Offerings at the Tabernacle’s ConsecrationNumbers 7 1 On the day when Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and had anointed and consecrated it with all its furnishings and had anointed and consecrated the altar with all its utensils, 2 the chiefs of Israel, heads of their fathers’ houses, who were the chiefs of the tribes, who were over those who were listed, approached 3 and brought their offerings before the LORD, six wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for every two of the chiefs, and for each one an ox. They brought them before the tabernacle. 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, 5 “Accept these from them, that they may be used in the service of the tent of meeting, and give them to the Levites, to each man according to his service.” 6 So Moses took the wagons and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. 7 Two wagons and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service. 8 And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 9 But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder. 10 And the chiefs offered offerings for the dedication of the altar on the day it was anointed; and the chiefs offered their offering before the altar. 11 And the LORD said to Moses, “They shall offer their offerings, one chief each day, for the dedication of the altar.”
12 He who offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah. 13 And his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 14 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 15 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 16 one male goat for a sin offering; 17 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab.
18 On the second day Nethanel the son of Zuar, the chief of Issachar, made an offering. 19 He offered for his offering one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 20 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 21 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 22 one male goat for a sin offering; 23 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Nethanel the son of Zuar.
24 On the third day Eliab the son of Helon, the chief of the people of Zebulun: 25 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 26 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 27 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 28 one male goat for a sin offering; 29 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Eliab the son of Helon.
30 On the fourth day Elizur the son of Shedeur, the chief of the people of Reuben: 31 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 32 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 33 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 34 one male goat for a sin offering; 35 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Elizur the son of Shedeur.
36 On the fifth day Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, the chief of the people of Simeon: 37 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 38 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 39 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 40 one male goat for a sin offering; 41 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
42 On the sixth day Eliasaph the son of Deuel, the chief of the people of Gad: 43 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 44 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 45 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 46 one male goat for a sin offering; 47 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Eliasaph the son of Deuel.
48 On the seventh day Elishama the son of Ammihud, the chief of the people of Ephraim: 49 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 50 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 51 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 52 one male goat for a sin offering; 53 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Elishama the son of Ammihud.
54 On the eighth day Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, the chief of the people of Manasseh: 55 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 56 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 57 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 58 one male goat for a sin offering; 59 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
60 On the ninth day Abidan the son of Gideoni, the chief of the people of Benjamin: 61 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 62 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 63 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 64 one male goat for a sin offering; 65 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Abidan the son of Gideoni.
66 On the tenth day Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, the chief of the people of Dan: 67 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 68 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 69 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 70 one male goat for a sin offering; 71 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
72 On the eleventh day Pagiel the son of Ochran, the chief of the people of Asher: 73 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 74 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 75 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 76 one male goat for a sin offering; 77 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Pagiel the son of Ochran.
78 On the twelfth day Ahira the son of Enan, the chief of the people of Naphtali: 79 his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 80 one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; 81 one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 82 one male goat for a sin offering; 83 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Ahira the son of Enan.
84 This was the dedication offering for the altar on the day when it was anointed, from the chiefs of Israel: twelve silver plates, twelve silver basins, twelve golden dishes, 85 each silver plate weighing 130 shekels and each basin 70, all the silver of the vessels 2,400 shekels according to the shekel of the sanctuary, 86 the twelve golden dishes, full of incense, weighing 10 shekels apiece according to the shekel of the sanctuary, all the gold of the dishes being 120 shekels; 87 all the cattle for the burnt offering twelve bulls, twelve rams, twelve male lambs a year old, with their grain offering; and twelve male goats for a sin offering; 88 and all the cattle for the sacrifice of peace offerings twenty-four bulls, the rams sixty, the male goats sixty, the male lambs a year old sixty. This was the dedication offering for the altar after it was anointed.
89 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
A Personal God is the Best Explanation for the Beginning of the Universe
By J. Warner Wallace 2/6/2017
Christians aren’t the only ones looking for the first “uncaused cause” of the universe. Everyone, theists and atheists alike, is looking for the cause of a universe that clearly had a beginning. If the cause of the universe was itself caused, then our search for the beginning of everything would continue, wouldn’t it? We’d be sifting through a series of previous causes toward infinity past, and we all recognize that a search of this nature is both futile and illogical. Believers, skeptics and seekers are in search of the uncaused “first cause”; some of us believe this first cause to be purely “natural’ while others believe this first cause to be supernatural.
Big bang cosmology, often referred to as the Standard Cosmological Model, demonstrates that everything we see in the universe (all space, time, and matter) had a beginning and came from nothing. If this is true, the first cause of the universe must itself be non-spatial, a-temporal, and immaterial. This description of the uncaused first cause begins to sound a lot like the God of the Bible. But there is another attribute of this uncaused “first cause” that is often overlooked. This cause must also be personal. I first realized this many years ago after reading William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland’s seminal work, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Craig and Moreland laid out a clear and concise argument for the personal nature of the uncaused “first cause”.
There are two kinds of forces in the universe: personal forces and impersonal forces. Impersonal forces, like the force of gravity, have no choice about how they affect their environment. They enter, their effect is realized. Imagine a gravity free room in which everything is simply floating in midair. Now introduce the impersonal force of gravity. What happens? We would expect the effect of gravity to be felt immediately. The instant gravity enters this room every object will be drawn to the floor. Impersonal forces cannot decide when to act; if they are present, their effect is felt. This truth has a great impact on the way we understand the first cause of the universe.
If the cause of the universe is an impersonal force, its effect (the appearance of everything from nothing) would be realized the instant the force was present. If that were the case, the first cause of the universe could be no older than the universe itself. The appearance of the cause (the impersonal force) and its effect (the creation of space, time and matter) would be simultaneous events; one would be no older than the other. But if that’s the case, we would once again find ourselves looking for what caused the first cause to appear in the first place! See the problem? The first cause of the universe must itself be uncaused and eternal in order for us to avoid the illogical and endless pursuit of a prior cause. Unless we are willing to accept the irrational premise that the cause of the universe is itself only as old as the universe itself, we are going to have to admit that this cause cannot be an impersonal force. The cause of the universe had the ability to decide to bring the universe into existence, and the ability to decide is an attribute of personhood.
Now let’s review the characteristics of the cause of the universe given the reasonable evidence that confirms Big Bang cosmology:
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
Evangelicals and the Loss of Prophetic Imagination
By Sharon Hodde Miller 2/9/2017
This year has changed me. I say this in all earnestness and with no dramatic intent, but this year really has changed me. I am not the same person I was, and my calling has shifted too.
It’s difficult to pinpoint when the change occurred. Perhaps it was a series of events. It began when conservative evangelicals began to endorse a presidential candidate whose rhetoric, lifestyle, and priorities resembled nothing of Christ, but much of the fool as described in Proverbs.
I watched Christians use dubious biblical interpretations and downright bad theology in an “ends justify the means” kind of ethic. I watched those same Christians bend over backwards to prove that this man, who possessed no discernible fruit of the Spirit, was a Christian. I watched Christians remain silent as the man they put in office continued to lie, name call, belittle, and slander. And I watched conservative Christians take up the mantra “Do not judge” in lock-step with the liberals they used to deride, as if Jesus’ words were intended to silence sound judgment. This wasn’t just hypocrisy. This was a forsaking of basic Christian doctrine and our primary citizenship in the Kingdom of God. And it changed me.
I struggled to articulate the impact of this experience, until I ran across an essay by author Jonathan Martin in which he describes our present historical moment as an “apocalypse.” Apocalypse is a word we sometimes confuse with “armageddon” but it refers to an “unveiling,” and for me, that was the word I was looking for. This year, I was able to see with a clarity I hadn’t before.
Martin further explains, “These are the days when the hearts of men and women in America are being revealed,” and as this apocalypse unfolded in evangelicalism, this is what I saw: the faux-faithfulness of pragmatism, in place of cruciform obedience; moral relativism in place of biblical truth; personal security pitted against Christ-like compassion; and the true spiritual character of our leaders. Once I saw this, I became “disillusioned” in the very best sense of the word. God had pulled back the curtain of my illusions to show me our true spiritual state.
Sharon is an author, speaker, wife, and mom based in North Carolina. In addition to earning her M.Div. at Duke Divinity School, and her PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Sharon has been a regular contributor to Christianity Today, Propel, She Reads Truth, and many other Christian sites.
Sharon loves drawing women out of the shallows and into the deep end of faith, and she does this by blending Scriptural knowledge with a fun, conversational style. To read more of her writing, you can visit her site, SheWorships.com, and you can connect with her on Instagram at @sharonhmiller.
