(ctrl) and (+) magnifies screen if type too small.              me         quotes             scripture verse             footnotes       Words of Jesus      Links

2/12/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Numbers  3 - 4


Numbers 3

The LORD Calls Samuel

Numbers 3 1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

4 Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.

6 And the LORD called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

15 Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”

19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.


Numbers 4

The Philistines Capture the Ark

Numbers 4 1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.

Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines. They encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. 3 And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5 As soon as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And when they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9 Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.”

10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. 11 And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

The Death of Eli

12 A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with dirt on his head. 13 When he arrived, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, “What is this uproar?” Then the man hurried and came and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set so that he could not see. 16 And the man said to Eli, “I am he who has come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.” And he said, “How did it go, my son?” 17 He who brought the news answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.

19 Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

The Unsurprising Depth and Variety of Ancient Stories Written About Jesus

By J. Warner Wallace 2/9/2018

     I get email occasionally from skeptics who challenge the historicity of Jesus due to what they see as a deficiency in the historical record. If a man such as Jesus really existed, performing miracles and rising from the dead, wouldn’t his life and resurrection have created a much larger historical “ripple” in antiquity? Wouldn’t such a life result in more than four Gospels? As it turns out, the life of Jesus produced the kind of response we would expect if it was actually true. Authors in the first four hundred years following the life and resurrection of Jesus produced a varied plethora of non-canonical writings about His incredible appearance on planet earth. Unsurprisingly, Jesus’ life did not go unnoticed by the ancient world. Dozens of documents emerged in locations all around the Mediterranean, written by authors with a variety of motivations. These authors often co-opted the person of Jesus for their own purposes, crafting a lie upon the foundational truths of the accurate canonical Gospels. The result? A number of untrustworthy legends and distortions in the following categories:

     Infancy Gospels | These texts were written in order to supplement information lacking in the four Gospels related to the childhood of Jesus. Early believers hungered for more information about this period of Jesus’ young life, and these gospels sought to satisfy that hunger. Most of these stories about Jesus are based on the “Infancy Gospel of James” and the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas”, and they appear in history well after the canonical Gospels (as they are written in response to these eyewitness accounts).

     Jewish Gospels | There were many groups of Jewish converts in early Christianity who retained their strong Jewish identity. As a result, these groups typically upheld and maintained the Mosaic Law, and their gospels reflected this theological leaning. The “Gospel of the Ebionites”, the “Gospel of the Hebrews” and the “Gospel of the Nazoreans” are the three texts representing this group. None of these texts have survived, but we do see references to them in letters written by Early Church Fathers who were critical of their theology and their representation of the life of Jesus.

     Sayings Gospels | Some early non-canonical texts related to Jesus are nothing more than a collection of sayings lacking a narrative that ties these sayings together. The “Gospel of Thomas” is one such example.

     Passion Gospels | Several ancient texts are specifically focused on the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. These accounts say nothing about His life prior to the passion. The “Gospel of Bartholomew” is one such example.

Click here to go to source

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

J. Warner Wallace Books:


Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels
God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe
Alive: A Cold-Case Approach to the Resurrection
Cold-Case Christianity for Kids: Investigate Jesus with a Real Detective
Keeping Your Kids on God's Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith
Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith

Finding Humor and Hope in the Graveyard

By Kenneth Richard Samples 10/27/2015

     This might sound morbid to some people, but I’ve always been fascinated by the subject of death. As a youth, I found funerals much more interesting than weddings. And growing up in the Roman Catholic tradition, I thought Catholic funerals were particularly remarkable ceremonies. I can still remember the unique smell of incense filling the church at the first funeral mass I ever attended.

     My wife would tell you that I still enjoy visiting cemeteries—especially national or military memorial parks. In a cemetery I feel singularly alone with my thoughts. As a philosopher I have always hoped that by reflecting upon death’s inevitability and imminence, I might gain a deeper and more insightful perspective on living life. I suppose I have also hoped that by keeping the inescapability of my death in the front of my mind that my fear of it would lessen. Yet when I endured a life-threatening illness 12 years ago, I definitely experienced the one-of-a-kind fear and dread that comes from anticipating one’s death.

     As a college instructor I taught the philosophy class Perspectives on Death and Dying for several years. The textbook I used on thanatology (the study of death and dying) revealed that many people avoid thinking about death. In fact, the text stated that some people actually think that if they don’t think about death or in any way acknowledge it, then it may not happen to them.1 Now that is the perfect example of wishful thinking! As my former boss and apologetics mentor Walter Martin used to say: “The real death rate is one per person.”

     A Little Humor from the Graveyard | While I take the topic of death quite seriously, that doesn’t mean I can’t also make jokes about it. Along with being a philosopher, I’ve always thought of myself as something of an existential comedian. One of my many jobs while working my way through college was digging graves for one summer in 1986. Here are my ten reasons for leaving that laborious, earthy profession:

     10 Reasons for Leaving My Job as a Gravedigger

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.


Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

How Can Christians Ease Suffering? Part 1: Reestablishing Security

By Kenneth Richard Samples 7/22/2014

     One of the most important roles of a spiritual community is to give hope for the hurting. --- Dr. Ken Jung, “Giving Hope for the Hurting”

     Why would a good and all-powerful God allow evil and suffering to exist in the world? This tough question has troubled people throughout every era of history, but I believe the historic Christian worldview provides good answers. The central apologetics answer is that God brings about greater moral and spiritual goods through allowing incidents of evil, pain, and suffering. Yet I also think Christians have the power and ability to help ease people’s suffering and thus be the vehicles of God’s love and concern to the hurting. I’ve addressed the academic answers to the problem of evil. But this series is intended as a practical, pastoral response to the challenging problem of evil, pain, and suffering.

     Lessons Learned from My Own Suffering | When I went through a life-threatening illness some 10 years ago I felt like I had been swept away in a powerful ocean current. Since my illness affected my brain (multiple abscessed brain lesions caused by a rare bacterial infection) my mental state and thinking were scattered and my basic equilibrium was off. Physically, emotionally, and intellectually I felt pulled and yanked in various directions. The experience turned my life and the life of my family upside down. I was left feeling at first numb and then overwhelmed.

     I learned firsthand that people who are going through a severe crisis need to know that someone is protecting them and looking out for them. Let me touch upon four ways that helped ease my sense of vulnerability and risk during my illness.

     1. Family Care: My wife is my soul mate and my covenant partner in life. Her love and care helped me to hold on during those very challenging days. Extended family and friends helped care for our children in order to allow my wife to spend more time with me. I was reassured that the people I care for most were safe.

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.


Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

Thinking about Suffering and Death, Part 2

By Kenneth Richard Samples 3/20/2012

     Whether it was losing a loved one, becoming the victim of a violent crime, or facing a life-threatening illness, my immediate reaction to experiences of genuine suffering has been a profound feeling of being alone in that condition. I don’t know if other people react that way to sorrow. For me, suffering is a deeply personal issue that I don’t often discuss with other people. But I recently heard Christian psychologist Jim Wilder state that people who undergo trauma often lose a sense of relationship for a time—thus feeling personally detached and numb.

     How does the Christian faith inform the personal existential experiences of those believers visited by sorrow? And how can Christians help those who experience such trials and difficulties?

     The Gospel and the Power of Empathy | At its core, historic Christianity is a religion of suffering and comfort. This is one of my faith’s most existentially satisfying features. Allow me to offer three specific points to help believers who find themselves in the throes of a struggle.

     First, believers need to know that they never suffer alone. God is acquainted with suffering. Jesus Christ came into the world as a man and suffered with and for human beings. Of all the world’s religions, only in Christianity does God himself enter into the painful and ugly mix! His suffering on Earth and especially on the cross can transform the individual suffering of his people. Even now, in his role as the great High Priest, Jesus intercedes for believers during their great adversities (Hebrews 4:14–16). Jesus is not aloof or indifferent to human distress; he suffered as a real man.

