The Burning BushExodus 3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
Jesus Is Lord of the SabbathLuke 6:1 On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” 3 And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” 5 And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
A Man with a Withered Hand6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
The Twelve Apostles12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Jesus Ministers to a Great Multitude17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
The Beatitudes20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
Jesus Pronounces Woes24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
Love Your Enemies27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Judging Others37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
A Tree and Its Fruit43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Build Your House on the Rock46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Zophar Speaks: The Wicked Will SufferJob 20:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:
2 “Therefore my thoughts answer me,
because of my haste within me.
3 I hear censure that insults me,
and out of my understanding a spirit answers me.
4 Do you not know this from of old,
since man was placed on earth,
5 that the exulting of the wicked is short,
and the joy of the godless but for a moment?
6 Though his height mount up to the heavens,
and his head reach to the clouds,
7 he will perish forever like his own dung;
those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’
8 He will fly away like a dream and not be found;
he will be chased away like a vision of the night.
9 The eye that saw him will see him no more,
nor will his place any more behold him.
10 His children will seek the favor of the poor,
and his hands will give back his wealth.
11 His bones are full of his youthful vigor,
but it will lie down with him in the dust.
12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth,
though he hides it under his tongue,
13 though he is loath to let it go
and holds it in his mouth,
14 yet his food is turned in his stomach;
it is the venom of cobras within him.
15 He swallows down riches and vomits them up again;
God casts them out of his belly.
16 He will suck the poison of cobras;
the tongue of a viper will kill him.
17 He will not look upon the rivers,
the streams flowing with honey and curds.
18 He will give back the fruit of his toil
and will not swallow it down;
from the profit of his trading
he will get no enjoyment.
19 For he has crushed and abandoned the poor;
he has seized a house that he did not build.
20 “Because he knew no contentment in his belly,
he will not let anything in which he delights escape him.
21 There was nothing left after he had eaten;
therefore his prosperity will not endure.
22 In the fullness of his sufficiency he will be in distress;
the hand of everyone in misery will come against him.
23 To fill his belly to the full,
God will send his burning anger against him
and rain it upon him into his body.
24 He will flee from an iron weapon;
a bronze arrow will strike him through.
25 It is drawn forth and comes out of his body;
the glittering point comes out of his gallbladder;
terrors come upon him.
26 Utter darkness is laid up for his treasures;
a fire not fanned will devour him;
what is left in his tent will be consumed.
27 The heavens will reveal his iniquity,
and the earth will rise up against him.
28 The possessions of his house will be carried away,
dragged off in the day of God’s wrath.
29 This is the wicked man’s portion from God,
the heritage decreed for him by God.”
1 Corinthians 7
Principles for Marriage1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Live as You Are Called17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
The Unmarried and the Widowed25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
How to ERASE Logical Fallacies
By Kenneth Richard Samples 2/14/2017
An essential skill to develop—particularly if you intend to discuss the truth of your faith with others—is how to understand, evaluate, and present a logical argument. Though it might seem complex and rather intimidating, an argument in logic is really a very simple thing. To have an argument you must make a claim (called the conclusion, or the central point of the argument) and provide support (called premises, or evidence, facts, and reasons) for believing the claim to be true or correct. To have a good argument (logically sound or cogent), your premises must be (1) true, (2) pertinent to your central claim, and (3) sufficient to justify the conclusion.
What Are Fallacies?
A fallacy occurs when a logical argument contains a specific defect. A defect is a mistake in the reasoning process which causes an argument to break down (or fail to adequately support the conclusion). Left unrecognized and uncorrected, that failure leads to a defeated (unsound or not cogent) argument. Bad arguments provide no logical justification for their claims. Thus the person who reasons carefully will attempt to understand and thus avoid committing the common fallacies that serve to shipwreck arguments.
E-R-A-S-E the Fallacies
Various fallacies (errors in reasoning) describe breakdowns in the all-important premise-conclusion relationship. As stated earlier, for the conclusion of an argument to be adequately supported, all premises must be true, and the argument must employ correct reasoning in using them. Here’s a logical checklist to follow that will help you avoid or erase the most common and dangerous fallacies.
Books by Kenneth Richard Samples
God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader
A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Reasons to Believe)
God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader
Christian Endgame: Careful Thinking about the End Times
Christianity's Most Dangerous Idea (Ebook Shorts)
About Kenneth Richard Samples: I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author.
As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason.
I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."
Why Christianity Isn’t Just a List of Don’ts
By Ryan Pauly
One of the interesting aspects of Christianity is that it focuses on pursuing health rather than avoiding illness. This was the topic of a short discussion I had with my class today. Many times we think of Christianity only as a list of rules that help us avoid wrong behavior or keep us from having fun. This is what I hear frequently from students. However, this isn’t the goal. It isn’t focused on not doing wrong by creating a long list of don’ts. Instead, it is about living rightly and creating a lifestyle that is healthy. This is what I mean about pursuing health rather than avoiding illness.
The problem that many in our culture have with this message is that in order to create a healthy lifestyle and right living, we need things that are right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy. “Secularists, Marxists, and Postmodernists consider right and wrong to be burdensome because they hamper personal freedom.”¹ The reason for this is because most Secularists, Marxists, and Postmodernists consider themselves the highest authority. Their worldview says there is no religion or God they have to follow. This makes right and wrong relative to the individual, and no one can impose morality on another. This is what we are seeing in our culture today. “Who are you to judge?” A culture of relativism means a culture of no right and wrong, and this would allow people to have personal autonomy and choose whatever makes them happy. Is this really what is best?
I don’t think it is and here’s why.
We live in a culture with many rules that create right and wrong. And when we think about them, we see that most are in place to help us rather than hurt us. I have rules in my classroom not to limit my students’ freedom, but to create an environment of learning so that they benefit and grow. We have traffic laws not so the government can control us, but to protect us and create peace on the roads. Accidents and deaths generally happen when people are breaking the law. Take sports for example! Every sport has a long list of rules in order to make sure the payers are safe. Football has changed so much the last few years in because of their knowledge about concussions and health problems. We don’t see these rules as limiting the freedom of players but protecting them. Rules are there to pursue health rather than avoiding illness.
We also see this with a parent and a child. I don’t know any parent that allows their child to eat candy all day long and nothing else. Parents don’t force kids to each their vegetables to limit their freedom or to be burdensome. They also don’t do it just to avoid illness. Parents should do it because they want their child to be healthy. We also recognize that the child’s opinion on that matter really isn’t important because their knowledge is limited. The child says, “It tastes good. I like it. It makes me happy. So it must be good!” This shows that they don’t fully understand how things work. Parents, with their greater knowledge, create rules to pursue health for their children even when the child doesn’t understand.
Ryan Pauly graduated in 2010 with a B.A. of Religion and an emphasis in Youth Leadership from Vanguard University in Southern California. After graduating he became a missionary in the Dominican Republic. During his four years of living in the Dominican Republic; he taught youth 12-18 English, Worldview, Apologetics, and Leadership.
Ryan moved back to Southern California in 2015 and started teaching Historical Christian Doctrine, Apologetics, and Comparative Worldviews at a Southern California Christian high school. Along with teaching, Ryan is currently working on his M.A. of Christian Apologetics at Biola University and an Advanced Certificate in Science Apologetics from the Reasons Institute.
When Ryan isn’t teaching or studying, he enjoys speaking at churches, youth groups, schools, and conferences. His writing has been featured at crossexamined.org and thepoachedegg.net, and he is also a contributor for the updated version of the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Trade Paper which will be released in 2017. Along with his writing, you can tune in to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show hosted by Ryan every Wednesday from 4:30-5 pm on Active Reliance Radio.
