Blessings for ObedienceLeviticus 26 1 “You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God. 2 You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
3 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, 4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. 6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. 7 You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9 I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.
Punishment for Disobedience14 “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you. 18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.
21 “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. 22 And I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you few in number, so that your roads shall be deserted.
23 “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, 24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute vengeance for the covenant. And if you gather within your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 When I break your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven and shall dole out your bread again by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.
27 “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 28 then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you. 31 And I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas. 32 And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.
34 “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it. 36 And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues. 37 They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though none pursues. And you shall have no power to stand before your enemies. 38 And you shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. 39 And those of you who are left shall rot away in your enemies’ lands because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them.
40 “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God. 45 But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.”
46 These are the statutes and rules and laws that the LORD made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai.
Laws About VowsLeviticus 27 1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, If anyone makes a special vow to the LORD involving the valuation of persons, 3 then the valuation of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. 4 If the person is a female, the valuation shall be thirty shekels. 5 If the person is from five years old up to twenty years old, the valuation shall be for a male twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels. 6 If the person is from a month old up to five years old, the valuation shall be for a male five shekels of silver, and for a female the valuation shall be three shekels of silver. 7 And if the person is sixty years old or over, then the valuation for a male shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels. 8 And if someone is too poor to pay the valuation, then he shall be made to stand before the priest, and the priest shall value him; the priest shall value him according to what the vower can afford.
9 “If the vow is an animal that may be offered as an offering to the LORD, all of it that he gives to the LORD is holy. 10 He shall not exchange it or make a substitute for it, good for bad, or bad for good; and if he does in fact substitute one animal for another, then both it and the substitute shall be holy. 11 And if it is any unclean animal that may not be offered as an offering to the LORD, then he shall stand the animal before the priest, 12 and the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall be. 13 But if he wishes to redeem it, he shall add a fifth to the valuation.
14 “When a man dedicates his house as a holy gift to the LORD, the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand. 15 And if the donor wishes to redeem his house, he shall add a fifth to the valuation price, and it shall be his.
16 “If a man dedicates to the LORD part of the land that is his possession, then the valuation shall be in proportion to its seed. A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver. 17 If he dedicates his field from the year of jubilee, the valuation shall stand, 18 but if he dedicates his field after the jubilee, then the priest shall calculate the price according to the years that remain until the year of jubilee, and a deduction shall be made from the valuation. 19 And if he who dedicates the field wishes to redeem it, then he shall add a fifth to its valuation price, and it shall remain his. 20 But if he does not wish to redeem the field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed anymore. 21 But the field, when it is released in the jubilee, shall be a holy gift to the LORD, like a field that has been devoted. The priest shall be in possession of it. 22 If he dedicates to the LORD a field that he has bought, which is not a part of his possession, 23 then the priest shall calculate the amount of the valuation for it up to the year of jubilee, and the man shall give the valuation on that day as a holy gift to the LORD. 24 In the year of jubilee the field shall return to him from whom it was bought, to whom the land belongs as a possession. 25 Every valuation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall make a shekel.
26 “But a firstborn of animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the LORD, no man may dedicate; whether ox or sheep, it is the LORD’s. 27 And if it is an unclean animal, then he shall buy it back at the valuation, and add a fifth to it; or, if it is not redeemed, it shall be sold at the valuation.
28 “But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the LORD, of anything that he has, whether man or beast, or of his inherited field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the LORD. 29 No one devoted, who is to be devoted for destruction from mankind, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death.
30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the LORD. 31 If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the LORD. 33 One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”
34 These are the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.
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How to Be a One Dollar Apologist in the Second Half of Life
By J. Warner Wallace 2/7/2018
I’m often asked how I’ve been able to contribute consistently over the years as a “One Dollar Apologist” (a term I coined to describe our calling as Christian Case Makers), while simultaneously involved as church leader and Cold Case Detective. I’m definitely a “Type A” over-achiever (I’ve been struggling to find balance my entire life) but much of my game plan at this point in life was formed many years ago when a man named Bob Buford came to the church I was attending and talked about his book, Half Time: Moving from Success to Significance. Buford planted an idea I’ve been watering over the past 17 years: God can use the second half of my life in an even greater way than He’s used the first, if I am willing to position myself accordingly. Buford’s talk encouraged me to see this side of 50 as the best time to impact the Kingdom, and I’ve taken that encouragement seriously ever since. I’ve repeatedly asked myself, “How can I position myself financially, educationally, experientially and influentially to have the most Kingdom impact possible once I’m done with my career as a homicide detective? What can I do now to make my opportunities in the second half of life even greater?” My goal has been to prepare myself for a season of Christian Case Making in the second half of my life, built on everything I’ve learned and achieved in the first half of my life. If you’re interested in Christian apologetics (Christian Case Making) and are still a bit younger than I am, my experience may be helpful to you. Here’s how I approached this season of ministry:
Financial Preparation | You’ll be most effective as a Christian Case Maker when you are financially disconnected from your passion as an apologist. When you’re able to make decisions independent of financial considerations, you’ll have the most freedom and flexibility as Case Maker. Live modestly, save your money, and plan for your second half. Be in a position to offer you services as a labor of love, without financial need, then use what you do earn to reinvest in your ministry. These “second half” years are about building the Kingdom, not your income.
Educational Preparation | It’s impossible to pour from an empty bucket, so start looking for ways to supplement your knowledge in preparation for a season of teaching. Become a lifelong learner. When I first enrolled in seminary and projected how long it would take to finish, I remember thinking I might not live long enough to see the end. Hear me on this: ten years are going to go by whether you get that education or not, so you might as well get the education. Look for creative opportunities to learn and start as early as possible. Think about your end goals before selecting a program, and get going.
Experiential Preparation | It’s easy to think of our college or seminary experiences as the only preparation we’ll need to be good “One Dollar Apologists”, but most of what I’ve been able to teach in this second half of life, I learned from my career in the first half. Don’t underestimate your life and employment experiences. In fact, start looking now for opportunities to learn something you can teach later. I made career choices at the police department (denying promotional prospects) to put myself in the best place to learn something I could later teach. I also made choices allowing me the kind of schedule necessary to serve in churches throughout my career. Look around; make career and recreational decisions with the “second half” in mind.
Influential Preparation | It’s difficult to teach without students, speak without listeners, or write without readers. If you want to have an effective second half, you’re going to need to understand the role of leadership and the necessity of influence. While still employed full time, I started a website (PleaseConvinceMe.com) and did what I could to establish a platform (by the way, the one book I recommend more than any other to budding “One Dollar Apologists” is Michael Hyatt’s, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World). Start thinking now about how you will serve and impact the Kingdom later. By the time I was ready to leave my “day job” at the department, I had a book published and my schedule was jammed with opportunities. Build your foundation now by establishing a presence online and feeding it daily.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
Archaeologists find 12th Dead Sea Scrolls cave
By Dov Smith 2/8/2017
Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12.
The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology, with the help of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia USA.
The excavators are the first in over 60 years to discover a new scroll cave and to properly excavate it.
The excavation was supported by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and is a part of the new "Operation Scroll" launched at the IAA by its Director-General, Mr. Israel Hasson, to undertake systematic surveys and to excavate the caves in the Judean Desert.
Dov Smith is executive director of HonestReporting Canada, a media watchdog organization monitoring Canadian news coverage of the Middle East. http://www.honestreporting.ca/
Is Truth Relative
It’s a popular idea in our culture these days.
