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Exodus 6     Luke 9     Job 23     1 Corinthians 10

Exodus 6

God Promises Deliverance

Exodus 6:1 But the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’ ” 9 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

10 So the LORD said to Moses, 11 “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.” 12 But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” 13 But the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge about the people of Israel and about Pharaoh king of Egypt: to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

The Genealogy of Moses and Aaron

14 These are the heads of their fathers’ houses: the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi; these are the clans of Reuben. 15 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the clans of Simeon. 16 These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, the years of the life of Levi being 137 years. 17 The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, by their clans. 18 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, the years of the life of Kohath being 133 years. 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites according to their generations. 20 Amram took as his wife Jochebed his father’s sister, and she bore him Aaron and Moses, the years of the life of Amram being 137 years. 21 The sons of Izhar: Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. 22 The sons of Uzziel: Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri. 23 Aaron took as his wife Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 24 The sons of Korah: Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph; these are the clans of the Korahites. 25 Eleazar, Aaron’s son, took as his wife one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites by their clans.

26 These are the Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said: “Bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt by their hosts.” 27 It was they who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the people of Israel from Egypt, this Moses and this Aaron.

28 On the day when the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 the LORD said to Moses, “I am the LORD; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.” 30 But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?”

Luke 9

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

Luke 9:1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Herod Is Perplexed by Jesus

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. 9 Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Jesus Foretells His Death

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

Jesus Again Foretells His Death

But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Who Is the Greatest?

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

Anyone Not Against Us Is For Us

49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

A Samaritan Village Rejects Jesus

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.

The Cost of Following Jesus

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Job 23

Job Replies: Where Is God?

Job 23:1 Then Job answered and said:

2  “Today also my complaint is bitter;
my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.
3  Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat!
4  I would lay my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
5  I would know what he would answer me
and understand what he would say to me.
6  Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
No; he would pay attention to me.
7  There an upright man could argue with him,
and I would be acquitted forever by my judge.

8  “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;
9  on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
10  But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
11  My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
12  I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
13  But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
14  For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind.
15  Therefore I am terrified at his presence;
when I consider, I am in dread of him.
16  God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me;
17  yet I am not silenced because of the darkness,
nor because thick darkness covers my face.

1 Corinthians 10

Warning Against Idolatry

1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

     God’s Word promises us that we will never face a temptation for which He does not provide an exit, an escape route, “so that [we] can stand up under it” Now this is not a promise we can apply passively. It’s a promise of power to escape and overcome any temptation, but we still have to look for the exit. We need to deal decisively with temptation. I find it helpful to have five words in mind as I think about tackling temptation.
     1. Deal with temptation immediately. Don’t wait until the little stream becomes a raging river that will sweep you away. The moment we become conscious of any sinful thought or desire, we need to ask God to help us reject the suggestion and dismiss it.
     2. Deal with temptation realistically. God told Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you” (Genesis 4:7). If there is a lion on the other side of the door waiting to pounce on you, you’d better get realistic about the situation before you blithely open the door. Jesus said to His disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41).
     3. Deal with temptation ruthlessly. I would remind you here of Jesus’ graphic metaphors for dealing with sin (Mark 9:43–48). In the Falkland’s War, Margaret Thatcher ordered the bombing of the British runway in Port Stanley so as to prevent enemy aircraft from landing. That serves as a useful analogy.
     4. Deal with temptation consistently. Establish patterns of resistance.
     5. Deal with temptation confidently. The promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us an unshakable confidence in facing temptation because its terms are absolute.
     God always has a way out. The problem comes when we close our eyes to the escape route because we have allowed our desires to overwhelm our reason.
  The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Do All to the Glory of God

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

The Reformation Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Is Christianity Shrinking in America? “Yes” and “No”

By J. Warner Wallace 2/19/2018

     It’s a common question asked by church leaders and laity: “Is American Christianity waning as our nation becomes more secular”? The statistics seem to support a “yes” answer to this question. I’ve been collecting data on this issue for over ten years. The surveys (more than fifty I’ve chronicled so far) reveal a disturbing, albeit unified, trend: Fewer people claim a Christian affiliation than ever before, and those who claim no religious affiliation are the fastest growing group in America.

