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Acts  24-26
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Accused of Sedition

Acts 24:1     Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.

     2 And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, 3 we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us. 5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law. 7 But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands, 8 commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.” 9 And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so. Verse 1 tells us Tertullus is an orator, a wordsmith, the spokes person for those who accuse Paul.

The Defense Before Felix

     10 Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, 11 because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.

     15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

     17 “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, 18 in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. 19 They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. 20 Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, 21 unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’ ”

Felix Procrastinates

     22 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.” 23 So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.

     24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” 26 Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.

     27 But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.

Paul Appeals to Caesar

Acts 25:1     Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him, 3 asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem— while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him. 4 But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly. 5 “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.”

     6 And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought. 7 When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove, 8 while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”

     9 But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?”

     10 So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. 11 For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

     12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!”

Paul Before Agrippa

     13 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. 14 When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, 15 about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. 16 To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’ 17 Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. 18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, 19 but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20 And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.”

     22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.”

     “Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”

     23 So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said: “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer. 25 But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him. 26 I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

Paul’s Early Life

Acts 26:1     Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”

     So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

     4 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. 5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

     9 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Paul Recounts His Conversion

     12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Notice we are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 16:31 comes to mind.

Paul’s Post-Conversion Life

     19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. ... and do works befitting repentance. 21 For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

Agrippa Parries Paul’s Challenge

     24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

     25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

     28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

     29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

     30 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; 31 and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.”

     32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

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

What I'm Reading

From The Holiness of God

By R.C. Sproul

     Saul of Tarsus was a zealot for the Pharisees, totally repulsed by the advent of a new sect called Christianity. He was determined to wipe Christians from the face of the earth. Commissioned by the authorities, he went from house to house rounding up early Christian believers and casting them into prison. He stood on the sidelines during the stoning of Stephen and applauded the act. He was gleeful when he gained a new assignment to go to Damascus to continue his pogrom of Christians. It was on the Damascus Road that he met the Holy One. He recounted the scene during his trial before King Agrippa:

     See Acts 26:13-19 in the Daily Bible reading above.

     Saul was zealous in his pursuit of righteousness. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, a man committed to legal perfection. The irony of his zeal is seen in that the more zealous he was for his goals the more opposed he actually became to the work of God. Not that God is opposed to the pursuit of righteousness. God is for the pursuit of righteousness, but He stands against the proud and the arrogant. He stands against those who are swelled up with self-righteousness. While Saul was convinced he was fighting for God, he was actually fighting against God. In this ironic battle he was doomed to an ultimate confrontation with the very Christ he opposed.

     One of the names by which God is revealed in the Old Testament is the name El Shaddai. The name means “the thunderer” or “the overpowerer.” It was by the name El Shaddai that God appeared to Job. What Job experienced was the awesome power of a sovereign God who overpowers all men and is Himself overpowered by no man. Saul met the Overpowerer on the road to Damascus.

     Saul described his experience on the desert road as starting with the appearance of a dazzling light. The desert road at noonday was a place where the brilliance of the sun was particularly strong, piercing the day through a very thin atmosphere. Under normal conditions the sunshine there is intense. For any other light to be noticed against the backdrop of the desert sun it must have been extraordinary. Saul spoke of a light more brilliant, more dazzling than the sun. He described it as a “light from heaven.”

     The expression “light from heaven” does not mean a light from the sky. The sun shines from the sky. Saul was in the presence of the heavenly glory of God. God’s glory is the outward manifestation of His holiness. The effulgence of His glory is so scintillating, so brilliant that it eclipses the noonday sun. In the book of Revelation we read of the appearance of the New Jerusalem, the City that comes down from heaven:

     (Re 21:22–23) 22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. ESV

     The New Jerusalem has no sun simply because it has no need for the sun. The glory of God and of His Christ is so bright that the sun itself is overpowered by it. Saul was blinded by its rays. Consider what happens to men if they gaze directly into the sun. In times of solar eclipse people are attracted by the strange sight of a shadow passing over the sun. There is a strong temptation to fix our gaze directly at it. Yet, even in eclipse we find it is painful and dangerous to look directly at the sun. We are warned by the news media at such times not to make attempts to look directly at it lest we do serious damage to our eyes. If we cannot gaze directly at the sun during an eclipse, how much more severe would the brilliance be that literally outshines the sun? The glory of God reaches a magnitude of brightness far beyond that of the sun shining at full strength.

     No angel appeared to wrestle with Saul. Yet some supernal force threw him to the ground. In an instant Saul was blinded. There was no warning, no whisper of wind to alert him. Sovereignly and powerfully he was knocked flat to the desert floor.

