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12/26/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Revelation   1 - 3


Revelation 1

Prologue

Revelation 1 1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Greeting to the Seven Churches

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Vision of the Son of Man

9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


Revelation 2

To the Church in Ephesus

Revelation 2 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

To the Church in Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

“ ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

To the Church in Pergamum

12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

13 “ ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

To the Church in Thyatira

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’


Revelation 3

To the Church in Sardis

Revelation 3“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

To the Church in Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

“ ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

To the Church in Laodicea

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

The Reformation Study Bible



What I'm Reading

4 Ways in Which the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is Unique

By Stephen J. Bedard 12/21/16

People who subscribe to the Jesus Myth Theory argue that there is nothing unique to the incarnation of Jesus. They attempt to draw all sorts of parallels that end up disappearing as soon as you examine them. Far from being a copy of myths, the incarnation of Jesus Christ is very different. Here are four ways in which the incarnation is unique.

     1) The incarnation is rooted in history. They stories of miraculous births found in myths are placed in the mythic past. There is no connection to history. It is closer to “Once upon a time” or “A long time ago in galaxy far, far away.” The story of Jesus is placed in history and we can date it within a couple of years of accuracy. The biographies of Jesus were written during the lifetime of people who knew him.

     2) The incarnation of Jesus included a true virginal conception. What mythicists call a virgin birth, is actually sexual intercourse between two gods or a god and a human. The conception of Jesus was a special act of creation and did not include sexual intercourse. God the Father does not have a physical body.

     3) Jesus was not a demi-god. In the myths, the offspring are often considered to be half god and half human. That is not the case with Jesus. He was an incarnation of the one true God. The New Testament teaches that the pre-incarnation Jesus created all that there is. In the myths, not even the parents of the demi-gods and heroes can claim that.

     4) The humanity of Jesus was essential. The fact that Jesus was a human being is not just a footnote to the story. The humanity of Jesus was necessary for Jesus to represent the human race when he died on the cross.

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Stephen J. Bedard | About Me

6 Practical Ways to Honor Your Parents

By Tim Challies 12/21/16

God’s commandments are perfectly clear in what they say and, broadly, in what they require. Yet implementing those commandments in practical ways and in the nitty-gritty of life can pose a challenge. It can take thought, prayer, creativity. This is exactly the case with the fifth commandment—“honor your father and your mother”—and especially so for adult children. Young children honor their parents through their obedience, but what about adults? How do we honor our parents in ways that are fitting?

     I’ve taken a long time to get to this point in my series The Commandment We Forgot, and this has been deliberate. Our tendency is to skip over foundational matters to get straight to the practical stuff. Just give me the list of things to do and I’ll do them! But the deepest change to ourselves as well as the most appropriate honor to our parents will come when we first ensure we understand God’s commandment—what it means, why he gives it, why it matters so much. I trust you’ve tracked with me through the previous articles and if you’ve done that, you’re now ready to consider practical ways in which you can honor your parents.

     Honor to Whom Honor Is Due | In a previous article I pointed out that honoring parents is a form of honoring all authority, including God himself. As Tim Keller says, “it’s respect for parents that is the basis for every other kind of respect and every other kind of authority.” I have pointed out as well that there is no ending point to this commandment—we are to honor our parents in childhood and adulthood, for we owe them a debt of honor that never ends.

     What is the honor God means for us to give our parents? I am going to offer 6 broad suggestions, though certainly we could come up with many more. I will warn in advance: In every case there will be temptations to say, “Yes, but you don’t know my parents. You don’t know who they are or what they did to me.” I understand that in some cases showing honor may be difficult or very nearly impossible, and in our next article we will discuss some hard cases. But for now, let’s simply consider some practical ways in which we can display honor to our parents.

     Forgive Them | Perhaps the most important way we can honor our parents is to forgive them. The fact is, there are no perfect parents. All parents have fallen far short of their children’s expectations and, in all likelihood, even their own expectations. Our parents have sinned against us. They have made unwise decisions, they have had unrealistic expectations, they have said and done things that have left us deeply wounded. For that reason, many children enter adulthood controlled by anger and bitterness. They find themselves unable to move past their parents’ mistakes or their parents’ sin.

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

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

     Tim Challies is founding blogger of Challies.com and a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @Challies. He began his web site in 2002 and has been writing there daily since 2003. It is his place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things he discovers in his online travels.


     Tim Challies Books |  Go to Books Page

Let’s do more than sing Christmas songs

By Trillia Newbell 12/21/16

     The Christmas season is filled with many traditions: lights, trees, gifts, snow—if you’re lucky—and songs, loads of songs. You could probably come up with five Christmas-themed songs off the top of your head. “Have a Holy Jolly Christmas”, “Jingle Bells”, “White Christmas”, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, “Santa Baby”— all of these are fun, familiar tunes that have little to no Christian significance. They don’t typically move our hearts beyond a feeling of nostalgia.

     But what about songs like “Joy to the World”, “O Holy Night”, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “Angels We Have Heard On High”, “O Come O Come Emmanuel”? Like the mainstream Christmas songs, it’s easy to sing these hymns of praise with little to no thought about what the words actually mean. But, unlike the others, these songs do have great significance. And so, inspired and encouraged by my church’s children’s ministry director, I’d like to make this Christmas season less about singing and more about worship.

     The children’s ministry at our church pulls all of the kids together each Sunday to worship. As I was serving recently, I watched our ministry director come in to help lead worship. She was preparing the kids for an upcoming Christmas performance in front of the church and, as she was doing so, had the kids sing through the song once. The second time, she stopped at each line and asked the kids what it meant. Essentially, she was teaching the song. She was helping the kids go from thinking about a performance at church to thinking about what they were singing.

     My heart was filled with thankfulness during her lesson as I watched my two kids sing, “Gloria, in excelsis Deo,” and attach the meaning to it. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “we can sing these songs with gladness, thanksgiving and praise! These words aren’t simply to be sung in jest or in the name of tradition—they are to help us worship God Most High.”

     When I was on a worship team, we’d frequently stop and think about the words we were singing as we practiced. It was a wonderful way to prepare our hearts and also to take our eyes off ourselves and turn them toward the Lord. Now that I’ve been away from that team, I realized, as I saw my friend lead those little hearts in worship, that I’ve gotten out of the practice of thinking of the meaning of the words I sing in worship. Am I even worshiping at all during those moments when I’m just repeating lyrics and not thinking about what I’m singing? Thankfully, the Lord was kind to challenge me in a most peculiar way as my friend taught three- to 11-year-olds! Oh, that we never cease from learning and growing.