And it usually sounds something like this: “What’s true for one person may not be what’s true for someone else, and that’s okay. Because absolute truth doesn’t exist. All truth is relative. And while everyone has beliefs that are true for them, no one can say that what they believe applies to everyone.”
And, on the surface, that line of thinking sounds good.
(If nothing else, it certainly has a tolerant feel that makes a considerable effort to promote peace amidst conflict. After all—with that line of thinking, everyone wins!)
Or so it seems at first glance.
The author of this blog is an expert weirdo. As both a Christian pastor and part-time Security Officer in the Monterey Bay Area, he clearly specializes in things that make people uncomfortable when he's around. However, he claims to have some idea of what he's talking about in this blog, based on his bachelor's degree in Humanities and Religious Studies, his half-completed Master's Degree, and his considerably epic life experience. He also loves good, deep conversation, and hopes you will dialogue with him constructively about the questions he explores in his posts. (...and maybe even share a laugh or two along the way).
By John Piper 5/24/1981
I believe all men have this in common: that they want to be happy. They do not all agree on what brings the greatest happiness, but they do all long to have it. And this longing is not bad. It is good. Evil consists in trying to find happiness in ways that displease and dishonor God. Goodness consists in finding happiness in ways that please and honor God. We can conceive of a world in which we might be called upon to do right at the expense of our ultimate happiness. But that is not the world in which we live. God has established this world in such a way that doing good through faith in Christ always leads to greater happiness eventually. We do not live in a world where we must choose between our eternal happiness and God's glory! God has created this world and its moral laws in such a way that the more we choose to glorify God, the happier we will be.
God Made Us to Be Eternally HappyOf course this does not mean that there is no discipline, no self-denial. "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:34-35). But it is clear from Jesus' words that self-denial is a means to saving our lives. This means simply that we must stop seeking our happiness in one way and start seeking it in another. Therefore what sets Christians off from the world is not that we have given up on the universal quest for happiness, but that we now seek our happiness from a different source and in different ways. We have learned from Jesus, who "for the joy set before him endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2), that the joy we seek may require that we choose to suffer for Christ's sake. Yet we must never become self-pitying because "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18). Nor can we ever become proud since we know that "suffering produces patience, and patience produces approvedness, and approvedness produces hope" (Romans 5:3-4)—hope that God will restore our happiness one hundredfold (Mark 10:30). So you can't boast in your sufferings since they are all bringing about our greater happiness in God.
So I take it to be a great and wonderful and liberating truth that God made us to be eternally happy. And I find great help in viewing the Bible as God's guidebook to joy. We ought to view the Bible as a divine prescription for how to be cured of all unhappiness. The medicine it prescribes is not always sweet, but the cure it brings is infinite and eternal joy at God's right hand (Psalm 16:11).
The point of my message this morning is that we should "get wisdom." We should bend all our efforts to become wiser tomorrow than we are today. And I speak not just to students and graduates, but to us all. Graduation today at Bethel gives me an occasion to say something that applies to us all, namely, that formal education is only one stage in the process of becoming a wise person. So much of life has been professionalized and institutionalized that we easily slip into the notion that it is the responsibility of some profession or some institution to impart to us wisdom. You can see this tendency in the fact that continuing education in many spheres is thought of entirely in terms of taking courses from professionals in institutions.
The implication seems to be that wisdom and understanding are something you purchase with tuition and class fees, rather than being a daily, lifelong process of growth. But what I want to stress this morning is that we should never be content with the wisdom we attained through formal education, and we should not think that the only way to grow in our understanding is by taking more courses. When the wise man says in Proverbs 4:5, "Get wisdom, get insight," he does not mean, "Go to school, take more courses." That might be part of God's plan for you. But for most of us it is not. Yet the command comes to us all: "Get wisdom!" What does this mean? How shall we do it? And why is it so important?
What Is the Importance of Getting Wisdom?Let's begin by asking why is it so important? We have already seen that all men seek happiness, and that this is not bad but good. Now the reason that getting wisdom is important is that it is the practical knowledge by which we gain this true and lasting happiness. Proverbs 3:13 says, "Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding." Proverbs 24:13–14 says, "My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off."
In other words, by means of wisdom you can make your way into a hope-filled future. It is the key to lasting happiness. Proverbs 19:8 says, "He who gets wisdom loves himself." In other words, do yourself a favor: Get wisdom! Get wisdom! Proverbs 8:32–36 sums it all up beautifully. Here wisdom herself is speaking and she says, "And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways . . . Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death." If we do not make it our aim to "get wisdom," we will suffer injury and finally death. Therefore, the command, "Get wisdom; get insight," is very important. As Proverbs 16:16 puts it, "To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver." It is a matter of life and death. The ultimate, eternal happiness that all people long for will only be found by those who first "get wisdom."
I say that ultimate and eternal happiness is what wisdom will bring, because I want to emphasize that not all happiness comes from true wisdom. Proverbs 15:21 says, "Folly is a joy to him who has no sense." Our thirst for happiness is insatiable in this world, and if we do not have the wisdom to seek it in God, then we will find whatever substitutes we can in the world. Terrorists may find it in shooting presidents and popes. Executives may find it in climbing the corporate ladder. Athletes in breaking world records. Scholars in publishing books. Gamblers may find it in Reno. Musicians in selling a million records. The sources where people seek happiness apart from God are countless: drink, drugs, sex, suntans, television, tubing, eating, talking, walking, etc., etc. But the happiness that these things bring is not true and lasting. It is not ultimate and eternal. It is not the joy for which we were made. And, therefore, it leaves us unsatisfied, frustrated, incomplete, knowing that there must be something more. But that ultimate and eternal happiness that we crave is only found by wisdom. Therefore it is supremely important that we "get wisdom."
What Is Wisdom?Now what is it? What are the characteristics of the person who has it? The first characteristic you all know: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight" (Proverbs 9:10). The wisdom that leads to life and ultimate joy begins with knowing and fearing God. You may recall from two weeks ago in the message, "A Woman Who Fears the Lord Is to Be Praised," that fearing the Lord means fearing to run away from him. It means fearing to seek refuge, and joy, and hope anywhere other than in God. It means keeping before our eyes what a fearful prospect it is to stop trusting and depending on God to meet our needs. The fear of the Lord is, therefore, the beginning of wisdom not only in the sense that it is the first step in a wise way to live, but also in the sense that all the later characteristics of wisdom flow from the fear of the Lord like a river flows from a spring.
Let's look at some examples. Proverbs 11:2 says, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom." The wise person is characterized by humility. The person who is proud does not fear the Lord, who hates a haughty spirit, and therefore can't get to first base in wisdom. But the person who fears the Lord is humble, because he depends on God for everything and fears to take credit himself for what God does. Humility, in turn, is foundational for the other aspects of godly wisdom because humility is teachable and open to change and growth. The proud person does not like to admit his errors and his need for growth. But the humble person is open to counsel and reason, and ready to be corrected and follow truth.
Humility, unlike pride, does not recoil when commanded to do something. And this is essential for the advancement of wisdom, because Moses taught us that wisdom consists in knowing and doing the commandments of God. Deuteronomy 4:5–6, "Behold I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the Lord my God commanded me that you should do them . . . Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples." And Jesus said the same thing about his own words, "Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock" (Matthew 7:24). A good definition of godly wisdom, therefore, would be: hearing and doing God's Word. God's Word is a divine prescription for how to be finally cured of all unhappiness. Wisdom is the practical knowledge of how to attain that happiness. Therefore, wisdom is hearing and doing the Word of God. But the only people who will do this are the people who are humbly relying on God for help and who fear to seek happiness anywhere but in him. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is the beginning and spring of all true wisdom.