Sharon Hodde Miller Books:
How to Prove the Nonexistence of Something
By Lenny Esposito 2/7/2017
Atheists commonly claim that they bear no burden of proof since one cannot prove a negative. A couple of years ago, I debated Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?" Given this was a question and not a proposition, each party bears an equal burden of proof in asserting his claim; I must provide evidence for why I believe God exists and Carrier must provide evidence for why he believes God does not. Yet, a lot of atheists felt that I should shoulder the burden is such a debate. "How do you prove the non-existence of something? That's ridiculous" exclaimed one commenter. In fact, proving universal negatives is important, and something we do all the time in other contexts.
The idea that a universal negative is unprovable is what Steven D. Hales calls "a principle of folk logic," not rigorous thinking. Hale writes:
Among professional logicians, guess how many think that you can't prove a negative? That's right: zero. Yes, Virginia, you can prove a negative, and it's easy, too. For one thing, a real, actual law of logic is a negative, namely the law of non-contradiction. This law states that that a proposition cannot be both true and not true. Nothing is both true and false. Furthermore, you can prove this law. It can be formally derived from the empty set using provably valid rules of inference. (I'll spare you the boring details). One of the laws of logic is a provable negative. Wait… this means we've just proven that it is not the case that one of the laws of logic is that you can't prove a negative. So we've proven yet another negative! In fact, ‘you can't prove a negative' is a negative—so if you could prove it true, it wouldn't be true! Uh-oh.
Hale goes on to explain that any proposition that is stated as a positive (i.e. "God exists") can also be restated as a negative ("it is not true that God doesn't exist.")
Understanding What We Mean by Prove | I agree with Hale that a lot of misunderstanding isn't in what counts for or against evidence, but a misunderstanding of what the word prove actually means. It seems that a lot of atheists mean prove in an incontrovertible sense, meaning something that is 100% certain. But assuming one must provide complete certainty before believing a proposition is itself illogical. Imagine you have a nasty infection but refuse to receive penicillin because no one can prove with 100% certainty it will be effective for you. Is such a stance rational? Of course not.
Hale offers the example that when we eat our lunch, we assume it will be nourishing and not deadly. We use our inductive reasoning to make that conclusion and we are justified in calling it knowledge, even if there are outlier examples of people being poisoned.
Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
The 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 STAGECHR. And did you presently fall under the power of this conviction?
HOPE. No, I was not willing presently to know the evil of sin, nor the damnation that follows upon the commission of it; but endeavored, when my mind at first began to be shaken with the word, to shut mine eyes against the light thereof.
CHR. But what was the cause of your carrying of it thus to the first workings of God’s blessed Spirit upon you?
HOPE. The causes were, 1. I was ignorant that this was the work of God upon me. I never thought that by awakenings for sin, God at first begins the conversion of a sinner. 2. Sin was yet very sweet to my flesh, and I was loth to leave it. 3. I could not tell how to part with mine old companions, their presence and actions were so desirable unto me. 4. The hours in which convictions were upon me, were such troublesome and such heart-affrighting hours, that I could not bear, no not so much as the remembrance of them upon my heart.
CHR. Then, as it seems, sometimes you got rid of your trouble?
HOPE. Yes, verily, but it would come into my mind again; and then I should be as bad, nay, worse than I was before.
CHR. Why, what was it that brought your sins to mind again?
HOPE. Many things; as,
1. If I did but meet a good man in the streets; or,
2. If I have heard any read in the Bible; or,
3. If mine head did begin to ache; or,
4. If I were told that some of my neighbors were sick; or,
5. If I heard the bell toll for some that were dead; or,
6. If I thought of dying myself; or,
7. If I heard that sudden death happened to others.
8. But especially when I thought of myself, that I must quickly come to judgment.
CHR. And could you at any time, with ease, get off the guilt of sin, when by any of these ways it came upon you?
HOPE. No, not I; for then they got faster hold of my conscience; and then, if I did but think of going back to sin, (though my mind was turned against it,) it would be double torment to me.
CHR. And how did you do then?
HOPE. I thought I must endeavor to mend my life; for else, thought I, I am sure to be damned.
CHR. And did you endeavor to mend?
HOPE. Yes, and fled from, not only my sins, but sinful company too, and betook me to religious duties, as praying, reading, weeping for sin, speaking truth to my neighbors, etc. These things did I, with many others, too much here to relate.
CHR. And did you think yourself well then?
HOPE. Yes, for a while; but at the last my trouble came tumbling upon me again, and that over the neck of all my reformations.
CHR. How came that about, since you were now reformed?
HOPE. There were several things brought it upon me, especially such sayings as these: “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”
Isa. 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. ESV
“By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Gal. 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. ESV
“When ye have done all these things, say, We are unprofitable,”
Luke 17:10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ” ESV
with many more such like. From whence I began to reason with myself thus: If all my righteousnesses are as filthy rags; if by the deeds of the law no man can be justified; and if, when we have done all, we are yet unprofitable, then is it but a folly to think of heaven by the law. I farther thought thus: If a man runs a hundred pounds into the shopkeeper’s debt, and after that shall pay for all that he shall fetch; yet if his old debt stands still in the book uncrossed, the shopkeeper may sue him for it, and cast him into prison, till he shall pay the debt.
CHR. Well, and how did you apply this to yourself?
HOPE. Why, I thought thus with myself: I have by my sins run a great way into God’s book, and my now reforming will not pay off that score; therefore I should think still, under all my present amendments, But how shall I be freed from that damnation that I brought myself in danger of by my former transgressions?
CHR. A very good application: but pray go on.
HOPE. Another thing that hath troubled me ever since my late amendments, is, that if I look narrowly into the best of what I do now, I still see sin, new sin, mixing itself with the best of that I do; so that now I am forced to conclude, that notwithstanding my former fond conceits of myself and duties, I have committed sin enough in one day to send me to hell, though my former life had been faultless.
CHR. And what did you do then?
HOPE. Do! I could not tell what to do, until I broke my mind to Faithful; for he and I were well acquainted. And he told me, that unless I could obtain the righteousness of a man that never had sinned, neither mine own, nor all the righteousness of the world, could save me.
CHR. And did you think he spake true?
HOPE. Had he told me so when I was pleased and satisfied with my own amendments, I had called him fool for his pains; but now, since I see my own infirmity, and the sin which cleaves to my best performance, I have been forced to be of his opinion.
CHR. But did you think, when at first he suggested it to you, that there was such a man to be found, of whom it might justly be said, that he never committed sin?
HOPE. I must confess the words at first sounded strangely; but after a little more talk and company with him, I had full conviction about it.
CHR. And did you ask him what man this was, and how you must be justified by him?
HOPE. Yes, and he told me it was the Lord Jesus, that dwelleth on the right hand of the Most High.
Heb. 10:12–21 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, ESV
And thus, said he, you must be justified by him, even by trusting to what he hath done by himself in the days of his flesh, and suffered when he did hang on the tree.
Rom. 4:5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, ESV
Col. 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ESV
1 Pet. 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. ESV
I asked him further, how that man’s righteousness could be of that efficacy, to justify another before God. And he told me he was the mighty God, and did what he did, and died the death also, not for himself, but for me; to whom his doings, and the worthiness of them, should be imputed, if I believed on him.
CHR. And what did you do then?
HOPE. I made my objections against my believing, for that I thought he was not willing to save me.
CHR. And what said Faithful to you then?
HOPE. He bid me go to him and see. Then I said it was presumption. He said, No; for I was invited to come.
Matt. 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ESV
Then he gave me a book of Jesus’ inditing, to encourage me the more freely to come; and he said concerning that book, that every jot and tittle thereof stood firmer than heaven and earth.
Matt. 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. ESV
Then I asked him what I must do when I came; and he told me I must entreat upon my knees,
Psa. 95:6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! ESV
with all my heart and soul,
Jer. 29:12-13 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. ESV
the Father to reveal him to me. Then I asked him further, how I must make my supplications to him; and he said, Go, and thou shalt find him upon a mercy-seat, where he sits all the year long to give pardon and forgiveness to them that come.
Exod. 25:22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. ESV
Lev. 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. ESV
Num. 7:89 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him. ESV
Heb. 4: 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ESV
I told him, that I knew not what to say when I came; and he bid say to this effect: God be merciful to me a sinner, and make me to know and believe in Jesus Christ; for I see, that if his righteousness had not been, or I have not faith in that righteousness, I am utterly cast away. Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and hast ordained that thy Son Jesus Christ should be the Saviour of the world; and moreover, that thou art willing to bestow him upon such a poor sinner as I am - and I am a sinner indeed. Lord, take therefore this opportunity, and magnify thy grace in the salvation of my soul, through thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
CHR. And did you do as you were bidden?
