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Genesis 48     Luke 1:39-80     Job 14     1 Corinthians 2

Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh

Genesis 48:1 After this, Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2 And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. 3 And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’ 5 And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. 6 And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance. 7 As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”

8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” 12 Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). 15 And he blessed Joseph and said,

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
16  the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” 20 So he blessed them that day, saying,

“By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying,
‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’ ”

Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. 22 Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”

Mary Visits Elizabeth

Luke 1:39-80 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48  for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49  for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50  And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51  He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52  he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53  he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54  He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55  as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68  “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69  and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70  as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71  that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72  to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73  the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74  that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75  in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76  And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77  to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78  because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79  to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Job Continues: Death Comes Soon to All

Job 14:1 “Man who is born of a woman
is few of days and full of trouble.
2  He comes out like a flower and withers;
he flees like a shadow and continues not.
3  And do you open your eyes on such a one
and bring me into judgment with you?
4  Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
There is not one.
5  Since his days are determined,
and the number of his months is with you,
and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,
6  look away from him and leave him alone,
that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day.

7  “For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
8  Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
9  yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put out branches like a young plant.
10  But a man dies and is laid low;
man breathes his last, and where is he?
11  As waters fail from a lake
and a river wastes away and dries up,
12  so a man lies down and rises not again;
till the heavens are no more he will not awake
or be roused out of his sleep.
13  Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14  If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my service I would wait,
till my renewal should come.
15  You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands.
16  For then you would number my steps;
you would not keep watch over my sin;
17  my transgression would be sealed up in a bag,
and you would cover over my iniquity.

18  “But the mountain falls and crumbles away,
and the rock is removed from its place;
19  the waters wear away the stones;
the torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
so you destroy the hope of man.
20  You prevail forever against him, and he passes;
you change his countenance, and send him away.
21  His sons come to honor, and he does not know it;
they are brought low, and he perceives it not.
22  He feels only the pain of his own body,
and he mourns only for himself.”

Proclaiming Christ Crucified

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The Reformation Study Bible

What I'm Reading

The Stuff We All Agree on When It Comes to Origins

By J. Warner Wallace 9/19/2016

     I get the chance to speak around the country and talk about how we, as Christians, assemble circumstantial evidence related to the reliability of the Gospels and the existence of God. As a result, I meet all kinds of Christians who hold a variety of views related to the Genesis creation account. Many are “Literal Day” creationists, while others lean toward some version of “Gap Theory”, “Day-Age Creation Theory”, “Creation Revelation Theory”, “Progressive Creation Theory”, “Genesis Creation Day Theory” or “Genesis Literary Theory” Creationism. Some believe that the universe is very young, others that it is very old. Some believe that God created everything in the form we see it in today (as the result of some form of “instantaneous” creation); others that God shaped His creation through some process of progressive interaction. When you ask these folks about the Bible, all of them will tell you that they believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God. All will agree that the Bible is the final authority. All will tell you that they believe what the Bible teaches. Christians simply disagree on how to interpret the first book of Moses.

     I’m sensitive to the variety of views held by Christians on this matter. I see the reasonable nature of every view; I recognize that each approach to Genesis chapter one has its own virtues and its own liabilities. I’m not discouraged by this reality, but encouraged that there are so many reasonable resolutions. I am discouraged, however, when we allow our fallen human nature to get the best of us. Rather than finding areas of agreement, most of us choose to divide over areas of divergence. Regardless of your position related to the Genesis account, I’d like to point out the areas where all of us, regardless of creation theory, agree. As Christians, we all affirm the following premises:

     God originated everything (all space, time and matter) supernaturally

     God created the material universe (and our world) in incremental steps over a period of time (six literal days or six “ages”)

     God was actively involved in the creation of all life (life is not the result of an unguided natural process)

Click here to go to source

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

Can Christians claim to have the One, True God?

By Ryan Pauly 8/2/2016

     You don’t have to spend very much time interacting with atheists on the internet before you hear this objection: “There are almost 5,000 gods being worshiped by humans, but don’t worry… only yours is right.” The picture above was sent to me on Twitter last week in response to my blog about God’s hiddenness. There are other very popular forms of this argument. Richard Dawkins claims that Christians are atheists when it comes to Zeus, Thor, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and many others. Dawkins just goes one god further than the Christian. So the claim is either than I’m an atheist when it comes to 4,999 gods or that I’m dumb for claiming to have truth when I reject so many other options.

     The reason this argument is so popular on the internet is that it is easy. It fits into a 140 characters for Twitter and can easily be turned into a meme. Here are examples I found from a very quick search on Twitter.

     “There have been nearly 3000 Gods so far but only yours actually exists. The others are silly made up nonsense. But not yours. Yours is real.”

     “there are thousands of religions practices. thousands of gods worshiped. but don’t worry. yours is the only right one.”

     “30,000 religions and 5000 versions of Christianity and only ‘yours’ is the right one-you are a joke.”

Click here to go to source

     When Ryan isn’t teaching or studying, he enjoys speaking at churches, youth groups, schools, and conferences. His writing has been featured at crossexamined.org and thepoachedegg.net, and he is also a contributor for the updated version of the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Trade Paper which will be released in 2017. Along with his writing, you can tune in to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show hosted by Ryan every Wednesday from 4:30-5 pm on Active Reliance Radio.