10 Reasons You Should Read Fleming Rutledge’s ‘The Crucifixion’
By Andrew Wilson 2/17/2017
Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ is an extraordinary book. It’s theologically deep and beautifully written, pastoral and scholarly, ecumenical and evangelical. Like its author, it’s Episcopal but not as you know it. It’s endorsed by people you rarely find endorsing the same book: Stephen Westerholm and David Bentley Hart, Kate Sonderegger and Stanley Hauerwas, Larry Hurtado and Robert Jenson. In some ways, it’s the successor to John Stott’s The Cross of Christ; in other ways, it’s nothing like it. Readers looking for something on the cross that incorporates both richness and retrieval should forget N. T. Wright’s latest offer and get this book.
In no particular order, here are 10 reasons why.
1. Beautiful scholarship and scholarly beauty. | Few books achieve such marks. Rutledge writes as a preacher, full of imagery and pathos, illustration and contemporary application. When she talks about radical evil, or the judgment seat of Christ, we are caught up in high drama, sensing the depth and intensity of what’s at stake, rather than (as can often be true) feeling like we’re watching someone solve a math problem.
At the same time, she engages with a remarkable breadth of secondary literature from a variety of disciplines, and in most of this she represents complex debates judiciously and clearly. It’s not surprising to read that the book took close to 20 years to write.
2. The significance of her argument. | Rutledge’s central argument is right and vitally important, yet it’s also frequently unappreciated, ignored, or even rejected outright. In two sentences:
20 Quotes from Sinclair Ferguson’s New Book on Sanctification
By Justin Dillehay 2/11/2017
The following 20 quotes caught my attention as I read Sinclair Ferguson’s new book, Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification. Thanks to Tony Reinke for inspiring the 20 quotes idea.
“ What then is God’s holiness? What do we mean when we say ‘Holy Father’ and ‘Holy Son’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ and ‘Holy Trinity’? We mean the perfectly pure devotion of each of these three persons to the other two. We mean the attribute in the Trinity that corresponds to the ancient words that describe marriage: ‘forsaking all other, and cleaving only unto thee’—absolute, permanent, exclusive, pure, irreversible, and fully expressed devotion.”
“Ministers of the gospel often have the privilege of occupying ‘the best seat in the house.’ You see the whole congregation when you preach. . . . You stand looking out on the people you love when the church gathers round the Lord’s table. You also get a better view of a couple taking their marriage vows than any of the groomsmen or bridesmaids or even the parents do. You stand only a few feet away. You orchestrate the event close up and personal. And then the moment comes (even in traditions where it never used to!) when you say: ‘You may now kiss your bride.’ People always love that moment. Personally, at this point in the service, I usually experience a deep instinct to look down, to unfocus my gaze. This is a moment for two people who love each other. It is not the time for an outsider to their unique relationship to be watching. Yes, perhaps at a distance. But not from up close and personal; you do not belong there. Perhaps the seraphim that surrounded the throne in Isaiah’s vision of God in his majestic holiness felt the same way. To gaze on the sheer intensity of this flow of triune holy love would be to endanger themselves. They must distance themselves, cover their faces, and be separate.” (3)
“The New Testament also stresses that justification and sanctification are both ours through faith in Jesus Christ. It is therefore not possible to be justified without being sanctified and then growing in holiness. This is why Hebrews says sanctification is essential, since without it none of us will ever see the Lord. In order to experience final salvation, sanctification is as necessary as justification. Why is this? Simply because there is no justification without sanctification. Both are given in Christ—our new status is always accompanied by our new condition. Justification never takes place apart from regeneration which is the inauguration of sanctification. Put differently, if Christ is not Lord of our lives, sanctifying us, how can he have become our Savior? Indeed unless we are actually being saved Christ has not become our Saviour. If he is our Saviour, the evidence of that will be—being saved; saved from the old life style into a new life style. Here then is one of the most important basic principles of the gospel. We are not justified on the basis of our sanctification; yet justification never takes place without sanctification beginning.” (9–10)
“Holiness is often seen as a rather metallic idea, perhaps tinged with hypocrisy or a ‘holier than thou’ atmosphere. By contrast Scripture teaches that holiness puts back into our lives the attractiveness of personal character for which humans were originally created but which has been so badly marred. Thus the Bible speaks about the beauty of holiness. Since there is an infinite beauty in God, when he makes us his personal possession reflections of the beauty of his holiness begin to appear in us too.” (12)
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.
12 Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
Exodus 3; Luke 6; Job 20; 1 Corinthians 7
By Don Carson 2/20/2018
Two Elements In Exodus 3 demand attention.
The first is the dramatic introduction of “the angel of the LORD” (3:2). Initially, at least, Moses does not perceive an “angel.” The text reads, “There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush” – but this cannot mean that an angelic being appeared within the flames, differentiable from the flames, for what draws Moses’ attention is the bush itself which, though apparently burning, was never consumed. The manifestation of “the angel of the LORD,” then, was apparently in the miraculous flames themselves. Strikingly, when the voice speaks to Moses out of the burning bush, it is not the voice of the angel but the voice of God: “God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’” (3:4). The ensuing discussion is between God and Moses; there is no further mention of “the angel of the LORD.”
On the face of it, then, this “angel of the LORD” is some manifestation of God himself. We shall have occasion to think through other Old Testament passages where the angel of the Lord appears – sometimes in human form, sometimes not even explicitly called an “angel” (recall the “man” who wrestles with Jacob in Gen. 32), always hauntingly “other,” and always identified in some way with God himself.
We might well ask if, when the text before us records that “God said,” it really means no more than that God spoke through this angelic messenger: after all, if the messenger speaks the words of God, then in a sense it is God himself who is speaking. But the biblical manifestations of “the angel of the LORD” do not easily fit into so neat and simplistic an explanation. It is almost as if the biblical writers want to stipulate that God himself appeared, while distancing this transcendent God from any mere appearance. The angel of the Lord remains an enigmatic figure who is identified with God, yet separable from him – an early announcement, as it were, of the eternal Word who became flesh, simultaneously God’s own fellow and God’s own self (John 1:1, 14).
The second element is even more important, though I can assign it only the briefest comment here. The name of God (3:13-14) may be rendered “I AM WHO I AM,” as it is in the NIV, or “I will be what I will be.” In Hebrew, the abbreviated form “I am” is related in some fashion to YHWH, often spelled out as Yahweh (and commonly rendered “LORD,” in capital letters; the same Hebrew letters stand behind English Jehovah). The least that this name suggests is that God is self-existent, eternal, completely independent, and utterly sovereign: God is what he is, dependent on no one and nothing.
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:
- 1 An Introduction to the New Testament
- 2 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 3 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 4 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Hardcover: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 5 Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation
- 6 Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- 7 Exegetical Fallacies
- 8 For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Volume 1
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Matthew (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 11 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 12 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 13 How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 14 New Testament Commentary Survey
- 15 For the Love of God, Volume 2: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word
- 16 9: Matthew and Mark (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 17 Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14
- 18 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 19 The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures
- 20 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: John 14-17
- 21 Introducing NT: A Short Guide to Its History and Message
- 22 Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
- 23 Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes
- 24 Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: An Exposition of Matthew 5-10
- 25 The Intolerance of Tolerance
- 26 From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation
- 27 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 28 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension
- 29 The Expositor's Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke Vol. 8
- 30 Christ and Culture Revisited
- 31 NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 32 The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 33 Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day
- 34 Gagging of God, The
- 35 The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices
- 36 The God Who Is There Leader's Guide: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 37 What Is the Gospel?