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     Trillia Newbell | Her writings on issues of faith, family, and diversity have been published in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Desiring God, True Woman, Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She has spoken at numerous conferences, churches, women’s retreats, colleges and seminaries, including True Woman, The Gospel Coalition Women’s conference, Southeastern Theological Seminary, and more. She currently is the Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Newbell was the Lead Editor of Karis, the women’s channel for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (2013-2015). In November 2011, she launched a Christian women’s blog-style e-zine, Women of God Magazine, where she was the managing editor. Her greatest love besides God is her family. She is married to her best friend and love, Thern. They reside with their two children near Nashville, TN.

Trillia Newbell Books:

Praying for our president elect

By Trillia Newbell 11/09/16

The presidential election is over, and we now have a president elect, but the work has really just begun. The years ahead could easily produce anxiety, greater division and frustration. We've seen the questions: Will our country survive? Will my candidate be elected? Will one or the other political party destroy America?

     The results mean good news for some, and bad news for others. It’s good to be involved and even concerned about the political climate of our country. As Christians, this burden for the nation should lead us from angst to prayer.

     The Apostle Paul instructed the church to pray for leaders:

     First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:1-4).

     In this passage, there is a clear calling for Christians to pray for kings and all people in high positions. Notice that Paul doesn’t qualify his statement with “if only those leaders are [fill in the blank].” That means we pray for our President and all governing officials regardless of their political ideology or conviction.

Click here to go to source

     Trillia Newbell | Her writings on issues of faith, family, and diversity have been published in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Desiring God, True Woman, Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She has spoken at numerous conferences, churches, women’s retreats, colleges and seminaries, including True Woman, The Gospel Coalition Women’s conference, Southeastern Theological Seminary, and more. She currently is the Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Newbell was the Lead Editor of Karis, the women’s channel for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (2013-2015). In November 2011, she launched a Christian women’s blog-style e-zine, Women of God Magazine, where she was the managing editor. Her greatest love besides God is her family. She is married to her best friend and love, Thern. They reside with their two children near Nashville, TN.

Trillia Newbell Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 146

Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146 Praise the LORD!

146:1 Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

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

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

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

The Holy Bible: ESV Reformation Study Bible, Condensed Edition (2017) - Black, Genuine Leather. (2016). (ESV). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 2.

MAN NOW DEPRIVED OF FREEDOM OF WILL, AND MISERABLY ENSLAVED.

Having in the first chapter treated of the fall of man, and the corruption of the human race, it becomes necessary to inquire, Whether the sons of Adam are deprived of all liberty; and if any particle of liberty remains, how far its power extends? The four next chapters are devoted to this question. This second chapter may be reduced to three general heads: I. The foundation of the whole discussion. II. The opinions of others on the subject of human freedom, see. 2-9. III. The true doctrine on the subject, see. 10-27.

Sections.

1. Connection of the previous with the four following chapters. In order to lay a proper foundation for the discussion of free will, two obstacles in the way to be removed--viz. sloth and pride. The basis and sum of the whole discussion. The solid structure of this basis, and a clear demonstration of it by the argument a majori ad minus. Also from the inconveniences and absurdities arising from the obstacle of pride.

2. The second part of the chapter containing the opinions of others. 1. The opinions of philosophers.

3. The labyrinths of philosophers. A summary of the opinion common to all the philosophers.

4. The opinions of others continued--viz. The opinions of the ancient theologians on the subject of free will. These composed partly of Philosophy and partly of Theology. Hence their falsehood, extravagance, perplexity, variety, and contradiction. Too great fondness for philosophy in the Church has obscured the knowledge of God and of ourselves. The better to explain the opinions of philosophers, a definition of Free Will given. Wide difference between this definition and these opinions.

5. Certain things annexed to Free Will by the ancient theologians, especially the Schoolmen. Many kinds of Free Will according to them.

6. Puzzles of scholastic divines in the explanation of this question.

7. The conclusion that so trivial a matter ought not to be so much magnified. Objection of those who have a fondness for new terms in the Church. Objection answered.

8. Another answer. The Fathers, and especially Augustine, while retaining the term Free Will, yet condemned the doctrine of the heretics on the subject, as destroying the grace of God.

9. The language of the ancient writers on the subject of Free Will is, with the exception of that of Augustine, almost unintelligible. Still they set little or no value on human virtue, and ascribe the praise of all goodness to the Holy Spirit.

10. The last part of the chapter, containing a simple statement of the true doctrine. The fundamental principle is, that man first begins to profit in the knowledge of himself when he becomes sensible of his ruined condition. This confirmed, 1. by passages of Scripture.

11. Confirmed, 2. by the testimony of ancient theologians.

12. The foundation being laid, to show how far the power both of the intellect and will now extends, it is maintained in general, and in conformity with the views of Augustine and the Schoolmen, that the natural endowments of man are corrupted, and the supernatural almost entirely lost. A separate consideration of the powers of the Intellect and the Will. Some general considerations, 1. The intellect possesses some powers of perception. Still it labours under a twofold defect.

13. Man's intelligence extends both to things terrestrial and celestial. The power of the intellect in regard to the knowledge of things terrestrial. First, with regard to matters of civil polity.

14. The power of the intellect, secondly, with regard to the arts. Particular gifts in this respect conferred on individuals, and attesting the grace of God.

15. The rise of this knowledge of things terrestrial, first, that we may see how human nature, notwithstanding of its fall, is still adorned by God with excellent endowments.

16. Use of this knowledge continued. Secondly, that we may see that these endowments bestowed on individuals are intended for the common benefit of mankind. They are sometimes conferred even on the wicked.

17. Some portion of human nature still left. This, whatever be the amount of it, should be ascribed entirely to the divine indulgence. Reason of this. Examples.

18. Second part of the discussion, namely, that which relates to the power of the human intellect in regard to things celestial. These reducible to three heads, namely, divine knowledge, adoption, and will. The blindness of man in regard to these proved and thus tested by a simile.

19. Proved, moreover, by passages of Scripture, showing, 1. That the sons of Adam are endued with some light, but not enough to enable them to comprehend God. Reasons.