HOPE. Yes, over, and over, and over.
CHR. And did the Father reveal the Son to you?
HOPE. Not at the first, nor second, nor third, nor fourth, nor fifth, no, nor at the sixth time neither.
CHR. What did you do then?
HOPE. What? why I could not tell what to do.
CHR. Had you not thoughts of leaving off praying?
HOPE. Yes; an hundred times twice told.
CHR. And what was the reason you did not?
HOPE. I believed that it was true which hath been told me, to wit, that without the righteousness of this Christ, all the world could not save me; and therefore, thought I with myself, if I leave off, I die, and I can but die at the throne of grace. And withal this came into my mind, “If it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, and will not tarry.”
Hab. 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay. ESV
CHR. And how was he revealed unto you?
HOPE. I did not see him with my bodily eyes, but with the eyes of my understanding,
Eph. 1:18-19 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might ESV
and thus it was. One day I was very sad, I think sadder than at any one time in my life; and this sadness was through a fresh sight of the greatness and vileness of my sins. And as I was then looking for nothing but hell, and the everlasting damnation of my soul, suddenly, as I thought, I saw the Lord Jesus looking down from heaven upon me, and saying, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Acts 16:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ESV
But I replied, Lord, I am a great, a very great sinner: and he answered, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
2 Cor. 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ESV
Then I said, But, Lord, what is believing? And then I saw from that saying, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,”
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. ESV
that believing and coming was all one; and that he that came, that is, that ran out in his heart and affections after salvation by Christ, he indeed believed in Christ. Then the water stood in mine eyes, and I asked further, But, Lord, may such a great sinner as I am be indeed accepted of thee, and be saved by thee? And I heard him say, “And him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.”
John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. ESV
Then I said, But how, Lord, must I consider of thee in my coming to thee, that my faith may be placed aright upon thee? Then he said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
1 Tim. 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. ESV
He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. ESV
(and chap. 4)
He died for our sins, and rose again for our justification.
Rom. 4:25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. ESV
He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.
Rev. 1:5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. ESV
He is the Mediator between God and us.
1 Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, ESV
He ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Heb. 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. ESV
From all which I gathered, that I must look for righteousness in his person, and for satisfaction for my sins by his blood: that what he did in obedience to his Father’s law, and in submitting to the penalty thereof, was not for himself, but for him that will accept it for his salvation, and be thankful. And now was my heart full of joy, mine eyes full of tears, and mine affections running over with love to the name, people, and ways of Jesus Christ.
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 20Trust in the Name of the LORD Our God
20 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
3 May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
4 May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans!
5 May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!
Ye Of Brittle Faith
By Larry Alex Taunton 2/2017
On December 15, 2011, Christopher Hitchens died of esophageal cancer. Some remember him as a man of the left who, after 9/11, converted to a kind of neoconservatism; others remember him as an atheist provocateur and serial blasphemer. For me, Christopher Hitchens was much more than either of these things. He was, as he put it, my “debate partner” and friend. This relationship, largely hidden from view, was a surprise to no one more than me. I am, after all, an Evangelical Christian. Even so, after his diagnosis of cancer in 2010, it was my privilege to take two lengthy road trips with the celebrated atheist. The first was from his home in Washington, D.C., to mine in Birmingham, Alabama. The second was through Yellowstone National Park. In both instances, we studied the Bible together and discussed the Great Questions. This relationship is the subject of my recent book The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist.
The book received ample praise, with Booklist calling it “loving” and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews hailing it as “beautiful.” The Gospel Coalition declared it “an instant classic” and recently named it a 2016 Book of the Year winner. At the same time, however, the book evoked fierce denunciations by a number of the so-called New Atheists. They seized upon the title as proof that I claim Hitchens made some sort of last-minute conversion. As any reader of the book can tell you, this is not so. I say as much in the opening paragraph. But just in case the reader missed it, in the final chapter I emphasize that it is unlikely that Hitchens became a Christian. The subtitle makes it clear that I believe that Christopher was, in fact, an atheist, albeit a restless one.
That was not enough for the atheist critics of my book. University of Chicago biologist and professional atheist Jerry Coyne published a review on his whyevolutionistrue.com website titled “A vulture spreads the false rumor that Hitchens accepted God at the end.” The false rumor comes from Coyne himself, since my book says nothing of the kind. When those who had actually read The Faith of Christopher Hitchens accused Coyne of not reading it, he posted this update: “Because people have suggested that I wrote this entire piece without having read any of Taunton’s book, I read the six pages about Hitchens given on the [New York] Times site, and, after writing it, have read substantial sections of the book that someone sent to me.” Six pages? So much for the scientific method.
Coyne was not alone. I was invited to appear on BBC’s Newsnight along with atheist physicist Lawrence Krauss. Newsnight’s host, James O’Brien, hostile from the start, said that I didn’t really know Hitchens but was just “trying to flog a few books off the back” of his reputation. Didn’t know him? I had never claimed to be a part of Christopher’s inner circle, but our acquaintance was much more than slight. “[Christopher] spoke very warmly, publicly, of our friendship,” I told him. “This is on film, James. I’m not inventing anything here.”
Unmoved, O’Brien teamed up with Professor Krauss, who pressed the same point, claiming that I was simply exploiting the dying atheist. “He’s trying to make money off of Christopher’s name,” he said. “Christopher was paid to spend time with this man.” He went on to pronounce authoritatively about a relationship of which he knew nothing and about conversations of which he was not a part.
Larry Alex Taunton is an American author, columnist, and cultural commentator. A frequent television and radio guest, he has appeared on CNN, CNN International, Fox News, Al Jazeera America, and BBC. You can find his columns on issues of faith and culture in The Atlantic, USA Today, CNN.com, and The Blaze. Mr. Taunton has been quoted by Rush Limbaugh, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, TIME, Vanity Fair, and NPR, among others.
Mr. Taunton is also the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation. In that role he has debated such high profile atheists as Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Michael Shermer as well as Muslim cleric Zaid Shakir. He has organized or chaired debates on science, religion, and ethics at Trinity College, Oxford University; The Edinburgh International Festival; the Melbourne Town Hall in Melbourne, Australia; Princeton University; and the Oxford Museum of Natural History. Taunton was born at Fort Benning, Georgia. He currently divides his time between the United States and Europe.
Larry Alex Taunton Books:
Leftwing Intolerance and Rightwing Hypocrisy
By Michael Brown 2/11/2017
How can we test for rightwing hypocrisy? Here are some telltale signs.
In recent months, leftwing intolerance has been on full display, from the riots against free speech at Berkeley (the home of the free speech movement), to the boycotts of Trump-related fashion (designers not working with Melania and stores dropping Ivanka’s line), and from some entertainers receiving credible death threats if they performed at the inauguration to other entertainers getting blacklisted for performing.
Making this leftwing intolerance even more galling is that it is done in the name of tolerance and enlightenment and carried out in the name of progressiveness and open-mindedness, thereby putting leftwing hypocrisy on full display.
But the leftwing does not have a monopoly on hypocrisy. Those of us on the right have our fair share of it as well.
Telltale Signs | How can we test for rightwing hypocrisy? Here are some telltale signs.
You’re excited that President Trump is issuing executive orders but were upset when President Obama issued executive orders, calling it an abuse of power (or worse).
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is a Senior Contributor to The Stream, and the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Breaking the Stronghold of Food. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.
He became a believer in Jesus 1971 as a sixteen year-old, heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer. Since then, he has preached throughout America and around the world, bringing a message of repentance, revival, reformation, and cultural revolution. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Theological Seminary, the King’s Seminary, and Regent University School of Divinity, and he has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications, including the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.
