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2/11/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Genesis 44     Mark 14     Job 10     Romans 14


Joseph Tests His Brothers

Genesis 44:1 Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, 2 and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him. 3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. 4 They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, “Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? 5 Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.’ ”

6 When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. 7 They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 8 Behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9 Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants.” 10 He said, “Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” 11 Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12 And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. 15 Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” 16 And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” 17 But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.”

18 Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father, or a brother?’ 20 And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ 21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ 23 Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again.’

24 “When we went back to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. 25 And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ 26 we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we will go down. For we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One left me, and I said, “Surely he has been torn to pieces,” and I have never seen him since. 29 If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’

30 “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, 31 as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. 32 For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ 33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”


The Plot to Kill Jesus

Mark 14:1 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Judas to Betray Jesus

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

The Passover with the Disciples

12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Institution of the Lord’s Supper

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled.

A Young Man Flees

51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Jesus Before the Council

53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ ” 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. 60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

Peter Denies Jesus

66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.


Job Continues: A Plea to God

Job 10:1

I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
2  I will say to God, Do not condemn me;
let me know why you contend against me.
3  Does it seem good to you to oppress,
to despise the work of your hands
and favor the designs of the wicked?
4  Have you eyes of flesh?
Do you see as man sees?
5  Are your days as the days of man,
or your years as a man’s years,
6  that you seek out my iniquity
and search for my sin,
7  although you know that I am not guilty,
and there is none to deliver out of your hand?
8  Your hands fashioned and made me,
and now you have destroyed me altogether.
9  Remember that you have made me like clay;
and will you return me to the dust?
10  Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
11  You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.
12  You have granted me life and steadfast love,
and your care has preserved my spirit.
13  Yet these things you hid in your heart;
I know that this was your purpose.
14  If I sin, you watch me
and do not acquit me of my iniquity.
15  If I am guilty, woe to me!
If I am in the right, I cannot lift up my head,
for I am filled with disgrace
and look on my affliction.
16  And were my head lifted up, you would hunt me like a lion
and again work wonders against me.
17  You renew your witnesses against me
and increase your vexation toward me;
you bring fresh troops against me.

18  “Why did you bring me out from the womb?
Would that I had died before any eye had seen me
19  and were as though I had not been,
carried from the womb to the grave.
20  Are not my days few?
Then cease, and leave me alone, that I may find a little cheer
21  before I go—and I shall not return—
to the land of darkness and deep shadow,
22  the land of gloom like thick darkness,
like deep shadow without any order,
where light is as thick darkness.”



Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another

Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

Men of God Should Understand the Importance of Fatherhood

By J. Warner Wallace 2/7/2017

     I first noticed the problem as a Gang Detail officer in the early 1990’s. Our city was culturally and ethnically diverse, and we had a gang problem that seemed to transcend ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries. We had wealthy Korean gangsters, middle class white gangsters, and upper, middle class and lower class Hispanic and African American gangsters. I was raising two and four year old boys at the time and I was interested in what caused the young men in my community to become gangsters in the first place. It certainly didn’t seem to be something in their culture; they came from very diverse backgrounds. What was it? The more I got to know these gang members, the clearer the problem became: all of them suffered from “lack of dad.”

     Many of the white gangsters had fathers that were uninvolved, alcoholic or “deadbeat” dads. Many of the Korean fathers were first generation Koreans who never learned the English language, started businesses in our community and worked so hard that they had absolutely no relationship with their sons. Some of the Hispanic fathers were incarcerated and most of our Hispanic gangsters came from a multi-generational gang culture. Many of the African-American gangsters told me that they never even knew their father; they had been raised by mothers and grandmothers without their biological dads. Over and over again I saw the same thing: young men who were wandering without direction or moral compass, in large part because they didn’t have a father at home to teach them. Many studies have confirmed my own anecdotal observations.

     I can remember seeing a movie during my tour on the Gang Detail. It was called “Boyz ‘N The Hood“. My partner told me I simply had to see it. I thought it was one of the best movies ever made on the importance of fatherhood. The primary character is a young man who is raised by his mother until he starts to go astray. His mom then delivers him to his father who begins to raise him up in a tough neighborhood but manages to provide him with the moral role modeling he really needed. The movie demonstrated what I learned as a Gang Detail officer: it takes a man to teach a boy how to be a man.

     I’ve also learned this first-hand. My dad was largely absent in my childhood and it was tough to understand my role in the world as a man without the daily input from my father. I noticed that as I reached my teen years, I was actually interested in reaching out to my dad and making sure we had a relationship. I needed him. In many ways, I became him in an effort to understand what it was to be a man. I ended up leaving a career in the arts to follow him into Law Enforcement. The power and guidance of a father is an undeniable force in the life of a young man.

     As Christians, we ought to get this more than any other group. Scripture is filled with passages that describe the importance of fathers. In addition, the Bible consistently references fatherhood in an effort to analogize God’s relationship with each of us. What does Scripture tell us about the role of Fathers? First and foremost, we are to be teachers:

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

Atheists: Thor is not a Rational Substitute for God

By Lenny Esposito 2/8/2017

Yesterday, I responded to a common atheist claim that one cannot prove a universal negative. But can one really prove that something does not exist, especially when that thing is mystical or other-worldly? For example, one atheist responded to the idea that a personal God was the best explanation for the beginning of the universe with "I think Thor is the best explanation. My claim isn't falsifiable." He seems to think that by invoking the name of a Norse god instead of the Christian God he has made an equally valid claim, but he hasn't. Of course the claim that Thor is responsible for the creation of the universe is falsifiable. Let's see how.

     The Properties and Attributes of Thor | How do you identify a person? If you send your spouse to pick up your old friend at the airport, whom they've never met, you will describe that person to them. You may say, "My friend's name is Dan. He's 5'9", dark hair, mustache, and will be wearing a black coat carrying a green suitcase. These attributes help identify Dan. Certainly, they aren't exhaustive, but by providing a description to your spouse, you are helping your spouse eliminate a great number of other individuals coming out of the airport. The right person to place in your car must have at least these attributes.

     When our atheist invokes the name Thor instead of God, what does he mean? Is he pointing to the same being under a different name? No, because the Thor and Yahweh, the God of the Bible, have different attributes. For one thing, Thor is not eternal. He is the son of Odin and Jord, other Norse gods.1 Norse gods can and do die and Thor is capable of dying. Thor also must experience the passage of time.  As Tolkien states, "In Norse, at any rate, the gods are within Time, doomed with their allies to death. Their battle is with the monsters and the outer darkness. They gather heroes for the last defence."2  Notably, Thor isn't all powerful. In "The Lay of Thrym" from the Poetic Edda, Thor loses his hammer to the lord of the giants who has hidden it from him and Thor is forced to pretend to be a bride in order to retrieve it.3 In the poem, Thor is presented as an exaggerated human, who eats and drinks, but is a material entity.

     The God of the Bible holds none of those limitations. He is eternal and everlasting, sitting outside of time. He is all powerful. He cannot be killed and he cannot be forced to do something or have a foe who overpowers him. Yahweh is definitely not Thor.

     Why Thor cannot create the universe | While it's clear that Yahweh and Thor are different beings, it is also because of Thor's limitations that we can falsify the claim that Thor is responsible for creating the universe. When we seek to answer the question of the universe's beginning, we are trying to explain the origin of all material existence, of space itself, and of time. Why there is space-time and matter are what needs explaining. However, Thor cannot be the explanation for all matter space and time since Thor himself is material, is subject to time, and has a beginning. He sits within a spacial dimension, as the loss of his hammer (hidden "eight leagues deep in the earth") indicates. Therefore, Thor cannot be the explanation of the universe for Thor, if he exists, is part of the universe that needs explaining! The atheist's claim is clearly falsifiable using the basic rules of logic. Any attempt to change Thor's attributes b the atheist would mean that we are no longer talking about Thor, just as any attempt by my spouse to look for a clean-shaven man who is 5'11" would mean she's no longer searching for my friend.