Scriptural Teaching On God and Time

By William Lane Craig 2/10/2017

     1. Is there any Scriptural reason to suppose that God was timeless before creation (or when creation did not exist)? Yes, indeed! Johannes Schmidt argues for a biblical doctrine of divine timelessness on the basis of creation texts like Genesis 1.1 and Proverbs 8.22-23.[1]

     Genesis 1.1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” According to James Barr, this absolute beginning, taken in conjunction with the expression “And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (v. 5), indicating the first day, may very well be intended to teach that the beginning was not simply the beginning of the physical universe, but the beginning of time itself and that, consequently, God may be thought of as timeless.[2]

     Certain New Testament authors may be taken to construe Genesis 1.1 as referring to the beginning of time. The most striking New Testament reflection on Genesis 1.1 is, of course, John 1.1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Here the uncreated Word (logos), the source of all created things, was already with God and was God at the moment of creation. It is not hard to interpret this passage in terms of the Word’s timeless unity with God--nor would it be anachronistic to do so, given the first century Jewish philosopher Philo’s doctrine of the divine Logos (Word) and Philo’s holding that time begins with creation.[3]

     As for Proverbs 8.22-23, this passage is certainly capable of being read in terms of a beginning of time. Here Wisdom, personified as a woman, speaks:

Click here to go to source

     William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University. He and his wife Jan have two grown children.

     At the age of sixteen as a junior in high school, he first heard the message of the Christian gospel and yielded his life to Christ. Dr. Craig pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984). From 1980-86 he taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity, during which time he and Jan started their family. In 1987 they moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Dr. Craig pursued research at the University of Louvain until assuming his position at Talbot in 1994.

     He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument; Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus; Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom; Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of Philosophy, New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science. In 2016 Dr. Craig was named by The Best Schools as one of the fifty most influential living philosophers. [My Google Profile+]

William Lane Craig Books:

No Bibles in Iowa: The Curious Case of Cedar Rapids

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra 2/9/2017

     Every year, the American Bible Society and Barna Group rank 100 of the nation’s most Bible-minded cities—that is, how many people read the Bible at least once a week and who strongly believe the Bible is accurate. And every year, cities from the Bible Belt—Chattanooga or Birmingham or Knoxville—come in first, while cities from the coasts—San Francisco or Boston or Albany—come in last.

     It’s all fairly predictable, except for one city: Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

     Cedar Rapids, the second-largest city in Iowa, has ranked in the bottom five for the past four years, and its percentage of Bible readers and believers keeps going down—from 17 percent in 2014 to 15 percent in 2015 to 13 percent in 2016. Barna measures by media market, so Cedar Rapids’s numbers include nearby Waterloo, Dubuque, and Iowa City.

     “You’ve got to be kidding me.” That was pastor John Janke’s reaction when his Cedar Rapids church included the stats when it called him two years ago. “I was surprised.”

     Janke took the call to Northbrook Baptist Church and has spent the last few years trying to figure out why the Cedar Rapids area is so apathetic about Scripture—and what he can do to change it.

Click here to go to source

     Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra is senior writer for The Gospel Coalition and contributing editor at Christianity Today. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 20

Trust in the Name of the LORD Our God
20 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.

9 O LORD, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.

ESV Study Bible

How Do You Obey God When He Asks You To Do the Impossible?

By Michael J. Kruger 2/13/2017

     In all of the many Star Wars films (and there are too many now), one of my favorite segments is where Yoda is training the young Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.

     After Luke fails to lift his X-wing fighter out of the swamp by using the Force, he complains to Yoda, “You want the impossible.” Then he walks off into the woods to pout.

     Of course, Yoda then proceeds to lift the X-wing fighter out of the swamp himself and sets it on dry land. Luke stares in amazement, “I don’t believe it.”

     Yoda’s reply is classic, “That is why you fail.”

     While the quasi-Gnostic, New Age worldview of the Star Wars saga makes me hesitant to use it as an example, I have to say that a good lesson can be learned in this instance.

Click here to go to source

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Why is their Something Rather than Nothing?

By Stuartgrayuk 2/14/2017

     I found this discussion on prime time US TV to be pretty fascinating! I’m always pleased to see when discussion about God comes out of the private places and into the public square where it belongs.

     Ricky’s a sharp and witty comedian…and I do enjoy his irreverent humor. But I honestly find his atheism troubling. Not because I find his arguments compelling…its just the way he immediately seems closed to the idea of God.

     I thought Colbert asked a great question out of the gate on his show…and he let Ricky off very lightly by allowing him to sidestep his good question.

     Why is there something instead of nothing? | Why does the universe exist at all? Why are we here?

     Ricky’s response was, “That makes no sense at all…surely the bigger question is not why, but how?”

Click here to go to source

     stuartgrayuk. I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray. 

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 15.


The principal parts of this chapter are--I. Of the Prophetical Office of Christ, its dignity and use, sec. 1, 2. II. The nature of the Kingly power of Christ, and the advantage we derive from it, sec. 3-5. III. Of the Priesthood of Christ, and the efficacy of it, sec. 6.


1. Among heretics and false Christians, Christ is found in name only; but by those who are truly and effectually called of God, he is acknowledged as a Prophet, King, and Priest. In regard to the Prophetical Office, the Redeemer of the Church is the same from whom believers under the Law hoped for the full light of understanding.