- 38 His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke
- 39 The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the OT
- 40 Love in Hard Places
- 41 Coming Home: Essays on the New Heaven and New Earth
- 42 God's Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World
- 43 Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
- 44 Telling the Truth
- 45 God's Word, Our Story: Learning from the Book of Nehemiah
- 46 Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications
- 47 The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7
- 48 Sunsets: Reflections for Life's Final Journey
- 49 God with Us: Themes from Matthew
- 50 A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13
- 51 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 52 The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry
- 53 Teach Us to Pray: Prayer in the Bible and the World
- 54 Matthew, Vol.2 (Ch. 13-28), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 55 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 56 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 57 Entrusted with the Gospel: Pastoral Expositions of 2 Timothy
- 58 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension
- 59 The Holy Spirit
- 60 The Plan
- 61 Collected Writings on Scripture
- 62 The Inclusive-Language Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 63 Matthew, Vol.1 (Ch. 1-12), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 64 Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Influence of Carl F. H. Henry
- 65 The Restoration of All Things
- 66 Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times
- 67 Christ's Redemption
- 68 Exegetical Fallacies
- 69 Justification
- 70 Greek Accents: A Student's Manual
- 71 Gospel-Centered Ministry
- 72 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 77 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 78 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 79 [(Christ and Culture Revisited)]
- 80 When Jesus Confronts the World: An Exposition of Matthew 8-10
- 81 The Church: God's New People
- 82 Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life
- 83 Love in Hard Places
- 84 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place In God'S Story
- 85 NT Commentary Survey
- 86 The Inclusive Language Debate
- 87 Exegetical Fallacies
- 88 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14-17
- 89 NT Commentary Survey
- 90 How long, O Lord? (2nd edition): Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 91 Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century
- 92 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 93 By D. A. Carson - Gagging of God
- 94 Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed
- 95 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 96 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 97 A Call to Spiritual Reformation
Man Died After He Was Forced to Spend the Night in a Cold Pond for Refusing to Deny Christ
By Nancy Flory 2/17/2017
A Christian couple was forced to spend the night in a frigid pond after they refused to deny Christ; the man has now died.
Bartu Urawn and his wife from Jharkhand state, India, were forced to spend 17 hours up to their necks in the pond with their hands tied as punishment for leaving their indigenous faith, reported Morning Star News. Bartu became ill and sustained nerve damage.
Beneswar Urawn, the couple’s son, witnessed the punishment along with some villagers. “All through the night, they were in the cold water shivering, and I along with 15 to 20 villagers were witness to the brutality,” said Beneswar. “The villagers kept asking my father if he is ready to forsake Christ and return to the Sarna fold. He reiterated every time, ‘I will not deny Christ … I will continue to believe till my last breath.'”
After the couple was pulled from the water, the villagers hit them and tried to get them to deny Christ. Both became ill, but Bartu’s wife recovered while he did not. Bartu died on January 20, 2017. Villagers stood watch over his body and refused to allow the family to bury him. The next day, Beneswar and four others were able to get Bartu’s body and carry it six miles, where they were able to bury him on government land.
The punishment came after years of persecution for Bartu Urawn and his wife, Beneswar Urawn and his wife and Beneswar’s younger brother. The villagers practice Sarna Dharam, which demands blood sacrifice and ritualistic services. Before the torture, the villagers forced Bartu to attend one of their services and forced some of the sacrifice down his throat and made him drink a fermented liquor, Beneswar told Morning Star News. The villagers had also persecuted Beneswar, his wife and Beneswar’s younger brother by locking them in their house for hours and polluting their drinking water source.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
16. From this doctrine faith derives manifold advantages.  First,
it perceives that the Lord, by his ascension to heaven, has opened up
the access to the heavenly kingdom, which Adam had shut. For having
entered it in our flesh, as it were in our name, it follows, as the
Apostle says, that we are in a manner now seated in heavenly places,
not entertaining a mere hope of heaven, but possessing it in our head.
Secondly, faith perceives that his seat beside the Father is not
without great advantage to us. Having entered the temple not made with
hands, he constantly appears as our advocate and intercessor in the
presence of the Father; directs attention to his own righteousness, so
as to turn it away from our sins; so reconciles him to us, as by his
intercession to pave for us a way of access to his throne, presenting
it to miserable sinners, to whom it would otherwise be an object of
dread, as replete with grace and mercy. Thirdly, it discerns his power,
on which depend our strength, might, resources, and triumph over hell,
"When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive," (Eph. 4:8).
Spoiling his foes, he gave gifts to his people, and daily loads them
with spiritual riches. He thus occupies his exalted seat, that thence
transferring his virtue unto us, he may quicken us to spiritual life,
sanctify us by his Spirit, and adorn his Church with various graces, by
his protection preserve it safe from all harm, and by the strength of
his hand curb the enemies raging against his cross and our salvation;
in fine, that he may possess all power in heaven and earth, until he
have utterly routed all his foes, who are also ours and completed the
structure of his Church. Such is the true nature of the kingdom, such
the power which the Father has conferred upon him, until he arrive to
complete the last act by judging the quick and the dead.
17. Christ, indeed, gives his followers no dubious proofs of present power, but as his kingdom in the world is in a manner veiled by the humiliation of a carnal condition, faith is most properly invited to meditate on the visible presence which he will exhibit on the last day. For he will descend from heaven in visible form, in like manner as he was seen to ascend,  and appear to all, with the ineffable majesty of his kingdom, the splendour of immortality, the boundless power of divinity, and an attending company of angels. Hence we are told to wait for the Redeemer against that day on which he will separate the sheep from the goats and the elect from the reprobate, and when not one individual either of the living or the dead shall escape his judgment. From the extremities of the universe shall be heard the clang of the trumpet summoning all to his tribunal; both those whom that day shall find alive, and those whom death shall previously have removed from the society of the living. There are some who take the words, quick and dead, in a different sense;  and, indeed, some ancient writers appear to have hesitated as to the exposition of them; but our meaning being plain and clear, is much more accordant with the Creed which was certainly written for popular use. There is nothing contrary to it in the Apostle's declaration, that it is appointed unto all men once to die. For though those who are surviving at the last day shall not die after a natural manner, yet the change which they are to undergo, as it shall resemble, is not improperly called, death (Heb. 9:27). "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," (1 Cor. 15:51). What does this mean? Their mortal life shall perish and be swallowed up in one moment, and be transformed into an entirely new nature. Though no one can deny that that destruction of the flesh will be death, it still remains true that the quick and the dead shall be summoned to judgment (1 Thess. 4:16); for "the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the lord in the air." Indeed, it is probable, that these words in the Creed were taken from Peter's sermon as related by Luke (Acts 10:42), and from the solemn charge of Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:1).
18. It is most consolatory to think, that judgment is vested in him who has already destined us to share with him in the honour of judgment (Mt. 19:28); so far is it from being true, that he will ascend the judgment-seat for our condemnation. How could a most merciful prince destroy his own people? how could the head disperse its own members? how could the advocate condemn his clients? For if the Apostle, when contemplating the interposition of Christ, is bold to exclaim, "Who is he that condemneth?" (Rom. 8:33), much more certain is it that Christ, the intercessor, will not condemn those whom he has admitted to his protection. It certainly gives no small security, that we shall be sisted at no other tribunal than that of our Redeemer, from whom salvation is to be expected; and that he who in the Gospel now promises eternal blessedness, will then as judge ratify his promise.  The end for which the Father has honoured the Son by committing all judgment to him (John 5:22), was to pacify the consciences of his people when alarmed at the thought of judgment. Hitherto I have followed the order of the Apostles' Creed, because it states the leading articles of redemption in a few words, and may thus serve as a tablet in which the points of Christian doctrine, most deserving of attention, are brought separately and distinctly before us.  I call it the Apostles' Creed, though I am by no means solicitous as to its authorship. The general consent of ancient writers certainly does ascribe it to the Apostles, either because they imagined it was written and published by them for common use, or because they thought it right to give the sanction of such authority to a compendium faithfully drawn up from the doctrine delivered by their hands. I have no doubt, that, from the very commencement of the Church, and, therefore, in the very days of the Apostles, it held the place of a public and universally received confession, whatever be the quarter from which it originally proceeded. It is not probable that it was written by some private individual, since it is certain that, from time immemorial, it was deemed of sacred authority by all Christians. The only point of consequence we hold to be incontrovertible--viz. that it gives, in clear and succinct order, a full statement of our faith, and in every thing which it contains is sanctioned by the sure testimony of Scripture. This being understood, it were to no purpose to labour anxiously, or quarrel with any one as to the authorship, unless, indeed, we think it not enough to possess the sure truth of the Holy Spirit, without, at the same time, knowing by whose mouth it was pronounced, or by whose hand it was written.