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     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

How Do We Make Theology Come Alive for Students?

By Sean McDowell 2/9/2017

How do we make theology engaging and interesting for students? While I certainly don’t claim to have it all figured out, and am always looking for some creative and new ideas, here are four lessons I have learned from roughly two decades of teaching and speaking to students on theological issues.

     First, use stories. We all love stories. Students do too. As Jonathan Gottschall wrote in his excellent book The Storytelling Animal, “Human minds yield hopelessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, not matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can’t resist the gravity of alternate worlds.” Jesus told stories for a few reasons. People remember them. We relate to them. And lessons are best learned through stories. Jesus was asked who qualifies as a neighbor, and he told the story of the Good Samaritan. He was asked how many times we should forgive people and he told the story of the Unmerciful Servant. Teach theological doctrines, but whenever possible, tell a story.

     Second, use cultural examples. Students today are engrossed with the prevailing culture. The movies they watch, the music they listen to, and the technology they use are all influenced by our wider culture. Sometimes we need to critique culture and other times we need to show how Christ is within culture. But using cultural examples of theology not only makes theology interesting to students, it also helps them make connections from their theology to the “real” world. For instance, recently I was talking with my students about the biblical view of sex. And so I used an example from the movie Passengers, which I wrote about here.

     Third, ask good questions. In my experience, good questions are far better than answers. As I wrote in a recent post, my teachers who asked me good questions had a far greater impact on my life than those who simply gave me answers. Isn’t that true for you too? Students today have access to endless information. Simply giving kids theological truths has some value, but far more important is helping kids think theologically. We simply can’t cover every conceivable theological issue in our classrooms, ministries, or conversations. But we can give students a template for how to think theologically. And even if we did cover every issue of today, new issues will inevitably arise. Thus, the most important educational task today is teaching students how to think, how to arrive at truth. And one of the best ways to do this is to ask good questions and guide students through how to discover reasonable answers.

     Fourth, connect theology to practical life. According to the National Survey of Youth and Religion [1] students today tend to compartmentalize their spiritual faith. In other words, they tend to believe that science, math and history are matters of objective truth, but spiritual beliefs are merely a matter of preference that helps give their lives meaning. As a result, few students are able (or interested) to translate theology to their practical lives. In other words, few students can show how their beliefs about God practically shape how they live. If we don’t connect theology to how kids actually live, what’s the point? While there are many ways to do this (such as through stories, experiences, and personal examples), one simple step is to always ask, after teaching a theological truth: How should this affect the way we actually live?

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

Sean McDowell Books:

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

Did Jesus’ Last Supper Take Place Above the Tomb of David?

By Marek Dospel 2/9/2017

     This two-story stone building atop Mount Zion (right) ranks among the most intriguing sites in Jerusalem. It is traditionally called the Cenacle (from the Latin coenaculum, “dining-room”) and you will find it just outside the present-day Old City walls to the south (see map). The building’s lower story has been associated since the Middle Ages with the Tomb of David, the purported burial place of the Biblical King David, while the upper story—often referred to in English as the “Upper Room”—is traditionally believed to be the place of Jesus’ Last Supper.

     Even though it suffered numerous natural and man-inflicted disasters and was claimed and successively held by the faithful of all three monotheistic religions, the Last Supper Cenacle remains standing as a testimony to a long-shared sacrality in the Eternal City. It has been a church, a mosque and a synagogue.

     It was not until quite recently, however, that the location of Jesus’ Last Supper and the identity of this particular building were questioned and became an object of scholarly debate. David Christian Clausen, adjunct lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, examines the evidence for various claims regarding the historical purpose of the Cenacle in his Archaeological Views column “Mount Zion’s Upper Room and Tomb of David” in the January/February 2017 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

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     Marek Dospel is an author at Biblical Archaeology Society.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 19

The Law of the LORD Is Perfect
19 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

ESV Reformation Study Bible

Genesis 44; Mark 14; Job 10; Romans 14

By Don Carson 2/11/2018

     UP TO THIS POINT IN THE NARRATIVE (Gen. 44), Judah has not appeared in a very good light. When Joseph’s brothers first declare their intention to kill him (Gen. 37:19-20), two of them offer alternatives. Reuben suggests that Joseph should simply be thrown into a pit from which he could not escape (37:21-22). This proposal had two advantages. First, murder could not then be directly ascribed to the brothers, and second, Reuben hoped to come back later, in secret, and rescue his kid brother. Reuben was devastated when his plan did not work out (37:29-30). The other brother with an independent proposal was Judah. He argued that there was no profit in mere murder. It would be better to sell Joseph into slavery (37:25-27) – and his view prevailed.

     Judah reappears in the next chapter, sleeping with his daughter-in-law (Gen. 38), and, initially at least, deploying a double standard (see meditation for February 6).

     Yet here in Genesis 44, Judah cuts a more heroic figure. Joseph manipulates things to have Benjamin and his brothers arrested for theft, and insists that only Benjamin will have to remain in Egypt as a slave. Perhaps Joseph’s ploy was designed to test his older brothers to see if they still resented the youngest, if they were still so hard that they could throw one of their number into slavery and chuckle that at least they themselves were free. It is Judah who intervenes, and pleads, of all things, the special love his father has for Benjamin. He even refers to Jacob’s belief that Joseph was killed by wild animals (44:28), as if the sheer deceit and wickedness of it all had been preying on his mind for the previous quarter of a century. Judah explains how he himself promised to bring the boy back safely, and emotionally pleads, “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in the place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father” (44:33-34).

     This is the high point in what we know of Judah’s pilgrimage. He offers his life in substitution for another. Perhaps in part he was motivated by a guilty conscience; if so, the genuine heroism grew out of genuine shame. He could not know that in less than two millennia, his most illustrious descendant, in no way prompted by shame but only by obedience to his heavenly Father and by love for guilty rebels, would offer himself as a substitute for them (Mark 14).

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

Don Carson Books:

Christian Martyrdom and Tertullian

By Lenny Esposito 2/23/2013

Several news sources are reporting on the increased persecution of Christian house churches in China. When China fell to the communists in 1949, the atheistic government discouraged any practice of religion and missionaries were basically removed from the country. For the next thirty years, Christians in the West were left to assume that the church had been stamped out by the state. However, once relations softened between the Chinese government and the West, we were surprised to see a populous and thriving house church movement that seemed to increase under persecution.

     This reminded me of the quote by Tertullian in his Apology for the Christians and it makes me ponder two thoughts. While martyrdom has been "the seed of the church," Tertullian also said that Christians don't hope for it for its own sake, but that the truth of Christ may claim ultimate victory. So we should pray and do what we can for all those persecuted for the name of Jesus across the globe. Secondly, with the western church so soft, I wonder how we would embrace such a calling as martyrdom. Would we see it the way Tertullain and those in his day did? If not, then what do we love more, Christ or our comfort?

     WHAT reason then, say you, have we Christians to complain of our sufferings, when we are so fond of persecution; we ought rather to love those who persecute us so sweetly to our heart's content. It is true, indeed, we are not against suffering, when the Captain of our salvation calls us forth to suffer: but let me tell you, it is with us in our Christian warfare as it is with you in yours, we choose to suffer as you choose to fight; but no man chooses fighting for fighting sake, because he cannot engage without fear and hazard of life. Yet, nevertheless, when the brave soldier finds he must engage, he battles it with all his power, and if he comes off victorious is full of joy, though just before not without his complaints of a military life, because he has obtained his end, laden with glory, laden with spoil.

