Duties of Priests and LevitesNumbers 18 1 So the LORD said to Aaron, “You and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear iniquity connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear iniquity connected with your priesthood. 2 And with you bring your brothers also, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may join you and minister to you while you and your sons with you are before the tent of the testimony. 3 They shall keep guard over you and over the whole tent, but shall not come near to the vessels of the sanctuary or to the altar lest they, and you, die. 4 They shall join you and keep guard over the tent of meeting for all the service of the tent, and no outsider shall come near you. 5 And you shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel. 6 And behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the people of Israel. They are a gift to you, given to the LORD, to do the service of the tent of meeting. 7 And you and your sons with you shall guard your priesthood for all that concerns the altar and that is within the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood as a gift, and any outsider who comes near shall be put to death.”
8 Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, “Behold, I have given you charge of the contributions made to me, all the consecrated things of the people of Israel. I have given them to you as a portion and to your sons as a perpetual due. 9 This shall be yours of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every offering of theirs, every grain offering of theirs and every sin offering of theirs and every guilt offering of theirs, which they render to me, shall be most holy to you and to your sons. 10 In a most holy place shall you eat it. Every male may eat it; it is holy to you. 11 This also is yours: the contribution of their gift, all the wave offerings of the people of Israel. I have given them to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it. 12 All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine and of the grain, the firstfruits of what they give to the LORD, I give to you. 13 The first ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to the LORD, shall be yours. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it. 14 Every devoted thing in Israel shall be yours. 15 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. 16 And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. 17 But the firstborn of a cow, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar and shall burn their fat as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 18 But their flesh shall be yours, as the breast that is waved and as the right thigh are yours. 19 All the holy contributions that the people of Israel present to the LORD I give to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. It is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD for you and for your offspring with you.” 20 And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.
21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting, 22 so that the people of Israel do not come near the tent of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the people of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 24 For the tithe of the people of Israel, which they present as a contribution to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance. Therefore I have said of them that they shall have no inheritance among the people of Israel.”
25 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 26 “Moreover, you shall speak and say to the Levites, ‘When you take from the people of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present a contribution from it to the LORD, a tithe of the tithe. 27 And your contribution shall be counted to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress. 28 So you shall also present a contribution to the LORD from all your tithes, which you receive from the people of Israel. And from it you shall give the LORD’s contribution to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every contribution due to the LORD; from each its best part is to be dedicated.’ 30 Therefore you shall say to them, ‘When you have offered from it the best of it, then the rest shall be counted to the Levites as produce of the threshing floor, and as produce of the winepress. 31 And you may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward in return for your service in the tent of meeting. 32 And you shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have contributed the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, lest you die.’ ”
Laws for PurificationNumbers 19 1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 2 “This is the statute of the law that the LORD has commanded: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and on which a yoke has never come. 3 And you shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered before him. 4 And Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. 5 And the heifer shall be burned in his sight. Its skin, its flesh, and its blood, with its dung, shall be burned. 6 And the priest shall take cedarwood and hyssop and scarlet yarn, and throw them into the fire burning the heifer. 7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. But the priest shall be unclean until evening. 8 The one who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water and shall be unclean until evening. 9 And a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place. And they shall be kept for the water for impurity for the congregation of the people of Israel; it is a sin offering. 10 And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. And this shall be a perpetual statute for the people of Israel, and for the stranger who sojourns among them.
11 “Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days. 12 He shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. But if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. 13 Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.
14 “This is the law when someone dies in a tent: everyone who comes into the tent and everyone who is in the tent shall be unclean seven days. 15 And every open vessel that has no cover fastened on it is unclean. 16 Whoever in the open field touches someone who was killed with a sword or who died naturally, or touches a human bone or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17 For the unclean they shall take some ashes of the burnt sin offering, and fresh water shall be added in a vessel. 18 Then a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water and sprinkle it on the tent and on all the furnishings and on the persons who were there and on whoever touched the bone, or the slain or the dead or the grave. 19 And the clean person shall sprinkle it on the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day. Thus on the seventh day he shall cleanse him, and he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and at evening he shall be clean.
20 “If the man who is unclean does not cleanse himself, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, since he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. Because the water for impurity has not been thrown on him, he is unclean. 21 And it shall be a statute forever for them. The one who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and the one who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening. 22 And whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean, and anyone who touches it shall be unclean until evening.”
The Death of MiriamNumbers 20 1 And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there.
The Waters of Meribah2 Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! 4 Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” 6 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, 7 and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” 9 And Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
Moses Strikes the Rock10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” 13 These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy.
Edom Refuses Passage14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom: “Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the hardship that we have met: 15 how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we lived in Egypt a long time. And the Egyptians dealt harshly with us and our fathers. 16 And when we cried to the LORD, he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. And here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your territory. 17 Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard, or drink water from a well. We will go along the King’s Highway. We will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.” 18 But Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through, lest I come out with the sword against you.” 19 And the people of Israel said to him, “We will go up by the highway, and if we drink of your water, I and my livestock, then I will pay for it. Let me only pass through on foot, nothing more.” 20 But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory, so Israel turned away from him.
The Death of Aaron22 And they journeyed from Kadesh, and the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor. 23 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, 24 “Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land that I have given to the people of Israel, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. 25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and bring them up to Mount Hor. 26 And strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron shall be gathered to his people and shall die there.” 27 Moses did as the LORD commanded. And they went up Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. 28 And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. 29 And when all the congregation saw that Aaron had perished, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
The Biblical Case for Adam and Eve
By J. Warner Wallace 2/16/2018
I’ve been investigating murders for over 20 years, and along the way, I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of language selection. Consider the following three statements:
1 “The Nuggets killed the Lakers last night. They beat ‘em by 25 points.”
2 “I love this comic; he always kills me!”
3 “I deeply regret killing my wife, and I wish I could turn back time.”
All three declarations acknowledge the proper definition of the word “kill,” yet only one of these statements is likely to be of interest to a jury in a murder trial. Every time we assess someone’s use of language, we must first examine the context in which the words were spoken. As a 35-year-old skeptic, reading the Bible thoroughly for the first time, I found myself examining the words of Scripture in an attempt to understand Moses’ meaning related to the first two characters in the Biblical narrative: Adam and Eve. Were they real human beings? Were they allegorical figures described by Moses in an attempt to illustrate the plight of early man? Were they written figuratively to represent all of humankind? I knew from my professional work as a detective that the surest way to understand a statement was simply to examine its context and to compare it to other proclamations made by the suspect. As a skeptical seeker, I took the same approach with Adam and Eve. After examining every passage of Scripture, I found the following:
Adam and Eve Were Regarded As Real People | In the earliest accounts of Adam and Eve, Moses described them singularly (in contrast to his plural descriptions of other animal groups). The waters were teeming with swarms of living creatures and the skies were filled with birds (Genesis 1:20); the earth was bringing forth living creatures after their kind (v.24), filling with beasts and cattle. God created with great plurality in every category of creature except humans. Adam and Eve were described as singular individuals. It’s difficult to consider them allegorically or representatively, given that Moses failed to use language that could assist us to do so.
Adam and Eve Responded As Real People | Moses also described Adam and Eve’s behavior in a manner consistent with the behavior of real people. Moses put specific words on their lips as they interacted in the Garden, and like other real people, Adam and Eve responded to one another (and to God). Adam and Eve gave birth to specific individuals, and Moses intentionally noted the age of Adam when some of his children were born (Genesis 5:3-4). Adam’s offspring (Cain, Abel, and Seth, for example) were identified by name and had a personal history of their own, just as we would expect if they, too, were real people.
Adam and Eve Were Recorded As Real People | Moses placed Adam in genealogies alongside other specific individuals who we acknowledge as real, historic human beings. Moses repeatedly recorded the historic lineage of important people (like Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and Terah) with the expression, “These are the generations of….” Adam was no exception. Moses used this same expression when recording the generations of Adam in Genesis 5:1. Other authors of Scripture repeated this inclusion in the lineage of real humans. Adam appeared in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:1, in Luke’s genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:38), and in Jude’s reference to Enoch (Jude 1:14). These genealogies and references recorded the names of specific, real individuals, and Adam was included in their ranks.
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.
Why Did God Tell Abraham to Sacrifice Isaac?
By Natasha Crain 5/17/2016
A mom posted in a Christian Facebook group recently about her daughter’s struggle to understand why God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Genesis 22:1-2 says:
(Ge 22:1–2) After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” ESV
Her daughter asked why God would tell Abraham to kill his own son, which, she said, would be a “wicked” command. The mom was looking for help on how to explain to her daughter that this event doesn’t make God wicked.
There were dozens of Facebook comments in response to her post. But the most popular one, based on “likes” from others in the community, encouraged the mom to share that we don’t always have all the answers and to tell her daughter to pray about it.
Generally speaking, I couldn’t agree more that we need to acknowledge to our kids that God hasn’t told us everything we’d like to know and that there are some things we just don’t have answers for. I tell my kids this frequently…when they ask questions there truly aren’t answers for.