2. The unction of Christ, though it has respect chiefly to the Kingly Office, refers also to the Prophetical and Priestly Offices. The dignity, necessity, and use of this unction.

3. From the spirituality of Christ's kingdom its eternity is inferred. This twofold, referring both to the whole body of the Church, and to its individual members.

4. Benefits from the spiritual kingdom of Christ. 1. It raises us to eternal life. 2. It enriches us with all things necessary to salvation. 3. It makes us invincible by spiritual foes. 4. It animates us to patient endurance. 5. It inspires confidence and triumph. 6. It supplies fortitude and love.

5. The unction of our Redeemer heavenly. Symbol of this unction. A passage in the apostle reconciled with others previously quoted, to prove the eternal kingdom of Christ.

6. What necessary to obtain the benefit of Christ's Priesthood. We must set out with the death of Christ. From it follows, 1. His intercession for us. 2. Confidence in prayer. 3. Peace of conscience. 4. Through Christ, Christians themselves become priests. Grievous sin of the Papists in pretending to sacrifice Christ.

1. Though heretics pretend the name of Christ, truly does Augustine affirm (Enchir. ad Laurent. cap. 5), that the foundation is not common to them with the godly, but belongs exclusively to the Church: for if those things which pertain to Christ be diligently considered, it will be found that Christ is with them in name only, not in reality. Thus in the present day, though the Papists have the words, Son of God, Redeemer of the world, sounding in their mouths, yet, because contented with an empty name, they deprive him of his virtue and dignity; what Paul says of "not holding the head," is truly applicable to them (Col. 2:19). Therefore, that faith may find in Christ a solid ground of salvation, and so rest in him, we must set out with this principle, that the office which he received from the Father consists of three parts. For he was appointed both Prophet, King, and Priest; though little were gained by holding the names unaccompanied by a knowledge of the end and use. These too are spoken of in the Papacy, but frigidly, and with no great benefit, the full meaning comprehended under each title not being understood. We formerly observed, that though God, by supplying an uninterrupted succession of prophets, never left his people destitute of useful doctrine, such as might suffice for salvation; yet the minds of believers were always impressed with the conviction that the full light of understanding was to be expected only on the advent of the Messiah. This expectation, accordingly, had reached even the Samaritans, to whom the true religion had never been made known. This is plain from the expression of the woman, "I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things," (John 4:25). Nor was this a mere random presumption which had entered the minds of the Jews. They believed what sure oracles had taught them. One of the most remarkable passages is that of Isaiah, "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people," (Is. 55:4); that is, in the same way in which he had previously in another place styled him "Wonderful, Counsellor," (Is. 9:6). [253] For this reason, the apostle commending the perfection of gospel doctrine, first says that "God, at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the prophets," and then adds, that he "has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son," (Heb. 1:1, 2). But as the common office of the prophets was to hold the Church in suspense, and at the same time support it until the advent of the Mediator; we read, that the faithful, during the dispersion, complained that they were deprived of that ordinary privilege. "We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet, neither is there among us any that knoweth how long," (Ps. 74:9). But when Christ was now not far distant, a period was assigned to Daniel "to seal up the vision and prophecy," (Daniel 9:24), not only that the authority of the prediction there spoken of might be established, but that believers might, for a time, patiently submit to the want of the prophets, the fulfilment and completion of all the prophecies being at hand.

2. Moreover, it is to be observed, that the name Christ refers to those three offices: for we know that under the law, prophets as well as priests and kings were anointed with holy oil. Whence, also, the celebrated name of Messiah was given to the promised Mediator. But although I admit (as, indeed, I have elsewhere shown) that he was so called from a view to the nature of the kingly office, still the prophetical and sacerdotal unctions have their proper place, and must not be overlooked. The former is expressly mentioned by Isaiah in these words: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," (Is. 60:1, 2). We see that he was anointed by the Spirit to be a herald and witness of his Father's grace, and not in the usual way; for he is distinguished from other teachers who had a similar office. And here, again, it is to be observed, that the unction which he received, in order to perform the office of teacher, was not for himself, but for his whole body, that a corresponding efficacy of the Spirit might always accompany the preaching of the Gospel. This, however, remains certain, that by the perfection of doctrine which he brought, an end was put to all the prophecies, so that those who, not contented with the Gospel, annex somewhat extraneous to it, derogate from its authority. The voice which thundered from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, hear him" gave him a special privilege above all other teachers. Then from him, as head, this unction is diffused through the members, as Joel has foretold, "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions," (Joel 2:28). Paul's expressions, that he was "made unto us wisdom," (1 Cor. 1:30), and elsewhere, that in him "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," (Col. 2:3), have a somewhat different meaning, namely, that out of him there is nothing worth knowing, and that those who, by faith, apprehend his true character, possess the boundless immensity of heavenly blessings. For which reason, he elsewhere says, "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified," (1 Cor. 2:2). And most justly: for it is unlawful to go beyond the simplicity of the Gospel. The purpose of this prophetical dignity in Christ is to teach us, that in the doctrine which he delivered is substantially included a wisdom which is perfect in all its parts.