     With the light from heaven came also a voice. The voice is elsewhere described as the sound of many waters, a voice that roars like a booming waterfall that is cascading over rocks. Saul identified the voice as speaking in the Aramaic tongue, the native language of Jesus. The voice addressed Saul personally, in the form of the repetition of his name: “Saul, Saul.” This double form of address indicated a greeting of personal intimacy. It was the way God addressed Moses at the burning bush and Abraham at his altar on Mount Moriah. It was the form by which Jesus cried over Jerusalem and addressed His Father in His darkest hour on the cross.

     “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Notice that the voice did not inquire why Saul was persecuting Christ’s church. It was rather “Why do you persecute me?” To attack the church of Christ is to attack Him. Then the question: “Why do you kick against the goads?” The ox goads were sharp spikes implanted in a wooden frame that were fastened to oxcarts behind the oxen. If an ox became stubborn and refused to move forward it sometimes registered its stubbornness by kicking its feet backwards into the goad. Imagine how dumb an ox would be if after once kicking the goad it became so furious that it kicked it again and again. The more it kicks the goads the more pain it inflicts upon itself. It is like a man banging his head against the wall and finding solace in how good it feels when he stops.

     The voice was saying to Saul, “You dumb ox! How stupid it is to keep kicking the goads. You cannot win. Your battle is futile. It is time to surrender.” Saul’s response was a simple question, but the question was loaded: “Who are you, Lord?” Saul did not know the identity of the One who had just overpowered him, but of one thing he was certain—whoever it was, He was Lord.

     In this experience Saul became Paul just as Jacob had become Israel. The battle was over. Saul struggled with God and lost. Here, like Isaiah, he received his call, his commission to apostleship. His life was changed and the course of world history was changed with it. In defeat Paul found peace.

     After telling this story to King Agrippa, Paul added these words: “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” As zealous as Saul had been in his fight against Christ, he became even more zealous in his fight for Christ. He had a vision of the holiness of God that was so intense he never forgot it. He contemplated it and expounded its meaning throughout his epistles. He became a man who understood what it meant to be justified. For him the holy war was over and he entered into a holy peace. He became the apostle whose writings awakened Luther in the monastery and gave to the Christian church the recipe for an abiding peace with God.

     The struggle we have with a holy God is rooted in the conflict between God’s righteousness and our unrighteousness. He is just and we are unjust. This tension creates fear, hostility, and anger within us toward God. The unjust person does not desire the company of a just judge. We become fugitives fleeing from the presence of One whose glory can blind us and whose justice can condemn us. We are at war with Him unless or until we are justified. Only the justified person can be comfortable in the presence of a holy God.

     The apostle Paul sets forth immediate benefits—fruits of justification. In his Epistle to the Romans he explains what happens to us when we are justified, when we are covered by the righteousness of Christ that is by faith:

     (Ro 5:1–2)5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

     The first fruit of our justification is peace with God. To the ancient Jew peace was a precious, but elusive commodity. The present-day turmoil in the Middle East seems like a replay of ancient history. From the days of the conquest of Canaan to the period of Roman occupation in New Testament times there were but a few years when Israel was not at war. The location of Palestine as a pivotal land bridge between Africa and Asia made it a corridor not only for trade but for warfare. Tiny Israel often found herself caught between competing world powers and was used like a military Ping-Pong ball.

     The Jew longed for peace. He yearned for the day when swords would be beaten into plowshares. He waited for the era when the Prince of Peace would come to end the incessant hostilities. So important to the Jew was his quest for peace that the very word peace became a daily greeting. Where we say “hello” or “good-bye,” the Jew said simply, “Shalom.” To this day the greeting shalom remains an integral part of Jewish vocabulary.

     The word peace had its primary reference to the cessation of military conflict. But a deeper meaning was attached to it as well. The Jew was also deeply concerned for inner peace, for the tranquil rest of the soul that meant an end to a troubled spirit. We have a similar concept in view when we speak of “peace of mind.”

Amazon says, "Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He is also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. He can be heard on the radio program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and around the world. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books, including The Holiness of God, Faith Alone, and Everyone’s a Theologian. He also serves as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible."

R.C. Sproul Books:

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American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The very first book printed in America was the Bay Psalm Book, written by John Eliot, who was born around this date, August 5, 1604. Called the “Apostle to the Indians,” Eliot translated the Old and New Testaments into the Algonquian language. He organized thousands of “Praying Indians” into self-ruling villages, with their own leaders and ministers. They built houses, streets, bridges, and were very prosperous until King Phillip’s War, where thousands tragically died. In his plan of government, Eliot wrote: “The Word of God is the perfect System of Laws to guide all moral actions of man.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness
without requiring repentance,
baptism without church discipline,
Communion without confession....
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,
grace without the cross,
grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord, Oh, to be lost in Thee;
Oh, that it may be no more I, but Christ that lives in me.
--- C. H. Forrest

‘Christ died,’ is only a fact in history, like ‘Napoleon died.’ The Gospel message is that ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Cor. 15:1–4, italics mine).
--- Warren Wiersbe
Be Comforted (Isaiah): Feeling Secure in the Arms of God (The BE Series Commentary)

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 22.