But we do our kids an incredible disservice when they ask questions that do have biblical answers and we either 1) tell them no one knows, or 2) give them a wrong answer.
Natasha Crain : Before we had kids, I went back to school and got an MBA in marketing and statistics at UCLA. I worked my way up the corporate marketing ladder for several years and was an adjunct university market research professor on the side.
Natasha Crain Books:
Are You Serious Enough About Happiness?
By Tony Reinke 2/13/2017
After the shocking suicide of Robin Williams in 2014, comedian Jim Norton admitted in an op-ed, “In the 25 years I’ve been doing stand-up, I’ve personally known at least eight comedians who committed suicide.”
Not even comedy can keep the demons away
So is there a joy that has any hope of survival when laughter has ceased?
Joy in Narnia | Near the end of the last book in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series, when all the lore of the mythic kingdom seems to come to an end, the teary-eyed reader must finally turn the last page and leave Aslan, break from the enchanted lands, and wait in anticipation for something greater. Peter, one of the main characters, faces a similar reality. He will never return to Narnia, at least not the “old Narnia” of his recollection. For him there is a “real Narnia” ahead, a better Narnia to come, the substance of the shadowy Narnia of his past. This “new Narnia” will be “a deeper country” where “every rock and flower and blade of grass will look as if it meant more.”
As Lord Digory lowers down the weight of all this on Peter, the tension breaks momentarily with a little joke: “It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!”
Tony Reinke is senior writer for Desiring God and author of three books. He hosts the Ask Pastor John podcast and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and three children.
Tony Reinke Books:
Pastor, Keep A Close Watch On Your Life and Illustrations
By Jared C. Wilson 2/13/2017
Sermon illustrations. They can make or break your message. Or so we're told. In the days of my youth, I did some time serving as a freelance pastoral research assistant, and I remember the high premium put on "killer illustrations." One client I worked for only wanted sermon illustrations, pages and pages of them, no exegesis, no reference excerpts. I think over the course of several months, having filed numerous research briefs full of newspaper clippings, movie ancedotes, literary references, assorted fragments of pop culture detritus, and even some original creative stories, he eventually used one illustration that came from the briefs.
We all know a good illustration when we hear one in a sermon. But I'm gonna go out on a (sturdy) limb here and suggest that sermon illustrations these days are way overrated.
Yep, I said it. I think too much emphasis is put on illustrations in how we train preachers and in too many actual sermons. You shouldn't trust your illustration to do what only God's word can. And that's where many of us often go wrong with illustrations. Here is more on that thought, and some other wrong ways preachers often use illustrations in their sermons:
1. The illustrations are too long. | If you're going to eat up valuable real estate in your sermon time, you've got to make it really count. But some sermons are too reliant on long set-ups or overly present creative themes that end up obscuring the biblical message. This is a problem, assuming what you want people to focus on most is the biblical message. Some preachers really pride themselves in being storytellers or artists, and that's great -- but quit the ministry and go be a storyteller or artist. That will glorify God too. But at least then there's no mistaking the point of the message. Some illustrations go on so long and some topic themes are so pervasive, any Bible verses that show up in the sermon really only serve to support the illustration, when by definition it's supposed to be the other way around.
2. The illustrations are too numerous. | I heard a message once that began with a 5-minute story from the preacher's childhood, segued into an ancedote from the life of Leonardo DaVinci, then transitioned into a series of quotes from ancient philosophers (where Jesus appeared alongside Socrates and Aristotle, like they're all part of the same toga mafia), and stumbled into a heavy-handed object illustration complete with big props on the stage. This guy forgot what he was there to do, which ostensibly was preach. The result of all these illustrations was distracting and, actually, counter-productive, because at some point, the law of diminishing illustration returns kicked in, and each successive illustration diminished the effectiveness of the ones before it.
Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church. Per Amazon, Jared C. Wilson is a pastor and an award-winning writer whose articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in numerous publications. A minister for over a decade, he has become known for his passionate gospel-centered teaching and strong calls for missional Christianity. Encounter his passion for the ongoing reformation of the evangelical church almost daily at www.gospeldrivenchurch.com.
Jared C. Wilson Books:
- 1 The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can't Get Their Act Together
- 2 The Explicit Gospel (Paperback Edition)
- 3 Romans: A 12-Week Study (Knowing the Bible)
- 4 The Pastor's Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry
- 5 The Prodigal Church: A Gentle Manifesto against the Status Quo
- 6 The Story of Everything: How You, Your Pets, and the Swiss Alps Fit into God's Plan for the World
- 7 The Storytelling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables
- 8 Gospel Wakefulness
- 9 Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus
- 10 The Wonder-Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles
- 11 Your Jesus Is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Savior
- 12 Otherworld: A Novel
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 22Why Have You Forsaken Me?
22 To The Choirmaster. According To The Doe Of The Dawn. A Psalm Of David.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Exodus 2; Luke 5; Job 19; 1 Corinthians 6
By Don Carson 2/19/2018
IN THE MOST CRUCIAL EVENTS IN REDEMPTIVE HISTORY, God takes considerable pains to ensure that no one can properly conclude that these events have been brought about by human resolve or wit. They have been brought about by God himself – on his timing, according to his plan, by his means, for his glory – yet in interaction with his people. All of this falls out of Exodus 2:11-25.
The account is brief. It does not tell us how Moses’ mother managed to instill in him a profound sense of identity with his own people before he was brought up in the royal household. Perhaps he enjoyed ongoing contact with his birth mother; perhaps as a young man he delved into his past, and thoroughly investigated the status and subjugation of his own people. We are introduced to Moses when he has already so identified with the enslaved Israelites that he is prepared to murder a brutal Egyptian slave overlord. When he discovers that the murder he committed has become public knowledge, he must flee for his life.
Yet one cannot help reflecting on the place of this episode in the plotline that leads to Moses’ leadership of the Exodus some decades later. By God’s own judicial action, many Egyptians would then die. So why doesn’t God use Moses now, while he is still a young man, full of zeal and eagerness to serve and emancipate his people?
It simply isn’t God’s way. God wants Moses to learn meekness and humility, to rely on God’s powerful and spectacular intervention, to await God’s timing. He acts in such a way that no one will be able to say that the real hero is Moses, the great visionary. By the time he is eighty, Moses does not want to serve in this way, he is no longer an idealistic, fiery visionary. He is an old man whom God almost cajoles (Ex. 3) and even threatens (Ex. 4:14) into obedience. There is therefore no hero but God, and no glory for anyone other than God.
The chapter ends by recording that “the Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham” (2:23-24). This does not mean that God had forgotten his covenant. We have already seen that God explicitly told Jacob to descend into Egypt and foretold that God would one day bring out the covenantal plan. The same God who sovereignly arranges these matters and solemnly predicts what he will do, chooses to bring about the fulfillment of these promises by personally interacting with his covenantal people in their distress, responding to their cry.
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
Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?
By Albert Mohler
We are not living in a season of peace. Thinking Christians must surely be aware that a great moral and spiritual conflict is taking shape all around us, with multiple fronts of battle and issues of great importance at stake. The prophet Jeremiah repeatedly warned of those who would falsely declare peace when there is no peace. The Bible defines the Christian life in terms of spiritual battle, and believers in this generation face the fact that the very existence of truth is at stake in our current struggle.
The condition of warfare brings a unique set of moral challenges to the table, and the great moral and cultural battles of our times are no different. Even ancient thinkers knew this, and many of their maxims of warfare are still commonly cited. Among the most popular of these is a maxim that was known by many of the ancients—“the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
That maxim has survived as a modern principle of foreign policy. It explains why states that have been at war against one another can, in a very short period of time, become allies against a common enemy. In World War II, the Soviet Union began as an ally of Nazi Germany. Yet, it ended the war as a key ally of the United States and Britain. How? It joined the effort against Hitler and became the instant “friend” of the Americans and the British. And yet, as that great war came to an end, the Soviets and their former allies entered a new phase of open hostility known as the Cold War.
Does this useful maxim of foreign policy serve Christians well as we think about our current struggles? That is not an uncomplicated question. On the one hand, some sense of unity against a common opponent is inevitable, even indispensable. On the other hand, the idea that a common enemy produces a true unity is, as even history reveals, a false premise.
We must not underestimate what we are up against. We face titanic struggles on behalf of human life and human dignity against the culture of death and the great evils of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. We are in a great fight for the integrity of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. We face a cultural alliance determined to advance a sexual revolution that will unleash unmitigated chaos and bring great injury to individuals, families, and the society at large. We are fighting to defend gender as part of the goodness of God’s creation and to defend the very existence of an objective moral order.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
Albert Mohler Books | Go to Books Page
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
10. But, apart from the Creed, we must seek for a surer exposition of
Christ's descent to hell: and the word of God furnishes us with one not
only pious and holy, but replete with excellent consolation. Nothing
had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to
interpose between us and God's anger, and satisfy his righteous
judgment, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine
vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it
were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of
eternal death. We lately quoted from the Prophet, that the
"chastisement of our peace was laid upon him" that he "was bruised for
our iniquities" that he "bore our infirmities;" expressions which
intimate, that, like a sponsor and surety for the guilty, and, as it
were, subjected to condemnation, he undertook and paid all the
penalties which must have been exacted from them, the only exception
being, that the pains of death could not hold him. Hence there is
nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he
endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It
is frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is
perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial should
be placed after it. But after explaining what Christ endured in the
sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and
incomprehensible judgment which he endured before God, to teach us that
not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption,
but that there was a greater and more excellent price--that he bore in
his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man.