Dr. Brown is a national and international speaker on themes of spiritual renewal and cultural reformation, and he has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors, and gay activists on radio, TV, and college campuses. He is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist. He and his wife Nancy, who is also a Jewish believer in Jesus, have been married since 1976. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
Dr. Michael Brown Books:
- 1 Breaking the Stronghold of Food: How We Conquered Food Addictions and Discovered a New Way of Living
- 2 Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality
- 3 The Real Kosher Jesus: Revealing the Mysteries of the Hidden Messiah
- 4 In the Line of Fire: 70 Articles from the Front Lines of the Culture Wars
- 5 Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message
- 6 Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide
- 7 Our Hands Are Stained with Blood
- 8 Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur's Strange Fire
- 9 Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical Objections, Vol. 1
- 10 A Queer Thing Happened To America: And what a long, strange trip it's been
- 11 Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Messianic Prophecy Objections, Vol. 3
- 12 Go And Sin No More: A Call To Holiness
- 13 Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Theological Objections Vol. 2
- 14 Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: New Testament Objections (Vol. 4)
- 15 Whatever Happened to the Power of God?/It's Time to Rock the Boat
- 16 The Grace Controversy: Answers to 12 Common Questions
- 17 60 Questions Christians Ask About Jewish Beliefs and Practices
- 18 Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus:Traditional Jewish Objections Vol 5
- 19 Israel's Divine Healer
- 20 Whatever Happened to the Power of God
- 21 A Time For Holy Fire: Preparing the Way for Divine Visitation
- 22 How Saved Are We?
- 23 Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation
- 24 Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change
- 25 What Do Jewish People Think about Jesus?: And Other Questions Christians Ask about Jewish Beliefs, Practices, and History
- 26 From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire: America on the Edge of Revival
- 27 Revolution: Jesus' Call to Change the World
- 28 Let No One Deceive You
- 29 Revolution!: The Call to Holy War
- 30 It's Time to Rock the Boat
- 31 The End of the American Gospel Enterprise
- 32 Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message by Michael L. Brown (2014-01-07)
- 33 The Revival Answer Book
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
6. But if his filiation (if I may so express it) had a beginning at the
time when he was manifested in the flesh, it follows that he was a Son
in respect of human nature also. Servetus, and others similarly
frenzied, hold that Christ who appeared in the flesh is the Son of God,
inasmuch as but for his incarnation he could not have possessed this
name. Let them now answer me, whether, according to both natures, and
in respect of both, he is a Son? So indeed they prate; but Paul's
doctrine is very different. We acknowledge, indeed, that Christ in
human nature is called a Son, not like believers by gratuitous adoption
merely, but the true, natural, and, therefore, only Son, this being the
mark which distinguishes him from all others. Those of us who are
regenerated to a new life God honours with the name of sons; the name
of true and only-begotten Son he bestows on Christ alone. But how is he
an only Son in so great a multitude of brethren, except that he
possesses by nature what we acquire by gift? This honour we extend to
his whole character of Mediator, so that He who was born of a Virgin,
and on the cross offered himself in sacrifice to the Father, is truly
and properly the Son of God; but still in respect of his Godhead: as
Paul teaches when he says, that he was "separated unto the gospel of
God (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy
Scriptures), concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made
of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son
of God with power," (Rom. 1:1-4). When distinctly calling him the Son
of David according to the flesh, why should he also say that he was
"declared to be the Son of God," if he meant not to intimate, that this
depended on something else than his incarnation? For in the same sense
in which he elsewhere says, that "though he was crucified through
weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God," (2 Cor. 13:4), so he now
draws a distinction between the two natures. They must certainly admit,
that as on account of his mother he is called the Son of David, so, on
account of his Father, he is the Son of God, and that in some respect
differing from his human nature. The Scripture gives him both names,
calling him at one time the Son of God, at another the Son of Man. As
to the latter, there can be no question that he is called a Son in
accordance with the phraseology of the Hebrew language, because he is
of the offspring of Adam. On the other hand, I maintain that he is
called a Son on account of his Godhead and eternal essence, because it
is no less congruous to refer to his divine nature his being called the
Son of God, than to refer to his human nature his being called the Son
of Man. In fine, in the passage which I have quoted, Paul does not
mean, that he who according to the flesh was begotten of the seed of
David, was declared to be the Son of God in any other sense than he
elsewhere teaches that Christ, who descended of the Jews according to
the flesh, is "over all, God blessed for ever," (Rom. 9:5). But if in
both passages the distinction of two natures is pointed out, how can it
be denied, that he who according to the flesh is the Son of Man, is
also in respect of his divine nature the Son of God?
7. They indeed find a blustering defence of their heresy in its being said, that "God spared not his own Son," and in the communication of the angel, that He who was to be born of the Virgin should be called the "Son of the Highest," (Rom. 8:32; Luke 1:32). But before pluming themselves on this futile objection, let them for a little consider with us what weight there is in their argument. If it is legitimately concluded, that at conception he began to be the Son of God, because he who has been conceived is called a Son, it will follow, that he began to be the Word after his manifestation in the flesh, because John declares, that the Word of life of which he spoke was that which "our hands have handled," (1 John 1:1). In like manner we read in the prophet, "Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Israel, yet out of thee shall he come forth that is to be a ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting," (Mic. 5:2). How will they be forced to interpret if they will follow such a method of arguing? I have declared that we by no means assent to Nestorius, who imagined a twofold Christ, when we maintain that Christ, by means of brotherly union, made us sons of God with himself, because in the flesh, which he took from us, he is the only-begotten Son of God. And Augustine wisely reminds us,  that he is a bright mirror of the wonderful and singular grace of God, because as man he obtained honour which he could not merit. With this distinction, therefore, according to the flesh, was Christ honoured even from the womb--viz. to be the Son of God. Still, in the unity of person we are not to imagine any intermixture which takes away from the Godhead what is peculiar to it. Nor is it more absurd that the eternal Word of God and Christ, uniting the two natures in one person, should in different ways be called the Son of God, than that he should in various respects be called at one time the Son of God, at another the Son of Man. Nor are we more embarrassed by another cavil of Servetus--viz. that Christ, before he appeared in the flesh, is nowhere called the Son of God, except under a figure. For though the description of him was then more obscure, yet it has already been clearly proved, that he was not otherwise the eternal God, than as he was the Word begotten of the eternal Father. Nor is the name applicable to the office of Mediator which he undertook, except in that he was God manifest in the flesh. Nor would God have thus from the beginning been called a Father, had there not been even then a mutual relation to the Son, "of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," (Eph. 3:15). Hence it is easy to infer, that under the Law and the Prophets he was the Son of God before this name was celebrated in the Church. But if we are to dispute about the word merely, Solomon, speaking of the incomprehensibility of God, affirms that his Son is like himself, incomprehensible: "What is his name, and what is his Son's name, if thou canst tell?" (Prov. 30:4). I am well aware that with the contentious this passage will not have sufficient weight; nor do I found much upon it, except as showing the malignant cavils of those who affirm that Christ is the Son of God only in so far as he became man. We may add, that all the most ancient writers, with one mouth and consent, testified the same thing so plainly, that the effrontery is no less ridiculous than detestable, which dares to oppose us with Irenaeus and Tertullian, both of whom acknowledge that He who was afterwards visibly manifested was the invisible Son of God. 
8. But although Servetus heaped together a number of horrid dogmas, to which, perhaps, others would not subscribe, you will find, that all who refuse to acknowledge the Son of God except in the flesh, are obliged, when urged more closely, to admit that he was a Son, for no other reason than because he was conceived in the womb of the Virgin by the Holy Spirit; just like the absurdity of the ancient Manichees, that the soul of man was derived by transfusion from God, from its being said, that he breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). For they lay such stress on the name of Son that they leave no distinction between the natures, but babblingly maintain that the man Christ is the Son of God, because, according to his human nature, he was begotten of God. Thus, the eternal generation of Wisdom, celebrated by Solomon (Prov. 8:22, seq). is destroyed, and no kind of Godhead exists in the Mediator: or a phantom is substituted instead of a man. The grosser delusions of Servetus, by which he imposed upon himself and some others, it were useful to refute, that pious readers might be warned by the example, to confine themselves within the bounds of soberness and modesty: however, I deem it superfluous here, as I have already done it in a special treatise.  The whole comes to this, that the Son of God was from the beginning an idea, and was even then a preordained man, who was to be the essential image of God. nor does he acknowledge any other word of God except in external splendour. The generation he interprets to mean, that from the beginning a purpose of generating the Son was begotten in God, and that this purpose extended itself by act to creation. Meanwhile, he confounds the Spirit with the Word, saying that God arranged the invisible Word and Spirit into flesh and soul. In short, in his view the typifying of Christ occupies the place of generation; but he says, that he who was then in appearance a shadowy Son, was at length begotten by the Word, to which he attributes a generating power. From this it will follow, that dogs and swine are not less sons of God, because created of the original seed of the Divine Word. But although he compounds Christ of three untreated elements, that he may be begotten of the essence of God, he pretends that he is the first-born among the creatures, in such a sense that, according to their degree, stones have the same essential divinity. But lest he should seem to strip Christ of his Deity, he admits that his flesh is oJmoouvsion, of the same substance with God, and that the Word was made man, by the conversion of flesh into Deity. Thus, while he cannot comprehend that Christ was the Son of God, until his flesh came forth from the essence of God and was converted into Deity, he reduces the eternal personality (hypostasis) of the Word to nothing, and robs us of the Son of David, who was the promised Redeemer. It is true, he repeatedly declares that the Son was begotten of God by knowledge and predestination, but that he was at length made man out of that matter which, from the beginning, shone with God in the three elements, and afterwards appeared in the first light of the world, in the cloud and pillar of fire. How shamefully inconsistent with himself he ever and anon becomes, it were too tedious to relate. From this brief account sound readers will gather, that by the subtle ambiguities of this infatuated man, the hope of salvation was utterly extinguished. For if the flesh were the Godhead itself, it would cease to be its temple. Now, the only Redeemer we can have is He who being begotten of the seed of Abraham and David according to the flesh, truly became man. But he erroneously insists on the expression of John, "The Word was made flesh." As these words refute the heresy of Nestorius, so they give no countenance to the impious fiction of which Eutyches was the inventor, since all that the Evangelist intended was to assert a unity of person in two natures.