But something more has to be said about the nature of this wisdom. It is not enough to say it is a humble hearing and doing of God's Word, because God's Word does not address itself specifically to every human dilemma. A famous example from Solomon's life will illustrate (1 Kings 3:16–28). One day two prostitutes came to King Solomon. One of them said, "My lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and we each gave birth to a son last week. And one night while she was asleep, she rolled over on her son and smothered it. So she got up at midnight and took my living son from me while I slept and left me with her dead son. When I woke in the morning and looked closely, I could tell it was not my son." But the other woman said, "No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours." And so they argued before the king.
Then the king said, "You both say the living child is yours. I will settle the matter; bring me a sword." So a sword was brought and the king said, "Divide the living child in two and give half to the one woman and half to the other." But the woman whose son was alive yearned for her son and said, "No, my lord, give her the child and by no means slay it." And the other said: "It shall be neither mine nor yours, divide it." Then the king said, "Give the living child to the first woman. She is its mother." The story concludes with this observation: "And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to render justice" (1 Kings 3:28).
There was no biblical command to tell Solomon what to do when two harlots claim the same baby. Therefore, wisdom must go beyond knowing and doing the Word of God. Wisdom must include a sensitive, mature judgment or discernment of how the fear of the Lord should work itself out in all the circumstances not specifically dealt with in the Bible. There has to be what Paul calls in Romans 12:2 a "renewing of the mind" which is then able to examine and approve the will of God. He calls this a "spiritual wisdom" in Colossians 1:9, "We have not ceased to pray for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." Of course the wisdom which follows God's Word and the wisdom which discerns the way to act when there is no clear word from God are not separate. It is precisely by saturating our minds and hearts with God's Word that we gain the spiritual wisdom to guide us in all situations.
So in summary, when the Bible says, "Get wisdom," it is referring to that practical knowledge of how to attain true and lasting happiness. It begins with the fear of the Lord and consists in humbly hearing and doing God's will perceived both in Scripture and in the unique circumstances of the moment. Such wisdom is essential because the person who has it finds life and joy, but the person who doesn't finds death and misery. Therefore, "Get wisdom! Get wisdom!"
How Can We Get Wisdom?Now finally I want to mention five biblical instructions for how to get this wisdom. First, desire wisdom with all your might. Proverbs 4:8 says, "Prize her highly and she will exalt you; she will honor you for your embrace." These are not cheap words. To prize something and to embrace someone are signs of intense desire and love. Wisdom must be valuable for us. We must be willing to sell all in order to buy it: "Seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasure" (Proverbs 2:4). Blessed is the graduate who walks through the commencement line more hungry for wisdom than when he entered school, for he shall be satisfied.
Second, since wisdom is found in the Word of God, we must apply ourselves in study and meditation to know the Word and do it. "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." (Psalm 19:7). Therefore, we must devote ourselves to know and understand the testimonies of the Lord. And here I commend not only faithful Bible study, but also regular reading of great books on theology and biblical interpretation, books that distill the wisdom of the greatest students of the word over the past 1900 years.
Now, I know what you are thinking: I don't have the time or the ability to get anywhere in books like that. So I want to show you something really encouraging. When this was shown to me about four years ago by my pastor, it changed my life. Most of us don't aspire very high in our reading because we don't feel like there is any hope. But listen to this. Suppose you read about 250 words a minute and that you resolve to devote just 15 minutes a day to serious theological reading to deepen your grasp of biblical truth. In one year (365 days) you would read for 5,475 minutes. Multiply that times 250 words per minute and you get 1,368,750 words per year. Now most books have between 300 and 400 words per page. So if we take 350 words per page and divide that into 1,368,750 words per year, we get 3,910 pages per year. This means that at 250 words a minute, 15 minutes a day, you could read about 20 average sized books a year!
When I heard that, I went home, analyzed my day, and set aside the 15 minutes just before supper to read Jonathan Edwards' big book, Original Sin. And I did it in a couple of months. Then I turned to something else. I was absolutely elated: reading that I thought never could get done was now getting done in a 15 minute slot that would have been wasted anyway. Therefore, I encourage you, there is hope. Choose some classics that you've always wanted to read (St. Augustine's Confessions, or City of God; John Calvin's Institutes; Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians, or Bondage of the Will; John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress; Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections; etc.), and set aside 15 minutes, maybe just before you go to sleep, to read. You will not be the same person next year at this time. Your mind will be stretched, your heart enlarged, your zeal more fervent. Above all, you will have grown in wisdom. And it may not be long until someone says of you: "The words of his mouth are as deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a gushing spring" (Proverbs 18:4).
The third thing we should do to get wisdom is pray. Solomon was not born a wise man. He prayed for wisdom and God said, "Because you have asked this and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold now I do according to your word" (1 Kings 3:11). And Daniel admitted that in himself he had no wisdom (Daniel 2:30), but he said, "To thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for thou hast given me wisdom and strength, and hast made known to me what we asked of thee" (2:23). And we have seen how Paul prayed that the churches might be given "spiritual wisdom" (Colossians 1:9) and that they might have "a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God" (Ephesians 1:17). And finally, James puts it as clearly as we could wish: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God" (James 1:5). The wisdom that leads to true and lasting happiness is not natural or inborn. It is supernatural. It is a gift of God. Therefore, if we would "get wisdom," we must pray.
The fourth biblical instruction for how to get wisdom is to think frequently of your death. Or to put it another way, think of the shortness of this life and the infinite length of the next. Psalm 90:12 says, "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." There is scarcely any thought that will purge our priorities of vain and worldly perceptions like the thought of our imminent death. O how cleansing it is to ponder the kind of life we would like to look back on when we come to die. There is great wisdom in such meditation. Therefore, think often of your dying.
Finally, there is one last, absolutely essential thing to do if you would "get wisdom": you must come to Jesus. He said to the people of his day, "The queen of the south will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold something greater than Solomon is here" (Matthew 12:42). What an understatement. Greater than Solomon indeed! Solomon spoke God's wisdom. Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). Others had spoken truth; he is the truth. Others had pointed the way to life; he is the way and the life (John 14:6). Others had given promises, but "all the promises of God find their yes in him" (2 Corinthians 1:20). Others had offered God's forgiveness; Jesus bought it by his death. Therefore, in him are "hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). To know and love and follow this Jesus is to own the treasure of ultimate and eternal happiness. Therefore, the command, "Get wisdom," means first and foremost "Come to Jesus! Come to Jesus!" in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom. Click here to go to source
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 18The LORD Is My Rock and My Fortress
18 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David, The Servant Of The LORD, Who Addressed The Words Of This Song To The LORD On The Day When The LORD Delivered Him From The Hand Of All Is Enemies, And From The Hand Of Saul. He Said:
43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45 Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.
46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47 the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
48 who rescued me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you delivered me from the man of violence.
49 For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.
Seven Things to Pray for Your Children
By Jon Bloom 3/8/2013
Some years back a good friend shared with me seven Scripture texts that he and his wife prayed for their two daughters from the time they were infants. The girls are now grown. And it’s beautiful to see how God has answered and still is answering the faithful, specific prayers of faith-filled parents in the lives of these young, godly women.
I have frequently used these prayers when praying for my own children. And I commend them to you.