19. When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every single part of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must beware of deriving even the minutes portion of it from any other quarter. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it;  if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in his unction; strength in his government; purity in his conception; indulgence in his nativity, in which he was made like us in all respects, in order that he might learn to sympathise with us: if we seek redemption, we shall find it in his passion; acquittal in his condemnation; remission of the curse in his cross; satisfaction in his sacrifice; purification in his blood; reconciliation in his descent to hell; mortification of the flesh in his sepulchre; newness of life in his resurrection; immortality also in his resurrection; the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in his entrance into heaven; protection, security, and the abundant supply of all blessings, in his kingdom; secure anticipation of judgment in the power of judging committed to him. In fine, since in him all kinds of blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from him, and none from any other quarter. Those who, not satisfied with him alone, entertain various hopes from others, though they may continue to look to him chiefly, deviate from the right path by the simple fact, that some portion of their thought takes a different direction. No distrust of this description can arise when once the abundance of his blessings is properly known.
 Latin, "Supremi decreti." French, "Decret eternel et inviolable;"--Eternal and inviolable decree.
 It is not adverted to by Augustine, Lib. 1. De Symbolo de Catechumenos.
 The French of this sentence is, "Dont on peut conjecturer qu'il a esté tantost aprés le tems des Apostres adjousté; mais que peu a peu il est venu en usage."--Whence we may conjecture that it was added some time after the days of the Apostles, but gradually came into use.
 The French is, "Pour colorer leur fantasie, ils tirent par les cheveux quelques temoignages."--To colour their fancy, they pull by the hair (violently wrest) certain passages.
 See Justin, Ambrose, Jerome. The opinions of the Fathers and Rabbis on Hell and Limbus are collected by Peter Martyr, Loci Communes, Lib. 3 Loc. 16 sect. 8; see Augustine, Ep. 99.
 French, "Les autres translatent Reverence ou Pieté; mais la Grammaire et la matiere qui est la tracté monstrent que c'est mal ? propos."--Others translate Reverence or Piety; but Grammar and the subject-matter show that they do it very unseasonably
 See Cyril. Lib. 2 De Recta Fide ad Reginas; Item, Hilarius de Trinitate, Lib. 4 c. 2 and 3.
 Vide Luther, tom. 1 in Concione de Morte, fol. 87.
 Ephes. 1:20; Phil. 2:9; 1 Cor. 15:27; Ephes. 4:15; Acts 2:33; 3:21; Heb. 1:4.
 August. de Fide et Symbolo, cap. 8; Eph. 2:6; Heb. 7:25; 9:11.
 Acts 1:11; Mt. 24:30; 25:31; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17.
 The French is, "Il y en a aucuns qui exposent par les vivans et les morts les bons et les mauvais."--There are some who, by the quick and the dead, understand the good and the bad.
 Vide Ambros. de Jac. et Vita Beata, Lib. 1 c. 6.
 The French is, "Jusques ici j'ay suivi l'ordre du Symbole qu'on appelle des Apostres, pource que la nous pouvons voir comme en un tableau, par les articles qui y sont contenus, en quoy gist nostre salut: et par ce moyen aussi entendons a quelles choses il nous faut arrester pour obtenir salut en Jesus Christ."--Hitherto I have followed the order of what is called the Apostles' Creed, because there we may see, as in a tablet, by the articles which are contained in it, wherein consists our salvation, and by this means also understand on that things we ought to dwell in order to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ.
 Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 1:30; Heb. 2:17; Gal. 3:3.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Theology for Beggars (Part 1)
By David Owen Filson 2/18/2017
On February 19th the "scrawny shrimp," as he was affectionately called, stood startled, as his lecture on Romans was interrupted by news no one wanted to hear. Hardly able to gather himself, Philip Melanchthon tearfully announced to his students assembled in the great hall at Lutherhause, "Ach, obiit auriga et currus Israel!" (Alas, the charioteer of Israel has fallen!") This note, which Luther wrote in Latin, is concluded by a burst of German, "Wir sind alle Bettler." Then--resuming the Latin--Luther wrote, "Hoc est verum." ("We are all beggars. This is true.")
Biographer Roland Bainton suggests Martin Luther had done the work of five men in his lifetime. By February 18th, 1546, it caught up with him. Returning from a trip to Eisleben, marked by weeks of efforts to reconcile two brother counts of Mansfeld, his heart was failing him. The weather had been terribly disagreeable. This didn't help. Luther, admittedly feeling his age and frailty, wearily took ill. As the story goes, his companions managed to find lodging for him in a nearby house. His condition worsening, one of them asked, "Dr. Luther, do you want to die standing firm on Christ and the doctrine you have taught." Breaking his labored breathing of prayer and scriptures, a distinct "Ya!" leaped from his lips. Between 2-3am, Luther died a good death - full circle, in the very town in which he was born 62 years prior.
One of the most telling pieces to this dramatic conclusion to a dramatic earthly journey is a note Luther scratched out just two days earlier. Knowing his dire condition, he penned something of a humble epilogue to his life, churchmanship, the Scripture he adored, and the "doctrine he had taught:"
"No one can understand Virgil in his Bucolics and Georgics unless he has spent five years as a shepherd or farmer. No one understands Cicero in his letters unless he has served under an outstanding government for twenty years. No one should believe that he has tasted the Holy Scriptures sufficiently unless he has spent one hundred years leading churches with the prophets. That is why: 1. John the Baptist, 2, Christ, 3. The Apostles were a prodigious miracle. Do not profane this divine Aeneid, but bow down to it and honor its vestiges." Luther: Man Between God and the Devil
This note, which Luther wrote in Latin, is concluded by a burst of German, "Wir sind alle Bettler." Then--resuming the Latin--Luther wrote, "Hoc est verum." ("We are all beggars. This is true.")Click here for entire article
Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther
Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom
Luther: Man Between God and the Devil
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Handling panic attacks
2/19/2018 Bob Gass
‘Do not be afraid of sudden fear.’
(Pr 3:25) Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, ESV
In the Bible panic attacks are referred to as ‘sudden fear’. You can’t breathe, your palms sweat, your chest gets tight, and you feel weak. If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you’ll recognise these symptoms. Doctors estimate that in our stress - filled world, about a third of us experience at least one panic attack a year. If you are one of them, here are some things you can do to help yourself: 1) Breathe deeply. Panic makes you breathe in short, shallow bursts, whereas breathing deeply helps to calm and relax you. So, when you start to feel overwhelmed, stop and breathe the name of Jesus. Try it; it works! 2) Talk to yourself. Say, ‘By God’s grace I can handle this’ (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). If you respond with more panic you’ll just end up in double trouble. Allowing yourself to feel panic without reacting to it may sound difficult at first, but it helps you break the cycle and take control of your thinking. 3) Do something calming. This may be the last thing you feel like doing, because panic attacks make you instinctively think thoughts that feed your fear. So, take a minute and whisper a prayer, quote a Scripture, listen to inspirational music, or talk to a friend. And if your panic attacks continue, there’s no shame in getting professional help. After all, it’s God who gives doctors the skills and abilities to intervene. Here’s a Scripture you should write down and keep handy: ‘You can go to bed without fear…and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster…for the Lord is your security’ (Proverbs 3:24-26 NLT).
