter nonsense.
34     You will feel as if lying on the waves of the sea
     or sprawled on top of the mast—
35     “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it!
     They beat me up, and I didn’t even know it!
     When will I wake up?…
     I’ll go get another drink.”

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

                My joy … your joy

     That My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. --- John 15:11.

     What was the joy that Jesus had? It is an insult to use the word happiness in connection with Jesus Christ. The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do. “I delight to do Thy will.” Jesus prayed that our joy might go on fulfilling itself until it was the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?

     The full flood of my life is not in bodily health, not in external happenings, not in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the communion with Him that Jesus Himself had. The first thing that will hinder this joy is the captious irritation of thinking out circumstances. The cares of this world, said Jesus, will choke God’s word. Before we know where we are, we are caught up in the shows of things. All that God has done for us is the mere threshold; He wants to get us to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim Who Jesus is.

     Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a centre for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes. The lives that have been of most blessing to you are those who were unconscious of it.

My Utmost for His Highest

No Through Road
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                No Through Road

All in vain. I will cease now
  My long absorption with the plough,
  With the tame and the wild creatures
  And man united with the earth.
  I have failed after many seasons
  To bring truth to birth,
  And nature's simple equations
  In the mind's precincts do not apply.

  But where to turn? Earth endures
  After the passing, necessary shame
  Of winter, and the old lie
  Of green places beckons me still
  From the new world, ugly and evil,
  That men pry for in truth's name.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Edom Repaid
     Roy B. Zuck

                Edom Repaid

     ”… the Lord’s judgment would also be perfectly appropriate. He would repay Edom for her evil deeds
(Obad. 15).

     Because the Edomites showed no mercy to Israel’s “survivors” (v. 14), they would have no “survivors” of their own v. 18). Because Edom “cut down” (kārat) Israel’s fugitives (v. 14) she would be “destroyed” (lit. “cut off,” kārat) forever (v. 10). The very people Edom attempted to wipe out would take possession of the mountains of Esau (vv. 18–21). The Phoenicians and Philistines, who had sold God’s people into distant lands as slaves (Joel 3:6), would also be appropriately repaid (3:5, 7). Eventually God’s exiled and enslaved people will return to their land, conquer their ancient enemies, and sell them into slavery to far off lands (3:7–8). In fact all the nations who had plundered Jerusalem would themselves be plundered (Zech. 2:9). Because they had participated in Jerusalem’s “day of misfortune / destruction / trouble / disaster / calamity” (Obad. 10–14), the Day of the Lord would fall upon them with full force (vv. 15–16).

A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Leviticus 26:36–37

     All Israel are guarantors one for the other.

Leviticus 26:36–37 / As for those of you who survive, I will cast a faintness into their hearts in the land of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Fleeing as though from the sword, they shall fall though none pursues. With no one pursuing, they shall stumble over one another as before the sword. You shall not be able to stand your ground before your enemies.…

     MIDRASH TEXT / Sifra Be-ḥukkotai 7:4–5 / The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥah said, “Once we were sitting among the trees, and the wind blew and smacked the leaves one against the other. We stood up and ran, saying, ‘Woe to us! The horsemen will catch us!’ After some time, we turned around and saw there was no one. We sat in our places and cried, saying, ‘Woe to us! The verse “the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Fleeing as though from the sword, they shall fall though none pursues” has been fulfilled through us, due to our lack of power.’ ”

     They shall stumble over one another. Over one another’s sins, teaching that all Israel are guarantors one for the other.


     Chapter 26 of the Book of Leviticus contains blessings and curses. The Bible promises that these will come upon the Israelite nation depending on whether they have followed, or deviated from, the laws of the Torah.
Verses 14–38 lay out what God will bring upon Israel “if you do not obey Me and do not observe all these commandments”—famine, drought, wild beasts, pestilence, and enemy armies shall destroy the land and its inhabitants. We are then told that fear will overwhelm the people, so that they will imagine all manner of horrors even when these are not real.

     Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥah lived in the second half of the second century. He was witness to the terrors that followed the Bar Kokhba rebellion against the Romans (132–135 C.E.). Rome cracked down harshly on the Jews following this second major armed uprising (the first coming in the year 70, resulting in the destruction of the Temple). Rabbi Yehoshua was among the younger students of Rabbi Akiva, a leader of the rebellion who was, according to Rabbinic tradition, tortured and executed by the Romans. According to one tradition (likely apocryphal), Yehoshua was the son of Akiva. We can understand the fear he must have felt during this period, always imagining that the Romans were after him. A reader of the verse in the Torah—“The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight”—might say, “How can anyone be frightened by the sound of a leaf?” Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥah comes to tell us, “Believe it! That exact scenario once happened to me.”

     The Midrash then goes on to give an explanation of another phrase from the next verse, “They shall stumble over one another.” The contextual meaning of this verse is that, in the great panic that ensues from the fear caused by the sound of the leaves, people will trample one another. The Rabbis give this verse a very different understanding: People will fall and stumble not physically, but metaphorically—over one another’s sins. One person will commit a sin; the punishment for the sin is the horrors listed in
Leviticus 26. But other people, aware of their “neighbor’s” sin, will also be punished for not having prevented the wrong. The conclusion drawn from this interpretation is that we are judged not merely as individuals, but also as a community. Each of us is responsible for what every other member of our group does. All Israel are guarantors one for the other. The Hebrew word עֲרֵבִים/areivim is a term signifying a surety, something held in pledge, or a bond. It is not simply as Jews that we are responsible one for another; we are “co-signers” of a promise. If a fellow Jew cannot pay what he owes, we—every other member of the Jewish people—are obligated to make good on it. The same is true in the moral sphere. We may not close our eyes to what is happening around us. We cannot say, “What other people do is none of my business.” It is our business. If our neighbor does wrong and we do nothing about it, then we are the ones who will stumble and fall.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 31

     He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. --- Psalm 33:9.

     [The power of God appears] in supporting the human nature of Christ and keeping it from sinking under the terrible weight of divine wrath that came on him for our sins and in making him victorious over the Devil and all the powers of darkness. (Thomas Boston, “Of God and His Perfections,” downloaded from The Boston Homepage at www.geocities.com/~thomasboston, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) His human nature could not possibly have borne up under the wrath of God and the curse of the law nor held out under such fearful contests with the powers of hell and the world, if it had not been upheld by infinite power. Thus, his Father says concerning him: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold”
(Isa. 42:1).

     The divine power appeared in raising Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19). The unlocking the belly of the whale for the deliverance of Jonah, the rescue of Daniel from the den of lions and restraining the fire from burning the three children were striking declarations of the divine power and were foreshadows of the resurrection of our Redeemer. But all these are nothing to what is represented by them, for these showed a power over natural causes and curbing of beasts and restraining of elements. But in the resurrection of Christ, God exercised a power over himself and quenched the flames of his own wrath, which was hotter than millions of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnaces. He unlocked the prison doors in which the curses of the law had lodged our Savior, stronger than the belly and ribs of a leviathan. How admirable it was that he should be raised from under the curse of the law and the infinite weight of our sins and brought forth with success and glory after his sharp encounter with the powers of hell! In this the power of God was gloriously manifested. Hence he is said to be raised from the dead “through the glory of the Father,” and “declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). All the miraculous proofs by which God acknowledged him for his Son during his life were ineffective without this. If he had remained in the grave, it had been reasonable to believe him only an ordinary person and that his death had been the just punishment of his presumption in calling himself the Son of God. But his resurrection from the dead was the most illustrious and convincing evidence that really he was what he declared himself to be.
Thomas Boston

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

On This Day
     Solidarity  August 31

     No one played a larger role in the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe than Karol Wojtyla of Krakow. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, Wojtyla had attended an underground Catholic seminary by dodging military patrols and taking secret classes in convents, churches, and homes. At length he graduated, donned clerical robes, and traveled to a small Polish village to serve as priest. Communists, meanwhile, were replacing Nazis as the oppressors of Eastern Europe; but with intrepidity, Wojtyla performed baptisms, heard confessions, offered Mass, foiled the secret police, and thwarted authorities.