20. Adoption not from nature, but from our heavenly Father, being sealed in the elect by the Spirit of regeneration. Obvious from many passages of Scripture, that, previous to regeneration, the human intellect is altogether unable to comprehend the things relating to regeneration. This fully proved. First argument. Second argument. Third argument.

21. Fourth argument. Scripture ascribes the glory of our adoption and salvation to God only. The human intellect blind as to heavenly things until it is illuminated. Disposal of a heretical objection.

22. Human intellect ignorant of the true knowledge of the divine law. This proved by the testimony of an Apostle, by an inference from the same testimony, and from a consideration of the end and definition of the Law of Nature. Plato obviously mistaken in attributing all sins to ignorance.

23. Themistius nearer the truth in maintaining, that the delusion of the intellect is manifested not so much in generals as in particulars. Exception to this rule.

24. Themistius, however, mistaken in thinking that the intellect is so very seldom deceived as to generals. Blindness of the human intellect when tested by the standard of the Divine Law, in regard both to the first and second tables. Examples.

25. A middle view to be taken--viz. that all sins are not imputable to ignorance, and, at the same time, that all sins do not imply intentional malice. All the human mind conceives and plans in this matter is evil in the sight of God. Need of divine direction every moment.

26. The will examined. The natural desire of good, which is universally felt, no proof of the freedom of the human will. Two fallacies as to the use of terms, appetite and good.

27. The doctrine of the Schoolmen on this subject opposed to and refuted by Scripture. The whole man being subject to the power of sin, it follows that the will, which is the chief seat of sin, requires to be most strictly curbed. Nothing ours but sin.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion



  • Going to Church
  • Church Presence
  • Redemption Nations

#1 Edward Klink | Biola University

 

#2 Edward Klink | Biola University

 

#3 Adam Edgerly | Biola University

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     God’s leadings
     12/26/2017    Bob Gass

     ‘We walk by faith, not by sight.’

(2 Co 5:7) 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. ESV

     Good leaders will tell you there are times when they’re not sure; when they don’t know all they’d like to know. And if they’re really frank they’ll admit, ‘I’m glad the people I’m supposed to lead don’t know how much I don’t know!’ Whether you’re a leader or a follower, the Bible says, ‘We walk by faith, not by sight.’ But let’s be honest; sometimes we know what God wants us to do but we don’t like it. So we pray hoping He’ll change His mind and rubber-stamp what we want. But it’s not going to happen. God can’t bless you beyond your last act of disobedience. In the book of Hebrews we read, ‘By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going’ (Hebrews 11:8 NIV 2011 Edition). When you follow God, most times you’ll go out not knowing as much as you’d like to. Counsellors, study groups, success manuals, committees, business plans, and projections can help you. But there comes a time when you have to leave your comfort zone and move in the direction God is pointing. Will you have answers to all your questions and clarity about all your concerns? No. Just like your car’s headlights don’t shine round the next corner, God will give you instructions on a ‘need-to-know basis’. And it’s the only way to live! It keeps you dependent on Him, helps you to remember who’s in charge and who deserves credit for your successes. And by the way, God’s leadings take a lifetime to learn, so don’t get discouraged.

(2 Co 5:6–10) 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. ESV

Zech 7-8
Rev 18

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     John Alexander Logan died this day, December 26, 1886. He was a Major-General during the Civil War serving with General Grant at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and General Sherman on his march to the sea. A U.S. Congressman and Senator, John Alexander Logan stated: “The beautiful ceremonies of love and remembrance, now so universally performed with flowers, came… through… the Christian religion. Branches of palms were thrown in the path of our Saviour as He entered Jerusalem. The crucified Christ received a crown of thorns from His executioners, but flowers strewn by unseen hands exhaled their fragrance around the cave where His body was laid.”

American Minute

Letters To Malcolm, Chiefly On Prayer
     by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God


     Chapter 21  December 26

     Much of our backwardness in prayer is no doubt due to our sins, as every teacher will tell us; to our avoidable immersion in the things of this world, to our neglect of mental discipline. And also to the very worst kind of "fear of God." We shrink from too naked a contact, because we are afraid of the divine demands upon us which it might make too audible. As some old writer says, many a Christian prays faintly "lest God might really hear him, which he, poor man, never intended." But sins-at any rate, our actual and individual sins-are not perhaps the only cause.

     By the very constitution of our minds as they now are­ whatever they may have been when God first made man-it is difficult for us to concentrate on anything which is neither sensible (like potatoes) nor abstract (like numbers). What is concrete but immaterial can be kept in view only by painful effort. Some would say "Because it does not exist." But the rest of our experience cannot accept that solution. For we ourselves and all that we most care about seem to come in the class "concrete (that is, individual) and insensible." If reality consists of nothing but physical objects and abstract concepts, then reality has, in the last resort, nothing to say to us. We are in the wrong universe. Man is a passion inutile; and so, good night. And yet, the supposedly real universe has been quarried out of man's sensuous experiences.

     The painful effort which prayer involves is no proof that we are doing something we were not created to do.

     If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be delight. Some day, please God, it will be. The same is true of many other behaviors which now appear as duties. If I loved my neighbor as myself, most of the actions which are now my moral duty would flow out of me as spontaneously as song from a lark or fragrance from a flower. Why is this not so yet? Well, we know, don't we? Aristotle has taught us that delight is the "bloom" on an unimpeded activity. But the very activities for which we were created are, while we live on earth, variously impeded: by evil in ourselves or in others. Not to practice them is to abandon our humanity. To practice them spontaneously and delightfully is not yet possible. This situation creates the category of duty, the whole specifically moral realm.

     It exists to be transcended. Here is the paradox of Christianity. As practical imperatives for here and now the two great commandments have to be translated "Behave as if you loved God and man." For no man can love because he is told to. Yet obedience on this practical level is not really obedience at all. And if a man really loved God and man, once again this would hardly be obedience; for if he did, he would be unable to help it. Thus the command really says to us, "Ye must be born again." Till then, we have duty, morality, the Law. A schoolmaster, as St. Paul says, to bring us to Christ. We must expect no more of it than of a schoolmaster; we must allow it no less. I must say my prayers to-day whether I feel devout or not; but that is only as I must learn my grammar if I am ever to read the poets.