     The Jews Make All Ready For The War; And Simon, The Son Of Gioras, Falls To Plundering.

     1. And thus were the disturbances of Galilee quieted, when, upon their ceasing to prosecute their civil dissensions, they betook themselves to make preparations for the war with the Romans. Now in Jerusalem the high priest Artanus, and as many of the men of power as were not in the interest of the Romans, both repaired the walls, and made a great many warlike instruments, insomuch that in all parts of the city darts and all sorts of armor were upon the anvil. Although the multitude of the young men were engaged in exercises, without any regularity, and all places were full of tumultuous doings; yet the moderate sort were exceedingly sad; and a great many there were who, out of the prospect they had of the calamities that were coming upon them, made great lamentations. There were also such omens observed as were understood to be forerunners of evils by such as loved peace, but were by those that kindled the war interpreted so as to suit their own inclinations; and the very state of the city, even before the Romans came against it, was that of a place doomed to destruction. However, Ananus's concern was this, to lay aside, for a while, the preparations for the war, and to persuade the seditious to consult their own interest, and to restrain the madness of those that had the name of zealots; but their violence was too hard for him; and what end he came to we shall relate hereafter.

     2. But as for the Acrabbene toparchy, Simon, the son of Gioras, got a great number of those that were fond of innovations together, and betook himself to ravage the country; nor did he only harass the rich men's houses, but tormented their bodies, and appeared openly and beforehand to affect tyranny in his government. And when an army was sent against him by Artanus, and the other rulers, he and his band retired to the robbers that were at Masada, and staid there, and plundered the country of Idumea with them, till both Ananus and his other adversaries were slain; and until the rulers of that country were so afflicted with the multitude of those that were slain, and with the continual ravage of what they had, that they raised an army, and put garrisons into the villages, to secure them from those insults. And in this state were the affairs of Judea at that time.

          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 22:12
     by D.H. Stern

12     The eyes of ADONAI protect [the man with] knowledge,
but he overturns the plans of a traitor.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Mushrooms On The Moor
     by Frank W. Boreham


     I am about to say a good word for Fear. Fear is a fine thing, a very fine thing; and the world would be a poor place without it. Fear was one of our firmest but gentlest nurses. Terror was one of our sternest but kindest teachers. A very wise man once said that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He might have left out the august and holy Name, and still have stated a tremendous fact; for fear is always the beginning of wisdom.

     'No fears, no grace!' said James, in the second part of the Pilgrim's Progress, and Mr. Greatheart seemed of pretty much the same opinion. They were discussing poor Mr. Fearing.

     'Mr. Fearing,' said Greatheart, 'was one that played upon the bass. Some say that the bass is the ground of music. The first string that the musician touches is the bass, when he intends to put all in tune. God also plays upon this string first, when He sets the soul in tune for Himself. Only here was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing: he could play upon no other music but this, till towards his latter end.'

     Here, then, we have the principle stated as well as it is possible to state it. You must tune from the bass, for the bass is the basis of music. But you must rise from the bass, as a building must rise from its foundations, or the music will be a moan and a monotone. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; but the wisdom that gets no farther is like music that rumbles and reverberates in one everlasting bass.

     But the finest exposition of the inestimable value of fear is not by John Bunyan. It is by Jack London. White Fang is the greatest story of the inner life of an animal that has ever been contributed to our literature. And Jack London, who seems to have got into the very soul of a wolf, shows us how the wonderful character of White Fang was moulded and fashioned by fear. First there was the mere physical fear of Pain; the dread of hurting his tender little nose as the tiny grey cub explored the dark recesses of the lair; the horror of his mother's paw that smote him down whenever he approached the mouth of the cave; and, later on, the fear of the steep bank, learned by a terrible fall; the fear of the yielding water, learned by attempting to walk upon it; and the fear of the ptarmigan's beak and the weasel's teeth, learned by robbing their respective nests.

     And following on the physical fear of Pain came the reverential fear of Power. 'His mother represented Power,' Jack London says, 'and as he grew older he felt this power in the sharper admonition of her paw, while the reproving nudge of her nose gave place to the slash of her fangs. For this he respected his mother.' And afterwards, when he came upon the Red Indians, and saw men for the first time, a still greater fear possessed him. Here were creatures who made the very sticks and stones obey them! They seemed to him as gods, and he felt that he must worship and serve them. And, later still, when he saw white men living, not in wigwams, but in great palaces of stone, he trembled as he had never trembled before. These were superior gods; and, as everybody knows, White Fang passed from fearing them to knowing them, and from knowing them to loving them. And at last he became their fond, devoted slave. It is true that fear was to White Fang only the beginning of wisdom; but that is precisely what Solomon says. Afterwards the brave old wolf learned fearlessness; but the early lessons taught by fear were still of priceless value, for to courage they added caution; and courage wedded to caution is irresistible.