     The years passed, and by 1978, the village priest had advanced to become the first non-Italian pope in 456 years—John Paul II. On one of his first outings, the new pope heard someone in the crowd shout, “Don’t forget the Church of Silence!” (that is, the church under Communism). John Paul replied, “It’s not a Church of Silence anymore, because it speaks with my voice.”

     John Paul soon returned in triumph to Warsaw where his plane landed over the protests of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Oceans of faces met him everywhere, weeping, praying, shouting. Communist leaders in Russia and Poland trembled as they listened to his words: “Dearest brothers and sisters! You must be strong with the strength that flows from faith! There is no need to be afraid. The frontiers must be opened.”

     Within a year, spontaneous strikes occurred throughout Poland; and in Gdansk, Lech Walesa stood atop an excavator and announced a strike in the shipyards. Back at the Vatican, John Paul watched, prayed, and spoke to a group of Polish pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. “All of us here in Rome are united with our compatriots in Poland,” he said, signaling his blessings on the strikers. Within a week the Communists made historic concessions, and on August 31, 1980 the Gdansk Accords were signed, permitting the first independent union in Eastern Europe. There was no mistaking the role of the Polish pope, for Lech Walesa signed the papers using a brightly colored Vatican pen featuring a picture of John Paul II.

     The Iron Curtain was crumbling.

     I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD.
     Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly.
     Free those who are abused!
     Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
     Share your home with the poor and homeless.
     Give clothes to those in need;
     Don’t turn away your relatives.
          Isaiah 58:6,7.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 31

     “On mine arm shall they trust.” --- Isaiah 51:5.

     In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father! Now that thou hast only thy God to trust to, see that thou puttest thy full confidence in him. Dishonour not thy Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Show the world that thy God is worth ten thousand worlds to thee. Show rich men how rich thou art in thy poverty when the Lord God is thy helper. Show the strong man how strong thou art in thy weakness when underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Now is the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits. Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord thy God shall certainly, as surely as he built the heavens and the earth, glorify himself in thy weakness, and magnify his might in the midst of thy distress. The grandeur of the arch of heaven would be spoiled if the sky were supported by a single visible column, and your faith would lose its glory if it rested on anything discernible by the carnal eye. May the Holy Spirit give you to rest in Jesus this closing day of the month.

          Evening - August 31

     “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light.”
--- John 1:7.

     As he is in the light! Can we ever attain to this? Shall we ever be able to walk as clearly in the light as he is whom we call “Our Father,” of whom it is written, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all?” Certainly, this is the model which it set before us, for the Saviour himself said, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect;” and although we may feel that we can never rival the perfection of God, yet we are to seek after it, and never to be satisfied until we attain to it. The youthful artist, as he grasps his early pencil, can hardly hope to equal Raphael or Michael Angelo, but still, if he did not have a noble beau ideal before his mind, he would only attain to something very mean and ordinary. But what is meant by the expression that the Christian is to walk in light as God is in the light? We conceive it to import likeness, but not degree. We are as truly in the light, we are as heartily in the light, we are as sincerely in the light, as honestly in the light, though we cannot be there in the same measure. I cannot dwell in the sun, it is too bright a place for my residence, but I can walk in the light of the sun; and so, though I cannot attain to that perfection of purity and truth which belongs to the Lord of hosts by nature as the infinitely good, yet I can set the Lord always before me, and strive, by the help of the indwelling Spirit, after conformity to his image. That famous old commentator, John Trapp, says, “We may be in the light as God is in the light for quality, but not for equality.” We are to have the same light, and are as truly to have it and walk in it as God does, though, as for equality with God in his holiness and purity, that must be left until we cross the Jordan and enter into the perfection of the Most High. Mark that the blessings of sacred fellowship and perfect cleansing are bound up with walking in the light.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     August 31

          ONLY ONE LIFE

     Avis B. Christiansen, 1895–1985

     And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15)

     Find your purpose and fling your life out into it; and the loftier your purpose is, the more sure you will be to make the world richer with every enrichment of yourself!
--- Phillips Brooks

     How tragic it is to see the great number of talented young people who waste their lives on transient things instead of investing them in that which is eternal. Yet this choice must be made by every individual: Will I commit my life to the highest and best—God and His service—or will I settle for that which is self-seeking and cheap? The results of these two styles of living are obvious; merely observe the difference between the quality of life of those who have engaged in self-indulgent, useless living and those who have spent their time faithfully serving God with a concern for the spiritual and physical needs of others. One leads to disillusionment and the other to contentment.