Click here to read all of the article

     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     2. The passages which they produce in confirmation of their error are absurdly wrested, nor do they gain any thing by their frivolous subtleties when they attempt to do away with what I have now adduced in opposition to them. Marcion imagines that Christ, instead of a body, assumed a phantom, because it is elsewhere said, that he was made in the likeness of man, and found in fashion as a man. Thus he altogether overlooks what Paul is then discussing (Phil. 2:7). His object is not to show what kind of body Christ assumed, but that, when he might have justly asserted his divinity he was pleased to exhibit nothing but the attributes of a mean and despised man. For, in order to exhort us to submission by his example, he shows, that when as God he might have displayed to the world the brightness of his glory, he gave up his right, and voluntarily emptied himself; that he assumed the form of a servant, and, contented with that humble condition, suffered his divinity to be concealed under a veil of flesh. Here, unquestionably, he explains not what Christ was, but in what way he acted. Nay, from the whole context it is easily gathered, that it was in the true nature of man that Christ humbled himself. For what is meant by the words, he was "found in fashion as a man," but that for a time, instead of being resplendent with divine glory, the human form only appeared in a mean and abject condition? Nor would the words of Peter, that he was "put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirits" (1 Pet. 3:18), hold true, unless the Son of God had become weak in the nature of man. This is explained more clearly by Paul, when he declares that "he was crucified through weakness," (2 Cor. 13:4). And hence his exaltation; for it is distinctly said, that Christ acquired new glory after he humbled himself. This could fitly apply only to a man endued with a body and a soul. Manes dreams of an aerial body, because Christ is called the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. But the apostle does not there speak of the essence of his body as heavenly, but of the spiritual life which derived from Christ quickens us (I Cor. 15:47). This life Paul and Peter, as we have seen, separate from his flesh. Nay, that passage admirably confirms the doctrine of the orthodox, as to the human nature of Christ. If his body were not of the same nature with ours, there would be no soundness in the argument which Paul pursues with so much earnestness,--If Christ is risen we shall rise also; if we rise not, neither has Christ risen. Whatever be the cavils by which the ancient Manichees, or their modern disciples, endeavour to evade this, they cannot succeed. It is a frivolous and despicable evasion to say, that Christ is called the Son of man, because he was promised to men; it being obvious that, in the Hebrew idiom, the Son of man means a true man: and Christ, doubtless, retained the idiom of his own tongue. [243] Moreover, there cannot be a doubt as to what is to be understood by the sons of Adam. Not to go farther, a passage in the eighth psalm, which the apostles apply to Christ, will abundantly suffice: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Ps 8:4). Under this figure is expressed the true humanity of Christ. For although he was not immediately descended of an earthly father, yet he originally sprang from Adam. Nor could it otherwise be said in terms of the passage which we have already quoted, "Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;" these words plainly proving that he was an associate and partner in the same nature with ourselves. In this sense also it is said, that "both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one." The context proves that this refers to a community of nature; for it is immediately added, "For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren," (Heb. 2:11). Had he said at first that believers are of God, where could there have been any ground for being ashamed of persons possessing such dignity? But when Christ of his boundless grace associates himself with the mean and ignoble, we see why it was said that "he is not ashamed." It is vain to object, that in this way the wicked will be the brethren of Christ; for we know that the children of God are not born of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit through faith. Therefore, flesh alone does not constitute the union of brotherhood. But although the apostle assigns to believers only the honour of being one with Christ, it does not however follow, that unbelievers have not the same origin according to the flesh; just as when we say that Christ became man, that he might make us sons of God, the expression does not extend to all classes of persons; the intervention of faith being necessary to our being spiritually ingrafted into the body of Christ. A dispute is also ignorantly raised as to the term first-born. It is alleged that Christ ought to have been the first son of Adam, in order that he might be the first-born among the brethren (Rom. 8:29). But primogeniture refers not to age, but to degree of honour and pre-eminence of virtue. There is just as little colour for the frivolous assertion that Christ assumed the nature of man, and not that of angels (Heb. 2:16), because it was the human race that he restored to favour. The apostle, to magnify the honour which Christ has conferred upon us, contrasts us with the angels, to whom we are in this respect preferred. And if due weight is given to the testimony of Moses (Gen. 3:15), when he says that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent, the dispute is at an end. For the words there used refer not to Christ alone, but to the whole human race. Since the victory was to be obtained for us by Christ, God declares generally, that the posterity of the woman would overcome the devil. From this it follows, that Christ is a descendant of the human race, the purpose of God in thus addressing Eve being to raise her hopes, and prevent her from giving way to despair.

3. The passages in which Christ is called the seed of Abraham, and the fruit of the loins of David, those persons, with no less folly than wickedness, wrap up in allegory. Had the term seed been used allegorically, Paul surely would not have omitted to notice it, when he affirms clearly, and without figure, that the promise was not given "to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ," (Gal. 3:16). With similar absurdity they pretend that he was called the Son of David for no other reason but because he had been promised, and was at length in due time manifested. For Paul, after he had called him the Son of David, by immediately subjoining "according to the flesh", certainly designates his nature. So also (Rom. 9:5), while declaring him to be "God blessed for ever," he mentions separately, that, "as concerning the flesh, he was descended from the Jews." Again if he had not been truly begotten of the seed of David, what is the meaning of the expression, that he is the "fruit of his loins;" or what the meaning of the promise, "Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne?" (Ps. 132:11). Moreover their mode of dealing with the genealogy of Christ, as given by Matthew, is mere sophistry; for though he reckons up the progenitors not of Mary, but of Joseph, yet as he was speaking of a matter then generally understood, he deems it enough to show that Joseph was descended from the seed of David, since it is certain that Mary was of the same family. Luke goes still farther, showing that the salvation brought by Christ is common to the whole human race, inasmuch as Christ, the author of salvation, is descended from Adam, the common father of us all. I confess, indeed, that the genealogy proves Christ to be the Son of David only as being descended of the Virgin; but the new Marcionites, for the purpose of giving a gloss to their heresy, namely to prove that the body which Christ assumed was unsubstantial, too confidently maintain that the expression as to seed is applicable only to males, thus subverting the elementary principles of nature. But as this discussion belongs not to theology, and the arguments which they adduce are too futile to require any laboured refutation, I will not touch on matters pertaining to philosophy and the medical art. It will be sufficient to dispose of the objection drawn from the statement of Scripture, that Aaron and Jehoiadah married wives out of the tribe of Judah, and that thus the distinction of tribes was confounded, if proper descent could come through the female. It is well known, that in regard to civil order, descent is reckoned through the male; and yet the superiority on his part does not prevent the female from having her proper share in the descent. This solution applies to all the genealogies. When Scripture gives a list of individuals, it often mentions males only. Must we therefore say that females go for nothing? Nay, the very children know that they are classified with men. For this reasons wives are said to give children to their husbands, the name of the family always remaining with the males. Then, as the male sex has this privilege, that sons are deemed of noble or ignoble birth, according to the condition of their fathers, so, on the other hand, in slavery, the condition of the child is determined by that of the mother, as lawyers say, partus sequitur ventrem. Whence we may infer, that offspring is partly procreated by the seed of the mother. According to the common custom of nations, mothers are deemed progenitors, and with this the divine law agrees, which could have had no ground to forbid the marriage of the uncle with the niece, if there was no consanguinity between them. It would also be lawful for a brother and sister uterine to intermarry, when their fathers are different. But while I admit that the power assigned to the woman is passive, I hold that the same thing is affirmed indiscriminately of her and of the male. Christ is not said to have been made by a woman, but of a woman (Gal. 4:4). But some of this herd, laying aside all shame, publicly ask whether we mean to maintain that Christ was procreated of the proper seed of a Virgin. [244] I, in my turn, asks whether they are not forced to admit that he was nourished to maturity in the Virgin's womb. Justly, therefore, we infer from the words of Matthew, that Christ, inasmuch as he was begotten of Mary, was procreated of her seed; as a similar generation is denoted when Boaz is said to have been begotten of Rachab (Mt. 1:5, 16). Matthew does not here describe the Virgin as the channel through which Christ flowed, but distinguishes his miraculous from an ordinary birth, in that Christ was begotten by her of the seed of David. For the same reason for which Isaac is said to be begotten of Abraham, Joseph of Jacob, Solomon of David, is Christ said to have been begotten of his mother. The Evangelist has arranged his discourse in this way. Wishing to prove that Christ derives his descent from David, he deems it enough to state, that he was begotten of Mary. Hence it follows, that he assumed it as an acknowledged fact, that Mary was of the same lineage as Joseph.