     We are living in times that are wonderfully meek and mild; and Fear, the stern old schoolmaster, is looked upon with suspicion. It is curious how we reverse the fashions of our ancestors. We flaunt in shameless abandon what they veiled in blushing modesty; but we make up for it by hiding what they had no hesitation in displaying. Our teeth, for example. It is considered the depth of impropriety to show your teeth nowadays, except in the sense in which actresses show them on post cards. But our forefathers were not afraid of showing their teeth, and they made themselves feared and honoured and loved in consequence. Yes, feared and honoured and loved; for I gravely doubt if any man ever yet taught others to honour and love him who had not first taught them on occasion to fear him.

     The best illustration of what I mean occurs in the story of the Irish movement. In the politics of the last century there has been nothing so dramatic, nothing so pathetic, and nothing so tragic as the story of the rise and fall of Parnell. Lord Morley's tense and vivid chapters on that phase of modern statesmanship are far more thrilling and far more affecting than a similar number of pages of any novel in the English language. With the tragic fall of the Irish leader we need not now concern ourselves. But how are we to account for the meteoric rise of Parnell, and for the phenomenal power that he wielded? For years he was the most effective figure in British politics. There is only one explanation; and it is the explanation upon which practically all the historians of that period agree. Charles Stewart Parnell made it the first article of his creed that he must make himself feared. His predecessor in the leadership of the Irish party was Isaac Butt. Mr. Butt believed in conciliation. He was opposed to 'a policy of exasperation.' He thought that, if the Irishmen in the House exercised patience, and considered the convenience of the two great political parties, they would appeal to the good sense of the British people and ensure the success of their cause. And in return—to quote from Mr. Winston Churchill's life of his father—the two great parties treated Mr. Butt and the Irish members with 'that form of respect which, being devoid of the element of fear, is closely akin to contempt.' Then arose Parnell. He held that the Irishmen must make themselves the terror of the nation. They must embarrass and confuse the English leaders, and throw the whole political machinery of both parties hopelessly out of gear. And in a few months Mr. Parnell made the Irish question the supreme question in the mind of the nation, and became for years the most hated and the most beloved personality on the parliamentary horizon. Nobody who knows the history of that troublous time can doubt that, but for the moral shipwreck of Parnell, a shipwreck that nearly broke Mr. Gladstone's heart, the whole Irish question would have been settled, for better or for worse, twenty years ago. With the merits or demerits of his cause I am not now dealing; but everybody who has read Lord Morley's ASIN: B004TRQLFS or Mr. Barry O'Brien's ISBN-13: 978-1113799104 must have been impressed by this striking and dramatic picture of a lonely and extraordinary man espousing an apparently hopeless cause, deliberately selecting fear as the weapon of his warfare, and actually leading his little band of astonished followers within sight of victory.

     It is ridiculous to say that fear possesses no moral value. Whenever I hear that contention stated, my mind invariably swings back to a great story told by Sir Henry Hawkins in his The Reminiscences of Sir Henry Hawkins (Baron Brampton). He is telling of his experiences under Mr. Justice Maule, and is praising the judicial perspicacity of that judge. In a certain murder case a boy of eight was called to give evidence, and counsel objected to so youthful a witness being heard. Mr. Justice Maule thought for a minute, and then beckoned the boy to the bench.

     '"I should like to know," His Honour observed, "what you have been taught to believe. What will become of you, my little boy, when you die, if you are so wicked as to tell a lie?"'

     '"Hell-fire!" answered the boy with great promptitude.

     '"But do you mean to say," the judge went on, "that you would go to hell-fire for telling any lie?"

     '"Hell-fire, sir!" the boy replied again.

     'To several similar questions the boy made the same terrible response.

     '"He does not seem to be competent," said the counsel.

     '"I beg your pardon," returned the judge. "This boy thinks that for every wilful fault he will go to hell-fire; and he is very likely while he believes that doctrine to be most strict in his observance of truth. If you and I believed that such would be the penalty for every act of misconduct we committed, we should be better men than we are. Let the boy be sworn!"'

     Sir Henry Hawkins tells the story with evident approval, so that we have here the valuable testimony of two distinguished judges to the moral value of fear from a purely judicial point of view. Of course, the value is not stable or permanent. The goodness that arises from fear is like the tameness of a terrified tiger, or the willingness of a wolf to leave the deer unharmed when both are flying from before a prairie-fire. When the fear passes, the blood-lust will return. But that is not the point. Nobody said that fear was wisdom. What the wise man said was that fear is the beginning of wisdom. And as the beginning of wisdom it has a certain initial and preparatory value. The sooner that the beginning is developed and brought to a climax, the better of course it will be. But meanwhile a beginning is something. It is a step in the right direction. It is the learning of the alphabet. It is the earnest and promise of much that is to come.