(2 Co 12:9) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ESV
(Pr 3:24–26) 24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught. ESV
by Bill Federer
A Colonel during the Revolutionary War, he fought in the battles of Long Island and Saratoga, built the fortifications at Breed’s Hill and commanded the Colonial Militia at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His name was William Prescott and he was born this day, February 20, 1726. When the British blockaded the Boston harbor, William Prescott wrote to the city’s inhabitants: “Providence has placed you where you must stand the first shock… We… must sink or swim together…. Let us… stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. And may He… grant us deliverance.”
Thomas R. Kelly
This amazing simplification comes when we "center down," when life is lived with singleness of eye, from a holy Center where the breath and stillness of Eternity are heavy upon us and we are wholly yielded to Him. Some of you know this holy, recreating Center of eternal peace and joy and live in it day and night. Some of you may see it over the margin and wistfully long to slip into that amazing Center where the soul is at home with God. Be very faithful to that wistful longing. It is the Eternal Goodness calling you to return Home, to feed upon green pastures and walk beside still waters and live in the peace of the Shepherd's presence. It is the life beyond fevered strain. We are called beyond strain, to peace and power and joy and love and thorough abandonment of self. We are called to put our hands trustingly in His hand and walk the holy way, in no anxiety assuredly resting in Him.
Douglas Steere wisely says that true religion often appears to be the enemy of the moralist. For religion cuts across the fine distinctions between the several virtues and gathers all virtues into the one supreme quality of love. The wholly obedient life is mastered and unified and simplified and gathered up into the love of God and it lives and walks among men in the perpetual flame of that radiant love. For the simplified man loves God with all his heart and mind and soul and strength and abides trustingly in that love. Then indeed do we love our neighbors. And the Fellowship of the Horny Hands is identical with the Fellowship of the Transfigured Face, in this MaryMartha life.
In this day when the burdens of humanity press so heavily upon us I would begin not first with techniques of service but with the most "Serious Call to a Devout Life," a life of such humble obedience to the Inner Voice as we have scarcely dared to dream. Hasten unto Him who calls you in the silences of your heart. The Hound of Heaven is ever near us, the voice of the Shepherd is calling us home. Too long have we lingered in double-minded obedience and dared not the certainties of His love. For Him do ye seek, all ye pearl merchants. He is "the food of grown men." Hasten unto Him who is the chief actor of the drama of time and Eternity. It is not too late to love Him utterly and obey Him implicitly and be baptized with the power of the apostolic life. Hear the words of Saint Augustine, as he rued his delay of commitment to Him. "Too late loved I Thee, 0 Thou beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved Thee! And behold, Thou wert within and I abroad, and there I searched for Thee; deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms which Thou hadst made. Thou wert with me but I was not with Thee. Things held me far from Thee which, unless they were in Thee, were not at all. Thou calledst and shoutedst, and burstedst my deafness. Thou flashedst, shonest, and scattered my blindness. Thou breathedst odors, and I drew in breath and pant for Thee. I tasted, and hunger and thirst. Thou touchedst me and I burned for Thy peace. When I shall with my whole soul cleave to Thee, I shall nowhere have sorrow or labor, and my life shall live as wholly full of Thee."
A Testament of Devotion
Compilation by RickAdams7
We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims
beneath the wheels of injustice,
we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Without the Way,
there is no going;
Without the Truth,
there is no knowing;
Without the Life,
there is no living.
--- Thomas à Kempis
Atheists – What reason have they for saying that we cannot rise from the dead? What is more difficult, to be born or to rise again; that what has never been shall be, or that what has been should be again? Is it more difficult to come into existence than to return to it? Habit makes the one appear easy to us; want of habit makes the other impossible.
--- Blaise Pascal
The same God that gave the Christian laws to men, gave the laws of nature to the creatures.
--- Stanley Baldwin
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
Until this year, 1756, I continued to retail goods, besides following my trade as a tailor; about which time I grew uneasy on account of my business growing too cumbersome. I had begun with selling trimmings for garments, and from thence proceeded to sell cloths and linens; and at length, having got a considerable shop of goods, my trade increased every year, and the way to large business appeared open, but I felt a stop in my mind.
Through the mercies of the Almighty, I had, in a good degree, learned to be content with a plain way of living. I had but a small family; and, on serious consideration, believed truth did not require me to engage much in cumbering affairs. It had been my general practice to buy and sell things really useful. Things that served chiefly to please the vain mind in people, I was not easy to trade in; seldom did it; and whenever I did I found it weaken me as a Christian.
The increase of business became my burden; for though my natural inclination was toward merchandise, yet I believed truth required me to live more free from outward cumbers; and there was now a strife in my mind between the two. In this exercise my prayers were put up to the Lord, who graciously heard me, and gave me a heart resigned to his holy will. Then I lessened my outward business, and, as I had opportunity, told my customers of my intentions, that they might consider what shop to turn to; and in a while I wholly laid down merchandise, and followed my trade as a tailor by myself, having no apprentice. I also had a nursery of apple-trees, in which I employed some of my time in hoeing, grafting, trimming, and inoculating. In merchandise it is the custom where I lived to sell chiefly on credit, and poor people often get in debt; when payment is expected, not having wherewith to pay, their creditors often sue for it at law. Having frequently observed occurrences of this kind, I found it good for me to advise poor people to take such goods as were most useful, and not costly.
In the time of trading I had an opportunity of seeing that the too liberal use of spirituous liquors and the custom of wearing too costly apparel led some people into great inconveniences; and that these two things appear to be often connected with each other. By not attending to that use of things which is consistent with universal righteousness, there is an increase of labor which extends beyond what our Heavenly Father intends for us. And by great labor, and often of much sweating, there is even among such as are not drunkards a craving of liquors to revive the spirits; that partly by the luxurious drinking of some, and partly by the drinking of others (led to it through immoderate labor), very great quantities of rum are every year expended in our colonies; the greater part of which we should have no need of, did we steadily attend to pure wisdom.
When men take pleasure in feeling their minds elevated with strong drink, and so indulge their appetite as to disorder their understandings, neglect their duty as members of a family or civil society, and cast off all regard to religion, their case is much to be pitied. And where those whose lives are for the most part regular, and whose examples have a strong influence on the minds of others, adhere to some customs which powerfully draw to the use of more strong liquor than pure wisdom allows, it hinders the spreading of the spirit of meekness, and strengthens the hands of the more excessive drinkers. This is a case to be lamented.
Every degree of luxury hath some connection with evil; and if those who profess to be disciples of Christ, and are looked upon as leaders of the people, have that mind in them which was also in Christ, and so stand separate from every wrong way, it is a means of help to the weaker. As I have sometimes been much spent in the heat and have taken spirits to revive me, I have found by experience, that in such circumstances the mind is not so calm, nor so fitly disposed for Divine meditation, as when all such extremes are avoided. I have felt an increasing care to attend to that Holy Spirit which sets right bounds to our desires, and leads those who faithfully follow it to apply all the gifts of Divine Providence to the purposes for which they were intended. Did those who have the care of great estates attend with singleness of heart to this heavenly Instructor, which so opens and enlarges the mind as to cause men to love their neighbors as themselves, they would have wisdom given them to manage their concerns, without employing some people in providing luxuries of life, or others in laboring too hard; but for want of steadily regarding this principle of Divine love, a selfish spirit takes place in the minds of people, which is attended with darkness and manifold confusions in the world.
Though trading in things useful is an honest employ, yet through the great number of superfluities which are bought and sold, and through the corruption of the times, they who apply to merchandise for a living have great need to be well experienced in that precept which the Prophet Jeremiah laid down for his scribe: "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not."