But, of course, prayers are not magic spells. It’s not a matter of just saying the right things and our children will be blessed with success.
Some parents earnestly pray and their children become gifted leaders or scholars or musicians or athletes. Others earnestly pray and their children develop a serious disability or disease or wander through a prodigal wilderness or just struggle more than others socially or academically or athletically. And the truth is, God is answering all these parents’ prayers, but for very different purposes.
That’s why Scriptures like John 9:1–3 are in the Bible. We must not too quickly assess God’s purposes because they can be the opposite of our perceptions. God measures success differently than we do, which is why he often answers our prayers in ways we don’t expect.
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Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.John Bloom Books | Go to Books Page
This generation in Matthew 24:34
Jesus’ words, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” are the chief cornerstone in the preterists’ defense of their system. R. C. Sproul, a moderate or partial preterist, states, “The most critical portion of this text is Jesus’ declaration that ‘this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.’ ” Preterists point out that in all the other instances in the Gospels “this generation” refers to the then-present generation (Matt. 11:16; 12:41-42, 45; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12 [twice], 38; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32, 50-51; 17:25; 21:32).
Preterists also assert that Christ was warning people who were living then. For instance in the same general context the Lord said, “Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation” (Matt. 23:36). Dispensationalists agree that 24:34 refers to the Lord’s contemporaries. To make the saying even more emphatic, οὐ μή with the aorist subjunctive occurs in all three Synoptic references (Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32). The verse may be rendered, “By no means will this generation pass away.”
How then is this verse to be explained? Actually it is difficult for any theological position, including that held by moderate preterists. (They struggle to interpret “all these things,” which clearly implies the coming of Christ in glory described in verses 27-31 and 37-41.) A number of explanations of verse 34 have been proposed. First is the interpretation of the preterists, who say all the predictions of Matthew 24:4-33; Mark 13:5-29; and Luke 21:8-31 were fulfilled in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. However, this view can be held only by overlooking the meaning of several verses in the discourse, including Matthew 23:39; 24:22, 27, 30, and the meaning of παρουσία.
A second interpretation, held by a number of futurists, affirms that the noun γενεά means race, that is, the Jewish race. Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich give “clan” as a primary meaning, but they list only Luke 16:8 as an illustration in the New Testament. It is difficult for dispensational premillennialists to take this view because this would imply that Israel would cease to exist as a nation after the Lord’s return: “This race of Israel will not pass away until the Second Advent.” But Israel must continue after the Second Advent into the millennium in order to fulfill the promises God made to that nation.
A third interpretation, common among dispensationalists, is that “this generation” refers to the future generation of Jews who will be alive when the Lord Jesus returns. For example Hiebert says, “It seems best to preserve the natural meaning of generation as denoting the people alive at a given time and accept the view that the reference is to that future, turbulent, wicked generation that will see the actual beginning of those eschatological events (vv. 14-23). The assurance is that the end-time crisis will not be of indefinite duration.”
The near demonstrative pronoun may have the meaning of a near concept (cf. “this bread,” 1 Cor. 11:26). But the problem remains that in the New Testament “this generation” normally refers to the generation contemporaneous with the speaker or writer. As Carson affirms, ” ‘This generation’ . . . can only with the greatest difficulty be made to mean anything other than the generation living when Jesus spoke.”
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The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
Christ Clothed With The True Substance Of Human Nature.
The heads of this chapter are, I. The orthodoxy doctrine as to the true humanity of our Saviour, proved from many passages of Scripture, sec. 1. II. Refutation of the impious objections of the Marcionites, Manichees, and similar heretics, sec. 2-4.
1. Proof of the true humanity of Christ, against the Manichees and Marcionites.
2. Impious objections of heretics further discussed. Six objections answered.
3. Other eight objections answered.
4. Other three objections answered.
1. Of the divinity of Christ, which has elsewhere been established by clear and solid proofs, I presume it were superfluous again to treat. It remains, therefore, to see how, when clothed with our flesh, he fulfilled the office of Mediator. In ancient times, the reality of his human nature was impugned by the Manichees and Marcionites, the latter figuring to themselves a phantom instead of the body of Christ, and the former dreaming of his having been invested with celestial flesh. The passages of Scripture contradictory to both are numerous and strong. The blessing is not promised in a heavenly seed, or the mask of a man, but the seed of Abraham and Jacob; nor is the everlasting throne promised to an aerial man, but to the Son of David, and the fruit of his loins. Hence, when manifested in the flesh, he is called the Son of David and Abraham, not because he was born of a virgin, and yet created in the air, but because, as Paul explains, he was "made of the seed of David, according to the flesh," (Rom. 1:3), as the same apostle elsewhere says, that he came of the Jews (Rom. 9:5). Wherefore, our Lord himself not contented with the name of man, frequently calls himself the Son of man, wishing to express more clearly that he was a man by true human descent. The Holy Spirit having so often, by so many organs, with so much care and plainness, declared a matter which in itself is not abstruse, who could have thought that mortals would have had the effrontery to darken it with their glosses? Many other passages are at hand, were it wished to produce more: for instance, that one of Paul, that "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman," (Gal. 4:4), and innumerable others, which show that he was subject to hunger, thirst, cold, and the other infirmities of our nature. But from the many we must chiefly select those which may conduce to build up our minds in true faith, as when it is said, "Verily, he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham," "that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death," (Heb. 2:16, 14). Again, "Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest." (Heb. 2:11, 17). Again "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," (Heb. 4:15), and the like. To the same effect is the passage to which we lately referred, in which Paul distinctly declares, that the sins of the world behoved to be expiated in our flesh (Rom. 8:3). And certainly every thing which the Father conferred on Christ pertains to us for this reason, that "he is the head," that from him the whole body is "fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth," (Eph. 4:16). Nay, in no other way could it hold true as is said, that the Spirit was given to him without measure (John 1:16), and that out of his fulness have all we received; since nothing could be more absurd than that God, in his own essence, should be enriched by an adventitious gift. For this reason also, Christ himself elsewhere says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself," (John 17:19).
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
By Richard S. AdamsEvery Tuesday night we used to get together with five other couples for a Bible study. We did this for almost five years. One of the studies we worked through was called “The Truth Project.” Since then I have watched it twice. One quote was “One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are, as a result. I believe in spontaneous generation.” Wald, George (1954). The origin of life. Scientific American, 190, No. 2, 44-53.
I did not copy it wrong. I checked it three times. He says spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible, but yet he believes in it. Why do so many people choose anything but the acknowledgement of God? Is there a reason, other than politics, that so many people refuse to even consider the validity of God, and especially Jesus? Does their denial have anything to do with my Christian witness or yours? Am I known by my love? Are there people who are not Christians today because of something you or I did, or maybe something the church did? Are we not called to be watchmen? Has it ever occurred to you that rather then entering the Kingdom of God maybe we keep others from entering?
I love the dialogue in one of my favorite movies, The Lion in Winter. One scene finds King Henry’s sons locked up in prison expecting execution. John is whimpering, but Richard says, “When all you have to look forward to is death, it is important how you die.” Is it not even more important how we live?
The desire of God's heart is that we live face to face with God. If we do that, if, like the Jewish phylacteries worn on their foreheads, if we filter everything through the word of God will we not be transformed just as our minds are transformed? Or, as Jesus said, quoting Isaiah, have we closed our eyes.
Speaking of spontaneous generation and Darwinism, everyone, regardless of what you say you believe should watch Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox as a spiritual director from 1/2009 to 7/2018.
- Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
- Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
- Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
- Feb 14 Hindsight
- Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
- Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
- Feb 23 Job 23:14
- Feb 25 No Time To Text
- Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
- Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
- May 10 Ruth | Relationships
- June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
- July 14 Tom - Gen & Revelation
- July 15 Knowledge and World Peace
- July 16 The Church as Lobbyist
- Aug 3 Have You Noticed
- Nov 27 The Way The World Is
- Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
- Dec 11 Open Door
- Dec 20 Replacement Theology
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream
By John Bunyan 1678
THE SEVENTH STAGENow Giant Despair had a wife, and her name was Diffidence: so when he was gone to bed he told his wife what he had done, to wit, that he had taken a couple of prisoners, and cast them into his dungeon for trespassing on his grounds. Then he asked her also what he had best do further to them. So she asked him what they were, whence they came, and whither they were bound, and he told her. Then she counseled him, that when he arose in the morning he should beat them without mercy. So when he arose, he getteth him a grievous crab-tree cudgel, and goes down into the dungeon to them, and there first falls to rating of them as if they were dogs, although they gave him never a word of distaste. Then he falls upon them, and beats them fearfully, in such sort that they were not able to help themselves, or to turn them upon the floor. This done, he withdraws and leaves them there to condole their misery, and to mourn under their distress: so all that day they spent the time in nothing but sighs and bitter lamentations. The next night, she, talking with her husband further about them, and understanding that they were yet alive, did advise him to counsel them to make away with themselves. So when morning was come, he goes to them in a surly manner, as before, and perceiving them to be very sore with the stripes that he had given them the day before, he told them, that since they were never like to come out of that place, their only way would be forthwith to make an end of themselves, either with knife, halter, or poison; for why, said he, should you choose to live, seeing it is attended with so much bitterness? But they desired him to let them go. With that he looked ugly upon them, and rushing to them, had doubtless made an end of them himself, but that he fell into one of his fits, (for he sometimes in sunshiny weather fell into fits,) and lost for a time the use of his hands; wherefore he withdrew, and left them as before to consider what to do. Then did the prisoners consult between themselves whether it was best to take his counsel or no; and thus they began to discourse:
CHR. Brother, said Christian, what shall we do? The life that we now live is miserable. For my part, I know not whether it is best to live thus, or to die out of hand. My soul chooseth strangling rather than life, and the grave is more easy for me than this dungeon.
Job. 7:15 so that I would choose strangling
and death rather than my bones. ESV
HOPE. Indeed our present condition is dreadful, and death would be far more welcome to me than thus for ever to abide; but yet, let us consider, the Lord of the country to which we are going hath said, “Thou shalt do no murder,” no, not to another man’s person; much more, then, are we forbidden to take his counsel to kill ourselves. Besides, he that kills another, can but commit murder upon his body; but for one to kill himself, is to kill body and soul at once. Is this not what abortion is, killing ourselves and our future generations. And moreover, my brother, thou talkest of ease in the grave; but hast thou forgotten the hell whither for certain the murderers go? for “no murderer hath eternal life,” etc. And let us consider again, that all the law is not in the hand of Giant Despair: others, so far as I can understand, have been taken by him as well as we, and yet have escaped out of his hands. Who knows but that God, who made the world, may cause that Giant Despair may die; or that, at some time or other, he may forget to lock us in; or that he may, in a short time, have another of his fits before us, and may lose the use of his limbs? And if ever that should come to pass again, for my part, I am resolved to pluck up the heart of a man, and to try my utmost to get from under his hand. I was a fool that I did not try to do it before. But, however, my brother, let us be patient, and endure a while: the time may come that may give us a happy release; but let us not be our own murderers. With these words Hopeful at present did moderate the mind of his brother; so they continued together in the dark that day, in their sad and doleful condition.
Well, towards evening the giant goes down into the dungeon again, to see if his prisoners had taken his counsel. But when he came there he found them alive; and truly, alive was all; for now, what for want of bread and water, and by reason of the wounds they received when he beat them, they could do little but breathe. But I say, he found them alive; at which he fell into a grievous rage, and told them, that seeing they had disobeyed his counsel, it should be worse with them than if they had never been born.
At this they trembled greatly, and I think that Christian fell into a swoon; but coming a little to himself again, they renewed their discourse about the giant’s counsel, and whether yet they had best take it or no. Now Christian again seemed for doing it; but Hopeful made his second reply as followeth:
HOPE. My brother, said he, rememberest thou not how valiant thou hast been heretofore? Apollyon could not crush thee, nor could all that thou didst hear, or see, or feel, in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. What hardship, terror, and amazement hast thou already gone through; and art thou now nothing but fears! Thou seest that I am in the dungeon with thee, a far weaker man by nature than thou art. Also this giant hath wounded me as well as thee, and hath also cut off the bread and water from my mouth, and with thee I mourn without the light. But let us exercise a little more patience. Remember how thou playedst the man at Vanity Fair, and wast neither afraid of the chain nor cage, nor yet of bloody death: wherefore let us (at least to avoid the shame that it becomes not a Christian to be found in) bear up with patience as well as we can.
Now night being come again, and the giant and his wife being in bed, she asked him concerning the prisoners, and if they had taken his counsel: to which he replied, They are sturdy rogues; they choose rather to bear all hardships than to make away with themselves. Then said she, Take them into the castle-yard to-morrow, and show them the bones and skulls of those that thou hast already dispatched, and make them believe, ere a week comes to an end, thou wilt tear them in pieces, as thou hast done their fellows before them.
So when the morning was come, the giant goes to them again, and takes them into the castle-yard, and shows them as his wife had bidden him. These, said he, were pilgrims, as you are, once, and they trespassed on my grounds, as you have done; and when I thought fit I tore them in pieces; and so within ten days I will do you: get you down to your den again. And with that he beat them all the way thither. They lay, therefore, all day on Saturday in a lamentable case, as before. Now, when night was come, and when Mrs. Diffidence and her husband the giant was got to bed, they began to renew their discourse of their prisoners; and withal, the old giant wondered that he could neither by his blows nor counsel bring them to an end. And with that his wife replied, I fear, said she, that they live in hopes that some will come to relieve them; or that they have picklocks about them, by the means of which they hope to escape. And sayest thou so, my dear? said the giant; I will therefore search them in the morning.
Well, on Saturday, about midnight they began to pray, and continued in prayer till almost break of day.
Now, a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out into this passionate speech: What a fool, quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle. Then said Hopeful, That is good news; good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom, and try.
Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the dungeon-door, whose bolt, as he turned the key, gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out. Then he went to the outward door that leads into the castle-yard, and with his key opened that door also. After he went to the iron gate, for that must be opened too; but that lock went desperately hard, yet the key did open it. They then thrust open the gate to make their escape with speed; but that gate, as it opened, made such a creaking, that it waked Giant Despair, who hastily rising to pursue his prisoners, felt his limbs to fail, for his fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Then they went on, and came to the King’s highway, and so were safe, because they were out of his jurisdiction.
Now, when they were gone over the stile, they began to contrive with themselves what they should do at that stile, to prevent those that shall come after from falling into the hands of Giant Despair. So they consented to erect there a pillar, and to engrave upon the side thereof this sentence: “Over this stile is the way to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant Despair, who despiseth the King of the Celestial country, and seeks to destroy his holy pilgrims.” Many, therefore, that followed after, read what was written, and escaped the danger. This done, they sang as follows:
“Out of the way we went, and then we found
What ’twas to tread upon forbidden ground:
And let them that come after have a care,
Lest heedlessness makes them as we to fare;
Lest they, for trespassing, his prisoners are,
Whose castle’s Doubting, and whose name’s Despair.”