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

Genesis 48; Luke 1:39-80; Job 14; 1 Corinthians 2

By Don Carson 2/15/2018

     SOMETIMES BAD THEOLOGY BREEDS reactionary bad theology. Because Roman Catholicism has gradually added more titles and myths to Mary, Protestants have sometimes reacted by remaining silent about her astonishing character. Neither approach fares very well when tested by this passage (Luke 1:39-80) and a few others we shall have occasion to think about.

     Catholics have added titles such as “Mother of God” and “Queen of Heaven” to Mary, neither of which is found in the Bible. The view that Mary was immaculately conceived (and was therefore born sinless), and that she, like Enoch, was transported to heaven bodily, thereby escaping death, are equally unsupported. The latter became a dogma for Roman Catholics as recently as 1950. According to news reports, the current Pope is weighing whether he should establish, as something that must be confessed, another title conservative Catholics apply to Mary, viz. “Co-Redemptrix.”

     But Luke’s witness points in another direction. In Mary’s song (1:46-55), traditionally called the Magnificat (from the Latin word for magnifies: “My soul magnifies {NIV – glorifies} the Lord”), Jesus’ mother says that her spirit rejoices in “God my Savior” – which certainly sounds as if she thought of herself as needing a Savior, which would be odd for one immaculately conceived. Indeed, a rapid scan of the Gospels discloses that during Jesus’ ministry, Mary had no special access to her famous son, sometimes failed to understand the nature of his mission (e.g., 2:48-50), and never helped someone obtain some favor from Jesus that he or she could not otherwise obtain. Indeed, the unanimous testimony of Scripture is that people should come to Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), Jesus says – not, “Come to my mother.” He alone is the true mediator between God and human beings.

     Nevertheless, Mary is wholly admirable, a model of many virtues (as is also, e.g., Joseph in Gen. 37 – 50). She accepts her astonishing role with submissiveness and equanimity, considering what it must have initially done to her reputation (1:34-38). Elizabeth twice calls her “blessed” (1:42, 45), i.e., approved by God; the supernatural recognition of the superiority of Mary’s Son over Elizabeth’s son (1:41-45) was doubtless one of the things that Mary pondered in her heart (2:19). But none of this goes to Mary’s head: she herself recognizes that her “blessedness” is not based on intrinsic superiority, but on God’s (the “Mighty One’s”) mindfulness of her “humble state” and his choice to do “great things” for her (1:48-49). Her focus in the Magnificat, as ours must be, is on the faithfulness of God in bringing about the deliverance so long promised (1:50-55).

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

Don Carson Books:

  • Anxiety
  • Humility
  • Student of the Scriptures

#1 Alistair Begg   Dallas Theological Seminary


#2 Alistair Begg   Dallas Theological Seminary


#3 Chuck Swindoll   Dallas Theological Seminary


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The importance of self-discipline
     2/15/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Learn to sense what is vital…and of real value.’

(Php 1:10) so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, ESV

     To achieve greater self-discipline, you should: 1) Start your day by doing the hard things first. And when you get sidetracked, make yourself go back and complete them. For example, make your bed, pick up your clothes, and wash the dishes; don’t make extra work for others. And don’t start several projects at once; the feeling of ‘getting something done’ will help you grow in self-respect and self-discipline. 2) Make a commitment to be punctual. Tardiness is a hard habit to break. To conquer it you must be willing to call it what it often is – inconsiderate, selfish behaviour. 3) Plan ahead. Everything takes longer than you think, so don’t wait until the last minute and then rush around like a chicken with its head cut off. ‘Living under the gun’ can give you ulcers, whereas allowing extra time is good for your health and peace of mind. 4) Accept correction from those who care about you, without sulking or retaliating. Until you’re willing to take correction, you’ll never be qualified to give it. The Bible says, ‘Wisdom is found in those who take advice’ (Proverbs 13:10 NIV 2011 Edition), so if you’re wise you’ll welcome feedback and seek counsel. Gandhi once said, ‘There’s always a limit to self-indulgence, but none to self-restraint.’ Ask God to help you control your unruly thoughts, feelings, desires, and behaviours. Identify the unmanageable areas in your life, stop making excuses, face the truth even if it hurts, refuse to feel sorry for yourself, and set a few attainable goals. In other words: ‘Learn to sense what is vital…and of real value.’

Leviticus 6-7
Matthew 25:1-30

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Today, February 15th, in the year 1898, the U.S.S. Maine blew up in Havana Harbor. President William McKinley approved the Joint Resolution of Congress, which stated: “The abhorrent conditions which have existed for more than three years in the island of Cuba… have been a disgrace to Christian civilization, culminating, as they have, in the destruction of a United States battle ship with 266 of its officers and crew, while on a friendly visit in the harbor of Havana… Therefore, Resolved by… Congress assembled… That the people of the island of Cuba are and of a right ought to be free.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     But God inflames the soul with a burning craving for absolute purity. One burns for complete innocence and holiness of personal life. No man can look on God and live, live in his own faults, live in the shadow of the least self-deceit, live in harm toward His least creatures, whether man or bird or beast or creeping thing. The blinding purity of God in Christ, how captivating, how alluring, how compelling it is! The pure in heart shall see God? More, they who see God shall cry out to become pure in heart, even as He is pure, with all the energy of their souls.