     Despite these statistics, a recent article argues that religion “continues to enjoy ‘persistent and exceptional intensity’ in America.” Glenn Stanton, writing at The Federalist, describes research done by scholars at Harvard University and Indiana University, Bloomington. These researchers have concluded that America “remains an exceptional outlier and potential counter example to the secularization thesis.” So, which is it? Is religion in America waning or enjoying “persistent and exceptional intensity”? Is the Christian Church shrinking or intensifying? The answer is: “both”.

     To illustrate the situation, let me offer an object lesson. Rummage through your closet and find an empty shoe box. Bring it into your kitchen and find a pot that will fit in the shoebox (one that is about three-quarters the size of the box). Put the pot in the shoebox, and then search for the smallest teacup you own, or better yet, an espresso cup. Place this small cup in the pot. Now you’re ready to understand what’s happening to the American Church.

     The Box | The shoebox represents everyone in America; believers and unbelievers, alike. If you’re a Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist or agnostic, you’re in the shoebox. This box represents 100% of our national population.

     The Pot | The pot represents everyone who identifies as a Christian. All the different denominations of Christianity are represented by the pot. Right now, that pot is less than three-quarters the size of the box. The most recent surveys reveal the number of self-proclaimed Christians to be shrinking dramatically at about 1% a year. At present, about 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.

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

Why Christians Must Stand Against Anti-Semitism

By Joe Carter 2/22/2017

     The Story: Several dozens anti-Semitic threats and acts of vandalism have occurred over the past few weeks, causing Jewish Americans throughout the country to fear for their safety.

     The Background: Over the weekend vandals toppled about 170 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. The FBI and Department of Justice are also investigating a rash of bomb threats to Jewish centers across the United States. Since January 54 Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in 27 states and one Canadian province have received 69 bomb threats, including 11 on Monday.

     According to ABC News, David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America, said that while the JCCs that received the threats have all resumed operations “with a heightened level of security,” he added, “we will not be cowed by threats intended to disrupt people’s lives.”

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Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, the editor of the NIV, Lifehacks Bible, Hardcover: Practical Tools for Successful Spiritual Habits, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

Why Does God Compare People To Sheep?

By Dave Wager 2/21/2017

     Many of us want to believe we are strong, independent, intelligent, adventurous, and even invincible. In the Bible however, God compares us to sheep – over and over. Not a flattering comparison, but there are many reasons for this. First, since we are the sheep of His pasture, we are dependent on Him. We also have a Good Shepherd who feeds us and tends to our needs.

     If we dwell in the shelter God provides, and if we abide in the shadow of the Almighty as Psalm 91:1 suggests, then we are protected. When we stay close enough to Jesus our Shepherd, we can rest in His shadow and grow in His presence. Our responsibility is to stay close to Him, keep listening to His voice, and to not stray. Though we often follow many people and things in this life, we were made to follow after God, our Leader.

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Dave Wager: President, Silver Birch Ranch & Nicolet Bible Institute

Zwingli, Matter, Mind

By Peter J. Leithart 2/22/2017

     In her meticulous and revealing study of The Eucharist in the Reformation, Lee Palmer Wandel argues that Luther and Zwingli divided at Marburg because their respective positions were incommensurate, incomprehensible each to the other. Specifically, they “divided over the nature of Christ's body,” but that point of division represented radically different conceptions of body, matter, and God's relation to creation.

     Zwingli insisted that “Christ's body could not be corporeally present in every morsel of bread; indeed it horrified him to think of human beings taking Christ's physical body into their mouths and grinding it between their teeth.” The bread must be a sign, else Christ's body ceases to be a human body by becoming ubiquitous, “spread all over simultaneously” (102).

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Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History. Mentioned in this article:

Image and Imagination of the Religious Self in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (PROTEUS)
The Eucharist in the Reformation

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 23

The LORD Is My Shepherd
23 A Psalm Of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

ESV Study Bible

Exodus 6; Luke 9; Job 23; 1 Corinthians 10

By Don Carson 2/23/2018

     One of the tasks imposed on those who wish to read the canonical Gospels sensitively is to see how the various units are linked. Casual readers remember individual stories about Jesus from their Sunday school days, but do not always reflect on the links that weld these stories into a complete Gospel. Moreover, the individual evangelists did not arrange their material exactly the same way as the others, so the special flavor of each gospel is often lost unless the distinctive links are thoughtfully pondered.