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Keep pressing on
2/10/2018 Bob Gass
‘Straining towards what is ahead, I press on.’
(Php 3:13–14) 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ESV
Developing your faith is like taking swimming lessons. Observe: 1) Fear is like water; if you let it, it will take you under. 2) You can only tread water for so long before you drown. 3) When you reach a certain point, there’s no turning back. 4) Faith is like the air in your lungs; it will sustain you and keep you afloat if you just relax. Have you ever watched a seasoned swimmer? Stroke after stroke, he takes what’s in front of him and pushes it behind him, letting it propel him towards his goal. He literally takes what stands between him and his goal, and uses it to get there. Sometimes we despair and say, ‘I’m just keeping my head above water,’ and that’s okay as long as you keep ‘stroking’ and pressing on. It’s when you feel backed into a corner with nowhere to turn, that you’ve got to take hold of the faith God has placed within you and keep moving forward. Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force’ (Matthew 11:12 KJV). The word ‘violence’ suggests ferocity, passion, and intensity. You must be relentless and fight your way through, confident that God is on your side – because He is (see Psalm 56:9). The waters you’re in don’t determine your destiny; they either carry you over or take you under. It takes faith to keep going. When you quit, God can do nothing more for you! So today whether you’re doing the breaststroke, the backstroke, or some other kind of stroke that nobody’s ever heard of – keep pressing on.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Cortez ordered his ships sunk. There was no turning back. In the era of Crusades to win the Holy Land and the Moors being driven from Spain, Cortez set off in a Holy cause, to end the barbaric practices of cannibalism and human sacrifice in Mexico, resulting from the Aztecs belief that the Sun god needed human blood to live. While the Reformation spread in Europe, Cortez addressed his 500 men in Mexico on this day, February 10, 1519, saying: “We seek not only to subdue boundless territory in the name of our Emperor Don Carlos, but to win millions of unsalvaged souls to the True Faith.”
Thomas R. Kelly
One emerges from such soul-shaking, Love-invaded times into more normal states of consciousness. But one knows ever after that the Eternal Lover of the world, the Hound of Heaven, is utterly, utterly real, and that life must henceforth be forever determined by that Real. Like Saint Augustine one asks not for greater certainty of God but only for more steadfastness in Him. There, beyond, in Him is the true Center, and we are reduced, as it were, to nothing, for He is all.
Is religion subjective? Nay, its soul is in objectivity, in an Other whose Life is our true life, whose Love is our love, whose Joy is our joy, whose Peace is our peace, whose burdens are our burdens, whose Will is our will. Self is emptied into God and God in-fills it. In glad, amazed humility we cast on Him our little lives in trusting obedience, in erect, serene, and smiling joy. And we say, with a writer of Psalms, "Lo, I come: in the book of the law it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, 0 my God" (Ps. 40:7-8). For nothing else in all of heaven or earth counts so much as His will, His slightest wish, His faintest breathing. And holy obedience sets in, sensitive as a shadow, obedient as a shadow, selfless as a shadow. Not reluctantly but with ardor one longs to follow Him the second half. Gladly, urgently, promptly one leaps to do His bidding, ready to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint.
Do not mistake me. Our interest just now is in the life of complete obedience to God, not in amazing revelations of His glory graciously granted only to some. Yet the amazing experiences of the mystics leave a permanent residue, a God-subdued, a Godpossessed will. States of consciousness are fluctuating. The vision fades. But holy and listening and alert; obedience remains, as the core and kernel of a Godintoxicated life, as the abiding pattern of sober, workaday living. And some are led into the state of complete obedience by this well-nigh passive route, wherein God alone seems to be the actor and we seem to be wholly acted upon. And our wills are melted and dissolved and made pliant, being firmly fixed in Him, and He wills in us.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
He saves for his name’s sake
so that sinners who will not flee to his name
may be left inexcusable in their sins.
--- Ralph Erskine
The Bible is the truest utterence that ever came by alphabetic letters from the soul of man, through which, as through a window divinely opened, all men can look into the stillness of eternity, and discern in glimpses their far-distant, long-forgotten home.
--- Thomas Carlyle
To love and live beloved is the soul's paradise.
--- John Winthrop
…it is in vain that you seek within yourselves for the cure for your miseries. All your intelligence can only bring you to realize that it is not within yourselves that you will find either truth or good.
--- Blaise Psacal
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
JOHN WOOLMAN was born at Northampton, N. J., in 1720, and died at York, England, in 1772. He was the child of Quaker parents, and from his youth was a zealous member of the Society of Friends. His "Journal," published posthumously in 1774, sufficiently describes his way of life and the spirit in which he did his work; but his extreme humility prevents him from making clear the importance of the part he played in the movement against slaveholding among the Quakers.
During the earlier years of their settlement in America, the Friends took part in the traffic in slaves with apparently as little hesitation as their fellow colonists; but in 1671 George Fox, visiting the Barbados, was struck by the inconsistency of slave-holding with the religious principles of his Society. His protests, along with those of others, led to the growth of an agitation which spread from section to section. In 1742, Woolman, then a young clerk in the employment of a storekeeper in New Jersey, was asked to make out a bill of sale for a negro woman; and the scruples which then occurred to him were the beginning of a life-long activity against the traffic. Shortly afterward he began his laborious foot-journeys, pleading everywhere with his co-religionists, and inspiring others to take up the crusade. The result of the agitation was that the various Yearly Meetings one by one decided that emancipation was a religious duty; and within twenty years after Woolman's death the practice of slavery had ceased in the Society of Friends. But his influence did not stop there, for no small part of the enthusiasm of the general emancipation movement is traceable to his labors.
His own words in this "Journal" of an extraordinary simplicity and charm, are the best expression of a personality which in its ardor, purity of motive, breadth of sympathy, and clear spiritual insight, gives Woolman a place among the uncanonized saints of America.
Chapter I. - 1720-1742. His Birth and Parentage -- Some Account of the Operations of Divine Grace on his Mind in his Youth -- His first Appearance in the Ministry -- And his Considerations, while Young, on the Keeping of Slaves.
I HAVE often felt a motion of love to leave some hints in writing of my experience of the goodness of God, and now, in the thirty-sixth year of my age, I begin this work.
I was born in Northampton, in Burlington County, West Jersey, in the year 1720. Before I was seven years old I began to be acquainted with the operations of Divine love. Through the care of my parents, I was taught to read nearly as soon as I was capable of it; and as I went from school one day, I remember that while my companions were playing by the way, I went forward out of sight, and, sitting down, I read the twenty-second chapter of Revelation: "He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, &c." In reading it, my mind was drawn to seek after that pure habitation which I then believed God had prepared for his servants. The place where I sat, and the sweetness that attended my mind, remain fresh in my memory. This, and the like gracious visitations, had such an effect upon me that when boys used ill language it troubled me; and, through the continued mercies of God, I was preserved from that evil.
The pious instructions of my parents were often fresh in my mind, when I happened to be among wicked children, and were of use to me. Having a large family of children, they used frequently, on first-days, after meeting, to set us one after another to read the Holy Scriptures, or some religious books, the rest sitting by without much conversation; I have since often thought it was a good practice. From what I had read and heard, I believed there had been, in past ages, people who walked in uprightness before God in a degree exceeding any that I knew or heard of now living: and the apprehension of there being less steadiness and firmness amongst people in the present age often troubled me while I was a child.