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
and he doesn’t mix sorrow with it.
23 To a fool, vileness is like a game,
as is wisdom to a person of discernment.
24 What a fool dreads will overtake him,
but the righteous will be given his desire.
25 When the storm has passed, the wicked are gone;
but the righteous are firmly established forever.
26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes
is a lazy person to his employer.
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The initiative against dreaming
Arise, let us go hence. --- John 14:31.
Dreaming about a thing in order to do it properly is right; but dreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong. After Our Lord had said those wonderful things to His disciples, we might have expected that He would tell them to go away and meditate over them all; but Our Lord never allowed ‘mooning.’ When we are getting into contact with God in order to find out what He wants, dreaming is right; but when we are inclined to spend our time in dreaming over what we have been told to do, it is a bad thing and God’s blessing is never on it. God’s initiative is always in the nature of a stab against this kind of dreaming, the stab that bids us “neither sit nor stand but go.”
If we are quietly waiting before God and He has said—“Come ye yourselves apart,” then that is meditation before God in order to get at the line He wants; but always beware of giving over to mere dreaming when once God has spoken. Leave Him to be the source of all your dreams and joys and delights, and go out and obey what He has said. If you are in love, you do not sit down and dream about the one you love all the time, you go and do something for him; and that is what Jesus Christ expects us to do. Dreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
The New Mariner
In the silence
that is his chosen medium
of communication and telling
others about it
in words. Is there no way
not to be the sport
of reason? For me now
there is only the God-space
into which I send out
my probes. I had looked forward
to old age as a time
of quietness, a time to draw
my horizons about me,
to watch memories ripening
in the sunlight of a walled garden.
But there is the void
over my head and the distance
within that the tireless signals
come from. And astronaut
on impossible journeys
to the far side of the self
I return with messages
I cannot decipher, garrulous
about them, worrying the car
of the passer-by, hot on his way
to the marriage of plain fact
with plain fact.
The events reported in Exodus through Deuteronomy tell of Israel’s redemption from Egypt. And they give us a portrait of our own redemption from sin. In the early chapters of the Book of Exodus, we’ve seen several key truths.
We have a deep need for redemption. As Israel was in slavery, so all men are lost and powerless under the sway of sin.
Only God’s action can deliver. God had to intervene in acts of power to break the authority of Pharaoh over Israel. God Himself had to intervene, in Jesus Christ, to save us.
New life emerges from death: the Lamb must die. The Passover lamb’s blood on the door protected Israel from the death angel. It is the blood of Christ, shed for the sins of the world, which provides our salvation.
Our new life is to be marked by a holiness we do not have. Israel’s response to God after deliverance demonstrated her need for standards and for a clear revelation of God’s expectations. God is concerned about our righteousness as well: we are called to bear the image of His Son. The standard revealed in words in the Law has been unveiled in person by Jesus.
We fall short of the goal to which God calls us. The Law defined the pathway of love for Israel. At the same time it demonstrated conclusively that Israel fell short. The New Testament also defines, in terms of principles rather than rules, the pathway of love. A look into the New Testament shows that we, like Israel, fall short of being all that God calls us to be.
These are central messages that God gave Israel in the events we’ve read about. Today the record of those events speaks the same messages to you and to me that were spoken to Israel. The last of these messages—the revelation that even after redemption we stand in need—launches us into an exciting segment of Scripture. God reminds us that we are a needy people. But He also gives us insight into the way He plans to meet that very need!
Lessons for Everyday Living
In the text of a play, before the very first scene, a list of players, the dramatis personae, is presented. We are thus introduced to the heroes (and villains) who will populate the drama. By scanning this roster of roles, we learn if we are dealing with kings or clowns, and we get a first impression of the world that we are about to enter. The dramatis personae of the Talmud are almost entirely rabbis. That might lead us—mistakenly—to the conclusion that we are dealing with clergymen (and women) who are spiritual leaders of synagogues and temples and who “run” Sabbath and holiday services. What the Talmud meant by “Rabbi” is quite different from our contemporary meaning of the term.
The title “Rabbi” (or rah-bee as it is pronounced in Hebrew) comes from a root word meaning “great.” (In Babylonia, a slightly different title with the same meaning evolved; there, the Rabbis were called Rav.) During the period of the Talmud, one did not receive the title Rabbi by enrolling in a rabbinical seminary and completing a fixed course of study. It was conveyed upon a man by his teacher after having studied for a significant period of time. Ordination was often accompanied by semikhah, a ceremonial “laying on of the hands.” A Rabbi could then decide religious questions and, with additional training, could serve as a judge in civil cases.
In this book, the term “the Rabbis” (capitalized) refers to the sages mentioned in the Talmud.
There was no such thing as a “professional rabbinate” during talmudic times. Rabbis received no salaries; they were not employed by synagogues. The Rabbis were men of great learning but people who had professions in which they worked and earned their livelihood. We find Rabbis who did everything from being a blacksmith to brewing and selling beer.
Sometimes, Rabbis gave public RS Thomas or lectures on Shabbat on the most basic issues of Jewish law and ethics. Other times, they debated and argued among themselves, in the study houses, on the most complex and arcane of legal subjects. They were the ones to whom people now turned in trying to understand what God wanted of them.
Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Zakkai is the most significant figure in the generation following the destruction of the Temple. He moved the seat of power from Jerusalem to the town of Yavneh. He attracted other great teachers and together they studied and taught the Torah and then began to build a new religion out of the ashes of the old. The synagogue came to take the place of the Temple; prayer took the place of sacrifice.
The Rabbis of the next five generations (spanning approximately one hundred fifty years) came to be known as the Tannaim (from the Aramaic word “repeaters,” because they memorized, repeated, and passed on the traditions). It was their work which ultimately culminated in the Mishnah.
Babylonia was already a major center of Jewish life, rivaling Israel. Beginning in the third century, rabbinic study houses began to flourish there. The Rabbis in Babylonia began to study and expand on the Mishnah in the same way that Rabbis in Israel did. These teachers in the post-Mishnaic period, in both Babylonia and Israel, were known as the Amoraim (Aramaic for “explainers”).
Some time in the early fifth century in Israel, the record of the teachings and discussions of the Amoraim based on, but not limited to, the Mishnah were gathered and edited and became known as the Gemara. The same process occurred in Babylonia a century or two later. Some time between the sixth and the seventh centuries, a new work appeared: Made up of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it came to be known as the Talmud.
Noah Riner at Convocation 9/20/2005
You've been told that you are a special class. A quick look at the statistics confirms that claim: quite simply, you are the smartest and most diverse group of freshmen to set foot on the Dartmouth campus. You have more potential than all of the other classes. You really are special. It appears this link has been removed, but I want to keep what was written.
But it isn't enough to be special. It isn't enough to be talented, to be beautiful, to be smart. Generations of amazing students have come before you, and have sat in your seats. Some have been good, some have been bad. All have been special.
In fact, there's quite a long list of very special, very corrupt people who have graduated from Dartmouth. William Walter Remington, Class of 1939, started out as a Boy Scout and a choirboy and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He ended up as a Soviet spy, was convicted of perjury and beaten to death in prison.
Daniel Mason '93 was just about to graduate from Boston Medical School when he shot two men – killing one – after a parking dispute.
Just a few weeks ago, I read in the D about PJ Halas, Class of 1998. His great uncle George founded the Chicago Bears, and PJ lived up to the family name, co-captaining the basketball team his senior year at Dartmouth and coaching at a high school team following graduation. He was also a history teacher, and, this summer, he was arrested for sexually assualting a 15-year-old student.
These stories demonstrate that it takes more than a Dartmouth degree to build character.