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Christ never thinks he has loved his spouse enough
till he can see his own face in her.
--- Thomas Watson


I care not what your education is, elaborate or nothing,
what your mental calibre is, great or small,
that man who concentrates all his energies of body,
mind and soul in one direction
is a tremendous man.
--- T. DeWitt Talmage

Higher than the highest heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered:
Grant me now my supplication,
None of self and all of Thee.
--- Unknown

The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration. --- Pearl S. Buck

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 31:19-20
     by D.H. Stern

י     19     She puts her hands to the staff with the flax;
her fingers hold the spinning rod.
ך     20     She reaches out to embrace the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.


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


                Placed in the light

     If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, … the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.
--- 1 John 1:7.

     To mistake conscious freedom from sin for deliverance from sin by the Atonement is a great error. No man knows what sin is until he is born again. Sin is what Jesus Christ faced on Calvary. The evidence that I am delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. It takes the last reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that is, the impartation of His absolute perfection, to make a man know what sin is.

     The Holy Spirit applies the Atonement to us in the unconscious realm as well as in the realm of which we are conscious, and it is only when we get a grasp of the unrivalled power of the Spirit in us that we understand the meaning of 1 John 1:7, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” This does not refer to conscious sin only, but to the tremendously profound understanding of sin which only the Holy Ghost in me realizes.

     If I walk in the light as God is in the light, not in the light of my conscience, but in the light of God—if I walk there, with nothing folded up, then there comes the amazing revelation—the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sin so that God Almighty can see nothing to censure in me. In my consciousness it works with a keen poignant knowledge of what sin is. The love of God at work in me makes me hate with the hatred of the Holy Ghost all that is not in keeping with God’s holiness. To walk in the light means that everything that is of the darkness drives me closer into the centre of the light.

My Utmost for His Highest

Aleph
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Aleph

What is time? the man stands
  in the grass under
  the willow by the grey
  water corrugated
  by wind, and his spirit reminds
  him of how it was always
  so, in Athens, in Sumer under
  the great king. The moment
  is history's navel
  and round it the worlds
  spin. Was there desire
  in the past? It is fulfilled
  here. The mind has emerged
  from the long cave without
  looking back, leading eternity
  by the hand, and together they pause
  on the adult threshold
  recuperating endlessly
  in intermissions of the machine.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Take Heart
     December 26



     Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
--- Psalm 73:25–26.

     God’s glory is made our chief purpose when three things concur:  The Whole Works of the Late Reverend Thomas Boston, of Ettrick: Now First Collected and Reprinted Without Abridgement; Including His Memoirs, Written By Himself (Classic Reprint)

1.      When the glory of God is one of our purposes in acting. If the nourishment of our bodies is the only intent of our eating and drinking, it is sinful and out of the due order.

2.      When God’s glory is not only our purpose, but is our main and principal purpose, our chief intent. But when, on the contrary, someone eats and drinks (for instance) more for the nourishment of the body than for God’s glory, it is plain that God’s glory is not the chief purpose of the individual in that action. Hence we read of some that are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4 KJV).

3.      When it is the ultimate purpose, the top and perfection of what we design, beyond which we have no more view and to which all other intents are made subservient and as means to that end. Thus we should eat that our bodies may be refreshed; we should desire that our bodies may be refreshed that we may be the more capable to serve and glorify God in our stations. Thus we are obliged to seek salvation that God may be glorified and not to seek God’s glory only that we may be saved, for that is to make the glory of God a stepping-stone to our own safety.

     See the excellence of the human above other creatures on earth! We are made for a noble purpose—to glorify and enjoy God, while other creatures were made for us. How sad it is that people should thus forget their dignity and turn slaves to those creatures that were made to serve them! And how deplorable and lamentable is it that people, in place of making God their ultimate purpose and placing their chief happiness in him, should make their appetites, their lusts, and idols their gods and place their chief felicity in the gratification of sensual and brutish pleasures. Our hearts by nature are set on the earth that we tread on, and our desires reach up to those things that we should make stepping-stones of. Let us earnestly implore divine grace to cure this disorder of our hearts and give them a bias to more excellent things and the enjoyment of that which will survive the grave and not perish with the wrecks of time and the dissolution of the world.
--- Thomas Boston

My Utmost for His Highest

On This Day   December 26
     This Is No Dream

     Dwight L. Moody, badly overweight, grew ill in Kansas City, canceled his engagements, and returned home to Northfield, Massachusetts. He lugged himself up to his bedroom to dress for dinner, but felt so exhausted that he took to bed. He declined quickly, and it became clear he was dying of “fatty degeneration of the heart.” On December 22 he suddenly opened his eyes and spoke clearly: “Earth recedes! Heaven opens before me.” His son, sitting near him, suggested he was dreaming. “This is no dream, Will,” Moody replied. “It is beautiful! It is like a trance! If this is death, it is sweet! God is calling me, and I must go!”

     The family gathered around. “This is my triumph!” said Moody. “This is my coronation day! I have been looking forward to it for years.” His face suddenly lit up. “Dwight! Irene! I see the children’s faces!” (Dwight and Irene were his recently deceased grandchildren.) Moody closed his eyes and appeared unconscious. Then he spoke again. “No pain! No valley! If this is death, it’s not bad at all! It’s sweet!”

     A little later he raised himself on an elbow and exclaimed, “What does all this mean? What are you all doing here?” His wife explained he had not been well. Moody fell back on the bed and said, “This is very strange! I’ve been beyond the gates of death to the very portals of heaven, and here I am back again. It is very strange.”

     Then he said, “I’m not at all sure but that God may perform a miracle and raise me up. I’m going to get up and sit in that chair. If God wants to heal me by a miracle, all right; if not, I can meet death in my chair as well as here.” To everyone’s shock, Moody rose, walked across the room, and sat in an easy chair. But he soon returned to bed exhausted, spoke tenderly to them some more, and finally slipped on to heaven. His funeral was conducted at 10 A.M. on December 26, 1899 by C. I. Scofield, and he was laid to rest atop Northfield’s Mount Hermon.

     But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body.
--- Philippians 3:20,21.