     Second, Scripture calls all believers to live with faith (confidence and trust) in God’s goodness and sovereignty despite the presence of evil and suffering. The Bible points to the powerful examples of Abraham, Moses, Job, and Paul as examples of people who held onto this kind of faith throughout intense trials. To paraphrase a hymn, we don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow. Faith is trusting in God’s character when circumstances are painful and confusing. Christians can trust God in the midst of suffering because they are aware of his character and his promises (Romans 8:35–39).

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.


Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 19

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

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

ESV Study Bible

Thinking about Suffering and Death, Part 3

By Kenneth Richard Samples 3/20/2012

     Courage is a virtue that I’ve always admired and respected. Growing up I was deeply impressed and proud of my father’s strength and valor as a frontline combat soldier in World War II. By extension, I appreciate and respect all people—such as noble police officers, firefighters, and soldiers—who willingly put their life on the line for others.

     Another Kind of Courage | When I experienced a dangerous illness several years ago, I learned just how much courage it takes to be a patient facing physical suffering. Many people struggle day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year with various health concerns but seldom see themselves as being “courageous.” Yet it takes real strength and fortitude to deal with the pain, fatigue, and uncertainty that often accompany chronic illness. Facing down physical ailments and coming to grips with suffering is definitely not for cowards.

     Another thing that I learned is how a major health crisis impacts the entire person. The struggle extends beyond the physical to the mental, emotional, and spiritual areas of life. Illness isn’t just something that happens to the body. As Christian theology teaches, human beings are a union of the physical and the nonphysical (body and soul-spirit; Genesis 2:7).

     Hitting the Wall of Suffering | Hospitalized for almost a month with a raging infection in my lungs and brain, I thought that, for the most part, I was very strong in facing this trial. Previously, I had spent a lot of time in my life thinking, praying, and preparing for challenges that I knew would one day come my way. Coming to grips with one’s mortality from a Christian perspective involves building up spiritual resources that will allow one to face suffering and ultimately death itself.

     It was after being released from the hospital that I hit a wall. At that point I felt that I had used up all my resources in combating my sickness. I literally felt drained physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The greatest difficulty at that point was not the physical aspects but rather the uncertainty of not knowing whether I would ever fully recover. Would I be able to go back to work and resume my career? Would I be able to support my family? The uncertainty of it all was agonizing.

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.


Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

Thinking about Suffering and Death, Part 4

By Kenneth Richard Samples 3/27/2012

     Christians often talk about what it means to live well but seldom do they discuss what it means to die well. So what is a “good death”? In the context of hospice, the concept of a good death involves the easing of a dying person’s suffering. But in the broader scope of life, what constitutes a good death?

     Personal experience | To speak personally, since childhood I have found death both intriguing and puzzling. As a youth, I was always more fascinated by funerals than by weddings. Just how and why a person could be alive one day and dead the next struck me as one of life’s greatest enigmas. Of course, I came to understand that biological systems break down, but still death remained mysterious.

     My father and I had a number of candid discussions about the subject. As a frontline combat soldier in history’s bloodiest war, he had seen more than his share of death. (An estimated 60 to 70 million people died in World War II.) While he found it difficult to talk about his feelings, he conveyed to me that life is short and death inevitable. He also shared with me his deep conviction concerning immortality borne of his historic Christian belief of anticipating an afterlife in the presence of his risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

     Two of my close childhood friends, Paul Goff and Scott Claud, both died in automobile accidents when they were young adults. Though it has been many years, I still think of my friends and remember the pain their families and I experienced. It is especially difficult to see your friends die when you and they are only of high school or college age. They were literally here one day and gone the next.

     When I was just out of high school, my older brother Frank took his own life after a long battle with drugs, alcohol, and mental health challenges. At the time, I was not a Christian and was embarrassed by my brother’s reckless lifestyle and horrified by his final desperate act. Upon reflection, however, I realized that, just like my brother, I myself was looking for meaning, purpose, and hope in life. To paraphrase the great Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855), I was looking for “a reason to live and a reason to die.” Through my brother’s premature death, I was forced to come to grips with death and all of its scary implications. By God’s grace, I discovered Jesus Christ and His extraordinary life, death, and resurrection. I came to believe that because He rose then I will also rise from the dead on the last day.

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.


Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 14.

HOW TWO NATURES CONSTITUTE THE PERSON OF THE MEDIATOR.

This chapter contains two principal heads: I. A brief exposition of the doctrine of Christ's two natures in one person, sec. 1-4. II. A refutation of the heresies of Servetus, which destroy the distinction of natures in Christ, and the eternity of the divine nature of the Son.

Sections.

1. Proof of two natures in Christ--a human and a divine. Illustrated by analogy, from the union of body and soul. Illustration applied.

2. Proof from passages of Scripture which distinguish between the two natures. Proof from the communication of properties.

3. Proof from passages showing the union of both natures. A rule to be observed in this discussion.

4. Utility and use of the doctrine concerning the two natures. The Nestorians. The Eutychians. Both justly condemned by the Church.

5. The heresies of Servetus refuted. General answer or sum of the orthodox doctrine concerning Christ. What meant by the hypostatic union. Objections of Servetus to the deity of Christ. Answer.

6. Another objection and answer. A twofold filiation of Christ.

7. Other objections answered.

8. Conclusion of the former objections. Other pestilential heresies of Servetus.

1. When it is said that the Word was made flesh, we must not understand it as if he were either changed into flesh, or confusedly intermingled with flesh, but that he made choice of the Virgin's womb as a temple in which he might dwell. He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For we maintain, that the divinity was so conjoined and united with the humanity, that the entire properties of each nature remain entire, and yet the two natures constitute only one Christ. If, in human affairs, any thing analogous to this great mystery can be found, the most apposite similitude [245] seems to be that of man, who obviously consists of two substances, neither of which however is so intermingled with the other as that both do not retain their own properties. For neither is soul body, nor is body soul. Wherefore that is said separately of the soul which cannot in any way apply to the body; and that, on the other hand, of the body which is altogether inapplicable to the soul; and that, again, of the whole man, which cannot be affirmed without absurdity either of the body or of the soul separately. Lastly, the properties of the soul are transferred to the body, and the properties of the body to the soul, and yet these form only one man, not more than one. Such modes of expression intimate both that there is in man one person formed of two compounds, and that these two different natures constitute one person. Thus the Scriptures speak of Christ. They sometimes attribute to him qualities which should be referred specially to his humanity and sometimes qualities applicable peculiarly to his divinity, and sometimes qualities which embrace both natures, and do not apply specially to either. This combination of a twofold nature in Christ they express so carefully, that they sometimes communicate them with each other, a figure of speech which the ancients termed ijdiwmavtwn koinoniva (a communication of properties).