11. In this sense, Peter says that God raised up Christ, "having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible he should be holden of it," (Acts 2:24). He does not mention death simply, but says that the Son of God endured the pains produced by the curse and wrath of God, the source of death. How small a matter had it been to come forth securely, and as it were in sport to undergo death. Herein was a true proof of boundless mercy, that he shunned not the death he so greatly dreaded. And there can be no doubt that, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle means to teach the same thing, when he says that he "was heard in that he feared," (Heb. 5:7). Some instead of "feared," use a term meaning reverence or piety, but how inappropriately, is apparent both from the nature of the thing and the form of expression.  Christ then praying in a loud voice, and with tears, is heard in that he feared, not so as to be exempted from death, but so as not to be swallowed up of it like a sinner, though standing as our representative. And certainly no abyss can be imagined more dreadful than to feel that you are abandoned and forsaken of God, and not heard when you invoke him, just as if he had conspired your destruction. To such a degree was Christ dejected, that in the depth of his agony he was forced to exclaim, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The view taken by some, that he here expressed the opinion of others rather than his own conviction, is most improbable; for it is evident that the expression was wrung from the anguish of his inmost soul. We do not, however, insinuate that God was ever hostile to him or angry with him.  How could he be angry with the beloved Son, with whom his soul was well pleased? or how could he have appeased the Father by his intercession for others if He were hostile to himself? But this we say, that he bore the weight of the divine anger, that, smitten and afflicted, he experienced all the signs of an angry and avenging God. Hence Hilary argues, that to this descent we owe our exemption from death. Nor does he dissent from this view in other passages, as when he says, "The cross, death, hell, are our life." And again, "The Son of God is in hell, but man is brought back to heaven." And why do I quote the testimony of a private writer, when an Apostle asserts the same thing, stating it as one fruit of his victory that he delivered "them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage?" (Heb. 2:15). He behoved therefore, to conquer the fear which incessantly vexes and agitates the breasts of all mortals; and this he could not do without a contest. Moreover it will shortly appear with greater clearness that his was no common sorrow, was not the result of a trivial cause. Thus by engaging with the power of the devil, the fear of death, and the pains of hell, he gained the victory, and achieved a triumph, so that we now fear not in death those things which our Prince has destroyed. 
12. Here some miserable creatures, who, though unlearned, are however impelled more by malice than ignorance, cry out that I am offering an atrocious insult to Christ, because it were most incongruous to hold that he feared for the safety of his soul. And then in harsher terms they urge the calumnious charge that I attribute despair to the Son of God, a feeling the very opposite of faith. First, they wickedly raise a controversy as to the fear and dread which Christ felt, though these are openly affirmed by the Evangelists. For before the hour of his death arrived, he was troubled in spirit, and affected with grief; and at the very onset began to be exceedingly amazed. To speak of these feelings as merely assumed, is a shameful evasion. It becomes us, therefore (as Ambrose truly teaches), boldly to profess the agony of Christ, if we are not ashamed of the cross. And certainly had not his soul shared in the punishment, he would have been a Redeemer of bodies only. The object of his struggle was to raise up those who were lying prostrate; and so far is this from detracting from his heavenly glory, that his goodness, which can never be sufficiently extolled, becomes more conspicuous in this, that he declined not to bear our infirmities. Hence also that solace to our anxieties and griefs which the Apostle sets before us: "We have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all respects tempted like as we are, yet without sin," (Heb. 4:15). These men pretend that a thing in its nature vicious is improperly ascribed to Christ; as if they were wiser than the Spirit of God, who in the same passage reconciles the two things--viz. that he was tempted in all respects like as we are, and yet was without sin. There is no reason, therefore, to take alarm at infirmity in Christ, infirmity to which he submitted not under the constraint of violence and necessity, but merely because he loved and pitied us. Whatever he spontaneously suffered, detracts in no degree from his majesty. One thing which misleads these detractors is, that they do not recognise in Christ an infirmity which was pure and free from every species of taint, inasmuch as it was kept within the limits of obedience. As no moderation can be seen in the depravity of our nature, in which all affections with turbulent impetuosity exceed their due bounds, they improperly apply the same standard to the Son of God. But as he was upright, all his affections were under such restraint as prevented every thing like excess. Hence he could resemble us in grief, fear, and dread, but still with this mark of distinction. Thus refuted, they fly off to another cavil, that although Christ feared death, yet he feared not the curse and wrath of God, from which he knew that he was safe. But let the pious reader consider how far it is honourable to Christ to make him more effeminate and timid than the generality of men. Robbers and other malefactors contumaciously hasten to death, many men magnanimously despise it, others meet it calmly. If the Son of God was amazed and terror-struck at the prospect of it, where was his firmness or magnanimity? We are even told, what in a common death would have been deemed most extraordinary, that in the depth of his agony his sweat was like great drops of blood falling to the ground. Nor was this a spectacle exhibited to the eyes of others, since it was from a secluded spot that he uttered his groans to his Father. And that no doubt may remain, it was necessary that angels should come down from heaven to strengthen him with miraculous consolation. How shamefully effeminate would it have been (as I have observed) to be so excruciated by the fear of an ordinary death as to sweat drops of blood, and not even be revived by the presence of angels? What? Does not that prayer, thrice repeated, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me," (Mt. 26:39), a prayer dictated by incredible bitterness of soul, show that Christ had a fiercer and more arduous struggle than with ordinary death?
Hence it appears that these triflers, with whom I am disputing, presume to talk of what they know not, never having seriously considered what is meant and implied by ransoming us from the justice of God. It is of consequence to understand aright how much our salvation cost the Son of God. If any one now ask, Did Christ descend to hell at the time when he deprecated death? I answer, that this was the commencement, and that from it we may infer how dire and dreadful were the tortures which he endured when he felt himself standing at the bar of God as a criminal in our stead. And although the divine power of the Spirit veiled itself for a moment, that it might give place to the infirmity of the flesh, we must understand that the trial arising from feelings of grief and fear was such as not to be at variance with faith. And in this was fulfilled what is said in Peter's sermon as to having been loosed from the pains of death, because "it was not possible he could be holden of it," (Acts 2:24). Though feeling, as it were, forsaken of God, he did not cease in the slightest degree to confide in his goodness. This appears from the celebrated prayer in which, in the depth of his agony, he exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mt. 27:46). Amid all his agony he ceases not to call upon his God, while exclaiming that he is forsaken by him. This refutes the Apollinarian heresy as well as that of those who are called Monothelites. Apollinaris pretended, that in Christ the eternal Spirit supplied the place of a soul, so that he was only half a man; as if he could have expiated our sins in any other way than by obeying the Father. But where does the feeling or desire of obedience reside but in the soul? And we know that his soul was troubled in order that ours, being free from trepidation, might obtain peace and quiet. Moreover, in opposition to the Monothelites, we see that in his human he felt a repugnance to what he willed in his divine nature. I say nothing of his subduing the fear of which we have spoken by a contrary affection. This appearance of repugnance is obvious in the words, "Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name," (John 12:27, 28). Still, in this perplexity, there was no violent emotion, such as we exhibit while making the strongest endeavours to subdue our own feelings.
13. Next follows the resurrection from the dead, without which all that has hitherto been said would be defective. For seeing that in the cross, death, and burial of Christ, nothing but weakness appears, faith must go beyond all these, in order that it may be provided with full strength. Hence, although in his death we have an effectual completion of salvation, because by it we are reconciled to God, satisfaction is given to his justice, the curse is removed, and the penalty paid; still it is not by his death, but by his resurrection, that we are said to be begotten again to a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3); because, as he, by rising again, became victorious over death, so the victory of our faith consists only in his resurrection. The nature of it is better expressed in the words of Paul, "Who (Christ) was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification," (Rom. 4:25); as if he had said, By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection righteousness was renewed and restored. For how could he by dying have freed us from death, if he had yielded to its power? how could he have obtained the victory for us, if he had fallen in the contest?