I may here mention a remarkable circumstance that occurred in my childhood. On going to a neighbor's house, I saw on the way a robin sitting on her nest, and as I came near she went off; but having young ones, she flew about, and with many cries expressed her concern for them. I stood and threw stones at her, and one striking her she fell down dead. At first I was pleased with the exploit, but after a few minutes was seized with horror, at having, in a sportive way, killed an innocent creature while she was careful for her young. I beheld her lying dead, and thought those young ones, for which she was so careful, must now perish for want of their dam to nourish them. After some painful considerations on the subject, I climbed up the tree, took all the young birds, and killed them, supposing that better than to leave them to pine away and die miserably. In this case I believed that Scripture proverb was fulfilled, "The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." I then went on my errand, and for some hours could think of little else but the cruelties I had committed, and was much troubled. Thus He whose tender mercies are over all his works hath placed a principle in the human mind, which incites to exercise goodness towards every living creature; and this being singly attended to, people become tender-hearted and sympathizing; but when frequently and totally rejected, the mind becomes shut up in a contrary disposition.
About the twelfth year of my age, my father being abroad, my mother reproved me for some misconduct, to which I made an undutiful reply. The next first-day, as I was with my father returning from meeting, he told me that he understood I had behaved amiss to my mother, and advised me to be more careful in future. I knew myself blamable, and in shame and confusion remained silent. Being thus awakened to a sense of my wickedness, I felt remorse in my mind, and on getting home I retired and prayed to the Lord to forgive me, and I do not remember that I ever afterwards spoke unhandsomely to either of my parents, however foolish in some other things.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
she has carved her seven pillars.
2 She has prepared her food, spiced her wine,
and she has set her table.
3 She has sent out her young girls [with invitations];
she calls from the heights of the city,
4 “Whoever is unsure of himself, turn in here!”
To someone weak-willed she says,
5 “Come and eat my food!
Drink the wine I have mixed!
6 Don’t stay unsure of yourself, but live!
Walk in the way of understanding!”
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Is your imagination of God starved?
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things. --- Isaiah 40:26.
The people of God in Isaiah’s day had starved their imagination by looking on the face of idols, and Isaiah made them look up at the heavens; that is, he made them begin to use their imagination aright. Nature to a saint is sacramental. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in Nature. In every wind that blows, in every night and day of the year, in every sign of the sky, in every blossoming and in every withering of the earth, there is a real coming of God to us if we will simply use our starved imagination to realize it.
The test of spiritual concentration is bringing the imagination into captivity. Is your imagination looking on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Your work? Your conception of what a worker should be? Your experience of salvation and sanctification? Then your imagination of God is starved, and when you are up against difficulties you have no power, you can only endure in darkness. If your imagination is starved, do not look back to your own experience; it is God Whom you need. Go right out of yourself, away from the face of your idols, away from everything that has been starving your imagination. Rouse yourself, take the gibe that Isaiah gave the people, and deliberately turn your imagination to God.
One of the reasons of stultification in prayer is that there is no imagination, no power of putting ourselves deliberately before God. We have to learn how to be broken bread and poured-out wine on the line of intercession more than on the line of personal contact. Imagination is the power God gives a saint to posit himself out of himself into relationships he never was in.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Deliver me from the long drought
of the mind. Let leaves
from the deciduous Cross
fall on us, washing
us clean, turning our autumn
to gold by the affluence of their fountain.
Laboratories of the Spirit
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Tenth Chapter / Avoiding Idle Talk
SHUN the gossip of men as much as possible, for discussion of worldly affairs, even though sincere, is a great distraction inasmuch as we are quickly ensnared and captivated by vanity.
Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not associated with men. Why, indeed, do we converse and gossip among ourselves when we so seldom part without a troubled conscience? We do so because we seek comfort from one another’s conversation and wish to ease the mind wearied by diverse thoughts. Hence, we talk and think quite fondly of things we like very much or of things we dislike intensely. But, sad to say, we often talk vainly and to no purpose; for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and divine consolation.
Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly.
When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say something that will edify.
Bad habits and indifference to spiritual progress do much to remove the guard from the tongue. Devout conversation on spiritual matters, on the contrary, is a great aid to spiritual progress, especially when persons of the same mind and spirit associate together in God.
The Imitation Of Christ
The Parables: Matthew 13:1–52
The same day that Jesus spoke out, warning His hearers of the tragedy which rejection of the King and kingdom was to bring on them, He sat in a boat to teach the gathering crowds. He “told them many things in parables” (v. 3).
There are a multitude of parables in the Bible. The word itself means to “set alongside,” and it is a normal pattern of Scripture to illustrate by setting concrete and familiar illustrations alongside abstract concepts (cf. 2 Sam. 12:1–7; Jdg. 9:8–15; and Isa. 5:1–7 for Old Testament examples). Sometimes parables are allegories, such as the story of the Good Samaritan through which Jesus answered the man who wondered aloud, “Who is my neighbor?”
But there is something very different about the parables recorded in Matthew 13. Rather than illuminating what Jesus said, they seem almost to obscure it!
Why then did Jesus speak in parables? There are several hints in the text. Asked this question by the disciples, Jesus said, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand” (v. 13). The crowds, in rejecting Jesus’ clear presentation of Himself as their King, had closed their eyes to truth. Now Jesus would speak less clear words to them, lest they be even more responsible.
It is also possible that Jesus adopted parables here to keep His listeners concentrating on the choice they had to make for or against Him. We need to remember that the Israelites had a clear notion of what the kingdom would be like. They would not be shaken from this single conception to accept new truth, which might modify their expectations. Jesus later explained to His disciples that the parables were spoken to them (v. 16). What they dealt with was a dimension of the kingdom which was not the subject of earlier Old Testament revelation. The parables, Jesus said, fulfill this prophecy:
"I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the Creation of the world." --- Matthew 13:35.
These parables deal with dimensions of the kingdom which Israel did not suspect existed. They deal, in fact, with those dimensions of the kingdom which you and I experience today and will experience until, at the return of Jesus, the Old Testament’s prophesied kingdom rule is established.
No wonder the disciples, themselves steeped in the Old Testament’s lore, were also puzzled and had to ask Jesus, “Explain to us the Parable of the Weeds in the Field” (v. 36). Only later could they look back and see in Jesus’ words the portrait of a time between the Lord’s resurrection and the establishment of the earthly kingdom in its expected form. These, then, are parables of contrast. By contrast they illuminate key differences between the prophesied kingdom reign and the present servant form of the kingdom over which Jesus now rules.
Jesus concluded His seven parables with a question: “Have you understood all these things?” (v. 51) Afraid to say no, the Twelve nodded yes. Both the old and the new are elements in the kingdom which Christ came to bring. Only later would they begin to understand the deep implications for the church of the unexpected form of the kingdom which Jesus expressed in His parables.