2. Little dependence could be placed on these statements, were it not proved by numerous passages throughout the sacred volume that none of them is of man's devising. What Christ said of himself, "Before Abraham was I am," (John 8:58), was very foreign to his humanity. I am not unaware of the cavil by which erroneous spirits distort this passage--viz. that he was before all ages, inasmuch as he was foreknown as the Redeemer, as well in the counsel of the Father as in the minds of believers. But seeing he plainly distinguishes the period of his manifestation from his eternal existence, and professedly founds on his ancient government, to prove his precedence to Abraham, he undoubtedly claims for himself the peculiar attributes of divinity. Paul's assertion that he is "the first-born of every creature," that "he is before all things, and by him all things consist," (Col. 1:15, 17); his own declaration, that he had glory with the Father before the world was, and that he worketh together with the Father, are equally inapplicable to man. These and similar properties must be specially assigned to his divinity. Again, his being called the servant of the Father, his being said to grow in stature, and wisdom, and favour with God and man, not to seek his own glory, not to know the last day, not to speak of himself, not to do his own will, his being seen and handled, [246] apply entirely to his humanity; since, as God, he cannot be in any respect said to grow, works always for himself, knows every thing, does all things after the counsel of his own will, and is incapable of being seen or handled. And yet he not merely ascribes these things separately to his human nature, but applies them to himself as suitable to his office of Mediator. There is a communication of ijdiwvmata, or properties, when Paul says, that God purchased the Church "with his own blood," (Acts 20:28), and that the Jews crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8). In like manner, John says, that the Word of God was "handled." God certainly has no blood, suffers not, cannot be touched with hands; but since that Christ, who was true God and true man, shed his blood on the cross for us, the acts which were performed in his human nature are transferred improperly, but not ceaselessly, to his divinity. We have a similar example in the passage where John says that God laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16). Here a property of his humanity is communicated with his other nature. On the other hand, when Christ, still living on the earth, said, "No man has ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven," (John 3:13), certainly regarded as man in the flesh which he had put on, he was not then in heaven, but inasmuch as he was both God and man, he, on account of the union of a twofold nature, attributed to the one what properly belonged to the other.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

Genesis 45; Mark 15; Job 11; Romans 15

By Don Carson 2/12/2018

     IN MARK 15 PEOPLE SPEAK better than they know.

     “What shall I do, then,” Pilate asks, “with the one you call the king of the Jews?” (15:12). Of course, he utters the expression “king of the Jews” with a certain sneering contempt. When the crowd replies, “Crucify him!” (15:13, 14), the politically motivated think this is the end of another messianic pretender. They do not know that this king has to die, that his reign turns on his death, that he is simultaneously King and Suffering Servant.

     The soldiers twist together a crown of thorns and jam it on his head. The hit him and spit on him, and then fall on their knees in mock homage, crying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” (15:18). In fact, he is more than the King of the Jews (though certainly not less). One day, each of those soldiers, and everyone else, will bow down before the resurrected man they mocked and crucified, and confess that he is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).

     Those who passed by could not resist hurling insults: “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” (15:29-30). The dismissive mockery hid the truth they could not see: earlier Jesus had indeed taught that he himself was the real temple, and anti-type of the building in Jerusalem, the ultimate meeting-place between God and human beings (John 2: 19-22). Indeed, Jesus not only insisted that he is himself the temple, but that this is so by virtue of the fact that this temple must be destroyed and brought back to life in three days. If he had “come down from the cross” and saved himself, as his mockers put it, he could not have become the destroyed and rebuilt “temple” that reconciles men and women to God.

     “He saved others but he can’t save himself” (15:31). Wrong again – and right again. This is the man who voluntarily goes to the cross (14:36; cf. John 10:18). To say “he can’t save himself” is ridiculously limiting. Yet he couldn’t save himself and save others. He saves others by not saving himself.

     “Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (15:32). But what kind of Christ would they then have believed in? A powerful king, doubtless – but not the Redeemer, not the Sacrifice, not the Suffering Servant. They could not long have believed in him, for the basis of this transformation in them was the very cross-work they were taunting him to abandon.

     “Surely this man was the Son of God” (15:39). Yes; more than they knew.

Click here to go to source

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 |  Go to Books Page

An Illustration Of Forgiveness

Excerpt from The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances by Alistair Begg

     There is so much that is striking about the account before us in Genesis 45. Joseph forgave not in word only, but also in deed. Consider what he did for the brothers who had mistreated him so cruelly.

     Simply put, the events of Genesis 45 are an amazing illustration of Joseph’s forgiving heart.

     Joseph’s brothers had driven him as far away from them as they could. But when it was his turn to be in control, he said, “Come close to me” (v. 4).

     Joseph’s brothers had sent him off as a captive to Egypt on the back of a mangy camel. But he gave them fine Egyptian carts for their journey home (v. 21).

     Joseph’s brothers were willing to leave him to die of thirst and starvation in the pit. But he gave them provisions for the trip back to Canaan (v. 21).

     Joseph’s brothers had torn his clothes off, but he gave them clothes (v. 22).

     Joseph’s brothers had sold him for money, but he gave Benjamin three hundred shekels of silver (v. 22). Joseph even gave his brothers wise counsel, knowing their tendencies. “Don’t quarrel on the way!” (v. 24).

     Do you see what is happening here? Joseph returned their every evil, cruel, and merciless acts with goodness and kindness and mercy. Centuries before Paul’s words were ever written, Joseph was a living illustration of the admonition, “ ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.’… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20–21; see also Matthew 5:44–48).

     Jesus revolutionizes lives by His forgiveness in order that forgiven lives might be revolutionary in their impact. This is the impact the church is to make on the world. We’re supposed to be the forgiving ones. But do you think conservative evangelicalism is viewed by the rank and file of people in the United States as an example of this kind of revolutionary forgiveness?

     Not a chance. We’re known as the protesters, the sign wavers, the shouters—and even, sometimes, the shooters. Our culture has us pegged as a special interest group. We have been placed in a neat little economic and political pigeonhole. And we have largely done it to ourselves by trying to make our impact in the economic and political arenas at the expense of kingdom living.

     Jesus did not come to set up a political or economic kingdom. Of course, there are justifiable concerns in the culture that we must address. And sometimes that requires taking an adversarial role. But have you ever considered what would happen if we really tried to overcome evil with good? If we took the time and personnel and money and resources at our disposal to open our hearts and homes to drug addicts, to AIDS victims, and to girls who are pregnant without wanting to be, the impact would be incredible.

     If we start on an individual basis to transform our streets and our culture, when people drive down the street they will say, “See that house? Those people took in three pregnant girls, and they’re taking care of them. Can you believe it? It’s amazing what’s happening in that house.”

     That is letting your light shine before men in such a way that they will praise your Father in heaven (see Matthew 5:16). That is exactly what was happening in Genesis 45. The brothers saw the carts, clothes, and cash Joseph provided. They heard his counsel. And they headed home no doubt mystified that they, who had offended their brother so greatly, should be on the receiving end of such dramatic, tangible forgiveness.

     Dr. Alistair Begg | (Trent University; London School of Theology; Westminster Seminary) was born in Scotland and spent the first 30 years of life in the United Kingdom. Since September of 1983, he has been the senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on the national radio program Truth For Life which stems from his weekly Bible teaching at Parkside. He and his wife, Susan, have three grown children.

     Alistair Begg Books |  Go to Books Page

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream

By John Bunyan 1678

THE NINTH STAGE

     And I slept, and dreamed again, and saw the same two pilgrims going down the mountains along the highway towards the city. Now, a little below these mountains, on the left hand, lieth the country of Conceit, from which country there comes into the way in which the pilgrims walked, a little crooked lane. Here, therefore, they met with a very brisk lad that came out of that country, and his name was Ignorance. So Christian asked him from what parts he came, and whither he was going.

     IGNOR. Sir, I was born in the country that lieth off there, a little on the left hand, and I am going to the Celestial City.

     CHR. But how do you think to get in at the gate, for you may find some difficulty there?

     IGNOR. As other good people do, said he.

     CHR. But what have you to show at that gate, that the gate should be opened to you?

     IGNOR. I know my Lord’s will, and have been a good liver; I pay every man his own; I pray, fast, pay tithes, and give alms, and have left my country for whither I am going.

     CHR. But thou camest not in at the wicket-gate, that is at the head of this way; thou camest in hither through that same crooked lane, and therefore I fear, however thou mayest think of thyself, when the reckoning-day shall come, thou wilt have laid to thy charge, that thou art a thief and a robber, instead of getting admittance into the city.

     IGNOR. Gentlemen, ye be utter strangers to me; I know you not: be content to follow the religion of your country, and I will follow the religion of mine. I hope all will be well. And as for the gate that you talk of, all the world knows that is a great way off of our country. I cannot think that any man in all our parts doth so much as know the way to it; nor need they matter whether they do or no, since we have, as you see, a fine, pleasant, green lane, that comes down from our country, the next way into the way.