     An instructive example is found in Luke 9:49-50. The preceding verses (9:46-48) find Jesus’ disciples arguing as to which of them would be greatest (in the consummated kingdom, presumably). Knowing their thoughts, Jesus teaches them an embarrassing lesson, employing a little child to make his point. Important people honey up to even more important people. Those who follow Jesus welcome the least powerful members of society – the little children. What Jesus demands is an outlook fundamentally at variance with that of the world: “For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest” (9:48).

     It is at this juncture that 9:49-50 comes into play. John comments that he and the others saw a man driving out demons in Jesus’ name, “and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” Jesus forbids them this course of action, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” At first glance this is a somewhat different topic from that of the preceding verses. Then again, maybe not: the connections call for reflection. John’s complaints no longer sound like godly concern for orthodoxy, but like power-hungry moaning more concerned that those who preach and heal belong to the right party than that the mission itself be advanced. So this is pathetically tied to the debate over who would be the greatest. Personal aggrandizement will inevitably prove an unstable base for making wise assessments of the ministry of others.

     The following verses (9:51-56) find Jesus in Samaria. When the Samaritans prove inhospitable, Jesus’ disciples are quite prepared to call fire down upon them. Jesus rebukes them. Since these verses follow the themes already elucidated, the attitude the disciples here betray is clarified. Their passion for judgment against the Samaritans is motivated less by a genuine grasp of and devotion to Christ Jesus, than by a power-hungry self-focus.

     The closing verses of the chapter highlight the same contrast (9:57-62). The three who protest the loudest about how eagerly they will follow Jesus are firmly put in their place: they have not counted the cost of discipleship, and so their pious protestations take on the ugly hue of self-love.

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

Don Carson Books:

What About Job 23:14

By Richard S. Adams

     I have been wrestling with this very thing. “For he will complete what he appoints for me.” Do we not all yearn for this? Why are we here? What are we to do? Will God accomplish in me, (notice it is God who does the accomplishing, the completing, not me) God’s will or will I die a useless vessel, a cracked pot that never watered the seeds along the way? (That anxious thought is not scriptural, but it can be real in our spirit none the less.)

     Have you noticed the wonderful feeling from doing physical work, the sense of accomplishment, the joy of doing a job well? Then there is the feeling of being spent, but nothing is accomplished. When I die I so much want the former and not the latter. Do you?

     A couple of years ago we were house sitting for one of Lily's clients. This retired couple went to the Congo to see gorillas! As Lily finished cleaning their kitchen I walked around and around and around their paved, almost figure eight drive-way. The first part of the figure eight was one hundred eighty steps. Inside that section were several old, tall, and stately trees that littered their pavement with golden leaves. The other part of the figure eight was one hundred ten walking steps. On its perimeter was a barn. Within its boundary was a building for storage. It was surrounded by trees, but since they were on the outside of the driveway there were not as many leaves to rustle around my feet.

     I walked around and around, scuffing through the leaves, trying to focus all of my attention on being present to the colors, the smell of rain, and the touch of the cool breeze. I have discovered it is impossible for me to be present to the present and still worry about tomorrow. The work is becoming truly present to the present. Why were they off to see gorillas when their home and its surroundings were so beautiful? Does familiarity really breed contempt?

     As I walked I did what I do so often, wondered why I am here. If, as Job says, God wants to do something through me ... what is it? I remember thinking how available Lily and I are to go anywhere and do anything, yet we remain, seemingly motionless, scuffling through littered driveway leaves.

     Job cried for justice. I long to justify my existence. Who can justify their existence? Justification is in the Lord. God says to Job, to me, to you, trust in the Lord with all your heart ... love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.

     Do I need to go to Africa to see gorillas to love the Lord with all my heart? Do I need to go to the coast to love the Lord with all my heart? Do I need to come to Ken and Hana's beautiful home to love the Lord with all my heart? Maybe I just need to be still, wherever I am, and love the Lord with all my heart.

     Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox 1/2009 to 7/2018.


The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 1.


The three divisions of this chapter are,--I. The secret operation of the Holy Spirit, which seals our salvation, should be considered first in Christ the Mediator as our Head, sec. 1 and 2. II. The titles given to the Holy Spirit show that we become members of Christ by his grace and energy, sec. 3. III. As the special influence of the Holy Spirit is manifested in the gift of faith, the former is a proper introduction to the latter, and thus prepares for the second chapter, sec. 4.


1. The Holy Spirit the bond which unites us with Christ. This the result of faith produced by the secret operation of the Holy Spirit. This obvious from Scripture.

2. In Christ the Mediator the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be seen in all their fulness. To what end. Why the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

3. Titles of the Spirit,--1. The Spirit of adoption. 2. An earnest and seal. 3. Water. 4. Life. 5. Oil and unction. 6. Fire. 7. A fountain. 8. The word of God. Use of these titles.

4. Faith being the special work of the Holy Spirit, the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit usually ascribed to it.

1. We must now see in what way we become possessed of the blessings which God has bestowed on his only-begotten Son, not for private use, but to enrich the poor and needy. And the first thing to be attended to is, that so long as we are without Christ and separated from him, nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us. To communicate to us the blessings which he received from the Father, he must become ours and dwell in us. Accordingly, he is called our Head, and the first-born among many brethren, while, on the other hand, we are said to be ingrafted into him and clothed with him, [274] all which he possesses being, as I have said, nothing to us until we become one with him. And although it is true that we obtain this by faith, yet since we see that all do not indiscriminately embrace the offer of Christ which is made by the gospel, the very nature of the case teaches us to ascend higher, and inquire into the secret efficacy of the Spirit, to which it is owing that we enjoy Christ and all his blessings. I have already treated of the eternal essence and divinity of the Spirit (Book 1 chap. 13 sect. 14,15); let us at present attend to the special point, that Christ came by water and blood, as the Spirit testifies concerning him, that we might not lose the benefits of the salvation which he has purchased. For as there are said to be three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, so there are also three on the earth, namely, water, blood, and Spirit. It is not without cause that the testimony of the Spirit is twice mentioned, a testimony which is engraven on our hearts by way of seal, and thus seals the cleansing and sacrifice of Christ. For which reason, also, Peter says, that believers are "elect" "through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," (1 Pet. 1:2). By these words he reminds us, that if the shedding of his sacred blood is not to be in vain, our souls must be washed in it by the secret cleansing of the Holy Spirit. For which reason, also, Paul, speaking of cleansing and purification, says, "but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God," (1 Cor. 6:11). The whole comes to this that the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ effectually binds us to himself. Here we may refer to what was said in the last Book concerning his anointing.

2. But in order to have a clearer view of this most important subjects we must remember that Christ came provided with the Holy Spirit after a peculiar manner, namely, that he might separate us from the world, and unite us in the hope of an eternal inheritance. Hence the Spirit is called the Spirit of sanctification, because he quickens and cherishes us, not merely by the general energy which is seen in the human race, as well as other animals, but because he is the seed and root of heavenly life in us. Accordingly, one of the highest commendations which the prophets give to the kingdom of Christ is, that under it the Spirit would be poured out in richer abundance. One of the most remarkable passages is that of Joel, "It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh," (Joel 2:28). For although the prophet seems to confine the gifts of the Spirit to the office of prophesying, he yet intimates under a figure, that God will, by the illumination of his Spirit, provide himself with disciples who had previously been altogether ignorant of heavenly doctrine. Moreover, as it is for the sake of his Son that God bestows the Holy Spirit upon us, and yet has deposited him in all his fulness with the Son, to be the minister and dispenser of his liberality, he is called at one time the Spirit of the Father, at another the Spirit of the Son: "Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," (Rom. 8:9); and hence he encourages us to hope for complete renovation: "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you," (Rom. 8:11). There is no inconsistency in ascribing the glory of those gifts to the Father, inasmuch as he is the author of them, and, at the same time, ascribing them to Christ, with whom they have been deposited, that he may bestow them on his people. Hence he invites all the thirsty to come unto him and drink (John 7:37). And Paul teaches, that "unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ," (Eph. 4:7). And we must remember, that the Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ, not only inasmuch as the eternal Word of God is with the Father united with the Spirit, but also in respect of his office of Mediator; because, had he not been endued with the energy of the Spirit, he had come to us in vain. In this sense he is called the "last Adam," and said to have been sent from heaven "a quickening Spirit," (1 Cor. 15:45), where Paul contrasts the special life which Christ breathes into his people, that they may be one with him with the animal life which is common even to the reprobate. In like manner, when he prays that believers may have "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God," he at the same time adds, "the communion of the Holy Ghost," without which no man shall ever taste the paternal favor of God, or the benefits of Christ. Thus, also, in another passage he says, "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us," (Rom. 5:5).