     Now if the Church refuses to employ this potent weapon, she is very stupid. A beginning is only a beginning, but it is a beginning. If we ignore the element of terror, we are deliberately renouncing a force which, in the wilds and in the world, is of really first-class value and importance. I am not now saying that the ministry would be untrue to its high calling if it failed to warn men with gravity and with tears. That is a matter of such sacredness and solemnity that I hesitate to touch it here; although it is obvious that, under any conceivable method of interpretation, there is a terrible note of urgency in the New Testament that no pulpit can decline, without grave responsibility, to echo. But I am content to point out here that, from a purely tactical point of view, the Church would be very foolish to scout this valuable weapon. The element of fear is one of the great primal passions, and to all those deep basic human elements the gospel makes its peculiar appeal. And the fears of men must be excited. The music cannot be all bass; but the bass note must not be absent, or the music will be ruined.

     There are still those who, far from being cowards, may, like Noah, be 'moved with fear' to the saving of their houses. Cardinal Manning tells in his Journal how, as a boy at Tetteridge, he read again and again of the lake that burneth with fire. 'These words,' he says, 'became fixed in my mind, and kept me as boy and youth and man in the midst of all evil. I owe to them more than will ever be known to the last day.' And Archbishop Benson used to tell of a working man who was seen looking at a placard announcing a series of addresses on 'The Four Last Things.' After he had read the advertisement he turned to a companion and asked, 'Where would you and I have been without hell?' And the Archbishop used to inquire whether, if we abandoned the legitimate appeal to human fear, we should not need some other motive in our preaching to fill the vacant place.

     I know, of course, that all this may be misconstrued. But the wise will understand. The naturalist will not blame me, for fear is the life of the forest. The humanitarian can say no word of censure, for fear is intensely human. But the preacher who strikes this deep bass note must strike it very soulfully. No man should be able to speak on such things except with a sob in his throat and tears in his eyes. We must warn men to flee from the wrath to come; but that wrath is the wrath of a Lamb. Andrew Bonar one day told Murray McCheyne that he had just preached a sermon on hell. 'And were you able to preach it with tenderness?' McCheyne wistfully inquired. Fear is part of that wondrous instrument on all the chords of which the minister is called at times to play; but this chord must be struck with trembling fingers.

     No mistake can be more fatal than to set off this aspect of things against more attractive themes. All truth is related. Some years ago in Scotland an express train stopped abruptly on a curve in the time of a great flood. Just in front of the train was a roaring chasm from which the viaduct had been swept away. Just behind the train was the mangled frame of the girl who had warned the driver. It is impossible to understand that sacrifice lying just behind the guard's van unless you have seen the yawning chasm just in front of the engine!

     'No fears, no grace!' said James.

     'And this I took very great notice of,' said Mr. Greatheart, 'that the Valley of the Shadow of Death was as quiet while Mr. Fearing went through it as ever I knew it before or since; and when he came to the river without a bridge, I took notice of what was very remarkable; the water of that river was lower at this time than ever I saw it in all my life. So he went over at last, not much above wet shod.'

     Fear had done its work, and done it well. The bass notes had proved the foundation of a music that blended at last with the very harmonies of heaven. Fear, even with White Fang, led on to love; and perfect love casteth out fear.

Mushrooms on the Moor
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The baffling call of God

     And all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.… And they understood none of these things. --- Luke 18:31, 34.

     God called Jesus Christ to what seemed unmitigated disaster. Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death; He led every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. Jesus Christ’s life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God’s. But what seemed failure from man’s standpoint was a tremendous triumph from God’s, because God’s purpose is never man’s purpose.

     There comes the baffling call of God in our lives also. The call of God can never be stated explicitly; it is implicit. The call of God is like the call of the sea, no one hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him. It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purpose, and the test is to believe that God knows what He is after. The things that happen do not happen by chance, they happen entirely in the decree of God. God is working out His purposes.

     If we are in communion with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, we shall no longer try to find out what His purposes are. As we go on in the Christian life it gets simpler, because we are less inclined to say—‘Now why did God allow this and that?’ Behind the whole thing lies the compelling of God. “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends.” A Christian is one who trusts the wits and the wisdom of God, and not his own wits. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the leisureliness which ought to characterize the children of God.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of RS Thomas


I choose white, but with
  Red on it, like the snow
  In winter with its few
  Holly berries and the one

Robin, that is a fire
  To warm by and like Christ
  Comes to us in his weakness,
  But with a sharp song.


Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Exodus 14:10, 13–16

     There is a time to be brief and a time to prolong.

Exodus 14:10, 13–16 / As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites caught sight of the Egyptians advancing upon them. Greatly frightened, the Israelites cried out to the Lord.… But Moses said to the people, “Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which the Lord will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The Lord will battle for you; you hold your peace!”

     Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. And you lift up your rod and hold out your arm over the sea and split it, so that the Israelites may march into the sea on dry ground.”

     MIDRASH TEXT / Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishmael, Be-shallaḥ 3 / Rabbi Yehoshua says, “The Holy One, praised is He, said to Moses, ‘Moses! All Israel has to do is go forward.’ ” Rabbi Eliezer says, “The Holy One, praised is He, said to Moses, ‘Moses! My children are in trouble—the sea is closing, the enemy is pursuing—and you are standing, going on and on in prayer! Why do you cry out to Me?’ For He was saying, ‘There is a time to be brief and a time to prolong.’ ‘O God, pray heal her!’ [
Numbers 12:13]—this is an example of being brief. ‘I threw myself down before the Lord.’ [Deuteronomy 9:18]—this is an example of prolonging.”


     Throughout his long career as leader of the Israelites, Moses had many occasions to offer prayers to God. Our Midrash notes how vastly different some of these prayers were. In the Book of Numbers, chapter 12, Miriam and Aaron spoke out against their brother Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. Miriam was punished by God for this slander by being stricken with snow-white scales all over her body. Aaron asked his brother to intercede on Miriam’s behalf. “So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying “O God, pray heal her!”—five short words (in Hebrew: El na, refah na lah). Moses’ prayer was heard by God and answered; Miriam was healed.

     After Moses had received the two tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments, he came down and found the Israelites worshiping a golden calf. In chapter 9 of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the people how he had smashed the tablets and destroyed the idol. He also recounted to them that he spent the next forty days and nights both fasting and praying on their behalf—”I threw myself down before the Lord,” interceding for Aaron, who had built the calf. “When I lay prostrate before the Lord those forty days and forty nights because the Lord was determined to destroy you, I prayed to the Lord …” (
9:25–26). Again Moses’ prayer to God was answered; the Israelites were saved from destruction.

     The Midrash imagines Moses’ prayer at the Sea of Reeds to be of the long-winded kind.… The sea is closing, the enemy is pursuing—and you are standing, going on and on in prayer! God, in effect, tells him, “Make it brief; now is the time for action, not words.” It is interesting to note that the biblical text does not mention the words of prayer that Moses recited. All we have is his two-sentence response trying to calm the frightened Israelites. The ancient Syriac translation of the Book of Exodus adds the line, “Moses cried out to the Lord.” Josephus, in The Jewish Antiquities, actually quotes from the prayer of Moses to God. Thus, a text of Moses’ long prayer may have existed in antiquity. Alternatively, the Rabbis merely assumed its existence based on God’s response “Why do you cry out to Me?”

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     August 5

     My lover is mine and I am his. --- Song of Songs 2:16.

     In this Song of Songs we see the love of Christ and his church. ASIN: B007SRUATE There is a conjugal union between Christ and believers.

     It is a natural union. This all people have, Christ having taken human nature on him. But if there is no more than this natural union, it will give little comfort. Thousands are damned though Christ is united to their human nature.

     It is a sacred union. By this we are mystically united to Christ. The union with Christ is not personal. If Christ’s essence were transfused into the person of a believer, then it would follow that all that a believer does should be meritorious.

     But the union between Christ and a saint is

     contractual. “My lover is mine.” God the Father gives the bride, God the Son receives the bride, God the Holy Spirit ties the knot in marriage—he knits our wills to Christ and Christ’s love to us.

     effective. Christ unites himself to his spouse by his graces and influences. Christ makes himself one with the spouse by conveying his image and stamping the impress of his own holiness on her.

     spiritual. It is hard to describe how the soul is united to the body and how Christ is united to the soul. But though this union is spiritual, it is real. Things in nature often work imperceptibly; so the union between Christ and the soul, though it is imperceptible to the eye of reason, is still real.

     Before this union with Christ, however, there must be a separation. The heart must be separated from all other lovers. So there must be a leaving of our former sins, a breaking off the old league with hell before we can be united to Christ. There must be a divorce before a union.

     The purpose of our conjugal union with Christ is twofold:

     Cohabitation. This is one purpose of marriage, to live together “that Christ may dwell in your hearts” (Eph. 3:17). It is not enough to pay Christ a few visits in his ordinances; we must dwell on the thoughts of Christ. Married persons should not live apart.