     When Christian saw that the man was wise in his own conceit, he said to Hopeful whisperingly, “There is more hope of a fool than of him.”

Prov. 26:12  Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
  ESV

And said, moreover, “When he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.

Eccles. 10:3  Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense,
and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
  ESV

What, shall we talk farther with him, or outgo him at present, and so leave him to think of what he hath heard already, and then stop again for him afterwards, and see if by degrees we can do any good to him? Then said Hopeful,

“Let Ignorance a little while now muse
On what is said, and let him not refuse
Good counsel to embrace, lest he remain
Still ignorant of what’s the chiefest gain.
God saith, those that no understanding have,
(Although he made them,) them he will not save.”

     HOPE. He further added, It is not good, I think, to say so to him all at once; let us pass him by, if you will, and talk to him anon, even as he is able to bear it.

     So they both went on, and Ignorance he came after. Now, when they had passed him a little way, they entered into a very dark lane, where they met a man whom seven devils had bound with seven strong cords, and were carrying him back to the door that they saw on the side of the hill.

Matt. 12:45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”   ESV

Prov. 5:22  The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
  ESV

Now good Christian began to tremble, and so did Hopeful, his companion; yet, as the devils led away the man, Christian looked to see if he knew him; and he thought it might be one Turn-away, that dwelt in the town of Apostacy. But he did not perfectly see his face, for he did hang his head like a thief that is found; but being gone past, Hopeful looked after him, and espied on his back a paper with this inscription, “Wanton professor, and damnable apostate.”

     Then said Christian to his fellow, Now I call to remembrance that which was told me of a thing that happened to a good man hereabout. The name of the man was Little-Faith; but a good man, and he dwelt in the town of Sincere. The thing was this. At the entering in at this passage, there comes down from Broadway-gate, a lane, called Dead-Man’s lane; so called because of the murders that are commonly done there; and this Little-Faith going on pilgrimage, as we do now, chanced to sit down there and sleep. Now there happened at that time to come down the lane from Broadway-gate, three sturdy rogues, and their names were Faint-Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt, three brothers; and they, espying Little-Faith where he was, came galloping up with speed. Now the good man was just awaked from his sleep, and was getting up to go on his journey. So they came up all to him, and with threatening language bid him stand. At this, Little-Faith looked as white as a sheet, and had neither power to fight nor fly. Then said Faint-Heart, Deliver thy purse; but he making no haste to do it, (for he was loth to lose his money,) Mistrust ran up to him, and thrusting his hand into his pocket, pulled out thence a bag of silver. Then he cried out, Thieves, thieves! With that, Guilt, with a great club that was in his hand, struck Little-Faith on the head, and with that blow felled him flat to the ground, where he lay bleeding as one that would bleed to death. All this while the thieves stood by. But at last, they hearing that some were upon the road, and fearing lest it should be one Great-Grace, that dwells in the town of Good-Confidence, they betook themselves to their heels, and left this good man to shift for himself. Now, after a while, Little-Faith came to himself, and getting up, made shift to scramble on his way. This was the story.

     HOPE. But did they take from him all that ever he had?

     CHR. No; the place where his jewels were they never ransacked; so those he kept still. But, as I was told, the good man was much afflicted for his loss; for the thieves got most of his spending-money. That which they got not, as I said, were jewels; also, he had a little odd money left, but scarce enough to bring him to his journey’s end. Nay, (if I was not misinformed,) he was forced to beg as he went, to keep himself alive, for his jewels he might not sell; but beg and do what he could, he went, as we say, with many a hungry belly the most part of the rest of the way.

1 Pet. 4:18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
  ESV

     HOPE. But is it not a wonder they got not from him his certificate, by which he was to receive his admittance at the Celestial Gate?

     CHR. It is a wonder; but they got not that, though they missed it not through any good cunning of his; for he, being dismayed by their coming upon him, had neither power nor skill to hide any thing; so it was more by good providence than by his endeavor that they missed of that good thing.

2 Tim. 1:12–14 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.   ESV

2 Pet. 2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,   ESV

     HOPE. But it must needs be a comfort to him they got not this jewel from him.

     CHR. It might have been great comfort to him, had he used it as he should; but they that told me the story said that he made but little use of it all the rest of the way, and that because of the dismay that he had in their taking away his money. Indeed, he forgot it a great part of the rest of his journey; and besides, when at any time it came into his mind, and he began to be comforted therewith, then would fresh thoughts of his loss come again upon him, and these thoughts would swallow up all.

  Do you struggle with loss? Sometimes I find it easier to forgive someone then get over something that was taken or stolen from me. God is still teaching me to let it go; better to swim freely than to be pulled down under the weight of possessions. As the Lord says through my bride, "Let it go."

     HOPE. Alas, poor man, this could not but be a great grief to him.

     CHR. Grief? Aye, a grief indeed! Would it not have been so to any of us, had we been used as he, to be robbed and wounded too, and that in a strange place, as he was? It is a wonder he did not die with grief, poor heart. I was told that he scattered almost all the rest of the way with nothing but doleful and bitter complaints; telling, also, to all that overtook him, or that he overtook in the way as he went, where he was robbed, and how; who they were that did it, and what he had lost; how he was wounded, and that he hardly escaped with life.

     HOPE. But it is a wonder that his necessity did not put him upon selling or pawning some of his jewels, that he might have wherewith to relieve himself in his journey.

     CHR. Thou talkest like one upon whose head is the shell to this very day. For what should he pawn them? or to whom should he sell them? In all that country where he was robbed, his jewels were not accounted of; nor did he want that relief which could from thence be administered to him. Besides, had his jewels been missing at the gate of the Celestial City, he had (and that he knew well enough) been excluded from an inheritance there, and that would have been worse to him than the appearance and villany of ten thousand thieves.

     HOPE. Why art thou so tart, my brother? Esau sold his birthright, and that for a mess of pottage,

Heb. 12:16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.   ESV

and that birthright was his greatest jewel: and if he, why might not Little-Faith do so too?

     CHR. Esau did sell his birthright indeed, and so do many besides, and by so doing exclude themselves from the chief blessing, as also that caitiff did; but you must put a difference betwixt Esau and Little-Faith, and also betwixt their estates. Esau’s birthright was typical; but Little-Faith’s jewels were not so. Esau’s belly was his god; but Little-Faith’s belly was not so. Esau’s want lay in his fleshy appetite; Little-Faith’s did not so. Besides, Esau could see no further than to the fulfilling of his lusts: For I am at the point to die, said he: and what good will this birthright do me?

Gen. 25:32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?”   ESV

But Little-Faith, though it was his lot to have but a little faith, was by his little faith kept from such extravagances, and made to see and prize his jewels more than to sell them, as Esau did his birthright. You read not any where that Esau had faith, no, not so much as a little; therefore no marvel, where the flesh only bears sway, (as it will in that man where no faith is to resist,) if he sells his birthright and his soul and all, and that to the devil of hell; for it is with such as it is with the ass, who in her occasion cannot be turned away,

Jer. 2:24  a wild donkey used to the wilderness,
in her heat sniffing the wind!
Who can restrain her lust?
None who seek her need weary themselves;
in her month they will find her.
  ESV

when their minds are set upon their lusts, they will have them, whatever they cost. But Little-Faith was of another temper; his mind was on things divine; his livelihood was upon things that were spiritual, and from above: therefore, to what end should he that is of such a temper sell his jewels (had there been any that would have bought them) to fill his mind with empty things? Will a man give a penny to fill his belly with hay? or can you persuade the turtle-dove to live upon carrion, like the crow? Though faithless ones can, for carnal lusts, pawn, or mortgage, or sell what they have, and themselves outright to boot; yet they that have faith, saving faith, though but a little of it, cannot do so. Here, therefore, my brother, is thy mistake.

     HOPE. I acknowledge it; but yet your severe reflection had almost made me angry.