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

  • Religious Liberty-Property 3
  • Religious... 4
  • Justice Clarence Thomas

#1 Kent Greenawalt   
Pepperdine University


#2 Kent Greenawalt   
Pepperdine University


#3 Justice Clarence Thomas   
Pepperdine University


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Strengthen your faith (1)
     2/23/2018    Bob Gass

     'The act of faith…set them above the crowd.’

(Heb 11:2) For by it the people of old received their commendation. ESV

     The Bible says: ‘The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd’ (vv. 1-2 MSG). The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews chapter eleven were far from perfect. Noah believed God, built the ark, and saved his family. But when he came out of the ark he got drunk. Abraham was known as a ‘friend of God’, yet he lied to save his own neck and ended up compromising his wife’s safety. When God told Sarah she’d give birth to a child at ninety years old, she laughed – and you’d probably have done the same. And how about Joseph? He was a slave with a prison record who ended up second in command when it came to ruling Egypt. Then there’s Rahab the harlot; we wouldn’t let her sing in the church choir, yet God listed her as a woman of great faith. And how about Jacob, who duped his brother and deceived his father-in-law in business in order to enrich himself? Would you do business with him? Then there was King David, whose womanising led to murder and national scandal. Even Gideon and Samuel, two spiritual giants, raised children who went astray spiritually. Every one of these people was as human as you are. They faltered, fumbled the ball, and went through times of failure. Their only claim to fame is they believed God and He honoured their faith – and He will do the same for you each time you put your trust in Him.

Leviticus 19-20
Matthew 27:51-66

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The Panama Canal Zone was acquired for ten million dollars by the United States on this day, February 23, 1904. In his address to Congress, President William Taft referred to it, saying: “Our defense of the Panama Canal, together with our enormous world trade and our missionary outposts on the frontiers of civilization, require us to recognize our position as one of the foremost in the family of nations.” President Taft continued, we must “clothe ourselves with sufficient naval power… to give weight to our influence in those directions of progress that a powerful Christian nation should advocate.”

American Minute

RE: John Bunyan
     by Alistair Begg

     A fable is told of two grasshoppers that were thrown into a pail of milk. The first grasshopper began immediately to sulk and give up, and he drowned in the milk.
     But the second grasshopper began to kick like crazy and work hard at getting out of the pail. In the process, he churned the milk into butter—and then walked out of the pail on top of that block of butter.
     Put two people in the same jail cell and one will see only the bars on the window while the other will see the stars beyond the bars. Which would you see?
     John Bunyan spent twelve years in a jail in Bedford, England. He was in jail because he refused to preach according to the rules of the day. He wasn’t a Church of England clergyman, but he loved to preach.
     So the authorities told him, “Bunyan, cut it out or we’ll put you in jail.”
     Bunyan answered, “I can’t ‘cut it out.’ I have to preach.” And he preached everywhere he went. So they arrested and jailed John Bunyan, and he languished in his cell for twelve years.
     Now, those were rotten circumstances. But within a short time, we are told, there was music coming from Bunyan’s cell. He had taken one of the legs of his three-legged stool and carved it into a flute.
     John Bunyan did something else in his cell. He wrote Pilgrim's Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations., a book that has become the classic after the Bible in the history of Christianity. Millions have been impacted by a work written in the worst of circumstances by a forgotten prisoner in seventeenth-century England.