4. The absurdities which they wish to fasten upon us are mere puerile calumnies. They reckon it base and dishonouring to Christ to have derived his descent from men; because, in that case, he could not be exempted from the common law which includes the whole offspring of Adam, without exception, under sin. But this difficulty is easily solved by Paul's antithesis, "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin"--"even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life," (Rom. 5:12, 18). Corresponding to this is another passage, "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven," (1 Cor. 15:47). Accordingly, the same apostle, in another passage, teaching that Christ was sent "in the likeness of sinful flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us," distinctly separates him from the common lot, as being true man, and yet without fault and corruption (Rom. 8:3). It is childish trifling to maintain, that if Christ is free from all taint, and was begotten of the seed of Mary, by the secret operation of the Spirit, it is not therefore the seed of the woman that is impure, but only that of the man. We do not hold Christ to be free from all taint, merely because he was born of a woman unconnected with a man, but because he was sanctified by the Spirit, so that the generation was pure and spotless, such as it would have been before Adam's fall. Let us always bear in mind, that wherever Scripture adverts to the purity of Christ, it refers to his true human nature, since it were superfluous to say that God is pure. Moreover, the sanctification of which John speaks in his seventeenth chapter is inapplicable to the divine nature. This does not suggest the idea of a twofold seed in Adam, although no contamination extended to Christ, the generation of man not being in itself vicious or impure, but an accidental circumstance of the fall. Hence, it is not strange that Christ, by whom our integrity was to be restored, was exempted from the common corruption. Another absurdity which they obtrude upon us--viz. that if the Word of God became incarnate, it must have been enclosed in the narrow tenement of an earthly body, is sheer petulance. For although the boundless essence of the Word was united with human nature into one person, we have no idea of any enclosing. The Son of God descended miraculously from heaven, yet without abandoning heaven; was pleased to be conceived miraculously in the Virgin's womb, to live on the earth, and hang upon the cross, and yet always filled the world as from the beginning.

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[243] The last clause of the sentence is omited in the French.

[244] Latin, "An dicere velimus ex semine menstruali virginis procreatur esse Christum."

__________________________________________________________________

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain      Institutes of the Christian Religion

Olaf, Culture, and Holiness

By MarkKate Morse 12/17/2015

As you get older it’s harder and harder to discern between a culture’s normal process of updating norms and values and the idealized values and norms of the past. So, I sometimes ask my adult kids what they think about some music, movie, or event, or person in the news. Their insights are helpful to me.

     I saw something on TV, and I can’t get it out of my mind. So I thought, perhaps I should ask for the perspective of the emerging generation of Christian leaders. On some levels this is a no brainer, but on others it seems to me insidiously complex. I know it’s the ‘world,’ but it’s also the world we live in and try to influence.

     Here is what I saw. One evening I was flipping channels and stopped on a sitcom I hadn’t seen before (confession, I hardly ever watch sitcoms, except Mash, so you see my point about perhaps being stuck in the past). I stopped because it had an African-American family and a White family working together to provide the show-stopper birthday party for one of their children. When I dropped in on the show, the party was not going well. Neighbors were not impressed; as if that’s really the point of a child’s birthday party, but I digress. So the African-American father had an idea to punch up the party experience. He went upstairs and came down dressed as Olaf, the friendly and funny snowman in Frozen, with white tights and an Olaf body costume.

     The little children, who looked like they were around 4-6 years of age, were thrilled and gathered around on the floor to hear Olaf sing. Olaf began singing and dancing. Then in a moment of exuberance his tights split open in the crotch right at eye-level for the kids. Now the ‘censors’ blurred out the area for us viewers but, of course, in the spirit of the show, it wasn’t blurred out for the kids. It was left to the viewers’ imagination whether he had on underwear or not. The children started screaming and running around. The parents were horrified and took their kids and left.

     I couldn’t believe I just saw that on national television. I couldn’t believe the canned laughter in the background as the incident happened. I couldn’t believe that anyone would find this funny or fit for viewing. Is this depraved or am I over-reacting? Is this a silly incident or an indication of our culture’s dark confusion? That’s what I really want to know. Do you 20-30 year olds find this disturbing, and if so why and if not, why not?

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     MaryKate Morse, PhD, is professor of Leadership and Spiritual Formation in the seminary at George Fox University. Currently she is the Lead Mentor for the Doctor of Ministry in Leadership & Spiritual Formation. Raised in the Air Force, MaryKate lived in various states and overseas. She completed her BS in Secondary Education and English Literature at Longwood University in Virginia. With her husband, Randy, and small children she lived in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia and Peru doing ministry and social projects with the Aymará Indians. Upon return she did a Masters in Biblical Studies and an MDIV at Western Evangelical Seminary (now GFES). She began teaching, studied spiritual formation and direction, and was certified as a spiritual director and recorded as a pastor with the Evangelical Friends. MaryKate completed her doctorate at Gonzaga University where she studied the characteristics of renewal leadership as modeled by Jesus. She continues to explore how spiritual formation and effective leadership result in the transformation of individuals and communities especially for evangelists and front-line leaders in diverse cultural environments. After her doctorate she planted two churches and served in various administrative positions at the university including Seminary Associate Dean, Director of Hybrid programs, and University Director of Strategic Planning. She is a spiritual director and leadership mentor and coach, conference and retreat speaker, and author including Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence and A Guidebook to Prayer. MaryKate is married to Randy and has three adult children and five grandchildren. She enjoys being with family, hiking, reading, exploring new places, and playing with her puppy, Tess. Books by MaryKate Morse:

Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence
A Guidebook to Prayer: 24 Ways to Walk with God


  • A Word to Husbands 1
  • Husbands 2
  • Q & A  2/8/2018


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Sound financial advice (1)
     2/11/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘The wise have wealth…but fools spend whatever they get.’

(Pr 21:20) Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. ESV

     It’s foolish to buy things you don’t need and can’t afford, especially when your bills are overdue and you’ve nothing set aside for the future. Your financial security is determined by what you owe, not by what you earn! Having to work for years to repay debt severely limits your options. So, determine your lifestyle by your actual income, not by what you wish it was or hope it will be. And when you get a raise, don’t automatically spend more. The Bible says, ‘There is…treasure…in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it’ (Proverbs 21:20 NKJV). One of the wisest things you can do today is to start saving for the future, and sowing at least one-tenth of your income into God’s Kingdom so that you’ll have a harvest when you need it (see 2 Corinthians 9:6). Author John Kennedy writes: ‘Peddling biblically-based financial advice has become a cottage industry. It’s not that the counsel is new, or that people haven’t heard it enough. The fact remains…Christians have racked up debt with no plan for financial accountability…they’re tapped out keeping up with interest payments.’ Is your philosophy in life, ‘Why wait and save when a credit card will let me have what I want right now?’ If you’re buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have, stop it! Before you purchase anything else, ask yourself if you really need it. And even if you think you do, ask yourself if you can live without it for a while; otherwise you’ll become a slave to credit card debt. Here’s some sound financial advice: pray for God’s guidance before you make any non-essential purchase.

Luke 2:25-52
Psalm 16-17

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On February 11, 1861, newly elected President Abraham Lincoln delivered a Farewell Speech in Springfield, Illinois, as he left for Washington, D.C. Lincoln stated: “I now leave, not knowing when or whether… I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington.” Abraham Lincoln continued: “Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     But in contrast to this passive route to complete obedience most people must follow what Jean­ Nicholas Grou calls the active way, wherein we must struggle and, like Jacob of old, wrestle with the angel until the morning dawns, the active way wherein the will must be subjected bit by bit, piecemeal and progressively, to the divine Will.