Our salvation may be thus divided between the death and the resurrection of Christ: by the former sin was abolished and death annihilated; by the latter righteousness was restored and life revived, the power and efficacy of the former being still bestowed upon us by means of the latter. Paul accordingly affirms, that he was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection (Rom. 1:4), because he then fully displayed that heavenly power which is both a bright mirror of his divinity, and a sure support of our faith; as he also elsewhere teaches, that "though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God," (2 Cor. 13:4). In the same sense, in another passage, treating of perfection, he says, "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection," (Phil. 3:10). Immediately after he adds, "being made conformable unto his death." In perfect accordance with this is the passage in Peter, that God "raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God," ( 1 Pet. 1:21). Not that faith founded merely on his death is vacillating, but that the divine power by which he maintains our faith is most conspicuous in his resurrection. Let us remember, therefore, that when death only is mentioned, everything peculiar to the resurrection is at the same time included, and that there is a like synecdoche in the term resurrection, as often as it is used apart from death, everything peculiar to death being included. But as, by rising again, he obtained the victory, and became the resurrection and the life, Paul justly argues, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins," (1 Cor. 15:17). Accordingly, in another passage, after exulting in the death of Christ in opposition to the terrors of condemnation, he thus enlarges, "Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us," (Rom. 8:34). Then, as we have already explained that the mortification of our flesh depends on communion with the cross, so we must also understand, that a corresponding benefit is derived from his resurrection. For as the Apostle says, "Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life," (Rom. 6:4). Accordingly, as in another passage, from our being dead with Christ, he inculcates, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth," (Col. 3:5); so from our being risen with Christ he infers, "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God," (Col. 3:1). In these words we are not only urged by the example of a risen Saviour to follow newness of life, but are taught that by his power we are renewed unto righteousness. A third benefit derived from it is, that, like an earnest, it assures us of our own resurrection, of which it is certain that his is the surest representation. This subject is discussed at length (1 Cor. 15). But it is to be observed, in passing, that when he is said to have "risen from the dead," these terms express the reality both of his death and resurrection, as if it had been said, that he died the same death as other men naturally die, and received immortality in the same mortal flesh which he had assumed.
14. The resurrection is naturally followed by the ascension into heaven. For although Christ, by rising again, began fully to display his glory and virtue, having laid aside the abject and ignoble condition of a mortal life, and the ignominy of the cross, yet it was only by his ascension to heaven that his reign truly commenced. This the Apostle shows, when he says he ascended "that he might fill all things," (Eph. 4:10); thus reminding us, that under the appearance of contradiction, there is a beautiful harmony, inasmuch as though he departed from us, it was that his departure might be more useful to us than that presence which was confined in a humble tabernacle of flesh during his abode on the earth. Hence John, after repeating the celebrated invitation, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," immediately adds, "the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified," (John 7:37, 39). This our Lord himself also declared to his disciples, "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you," (John 16:7). To console them for his bodily absence, he tells them that he will not leave them comfortless, but will come again to them in a manner invisible indeed, but more to be desired, because they were then taught by a surer experience that the government which he had obtained, and the power which he exercises would enable his faithful followers not only to live well, but also to die happily. And, indeed we see how much more abundantly his Spirit was poured out, how much more gloriously his kingdom was advanced, how much greater power was employed in aiding his followers and discomfiting his enemies. Being raised to heaven, he withdrew his bodily presence from our sight, not that he might cease to be with his followers, who are still pilgrims on the earth, but that he might rule both heaven and earth more immediately by his power; or rather, the promise which he made to be with us even to the end of the world, he fulfilled by this ascension, by which, as his body has been raised above all heavens, so his power and efficacy have been propagated and diffused beyond all the bounds of heaven and earth. This I prefer to explain in the words of Augustine rather than my own: "Through death Christ was to go to the right hand of the Father, whence he is to come to judge the quick and the dead, and that in corporal presence, according to the sound doctrine and rule of faith. For, in spiritual presence, he was to be with them after his ascension," (August. Tract. in Joann. 109). In another passage he is more full and explicit: "In regard to ineffable and invisible grace, is fulfilled what he said, Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world (Mt. 28:20); but in regard to the flesh which the Word assumed in regard to his being born of a Virgin, in regard to his being apprehended by the Jews, nailed to the tree, taken down from the cross, wrapt in linen clothes, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested on his resurrection, it may be said, Me ye have not always with you. Why? because, in bodily presence, he conversed with his disciples forty days, and leading them out where they saw, but followed not, he ascended into heaven, and is not here: for there he sits at the right hand of the Father: and yet he is here, for the presence of his Godhead was not withdrawn. Therefore, as regards his divine presence, we have Christ always: as regards his bodily presence, it was truly said to the disciples, Me ye have not always. For a few days the Church had him bodily present. Now, she apprehends him by faith, but sees him not by the eye," (August. Tract. 51).
15. Hence it is immediately added, that he "sitteth at the right hand of God the Father;" a similitude borrowed from princes, who have their assessors to whom they commit the office of ruling and issuing commands. Thus Christ, in whom the Father is pleased to be exalted, and by whose hand he is pleased to reign, is said to have been received up, and seated on his right hand (Mark 16:19); as if it had been said, that he was installed in the government of heaven and earth, and formally admitted to possession of the administration committed to him, and not only admitted for once, but to continue until he descend to judgment. For so the Apostle interprets, when he says, that the Father "set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and has put all things under his feet, and given him to be the head over all things to the Church."  You see to what end he is so seated namely, that all creatures both in heaven and earth should reverence his majesty, be ruled by his hand, do him implicit homage, and submit to his power. All that the Apostles intends when they so often mention his seat at the Father's hand, is to teach, that every thing is placed at his disposal. Those, therefore, are in error, who suppose that his blessedness merely is indicated. We may observe, that there is nothing contrary to this doctrine in the testimony of Stephen, that he saw him standing (Acts 7:56), the subject here considered being not the position of his body, but the majesty of his empire, sitting meaning nothing more than presiding on the judgment-seat of heaven.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)
By John Bunyan 1678
WHEREIN IS SET FORTH THE MANNER OF THE SETTING OUT OF CHRISTIAN’S WIFE AND CHILDREN; THEIR DANGEROUS JOURNEY, AND SAFE ARRIVAL AT THE DESIRED COUNTRY.I have used similtudes. ---
Hos. 12:10 I spoke to the prophets;
it was I who multiplied visions,
and through the prophets gave parables. ESV
Go, now, my little Book, to every place
Where my first Pilgrim has but shown his face:
Call at their door: if any say, Who’s there?
Then answer thou, Christiana is here.
If they bid thee come in, then enter thou,
With all thy boys; and then, as thou know’st how,
Tell who they are, also from whence they came;
Perhaps they’ll know them by their looks, or name:
But if they should not, ask them yet again,
If formerly they did not entertain
One Christian, a Pilgrim? If they say
They did, and were delighted in his way;
Then let them know that these related were
Unto him; yea, his wife and children are.
Tell them, that they have left their house and home;
Are turned Pilgrims; seek a world to come;
That they have met with hardships in the way;
That they do meet with troubles night and day;
That they have trod on serpents; fought with devils;
Have also overcome a many evils;
Yea, tell them also of the next who have,
Of love to pilgrimage, been stout and brave
Defenders of that way; and how they still
Refuse this world to do their Father’s will.
Go tell them also of those dainty things
That pilgrimage unto the Pilgrim brings.
Let them acquainted be, too, how they are
Beloved of their King, under his care;
What goodly mansions he for them provides;
Though they meet with rough winds and swelling tides,
How brave a calm they will enjoy at last,
Who to their Lord, and by his ways hold fast.
Perhaps with heart and hand they will embrace
Thee, as they did my firstling; and will grace
Thee and thy fellows with such cheer and fare,
As show well, they of Pilgrims lovers are.
But how if they will not believe of me
That I am truly thine? ’cause some there be
That counterfeit the Pilgrim and his name,
Seek, by disguise, to seem the very same;
And by that means have wrought themselves into
The hands and houses of I know not who.
’Tis true, some have, of late, to counterfeit
My Pilgrim, to their own my title set;
Yea, others half my name, and title too,
Have stitched to their books, to make them do.
But yet they, by their features, do declare
Themselves not mine to be, whose’er they are.
If such thou meet’st with, then thine only way
Before them all, is, to say out thy say
In thine own native language, which no man
Now useth, nor with ease dissemble can.
If, after all, they still of you shall doubt,
Thinking that you, like gypsies, go about,
In naughty wise the country to defile;
Or that you seek good people to beguile
With things unwarrantable; send for me,
And I will testify you pilgrims be;
Yea, I will testify that only you
My Pilgrims are, and that alone will do.
But yet, perhaps, I may enquire for him
Of those who wish him damned life and limb.
What shall I do, when I at such a door
For Pilgrims ask, and they shall rage the more?
Fright not thyself, my Book, for such bugbears
Are nothing else but groundless fears.
My Pilgrim’s book has traveled sea and land,
Yet could I never come to understand
That it was slighted or turned out of door
By any Kingdom, were they rich or poor.
In France and Flanders, where men kill each other,
My Pilgrim is esteemed a friend, a brother.
In Holland, too, ’tis said, as I am told,
My Pilgrim is with some, worth more than gold.
Highlanders and wild Irish can agree
My Pilgrim should familiar with them be.
’Tis in New England under such advance,
Receives there so much loving countenance,
As to be trimm’d, newcloth’d, and deck’d with gems,
That it might show its features, and its limbs.