     Since it was published in 1937, this thoughtful hymn by Avis B. Christiansen and Merrill Dunlop has been widely used of God to challenge scores of young believers with the importance of committing their lives completely to God’s glory and service. Both Mrs. Christiansen and Mr. Dunlop have made other notable contributions to Gospel hymnody with their many fine hymns.

     These words reinforce and amplify the oft-quoted statement: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

     Only one life to offer—Jesus, my Lord and King; only one tongue to praise Thee and of Thy mercy sing; only one heart’s devotion—Savior, O may it be consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory, yielded fully to Thee.
     Only this hour is mine, Lord—May it be used for Thee; may ev’ry passing moment count for eternity; souls all about are dying, dying in sin and shame; help me bring them the message of Calv’ry’s redemption in Thy glorious name.
     Only one life to offer—Take it, dear Lord, I pray; nothing from Thee withholding, Thy will I now obey; thou who hast freely given Thine all in all for me, claim this life for Thine own to be used, my Savior, ev’ry moment for Thee.

     For Today: Matthew 10:39; Luke 12:15, 34; Romans 12:1, 2; Philippians 1:20, 21; 3:8

     Seriously ponder: Do I really have something beyond myself that gives real meaning and purpose to my life? Is that something God and His service? Breathe this musical prayer ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock


     Inference 1. If God be a Spirit, no corporeal thing can defile him. Some bring an argument against the omnipresence of God, that it is a disparagement to the Divine essence to be everywhere, in nasty cottages as well as beautiful palaces and garnished temples. What place can defile a spirit? Is light, which approaches to the nature of spirit, polluted by shining upon a dunghill, or a sunbeam tainted by darting upon a quagmire? Doth an angel contract any soil, by stepping into a nasty prison to deliver Peter? What can steam from the most noisome body to pollute the spiritual nature of God? As he is “of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,” so he is of a more spiritual substance than to contract any physical pollution from the places where he doth diffuse himself. Did our Saviour, who had a true body, derive any taint from the lepers he touched, the diseases he cured, or the devils he expelled? God is a pure Spirit; plungeth himself into no filth; is dashed with no spot by being present with all bodies. Bodies only receive defilement from bodies. Inference

     2. If God be a Spirit, he is active and communicative. He is not clogged with heavy and sluggish matter, which is cause of dulness and inactivity. The more subtle, thin, and approaching nearer the nature of a spirit anything is, the more diffusive it is. Air is a gliding substance; spreads itself through all regions, pierceth into all bodies; it fills the space between heaven and earth; there is nothing but partakes of the virtue of it. Light, which is an emblem of spirit, insinuates itself into all places, refresheth all things. As spirits are fuller, so they are more overflowing, more piercing, more operative than bodies. The Egyptian horses were weak things, because they were “flesh, and not spirit.” The soul being a spirit, conveys more to the body than the body can to it. What cannot so great a spirit do for us? What cannot so great a spirit work in us? God, being a spirit above all spirits, can pierce into the centre of all spirits; make his way into the most secret recesses; stamp what he pleases. It is no more to him to turn our spirits, than to make a wilderness become waters, and speak a chaos into a beautiful frame of heaven and earth. He can act our souls with infinite more ease than our souls can act our bodies; he can fix in us what motions, frames, inclinations he pleases; he can come and settle in our hearts with all his treasures. It is an encouragement to confide in him, when we petition him for spiritual blessings: as he is a spirit, he is possessed with “spiritual blessings.” A spirit delights to bestow things suitable to its nature, as bodies do to communicate what is agreeable to theirs. As he is a Father of spirits, we may go to him for the welfare of our spirits; he being a Spirit, is as able to repair our spirits as he was to create them. As he is a Spirit, he is indefatigable in acting. The members of the body tire and flag; but who ever heard of a soul wearied with being active? who ever heard of a weary angel? In the purest simplicity, there is the greatest power, the most efficacious goodness, the most reaching justice to affect the spirit, that can insinuate itself everywhere to punish wickedness without weariness, as well as to comfort goodness. God is active, because he is spirit; and if we be like to God, the more spiritual we are, the more active we shall be.