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

The Priesthood
     as a Distinct Order

     The internal development of Israel subsequent to the exile was essentially determined by the direction given to it by two equally influential classes, viz. the priests on the one hand and the scribes on the other. During the centuries immediately following the exile and till far on into the Greek era, it was, in the first instance, the influence of the priests that was predominant. It was they who had been instrumental in organizing the new community; it was from them that the law had emanated; and to their hands had been entrusted the direction, not only of the material, but also of the spiritual affairs of the whole body of the people. But although originally it was they who were specially versed in the law and were looked upon as its authoritative interpreters, yet by and by there gradually grew up alongside of them an independent order of doctors or men learned in the law. And the importance and influence of these latter would necessarily go on increasing in proportion as the priests grew less and less zealous for the law of their fathers on the one hand, and as the law itself came to acquire a greater value and significance in the estimation of the people on the other. This was the case more particularly after the Maccabaean wars of independence. Ever since then the scribes got the spiritual superintendence of the people more and more into their own hands. And so the age of the priests was succeeded by that of the scribes (comp. Reuss, Geschichte der heiligen Schriften A. T’.s). This however is not to be understood as implying that the priests had now lost all their influence. Politically and socially they still occupied the foremost place quite as much as ever they did. It is true the scribes had now come to be recognised as the teachers of the people. But, in virtue of their political standing, in virtue of the powerful resources at their command, and, lastly and above all, in virtue of their sacred prerogatives—for, inasmuch as they enjoyed the exclusive right of offering Israel’s sacrifices to God, their intervention was necessary to the fulfilment of his religious duties in the case of every member of the community,—in virtue of all this, we say, the priests still continued to have an extraordinary significance for the life of the nation.

The History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ: Vols. I, II, & III.1

Personal Example
     ...selfless dedication

     (Neh. 5). The rebuilding effort kept many from working their fields. Some of the wealthy loaned the poor money at interest and took their fields when they could not repay. Nehemiah, who had personally paid the governor’s expenses rather than take tax money from the people, confronted the guilty and forced them to restore the lands they had taken and cancel interest charges (which were condemned by the Law—see Deut. 23:19, 20).

Every Man In The Bible Everything In The Bible Series

Dependence On God
     an example of generosity

     Even though Nehemiah knew how to take definite action and exert courageous leadership, his dependence was on God. The Christian leader faces many delicate matters. The internal problems of greed, inequality, and injustice that Nehemiah faced were delicate and serious. But he reacted carefully yet swiftly and decisively, trusting in God’s help and the guidance of his Word. He confronted the offender privately and made the matter clear (the implication of v. 7). Then he called an assembly, since public issues must be dealt with in public. Yet he exhibited a humble attitude throughout. He was an example of generosity, setting an example of unselfish service.

Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)

Historical Background
     457 - 445 B.C.

     The period of thirteen years between Ezra and Nehemiah must have brought considerable problems to the Jews in and around Jerusalem. The report given to Nehemiah in Susa at the end of that period was very bleak (Neh 1:1–3). It was a time of great international changes. At the beginning Athens was an adventurous and ambitious naval and military power. By the end of it she had settled her wars with Persia and was prepared to enjoy two fruitful decades of peaceful and creative life before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian wars. During this period Egypt rebelled against Persian rule and was brought back under its suzerainty.

     Egypt was being led in rebellion against high taxes and other complaints by Inaros, a Lybian, with the help of Greek ships and troops. Artaxerxes countered Athenian aid to Egyptian rebels by helping Sparta defeat Athens at Tanagra in 457 B.C.. In 456 B.C.. Megabyzus (See Excursus: Megabyzus) became satrap of Beyond the River, of which Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities were a loyal part. By 454 B.C.. Megabyzus and his fellow general Artabazus were successful in reclaiming Egypt. However, Megabyzus, rebuffed and insulted by palace intrigue, made a show of independence by leading Beyond the River into rebellion against the central government. In at least two battles, Persian armies were unable to subdue him. The locations of these battles are not known, but they must have been in Palestine. They may well provide the background for 63:1–6. Finally Megabyzus again promised loyalty to the crown. He was then restored to favor and his position as satrap.

     A strong reason for Artaxerxes to settle matters with Megabyzus lay in the developing conflict with Greece in the eastern Mediterranian. A large Athenian fleet under Kimon attacked Persian installations on Cyprus in 450 B.C. but could not follow through on its initiative, largely because of the strength and wisdom of Megabyzus. The fleet then withdrew and the Peace of Callias that effectively ended major Greek-Persian military confrontations was signed in 449 B.C.. This allowed Persia to introduce a period of relative stability in Palestine and Egypt.

     It also marked the beginning of the golden age of Greece (i.e., Athens). The fifth century B.C. was probably one of the most eventful and momentous in history. It was then that Herodotus, the father of history, went on his travels in preparation for his great work. The very year that Nehemiah had his first interview about Judah with the Persian king, Herodotus recited his history at Athens. Aeschylus (525–456 B.C.) had just died and Sophocles (495–406 B.C.) and Euripides (480–406) were at the height of their work. Under the direction of Pericles, who was the greatest statesman Athens produced, Phisias was commissioned as director of art and himself built the Propylaea on the Acropolis. He also constructed the magnificant temple of Athena (the famous Parthenon) and a statue of the goddess that was dedicated in 438 B.C., when Nehemiah was building the wail of Jerusalem. It was also the age of Socrates, who was born in 469 B.C. (J. M. Myers, The World of the Restoration, 127).

Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 25, Isaiah 34-66 (watts), 420pp

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - December 26

     “The last Adam." 1 Corinthians 15:45.

     Jesus is the federal head of his elect. As in Adam, every heir of flesh and blood has a personal interest, because he is the covenant head and representative of the race as considered under the law of works; so under the law of grace, every redeemed soul is one with the Lord from heaven, since he is the Second Adam, the Sponsor and Substitute of the elect in the new covenant of love. The apostle Paul declares that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him: it is a certain truth that the believer was in the loins of Jesus Christ, the Mediator, when in old eternity the covenant settlements of grace were decreed, ratified, and made sure for ever. Thus, whatever Christ hath done, he hath wrought for the whole body of his Church. We were crucified in him and buried with him (read Col. 2:10-13), and to make it still more wonderful, we are risen with him and even ascended with him to the seats on high (Eph. 2:6). It is thus that the Church has fulfilled the law, and is “accepted in the beloved.” It is thus that she is regarded with complacency by the just Jehovah, for he views her in Jesus, and does not look upon her as separate from her covenant head. As the Anointed Redeemer of Israel, Christ Jesus has nothing distinct from his Church, but all that he has he holds for her. Adam’s righteousness was ours so long as he maintained it, and his sin was ours the moment that he committed it; and in the same manner, all that the Second Adam is or does, is ours as well as his, seeing that he is our representative. Here is the foundation of the covenant of grace. This gracious system of representation and substitution, which moved Justin Martyr to cry out, “O blessed change, O sweet permutation!” this is the very groundwork of the Gospel of our salvation, and is to be received with strong faith and rapturous joy.