Yet more: so comely doth my Pilgrim walk,
That of him thousands daily sing and talk.
If you draw nearer home, it will appear
My Pilgrim knows no ground of shame or fear:
City and country will him entertain,
With Welcome, Pilgrim; yea, they can’t refrain
From smiling, if my Pilgrim be but by,
Or shows his head in any company.
Brave gallants do my Pilgrim hug and love,
Esteem it much, yea, value it above
Things of greater bulk; yea, with delight
Say, my lark’s leg is better than a kite.
Young ladies, and young gentlewomen too,
Do not small kindness to my Pilgrim show;
Their cabinets, their bosoms, and their hearts,
My Pilgrim has; ’cause he to them imparts
His pretty riddles in such wholsome strains,
As yield them profit double to their pains
Of reading; yea, I think I may be bold
To say some prize him far above their gold.
The very children that do walk the street,
If they do but my holy Pilgrim meet,
Salute him will; will wish him well, and say,
He is the only stripling of the day.
They that have never seen him, yet admire
What they have heard of him, and much desire
To have his company, and hear him tell
Those Pilgrim stories which he knows so well.
Yea, some that did not love him at first,
But call’d him fool and noddy, say they must,
Now they have seen and heard him, him commend
And to those whom they love they do him send.
Wherefore, my Second Part, thou need’st not be
Afraid to show thy head: none can hurt thee,
That wish but well to him that went before;
’Cause thou com’st after with a second store
Of things as good, as rich, as profitable,
For young, for old, for stagg’ring, and for stable.
But some there be that say, He laughs too loud
And some do say, His Head is in a cloud.
Some say, His words and stories are so dark,
They know not how, by them, to find his mark.
One may, I think, say, Both his laughs and cries
May well be guess’d at by his wat’ry eyes.
Some things are of that nature, as to make
One’s fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache:
When Jacob saw his Rachel with the sheep,
He did at the same time both kiss and weep.
Whereas some say, A cloud is in his head;
That doth but show his wisdom’s covered
With its own mantles-and to stir the mind
To search well after what it fain would find,
Things that seem to be hid in words obscure
Do but the godly mind the more allure
To study what those sayings should contain,
That speak to us in such a cloudy strain.
I also know a dark similitude
Will on the curious fancy more intrude,
And will stick faster in the heart and head,
Than things from similes not borrowed.
Wherefore, my Book, let no discouragement
Hinder thy travels. Behold, thou art sent
To friends, not foes; to friends that will give place
To thee, thy pilgrims, and thy words embrace.
Besides, what my first Pilgrim left conceal’d,
Thou, my brave second Pilgrim, hast reveal’d;
What Christian left lock’d up, and went his way,
Sweet Christiana opens with her key.
But some love not the method of your first:
Romance they count it; throw’t away as dust.
If I should meet with such, what should I say?
Must I slight them as they slight me, or nay?
My Christiana, if with such thou meet,
By all means, in all loving wise them greet;
Render them not reviling for revile,
But, if they frown, I prithee on them smile:
Perhaps ’tis nature, or some ill report,
Has made them thus despise, or thus retort.
Some love no fish, some love no cheese, and some
Love not their friends, nor their own house or home;
Some start at pig, slight chicken, love not fowl
More than they love a cuckoo or an owl.
Leave such, my Christiana, to their choice,
And seek those who to find thee will rejoice;
By no means strive, but, in most humble wise,
Present thee to them in thy Pilgrim’s guise.
Go then, my little Book, and show to all
That entertain and bid thee welcome shall,
What thou shalt keep close shut up from the rest;
And wish what thou shalt show them may be bless’d
To them for good, and make them choose to be
Pilgrims, by better far than thee or me.
Go, then, I say, tell all men who thou art:
Say, I am Christiana; and my part
Is now, with my four sons, to tell you what
It is for men to take a Pilgrim’s lot.
Go, also, tell them who and what they be
That now do go on pilgrimage with thee;
Say, Here’s my neighbor Mercy: she is one
That has long time with me a pilgrim gone:
Come, see her in her virgin face, and learn
’Twixt idle ones and pilgrims to discern.
Yea, let young damsels learn of her to prize
The world which is to come, in any wise.
When little tripping maidens follow God,
And leave old doting sinners to his rod,
’Tis like those days wherein the young ones cried
Hosanna! when the old ones did deride.
Next tell them of old Honest, whom you found
With his white hairs treading the Pilgrim’s ground;
Yea, tell them how plain-hearted this man was;
How after his good Lord he bare the cross.
Perhaps with some gray head, this may prevail
With Christ to fall in love, and sin bewail.
Tell them also, how Master Fearing went
On pilgrimage, and how the time he spent
In solitariness, with fears and cries;
And how, at last, he won the joyful prize.
He was a good man, though much down in spirit;
He is a good man, and doth life inherit.
Tell them of Master Feeble-mind also,
Who not before, but still behind would go.
Show them also, how he had like been slain,
And how one Great-Heart did his life regain.
This man was true of heart; though weak in grace,
One might true godliness read in his face.
Then tell them of Master Ready-to-Halt,
A man with crutches, but much without fault.
Tell them how Master Feeble-mind and he
Did love, and in opinion much agree.
And let all know, though weakness was their chance,
Yet sometimes one could sing, the other dance.
Forget not Master Valiant-for-the-Truth,
That man of courage, though a very youth:
Tell every one his spirit was so stout,
No man could ever make him face about;
And how Great-Heart and he could not forbear,
But pull down Doubting-Castle, slay Despair!
Overlook not Master Despondency,
Nor Much-afraid, his daughter, though they lie
Under such mantles, as may make them look
(With some) as if their God had them forsook.
They softly went, but sure; and, at the end,
Found that the Lord of Pilgrims was their friend.
When thou hast told the world of all these things,
Then turn about, my Book, and touch these strings;
Which, if but touched, will such music make,
They’ll make a cripple dance, a giant quake.
Those riddles that lie couched within thy breast,
Freely propound, expound; and for the rest
Of thy mysterious lines, let them remain
For those whose nimble fancies shall them gain.
Now may this little Book a blessing be
To those who love this little Book and me;
And may its buyer have no cause to say,
His money is but lost or thrown away.
Yea, may this second Pilgrim yield that fruit
As may with each good Pilgrim’s fancy suit;
And may it some persuade, that go astray,
To turn their feet and heart to the right way,
Is the hearty prayer of
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Seven seconds (3)
2/19/2018 Bob Gass
‘I am the good shepherd.’
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ESV
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Your message may be wonderful and much needed by the hearer, but the look on your face can turn people off before you open your mouth. Ever notice how many people have bad memories of growing up in church? They recall stern, severe, strange - looking people who passed condemnation on the world at large. What a disservice to God! A little girl once saw a mule looking over a fence. Patting him on the head, she said, ‘It’s okay; my aunt is religious too!’ Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd.’ The word ‘good’ comes from the Greek word kelos, which means ‘winsome’ [attractive, pleasant, engaging]. Jesus’ attitude won people over every time! What we say accounts for 7 per cent of what people believe. How we say it accounts for 38 per cent. What they see accounts for 55 per cent. Amazingly, more than 90 per cent of the nonverbal cues we give off have nothing to do with what we actually say! So, if you think communication is just about words, you’re missing the boat, and the chances are you’ll have a hard time connecting with others. A member of his staff once asked Abraham Lincoln to give a friend of his a job. After interviewing the man, Lincoln turned him down. Asked why, he replied, ‘Because I didn’t like the look on his face.’ The White House staffer protested, ‘That’s not fair! Nobody’s responsible for the look on their face.’ Lincoln replied, ‘That’s where you’re wrong. Everyone over forty is responsible for the look on their face.’ So…what does your facial expression say to others?
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Born in Massachusetts, Adoniram Judson was educated at Brown University. On this day, February 19, 1812, being 23 years old, Adoniram and his wife Ann, who was 22, sailed from New England to Calcutta. They were America’s first foreign missionaries. They settled in the strange land of Rangoon and began to preach and write in Burmese. Enduring many hardships, Adoniram was imprisoned during the Burmese War. He later gained the respect from the Burmese and British officials. His translation of the Bible and English-Burmese Dictionary have been acclaimed as significant literary works.
Thomas R. Kelly
The last fruit of holy obedience is the simplicity of the trusting child, the simplicity of the children of God. It is the simplicity which lies beyond complexity. It is the naiveté which is the yonder side of sophistication. It is the beginning of spiritual maturity, which comes after the awkward age of religious busyness for the Kingdom of God-yet how many are caught, and arrested in development, within this adolescent development of the soul's growth! The mark of this simplified life is radiant joy. It lives in the Fellowship of the Transfigured Face. Knowing sorrow to the depths it does not agonize and fret and strain, but in serene, unhurried calm it walks in time with the joy and assurance of Eternity. Knowing fully the complexity of men's problems it cuts through to the Love of God and ever cleaves to Him. Like the mercy of Shakespeare,” ‘tis mightiest in the mightiest." But it binds all obedient souls together in the fellowship of humility and simple adoration of Him who is all in all.