     CHR. Why, I did but compare thee to some of the birds that are of the brisker sort, who will run to and fro in untrodden paths with the shell upon their heads: but pass by that, and consider the matter under debate, and all shall be well betwixt thee and me.

     HOPE. But, Christian, these three fellows, I am persuaded in my heart, are but a company of cowards: would they have run else, think you, as they did, at the noise of one that was coming on the road? Why did not Little-Faith pluck up a greater heart? He might, methinks, have stood one brush with them, and have yielded when there had been no remedy.

     CHR. That they are cowards, many have said, but few have found it so in the time of trial. As for a great heart, Little-Faith had none; and I perceive by thee, my brother, hadst thou been the man concerned, thou art but for a brush, and then to yield. And verily, since this is the height of thy stomach now they are at a distance from us, should they appear to thee as they did to him, they might put thee to second thoughts.

     But consider again, that they are but journeymen thieves; They serve under the king of the bottomless pit, who, if need be, will come to their aid himself, and his voice is as the roaring of a lion.

1 Pet. 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.   ESV

I myself have been engaged as this Little-Faith was, and I found it a terrible thing. These three villains set upon me, and I beginning like a Christian to resist, they gave but a call, and in came their master. I would, as the saying is, have given my life for a penny, but that, as God would have it, I was clothed with armor of proof. Aye, and yet, though I was so harnessed, I found it hard work to quit myself like a man: no man can tell what in that combat attends us, but he that hath been in the battle himself.

     HOPE. Well, but they ran, you see, when they did but suppose that one Great-Grace was in the way.

     CHR. True, they have often fled, both they and their master, when Great-Grace hath but appeared; and no marvel, for he is the King’s champion. But I trow you will put some difference between Little-Faith and the King’s champion. All the King’s subjects are not his champions; nor can they, when tried, do such feats of war as he. Is it meet to think that a little child should handle Goliath as David did? or that there should be the strength of an ox in a wren? Some are strong, some are weak; some have great faith, some have little: this man was one of the weak, and therefore he went to the wall.

     HOPE. I would it had been Great-Grace, for their sakes.

     CHR. If it had been he, he might have had his hands full: for I must tell you, that though Great-Grace is excellent good at his weapons, and has, and can, so long as he keeps them at sword’s point, do well enough with them; yet if they get within him, even Faint-Heart, Mistrust, or the other, it shall go hard but they will throw up his heels. And when a man is down, you know, what can he do?

     Whoso looks well upon Great-Grace’s face, will see those scars and cuts there that shall easily give demonstration of what I say. Yea, once I heard that he should say, (and that when he was in the combat,) We despaired even of life. How did these sturdy rogues and their fellows make David groan, mourn, and roar! Yea, Heman,

Psa. 88 A SONG. A PSALM OF THE SONS OF KORAH. TO THE CHOIRMASTER: ACCORDING TO MAHALATH LEANNOTH. A MASKIL OF HEMAN THE EZRAHITE.

1  O LORD, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
2  Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

3  For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
4  I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
5  like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6  You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7  Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

8  You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9  my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
I spread out my hands to you.
10  Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11  Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12  Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13  But I, O LORD, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14  O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15  Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
16  Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17  They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
18  You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.
  ESV

and Hezekiah too, though champions in their days, were forced to bestir them when by these assaulted; and yet, notwithstanding, they had their coats soundly brushed by them. Peter, upon a time, would go try what he could do; but though some do say of him that he is the prince of the apostles, they handled him so that they made him at last afraid of a sorry girl.

     Besides, their king is at their whistle; he is never out of hearing; and if at any time they be put to the worst, he, if possible, comes in to help them; and of him it is said, “The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold; the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him fly; sling-stones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.”

Job 41:26–29 26  Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail,
nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin.
27  He counts iron as straw,
and bronze as rotten wood.
28  The arrow cannot make him flee;
for him, sling stones are turned to stubble.
29  Clubs are counted as stubble;
he laughs at the rattle of javelins.
  ESV

What can a man do in this case? It is true, if a man could at every turn have Job’s horse, and had skill and courage to ride him, he might do notable things. “For his neck is clothed with thunder. He will not be afraid as a grasshopper: the glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength; he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage; neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha! and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shoutings.”

Job 39:19–25 19  “Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20  Do you make him leap like the locust?
His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21  He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
he goes out to meet the weapons.
22  He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword.
23  Upon him rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24  With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25  When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
He smells the battle from afar,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
  ESV

     But for such footmen as thee and I are, let us never desire to meet with an enemy, nor vaunt as if we could do better, when we hear of others that have been foiled, nor be tickled at the thoughts of our own manhood; for such commonly come by the worst when tried. Witness Peter, of whom I made mention before: he would swagger, aye, he would; he would, as his vain mind prompted him to say, do better and stand more for his Master than all men: but who so foiled and run down by those villains as he?

     When, therefore, we hear that such robberies are done on the King’s highway, two things become us to do.

     1. To go out harnessed, and be sure to take a shield with us: for it was for want of that, that he who laid so lustily at Leviathan could not make him yield; for, indeed, if that be wanting, he fears us not at all. Therefore, he that had skill hath said, “Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

Eph. 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;   ESV

     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.


  • Q & A 10/31/2017
  • Q & A 9/7/2017
  • Q & A 6/9/2016

#1 Ligonier

 

#2 Ligonier

 

#3 Ligonier

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Sound financial advice (2)
     2/12/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Gather…in the good years…Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.’

(Ge 41:35–36) 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” ESV

     Joseph gave Pharaoh some sound financial advice that we would all do well to live by: ‘Gather into the royal storehouses all the excess crops of the next seven years, so that there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come. Otherwise, disaster will surely strike’ (vv. 35-36 TLB). And how did Pharaoh respond? ‘Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh’ (v. 37 TLB). Your future security is guaranteed if you practise these three scriptural principles: 1) Tithe. ‘“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”’ (Malachi 3:10 NLT). 2) Save. Discipline yourself to invest a percentage of your income in savings. Don’t worry that it’s a modest amount, just make it a priority! If you don’t, you’ll spend it on other things and never achieve your long-term goals for college, retirement, or helping the work of the Lord. 3) Get out of debt. After tithing to God and saving for the future, strive to pay off all your financial obligations. Stop paying the bare minimum on your credit cards. By not repaying them in full every month, you end up paying much more than you should. Put as much as you can towards retiring outstanding debt, even if you have to stretch yourself and do without a few things for a while. In the long run, you’ll be way ahead.

Exodus 39-40
Matthew 23:23-39

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Can you believe it? Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the exact same day, February 12, 1809, but their lives had completely different effects. Lincoln is best known for freeing the slaves by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, affirming that all men are equal. Darwin is best known for the theory of evolution, arguing that all men are not equal because some are more evolved. Darwin’s theory has been used by atheists to explain away belief in God, whereas the last act of Congress signed by Lincoln, before he was shot, was to place the phrase “In God We Trust” on all our national coin.

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     Once having the vision, the second step to holy obedience is this: Begin where you are. Obey now. Use what little obedience you are capable of, even if it be like a grain of mustard seed. Begin where you are. Live this present moment, this present hour as you now sit in your seats, in utter, utter submission and openness toward Him. Listen outwardly to these words, but within, behind the scenes, in the deeper levels of your lives where you are all alone with God the Loving Eternal One, keep up a silent prayer, "Open thou my life. Guide my thoughts where I dare not let them go. But Thou darest. Thy will be done." Walk on the streets and chat with your friends. But every moment behind the scenes be in prayer, offering yourselves in continuous obedience. I find this internal continuous prayer life absolutely essential. It can be carried on day and night, in the thick of business, in home and school. Such prayer of submission can be so simple. It is well to use a single sentence, repeated over and over and over again, such as this: "Be Thou my will. Be Thou my will," or "I open all before Thee. I open all before Thee," or "See earth through heaven. See earth through heaven." This hidden prayer life can pass, in time, beyond words and phrases into mere ejaculations, "My God, my God, my Holy One, my Love," or into the adoration of the Upanishad, "0 Wonderful, 0 Wonderful, O Wonderful." Words may cease and one stands and walks and sits and lies in wordless attitudes of adoration and submission and rejoicing and exultation and glory.