 Augustine employs the same similitude, Epist. 52.
 Isiah 41:1, &c.; John 5:17; Luke 2:52; John 8:50; Mark 13:32; John 14:10; 6:38; Luke 24:39.
 John 1:29; 5:21--23; 9:5; 10:9--11; 15:1.
 VideCalv. Epist. ad Polonos adversus Stancarum.
 See August. in Enchir. ad Laurent. c. 36.
 See August. De Corruptione et Gratia. cap. 11, et De Civitate Dei, lib. 10 cap 29, et alibi See also cap. 17 s. 1.
 See Irenæus, lib. 4 cap 14 et 37; Tertullian adversus Praxeam. The above passages from The Proverbs is quoted by Augustine, Ep 49, Quæs. 5.
 Vide Calv. Defensio Orthodoxæ Fidei Sacræ Trinitatis adversus Prodigiosos Errores Michaelis Serveti Hispani.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
By Richard S. AdamsDoes God weigh the love that motivates a person to act, or the deed itself? The Bible teaches that God is concerned with the intentions of our heart.
We had a two mile walk to get our car from the garage … again. As we were walking we passed a young man begging on a corner and Lily asked me if I had any money. I told her according to the Portland Rescue Mission we should not give money. I was anticipating the almost $900 DEQ car repair bill we were about to pay. Maybe I was just insensitive … or worse. I have a difficult time saying no to Lily, so I gave her a bill. She went over to the young man, smiled, said hello and handed him the money.
She said she knew we were advised to give food or toiletries, but she had neither and she believed the young man begging had not made a good life choice.
We quietly walked the next couple of blocks. She was probably thinking about the young man we had just passed. I was remembering the first several years of our marriage. It used to irritate me when Lily gave things away, even though in those days we had plenty to give. That has changed and like many, life is a struggle now, but I've learned to count my blessings.
Call it Monday morning quarterbacking or just hindsight, but I think 20-20 hindsight belongs mostly to older folks. I have always loved Lily, but it took me years to realize how blessed I am to be married to a woman of compassion.
I think a lot about God, what’s on the other side of the river, why I did or didn’t do something, and the way our life might have been. I suppose many people are haunted by, if only ... But broken dreams and what was stolen cannot be compared with what my life would have been without Lily.
God has used her to show me all those years of video-taping Icicle Ridge in Leavenworth, deer in Lake Pend Oreille, scenery in Glacier National Park, etc. etc. was not nearly as important as video-taping the people I was there with.
As my sons and their wives have babies I keep stressing to take video and pictures every week. Inevitably the hard times come. Inevitably getting older comes and with older years comes that 20-20 hindsight. The best memories will always be filled with people; not places or things.
I like to think that one of the lessons of Exodus is that redemption from slavery, physical and spiritual; selfishness, self-centeredness, etc. was to be the beginning of Israel’s new relationship with God.
I see clearly now that God has used Lily and the people in my life to redeem me from me. Our relationship with God, as well as our relationship with one another, has a goal. That goal is transformation and transformation is played out in our compassion for one another. Valentines Day is about the transformational relationships that are making us more loving people.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2008, on staff at Portland Seminary 1/2009 through 7/2018.Articles
- Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
- Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
- Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
- Feb 14 Hindsight
- Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
- Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
- Feb 23 Job 23:14
- Feb 25 No Time To Text
- Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
- Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
- May 10 Ruth | Relationships
- June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
- July 14 Tom - Gen & Revelation
- Nov 27 The Way The World Is
- Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
- Dec 11 Open Door
- Dec 20 Replacement Theology
Genesis 47; Luke 1:1-38; Job 13; 1 Corinthians 1
By Don Carson 2/14/2018
HOW DID THE CANONICAL Gospels come down to us?
At one level, it is enough to be assured that God provided them. But normally God operates through identifiable means. At no point do the canonical Gospels give the impression that they were handed down from heaven on golden plates, or transcribed by apostles attentive to divine dictation.
Luke provides the most detail as to how he went about his task (Luke 1:1-4). He tells us that “many” had already “undertaken to draw up an account” of Jesus’ life and ministry, in line with what was “handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (1:1-2). From this we can infer two things: (a) Luke does not himself claim to be an eyewitness of Jesus. He does claim to be in touch with what the original “eyewitnesses and servants of the word” handed down. (b) By the time he writes, Luke knows that already there are many written reports circulating. This is not surprising. The Jews were a literate race. Every boy learned to read and write. It is inconceivable that no one committed anything to paper in the first years after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and exaltation.
Then Luke tells us he himself “carefully investigated everything from the beginning.” The words suggest that he read the sources, talked with all the principals he could find, and evaluated the reports. We can glimpse at least a little of his method when we read his second volume, the book of Acts. There, by following his movements, we discover that he can be placed in all the early major Christian centers, where he would have the opportunity to talk to all of the earliest Christian leaders, and to read all of the earliest reports and archives. It is not too much of a leap, then, to infer that if Luke the doctor (see Col. 4:14) has some extra information about Mary’s unique pregnancy (Luke 1:26ff.), it is because he looked her up and had some long chats. In due course, then, he chose to write “an orderly account” (1:3).
Two things follow. First, however much the Spirit of God superintended the production of this gospel, such divine superintendence did not obviate the need for strenuous research and careful work. Second, this method of bringing a canonical book into being is entirely in line with its subject matter: God himself brought the messianic Son of David, the Son of God, into this world (1:35), the eternal invading the temporal, forever assuring that one could talk of him as a witness speaks of what is observed. The transmission of Christian truth necessarily rests, in part, not on mysticism, but on witness.
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
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
What are your strengths?
2/14/2018 Bob Gass
‘God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.’
(Ro 12:6) Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; ESV
Paul writes: ‘Just as our bodies have many parts and each…has a special function…We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other…God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well’ (vv. 4-6 NLT). Dr John Maxwell recommends that you work where you’re strongest 80 per cent of the time, where you’re learning 15 per cent of the time, and where you’re weakest 5 per cent of the time. So, what are your strengths? To find the answer to that question, you must: 1) Be secure. If you allow your insecurities to get the better of you, you’ll become inflexible and resistant to change. And if you don’t change you won’t grow. 2) Get to know yourself. Spend time exploring your gifts, ask for feedback and receive it, and be honest about your blind spots. 3) Trust your leader. If you can’t trust the person you’re following, you should look for someone you can trust, or get on another team. 4) See the big picture. Your place on any team only makes sense in the context of the big picture. If your sole reason for finding your niche is personal gain, your wrong motives will rob you of the very joy, fulfilment, and success you desire. 5) Rely on your experience. The only way to know you’ve discovered your niche is to try things, take risks, learn from your failures and successes, and discover what God has gifted you to do.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
In the 3rd century, Emperor Claudius the Goth not only commanded the Roman gods be worshiped, but temporarily forbade marriage, because he believed single men made better soldiers. Legend has it that Valentine, who was a bishop in Italy, risked the Emperor’s wrath by refusing to worship idols and for secretly marring young couples. Saint Valentine was dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and have his head cut off on February 14, 269AD. While awaiting execution, it is said he prayed for the jailers’ sick daughter, who miraculously recovered. He wrote her a note and signed it, “from your Valentine.”
Thomas R. Kelly
Explore the depths of humility, not with your intellects but with your lives, lived in prayer of humble obedience. And there you will find that humility is not merely a human virtue. For there is a humility that is in God Himself. Be ye humble as God is humble. For love and humility walk hand in hand, in God as well as in man.