     But the first step to the obedience of the second half is the flaming vision of the wonder of such a life, a vision which comes occasionally to us all, through biographies of the saints, through the journals of Fox and early Friends, through a life lived before our eyes, through a haunting verse of the Psalms-"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee" (Ps. 73:25) - through meditation upon the amazing life and death of Jesus, through a flash of illumination or, in Fox's language, a great opening. But whatever the earthly history of this moment of charm, this vision of an absolutely holy life is, I am convinced, the invading, urging, inviting, persuading work of the Eternal One. It is curious that modern psychology cannot account wholly for flashes of in­sight of any kind, sacred or secular. It is as if a fountain of creative Mind were welling up, bubbling to expression within prepared spirits. There is an infinite fountain of lifting power, pressing within us, luring us by dazzling visions, and we can only say, the creative God comes into our souls. An increment of infinity is about us. Holy is imagination, the gateway of Reality into our hearts. The Hound of Heaven is on our track, the God of Love is wooing us to His Holy Life.


A Testament of Devotion

Journal of John Woolman 2/11
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     Having attained the age of sixteen years, I began to love wanton company and though I was preserved from profane language or scandalous conduct, yet I perceived a plant in me which produced much wild grapes; my merciful Father did not, however, forsake me utterly, but at times, through his grace, I was brought seriously to consider my ways; and the sight of my backslidings affected me with sorrow, yet for want of rightly attending to the reproofs of instruction, vanity was added to vanity, and repentance to repentance. Upon the whole, my mind became more and more alienated from the truth, and I hastened toward destruction. While I meditate on the gulf towards which I travelled, and reflect on my youthful disobedience, for these things I weep, mine eye runneth down with water.

     Advancing in age, the number of my acquaintance increased, and thereby my way grew more difficult. Though I had found comfort in reading the Holy Scriptures and thinking on heavenly things, I was now estranged therefrom. I knew I was going from the flock of Christ and had no resolution to return, hence serious reflections were uneasy to me, and youthful vanities and diversions were my greatest pleasure. In this road I found many like myself, and we associated in that which is adverse to true friendship.

     In this swift race it pleased God to visit me with sickness, so that I doubted of recovery; then did darkness, horror, and amazement with full force seize me, even when my pain and distress of body were very great. I thought it would have been better for me never to have had being, than to see the day which I now saw. I was filled with confusion, and in great affliction, both of mind and body, I lay and bewailed myself. I had not confidence to lift up my cries to God, whom I had thus offended; but in a deep sense of my great folly I was humbled before him. At length that word which is as a fire and a hammer broke and dissolved my rebellious heart; my cries were put up in contrition; and in the multitude of his mercies I found inward relief, and a close engagement that if he was pleased to restore my health I might walk humbly before him.

     After my recovery this exercise remained with me a considerable time, but by degrees giving way to youthful vanities, and associating with wanton young people, I lost ground. The Lord had been very gracious, and spoke peace to me in the time of my distress, and I now most ungratefully turned again to folly; at times I felt sharp reproof, but I did not get low enough to cry for help. I was not so hardy as to commit things scandalous, but to exceed in vanity and to promote mirth was my chief study. Still I retained a love and esteem for pious people, and their company brought an awe upon me. My dear parents several times admonished me in the fear of the Lord, and their admonition entered into my heart and had a good effect for a season; but not getting deep enough to pray rightly, the tempter, when he came, found entrance. Once having spent a part of the day in wantonness, when I went to bed at night there lay in a window near my bed a Bible, which I opened, and first cast my eye on the text, "We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us." This I knew to be my case, and meeting with so unexpected a reproof I was somewhat affected with it, and went to bed under remorse of conscience, which I soon cast off again.

     Thus time passed on; my heart was replenished with mirth and wantonness, while pleasing scenes of vanity were presented to my imagination, till I attained the age of eighteen years, near which time I felt the judgments of God in my soul, like a consuming fire, and looking over my past life the prospect was moving. I was often sad, and longed to be delivered from those vanities; then again my heart was strongly inclined to them, and there was in me a sore conflict. At times I turned to folly, and then again sorrow and confusion took hold of me. In a while I resolved totally to leave off some of my vanities, but there was a secret reserve in my heart of the more refined part of them, and I was not low enough to find true peace. Thus for some months I had great troubles; my will was unsubjected, which rendered my labors fruitless. At length, through the merciful continuance of heavenly visitations, I was made to bow down in spirit before the Lord. One evening I had spent some time in reading a pious author, and walking out alone I humbly prayed to the Lord for his help, that I might be delivered from all those vanities which so ensnared me. Thus being brought low, he helped me, and as I learned to bear the cross I felt refreshment to come from his presence, but not keeping in that strength which gave victory I lost ground again, the sense of which greatly affected me. I sought deserts and lonely places, and there with tears did confess my sins to God and humbly craved his help. And I may say with reverence, he was near to me in my troubles, and in those times of humiliation opened my ear to discipline. I was now led to look seriously at the means by which I was drawn from the pure truth, and learned that if I would live such a life as the faithful servants of God lived, I must not go into company as heretofore in my own will, but all the cravings of sense must be governed by a Divine principle. In times of sorrow and abasement these instructions were sealed upon me, and I felt the power of Christ prevail over selfish desires, so that I was preserved in a good degree of steadiness, and being young, and believing at that time that a single life was best for me, I was strengthened to keep from such company as had often been a snare to me.


John Woolman's Journal

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


A baby is God’s opinion
that the world should go on.
--- Carl Sandburg

God, to redeem us at the deepest portion of our nature
- the urge to love and be loved -
must reveal His nature in an incredible and impossible way.
He must reveal it at a cross.
--- E. Stanley Jones

No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to un-Christianize society than evil temper.
--- Henry Drummond

The seventh step of humility is when we declare with our tongue and believe in our inmost soul that we are the lowliest and vilest of all, humbling ourselves and saying with the Psalmist, ‘But I am a worm, and I am the reproach of all, the outcast of the people.’ The Scriptures teach us that it is good to be humbled so that we may learn God’s commandments.
Benedict of Nursia

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 9:7-12
     by D.H. Stern

7     “He who corrects a scoffer only gets insulted;
reproving a wicked man becomes his blemish.
8     If you reprove a scoffer, he will hate you;
if you reprove a wise man, he will love you.
9     Give to a wise man, and he grows still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will learn still more.
10     The fear of ADONAI is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of holy ones is understanding.
11     For with me, your days will be increased;
years will be added to your life.
12     If you are wise, your wisdom helps you;
but if you scoff, you bear the consequences alone.”


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


                Is your hope in God faint and dying?

     Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose imagination is stayed on Thee. ---
Isaiah 26:3. (R.V. marg.).

     Is your imagination stayed on God or is it starved? The starvation of the imagination is one of the most fruitful sources of exhaustion and sapping in a worker’s life. If you have never used your imagination to put yourself before God, begin to do it now. It is no use waiting for God to come; you must put your imagination away from the face of idols and look unto Him and be saved. Imagination is the greatest gift God has given us, and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him. If you have been bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, it will be one of the greatest assets to faith when the time of trial comes, because your faith and the Spirit of God will work together. Learn to associate ideas worthy of God with all that happens in Nature—the sunrises and the sunsets, the sun and the stars, the changing seasons, and your imagination will never be at the mercy of your impulses, but will always be at the service of God.