The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     The final grounds of holy Fellowship are in God. Lives immersed and drowned in God are drowned in love, and know one another in Him, and know one another in love. God is the medium, the matrix, the focus, the solvent. As Meister Eckhart suggests, he who is wholly surrounded by God, enveloped by God, clothed with God, glowing in selfless love toward Him-such a man no one can touch except he touch God also. Such lives have a common meeting point; they live in a common joyous enslavement. They go back into a single Center where they are at home with Him and with one another. It is as if every soul had a final base, and that final base of every soul is one single Holy Ground, shared in by all. Persons in the Fellowship are related to one another through Him, as all mountains go down into the same earth. They get at one another through Him. He is actively moving in all, coordinating those who are pliant to His will and suffusing them all with His glory and His joy.

     The relation of each to all, through God, is real, objective, and existential. It is an eternal relationship which is shared in by every stick and stone and bird and beast and saint and sinner of the universe. On all the wooing love of God falls urgently, persuadingly. But he who, having will, yields to the loving urgency of that Life which knocks at his heart, is entered and possessed and transformed and transfigured. The scales fall from his eyes when he is given to eat of the tree of knowledge, the fruit of which is indeed for the healing of the nations, and he knows himself and his fellows as comrades in Eden, where God walks with them in the cool of the day. As there is a mysterious many-ing of God, as He pours Himself forth into the universe, so there is a one-ing of those souls who find their way back to Him who is their home. And these are in the Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community, of whom God is the head.

     This community of life and love is far deeper than current views based upon modern logic would suppose. Logic finds, beneath every system of thought, some basic assumptions or postulates from which all other items of belief are derived. It is said that those who share in a system of thought are those who hold basic assumptions in common. But these assumptions are of the intellect, subsequent products, efforts to capture and clarify and make-intelligible to ourselves and to others some fragment of that immediacy of experience which is the soul of life itself. Such as assumptions we must make, but they are experimental, variant, conditioned by our culture period. But Holy Fellowship reaches behind these intellectual frames to the immediacy of experience in God, and seeks contact in this fountain head of real, dynamic connectedness. Theological quarrels arise out of differences in assumptions. But Holy Fellowship, freely tolerant of these important yet more superficial clarifications, lives in the Center and rejoices in the unity of His love.

     And this Fellowship is deeper than democracy, conceived as an ideal of group living. It is a theocracy wherein God rules and guides and directs His listening children. The center of authority is not in man, not in the group, but in the creative God Himself. Nor do all members share equally in spiritual discernment, but upon some falls more clearly the revealing light of His guiding will. "Weighty Friends," with delicate attunement both to heaven and to earth, bulk large in practical decisions. It would be a mistake indeed to suppose that Holy Fellowship is chained fast to one political system, or bound up inextricably with the fortunes of any one temporal structure of society. For the swaying fortunes of democracy and of fascism and of communism are of time, but the Fellowship in God is of all times and is eternal. It is certainly true that some temporal systems are more favorable than are others to the flowering of the Fellowship. But within alI groups and nations and creeds it springs up, smiling at differences, for, existing in time, it is rooted in the Eternal One.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Take care of your life
and the Lord will take care of your death.
--- George Whitefield

Verily, when the day of judgment comes,
we shall not be asked what we have read,
but what we have done.
--- Thomas à Kempis

The virtues, after all, are not laws that we follow,
but interrelated ways of being, feeling, seeing, acting,
and reacting in the world that make love
and its expressions possible.
--- Roberta C. Bondi

There is a quiet, open place in the depths of the mind, to which we can go many times in the day and lift up our soul in praise, thankfulness and conscious unity. With practise this God-ward turn of the mind becomes an almost constant direction, underlying all our other activities.
--- Kenneth Boulding, 1910-1993

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.
--- Robert Browning Hamilton

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 2/23
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     Chapter IV.