     And the third step in holy obedience, or a counsel, is this: If you slip and stumble and forget God for an hour, and assert your old proud self, and rely upon your own clever wisdom, don't spend too much time in anguished regrets and self-accusations but begin again, just where you are.

     Yet a fourth consideration in holy obedience is this: Don't grit your teeth and clench your fists and say, "I will! I will!" Relax. Take hands off. Submit yourself to God. Learn to live in the passive voice-­ a hard saying for Americans and let life be willed through you. For "I will" spells not obedience.

A Testament of Devotion

Journal of John Woolman 2/12
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     I kept steadily to meetings, spent first-day afternoons chiefly in reading the Scriptures and other good books, and was early convinced in my mind that true religion consisted in an inward life, wherein the heart does love and reverence God the Creator, and learns to exercise true justice and goodness, not only toward all men, but also toward the brute creatures; that, as the mind was moved by an inward principle to love God as an invisible, incomprehensible Being, so, by the same principle, it was moved to love him in all his manifestations in the visible world; that, as by his breath the flame of life was kindled in all animal sensible creatures, to say we love God as unseen, and at the same time exercise cruelty toward the least creature moving by his life, or by life derived from him, was a contradiction in itself. I found no narrowness respecting sects and opinions, but believed that sincere, upright-hearted people, in every society, who truly love God, were accepted of him.

     As I lived under the cross, and simply followed the opening of truth, my mind, from day to day, was more enlightened, my former acquaintance were left to judge of me as they would, for I found it safest for me to live in private, and keep these things sealed up in my own breast. While I silently ponder on that change wrought in me, I find no language equal to convey to another a clear idea of it. I looked upon the works of God in this visible creation, and an awfulness covered me. My heart was tender and often contrite, and universal love to my fellow-creatures increased in me. This will be understood by such as have trodden in the same path. Some glances of real beauty may be seen in their faces who dwell in true meekness. There is a harmony in the sound of that voice to which Divine love gives utterance, and some appearance of right order in their temper and conduct whose passions are regulated; yet these do not fully show forth that inward life to those who have not felt it; this white stone and new name is only known rightly by such as receive it.

     Now, though I had been thus strengthened to bear the cross, I still found myself in great danger, having many weaknesses attending me, and strong temptations to wrestle with; in the feeling whereof I frequently withdrew into private places, and often with tears besought the Lord to help me, and his gracious ear was open to my cry.

     All this time I lived with my parents, and wrought on the plantation; and having had schooling pretty well for a planter, I used to improve myself in winter evenings, and other leisure times. Being now in the twenty-first year of my age, with my father's consent I engaged with a man, in much business as a shop-keeper and baker, to tend shop and keep books. At home I had lived retired; and now having a prospect of being much in the way of company, I felt frequent and fervent cries in my heart to God, the Father of Mercies, that he would preserve me from all taint and corruption; that, in this more public employment, I might serve him, my gracious Redeemer, in that humility and selfdenial which I had in a small degree exercised in a more private life.

     The man who employed me furnished a shop in Mount Holly, about five miles from my father's house, and six from his own, and there I lived alone and tended his shop. Shortly after my settlement here I was visited by several young people, my former acquaintance, who supposed that vanities would be as agreeable to me now as ever. At these times I cried to the Lord in secret for wisdom and strength; for I felt myself encompassed with difficulties, and had fresh occasion to bewail the follies of times past, in contracting a familiarity with libertine people; and as I had now left my father's house outwardly, I found my Heavenly Father to be merciful to me beyond what I can express.

     By day I was much amongst people, and had many trials to go through; but in the evenings I was mostly alone, and I may with thankfulness acknowledge, that in those times the spirit of supplication was often poured upon me; under which I was frequently exercised, and felt my strength renewed.

     After a while, my former acquaintance gave over expecting me as one of their company, and I began to be known to some whose conversation was helpful to me. And now, as I had experienced the love of God, through Jesus Christ, to redeem me from many pollutions, and to be a succor to me through a sea of conflicts, with which no person was fully acquainted, and as my heart was often enlarged in this heavenly principle, I felt a tender compassion for the youth who remained entangled in snares like those which had entangled me. This love and tenderness increased, and my mind was strongly engaged for the good of my fellow-creatures. I went to meetings in an awful frame of mind, and endeavored to be inwardly acquainted with the language of the true Shepherd. One day, being under a strong exercise of spirit, I stood up and said some words in a meeting; but not keeping close to the Divine opening, I said more than was required of me. Being soon sensible of my error, I was afflicted in mind some weeks, without any light or comfort, even to that degree that I could not take satisfaction in anything. I remembered God, and was troubled, and in the depth of my distress he had pity upon me, and sent the Comforter. I then felt forgiveness for my offence; my mind became calm and quiet, and I was truly thankful to my gracious Redeemer for his mercies. About six weeks after this, feeling the spring of Divine love opened, and a concern to speak, I said a few words in a meeting, in which I found peace. Being thus humbled and disciplined under the cross, my understanding became more strengthened to distinguish the pure spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart, and which taught me to wait in silence sometimes many weeks together, until I felt that rise which prepares the creature to stand like a trumpet, through which the Lord speaks to his flock.

     From an inward purifying, and steadfast abiding under it springs a lively operative desire for the good of others. All the faithful are not called to the public ministry; but whoever are, are called to minister of that which they have tasted and handled spiritually. The outward modes of worship are various; but whenever any are true ministers of Jesus Christ, it is from the operation of his Spirit upon their hearts, first purifying them, and thus giving them a just sense of the conditions of others. This truth was early fixed in my mind, and I was taught to watch the pure opening, and to take heed lest, while I was standing to speak, my own will should get uppermost, and cause me to utter words from worldly wisdom, and depart from the channel of the true gospel ministry.

John Woolman's Journal

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me.
--- Oswald Chambers


Abandonment to God is of more value than personal holiness!
--- Oswald Chambers

The Bible -- banned, burned, beloved. More widely read, more frequently attacked than any other book in history. Generations of intellectuals have attempted to discredit it, dictators of every age have outlawed it and executed those who read it. Yet soldiers carry it into battle believing it more powerful than their weapons. Fragments of it smuggled into solitary prison cells have transformed ruthless killers into gentle saints.
--- Charles Colson


... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 9:13-18
     by D.H. Stern

13     The foolish woman is coarse;
she doesn’t think, and she doesn’t know a thing.
14     She sits at the door of her house
or on a seat at the heights of the city,
15     calling to those who pass by,
to those going straight along their ways,
16     “Whoever is unsure of himself, turn in here!”
To someone weak-willed she says,
17     “Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18     But he doesn’t realize
that the dead are there,
and that those who accept her invitation
are in the depths of Sh’ol.

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


                Must I listen?

     And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
--- Exodus 20:19.

     We do not consciously disobey God, we simply do not heed Him. God has given us His commands; there they are, but we do not pay any attention to them, not because of wilful disobedience but because we do not love and respect Him. “If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments.” When once we realize that we have been ‘disrespecting’ God all the time, we are covered with shame and humiliation because we have not heeded Him.

     “Speak thou with us … but let not God speak with us.” We show how little we love God by preferring to listen to His servants only. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we do not desire that God Himself should speak to us. Why are we so terrified lest God should speak to us? Because we know that if God does speak, either the thing must be done or we must tell God we will not obey Him. If it is only the servant’s voice we hear, we feel it is not imperative, we can say, ‘Well, that is simply your own idea, though I don’t deny it is probably God’s truth.’