          Evening - December 26

     “Lo, I am with you alway.” --- Matthew 28:20.

     The Lord Jesus is in the midst of his church; he walketh among the golden candlesticks; his promise is, “Lo, I am with you alway.” He is as surely with us now as he was with the disciples at the lake, when they saw coals of fire, and fish laid thereon and bread. Not carnally, but still in real truth, Jesus is with us. And a blessed truth it is, for where Jesus is, love becomes inflamed. Of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus! A glimpse of him so overcomes us, that we are ready to say, “Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me.” Even the smell of the aloes, and the myrrh, and the cassia, which drop from his perfumed garments, causes the sick and the faint to grow strong. Let there be but a moment’s leaning of the head upon that gracious bosom, and a reception of his divine love into our poor cold hearts, and we are cold no longer, but glow like seraphs, equal to every labour, and capable of every suffering. If we know that Jesus is with us, every power will be developed, and every grace will be strengthened, and we shall cast ourselves into the Lord’s service with heart, and soul, and strength; therefore is the presence of Christ to be desired above all things. His presence will be most realized by those who are most like him. If you desire to see Christ, you must grow in conformity to him. Bring yourself, by the power of the Spirit, into union with Christ’s desires, and motives, and plans of action, and you are likely to be favoured with his company. Remember his presence may be had. His promise is as true as ever. He delights to be with us. If he doth not come, it is because we hinder him by our indifference. He will reveal himself to our earnest prayers, and graciously suffer himself to be detained by our entreaties, and by our tears, for these are the golden chains which bind Jesus to his people.


Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     December 26

          GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN

     Stanzas by John W. Work, 1871–1925

     You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9)

     For many people, another Christmas season is merely a rerun of the trivial and the sentimental. But for the devoted Christian, Christmas is much more than a once a year celebration. It is a fresh awareness that a Deliverer was sent from the ivory palaces of heaven to become personally involved in the redemption and affairs of the human race. The impact of this realization becomes a strong motivation to share the good news with needy and desperate people who need to know that there is an Emmanuel available who can meet their every need. Men everywhere must hear these glad tidings if they are to benefit from them. With absolute clarity they must hear the message, “Here is your God!”

     Negro spirituals had their roots in the late 18th and early 19th century camp meetings throughout the South as well as in the active evangelical ministry carried on among the black people during this time. However, few of their traditional songs were collected or published prior to about 1840. The stanzas for “Go Tell It on the Mountain” were written by John W. Work, Jr. He and his brother, Frederick J. Work, were early leaders in arranging and promoting the cause of Negro spirituals. Today’s song was first published in Folk Songs of the American Negro in 1907. These traditional spirituals have since become an important part of the American folk and sacred music heritage and are greatly appreciated and enjoyed by all of God’s people.

     While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night, behold, throughout the heavens there shone a holy light.
     The shepherds feared and trembled when lo! above the earth rang out the angel chorus that hailed our Savior’s birth.
     Down in a lowly manger the humble Christ was born, and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn.
     Refrain: Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and ev’rywhere—go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!


     For Today: Isaiah 42:11, 12; Luke 14:23; Romans 12:11; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 2:10

     Reflect on this: How have I grown spiritually throughout this Christmas season? What new insights have I gained regarding this message? How can I share my faith in the living Christ more effectively in the days ahead? Use this musical reminder to help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

     II. The second thing, How this patience or slowness to anger is manifested.

     1. To our first parents. His slowness to anger was evidenced in not directing his artillery against them, when they first attempted to rebel. He might have struck them dead when they began to bite at the temptation, and were inclinable to a surrender; for it was a degree of sinning, and a breach of loyalty as well, though not so much as the consummating act. God might have given way to the floods of his wrath at the first spring of man’s aspiring thoughts, when the monstrous motion of being as God began to be curdled in his heart; but he took no notice of any of their embryo sins till they came to a ripeness, and started out of the womb of their minds into the open air: and after he had brought his sin to perfection, God did not presently send that death upon him, which he had merited, but continued his life to the space of 930 years (Gen. 5:5). The sun and stars were not arrested from doing their office for him. Creatures were continued for his use, the earth did not swallow him up, nor a thunderbolt from heaven raze out the memory of him. Though he had deserved to be treated with such a severity for his ungrateful demeanor to his Creator and Benefactor, and affecting an equality with him, yet God continued him with a sufficiency for his content, after he turned rebel, though not with such a liberality as when he remained a loyal subject; and though he foresaw that he would not make an end of sinning, but with an end of living, he used him not in the same manner as he had used the devils. He added days and years to him, after he had deserved death, and hath for this 5,000 years continued the propagation of mankind, and derived from his loins an innumerable posterity, and hath crowned multitudes of them with hoary heads. He might have extinguished human race at the first; but since he hath preserved it till this day, it must be interpreted nothing else but the effect of an admirable patience.

     2. His slowness to anger is manifest to the Gentiles. What they were, we need no other witness than the apostle Paul, who sums up many of their crimes (Rom. 1:29–32). He doth preface the catalogue with a comprehensive expression, “Being filled with all unrighteousness;” and concludes it with a dreadful aggravation, “They not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” They were so soaked and naturalized in wickedness, that they had no delight, and found no sweetness in anything else but what was in itself abominable; all of them were plunged in idolatry and superstition; none of them but either set up their great men, or creatures, beneficial to the world, and some the damned spirits in his stead, and paid an adoration to insensible creatures or devils, which was due to God. Some were so depraved in their lives and actions, that it seemed to be the interest of the rest of the world, that they should have been extinguished for the instruction of their contemporaries and posterity. The best of them had turned all religion into a fable, coined a world of rites, some unnatural in themselves, and most of them unbecoming a rational creature to offer, and a Deity to accept: yet he did not presently arm himself against them with fire and sword, nor stopped the course of their generations, nor tear out all those relics of natural light which were left in their minds. He did not do what he might have done, but he winked at the “times of that ignorance” (Acts 17:30), their ignorant idolatry; for that it refers to (ver. 29): “They thought the Godhead was like to gold or silver, or stone graven heart, and men’s device;” ὑπεριδὼν, overlooking them. He demeaned himself so, as if he did not take notice of them. He winked as if he did not see them, and would not deal so severely with them: the eye of his justice seemed to wink, in not calling them to an account for their sin.