     Fruit bearing. The spouse bears the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23). Barrenness is a shame in Christ’s spouse.
--- Thomas Watson

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

On This Day
     Only One Missionary  August 5

     Mary Slessor’s childhood was marred by a drinking father. Every Saturday his paycheck turned into alcohol, leaving the family destitute for another week. By age 11 Mary was putting in 12-hour shifts in the mills, six in the Morning till six at night. She hid her earnings from her father, incurring his wrath but keeping the family fed. In her spare time, Mary taught herself to read and found she could prop books on her loom and read while working. There Mary learned of Calabar (Nigeria), an “unhealthy, mysterious, terrible land ruled by witchcraft and secret societies.” She was convinced she should go there as a missionary.

     For several years Mary worked in mission halls near her home in the slums of Dundee, Scotland. She learned to face down gangs, to pray down blessings, and to break down hardened hearts. Her work finally led to her being appointed missionary to Calabar, and on August 5, 1876, she sailed for West Africa aboard the S.S. Ethiopia. She was dismayed to find the ship loaded with hundreds of barrels of whiskey. Remembering how alcohol had ruined her own family, she frowned. “Scores of barrels of whisky,” she muttered, “and only one missionary.”

     But what a missionary! In the years that followed, she single-handedly tamed and transformed three pagan areas by preaching the Gospel, teaching the children, defending the abused, and rescuing the mistreated. She was feisty. She didn’t mind living in mud huts and sleeping amid sweating bodies. She was a combination circuit preacher, village teacher, nurse, nanny, and negotiator. She diverted tribal wars and rescued women and children by the hundreds. Often babies filled her home by the dozens. (Mary learned to tie a string to each little hammock, lie in bed at night, and pull the strings as each baby needed soothing.)

     She so won the respect of Europe and Africa that she became the first woman vice consul of Britain, using her position to further her missions. For 40 years she pioneered the Gospel in areas that had proved the graveyard of other missionaries.

     How can they hear, unless someone tells them? And how can anyone tell them without being sent by the Lord? The Scriptures say it is a beautiful sight to see even the feet of someone coming to preach the good news.
--- Romans 10:14b,15.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - August 5

     “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” --- Romans 8:28.

     Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I, be not afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, “If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it.” “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that he governs wisely, that he brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, “Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from thee; never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children.”

     “Say not my soul, ‘From whence can God relieve my care?’
     Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.
     His method is sublime, his heart profoundly kind,
     God never is before his time, and never is behind.”

          Evening - August 5

     “Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?” --- Numbers 32:6.

     Kindred has its obligations. The Reubenites and Gadites would have been unbrotherly if they had claimed the land which had been conquered, and had left the rest of the people to fight for their portions alone. We have received much by means of the efforts and sufferings of the saints in years gone by, and if we do not make some return to the church of Christ by giving her our best energies, we are unworthy to be enrolled in her ranks. Others are combating the errors of the age manfully, or excavating perishing ones from amid the ruins of the fall, and if we fold our hands in idleness we had need be warned, lest the curse of Meroz fall upon us. The Master of the vineyard saith, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” What is the idler’s excuse? Personal service of Jesus becomes all the more the duty of all because it is cheerfully and abundantly rendered by some. The toils of devoted missionaries and fervent ministers shame us if we sit still in indolence. Shrinking from trial is the temptation of those who are at ease in Zion: they would fain escape the cross and yet wear the crown; to them the question for this Evening’s meditation is very applicable. If the most precious are tried in the fire, are we to escape the crucible? If the diamond must be vexed upon the wheel, are we to be made perfect without suffering? Who hath commanded the wind to cease from blowing because our bark is on the deep? Why and wherefore should we be treated better than our Lord? The firstborn felt the rod, and why not the younger brethren? It is a cowardly pride which would choose a downy pillow and a silken couch for a soldier of the cross. Wiser far is he who, being first resigned to the divine will, groweth by the energy of grace to be pleased with it, and so learns to gather lilies at the cross foot, and, like Samson, to find honey in the lion.

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

Amazing Grace
     August 5


     Words and Music by Clara H. Scott, 1841–1897

     Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law. (Psalm 119:18)

     The Scriptures teach that our faith in Christ employs all of our God-given senses:

SIGHT—     “Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 45:22).
HEARING—     “Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:3).
SMELL—     “Thy name is like ointment poured forth” (Song of Solomon 1:3).
TOUCH—     “If I may but touch His garment, I shall be well” (Matthew 9:21).
TASTE—     “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

     In order to receive God’s truth properly, then, we must have our entire being alive and alert to His every prompting. In general, most Christians do not deliberately and dramatically disobey God. Instead we simply do not heed Him by being sensitive to His leading in the small details of our lives. How important that we learn the lesson taught by this hymn text that we should have seeing eyes, hearing ears, a verbal communication of the truth, and a loving heart for sharing God’s love. All of this is possible as we are illuminated by the Holy Spirit during times of quiet waiting.