     Am I putting God in the humiliating position of having treated me as a child of His while all the time I have been ignoring Him? When I do hear Him, the humiliation I have put on Him comes back on me—‘Lord, why was I so dull and so obstinate?’ This is always the result when once we do hear God. The real delight of hearing Him is tempered with shame in having been so long in hearing Him.


My Utmost for His Highest
The Bright Field
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
  to illuminate a small field
  for a while, and gone my way
  and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
  of great price, the one field that had
  the treasure in it. I realize now
  that I must give all that I have
  to possess it. Life is not hurrying
  on to a receding future, nor hankering after
  an imagined past. It is the turning
  aside like Moses to the miracle
  of the lit bush, to a brightness
  that seemed as transitory as your youth
  once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Love Constraining to Obedience
     John Newton & William Cowper

  No strength of nature can suffice
  To serve [the] Lord aright;
  And what she has, she misapplies,
  For want of clearer light.

  How long beneath the law I lay
  In bondage and distress!
  I toil’d the precept to obey,
  But toil’d without success.

  Then to abstain from outward sin
  Was more than I could do;
  Now, if I feel its pow’r within,
  I feel I hate it too.

  Then all my servile works were done
  A righteousness to raise;
  Now, freely chosen in the Son,
  I freely choose his ways.

  What shall I do was then the word,
  That I may worthier grow?
  What shall I render to the Lord?
  Is my enquiry now.

  To see the Law by Christ fulfill’d,
  And hear his pard’ning voice;
  Changes a slave into a child, (Rom 3:31)
  And duty into choice.

Olney Hymns: In Three Books. ... - Scholar's Choice Edition

Sonata / Apace
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

Plato? I have read
  him. And Aristotle?
  Yes, he, too. The Comedy
  that is Divine. Paradise
  Lost and recovered
  by much letting
  of vocabulary’s blood.
  I have been Stone Man,
  Renaissance Man; have seen
  forests of steel grown
  from human libido.
  I have known thought
  put on speed and the bone’s
  truth always before it.
  From killing at close
  quarters I kill now
  from afar, plunging,
  like Crammer, but
  retracting nothing,
  my hand in the machine.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Lessons for Everyday Living

     PREFACE

     What began as a weekly Talmud study session, a ḥavruta of two friends, has become a book. There are numerous people who have helped us along the way, and we are grateful to each and every one of them.

     The members of our congregations, Temple Beth Torah of Westbury and Congregation Shaarei Shalom-South Baldwin Jewish Center, have supported us continuously both in pastoral duties and in our studies of traditional Jewish texts. Our officers and board members have been encouraging as we worked on this book. We owe special thanks to our secretaries, Jane Bauman and Barbara Mazzei, for their help on various parts of the manuscript.

     Our teachers Dr. Richard Kalmin and Dr. Burton Visotzky have been an ongoing source of guidance and inspiration. They read through drafts of the manuscript and generously gave numerous suggestions. Their teaching has not only helped us avoid errors in translation and interpretation but also has enhanced our appreciation of the Talmud.

     Many have offered us advice and counsel in the preparation of the manuscript. Early in the writing process, Elisheva Urbas and Nessa Rapoport gave us guidance concerning publication. Arnie Gordon and Libby Rosenberg read early drafts of the manuscript as interested laypeople, helping us to make the book more understandable and user-friendly. Rabbi Miles Cohen, Dr. Stephen Garfinkel, Dr. Neil Gillman, Dr. David Golomb, Dr. Judith Hauptman and Dr. David Marcus made suggestions which improved the text. Rabbi Sidney Greenberg, Rabbi Jack Riemer, Rabbi Saul Teplitz, Annette M. Botnick, and Danny Siegel helped us track down stories on the Talmud.

     The staff of JPS has been a delight to work with. We especially thank Dr. Ellen Frankel, our editor, and Christine Sweeney, our project editor. When we might have veered off course, they steered us in the right direction.

     We give thanks to God for having allowed us the privilege of being involved in this endeavor.
--- Michael Katz
--- Gershon Schwartz

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Twelfth Chapter / The Value Of Adversity

     IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. When to all outward appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.

     When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, without Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and sufferings, he laments and prays. He wearies of living longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ. Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on earth.

The Imitation Of Christ

Teachers Commentary
     God is a great dramatist

     In a series of striking confrontations, God acted out on history’s stage a play which communicated, as words alone could not, the reality of His power and personal concern for Israel. It is helpful for us to read these chapters with the drama of these confrontations in view: to discover, with the men and women of that time, the identity of God and the identity of those on whom God set His love.

     Moses’ old enemy, Thutmose III, was dead. The new Pharaoh, Amenhotep II, was probably about 22 when confronted by the 80-year-old Moses. More than age contrasted when these two men met. There was a confrontation between lifestyles and attitudes as well: a confrontation between meekness and pride. Moses had been 40 years in Egypt, nurtured to be a somebody. For 40 years in the desert he had learned that he was a nobody. Now God would show what He could do with a somebody who was willing to be a nobody.

     Not so the young Pharaoh. In Egypt, society was structured around religion: a religion in which secular and sacred distinctions were lost, and the Pharaoh was himself considered a god. In official monuments the Pharaoh was often called neter nefer, the perfect god. We even have records in which a courtier describes Amenhotep II, this young man confronting Moses, as neter aa, the great god! Imagine the pride of Amenhotep. Imagine Moses speaking in the name of the Lord God of Israel (e.g., “God of slaves!”). How easy it is to visualize the haughty pride that moved Amenhotep to respond, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go” (Ex. 5:2).

     Through the succeeding judgments we watch the Pharaoh coming to know the Lord … and struggling against Him. At first judgments fail to move Pharaoh. Then, under the pressure of the supernatural, Pharaoh promised to yield … only to return to his pride and obstinacy when a miraculous plague was removed. Even after the ultimate judgment, striking against his son and the firstborn of every Egyptian, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent an army to pursue freed Israel.

     In the confrontations between these two men we see in stark contrast the patience and steadfastness of faith against the backdrop of a self-exalting pride. It is this kind of pride which will not permit men to bow to God, even when it is clearly for their own good.

The Teacher's Commentary

Take Heart
     February 12

     As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. --- John 13:30.

     I find in [Judas] the loneliness of sin.( Wind on the Heath (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) Having received the sop at the Last Supper, he went immediately out, and it was night. Why did he hurry from that little company? Nobody drove him from the supper table. Christ did not rise with clenched hands of loathing and hound him onto the bosom of the dark. In that brief hour everything is intense, and you see in a flash into the heart of things—into the infinite love of the Redeemer, into the infinite loneliness of sin.

     We sometimes talk in our foolish way of social sins. We might as reasonably talk of gentle murder. There is no such thing in the world as social sin. Sin is the mightiest of antisocial forces. Sin is disruptive in its very nature. It shatters homes and disintegrates companionship. It raises barriers between classes and cleaves society down to its very deeps. Your little child goes singing through the house and jabbers to you of a hundred trifles. And then some day the child is strangely silent and shuns you and forgets the little songs. And then you know at once that there is something troubling that little conscience and that the one path to communion is confession. Sin separates the parent from the child. Sin separates the engaged from his or her beloved. We think that sin is going to make us happy, and in the end it only makes us lonely. From every company, from all society, from love and fellowship, from home and heaven, sin drives the sinner out into the night. Why did our Lord, in that so perfect parable, speak of the one sheep as going astray? Why not five of them—why not a score of them—where there were a hundred in the flock? It is one of those touches that reveal the Master that from one hundred he separated one, as teaching us the loneliness of sin. One coin, from all the cottage treasury; one sheep, from all the congregated flock; one son, off to a far land from all the dear companionship of home. So Judas, having received the sop, and the Devil having entered into him, went immediately out, and it was night.