     Inference 3. God being a Spirit, is immortal. His being immortal, and being invisible, are joined together. Spirits are in their nature incorruptible; they can only perish by that hand that framed them. Every compounded thing is subject to mutation; but God, being a pure and simple Spirit, is without corruption, without any shadow of change. Where there is composition, there is some kind of repugnancy of one part against the other; and where there is repugnancy, there is a capability of dissolution. God, in regard of his infinite spirituality, hath nothing in his own nature contrary to it; can have nothing in himself which is not himself. The world perishes; friends change and are dissolved; bodies moulder, because they are mutable. God is a Spirit in the highest excellency and glory of spirits; nothing is beyond him; nothing above him; no contrariety within him. This is our comfort, if we devote ourselves to him; this God is our God; this Spirit is our Spirit; this is our all, our immutable, our incorruptible support; a Spirit that cannot die and leave us.

     Inference 4.  If God be a Spirit, we see how we can only converse with him by our spirits. Bodies and spirits are not suitable to one another: we can only see, know, embrace a spirit with our spirits.  He judges not of us by our corporeal actions, nor our external devotions by our masks and disguises: he fixes his eye upon the frame of the heart, bends his ear to the groans of our spirits. He is not pleased with outward pomp. He is not a body; therefore the beauty of temples, delicacy of sacrifices, fumes of incense, are not grateful to him; by those, or any external action, we have no communion with him. A spirit, when broken, is his delightful sacrifice; we must therefore, have our spirits fitted for him, “be renewed in the spirit of our minds,” that we may be in a posture to live with him, and have an intercourse with him. We can never be united to God but in our spirits: bodies unite with bodies, spirits with spirits. The more spiritual anything is, the more closely doth it unite. Air hath the closest union; nothing meets together sooner than that, when the parts are divided by the interposition of a body.

     Inference 5. If God be a Spirit, he can only be the true satisfaction of our spirits: spirit can only be filled with spirit: content flows from likeness and suitableness. As we have a resemblance to God in regard of the spiritual nature of our soul, so we can have no satisfaction but in him. Spirit can no more be really satisfied with that which is corporeal, than a beast can delight in the company of an angel. Corporeal things can no more fill a hungry spirit, than pure spirit can feed an hungry body. God, the highest Spirit, can only reach out a full content to our spirits. Man is lord of the creation: nothing below him can be fit for his converse; nothing above him offers itself to his converse but God. We have no correspondence with angels. The influence they have upon us, the protection they afford us, is secret and undiscerned; but God, the highest Spirit, offers himself to us in his Son, in his ordinances, is visible in every creature, presents himself to us in every providence; to him we must seek; in him we must rest. God had no rest from the creation till he had made man; and man can have no rest in the creation till he rests in God. God only is our dwelling place; our souls should only long for him: our souls should only wait upon him. The spirit of man never riseth to its original glory, till it be carried up on the wings of faith and love to its original copy. The face of the soul looks most beautiful, when it is turned to the face of God, the Father of spirits; when the derived spirit is fixed upon the original Spirit, drawing from it life and glory. Spirit is only the receptacle of spirit. God, as Spirit, is our principle; we must therefore live upon him. God, as Spirit, hath some resemblance to us as his image; we must, therefore, only satisfy ourselves in him.