     Clara Scott, author and composer of this hymn, taught music in the Ladies’ Seminary at Lyons, Iowa. Mrs. Scott was a prolific composer of vocal and instrumental music, including a book of anthems, The Royal Anthem Book, published in 1882. These words have since been widely used to help believers have a greater awareness of God’s will for their lives and a readiness to obey (James 1:22).

•     Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth Thou hast for me; place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free. Silently now I wait for Thee, ready, my God, Thy will to see; open my eyes—illumine me, Spirit divine!

     Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth Thou sendest clear; and while the wave-notes fall on my ear, ev’rything false will disappear. Silently now I wait for Thee, ready, my God, Thy will to see; open my ears—illumine me, Spirit divine!
     Open my mouth, and let me bear gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere. Open my heart and let me prepare love with Thy children thus to share. Silently now I wait for Thee, ready, my God, Thy will to see; open my heart—illumine me, Spirit divine!

     For Today: Psalm 40:8; Proverbs 16:9; Matthew 13:6; Luke 8:18; John 7:17

     Ask God to activate your senses for receiving His truth and to make you more sensitive to the needs of those who need to hear “the warm truth” and to experience His love. Breathe this musical prayer as you prepare to go forth ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, August 5, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 12, Saturday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 75, 76
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 23, 27
Old Testament     2 Samuel 5:22–6:11
New Testament     Acts 17:16–34
Gospel     Mark 8:1–10

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 75, 76

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

1 We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks; your name is near.
People tell of your wondrous deeds.

2 At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
3 When the earth totters, with all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep its pillars steady.     Selah
4 I say to the boastful, “Do not boast,”
and to the wicked, “Do not lift up your horn;
5 do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with insolent neck.”

6 For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up;
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
8 For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed;
he will pour a draught from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.
9 But I will rejoice forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

1 In Judah God is known,
his name is great in Israel.
2 His abode has been established in Salem,
his dwelling place in Zion.
3 There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.     Selah

4 Glorious are you, more majestic
than the everlasting mountains.
5 The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil;
they sank into sleep;
none of the troops
was able to lift a hand.
6 At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
both rider and horse lay stunned.

7 But you indeed are awesome!
Who can stand before you
when once your anger is roused?
8 From the heavens you uttered judgment;
the earth feared and was still
9 when God rose up to establish judgment,
to save all the oppressed of the earth.     Selah

10 Human wrath serves only to praise you,
when you bind the last bit of your wrath around you.
11 Make vows to the LORD your God, and perform them;
let all who are around him bring gifts
to the one who is awesome,
12 who cuts off the spirit of princes,
who inspires fear in the kings of the earth.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 23, 27

A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.

Of David.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.

4 One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD,
and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.

6 Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, do I seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 If my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Old Testament
2 Samuel 5:22–6:11

22 Once again the Philistines came up, and were spread out in the valley of Rephaim. 23 When David inquired of the LORD, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come upon them opposite the balsam trees. 24 When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then be on the alert; for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” 25 David did just as the LORD had commanded him; and he struck down the Philistines from Geba all the way to Gezer.

6 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. 3 They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4 with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. 5 David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. 7 The anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 David was angry because the LORD had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. 9 David was afraid of the LORD that day; he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come into my care?” 10 So David was unwilling to take the ark of the LORD into his care in the city of David; instead David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months; and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

New Testament
Acts 17:16–34

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 19 So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.

22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’

29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 At that point Paul left them. 34 But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Mark 8:1–10

8 In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, 2 “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. 7 They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 8 They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

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

Book Of Common
     On The Same Date | Vigil | Holy Day

Eve Of The Tranfiguration
Evening Prayer
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: Proper 13, Wednesday

Psalms     Psalm 84
Old Testament     1 Kings 19:1–12
New Testament     2 Corinthians 3:1–9, 18

Index of Readings

Psalm 84

To the leader: according to The Gittith. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.     Selah

5 Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!     Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.

10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the LORD withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Old Testament
1 Kings 19:1–12

19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 The angel of the LORD came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” 8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. 9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

New Testament
2 Corinthians 3:1–9, 18

3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; 3 and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

7 Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, 8 how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory!

18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

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

Ordination Preparation - Theology
Edwin Van Driel   
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Ordination Preparation - Polity
Jay Lewis   
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Ordination Preparation - Worship
Marnie Silbert   
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Future Church: Emergence Christianity 2
Phyllis Tickle   
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Emergence Christianity 3   Phyllis Tickle
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

7 Churches Of Asia   Scott W. Sunquist
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Churches 2   Scott W. Sunquist
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Churches 3   Scott W. Sunquist
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Gnosticism, Environmentalism in Aronofsky's "Noah"
Brett McCracken   Biola University

Christian Approaches to Film   
Stan Williams   Biola University

Lect 4 Beatitudes Salt and Light
Bill Mounce