I have in mind something deeper than the simplification of our external programs, our absurdly crowded calendars of appointments through which so many pantingly and frantically gasp. These do become simplified in holy obedience, and the poise and peace we have been missing can really be found. But there is a deeper, an internal simplification of the whole of one's personality, stilled, tranquil, in childlike trust listening ever to Eternity's whisper, walking with a smile into the dark.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Until I am born again
and begin to see the Kingdom of God,
I see along the line of my prejudices only.
--- Oswald Chambers
In conversion you are not attached primarily to an order, nor to an institution, nor a movement, nor a set of beliefs, nor a code of action - you are attached primarily to a Person, and secondarily to these other things.
--- E. Stanley Jones
We have to pray with our eyes on God,
not on the difficulties.
--- Oswald Chambers
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings a peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
--- Melody Beattie
... from here, there and everywhere
In Our Lord's Blood
Jesus was teaching about the purpose of his death. According to Paul and Matthew, Jesus’ words about the cup referred not only to his ‘blood’ but to the ‘new covenant’ associated with his blood, and Matthew adds further that his blood was to be shed ‘for the forgiveness of sins’. Here is the truly fantastic assertion that through the shedding of Jesus’ blood in death God was taking the initiative to establish a new pact or ‘covenant’ with his people, one of the greatest promises of which would be the forgiveness of sinners. What did he mean?
Many centuries previously God had entered into a covenant with Abraham, promising to bless him with a good land and an abundant posterity. God renewed this covenant at Mount Sinai, after rescuing Israel (Abraham’s descendants) from Egypt. He pledged himself to be their God and to make them his people. Moreover, this covenant was ratified with the blood of sacrifice: ‘Moses...took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”’ Exod. 24:8. See also the covenant references in Isa. 42:6; 49:8; Zech. 9:11 and Heb. 9: 18–20 Hundreds of years passed, in which the people forsook God, broke his covenant and provoked his judgment, until one day in the seventh century bc the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying:
‘The time is coming,’ declares the Lord,
‘when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,’
declares the Lord.
‘This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,’ declares the Lord.
‘I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbour,
or a man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,’
declares the Lord.
‘For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.’
More than six more centuries passed, years of patient waiting and growing expectancy, until one evening in an upper room in Jerusalem a Galilean peasant, carpenter by trade and preacher by vocation, dared to say in effect:
‘this new covenant, prophesied in Jeremiah, is about to be established; the forgiveness of sins promised as one of its distinctive blessings is about to become available; and the sacrifice to seal this covenant and procure this forgiveness will be the shedding of my blood in death.’
Is it possible to exaggerate the staggering nature of this claim? Here is Jesus’ view of his death. It is the divinely appointed sacrifice by which the new covenant with its promise of forgiveness will be ratified. He is going to die in order to bring his people into a new covenant relationship with God.
The Cross of Christ
University of Virginia Library 1994
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
Scrupling to do writings relative to keeping slaves has been a means of sundry small trials to me, in which I have so evidently felt my own will set aside that I think it good to mention a few of them. Tradesmen and retailers of goods, who depend on their business for a living, are naturally inclined to keep the good-will of their customers; nor is it a pleasant thing for young men to be under any necessity to question the judgment or honesty of elderly men, and more especially of such as have a fair reputation. Deep-rooted customs, though wrong, are not easily altered; but it is the duty of all to be firm in that which they certainly know is right for them. A charitable, benevolent man, well acquainted with a negro, may, I believe, under some circumstances, keep him in his family as a servant, on no other motives than the negro's good; but man, as man, knows not what shall be after him, nor hath he any assurance that his children will attain to that perfection in wisdom and goodness necessary rightly to exercise such power; hence it is clear to me, that I ought not to be the scribe where wills are drawn in which some children are made ales masters over others during life.
About this time an ancient man of good esteem in the neighborhood came to my house to get his will written. He had young negroes, and I asked him privately how he purposed to dispose of them. He told me; I then said, "I cannot write thy will without breaking my own peace," and respectfully gave him my reasons for it. He signified that he had a choice that I should have written it, but as I could not, consistently with my conscience, he did not desire it, and so he got it written by some other person. A few years after, there being great alterations in his family, he came again to get me to write his will. His negroes were yet young, and his son, to whom he intended to give them, was, since he first spoke to me, from a libertine become a sober young man, and he supposed that I would have been free on that account to write it. We had much friendly talk on the subject, and then deferred it. A few days after he came again and directed their freedom, and I then wrote his will.
Near the time that the last-mentioned Friend first spoke to me, a neighbor received a bad bruise in his body and sent for me to bleed him, which having done, he desired me to write his will. I took notes, and amongst other things he told me to which of his children he gave his young negro. I considered the pain and distress he was in, and knew not how it would end, so I wrote his will, save only that part concerning his slave, and carrying it to his bedside read it to him. I then told him in a friendly way that I could not write any instruments by which my fellow-creatures were made slaves, without bringing trouble on my own mind. I let him know that I charged nothing for what I had done, and desired to be excused from doing the other part in the way he proposed. We then had a serious conference on the subject; at length, he agreeing to set her free, I finished his will.
Having found drawings in my mind to visit Friends on Long Island, after obtaining a certificate from our Monthly Meeting, I set off 12th of fifth month, 1756. When I reached the island, I lodged the first night at the house of my dear friend, Richard Hallett. The next day being the first of the week, I was at the meeting in New Town, in which we experienced the renewed manifestations of the love of Jesus Christ to the comfort of the honest-hearted. I went that night to Flushing, and the next day I and my beloved friend, Matthew Franklin, crossed the ferry at White Stone; were at three meetings on the main, and then returned to the island, where I spent the remainder of the week in visiting meetings. The Lord, I believe, hath a people in those parts who are honestly inclined to serve him; but many I fear, are too much clogged with the things of this life, and do not come forward bearing the cross in such faithfulness as he calls for.
My mind was deeply engaged in this visit, both in public and private, and at several places where I was, on observing that they had slaves, I found myself under a necessity, in a friendly way, to labor with them on that subject; expressing, as way opened, the inconsistency of that practice with the purity of the Christian religion, and the ill effects of it manifested amongst us.
The latter end of the week their Yearly Meeting began; at which were our friends, John Scarborough, Jane Hoskins, and Susannah Brown, from Pennsylvania. The public meetings were large, and measurably favored with Divine goodness. The exercise of my mind at this meeting was chiefly on account of those who were considered as the foremost rank in the Society; and in a meeting of ministers and elders way opened for me to express in some measure what lay upon me; and when Friends were met for transacting the affairs of the church, having sat awhile silent, I felt a weight on my mind, and stood up; and through the gracious regard of our Heavenly Father, strength was given fully to clear myself of a burden which for some days had been increasing upon me.
Through the humbling dispensations of Divine Providence, men are sometimes fitted for his service. The messages of the prophet Jeremiah were so disagreeable to the people, and so adverse to the spirit they lived in, that he became the object of their reproach, and in the weakness of nature he thought of desisting from his prophetic office; but saith he, "His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I was weary with forbearing, and could not stay." I saw at this time that if I was honest in declaring that which truth opened in me, I could not please all men; and I labored to be content in the way of my duty, however disagreeable to my own inclination. After this I went homeward, taking Woodbridge and Plainfield in my way, in both which meetings the pure influence of Divine love was manifested, in an humbling sense whereof I went home. I had been out about twenty-four days, and rode about three hundred and sixteen miles.
While I was out on this journey my heart was much affected with a sense of the state of the churches in our southern provinces; and believing the Lord was calling me to some further labor amongst them, I was bowed in reverence before him, with fervent desires that I might find strength to resign myself to his heavenly will.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
and anyone who slanders is a fool.
19 When words are many, sin is not lacking;
so he who controls his speech is wise.
20 The tongue of the righteous is like pure silver,
but the mind of the wicked is worth little.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
but fools die for lack of sense.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The initiative against drudgery
Arise, shine. --- Isaiah 60:1.
We have to take the first step as though there were no God. It is no use to wait for God to help us, He will not; but immediately we arise we find He is there. Whenever God inspires, the initiative is a moral one. We must do the thing and not lie like a log. If we will arise and shine, drudgery becomes divinely transfigured.
Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is. Drudgery is work that is very far removed from anything to do with the ideal—the utterly mean, grubby things; and when we come in contact with them we know instantly whether or not we are spiritually real. Read John 13; we see there the Incarnate God doing the most desperate piece of drudgery, washing fishermen’s feet, and He says—“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it. Some people do a certain thing, and the way in which they do it hallows that thing for ever afterwards. It may be the most commonplace thing, but after we have seen them do it, it becomes different. When the Lord does a thing through us, He always transfigures it. Our Lord took on Him our human flesh and transfigured it, and it has become for every saint the temple of the Holy Ghost.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
There are nights that are so still
that I can hear the small owl
far off and a fox barking
miles away. It is then that I lie
in the lean hours awake listening
to the swell born somewhere in
rising and falling, rising and
wave on wave on the long shore
by the village that is without
and companionless. And the
of that other being who is
letting our prayers break on him,
not like this for a few hours,
but for days, years, for eternity.