     ‘We have sinned with our fathers … and have forgotten’—then put a stiletto in the place where you have gone to sleep. ‘God is not talking to me just now,’ but He ought to be. Remember Whose you are and Whom you serve. Provoke yourself by recollection, and your affection for God will increase tenfold; your imagination will not be starved any longer, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Kneeling
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Kneeling

Moments of great calm,
  Kneeling before an altar
  Of wood in a stone church
  In summer, waiting for the God
  To speak; the air a staircase
  For silence; the sun's light
  Ringing me, as though I acted
  A great role. And the audiences
  Still; all that close throng
  Of spiritswaiting, as I,
  For the message.
       Prompt me, God;
  but not yet. When I speak,
  Though it be you who speak
  Through me, something is lost.
  The meaning is in the waiting.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Minuet
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


But not to concentrate
on disaster, there are the small
weeds with the caterpillar
at their base that is life's proof
that the beautiful is born
from the demolition of the material.

The butterfly has no
clock. It is always noon
where it is, the sun overhead,
the flower feeding on what feeds
on itself. The wings turn and are sails
of a slow windmill, not to grind
but to be the signal for another
aviator to arrive that the air
may have dancing, a movement
of wings in an invisible
ballroom to a music that,
unheard by ourselves, is to them
as though it will never cease.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

4. The Conceptions for Rejection
     Job 10:1-17

     comment

     Job’s utterances are the last word in the expression of certain forms of grief. These particular verses are stately and terrific; Job is trying to state to his own mind why God seems to have rejected him, and also why he should reject the way God is being presented to him—

     Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of Thine hand. Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet Thou dost destroy me. (
Job 10:7-8)

     All along Job bases his conceptions on the facts which he knows, and this is the only thing to do, although many of us would rather tell a lie for the honour of God than face the facts. A fanatic is one who entrenches himself in invincible ignorance. Job will not accept anything that contradicts the facts he knows; he is not splenetic, he does not say God is cruel, he simply states the facts—“It looks as though God is rejecting me without any reason, all the facts go to prove this and I am not going to blink them.” Job will not lay a flattering unction to his soul on the line of expediency. No man ever puts a stumbling-block in the way of others by telling the truth; to tell the truth is more honouring to God than to tell a lie. If God has done something for you, you will know it unmistakably, but if He has not, never say He has for the sake of other people. Job sticks to facts, that is what confuses his friends; but in the end Job is brought face to face with God.


Great Lives: Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Great Lives (Thomas Nelson))

Job getting hot
     Job 12:2-3

     In speaking again after all his friends have addressed him, Job is directing himself to them all collectively, not to Zophar in particular. This speech begins with his comment on their collective wisdom. They have put themselves forward as purveyors of wisdom, but they have had nothing to teach Job.

     For the first time in the book, Job is contemptuous of his friends. Earlier he had expressed his disappointment in them (
6:15–21), had even pronounced them disloyal (6:14), and had angrily inveighed against their callousness (6:26–27). But he had not previously accused them of laying exclusive claim to wisdom. That they have not of course done. They have only spoken the conventionalities of wisdom teaching, and though they have occasionally appealed to personal experience (cf. 4:12–19; 5:3, 8, 27), their stance has been typified by Bildad’s encouragement to “question the former generation, apply your mind to the discovery of their fathers, for we ourselves are but of yesterday and know nothing” (8:8–9). They have never represented themselves as the people at whose death wisdom will pass away, the last of their race (a similar charge is made by Aeschylus against Euripides in Aristophanes’ Frogs). But it feels like that to Job, who, with mock seriousness, allows for the moment the truth of this claim: unquestionably ... they must be wholly in the right and he wholly in the wrong.

Great Lives: Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Great Lives (Thomas Nelson))

Exact retribution
     Can you relate?

     The Job who thus suffers is the man who proves in his own person the inadequacy of the doctrine of exact retribution ... He is morally blameless, but also religiously faultless, enjoying reciprocal communion with God, a man who would call upon God and invariably be answered. We have had a glimpse of such a person, from the outside, in 1:5, where Job is pictured in constant petition to God on behalf of his children—petition that evidently met with favor on every day except that fateful day of the divine assembly. Here we are invited into that man’s experience of “calling” and “being answered” as a natural, unfretful, satisfying relation with the divine. But of course that was a former experience; now he is the man whom God has not answered and will not answer. Now Job is a caller without an answerer: “I cry to thee and thou dost not answer me … thou hast turned cruel to me” (30:20–21). Should he “call” to heaven, Eliphaz has warned him, there would be no one to “answer” him with escape from the web of retributive fate (5:1). What he longs for is that he could again approach God and learn what he would answer him (23:5); every speech of his is implicitly a cry to God, an attempt to restitute that dialogue he had enjoyed, and his last speech will be climaxed by the cry, “Let the Almighty answer me” (31:35). If God were to call upon him, he, mere mortal that he is, could not answer God (9:3, 14–16, 32); yet such an ill-matched dialogue would be better than nothing, if only there could be dialogue of some sort again (13:22). Even to wait a whole life long for a “call” from God would be worth it: “all the days of my hard service I would wait … then thou wouldest call, and I would answer thee” (14:15). But as it is, he is in the position of the godless man whose “cry” God does not “hear” (27:9); and even ordinary human and domestic dialogue with Job has been stifled: “I call to my servant but he gives me no answer” (19:16). Heaven and earth alike have become deaf, and Job hears nothing but the echo of his own cries.

Great Lives: Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Great Lives (Thomas Nelson))

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Eleventh Chapter / Acquiring Peace and Zeal For Perfection

     WE SHOULD enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours. How can a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange distractions, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected, live long in peace?

     Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in abundance.

     Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to attach themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate their innermost thoughts.

     We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves day by day; hence, we remain cold and indifferent. If we mortified our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our minds, we could appreciate divine things and experience something of heavenly contemplation.

     The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we are not free from passions and lusts, that we do not try to follow the perfect way of the saints. Thus when we encounter some slight difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to human consolations. If we tried, however, to stand as brave men in battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us. For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.

     If we let our progress in religious life depend on the observance of its externals alone, our devotion will quickly come to an end. Let us, then, lay the ax to the root that we may be freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind.

     If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon become perfect. The contrary, however, is often the case—we feel that we were better and purer in the first fervor of our conversion than we are after many years in the practice of our faith. Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day; yet it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part of his first fervor.

     If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy. It is hard to break old habits, but harder still to go against our will.

     If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you overcome the more difficult? Resist temptations in the beginning, and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps, little by little, it lead to a more evil one.

     If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to yourself and what joy it will give to others, I think you will be more concerned about your spiritual progress.


The Imitation Of Christ

Teacher's Commentary
     The Experience of Suffering

     The reasons we’ve seen for Israel’s time of suffering in Egypt may fall short of a full explanation. Perhaps Exodus 2:23 suggests another reason. “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.” It took the experience of suffering to lead Israel to cry out to God for help.

     It’s peculiar, but it’s true of most of us. When things are going well, we lose awareness of our need for God. Somehow we feel capable in ourselves to meet the challenges of life and eternity. But a sense of need, of helplessness, leads us to trust ourselves afresh to God. When we lose our sense of need, we may lose touch with spiritual reality.

     Psalm 73 illustrates how troubles draw our thoughts to God. Asaph had become jealous of the prosperity of the wicked (
vv. 1–12). He felt his own commitment to God was useless, as he was still “plagued” all the day long (vv. 13–16). He struggled to understand, and finally realized that his trials were a blessing, and the ease of the wicked was actually “slippery ground” (vv. 17–20). Seeing at last, he realized his troubles had helped to keep his eyes and his hope fixed on the Lord, and he was satisfied with God as his “portion forever”. (vv. 21–28)

The Teacher's Commentary

A Jewish Perspective on Exodus 6:3
     Parashat Va'era

     Professor Yosef Faur Department of Talmud

     In a section of "The Book Megillat Starim" (published by Poznanski in Hatzofe L'chochmat Yisrael, 25, 1921, pages 177-179), Rav Nissim Gaon (990-1062) develops the principle that (in contrast to the general concept of "divinity", which is attainable through rational thought) the concept of G-d is known only in the "consciousness of feeling" (translation from the Arabic original "alam eltz(r)orýi", the exact meaning of which is: intuition). The people of Israel achieved this supreme knowledge because they stood together:

     "... At Mount Sinai and heard "I am the Lord your G-d" from the Almighty himself. From that day on they knew G-d intuitively; having seen the sounds pressing through the cloud and the fog, it seemed to them to be the actual form of the letters and their shapes written in the air in the order of the words."