But there is something about deepest humility which makes men bold. For utter obedience is self-forgetful obedience. No longer do we hesitate and shuffle and apologize because, say we, we are weak, lowly creatures and the world is a pack of snarling wolves among whom we are sent as sheep by the Shepherd (Matt. 10:16). I must confess that, on human judgment, the world tasks we face are appalling-well-nigh hopeless. Only the inner vision of God, only the God-blindedness of unreservedly dedicated souls, only the utterly humble ones can bow and break the raging pride of a power-mad world. But self-renunciation means God-possession, the being possessed by God. Out of utter humility and self forgetfulness comes the thunder of the prophets, "Thus saith the Lord." High station and low are leveled before Him. Be not fooled by the world's power. Imposing institutions of war and imperialism and greed are wholly vulnerable for they, and we, are forever in the hands of a conquering God. These are not cheap and hasty words. The high and noble adventures of faith can in our truest moments be seen as no adventures at all, but certainties. And if we live in complete humility in God we can smile in patient assurance as we work. Will you be wise enough and humble enough to be little fools of God? For who can finally stay His power? Who can resist His persuading love? Truly says Saint Augustine, "There is something in humility which raiseth the heart upward." And John Woolman says, "Now I find that in the pure obedience the mind learns contentment, in appearing weak and foolish to the wisdom which is of the World; and in these lowly labors, they who stand in a low place, rightly exercised under the Cross, will find nourishment."
A Testament of Devotion
University of Virginia Library 1994
1743-1748. His first Journey, on a Religious Visit, in East Jersey -- Thoughts on Merchandising, and Learning a Trade -- Second Journey into Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina -- Third Journey through part of West and East Jersey -- Fourth Journey through New York and Long Island, to New England -- And his fifth Journey to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the Lower Counties on Delaware.
MY esteemed friend Abraham Farrington being about to make a visit to Friends on the eastern side of this province, and having no companion, he proposed to me to go with him; and after a conference with some elderly Friends I agreed to go. We set out on the 5th of ninth month, 1743; had an evening meeting at a tavern in Brunswick, a town in which none of our Society dwelt; the room was full, and the people quiet. Thence to Amboy, and had an evening meeting in the court-house, to which came many people, amongst whom were several members of Assembly, they being in town on the public affairs of the province. In both these meetings my ancient companion was engaged to preach largely in the love of the gospel. Thence we went to Woodbridge, Rahway, and Plainfield, and had six or seven meetings in places where Friends' meetings are not usually held, chiefly attended by Presbyterians, and my beloved companion was frequently strengthened to publish the word of life amongst them. As for me, I was often silent through the meetings, and when I spake it was with much care, that I might speak only what truth opened. My mind was often tender, and I learned some profitable lessons. We were out about two weeks.
Near this time, being on some outward business in which several families were concerned, and which was attended with difficulties, some things relating thereto not being clearly stated, nor rightly understood by all, there arose some heat in the minds of the parties, and one valuable friend got off his watch. I had a great regard for him, and felt a strong inclination, after matters were settled, to speak to him concerning his conduct in that case; but being a youth, and he far advanced in age and experience, my way appeared difficult; after some days' deliberation, and inward seeking to the Lord for assistance, I was made subject, so that I expressed what lay upon me in a way which became my youth and his years; and though it was a hard task to me it was well taken, and I believe was useful to us both.
Having now been several years with my employer, and he doing less in merchandise than heretofore, I was thoughtful about some other way of business, perceiving merchandise to be attended with much cumber in the way of trading in these parts.
My mind, through the power of truth, was in a good degree weaned from the desire of outward greatness, and I was learning to be content with real conveniences, that were not costly, so that a way of life free from much entanglement appeared best for me, though the income might be small. I had several offers of business that appeared profitable, but I did not see my way clear to accept of them, believing they would be attended with more outward care and cumber than was required of me to engage in. I saw that an humble man, with the blessing of the Lord, might live on a little, and that where the heart was set on greatness, success in business did not satisfy the craving; but that commonly with an increase of wealth the desire of wealth increased. There was a care on my mind so to pass my time that nothing might hinder me from the most steady attention to the voice of the true Shepherd.
My employer, though now a retailer of goods, was by trade a tailor, and kept a servant-man at that business; and I began to think about learning the trade, expecting that if I should settle I might by this trade and a little retailing of goods get a living in a plain way, without the load of great business. I mentioned it to my employer, and we soon agreed on terms, and when I had leisure from the affairs of merchandise I worked with his man. I believed the hand of Providence pointed out this business for me, and I was taught to be content with it, though I felt at times a disposition that would have sought for something greater; but through the revelation of Jesus Christ I had seen the happiness of humility, and there was an earnest desire in me to enter deeply into it; at times this desire arose to a degree of fervent supplication, wherein my soul was so environed with heavenly light and consolation that things were made easy to me which had been otherwise.
After some time my employer's wife died; she was a virtuous woman, and generally beloved of her neighbors. Soon after this he left shop-keeping, and we parted. I then wrought at my trade as a tailor; carefully attended meetings for worship and discipline; and found an enlargement of gospel love in my mind, and therein a concern to visit Friends in some of the back settlements of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Being thoughtful about a companion, I expressed it to my beloved friend, Isaac Andrews, who told me that he had drawings to the same places, and also to go through Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina. After a considerable time, and several conferences with him, I felt easy to accompany him throughout, if way opened for it. I opened the case in our Monthly Meeting, and, Friends expressing their unity therewith, we obtained certificates to travel as companions, -- he from Haddonfield, and I from Burlington.
We left our province on the 12th of third month, 1746, and had several meetings in the upper part of Chester County, and near Lancaster; in some of which the love of Christ prevailed, uniting us together in his service. We then crossed the river Susquehanna, and had several meetings in a new settlement, called the Red Lands. It is the poorer sort of people that commonly begin to improve remote deserts; with a small stock they have houses to build, lands to clear and fence, corn to raise, clothes to provide, and children to educate, so that Friends who visit such may well sympathize with them in their hardships in the wilderness; and though the best entertainment that they can give may seem coarse to some who are used to cities or old settled places, it becomes the disciples of Christ to be therewith content. Our hearts were sometimes enlarged in the love of our Heavenly Father amongst these people, and the sweet influence of his Spirit supported us through some difficulties: to him be the praise.
John Woolman's Journal
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The characteristic of a disciple
is not that he does good things,
but that he is good in motive
because he has been made good
by the supernatural grace of God.
--- Oswald Chambers
Blessed are the ears that hear
the pulse of the divine whisperer,
and give no heed
to the many whisperings of the world.
--- Thomas Kempis
I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.
--- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
It is the crucified man that can preach the cross. Said Thomas ‘except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails...I will not believe’. Dr. Parker of London said that what Thomas said of Christ, the world is saying about the church. And the world is also saying to every preacher: Unless I see in your hands the print of the nails, I will not believe. It is true. It is the man...who has died with Christ,...that can preach the cross of Christ.
--- Campbell Morgan, Evangelism
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
diligent hands bring wealth.
5 A sensible person gathers in summer,
but he who sleeps during harvest is an embarrassment.
6 Blessings are for the head of the righteous,
but the speech of the wicked is a cover for violence.
7 The memory of the righteous will be for a blessing,
but the reputation of the wicked will rot.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The discipline of heeding
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. --- Matthew 10:27.
At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him. “What I tell you in darkness”—watch where God puts you into darkness, and when you are there, keep your mouth shut. Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? Then remain quiet. If you open your mouth in the dark, you will talk in the wrong mood: darkness is the time to listen. Don’t talk to other people about it; don’t read books to find out the reason of the darkness, but listen and heed. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.
After every time of darkness there comes a mixture of delight and humiliation (if there is delight only, I question whether we have heard God at all), delight in hearing God speak, but chiefly humiliation—‘What a long time I was in hearing that! How slow I have been in understanding that! And yet God has been saying it all these days and weeks.’ Now He gives you the gift of humiliation which brings the softness of heart that will always listen to God now.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
An Old Man
Looking upon this tree with its quaint pretension
Of holding the earth, a leveret, in its claws,
Or marking the texture of its living bark,
A grey sea wrinkled by the winds of years,
I understand whence this man's body comes,
In veins and fibres, the bare boughs of bone,
The trellised thicket, where the heart, that robin,
Greets with a song the seasons of the blood.
But where in meadow or mountain
shall I match The individual accent of the speech
That is the ear's familiar? To what sun attribute
The honeyed warmness of his smile?
To which of the deciduous brood is german
The angel peeping from the latticed eye?