R.S. Thomas: Selected Poems (Phoenix Poetry)
Exodus 20 contains the 10 basic moral laws God revealed to Moses for Israel. The laws on the first tablet of the Law focus on human relationship with God. The laws on the second tablet focus on our relationships with each other. We can glance through them, and see the purpose in each.
Each of these deserves comment, for they lay the moral foundation for a holy community and help us grasp the importance of personal relationships in biblical thought.
1. No other gods (Ex. 20:3). God has exclusive claim to our allegiance. No rival is to exist for the believer.
2. No idols (Ex. 20:4–6). We are to respond to the Word and Spirit of an invisible God (cf. Deut. 5:8–10; Isa. 40:18–20).
3. Do not take name in vain (Ex. 20:7). Yahweh means the One Who Is Ever Present. To take His “name in vain” means to consider the name empty or meaningless: to deny or doubt His presence and power.
4. Keep Sabbath holy (Ex. 20:8–11). The day of rest honors God (cf. 16:23) and is to benefit God’s Old Testament people (v. 29). To keep the Sabbath involved remembering God. This is the only commandment not repeated in the New Testament.
5. Honor father and mother (Ex 20:12). Respect of parents leads to knowing God. Is this a big reason why so many who claim to know God show by their actions they don't?. As for those who take advantage of and cheat their parents they break two commandments. To think their sin will not catch up with them is foolishness.
6. Do not murder (Ex. 20:13). The right of every person to life is protected. Any act which might rob another of life is included in the prohibition.
7. Do not commit adultery (Ex. 20:14). The value of faithfulness in personal commitments is stressed. Sex is not an “animal function,” but an expression of deep, personal commitment between one man and one woman.
8. Do not steal (Ex. 20:15). Respect for persons extends to their property. We do not “use” people for gain.
9. Do not give false testimony (Ex. 20:16). An individual’s reputation is to be guarded with his life and property.
10. Do not covet (Ex. 20:17). We are to care for persons, not property. God’s value system is to be our own.
Someone has suggested that we might visualize the Ten Commandments in terms of protection: protection of health in man’s relationship with God, and the protection of health in man’s relationship with other men.
How do the Ten Commandments protect relationships with God? First, we’re taught that He alone is to be recognized as God, and that He is to be worshiped in ways that are appropriate to His nature as Spirit. What’s more, we are to forever affirm the meaningfulness of Yahweh’s name as the One Who Is Always Present, never taking it as an empty symbol. Finally, we are to build into our lives a weekly reminder of God: a day of rest on which God’s works of Creation, rest, and redemption can be recalled.
“Protection” is also a theme of the commands dealing with interpersonal relationships. The parents’ role, the sanctity of life, the institution of marriage, the right of property, and to expect fair treatment from others, all provide protection for man in society. The final commandment, however, goes beyond all comparable law codes, and implies protection of the individual from himself! The prohibition against coveting strikes at the root of what motivates us to violate the rights of others. It warns us to look within, and deal immediately with stirring motives which might lead us to sin.
As for external standards, then, the Ten Commandments excellently perform the function for which they were designed. Looking to this Law, an Israelite could come to know more about his God, and see in the words of the Law the divine heart of love. For God has expressed in the Law His concern for the rights and the integrity of each individual.
At the same time an Israelite could receive immediate feedback on himself. He could know, from the first stirrings within to their expression in action, any thought or behavior which was wrong.
For Israel, the fear of the Lord and the commands of the Lord truly were vital as a beginning to obedience.
The Teacher's Commentary
Lessons for Everyday Living
In order to understand the Talmud, we need to understand the key figures who created Israelite religion and the Judaism that grew from it. Solomon built the Temple in the tenth century B.C.E. While the Temple stood in Jerusalem the essence of Israelite religion, according to the Bible, was its sacrificial cult. For example, the Torah speaks in great detail about the lamb that was to be sacrificed on Pesaḥ. The Torah says that “you shall explain [the exodus from Egypt] to your son on that day” (Exodus 13:8), but there is no mention in the Bible of families getting together for a Seder with the youngest child asking the Four Questions. Similarly, the Bible says nothing about praying all day on Yom Kippur and listening to the cantor chant Kol Nidrei. Rather, it explains about the two goats that were brought to the Temple, and how the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, was to offer one as a sacrifice and send the other off into the desert. Consequently, the most important religious figure was the kohen, a descendant of Moses’ brother Aaron, who was responsible for offering the prescribed sacrifices of the people to God.
By the end of the biblical period, there were other important leaders in addition to the kohen: shofet (judge), melekh (king), and navi (prophet). Their roles varied over time and place (Israel in the north, and Judea in the south) and were often multifaceted. There were tensions between, for example, kohen and navi, since each served broad social and administrative functions. Few Israelites could aspire to any of these roles, since they were, by and large, nondemocratic. One could not study or work to become a prophet (in the classical sense), and one became a king (with a few exceptions) through heredity.
By the close of the biblical period, with the development of “wisdom literature” (those biblical books like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes that offer the reader wise advice), another model of leadership had become an archetype: the ḥakham, or sage. This was a role that any Israelite (that is, any male Israelite) could aspire to and grow into. One could become a sage even without lineage, and it did not require a “calling” from God. While there was a degree of personal involvement on the prophet’s part, the ḥakham developed largely because of his own efforts. Learning wisdom by means of intellect, he could serve as the student of another wise master and grow even more. Over time, the role of sage became that of rabbi.
By the time the final books of the Bible were being canonized (accepted as both sacred and authoritative), the Sages were already playing a key role. The later Rabbis of the Talmud claimed that an institution called K’nesset ha-Gedolah, the “Great Assembly,” had served as a legislative body during this time (approximately the fifth to the third centuries B.C.E.) and had been responsible for the canonization of several books of the Bible and major parts of the liturgy. While we are unsure if this institution ever existed, it is clear that the later Rabbis of the talmudic age saw the power of knowledge and learning as having begun much earlier.
By the next two centuries (from 200 B.C.E. until approximately 20 C.E.), knowledge and authority were focused in what later generations called the zugot, or pairs. Two men in each generation were considered by tradition to be the leaders of the Sanhedrin, the great judicial body. Hillel and Shammai are the last and the most famous of these pairs.
The first century C.E. in Israel was among the most tumultuous and trying times in all of Jewish history. Roman occupation and persecution reached its zenith. The Jewish community was divided into many factions. (The historian Josephus writes of four sects: The Pharisees, who were to become the spiritual progenitors of talmudic Judaism; the Sadducees, a conservative group with strong ties to the Temple cult; the Essenes, a pietistic group that went off to create utopian communities in the desert, and which is associated by many with the Dead Sea Scrolls; and the Zealots, a group of ultranationalists who strove for Jewish independence and who made a famous last stand at Masada. It is likely that these constituted only a small percentage of the Jews in Judea.) In addition, the claim that Jesus was the Messiah attracted some in the Jewish community. And most significantly, in the year 70 C.E., in the course of putting down a revolt of the Jews, the Romans destroyed the Temple. The destruction of the Temple meant the end of the Israelite religion based on the sacrificial cult. The Jewish people faced their single greatest crisis: Their political independence was gone; the center of their religious life lay in ruins; countless Jews were slaughtered; and other religions (such as the nascent Christian church) were there to attract away the survivors.
It was at this critical moment that a new kind of leader stepped into the breach to pick up the pieces and recreate the Jewish religion. This leader was so unique that a new title was created: “Rabbi.”
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Nineteenth Chapter / The Practices Of A Good Religious
THE life of a good religious ought to abound in every virtue so that he is interiorly what to others he appears to be. With good reason there ought to be much more within than appears on the outside, for He who sees within is God, Whom we ought to reverence most highly wherever we are and in Whose sight we ought to walk pure as the angels.
Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse ourselves to fervor as though it were the first day of our religious life. We ought to say: “Help me, O Lord God, in my good resolution and in Your holy service. Grant me now, this very day, to begin perfectly, for thus far I have done nothing.”
As our intention is, so will be our progress; and he who desires perfection must be very diligent. If the strong-willed man fails frequently, what of the man who makes up his mind seldom or half-heartedly? Many are the ways of failing in our resolutions; even a slight omission of religious practice entails a loss of some kind.
Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own wisdom in keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every undertaking, for man, indeed, proposes but God disposes, and God’s way is not man’s. If a habitual exercise is sometimes omitted out of piety or in the interests of another, it can easily be resumed later. But if it be abandoned carelessly, through weariness or neglect, then the fault is great and will prove hurtful. Much as we try, we still fail too easily in many things. Yet we must always have some fixed purpose, especially against things which beset us the most. Our outward and inward lives alike must be closely watched and well ordered, for both are important to perfection.
If you cannot recollect yourself continuously, do so once a day at least, in the Morning or in the Evening. In the Morning make a resolution and in the Evening examine yourself on what you have said this day, what you have done and thought, for in these things perhaps you have often offended God and those about you.