     This has been an astonishing and unexpected element for me. In this day of concern for social righteousness it sounds like a throwback to medieval ideals of saintliness and soul-combing. Our religious heroes of these social gospel days sit before a battery of telephones, with full office equipment, with telegraph lines to Washington and London and Tokyo and Berlin. And this is needed, desperately needed. Yet there is in the experience of God this insistent, imperative, glorious yearning-the craving for complete spotlessness of the inner self before Him.

     No, average goodness will do, no measuring of our lives by our fellows, but only a relentless, inexorable divine standard. No relatives suffice; only absolutes satisfy the soul, committed to holy obedience. Absolute honesty, absolute gentleness, absolute self-control, unwearied patience and thoughtfulness in the midst of the raveling friction of home and office and school and shop. It is said that the ermine can be trapped by surrounding it with a circle of filth. It will die before it will sully its snowy coat. Have we been led astray by our fears, by the fear of saccharine sweetness and light? By the dangers of fanatical scrupulousness and self-inspection and halo-hunting? By the ideal of a back-slapping recommendation of religion by showing we were good fellows after all? By the fear of quietism and of that monastic retreat from the world of men's needs which we associate with medieval passion for holiness of life? Nay, tread not so far from the chasm that you fall into the ditch on the other side. Boldly must we risk the dangers which lie along the margins of excess, if we would live the life of the second half. For the life of obedience is a holy life, a separated life, a renounced life, cut off from worldly compromises, distinct, heaven-dedicated in the midst of men, stainless as the snows upon the mountain tops.

     He who walks in obedience, following God the second half, living the life of inner prayer of submission and exultation, on him God's holiness takes hold as a mastering passion of life. Yet ever he cries out in abysmal sincerity, "I am the blackest of all the sinners of the earth. I am a man of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts." For humility and holiness are twins in the astonishing birth of obedience in the heart of men. So God draws unworthy us, in loving tenderness, up into fellowship with His glorious self.

A Testament of Devotion

Journal of John Woolman 2/15
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     We passed on to Manoquacy, Fairfax, Hopewell, and Shanando, and had meetings, some of which were comfortable and edifying. From Shanando, we set off in the afternoon for the settlements of Friends in Virginia; the first night we, with our guide, lodged in the woods, our horses feeding near us; but he being poorly provided with a horse, and we young, and having good horses, were free the next day to part with him. In two days after we reached our friend John Cheagle's, in Virginia. We took the meetings in our way through Virginia; were in some degree baptized into a feeling sense of the conditions of the people, and our exercise in general was more painful in these old settlements than it had been amongst the back inhabitants; yet through the goodness of our Heavenly Father the well of living waters was at times opened to our encouragement, and the refreshment of the sincere-hearted. We went on to Perquimans, in North Carolina; had several large meetings, and found some openness in those parts, and a hopeful appearance amongst the young people. Afterwards we turned again to Virginia, and attended most of the meetings which we had not been at before, laboring amongst Friends in the love of Jesus Christ, as ability was given; thence went to the mountains, up James River to a new settlement, and had several meetings amongst the people, some of whom had lately joined in membership with our Society. In our journeying to and fro, we found some honest-hearted Friends, who appeared to be concerned for the cause of truth among a backsliding people.

     From Virginia, we crossed over the river Potomac, at Hoe's Ferry, and made a general visit to the meetings of Friends on the western shore of Maryland, and were at their Quarterly Meeting. We had some hard labor amongst them, endeavoring to discharge our duty honestly as way opened, in the love of truth. Thence, taking sundry meetings in our way, we passed towards home, which, through the favor of Divine Providence, we reached the 16th of sixth month, 1746; and I may say, that through the assistance of the Holy Spirit, which mortifies selfish desires, my companion and I travelled in harmony, and parted in the nearness of true brotherly love.

     Two things were remarkable to me in this journey: first, in regard to my entertainment. When I ate, drank, and lodged free-cost with people who lived in ease on the hard labor of their slaves I felt uneasy; and as my mind was inward to the Lord, I found this uneasiness return upon me, at times, through the whole visit. Where the masters bore a good share of the burden, and lived frugally, so that their servants were well provided for, and their labor moderate, I felt more easy; but where they lived in a costly way, and laid heavy burdens on their slaves, my exercise was often great, and I frequently had conversation with them in private concerning it. Secondly, this trade of importing slaves from their native country being much encouraged amongst them, and the white people and their children so generally living without much labor, was frequently the subject of my serious thoughts. I saw in these southern provinces so many vices and corruptions, increased by this trade and this way of life, that it appeared to me as a dark gloominess hanging over the land; and though now many willingly run into it, yet in future the consequence will be grievous to posterity. I express it as it hath appeared to me, not once, nor twice, but as a matter fixed on my mind.

John Woolman's Journal

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Hold fast to the Bible
as the sheet anchor of your liberties.
--- Ulysses S. Grant

An unpeaceful mind cannot operate normally. Hence the Apostle teaches us to "have no anxiety about anything" (Phil. 4:6). Deliver all anxious thoughts to God as soon as they arise. Let the peace of God maintain your heart and mind (v. 7).
--- Watchman Nee

"No vital Christianity is possible unless at least three aspects of it are developed," wrote Elton Trueblood. "These three are the inner life of devotion, the outer life of service, and the intellectual life of rationality [italics added]."
--- Gordon MacDonald

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 10:8-9
     by D.H. Stern

8     Wise-hearted people take orders,
but a babbling fool will have trouble.

9     He who walks purely walks securely,
but he who walks in crooked ways will be found out.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Am I my brother’s keeper?