     3. His slowness to anger is manifest to the Israelites. You know how often they are called a “stiff-necked people;” they are said to do evil “from their youth;” i. e. from the time wherein they were erected a nation and commonwealth; and that “the city had been a provocation of his anger, and of his fury, from the day that they built it, even to this day;” i. e. the day of Jeremiah’s prophecy, “that he should remove it from before his face” (Jer. 32:31): from the days of Solomon, say some, which is too much a curtailing of the text, as though their provocations had taken date no higher than from the time of Solomon’s rearing the temple, and beautifying the city, whereby it seemed to be a new building. They began more early; they scarce discontinued their revolting from God; they were a “grief to him forty years together in the wilderness” (Psalm 95:10), “yet he suffered their manners” (Acts 13:18). He bore with their ill-behaviour and sauciness towards him; and no sooner was Joshua’s head laid, and the elders, that were their conductors, gathered to their fathers, but the next generation forsook God, and smutted themselves with the idolatry of the nations (Judges 2:7, 10, 11): and when he punished them by prospering the arms of their enemies against them, they were no sooner delivered upon their cry and humiliation, but they began a new scene of idolatry; and though he brought upon them the power of the Babylonian empire, and laid chains upon them to bring them to their right mind. And at seventy years’ end he struck off their chains, by altering the whole posture of affairs in that part of the world for their sakes: overturning one empire, and settling another for their restoration to their ancient city. And though they did not after disown him for their God, and set up “Baal in his throne,” yet they multiplied foolish traditions, whereby they impaired the authority of the law; yet he sustained them with a wonderful patience, and preferred them before all other people in the first offers of the gospel; and after they had outraged not only his servants, the prophets, but his Son, the Redeemer, yet he did not forsake them, but employed his apostles to solicit them, and publish among them the doctrine of salvation: so that his treating this people might well be called “much long-suffering,” it being above 1500 years, wherein he bore with them, or mildly punished them, far less than their deserts; their coming out of Egypt being about the year of the world 2450, and their final destruction as a commonwealth, not till about forty years after the death of Christ; and all this while his patience did sometimes wholly restrain his justice, and sometimes let it fall upon them in some few drops, but made no total devastation of their country, nor wrote his revenge in extraordinary bloody characters, till the Roman conquest, wherein he put a period to them both as a church and state. In particular this patience is manifest,

     1st. In his giving warnings of judgments, before he orders them to go forth. He doth not punish in a passion, and hastily; he speaks before he strikes, and speaks that he may not strike. Wrath is published before it is executed, and that a long time; an hundred and twenty years’ advertisement was given to a debauched world before the heavens were opened, to spout down a deluge upon them. He will not be accused of coming unawares upon a people; he inflicts nothing but what he foretold either immediately to the people that provoke him, or anciently to them that have been their forerunners in the same provocation (Hos. 7:12), “I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.” Many of the leaves of the Old Testament are full of those presages and warnings of approaching judgment. These make up a great part of the volume of it in various editions, according to the state of the several provoking times. Warnings are given to those people that are most abominable in his sight (Zeph. 2:1, 2); “Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired,”—it is a Meiosis, O nation abhorred,—“before the decree bring forth.” He sends his heralds before he sends his armies; he summons them by the voice of his prophets, before he confounds them by the voice of his thunders. When a parley is beaten, a white flag of peace is hung out, before a black flag of fury is set up. He seldom cuts down men by his judgments, before he hath “hewed them by his prophets” (Hos. 6:5). Not a remarkable judgment but was foretold: the flood to the old world by Noah; the famine to Egypt by Joseph; the earthquake by Amos (ch. 1:1); the storm from Chaldea by Jeremiah; the captivity of the ten tribes by Hosea; the total destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Christ himself. He hath chosen the best persons in the world to give those intimations; Noah, the most righteous person on the earth, for the old world; and his Son, the most beloved person in heaven, for the Jews in the later time: and in other parts of the world, and in the later times, where he hath not warned by prophets, he hath supplied it by prodigies in the air and earth; histories are full of such items from heaven. Lesser judgments are forewarners of greater, as lightnings before thunder are messengers to tell us of a succeeding clap.

     (1). He doth often give warning of judgments. He comes not to extremity, till he hath often shaken the rod over men; he thunders often, before he crusheth them with his thunderbolt; he doth not till after the first and second admonition punish a rebel, as he would have us reject a heretic. “He speaks once, yea, twice” (Job 33:14), “and man perceives it not;” he sends one message after another, and waits the success of many messages before he strikes. Eight prophets were ordered to acquaint the whole world with approaching judgment (2 Pet. 2:5): he saved “Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly,” called “the eighth” in respect of his preaching, not in regard of his preservation; he was the eighth preacher in order, from the beginning of the world, that endeavored to restore the world to the way of righteousness. Most, indeed, consider him here as the eighth person saved, so do our translators; and, therefore, add person, which is not in the Greek. Some others consider him here as the eighth preacher of righteousness, reckoning Enoch, the son of Seth, the first, grounding it upon Gen. 4:26: “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord,” heb. “Then it was began to call in the name of the Lord,” τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ. Sept. “He began to call in the name of the Lord,” which others render, “He began to preach, or call upon men in the name of the Lord.” The word קלא signifies to preach, or to call upon men by preaching (Prov. 1:21): “Wisdom crieth,” or “preaches;” and if this be so, as it is very probable, it is easy to reckon him the eighth preacher, by numbering the successive heads of the generations (Gen. 5.), beginning at Enoch, the first preacher of righteousness. So many there were before God choked the old world with water, and swept them away. It is clear he often did admonish, by his prophets, the Jews of their sin, and the wrath which should come upon them. One prophet, Hosea, prophesied seventy years; for he prophesied in the days of four kings of Judah, and one of Israel, Jeroboam, the son of Joash (Hos. 1:1), or Jeroboam, the second of that name. Uzziah, king of Judah, in whose reign Hosea prophesied, lived thirty-eight years after the death of Jeroboam. The second Jotham, Uzziah’s successor, reigned sixteen ears; Ahaz sixteen; Hezekiah twenty-nine years. Now, take noting of Hezekiah’s time, and date the beginning of his prophecy from the last year of Jeroboam’s reign, and the time of Hosea’s prophecy will be seventy years complete; wherein God warned those people, and waited the return particularly of Israel; and not less than five of those we call the Lesser Prophets, were sent to foretell the destruction of the ten tribes, and to call them to repentance, — Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Jonah; and though we have nothing of Jonah’s prophecy in this concern of Israel, yet that he lived in the time of the same Jeroboam, and prophesied things which are not upon record in the book of Jonah, is clear (2 Kings 14:25). And besides those, Isaiah prophesied also in the reign of the same kings as Hosea did (Isa. 1:1); and it is God’s usual method to send forth his servants, and when their admonitions are slighted he commissions others, before he sends out his destroying armies (Matt. 22:3, 4, 7).