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Lessons for Everyday Living
Hebrew language is not gender neutral; there is no neuter in Hebrew, and every word has gender. In addition, the thinking of the Rabbis clearly reflects the male-dominated life and society of that era. With few exceptions, the study houses were the domain of men. Our translation of talmudic texts attempts to capture and retain the actual language and thought of the Rabbis. In our discussions, however, we have attempted, as far as possible, to reflect the contemporary sensitivity to gender-neutral language. We have tried to do the same whenever we speak about God.
Transliterating Hebrew language to English letters is, at best, an imprecise art. We have not followed scholarly conventions but, rather, have attempted to make the text clear and readable for the layperson. In doing so, we have tried to be as logical and consistent as possible in these choices.
In addition, as noted later in this volume, the traditional text of the Talmud has no punctuation or vowels. In order to make our translation comprehensible, we have added punctuation, according to our understanding of the text. At times, we have included italics for emphasis as well as quotation marks and parentheses, though they do not exist in the original Hebrew/Aramaic text, so that the English-language reader can understand the talmudic discussion.
We, the authors of this volume, understand all of these frustrations. As rabbis, we have each attempted to make the beauty and wisdom of the Jewish tradition more accessible to our congregants. We have sensed that many of the people we teach are like Akiva: They are bright and competent, but they often despair of being able to enter the world of traditional Jewish learning. This book is an attempt to give them—and you—the encouragement and tools that will unlock the doors of classical Jewish texts.
On a personal level, we can relate to these frustrations because, not so long ago, we were there ourselves. Our own upbringings were not too different from those of many American Jews. While we were children, the treasures of the Jewish learning were largely unknown to us. Our Jewish educations, though good, left many gaps. As teenagers, each of us was encouraged to view our Judaism more seriously; in college, we began in-depth study of Jewish texts. We came to see that, like Akiva, we could start learning later in life, even if we would never come close to his erudition and stature. We became the students of Rabbi Akiva, not only of what he taught (his specific teachings in the Talmud and Midrash) but also of how he learned. From his example, we saw that it is never too late to start studying and that the effort is well worth the struggle.
Our book, an introduction to the study of the Talmud and the application of its wisdom and values to contemporary life, is divided into three major sections. Part I gives a general introduction to the Talmud—its language, style of writing, mode of thinking and outlook on the world. Part II presents over ninety Talmud texts in a novel format: Each selection, chosen from the Babylonian Talmud, begins with a famous talmudic aphorism or maxim. Next, we present a short selection of Talmud text, within which the aphorism is embedded, in a new, modern translation. We have attempted to reproduce some of the beauty and utility of the standard printing of the Talmud, the “Vilna edition,” by employing marginal notes to identify people and terms that relate directly to the text but that are not indispensable to an understanding of the talmudic argument.
Nonetheless, it is not only the language of the Talmud that is enigmatic: The concepts, values and world-view are often difficult for us to understand. The “Context” section is a response to this challenge. Here, we bring in the background to the rabbinic discussions, placing them within historical perspective. We elucidate those idioms that may be foreign to us today and also attempt to explain the thought-process of the Rabbis.
Finally, in the “D’rash” section, we have given modern applications of the talmudic teachings. (A “D’rash” is an interpretive treatment of a text.) We believe strongly in a “conceptual approach” to the Talmud, that the Rabbis were dealing with much more than the details of Jewish ritual practice. Their discussions, though often couched in legalistic language, are about much more: There are principles, concepts and, in short, a whole world-view that underlie the legal positions of the Rabbis. By examining these texts, we are able to learn how the Rabbis perceived the world and find for ourselves an approach to our own lives and challenges. Part III contains glossary and indexes to make this book user-friendly as well as guidance for the reader who wishes to continue the study of Talmud on his or her own.
As rabbis, we often hear questions that begin with “What does Judaism say about …?” Sometimes there are simple, specific responses that most rabbinic authorities agree upon. More often, however, Jewish concerns and values may lead us to several possible Jewish answers. As we study the Talmud, we begin to realize that it does not contain set answers as much as astute questions. The reader will find that this work, like the Talmud, will not provide simple, quick responses to what are, in fact, complex issues. If one is interested primarily in “What is the tradition?” he or she may turn to a code of Jewish law like the Shulḥan Arukh or Mishneh Torah. One studies the Talmud in order to learn to ask the right questions and to search for the issues and values that are essential to a thinking, committed, yet struggling Jew. It is our hope and prayer that we have presented an introduction to the Talmud that teaches the reader not only some of what the Talmud says but, more importantly, how the Rabbis of the Talmud think (and we use the present tense deliberately). Our ultimate goal is for our readers to use the very same thinking process in confronting any and all of the critical issues we face in the contemporary world.
In fact, talmudic logic often leads to more questions and further soul-searching and introspection. The Rabbis force us to face serious issues and to ask how traditional values come to play in our lives. When a text gives us a moral lesson, even a moral imperative, there are a dozen new questions arising from that message: Can this lesson be applied to other, similar situations? Is this lesson still applicable today? What would the Rabbis of the Talmud say to our particular situation, which differs slightly from the case they presented? Is the conclusion reached and the lesson derived from the text the most relevant and meaningful message?
The Talmud is compared to a sea (Yam ha-Talmud in Hebrew, “the sea of Talmud”) for many reasons: The Talmud is as massive and as deep as a sea. Like the sea, much of the Talmud is hidden from the eye, beneath the surface. Ironically, the sea is both a source of life and of nourishment and a dangerous, forbidding place. One is cleansed, purified and nourished by it, yet one can also easily drown in its deep waters and harsh currents. We have entitled our work Swimming in the Sea of Talmud in the prayer that this text will help transform a perplexing, overwhelming experience into an enriching, life-enhancing one. It is our fervent hope that this book will encourage you to take the first steps into the deep waters of the Jewish tradition, enabling you, like Akiva, to navigate Yam ha-Talmud, the sea of Talmud.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Fourteenth Chapter / Avoiding Rash Judgment
TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable.
We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be, for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.
If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along with it.
Many, unawares, seek themselves in the things they do. They seem even to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to their wish and liking, but if otherwise than they desire, they are soon disturbed and saddened. Differences of feeling and opinion often divide friends and acquaintances, even those who are religious and devout.
An old habit is hard to break, and no one is willing to be led farther than he can see.
If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will hardly, and in any case slowly, become an enlightened man. God wants us to be completely subject to Him and, through ardent love, to rise above all human wisdom.
The Imitation Of Christ
The name comes from a root meaning “separated.” The movement apparently began some two centuries before Christ, and focused on resistance to hellenization of the Jews. The Pharisees were earnestly concerned with the Law and with keeping its minutest detail. But the Pharisees tended to emphasize the “oral law” of the Torah (Pentateuch). This oral law was composed of a vast number of interpretations and explanations of the Old Testament, which over the years continued to grow and grow. Tragically, the oral law increasingly focused on trifling details. For instance, the command not to work on the Sabbath was expanded and illustrated with hundreds of explanations and exceptions. According to the Pharisees’ oral law, a person was allowed to spit on rocky ground on the Sabbath. But he could not spit on soft or dusty earth; the spittle might move the dirt and that would constitute plowing, for it might make a furrow! Thus the oral law often robbed the written Law of its real message—a message of godly concern for others. Jesus once rebuked the Pharisees for their practice of “giving” all of their possessions to the temple (to be taken over after their deaths), and then telling poor parents or other relatives that they owned nothing with which to help them. God’s command to “honor your father and mother” was thus pushed aside in favor of this merely human tradition.
We can see in the New Testament many evidences of the Pharisees’ scrupulous concern for the minor details of legalism (Matt. 9:14; 23:16–19, 23; Mark 7:1–13; Luke 11:42). What we often miss is that the movement itself did have healthy roots.
The Pharisees had separated themselves from the rest of Israel because of a deep concern for righteousness. They yearned for the arrival of the kingdom in which God and His ways would be honored in holiness. Until that time, in search of personal holiness, the Pharisees joined communes of others with the same longing. These Pharisees were neither educated nor upper-class men. Instead, they were characteristically middle class, without formal education in the interpretation of the Law. In their closed communities they lived under the direction of a scribe (an expert in the Law), and they sought to separate themselves in order to find righteousness by keeping the whole Law. This high level of commitment won them the admiration of the common people, and gave this group, which in Jesus’ day numbered about 6,000, great influence.