As former Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey said, at Dartmouth our business is learning. And I'll have to agree with the motto of Faber College, featured in the movie Animal House, "Knowledge is Good." But if all we get from this place is knowledge, we've missed something. There's one subject that you won't learn about in class, one topic that orientation didn't cover, and that your UGA won't mention: character.
What is the purpose of our education? Why are we at Dartmouth?
Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
"But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society…. We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education."
We hear very little about character in our classrooms, yet, as Dr. King suggests, the real problem in the world is not a lack of education.
For example, in the past few weeks we've seen some pretty revealing things happening on the Gulf Coast in the wake of hurricane Katrina. We've seen acts of selfless heroism and millions around the country have united to help the refugees. On the other hand, we've been disgusted by the looting, violence, and raping that took place even in the supposed refuge areas. In a time of crisis and death, people were paddling around in rafts, stealing TV's and VCR's. How could Americans go so low?
My purpose in mentioning the horrible things done by certain people on the Gulf Coast isn't to condemn just them; rather it's to condemn all of us. Supposedly, character is what you do when no one is looking, but I'm afraid to say all the things I've done when no one was looking. Cheating, stealing, lusting, you name it - How different are we? It's easy to say that we've never gone that far: never stolen that much; never lusted so much that we'd rape; and the people we've cheated, they were rich anyway.
Let's be honest, the differences are in degree. We have the same flaws as the individuals who pillaged New Orleans. Ours haven't been given such free range, but they exist and are part of us all the same.
The Times of London once asked readers for comments on what was wrong with the world. British author, G. K. Chesterton responded simply: "Dear Sir, I am."
Not many of us have the same clarity that Chesterton had. Just days after Hurricane Katrina had ravaged the Gulf Coast, politicians and pundits were distributing more blame than aid. It's so easy to see the faults of others, but so difficult to see our own. In the words of Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "the fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves."
Character has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger. The best example of this is Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That's character.
Jesus is a good example of character, but He's also much more than that. He is the solution to flawed people like corrupt Dartmouth alums, looters, and me.
It's so easy to focus on the defects of others and ignore my own. But I need saving as much as they do.
Jesus' message of redemption is simple. People are imperfect, and there are consequences for our actions. He gave His life for our sin so that we wouldn't have to bear the penalty of the law; so we could see love. The problem is me; the solution is God's love: Jesus on the cross, for us.
In the words of Bono:
[I]f only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. …When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s—- and everybody else's. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that's the question.
You want the best undergraduate education in the world, and you've come to the right place to get that. But there's more to college than achievement. With Martin Luther King, we must dream of a nation – and a college – where people are not judged by the superficial, "but by the content of their character."
Thus, as you begin your four years here, you've got to come to some conclusions about your own character because you won't get it by just going to class. What is the content of your character? Who are you? And how will you become what you need to be?
It appears this link has been removed, but I want to keep what was written.
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Twentieth Chapter / The Love Of Solitude and Silence
SEEK a suitable time for leisure and meditate often on the favors of God. Leave curiosities alone. Read such matters as bring sorrow to the heart rather than occupation to the mind. If you withdraw yourself from unnecessary talking and idle running about, from listening to gossip and rumors, you will find enough time that is suitable for holy meditation.
Very many great saints avoided the company of men wherever possible and chose to serve God in retirement. “As often as I have been among men,” said one writer, “I have returned less a man.” We often find this to be true when we take part in long conversations. It is easier to be silent altogether than not to speak too much. To stay at home is easier than to be sufficiently on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner and spiritual life must go apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.
No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he first relishes obscurity. No man is safe in speaking unless he loves to be silent. No man rules safely unless he is willing to be ruled. No man commands safely unless he has learned well how to obey. No man rejoices safely unless he has within him the testimony of a good conscience.
More than this, the security of the saints was always enveloped in the fear of God, nor were they less cautious and humble because they were conspicuous for great virtues and graces. The security of the wicked, on the contrary, springs from pride and presumption, and will end in their own deception.
Never promise yourself security in this life, even though you seem to be a good religious, or a devout hermit. It happens very often that those whom men esteem highly are more seriously endangered by their own excessive confidence. Hence, for many it is better not to be too free from temptations, but often to be tried lest they become too secure, too filled with pride, or even too eager to fall back upon external comforts.
If only a man would never seek passing joys or entangle himself with worldly affairs, what a good conscience he would have. What great peace and tranquillity would be his, if he cut himself off from all empty care and thought only of things divine, things helpful to his soul, and put all his trust in God.
No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless he persistently arouses himself to holy contrition. If you desire true sorrow of heart, seek the privacy of your cell and shut out the uproar of the world, as it is written: “In your chamber bewail your sins.” There you will find what too often you lose abroad.
Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in it, but if you do not, it will become wearisome. If in the beginning of your religious life, you live within your cell and keep to it, it will soon become a special friend and a very great comfort.
In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and learns the hidden truths of Scripture. There she finds a flood of tears with which to bathe and cleanse herself nightly, that she may become the more intimate with her Creator the farther she withdraws from all the tumult of the world. For God and His holy angels will draw near to him who withdraws from friends and acquaintances.
It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his salvation than to neglect it and work miracles. It is praiseworthy for a religious seldom to go abroad, to flee the sight of men and have no wish to see them.
Why wish to see what you are not permitted to have? “The world passes away and the concupiscence thereof.” Sensual craving sometimes entices you to wander around, but when the moment is past, what do you bring back with you save a disturbed conscience and heavy heart? A happy going often leads to a sad return, a merry Evening to a mournful dawn. Thus, all carnal joy begins sweetly but in the end brings remorse and death.
What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your cell? Behold heaven and earth and all the elements, for of these all things are made. What can you see anywhere under the sun that will remain long? Perhaps you think you will completely satisfy yourself, but you cannot do so, for if you should see all existing things, what would they be but an empty vision?
Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your sins and shortcomings. Leave vanity to the vain. Set yourself to the things which God has commanded you to do. Close the door upon yourself and call to you Jesus, your Beloved. Remain with Him in your cell, for nowhere else will you find such peace. If you had not left it, and had not listened to idle gossip, you would have remained in greater peace. But since you love, sometimes, to hear news, it is only right that you should suffer sorrow of heart from it.
Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.
--- Luke 22:31–32.
Observe what came before the sifting and went with the sifting.( C.H. Spurgeon's sermons on men of the New Testament (Library of Spurgeon's sermons) ) “But I have prayed for you.” Not, your brothers have prayed for you; not, you have prayed for yourself. But I have prayed for you. Jesus, that master in the art of prayer, that mighty advocate above, assures us that he has already prayed for us. Before the temptation, “I have prayed for you.” I foresaw all the danger in which you would be placed, and concerning that danger I have exercised my function as high priest and intercessor. What a comfort to any who are passing through deep waters! You only go where Jesus has gone before you with his intercession. Jesus has made provision for all your future in a prayer already presented: “I have prayed for you.” You may be much comforted by the prayers of a minister or of some Christian who has power with God, but what are all such intercessions compared with the praying of your Lord? It were well to have Noah, Samuel, and Moses praying for us, but better far to have Jesus say, “I have prayed for you.” Satan may have his sieve, but as long as Jesus wears his breastplate we will not be destroyed.
The object of the prayer of our Lord was “that your faith may not fail.” He knows where the vital point lies, and there he holds the shield. As long as the Christian’s faith is safe the Christian’s self is safe. Faith is the standard-bearer in every spiritual conflict; if the standard-bearer fall, then it is an evil day. Therefore our Lord prays that the standard-bearer may never fail to hold up the banner in the midst of the fray: “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” If faith fails, everything fails—patience, hope, love, joy. Faith is the root; if this is not in order, then the leafage of the soul, which shows itself in other graces, will soon begin to wither.