     (2). He doth often give warning of judgments, that he might not pour out his wrath. He summons them to a surrender of themselves, and a return from their rebellion, that they might not feel the force of his arms. He offers peace before he shakes off the dust of his feet, that his despised peace might not return in vain to him to solicit a revenge from his anger. He hath a right to punish upon the first commission of a crime, but he warns men of what they have deserved, of what his justice moves him to inflict, that by having recourse to his mercy he might not exercise the rights of his justice. God sought to kill Moses for not circumcising his son (Exod. 4:24). Could God, that sought it, miss a way to do it? Could a creature lurch, or fly from him? God put on the garb of an enemy, that Moses might be discouraged from being an instrument of his own ruin: God manifested an anger against Moses for his neglect, as if he would then have destroyed him, that Moses might prevent it by casting off his carelessness, and doing his duty. He sought to kill him by some evident sign, that Moses might escape the judgment by his obedience. He threatens Nineveh, by the prophet, with destruction, that Nineveh’s repentance might make void the prophecy. He fights with men by the sword of his mouth, that he might not pierce them by the sword of his wrath. He threatens, that men might prevent the execution of his threatening; he terrifies, that he might not destroy, but that men by humiliation may lie prostrate before him, and move the bowels of his mercy to a louder sound than the voice of his anger. He takes time to whet his sword, that men may turn themselves from the edge of it. He roars like a lion, that men, by hearing his voice, may shelter themselves from being torn by his wrath. There is patience in the sharpest threatening, that we may avoid the scourge. Who can charge God with an eagerness to revenge, that sends so many heralds, and so often before he strikes, that he might be prevented from striking? His threatenings have not so much of a black flag as of an olive branch. He lifts up his hand before he strikes, that men might see and avert the stroke (Isa. 26:11).

     2d. His patience is manifest in long delaying his threatened judgments, though he finds no repentance in the rebels. He doth sometimes delay his lighter punishments, because he doth not delight in torturing his creatures; but he doth longer delay his destroying punishments, such as put an end to men’s happiness, and remit them to their final and unchangeable state; because he “doth not delight in the death of a sinner.” While he is preparing his arrows, he is waiting for an occasion to lay them aside, and dull their points, that he may with honor march back again, and disband his armies. He brings lighter smarts sooner, that men might not think him asleep, but he suspends the more terrible judgments that men might be led to repentance. He scatters not his consuming fires at the first, but brings on ruining vengeance with a “slow pace; sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed” (Eccles. 8:11). The Jews therefore say, that Michael, the minister of justice, flies with one wing, but Gabriel, the minister of mercy, with two. An hundred and twenty years did God wait upon the old world, and delay their punishment all the time the “ark was preparing” (1 Pet. 3:20); wherein that wicked generation did not enjoy only a bare patience, but a striving patience (Gen. 6:3): “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years,” the days wherein I will strive with him; that his long-suffering might not lose all its fruit, and remit the objects of it into the hands of consuming justice. It was the tenth generation of the world from Adam, when the deluge overflowed it, so long did God bear with them: and the tenth generation from Noah wherein Sodom was consumed. God did not come to keep his assizes in Sodom, till “the cry of their sins was very strong,” that it had been a wrong to his justice to have restrained it any longer. The cry was so loud that he could not be at quiet, as it were, on his throne of glory for the disturbing noise (Gen. 17:20, 21). Sin transgresseth the law; the law being violated, solicits justice; justice, being urged, pleads for punishment; the cry of their sins did, as it were, force him from heaven to come down, and examine what cause there was for that clamor. Sin cries loud and long before he takes his sword in hand. Four hundred years he kept off deserved destruction from the Amorites, and deferred making good his promise to Abraham, of giving Canaan to his posterity, out of his long-suffering to the Amorites (Gen. 15:16). In the fourth generation they shall come hither again, “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

The Existence and Attributes of God

The Next Event on God’s Prophetic Timetable
     John MacArthur


12-06-2018 | Pt 1






1-27-2019 | Pt 2




Revelation 1-3
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


The Book Of Blessing Revelation 1:3
s1-621 | 3-24-2013






Revelation 1:1-3
m1-639 | 3-27-2013





Revelation 1:4-6
m1-640 | 4-03-2013






A Portrait Of Jesus Revelation 1:10-18
s1-632 | 4-07-2013





Revelation 1:7-18
m1-641 | 4-10-2013






A Fine Divine Outline Revelation 1:19
s1-623 | 4-14-2013





Revelation 1-20 2-7
M1-642 | 4-17-2013






Smyrna: The Persecuted Church
Revelation 2:8-11
s1-624 | 4-21-2013





Revelation 2:12-17
m1-643 | 4-24-2013






Thyatira: A Tolerant Church?
Revelation 2:18-29
s1-625 | 4-28-2013





Revelation 2:26-3:6
m1-644 | 5-01-2013






Philadelphia: Church With An Open Door
Revelation 3:7-13
s1-626 | 5-05-2013





Revelation 3:14-22
m1-645 | 5-08-2013




     ==============================      ==============================


Revelation 1 - 3
Lean-into-GOD






Jesus' Resurrection
Erik Thoennes | Biola University





A Passion for Proclaiming Christ
Erik Thoennes | Biola University






Our Call & Mission of the Good News to the World
Murray Decker | Biola University





The Kingdom of God
and the Church Sharing the Good News
Adam Edgerly | Biola University






On the Defense of Christian Doctrine
Richard Swinburne | Biola University





Representing Christ in Word and Deed
Tim Muehlhoff | Biola University






Being willful & Will-less in Life
Chad Miller | Biola University





The Atonement
Richard Swinburne | Villanova University