     This is a strange world, and that is invariably the way of it. Every sin you conquer in the battle helps you to a richer comradeship. Every sin you deliberately cling to is a mighty power in you making for loneliness, and to be lonely forever—that is hell.
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day   February 12
     The Sin of Simony

     A man named Simon brought money to the apostles in Acts 8, trying to purchase spiritual power. Peter, ever blunt, replied, “You and your money will both end up in hell if you think you can buy God’s gift!” We aren’t sure of Simon’s outcome, but he unwittingly lent his name to church history. A deplorable practice arose during the Middle Ages — the buying of church offices and positions — and it was called simony.

     Simony was so widespread by the eleventh century that the 22-year-old German king, Henry III, grieved for the church. On December 20, 1046, he called a synod in Sutri, 25 miles from Rome, to discuss the problem. Pope Gregory VI chaired the proceedings. But Gregory was among the worst simonites, having “bought” the papacy. When Henry reminded the churchmen of the need for integrity and purity among God’s leaders, Pope Gregory spoke these remarkable words to the synod: I, Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, do hereby adjudge myself to be removed from the pontificate of the Holy Roman Church, because of the enormous error which by simoniacal impurity has crept into and vitiated my election.

     He asked, “Is it your pleasure that it be so?” The assembled clergymen answered unanimously: “Your pleasure is our pleasure; therefore so let it be.” Gregory descended from his throne, removed his pontifical robes, fell to his knees, begged forgiveness, and fled the country.

     But now another problem arose: None of the assembled bishops was unstained by simony. They had all bought their positions. After searching the land, an honest man named Suidger, bishop of Bamberg, was elected pope, but he lived less than a year. The next two popes also died quickly. Then Bruno was found, a good-looking, well-educated man of unblemished character and sincerity. Summoned to Rome, he arrived barefoot, dressed as a pilgrim and weeping. The people sang hymns of praise and consecrated him Pope Leo IX on February 12, 1049. He battled simony all his days, paving the way for the reforms later enacted under his associate and successor, Hildebrand (Pope Gregory VII).

     Simon noticed that the Spirit was given only when the apostles placed their hands on the people. So he brought money and said to Peter and John, “Let me have this power too!” … Peter said to him, “You and your money will both end up in hell if you think you can buy God’s gift! Get rid of these evil thoughts and ask God to forgive you.”
--- Acts 8:18-20,22.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 12

     “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” --- 2 Corinthians 1:5.

     There is a blessed proportion. The Ruler of Providence bears a pair of scales—in this side he puts his people’s trials, and in that he puts their consolations. When the scale of trial is nearly empty, you will always find the scale of consolation in nearly the same condition; and when the scale of trials is full, you will find the scale of consolation just as heavy. When the black clouds gather most, the light is the more brightly revealed to us. When the night lowers and the tempest is coming on, the Heavenly Captain is always closest to his crew. It is a blessed thing, that when we are most cast down, then it is that we are most lifted up by the consolations of the Spirit. One reason is, because trials make more room for consolation. Great hearts can only be made by great troubles. The spade of trouble digs the reservoir of comfort deeper, and makes more room for consolation. God comes into our heart—he finds it full—he begins to break our comforts and to make it empty; then there is more room for grace. The humbler a man lies, the more comfort he will always have, because he will be more fitted to receive it. Another reason why we are often most happy in our troubles, is this—then we have the closest dealings with God. When the barn is full, man can live without God: when the purse is bursting with gold, we try to do without so much prayer. But once take our gourds away, and we want our God; once cleanse the idols out of the house, then we are compelled to honour Jehovah. “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.” There is no cry so good as that which comes from the bottom of the mountains; no prayer half so hearty as that which comes up from the depths of the soul, through deep trials and afflictions. Hence they bring us to God, and we are happier; for nearness to God is happiness. Come, troubled believer, fret not over your heavy troubles, for they are the heralds of weighty mercies.


          Evening - February 12

     “He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” --- John 14:16.

     Great Father revealed himself to believers of old before the coming of his Son, and was known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the God Almighty. Then Jesus came, and the ever-blessed Son in his own proper person, was the delight of his people’s eyes. At the time of the Redeemer’s ascension, the Holy Spirit became the head of the present dispensation, and his power was gloriously manifested in and after Pentecost. He remains at this hour the present Immanuel—God with us, dwelling in and with his people, quickening, guiding, and ruling in their midst. Is his presence recognized as it ought to be? We cannot control his working; he is most sovereign in all his operations, but are we sufficiently anxious to obtain his help, or sufficiently watchful lest we provoke him to withdraw his aid? Without him we can do nothing, but by his almighty energy the most extraordinary results can be produced: everything depends upon his manifesting or concealing his power. Do we always look up to him both for our inner life and our outward service with the respectful dependence which is fitting? Do we not too often run before his call and act independently of his aid? Let us humble ourselves this evening for past neglects, and now entreat the heavenly dew to rest upon us, the sacred oil to anoint us, the celestial flame to burn within us. The Holy Ghost is no temporary gift, he abides with the saints. We have but to seek him aright, and he will be found of us. He is jealous, but he is pitiful; if he leaves in anger, he returns in mercy. Condescending and tender, he does not weary of us, but awaits to be gracious still.

     Sin has been hammering my heart
     Unto a hardness, void of love,
     Let supplying grace to cross his art
     Drop from above.


Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 12

          WHAT WONDROUS LOVE IS THIS

     Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. (Deuteronomy 21:23)

     Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

     Not father or mother has loved you as God has, for it was that you might be happy He gave His only Son. When He bowed His head in the death hour, love solemnized its triumph; the sacrifice there was complete.
--- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

     This beloved hymn, with its plaintive modal sound, is one of the best known of our authentic American folk hymns. Like all true folk music, the origins of this text and music remain unknown. It is simply the product of devout people who, when reflecting seriously on the sacrificial gift of God’s Son, respond spontaneously with amazed adoration for this “wondrous love.”

     One typical folk hymn characteristic found in these words is the repetition of key phrases such as “O my soul” and “I’ll sing on.” Since folk music is generally learned aurally without the assistance of the printed page or musical notation, such repetition is necessary. Note also how effectively the curving melodic lines enhance the thought and personal application of the words.

     The hymn first appeared in 1835 in a collection titled William Walker’s Southern Harmony. These simply stated words with their appealing music have since ministered to people everywhere, extolling the profound truth of Christ’s love for each of us. Allow the hymn to move you to awe even now.

     What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul! What wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
     When I was sinking down, sinking down, when I was sinking down, sinking down; when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown, Christ laid aside His crown for my soul; Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.
     To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing; to God and to the Lamb I will sing; to God and to the Lamb who is the great “I Am,” while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing; while millions join the theme, I will sing.
     And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on, and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on; and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be, and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on, and through eternity I’ll sing on.


     For Today: Numbers 21:8; Jeremiah 31:3; John 3:14–18; 1 John 3:1; Revelation 1:5, 6.

     Reflect once again on the wondrous love of Christ in your behalf. Determine to share your Lord and His wondrous love with another.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Doctrine of Christ
      William Lane Craig


Part 25:





Part 26:






Part 27:





Part 28:






Part 29:





Part 30:




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


Numbers 3 - 4
Lean-into-GOD





Voices and silence in Tanakh and NT
Diarmaid MacCulloch | University Of Edinburgh






Christianity and the arrival of ascetism 100-400
Diarmaid MacCulloch | University Of Edinburgh





Jerusalem's Temple Mount
Urban Simulation Team | UCLA






Trajan's Column
Urban Simulation Team | UCLA





How Should We Pray
John MacArthur | Ligonier






An Everlasting Love: The Love of God
John MacArthur | Ligonier





The Challenge of Science
John MacArthur | Ligonier






Survey of Church History 4
W. Robert Godfrey | Derek Thomas





Millenials Looking For Justice
8/28/2017 | Ravi Zacharias






Q & A
Dr. Vince Vitale | Ravi Zacharias