Arm yourself like a man against the devil’s assaults. Curb your appetite and you will more easily curb every inclination of the flesh. Never be completely unoccupied, but read or write or pray or meditate or do something for the common good. Bodily discipline, however, must be undertaken with discretion and is not to be practiced indiscriminately by everyone.
Devotions not common to all are not to be displayed in public, for such personal things are better performed in private. Furthermore, beware of indifference to community prayer through love of your own devotions. If, however, after doing completely and faithfully all you are bound and commanded to do, you then have leisure, use it as personal piety suggests.
Not everyone can have the same devotion. One exactly suits this person, another that. Different exercises, likewise, are suitable for different times, some for feast days and some again for weekdays. In time of temptation we need certain devotions. For days of rest and peace we need others. Some are suitable when we are sad, others when we are joyful in the Lord.
About the time of the principal feasts good devotions ought to be renewed and the intercession of the saints more fervently implored. From one feast day to the next we ought to fix our purpose as though we were then to pass from this world and come to the eternal holyday.
During holy seasons, finally, we ought to prepare ourselves carefully, to live holier lives, and to observe each rule more strictly, as though we were soon to receive from God the reward of our labors. If this end be deferred, let us believe that we are not well prepared and that we are not yet worthy of the great glory that shall in due time be revealed to us. Let us try, meanwhile, to prepare ourselves better for death.
“Blessed is the servant,” says Christ, “whom his master, when he cometh, shall find watching. Amen I say to you: he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” (Luke 12:43, 44.)
The Imitation Of Christ
And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. --- Luke 22:32.
Peter has gone astray, and he has been brought back. ( C.H. Spurgeon's sermons on men of the New Testament (Library of Spurgeon's sermons) ) He must have staggered the faith of the weaker disciples—Peter, who had been such a leader among them, was among the first to deny his Lord. Therefore, Peter, you must build what you have thrown down and bind up what you have torn! Go and tell these people how foolish and weak you were. Warn them not to imitate your example. Be more bold than anybody else, that you may in some measure undo the mischief that you have done.
Any of you who have been cold toward the Lord, you have wasted months, even years, in backsliding. Try to recover lost ground. If people have been staggered by your backsliding, look after them, try to bring them back and strengthen them. Ask their pardon and beg them to recover the strength of which you helped to rob them. This is the least that you can do. If almighty love has drawn you back, lay yourself out to do good to those who may have been harmed by your turning aside. Am I asking more of you than simple justice demands?
How can you better express your gratitude to God than by strengthening your weak brothers and sisters when you have been strengthened yourself? If God has restored our souls and made us strong again, then we ought to renew our zeal for the salvation of others. We ought to have a special eye to backsliders like us.
This becomes our duty because it is a part of the divine design. Let us never imagine that God’s grace is given to us simply with an eye to ourselves. Grace neither begins nor ends with us. When God saved you, he did not save you for your own sake but for his own name’s sake, that he might through you show his mercy to others. We are windows through which the light of heavenly knowledge is to shine on multitudes of eyes. The light is not for the windows themselves but for those to whom it comes through the windows.
If we have been restored let us look after our weak brothers and sisters, showing zeal for the honor and glory of our Lord. When we went astray we dishonored Christ. If others go astray they will do the same. Let us be watchful that we may prevent their being as foolish as we have been. Let us learn tenderness from our own experience and feel a deep concern for other believers.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
James Guthrie was nicknamed “Sickerfoot,” a Scottish term meaning “Surefooted.” He was unflappable and self-possessed, having a knack for stilling arguments and calming crises. He taught philosophy at the University of St. Andrews for years before becoming a preacher of the Gospel in the Scottish town of Stirling.
On February 19, 1651 Guthrie was accused of disloyalty, for he had preached that Christ, not the Scottish king, should rule the church. Guthrie answered the accusation, saying that while he respected the monarch’s civil authority, he didn’t believe the king should control church affairs. In time an indictment was issued charging that Guthrie “did contrive, complot, counsel, consult, draw up, frame, invent, spread abroad or disperse — speak, preach, declaim or utter — divers and sundry vile seditions tending to the vilifying of His Majesty.”
Guthrie was sentenced to be hanged. On the Morning of his execution, June 1, 1661, he rose about four in the Morning for worship. When asked how he was, Guthrie replied “Very well. This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
His five-year-old son was brought to him. Taking the boy on his knee, he said, “William, the day will come when they will cast up to you that your father was hanged. But be not thou ashamed, lad. It is in a good cause.”
Guthrie soon mounted the scaffold and preached for an hour to the assembled multitude. Then he was hanged, after which his head was hacked off and affixed on Netherbow Port. In coming months little William, sneaking away to steal glances at his father’s decaying head, would run home crying, “I’ve seen my father’s head! I’ve seen my father’s head!” Its impact wasn’t lost, for William learned to lean on Christ, to spend time alone in prayer, and to excel in school. He might have become a powerful minister but for an early death from illness.
Meanwhile Guthrie’s bleached skull looked down on the throngs of Netherbow Port for 27 years until a brave student climbed up, removed it, and buried it with reverence.
This day belongs to the LORD! Let’s celebrate and be glad today. We’ll ask the LORD to save us! We’ll sincerely ask the LORD to let us win. God bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD! --- Psalm 118:24-26
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 19
“Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.” --- Ezekiel 36:37.
Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that he would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, he himself shines behind them, and he casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.
“Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw;
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love;
Brings every blessing from above.”
Evening - February 19
“He first findeth his own brother Simon.” --- John 1:41.
This case is an excellent pattern of all cases where spiritual life is vigorous. As soon as a man has found Christ, he begins to find others. I will not believe that thou hast tasted of the honey of the Gospel if thou canst eat it all thyself. True grace puts an end to all spiritual monopoly. Andrew first found his own brother Simon, and then others. Relationship has a very strong demand upon our first individual efforts. Andrew, thou didst well to begin with Simon. I doubt whether there are not some Christians giving away tracts at other people’s houses who would do well to give away a tract at their own—whether there are not some engaged in works of usefulness abroad who are neglecting their special sphere of usefulness at home. Thou mayst or thou mayst not be called to evangelize the people in any particular locality, but certainly thou art called to see after thine own servants, thine own kinsfolk and acquaintance. Let thy religion begin at home. Many tradesmen export their best commodities—the Christian should not. He should have all his conversation everywhere of the best savour; but let him have a care to put forth the sweetest fruit of spiritual life and testimony in his own family. When Andrew went to find his brother, he little imagined how eminent Simon would become. Simon Peter was worth ten Andrews so far as we can gather from sacred history, and yet Andrew was instrumental in bringing him to Jesus. You may be very deficient in talent yourself, and yet you may be the means of drawing to Christ one who shall become eminent in grace and service. Ah! dear friend, you little know the possibilities which are in you. You may but speak a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come. Andrew has only two talents, but he finds Peter. Go thou and do likewise.
Morning and Evening
WHY SHOULD HE LOVE ME SO?
Words and Music by Robert Harkness, 1880–1961
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
In the deepest sense, love is a prerequisite of the whole Christian faith. It begins with God since His basic attribute is love (1 John 4:8). The Father then supplied a model of sacrificial love by providing salvation for man through the atoning work of Christ. Also He gave us the indwelling Holy Spirit so we could respond to Him and seek to imitate His love in service to others. How our society languishes for a living demonstration of God’s love by Christians in every relationship of life!
Reflecting seriously on God’s redemptive love in sending His only Son to suffer and die for each of us personally should create within us a deep sense of unworthiness and devotion. Why should the Creator of the universe do all this for me? I was rebellious, a sinner, an enemy of God … yet He pursued and loved me. The amazing thrill of the Gospel is that we do not have to become good first in order to be loved by God. We are already loved just as we are. It is impossible to define and describe divine love and the transformation it produces in the life that receives it by faith. But this love can be experienced by anyone who desires it.
Author and composer Robert Harkness was an Australian Gospel musician who traveled extensively in round-the-world tours as a pianist with some of the leading evangelists of his day. Harkness wrote several hundred Gospel songs, which were first featured in these campaigns. He also prepared a correspondence course, “Evangelistic Piano Playing,” that has been widely used through the years.
Love sent my Savior to die in my stead; why should He love me so? Meekly to Calvary’s cross He was led; why should He love me so?
Nails pierced His hands and His feet for my sin; why should He love me so? He suffered sore my salvation to win; why should He love me so?
O how He agonized there in my place; why should He love me so? Nothing withholding my sin to efface; why should He love me so?
Chorus: Why should He love me so? Why should He love me so? Why should my Savior to Calvary go? Why should He love me so?
For Today: Romans 5:8; 8:35-39; Galatians 5:6; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:1.
Reflect seriously on all that Christ did to provide us with personal salvation and a restored fellowship with Almighty God. In the light of this, consider your own unworthiness. With a grateful response, carry this musical question with you as you go thinking of “why should He love me so?”
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