     Thus they realized by intuition "that the Holy One Blessed Be He himself spoke to them". The uniqueness of the Children of Israel stems from the fact that they were fortunate to get to know of "The Creator and His own attributes through intuition". Thus they are the witnesses testifying before all mankind as to the sublime existence of G-d: "they testify that the Lord exists, alive and present in the world, since they learned this fact intuitively". From this exact standpoint Israel alone are capable of being the witnesses - in the sense that the Arabic word "shahid" (believer) refers to one who gives a testimony of faith before others as to what he feels internally. In the light of this Rav Nissim Gaon explained the passage in Isaiah (43,12) "And you are My witnesses, says G-d" in the plain sense of the words. To this height only the People of Israel can ascend: "... The Holy One Blessed Be He made his people Israel unique in knowing Him intuitively... Therefore they deserved the title - witnesses". This is the intent of the prophet Amos (3,2): "Only you have I known from among all the families of the earth". This is to say : "I have made you unique to know Me ... through intuition". After discussing the various scriptural references and problems which apply to this principle , he concludes:

     "And it becomes clear from all these Biblical verses and the proofs for the arguments I have brought that all the prophets who heard the words of the Lord, and all Israel, from the day they stood at Mount Sinai and heard "I am ..." and "You shall not have..." from the mouth of G-d, already knew the Lord clearly through intuition".

     Accordingly Rabbi Yehuda Halevi (1075-1141) made a sharp distinction between belief in the Lord and belief in god in general. Belief in the Lord has two major characteristics: it cannot be attained through any logical process, through rational means, but only in "that prophetic vision"; and it belongs exclusively to the People of Israel. Belief in the Lord generates an existential transformation in the believer. In the words of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi: "G-d gave him another heart...it is thus that man becomes a servant, loving the object of his servitude and willing to sacrifice his life for the one he loves...". Thus the belief in the G-d of Abraham is different from that of Aristotle (The Kuzari, part 4, 15-16). One may, therefore, differentiate between the belief in the Oneness of G-d in Israel and the monotheism which exists among certain classes of the pagan peoples.

     The historian of religion Paul Radin ( 1887-1959) in the ninth chapter of his classic work "Primitive Religion" (New York, 1957), proved that what is usually called monotheism among pagan peoples is not a religious principle but a philosophical one: "We are here not dealing essentially with a religious belief at all but with a philosophical concept". Monotheism among such peoples does not operate in their spiritual lives but is "an artificial and static synthesis" in the hands of a limited group of religious leaders. If it is at all legitimate to call this idea monotheism, claims Radin, "it would be just as legitimate to call Socrates or Seneca a monotheist. Monotheism in its strictly religious connotation implies that it is the official faith of the whole community. Such a faith is never found among primitive people". In this light one can well understand the promise of G-d that the Covenant at Sinai had two purposes (which are, in fact, one). First of all, it was intended to make Israel "a Kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19,6) meaning that unlike the pagan nations this knowledge is not the exclusive property of some kind of elite group, but is the heritage of the entire nation. The second purpose is that this knowledge comes to create a substantial change in the people. This is stated in the the continuation of the passage: "and a Holy People" - this is not simply an intellectual concept, but a belief, which transforms the Children of Israel into a Holy People.

     In Exodus 5,22 we hear Moses complain that Pharaoh has rejected his request. Not only did he not free Israel but actually he worsened their condition. The answer to Moses' complaint is found further on (6, 2-7) when G-d announces the process of phenomena and events in nature which will transform Israel into a people who know G-d intuitively. Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (1470-1550) pointed out that the letter "bet" in the word "be-El Shaddai" relates also to the word "Ushmi" (see Ibn Ezra and Shadal) and therefore the meaning of the passage is: "And by My name, the Lord, I did not make myself known to them: in that revelation. And I did not change any law of nature for them". G-d did not announce His ways to our Forefathers through miraculous changes in nature , but in prophetic visions.

     A similar view was held by Rabbi Yitzchak Karo (16th - 17th centuries), the uncle and teacher of Rabbi Sforno in his commentary to the Torah (Toldot Yitzchak). He draws a basic distinction between the miracles done in the time of the Patriarchs - in the name of G-d as "El Shaddai" - which are by nature "hidden miracles", and those done for Israel in Egypt, which were "visible miracles". The purpose of the miracles done by Moses in Egypt was not to convince Pharaoh but to initiate a complex chain of events which would reach their climax at the foot of Mount Sinai. At that point Israel would come to know G-d through "the knowledge of feeling". In this light we should understand the letter-conjunction "vav" in the word "V'yada'atem ki ani ..."(And you will know that I am the Lord , your G-d) (Exodus 6,7) as being causative. The passage then, means: Through these miracles you will finally come to know the Lord in the knowledge of feelings. The continuation "who freed you from the sufferings of Egypt" refers to the first passage in the Ten Commandments: "I am the Lord your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage"(Exodus 20,2).

     We must point out that according to Maimonides only: "the signs done by Moses in the wilderness - were done out of necessity" (Yesodey Hatorah 8:1). Not so the miracles performed in Egypt, whose purpose, in the words of Rabbi Yehudah Halevi, was to transform each individual in Israel into "a servant loving the object of his servitude and willing to sacrifice his life for the one whom he loves".

(For details on the subject and sources see: Josef Faur, "Intuitive Knowledge of G-d in Medieval Jewish Theology", Jewish Quarterly Review 67 (1976-77),( 90-110). --- Translated by: Phil Lerman, Kibbutz Beerot Yitzchak

Take Heart
     February 11

     The invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.” --- John 5:7.

     I find in the man by the pool of Bethesda what I call city loneliness.( Wind on the Heath (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) For thirty-eight years he had been crippled—and now he had no friend in the whole city. There is a loneliness of the moor and of the glen, where there is never a whisper except of the sighing wind. But there is a loneliness that is far worse than that: it is the loneliness of a great and crowded city. There may be someone who in our thronging streets is far more lonely than any Highland cottager; the man by the pool of Bethesda was like that. Round him was all the traffic of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was a very busy city. And at the heart of all that stir and activity, without one single person to give a hand to him, there lay that lonely sufferer by the water. Where life is richest and relationships most varied and where pleasures flaunt themselves at every corner, it is possible to be more exquisitely lonely than in the solitary shelter of the glen.

     I had a friend who went to America six years ago, and I will never forget what he once wrote me. He had spent a year or two in the far west of Canada and then had gone south and settled in the States. And he wrote me that the vast and silent prairie stretching away, endless, from his threshold, never so overwhelmed him with a sense of loneliness as did the tumultuous crowding of New York City. In the city where everyone was hurrying, and no one seemed to care a jot for him, he realized he was a lonely man. It may be that passing you tonight out in the lighted streets, and you so happy, there is someone who is heart weary for a friend.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day   February 11
     Four Rules or Dying

     When entrusted to God, even sickness can become a tool for his glory. Asked why the man in John 9 was blind, Jesus replied, “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (NIV). Paul’s illness, though a “thorn” in his flesh, displayed the sufficiency of God’s grace. William Sangster’s four rules for facing illness show us how that happens.

     Sangster was born in London in 1900 and started attending a Methodist church at age nine. At 13 he became a Christian and immediately began sharing his faith with friends. Three years later he preached his first sermon on February 11, 1917. After stints in the army and in college, he began pastoring a circuit of Methodist churches, working himself to exhaustion, frequently saying, “I just can’t do enough!” His reputation as a powerful preacher and beloved pastor followed him from church to church.