     Inference 6. If God be a Spirit, we should take most care of that wherein we are like to God. Spirit is nobler than body; we must, therefore, value our spirits above our bodies. The soul, as spirit, partakes more of the divine nature, and deserves more of our choicest cares. If we have any love to this Spirit, we should have a real affection to our own spirits, as bearing a stamp of the spiritual Divinity, the chiefest of all the works of God; as it is said of behemoth (Job 40:19). That which is most the image of this immense spirit, should be our darling; so David calls his soul (Psalm 35:17). Shall we take care of that wherein we partake not of God, and not delight in the jewel which hath his own signature upon it? God was not only the Framer of spirits, and the End of spirits; but the Copy and Exemplar of spirits. God partakes of no corporeity; he is pure Spirit. But how do we act, as if we were only matter and body! We have but little kindness for this great Spirit as well as our own, if we take no care of his immediate offspring, since he is not only Spirit, but the Father of spirits.

     Inference 7. If God be a Spirit, let us take heed of those sins which are spiritual. Paul distinguisheth between the filth of the flesh, and that of the spirit. By the one we defile the body; by the other we defile the spirit, which, in regard of its nature, is of kin to the Creator. To wrong one who is near of kin to a prince, is worse than to injure an inferior subject. When we make our spirits, which are most like to God in their nature, and framed according to his image, a stage to act vain imaginations, wicked desires, and unclean affections, we wrong God in the excellency of his work, and reflect upon the nobleness of the pattern; we wrong him in that part where he hath stamped the most signal character of his own spiritual nature; we defile that whereby we have only converse with him as a Spirit, which he hath ordered more immediately to represent him in this nature, than all corporeal things in the world can, and make that Spirit with whom we desire to be joined unfit for such a knot. God’s spirituality is the root of his other perfections. We have already heard he could not be infinite, omnipresent, immutable, without it. Spiritual sins are the greatest root of bitterness within us. As grace in our spirits renders us more like to a spiritual God, so spiritual sins bring us into a conformity to a degraded devil. Carnal sins change us from men to brutes, and spiritual sins divest us of the image of God for the image of Satan. We should by no means make our spirits a dunghill, which bear upon them the character of the spiritual nature of God, and were made for his residence. Let us, therefore, behave ourselves towards God in all those ways which the spiritual nature of God requires us.

The Existence and Attributes of God

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

          THIRD PART.

     WE are now arrived at the LAST PART OF THIS DISCUSSION. Wherein I am, as I proposed, to bring forward my forces against “Free-will.” But I shall not produce them all, for who could do that within the limited of this small book, when the whole Scripture, in every letter and iota, stands on my side? Nor is there any necessity for so doing; seeing that, “Free-will” already lies vanquished and prostrate under a two-fold overthrow. — The one where I have proved, that all those things, which it imagined made for itself, make directly against itself. — The other, where I have made it manifest, that those Scriptures which it attempted to refute, still remain invincible. — If, therefore, it had not been vanquished by the former, it is enough if it be laid prostrate by the one weapon or the other. And now, what need is there that the enemy, already dispatched by the one weapon or the other, should have his dead body stabbed with a number of weapons more? In this part, therefore, I shall be as brief as the subject will allow: and from such numerous armies, I shall produce only two champion-generals with a few of their legions — Paul, and John the Evangelist!

The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Daniel 1 - 3

L11 Petitionary Psalms--Psalm 92
Dr. Bruce Waltke

L12 Petition Psalms, Lament, Enemy, Motifs
Dr. Bruce Waltke

L13 Imprecatory Psalms
Dr. Bruce Waltke

L14 Petition Psalms--Psalm 3
Dr. Bruce Waltke

L15 Petition Psalms--Psalm 51
Dr. Bruce Waltke

L16 Petition Psalms, Lament, Psalm
Dr. Bruce Waltke

L17 Communal Lament, Psalm 44
Dr. Bruce Waltke

L18 Psalms of Trust, Psalm 139, Psalm 91
Dr. Bruce Waltke

Uncommon Impact
Justin Blaney | Biola University

If You Can
Aaron Sams | Biola University

L19 Liturgical Approach, Cultus/Ritual
Dr. Bruce Waltke

L20 Sacred sites, seasons
Dr. Bruce Waltke

Identity and Integrity
Daniel 1-2John Lennox