     Ninth of fifth month. -- A Friend at whose house we breakfasted setting us a little on our way, I had conversation with him, in the fear of the Lord, concerning his slaves, in which my heart was tender; I used much plainness of speech with him, and he appeared to take it kindly. We pursued our journey without appointing meetings, being pressed in my mind to be at the Yearly Meeting in Virginia. In my travelling on the road, I often felt a cry rise from the centre of my mind, thus: "O Lord, I am a stranger on the earth, hide not thy face from me." On the 11th, we crossed the rivers Patowmack and Rapahannock, and lodged at Port Royal. On the way we had the company of a colonel of the militia, who appeared to be a thoughtful man. I took occasion to remark on the difference in general betwixt a people used to labor moderately for their living, training up their children in frugality and business, and those who live on the labor of slaves; the former, in my view, being the most happy life. He concurred in the remark, and mentioned the trouble arising from the untoward, slothful disposition of the negroes, adding that one of our laborers would do as much in a day as two of their slaves. I replied, that free men, whose minds were properly on their business, found a satisfaction in improving, cultivating, and providing for their families; but negroes, laboring to support others who claim them as their property, and expecting nothing but slavery during life, had not the like inducement to be industrious.

     After some further conversation I said, that men having power too often misapplied it; that though we made slaves of the negroes, and the Turks made slaves of the Christians, I believed that liberty was the natural right of all men equally. This he did not deny, but said the lives of the negroes were so wretched in their own country that many of them lived better here than there. I replied, "There is great odds in regard to us on what principle we act"; and so the conversation on that subject ended. I may here add that another person, some time afterwards, mentioned the wretchedness of the negroes, occasioned by their intestine wars, as an argument in favor of our fetching them away for slaves. To which I replied, if compassion for the Africans, on account of their domestic troubles, was the real motive of our purchasing them, that spirit of tenderness being attended to, would incite us to use them kindly that, as strangers brought out of affliction, their lives might be happy among us. And as they are human creatures, whose souls are as precious as ours, and who may receive the same help and comfort from the Holy Scriptures as we do, we could not omit suitable endeavors to instruct them therein; but that while we manifest by our conduct that our views in purchasing them are to advance ourselves, and while our buying captives taken in war animates those parties to push on the war, and increase desolation amongst them, to say they live unhappily in Africa is far from being an argument in our favor. I further said, the present circumstances of these provinces to me appear difficult; the slaves look like a burdensome stone to such as burden themselves with them; and that if the white people retain a resolution to prefer their outward prospects of gain to all other considerations, and do not act conscientiously toward them as fellow-creatures, I believe that burden will grow heavier and heavier, until times change in a way disagreeable to us. The person appeared very serious, and owned that in considering their condition and the manner of their treatment in these provinces he had sometimes thought it might be just in the Almighty so to order it.

     Having travelled through Maryland, we came amongst Friends at Cedar Creek in Virginia, on the 12th; and the next day rode, in company with several of them, a day's journey to Camp Creek. As I was riding along in the morning, my mind was deeply affected in a sense I had of the need of Divine aid to support me in the various difficulties which attended me, and in uncommon distress of mind I cried in secret to the Most High, "O Lord be merciful, I beseech thee, to thy poor afflicted creature!" After some time, I felt inward relief, and, soon after, a Friend in company began to talk in support of the slave-trade, and said the negroes were understood to be the offspring of Cain, their blackness being the mark which God set upon him after he murdered Abel his brother; that it was the design of Providence they should be slaves, as a condition proper to the race of so wicked a man as Cain was. Then another spake in support of what had been said. To all which I replied in substance as follows: that Noah and his family were all who survived the flood, according to Scripture; and as Noah was of Seth's race, the family of Cain was wholly destroyed. One of them said that after the flood Ham went to the land of Nod and took a wife; that Nod was a land far distant, inhabited by Cain's race, and that the flood did not reach it; and as Ham was sentenced to be a servant of servants to his brethren, these two families, being thus joined, were undoubtedly fit only for slaves. I replied, the flood was a judgment upon the world for their abominations, and it was granted that Cain's stock was the most wicked, and therefore unreasonable to suppose that they were spared. As to Ham's going to the land of Nod for a wife, no time being fixed, Nod might be inhabited by some of Noah's family before Ham married a second time; moreover the text saith "That all flesh died that moved upon the earth." (Gen. vii. 21.) I further reminded them how the prophets repeatedly declare "that the son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, but every one be answerable for his own sins." I was troubled to perceive the darkness of their imaginations, and in some pressure of spirit said, "The love of ease and gain are the motives in general of keeping slaves, and men are wont to take hold of weak arguments to support a cause which is unreasonable. I have no interest on either side, save only the interest which I desire to have in the truth I believe liberty is their right, and as I see they are not only deprived of it, but treated in other respects with inhumanity in many places, I believe He who is a refuge for the oppressed will, in his own time, plead their cause, and happy will it be for such as walk in uprightness before him." And thus our conversation ended.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 11:1-2
     by D.H. Stern