     In 1939 Sangster assumed leadership of Westminster Central Hall, a Methodist church near London’s Westminster Abbey. During his first worship service he announced to his stunned congregation that Britain and Germany were officially at war. He quickly converted the church basement into an air raid shelter, and for 1,688 nights Sangster ministered to the various needs of all kinds of people. At the same time he somehow managed to write, to preach gripping sermons, to earn a Ph.D., and to lead hundreds to Christ. He became known as Wesley’s successor in London and was esteemed as the most beloved British preacher of his era.

     After the war Sangster headed Britain’s Methodist home missions department until he was diagnosed with progressive muscular atrophy. For three years he slowly died, becoming progressively more paralyzed, finally able to move only two fingers. But his attitude didn’t falter, for when first learning of his illness, Sangster made four rules for himself. Many people have rules for living. Sangster composed four rules for dying: “I will never complain. I will keep the home bright. I will count my blessings. I will try to turn it to gain.” He did all those things. And thus the work of God was displayed in his life, and God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness.

     As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it because he or his parents sinned?”
“No, it wasn’t!” Jesus answered. “But because of his blindness, you will see God work a miracle for him.”
--- John 9:1-3.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 11

     “And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” --- Acts 4:13.

     A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ is his living biography, written out in the words and actions of his people. If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be, we should be pictures of Christ; yea, such striking likenesses of him, that the world would not have to hold us up by the hour together, and say, “Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;” but they would, when they once beheld us, exclaim, “He has been with Jesus; he has been taught of him; he is like him; he has caught the very idea of the holy Man of Nazareth, and he works it out in his life and every-day actions.” A Christian should be like Christ in his boldness. Never blush to own your religion; your profession will never disgrace you: take care you never disgrace that. Be like Jesus, very valiant for your God. Imitate him in your loving spirit; think kindly, speak kindly, and do kindly, that men may say of you, “He has been with Jesus.” Imitate Jesus in his holiness. Was he zealous for his Master? So be you; ever go about doing good. Let not time be wasted: it is too precious. Was he self-denying, never looking to his own interest? Be the same. Was he devout? Be you fervent in your prayers. Had he deference to his Father’s will? So submit yourselves to him. Was he patient? So learn to endure. And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies, as he did; and let those sublime words of your Master, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” always ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven. Heap coals of fire on the head of your foe by your kindness to him. Good for evil, recollect, is godlike. Be godlike, then; and in all ways and by all means, so live that all may say of you, “He has been with Jesus.”


          Evening - February 11

     “Thou hast left thy first love.” --- Revelation 2:4.

     Ever to be remembered is that best and brightest of hours, when first we saw the Lord, lost our burden, received the roll of promise, rejoiced in full salvation, and went on our way in peace. It was spring time in the soul; the winter was past; the mutterings of Sinai’s thunders were hushed; the flashings of its lightnings were no more perceived; God was beheld as reconciled; the law threatened no vengeance, justice demanded no punishment. Then the flowers appeared in our heart; hope, love, peace, and patience sprung from the sod; the hyacinth of repentance, the snowdrop of pure holiness, the crocus of golden faith, the daffodil of early love, all decked the garden of the soul. The time of the singing of birds was come, and we rejoiced with thanksgiving; we magnified the holy name of our forgiving God, and our resolve was, “Lord, I am thine, wholly thine; all I am, and all I have, I would devote to thee. Thou hast bought me with thy blood—let me spend myself and be spent in thy service. In life and in death let me be consecrated to thee.” How have we kept this resolve? Our espousal love burned with a holy flame of devoutedness to Jesus—is it the same now? Might not Jesus well say to us, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”? Alas! it is but little we have done for our Master’s glory. Our winter has lasted all too long. We are as cold as ice when we should feel a summer’s glow and bloom with sacred flowers. We give to God pence when he deserveth pounds, nay, deserveth our heart’s blood to be coined in the service of his church and of his truth. But shall we continue thus? O Lord, after thou hast so richly blessed us, shall we be ungrateful and become indifferent to thy good cause and work? O quicken us that we may return to our first love, and do our first works! Send us a genial spring, O Sun of Righteousness.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 11

          THE WONDER OF IT ALL

     Words and Music by George Beverly Shea, 1909–

     What is man that You are mindful of him, the Son of Man that You care for Him? (Hebrews 2:6)

     What many Christians need today is a rebirth of wonder and awe. We know the gospel intellectually, but it seldom reaches our emotions and will. We take the incarnation, resurrection, ascension, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the eternal reign of Christ merely as theological concepts without letting them grip our inmost being. And the wonder that this great God knows, loves and cares for us doesn’t often thrill us as it should. We even become very blasé when we witness a life that has been dramatically transformed by the love of God. Our spiritual condition can be likened to those Christians at the church in Laodicea mentioned in Revelation 3:14–22: “neither cold nor hot”—just lukewarm. We need to recapture the wonder of it all.

     George Beverly Shea, one of the all-time favorite gospel singers, gives this account of the writing of this hymn in his book Songs That Lift the Heart:

     England figures in the story behind this hymn written in 1955. I was on my way to Scotland for meetings there aboard the S.S. United States bound for Southampton when inspiration came from conversation with another passenger. He wanted to know what went on at our meetings and after detailing the sequence of things at a typical Billy Graham Crusade meeting, I found myself at a loss for words when I tried to describe the response that usually accompanied Mr. Graham’s invitation to become a Christian. “What happens then never becomes commonplace … watching people by the hundreds come forward … oh, if you could just see the wonder of it all.”
     “I think I should,” he answered. Then he wrote these words on a card and handed it back to me: THE WONDER OF IT ALL.
“That sounds like a song to me.” Later that night, I wrote words on that theme and roughed out a melody to go with them.


     * * * *

     There’s the wonder of sunset at evening, the wonder as sunrise I see; but the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul is the wonder that God loves me.
     There’s the wonder of springtime and harvest, the sky, the stars, the sun; but the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul is a wonder that’s only begun.
     Refrain: O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me. O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me.


     For Today: Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:10; 3:19.

     Take time to reflect with awe on the wonder of your personal relationship with the God of the universe. Determine to live throughout the day with this attitude as you think of “the wonder of it all.” ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer 2018
     Sunday, February 11, 2018 | Epiphany


Last Sunday After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 148, 149, 150
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 114, 115
Old Testament     Sirach 48:1–11
New Testament     2 Corinthians 3:7–18
Gospel     Luke 9:18–27

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 148, 149, 150

148 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!

149 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the LORD!

150 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 114, 115

114 When Israel went out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
2 Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

3 The sea looked and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.

5 What ails you, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
6 O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water.

115 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

2 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”

3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8 Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.

9 O Israel, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.

12 The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the LORD,
both the small and the great.

14 May the LORD give you increase,
you and your children!
15 May you be blessed by the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!

16 The heavens are the LORD’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
17 The dead do not praise the LORD,
nor do any who go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
Sirach 48:1–11

48:1 Then Elijah arose, a prophet like fire,
and his word burned like a torch.
2 He brought a famine upon them,
and by his zeal he made them few in number.
3 By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens,
and also three times brought down fire.
4 How glorious you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
5 You raised a corpse from death
and from Hades, by the word of the Most High.
6 You sent kings down to destruction,
and famous men, from their sickbeds.
7 You heard rebuke at Sinai
and judgments of vengeance at Horeb.
8 You anointed kings to inflict retribution,
and prophets to succeed you.
9 You were taken up by a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with horses of fire.
10 At the appointed time, it is written, you are destined
to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury,
to turn the hearts of parents to their children,
and to restore the tribes of Jacob.
11 Happy are those who saw you
and were adorned with your love!
For we also shall surely live.

New Testament
2 Corinthians 3:7–18

7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Gospel
Luke 9:18–27

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

The Book of Common Prayer



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