     None of us liveth to himself. --- Romans 14:7.

     Has it ever dawned on you that you are responsible for other souls spiritually before God? For instance, if I allow any private deflection from God in my life, everyone about me suffers. We “sit together in heavenly places.” “Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.” When once you allow physical selfishness, mental slovenliness, moral obtuseness, spiritual density, everyone belonging to your crowd will suffer. ‘But,’ you say, ‘who is sufficient for these things, if you erect a standard like that?’ Our sufficiency is of God, and of Him alone.

     “Ye shall be My witnesses.” How many of us are willing to spend every ounce of nervous energy, of mental, moral and spiritual energy we have for Jesus Christ? That is the meaning of a witness in God’s sense of the word. It takes time, be patient with yourself. God has left us on the earth—what for? To be saved and sanctified? No, to be at it for Him. Am I willing to be broken bread and poured out wine for Him? To be spoilt for this age, for this life, to be spoilt from every standpoint but one—saving as I can disciple men and women to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life as a worker is the way I say ‘thank you’ to God for His unspeakable salvation. Remember it is quite possible for anyone of us to be flung out as reprobate silver—“… lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


  Dear parents,
I forgive you my life,
Begotten in a drab town,
The intention was good;
Passing the street now,
I see still the remains of sunlight.

It was not the bone buckled;
You gave me enough food
To renew myself.
It was the mind's weight
Kept me bent, as I grew tall.

It was not your fault.
What should have gone on,
Arrow aimed from a tried bow
At a tried target, has turned back,
Wounding itself
With questions you had not asked.

The Echoes Return Slow

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Lessons for Everyday Living

     WHAT IS THE TALMUD? / The Bible and the Talmud

     The Bible and the Talmud are the two central works of the Jewish people. While the Bible is the most popular and well-known Jewish text, the Talmud remains a closed book and a mystery to the majority of Jews, not to mention non-Jews. Yet ironically, Judaism as we know it today is derived more from the Talmud than from the Bible.

     Jews often use the term B.C.E., before the common era, in place of B.C., before Christ. Similarly, Jews use C.E., common era, rather than A.D., which stands for Anno Domini, “the year of our Lord.”

     The Bible is a collection of twenty-four books that begin with the creation of the world and take the reader through fifth century B.C.E. Jewish history. English Bibles divide some of these books into their parts, like I Kings and II Kings, and thus list thirty-nine separate biblical books. The Bible is often printed in one volume of about 1,500 pages; there are literally dozens of versions in various translations. Because Christians view the Hebrew Bible (or the “Old Testament,” as they call it) as Holy Scripture, the book has become a pillar of western civilization, and thus is familiar to Jews and non-Jews alike.

     The Talmud (Hebrew for “study”) is the record of rabbinic teachings that spans a period of more than six hundred years, beginning in the first century C.E. and continuing through the sixth and seventh centuries C.E. The Talmud is actually made up of two separate works: The Mishnah, primarily a compilation of Jewish laws, written in Hebrew and edited around the year 200 C.E. in Israel; and the Gemara, the rabbinic commentaries and discussions on the Mishnah, written in Hebrew and Aramaic, emanating from both Babylonia and Israel over the next three hundred to five hundred years. In actuality, there are two Talmuds—the Yerushalmi (the “Jerusalem” Talmud, or to be more geographically precise, the Talmud of the Land of Israel), and the Bavli (the “Babylonian” Talmud). The Bavli was edited after the Yerushalmi and is much more widely known, studied, and quoted. The Babylonian Talmud is generally printed in twenty folio (or oversize) volumes. It contains over 5,400 pages, and is composed of more than 2,500,000 words. There are many people who study a page of Talmud every day; it takes them over seven years to complete the entire work.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Fifteenth Chapter / Works Done In Charity Rash Judgment

     NEVER do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of any man. For one who is in need, however, a good work may at times be purposely left undone or changed for a better one. This is not the omission of a good deed but rather its improvement.

     Without charity external work is of no value, but anything done in charity, be it ever so small and trivial, is entirely fruitful inasmuch as God weighs the love with which a man acts rather than the deed itself.

     He does much who loves much. He does much who does a thing well. He does well who serves the common good rather than his own interests.

     Now, that which seems to be charity is oftentimes really sensuality, for man’s own inclination, his own will, his hope of reward, and his self-interest, are motives seldom absent. On the contrary, he who has true and perfect charity seeks self in nothing, but searches all things for the glory of God. Moreover, he envies no man, because he desires no personal pleasure nor does he wish to rejoice in himself; rather he desires the greater glory of God above all things. He ascribes to man nothing that is good but attributes it wholly to God from Whom all things proceed as from a fountain, and in Whom all the blessed shall rest as their last end and fruition.

     If man had but a spark of true charity he would surely sense that all the things of earth are full of vanity!

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     February 15

     When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!”
--- Luke 15:17.