Later Paul would write something about the Jews which was characteristic of the Pharisees: “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:2–3). In their attempt to find righteousness through legalism, they missed the Old Testament’s message of righteousness through faith (cf. Gen. 15:6). The Pharisees became so committed to their own notions of what God’s will must be that when the Son of God appeared to reveal the Law’s true meaning, they refused to listen. For the Pharisees to respond to Jesus would have meant admitting that the principles on which they had built their lives, and which gave them their distinctive identity, had been wrong. They simply could not and would not abandon themselves, even though it was God who called.
We can sympathize with the Pharisees. Some of us too have had an honest concern for the things of God without real understanding.
But then Jesus confronts us, and calls us to abandon all that we once held dear and true that we might rebuild our lives on Him, and learn His kingdom lifestyle. Too often we too hold back. Dare we surrender all we thought we had and were in order to become something new, just because the King commands and promises?
The Pharisees would not, and could not, make this surrender. They insisted on holding on to their own ideas rather than submitting to the King. Their rebellion against the lordship of Jesus led, not only to their own destruction, but it contributed to the suffering of the nation that they influenced.
The Teacher's Commentary
They have proved a comfort to me. --- Colossians 4:11.
The word comfort in our text is interesting. ( Sun-rise: Addresses from a city pulpit ) This is the only place where it occurs in the New Testament. The term is our English word paregoric. Now, paregoric, in Greek just as in English, is medicine.
Paregoric is a medicine that mitigates or alleviates pain. And what could be more delightful than the thought that there are men and women who are like that—they mitigate or alleviate our pain. Pain is one of the conditions of our being, something nobody escapes. All life is rich in pain—the pain of striving, the pain of being baffled, the pain of loneliness and incompleteness, the pain of being misunderstood.
People add to that pain, sometimes without meaning it. How often is the pain of life increased by those who mean well. But who has not numbered in his or her list of friends somebody whose Christlike ministry has been to alleviate pain? Such people were the apostle’s paregoric. Such are the paregoric of us all—often humble people, not in the least distinguished and not at all conspicuous for intellect—yet somehow in the wear and tear of life, amid its crosses and its sorrows, mitigating and alleviating pain.
You can be a comfort to another though you never know anything about it. Just as the finest influence we exercise is often that of which we are unconscious, so the greatest comfort that we bring is often the comfort we know nothing of—not our preaching nor our words of cheer, but the way in which we bear ourselves in life when the burden is heavy and the sky is black. Let men or women behave gallantly, and behave so because they trust in God, when life is difficult, when things go wrong, when health is failing, when the grave is opened, and though they may never hear a whisper of it, there are others who are thanking God for them. Every sorrow borne in simple faith is helping others bear their sorrows. Every burden victoriously carried is helping men and women to be braver. Every cross, anxiety, foreboding, shining with the serenity of trust, comes like light to those who sit in darkness. Dear friend, if you walk in light and love, you are a comfort when you never know it. And other people, writing their letters, will put your name in, to your intense surprise, and say, “You were a comfort to me.”
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Legends have occasionally crept into Christian history. Stories of some of the early martyrs, for example, handed down orally, have sometimes become embellished and romanticized. Such is the story of St. Valentine.
Two Valentines are actually described in the early church, but they likely refer to the same man — a priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. According to tradition, Valentine, having been imprisoned and beaten, was beheaded on February 14, about 270, along the Flaminian Way.
Sound romantic to you? How then did his martyrdom become a day for lovers and flowers, candy and little poems reading Roses are red … ? According to legends handed down, Valentine undercut an edict of Emperor Claudius. Wanting to more easily recruit soldiers for his army, Claudius had tried to weaken family ties by forbidding marriage. Valentine, ignoring the order, secretly married young couples in the underground church. These activities, when uncovered, led to his arrest.
Furthermore, Valentine had a romantic interest of his own. While in prison he became friends with the jailer’s daughter, and being deprived of books he amused himself by cutting shapes in paper and writing notes to her. His last note arrived on the morning of his death and ended with the words “Your Valentine.”
In 496 February 14 was named in his honor. By this time Christianity had long been legalized in the empire, and many pagan celebrations were being “christianized.” One of them, a Roman festival named Lupercalia, was a celebration of love and fertility in which young men put names of girls in a box, drew them out, and celebrated lovemaking. This holiday was replaced by St. Valentine’s Day with its more innocent customs of sending notes and sharing expressions of affection.
Does any real truth lie behind the stories of St. Valentine? Probably. He likely conducted underground weddings and sent notes to the jailer’s daughter. He might have even signed them “Your Valentine.” And he probably died for his faith in Christ.
But he almost certainly never wrote, “Roses are red, violets are blue. … ”
This is Solomon’s most beautiful song. Kiss me tenderly! Your love is better than wine, And you smell so sweet. All the young women adore you; The very mention of your name Is like spreading perfume.
--- Song of Songs 1:1-3.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 14
“And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.” --- 2 Kings 25:30.
Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king’s palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord’s people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day’s supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin’s case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.
Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.
Evening - February 14
“She was healed immediately.” --- Luke 8:47.
One of the most touching and teaching of the Saviour’s miracles is before us to-night. The woman was very ignorant. She imagined that virtue came out of Christ by a law of necessity, without his knowledge or direct will. Moreover, she was a stranger to the generosity of Jesus’ character, or she would not have gone behind to steal the cure which he was so ready to bestow. Misery should always place itself right in the face of mercy. Had she known the love of Jesus’ heart, she would have said, “I have but to put myself where he can see me—his omniscience will teach him my case, and his love at once will work my cure.” We admire her faith, but we marvel at her ignorance. After she had obtained the cure, she rejoiced with trembling: glad was she that the divine virtue had wrought a marvel in her; but she feared lest Christ should retract the blessing, and put a negative upon the grant of his grace: little did she comprehend the fulness of his love! We have not so clear a view of him as we could wish; we know not the heights and depths of his love; but we know of a surety that he is too good to withdraw from a trembling soul the gift which it has been able to obtain. But here is the marvel of it: little as was her knowledge, her faith, because it was real faith, saved her, and saved her at once. There was no tedious delay—faith’s miracle was instantaneous. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, salvation is our present and eternal possession. If in the list of the Lord’s children we are written as the feeblest of the family, yet, being heirs through faith, no power, human or devilish, can eject us from salvation. If we dare not lean our heads upon his bosom with John, yet if we can venture in the press behind him, and touch the hem of his garment, we are made whole. Courage, timid one! thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”
Morning and Evening
I LOVE THEE
An American Folk Hymn taken from Ingall’s Christian Harmony, 1805
O love the Lord, all ye saints.
Blest be Thy love, dear Lord, that taught us this sweet way,
Only to love Thee for Thyself, and for that love obey.
--- J. Austin
Secular songs of romantic expressions abound on this day. For the Christian, a hymn about love is also appropriate for Valentine’s Day, and no sweeter expression of one’s love for Christ can be found than these anonymous lines from an early American folk hymn.
For the early Christians, February 14 was a special day. Tradition tells us that a man by the name of Valentine was a Christian doctor who went about doing good deeds wherever he could, in imitation of his Master. Valentine became a good friend and helper to the Christians, who were being persecuted by the cruel powers of the Roman Empire. It is believed that the good doctor was eventually imprisoned because of his loyalty to his fellow “followers of the Way.” After he was beheaded on February 14, that day was observed each year in Valentine’s honor by the early Christians.
As time went on, however, Valentine and his deeds of kindness were forgotten. Because February was near the beginning of spring, with its feelings of romance, the day became a secular holiday celebrating romantic love. Tokens of love and affection were given to sweethearts and friends, starting the custom that we still practice today.
Dr. Valentine gave his life for his fellow Christians because of his deep love for Christ. We too can express our love for the Savior with these simply stated yet profound words … “but how much I love Thee my actions will show.”
I love Thee, my Savior, I love Thee, my Lord; I love Thee, my Savior, I love Thee, my God: I love Thee, I love Thee, and that Thou dost know; but how much I love Thee my actions will show.
O Jesus my Savior, with Thee I am blest, my life and salvation, my joy and my rest: Thy name be my theme and Thy love be my song; Thy grace shall inspire both my heart and my tongue.
Oh who’s like my Savior? He’s heaven’s bright king; He smiles and He loves me and helps me to sing: I’ll praise Him, I’ll praise Him with notes loud and clear; while rivers of pleasure my spirit shall cheer.
For Today: Deuteronomy 6:5; 30:20; Luke 10:27; 1 John 4:19.
On this special day dedicated to expressions of love, we can make it truly a “holy day” with our love for Christ and by sharing His love and concern for others. Sing this musical testimony ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
William Lane Craig