The Teacher's Commentary
From Mishnah to Gemara
The process of teaching continued in both in Israel and Babylonia. Almost as soon as the Mishnah was completed, the Rabbis found that new situations or cases arose which were not covered by the Mishnah. Just as previous generations had studied the Bible to apply it to their day, subsequent generations of Rabbis sat down and studied the Mishnah, scrutinizing, analyzing, and interpreting it and debating how it should be applied to their own times and situations. They drew on the great storehouse of traditions that they had received, such as the Midrash and the baraitot (those first- and second-century teachings that Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi had not included in his edition of the Mishnah). And they used their own insights and logic to try to explain what the Mishnah meant and how it was to be applied. For over three centuries, this giant corpus of material grew. Known as Gemara, it was then edited and ultimately put into writing. The Mishnah and Gemara together came to be called the Talmud. (In fact, the term “Gemara” originally meant a terse statement with little or no explanation. What we now call “Gemara” was at first called simply “Talmud.” During the Middle Ages, the word Gemara came to replace Talmud in an attempt to fool Christian censors.)
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Then Thomas… said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
--- John 11:16.
I find in Thomas the loneliness of doubt.( Wind on the Heath (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) Thomas is always a solitary figure, as doubters very generally are. You never think of Peter as being much alone—he was too ardent and impetuous for that. And you never think of John as wooing solitude with his so affectionate and sympathetic heart. But Thomas is always standing a little apart from cheerful interaction; he is solitary because he is a doubter. And on that evening of resurrection Sunday the disciples were gathered—and Thomas was not there. He was a lonely man that resurrection day, perhaps wandering amid the olives of Gethsemane, separated from all glad companionship, and separated because he was a doubter. Think of the gladness that filled these eager hearts when they whispered to one another, “Christ is risen.” Then think of Thomas, wandering alone, hurrying from all sound of human voices. For him there was no fellowship that evening in the radiant light of resurrection glory; for him there was only the loneliness of doubt.
Amid the common ties of common life, [doubt] makes a solitude and calls it peace. And that is why when any person doubts God and thinks the heaven above the stars is tenantless, sooner or later he or she has a lonely heart. There are those who doubt because they are too lonely; there are more who are lonely just because they doubt. It takes the bond of faith to give us fellowship with child and husband, with comrade, and with Christ. And when faith crumbles and doubt lifts up its head, a man or woman may still be heroic in duty, but for that person, as for Thomas on resurrection evening, there is the anguish of the lonely heart. That is the very misery of doubt. It is the mother of the hungriest loneliness.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Wesley’s Three Nurses
The great evangelist John Wesley was small but well-built and handsome. He could charm women at will, and often did — but not always with desired results.
At age 33 he met Sophy Hopkey, and she began making daily visits to his cottage for prayer and French lessons. When he became sick, Sophy nursed him, and he fell in love with her. “Her words,” he wrote, “her eyes, her air, her every motion and gesture, were full of such a softness! I know not what might have been the consequence had I then but touched her hand. And how I avoided it, I know not.” But he hesitated too long, and when Miss Sophy suddenly married another, Wesley was shattered.
Some years later during another illness, he fell in love with nurse Grace Murray. He more or less proposed to her, saying, “If I ever marry, I think you will be the person.” She more or less accepted. But when John’s brother Charles heard of it, he stormed into Grace’s house and burst out, “Grace Murray! You have broken my heart,” and fainted. When he recovered, he pelted her with objections, saying she would destroy his brother’s ministry. She broke the engagement, leaving John to painfully scribble, “We were torn asunder by a whirlwind.”
On February 10, 1751 Wesley, now in his late forties, suffered a fall in the middle of ice-coated London Bridge and was carried to the home of nurse Mary Vazeille. This time, he didn’t hesitate. They were married within a week.
It was a disaster. Wesley’s friend, John Hampson, described this account: “Once I went into a room and found Mrs. Wesley foaming with fury. Her husband was on the floor, where she had been trailing him by the hair of his head; and she was still holding in her hand venerable locks which she had plucked by the roots. I felt as though I could have knocked the soul out of her.”
The two spent little time together, and in 1771 we find this curious entry in Wesley’s journal: “I came to London, and was informed that my wife died on Monday. This evening she was buried, though I was not informed of it. … ”
A nagging wife goes on and on Like the drip, drip, drip of the rain. You may inherit all you own from your parents, But a sensible wife is a gift from the LORD.
--- Proverbs 19:13b,14.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 10
“I know how to abound.” --- Philippians 4:12.
There are many who know “how to be abased” who have not learned “how to abound.” When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, “In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry.” It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts’ lust. Fulness of bread has often made fulness of blood, and that has brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry—so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you “how to be full.”
“Let not the gifts thy love bestows
Estrange our hearts from thee.”
Evening - February 10
“I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” --- Isaiah 44:22.
Attentively observe THE INSTRUCTIVE SIMILITUDE: our sins are like a cloud. As clouds are of many shapes and shades, so are our transgressions. As clouds obscure the light of the sun, and darken the landscape beneath, so do our sins hide from us the light of Jehovah’s face, and cause us to sit in the shadow of death. They are earth-born things, and rise from the miry places of our nature; and when so collected that their measure is full, they threaten us with storm and tempest. Alas! that, unlike clouds, our sins yield us no genial showers, but rather threaten to deluge us with a fiery flood of destruction. O ye black clouds of sin, how can it be fair weather with our souls while ye remain?
Let our joyful eye dwell upon THE NOTABLE ACT of divine mercy—“blotting out.” God himself appears upon the scene, and in divine benignity, instead of manifesting his anger, reveals his grace: he at once and for ever effectually removes the mischief, not by blowing away the cloud, but by blotting it out from existence once for all. Against the justified man no sin remains, the great transaction of the cross has eternally removed his transgressions from him. On Calvary’s summit the great deed, by which the sin of all the chosen was for ever put away, was completely and effectually performed.
Practically let us obey THE GRACIOUS COMMAND, “return unto me.” Why should pardoned sinners live at a distance from their God? If we have been forgiven all our sins, let no legal fear withhold us from the boldest access to our Lord. Let backslidings be bemoaned, but let us not persevere in them. To the greatest possible nearness of communion with the Lord, let us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, strive mightily to return. O Lord, this night restore us!
Morning and Evening
AND CAN IT BE THAT I SHOULD GAIN?
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood … (Revelation 1:5)
Can any believer contemplate the “amazing love” of Calvary without sharing the awe and wonder of Charles Wesley’s questions in today’s hymn? Written a short time after his “heart-warming” Aldersgate experience on May 20, 1738, this song of grateful adoration for God’s great plan of redemption has been one of the most deeply moving and treasured hymns for more than 200 years.
Even though he had a strict religious training in his youth, education at Oxford University, and missionary service in the new colony of Georgia, Charles Wesley had no peace or joy in his heart and life. Returning to London after a discouraging time in America, he met with a group of Moravians in the Aldersgate Hall and came to realize that “salvation is by faith alone.” In his journal of May 20th he wrote:
At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceeding abundantly for me above what I can ask or think.
In this spirit of joyous enthusiasm, Charles began to write new hymns with increased fervor. He traveled throughout Great Britain with his older brother John a quarter of a million miles, mostly on horseback, leading great crowds in singing his hymns in mass outdoor services of 40,000 people.
With every new spiritual experience or thought that crossed Charles’ mind, a new hymn was born. Even on his deathbed it is said that he dictated to his wife a final hymn of praises to the Lord he had loved so intimately and served so effectively.
And can it be that I should gain an int’rest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain? For me, who Him to death pursued?
He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite His grace! Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race.
No condemnation now I dread; I am my Lord’s and He is mine: Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine.
Refrain: Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
For Today: Romans 5:8; Colossians 1:12-14; Hebrews 9:11, 12; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Revelation 5:9.
Live in the joy and freedom of being “alive in Him” and free of all condemnation. Carry this musical truth with you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
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3 The Characteristic Jesus
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