     The prodigal was an exile in a far country. ( Sun-rise: Addresses from a city pulpit ) The memory of his home filled his heart. It was not terror that struck the prodigal deep. It was home for which his poor soul was crying. He saw the farm among the hills, and the weary oxen coming home at eventide and the happy circle gathered round the fire and his father crying to heaven for the wanderer. [The prodigal’s] sorrow was remembering happier things. He came to himself, and he was homesick.

     Wickedness is not the homeland of the soul, and the unrest and the dissatisfaction of the wicked is the craving of the heart for home. We were not fashioned to be at home in sin. We bear the image of God, and God is goodness. The native air of this mysterious heart is the love and purity and joy of heaven. So when someone deliberately sins and all the time hungers for better things, it is not the hunger for an impossible ideal; it is the hunger of the soul for home. You can satisfy that hunger instantly. Out of the furthest country you may come home. God waits. Christ says, “Return this very hour.”

     We were made in goodness, and we were made for goodness, and we will always be dissatisfied, always homesick, if we are trying to live in any other land. [Thus,] people cover evil with a veil of goodness, longing to give a homelike touch to their surroundings. When people take the names of goodness and label their vices and their sins with them, when we use a kindly term for some habit or frailty that is most unkindly, it is the soul telling where it was born, confessing unconsciously that it is homesick and trying to give a homelike touch to the far country.

     We can understand the loneliness of sin when we remember this homesickness of the soul. The individual who is homesick is always lonely. Sin is a power that makes for loneliness. Slowly but surely, if you live in sin, you drift into spiritual isolation. And the sins we call social sins, the sins that begin in fellowship and company, are the very sins that leave you at last utterly alone. That loneliness is homesickness of the soul. It is the heart craving for home again. If you are drifting away on a great sea of self-indulgence, God grant that, drawn by the love of Christ, you may come home.
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day   February 15
     A Prison Bundle

     Adoniram Judson, who wanted to become America’s first foreign missionary, fell in love with the most beautiful girl in Bradford, Massachusetts. Ann Hasseltine was the daughter of a Congregational deacon, and Judson’s letter asking for her hand is among the most emboldened in church history:

     I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter, whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and suffering of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India, to every kind of want and distress, to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death.

     John Hasseltine did consent, and the couple was married in the Hasseltine home on February 5, 1812. The next day they were commissioned as missionaries and soon left American shores. Their new home, Rangoon, Burma, was a filthy, crowded city. The atmosphere was oppressive, the work discouraging. By 1820, there were ten Burmese converts, but at a cost. One Judson child had been stillborn; another died of tropical fever.

     When war broke out between Burma and England, Adoniram was accused of being a spy and placed in a death prison. His dark, dank cell was filled with vermin, and Adoniram was shackled at the ankles. Every evening he was hanged upside down with only his head and shoulders resting on the ground.

     Ann, pregnant again, visited one government official after another, urging her husband’s release. On February 15, 1825, eight months after Adoniram’s arrest, she showed up at his prison carrying a small bundle, their newborn daughter Maria. No artist can capture the poignancy of that brief union with its intense emotions of sorrow and joy, fear and faith.

     Torturous months followed. Adoniram was finally released, but both Ann and Maria soon died of fever. Adoniram suffered a mental breakdown that nearly took both his ministry and his life.

     But God wasn’t finished with him. America’s first foreign missionary still had a world to change.

     Unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples. If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.
--- Matthew 10:38-39.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 15

     “To him be glory both now and forever.” --- 2 Peter 3:18.

     Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. Eternity! thine unnumbered years shall speed their everlasting course, but forever and for ever, “to him be glory.” Is he not a “Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek”? “To him be glory.” Is he not king for ever?—King of kings and Lord of lords, the everlasting Father? “To him be glory for ever.” Never shall his praises cease. That which was bought with blood deserves to last while immortality endures. The glory of the cross must never be eclipsed; the lustre of the grave and of the resurrection must never be dimmed. O Jesus! thou shalt be praised for ever. Long as immortal spirits live—long as the Father’s throne endures—for ever, for ever, unto thee shall be glory. Believer, you are anticipating the time when you shall join the saints above in ascribing all glory to Jesus; but are you glorifying him now? The apostle’s words are, “To him be glory both now and for ever.” Will you not this day make it your prayer? “Lord, help me to glorify thee; I am poor, help me to glorify thee by contentment; I am sick, help me to give thee honour by patience; I have talents, help me to extol thee by spending them for thee; I have time, Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee; I have a heart to feel, Lord, let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for thee; I have a head to think, Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something, Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much, but as the widow put in her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have.”

          Evening - February 15

     “Whereby they have made thee glad.” --- Psalm 45:8.

     And who are thus privileged to make the Saviour glad? His church—his people. But is it possible? He makes us glad, but how can we make him glad? By our love. Ah! we think it so cold, so faint; and so, indeed, we must sorrowfully confess it to be, but it is very sweet to Christ. Hear his own eulogy of that love in the golden Canticle: “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine!” See, loving heart, how he delights in you. When you lean your head on his bosom, you not only receive, but you give him joy; when you gaze with love upon his all-glorious face, you not only obtain comfort, but impart delight. Our praise, too, gives him joy—not the song of the lips alone, but the melody of the heart’s deep gratitude. Our gifts, too, are very pleasant to him; he loves to see us lay our time, our talents, our substance upon the altar, not for the value of what we give, but for the sake of the motive from which the gift springs. To him the lowly offerings of his saints are more acceptable than the thousands of gold and silver. Holiness is like frankincense and myrrh to him. Forgive your enemy, and you make Christ glad; distribute of your substance to the poor, and he rejoices; be the means of saving souls, and you give him to see of the travail of his soul; proclaim his gospel, and you are a sweet savour unto him; go among the ignorant and lift up the cross, and you have given him honour. It is in your power even now to break the alabaster box, and pour the precious oil of joy upon his head, as did the woman of old, whose memorial is to this day set forth wherever the gospel is preached. Will you be backward then? Will you not perfume your beloved Lord with the myrrh and aloes, and cassia, of your heart’s praise? Yes, ye ivory palaces, ye shall hear the songs of the saints!

Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

Amazing Grace
     February 15


     William R. Featherston, 1846–1873

     We love Him because He first loved us.
(1 John 4:19)

     And shall I use these ransomed powers of mine
     For things that only minister to me?
     Lord, take my tongue, my hands, my heart, my all,
     And let me live and love for Thee!
--- Unknown

     The spiritual depth of “My Jesus, I Love Thee” is made all the more remarkable by the knowledge that it was written by a teenager. William Ralph Featherston of Montreal, Canada, is thought to have written these lines of heartfelt gratitude to Christ at the time of his conversion experience when only 16. It is believed he then sent a copy of his poem to an aunt in Los Angeles, and somehow the text appeared anonymously in print in an English hymnal, The London Book, in 1864.

     Several years later, a well-known American Baptist pastor, Dr. A. J. Gordon, discovered the anonymous hymn in the English hymnbook and decided to compose a better melody for it. With its new tune the hymn has since been included in nearly every evangelical hymnal and has been sung frequently by believers everywhere during hushed moments of rededication to God.

     How marvelous are the workings of God in bringing together expressions such as these, providing a hymn that has been used in a remarkable way for more than a century to direct Christians to a deeper relationship with their Lord. May these words cause each of us even now to renew our devotion to God so that this love for Christ may be reflected in all of the activities of this day.

     My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine—For Thee all the follies of sin I resign; my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou: If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
     I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree; I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow: If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
     I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, and praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; and say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow, “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”
     In mansions of glory and endless delight, I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”

     For Today: John 14:23; Ephesians 2:4, 5; 1 Peter 1:8; 2:9; 1 John 4:7–21.

     Express your own love for the Savior in fresh and fervent words; reflect on what He has done for you, what He is presently doing, and the future glory that still awaits. Determine to demonstrate your loving devotion for Christ with an encouraging word or deed for some needy individual.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, February 15, 2018 | Lent

Thursday After Ash Wednesday
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 37:1–17
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 37:18–40
Old Testament     Habakkuk 3:1–10 (11–15) 16–18
New Testament     Philippians 3:12–21
Gospel     John 17:1–8

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 37:1–17

1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

12 The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16 Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 37:18–40

18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.

20 But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

27 Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Old Testament
Habakkuk 3:1–10 (11–15) 16–18

3 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

2 O LORD, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O LORD, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman,
and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His splendor covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.
4 His brightness was like the light;
rays flashed from his hand;
and there he veiled his power.
5 Before him went pestilence,
and plague followed at his heels.
6 He stood and measured the earth;
he looked and shook the nations;
then the eternal mountains were scattered;
the everlasting hills sank low.
His were the everlasting ways.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
8 Was your wrath against the rivers, O LORD?
Was your anger against the rivers,
or your indignation against the sea,
when you rode on your horses,
on your chariot of salvation?
9 You stripped the sheath from your bow,
calling for many arrows. Selah
You split the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw you and writhed;
the raging waters swept on;
the deep gave forth its voice;
it lifted its hands on high.

[     11 The sun and moon stood still in their place
at the light of your arrows as they sped,
at the flash of your glittering spear.
12 You marched through the earth in fury;
you threshed the nations in anger.
13 You went out for the salvation of your people,
for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked,
laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah
14 You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors,
who came like a whirlwind to scatter me,
rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
the surging of mighty waters.     ]

16 I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

New Testament
Philippians 3:12–21

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

John 17:1–8

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

The Book of Common Prayer

Adversity | Alistair Begg
Dallas Theological Seminary

Security | Alistair Begg
Dallas Theological Seminary

The Sovereignty of God
Dr. Gerald McDermott
Dallas Theological Seminary

Book of Daniel | Marquis Laughlin
Dallas Theological Seminary

Typology in Creation
Dr. Gerald McDermott
Dallas Theological Seminary

Character IS the Christian Life
Arthur Davidson
Dallas Theological Seminary

Jonathan Edwards on Typology
Dr. Gerald McDermott
Dallas Theological Seminary

The High Cost of Sexual Sin
Desiring God

Would a Loving God Allow Evil and Suffering?
Peter Kreeft
Acadia Divinity College

General Revelation Throughout History
Dr. Gerald McDermott
Dallas Theological Seminary

Types in History
Dr. Gerald McDermott
Dallas Theological Seminary

Recovering and Sustaining the
Theological Mission of Christian Education
Dr. Albert Mohler | Southern Seminary

Should you use a Bible reading plan?
Dr. Donald Whitney | Southern Seminary

What Makes Homosexuality Wrong?
Desiring God