Learn a lesson from this, my friend—that you take care to commend your faith to your God. Do not begin to doubt because you are tempted—that is to lay bare your breast. Do not doubt because you are attacked—that is to loosen your harness. Believe still. “I had fainted,” said David, “unless I had believed” (KJV). It must be one thing or the other with us. Believing or fainting, which shall it be?
--- C. H. Spurgeon
When you’re tempted to stay in bed on rainy or cold Sunday Mornings, remember the sacrifice of early generations. Februarys were exceedingly difficult, for example, in Puritan New England. Judge Samuel Sewall once noted in his diary after an unusually frigid Sunday that “the communion bread was frozen pretty hard and rattled sadly in the plates.”
Ministers were forced to preach while wrapped in layers of coats, heads covered with caps, and hands cased in heavy mittens. According to Sewall, one Puritan preacher in Kittery, Maine, used to send his servant to the meetinghouse to find out how many had braved the snow. If only six or seven had come, the servant would ask them to return with him to the parsonage and listen to the sermon there.
Another entry in Sewall’s diary tells of a bitterly cold day when there was a “Great Coughing” in the meetinghouse, yet a newborn was carried in to be baptized. In harshest weather, women brought to the church little footstoves, filled with hot coals from home, around which children huddled by their mother’s feet beneath the pews. But after several churches burned down because of footstoves left behind, their use grew controversial.
In some communities it was customary on coldest Sundays for worshipers to bring “doggs” to curl at their masters’ feet and keep them warm. A few of the men sometimes smuggled another kind of warmth into the church. One such gentleman imbibed too much, and his drunken snores so disrupted the sermon that the deacons dragged him off to the tavern.
In one of his journal entries, Judge Sewall tells of a winter’s Sunday when his friend, Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, preached from the verse in Psalm 147 that says, “Who can stand the cold?” By the next Sunday, the entire congregation was so afflicted with illness that services were canceled for three weeks. On February 20, 1698 services resumed and Wigglesworth prayed and preached from the words, “At his command the ice melts.” The very next day, a thaw set in. It was regarded as a direct answer to his prayer.
As soon as God speaks, the earth obeys.
He covers the ground with snow like a blanket of wool,
And he scatters frost like ashes on the ground.
God sends down hailstones like chips of rocks.
Who can stand the cold?
--- Psalm 147:15-17.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 20
“God, that comforteth those that are cast down.” --- 2 Corinthians 7:6.
And who comforteth like him? Go to some poor, melancholy, distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises, and whisper in his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder, he listens not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and comfort him as you may, it will be only a note or two of mournful resignation that you will get from him; you will bring forth no Psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to his child, let him lift up his countenance, and the mourner’s eyes glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing—
“’Tis paradise, if thou art here;
If thou depart, ’tis hell?”
You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; “He is the God of all comfort.” There is no balm in Gilead, but there is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvellous how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold beater, and can hammer that promise out for whole weeks. So, then, poor Christian, thou needest not sit down in despair. Go to the Comforter, and ask him to give thee consolation. Thou art a poor dry well. You have heard it said, that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get water, and so, Christian, when thou art dry, go to God, ask him to shed abroad his joy in thy heart, and then thy joy shall be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find them Job’s comforters after all; but go first and foremost to thy “God, that comforteth those that are cast down,” and you will soon say, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
Evening - February 20
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” --- Matthew 4:1.
A holy character does not avert temptation—Jesus was tempted. When Satan tempts us, his sparks fall upon tinder; but in Christ’s case, it was like striking sparks on water; yet the enemy continued his evil work. Now, if the devil goes on striking when there is no result, how much more will he do it when he knows what inflammable stuff our hearts are made of. Though you become greatly sanctified by the Holy Ghost, expect that the great dog of hell will bark at you still. In the haunts of men we expect to be tempted, but even seclusion will not guard us from the same trial. Jesus Christ was led away from human society into the wilderness, and was tempted of the devil. Solitude has its charms and its benefits, and may be useful in checking the lust of the eye and the pride of life; but the devil will follow us into the most lovely retreats. Do not suppose that it is only the worldly-minded who have dreadful thoughts and blasphemous temptations, for even spiritual-minded persons endure the same; and in the holiest position we may suffer the darkest temptation. The utmost consecration of spirit will not insure you against Satanic temptation. Christ was consecrated through and through. It was his meat and drink to do the will of him that sent him: and yet he was tempted! Your hearts may glow with a seraphic flame of love to Jesus, and yet the devil will try to bring you down to Laodicean lukewarmness. If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armour, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the old knights in war time, we must sleep with helmet and breastplate buckled on, for the arch-deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour to make us his prey. The Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear.
HOW CAN I HELP BUT LOVE HIM?
Words and Music by Elton M. Roth, 1891–1951
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.
(2 Corinthians 5:14, 15)
When I stand before the throne, dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see Thee as Thou art, love Thee with unceasing heart;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—not till then—how much I owe.
We all need a strong compelling force to move us through life. Without this force we become stagnant. We can be driven by many different motives—wealth, power, prestige. The apostle Paul’s compulsion was an intense awareness of Christ’s atoning love for man and the responsibility he felt to share this truth with others. The apostle was so gripped by Christ that he counted his own life as nothing in the light of that love (Acts 20:24). Paul abandoned all ambitions as he sought to be a worthy follower and proclaimer of divine love.
Who can do anything other than love Christ after personally experiencing His divine love? Our love relationship with Christ will be demonstrated by our obedience to Him and the doing of His will for our lives (John 15:10). This obedience is not motivated by a desire for reward or a fear of punishment. It is simply a response of love for all that our Lord has done for us and for what He means in our daily lives.
The author and composer of this Gospel hymn, Elton M. Roth, was a traveling music evangelist for a period of time. Later he taught music in various Bible schools, including Biola College in Los Angeles. Mr. Roth published many anthems and over 100 hymns, including the popular “In My Heart There Rings a Melody.”
Down from His splendor in glory He came into a world of woe, took on Himself all my guilt and my shame—why should He love me so?
I am unworthy to take of His grace, wonderful grace so free; yet Jesus suffered and died in my place, e’en for a soul like me.
He is the fairest of thousands to me; His love is sweet and true; wonderful beauty in Him I now see, more than I ever knew.
Refrain: How can I help but love Him when He loved me so? How can I help but love Him when He loved me so?
For Today: Jeremiah 31:2, 3; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 4:19; Jude 21.
Pray that God will let your life overflow with His love and joy. Begin with your family and go on from there.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | Lent
Tuesday Of The First Week In Lent
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 45
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 47, 48
Old Testament Genesis 37:12–24
New Testament 1 Corinthians 1:20–31
Gospel Mark 1:14–28
Index of Readings
45 To The Choirmaster: According To Lilies. A Maskil Of The Sons Of Korah; A Love Song.
1 My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your splendor and majesty!
4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
5 Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father’s house,
11 and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12 The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.
13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
with her virgin companions following behind her.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.
16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.
Psalm 47, 48
47 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of The Sons Of Korah.
1 Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
2 For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
3 He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
4 He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
5 God has gone up with a shout,
the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm!
8 God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
9 The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted!
48 A Song. A Psalm Of The Sons Of Korah.
1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.
3 Within her citadels God
has made himself known as a fortress.
4 For behold, the kings assembled;
they came on together.
5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic; they took to flight.
6 Trembling took hold of them there,
anguish as of a woman in labor.
7 By the east wind you shattered
the ships of Tarshish.
8 As we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of the LORD of hosts,
in the city of our God,
which God will establish forever. Selah
9 We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 As your name, O God,
so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments!
12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.
12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” 14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 15 And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
18 They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. 24 And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
1 Corinthians 1:20–31
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;5 repent and believe in the gospel.”
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”6 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. 21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
The Book of Common Prayer