1     False scales are an abomination to ADONAI,
but accurate weights please him.

2     First comes pride, then disgrace;
but with the humble is wisdom.

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

                The determination to serve

     The son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. --- Matthew 20:28.

     Paul’s idea of service is the same as our Lord’s: “I am among you as He that serveth”; “ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” We have the idea that a man called to the Ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the ‘door-mat’ of other men; their spiritual leader, but never their superior. “I know how to be abased,” says Paul. This is Paul’s idea of service—‘I will spend myself to the last ebb for you; you may give me praise or give me blame, it will make no difference. So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.’ The mainspring of Paul’s service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.

     Paul’s realization of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others. “I was before a perjurer, a blasphemer, an injurious person”—no matter how men may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ. When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet with from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Who said to the trout,
  You shall die on Good Friday
  To be food for a man
  And his pretty lady?
  It was I, said God,
  Who formed the roses
  In the delicate flesh
  And the tooth that bruises.

Song at the year's turning: Poems 1942-1954

Job Speaks Regarding Himself
     Job 23:1–17

     Job continues to be confident that he is experiencing an incredible wrong at the hands of God. He expresses again his desire to find God so as to present his case before him. Then Job lapses into discouragement as he contemplates his hopeless condition.

          A. Job’s Desire  (23:1–7).

     Job knew that his complaint against God was a rebellious act, and would be so viewed by his friends. Though he tried to restrain his groaning, he could not. The text is properly translated: “My hand is heavy upon my groaning” (23:2).

     Job ardently desires that he could come to God’s judgment seat to plead his cause before him.There he eloquently would argue his case with irrefutable arguments. In that context he could demand plain answers. Faced with the facts of Job’s case, God would be forced to admit the injustice which had been done to his servant. He was convinced that God would not take advantage of his great power. On this point Job has changed his opinion since his speech of 9:14–16. At that divine tribunal, Job was confident that he would be delivered forever from injustice at the hands of the heavenly judge (23:3–7).

          B. Job’s Defense  (23:8–12).

     Job suddenly returns to the reality of his isolation. God is everywhere, yet he can find him nowhere. The words “forward,” “backward,” “on the left hand,” and “on the right hand” probably denote the four points of the compass. Job concluded that God must be avoiding him because he knew he was innocent. Should he encounter Job he would have to admit that a grave injustice had been done (23:8–10).

     How could Job declare that if tried by God he would come forth as shining gold? Eliphaz had insinuated that Job was following the ancient path of wicked men (cf. 22:15). Not so. He had followed in the steps of the Lord and had never deviated therefrom. According to Eliphaz, Job needed to hear instruction from the mouth of God (cf. 22:22). In fact Job had never departed from the commandments of God. They were more precious to him than his daily bread (23:11–12).

          C. Job’s Discouragement (23:13–17).

     Though he knows that Job is innocent, God is resolute in his determination to destroy the patriarch. Since God is omnipotent, he can do as he pleases. Eliphaz had argued that if Job repented he could have all his plans confirmed (cf. 22:28). Not so! God was carrying out in Job’s life what he had decreed. All of this was a profound enigma to Job; but it was far from being a solitary one: “many such things are with him,” i.e., this is but one out of many similar mysteries that happen under God’s government of the world (23:13–14).

     God’s mysterious and irresistible ways trigger in Job a sense of dismay, terror and faintheartedness. By acting in what Job perceived to be an unjust way, the Lord had made the heart of the patriarch faint. The emphasis here is on what God had done. What dismays Job and renders him speechless is not the dark calamity which had overtaken him, and not the fact that his face had been marred and distorted by disease. What bothered him most was this: It was God who had inflicted the calamity upon him, and that for no just cause! (23:15–17).

The Wisdom Literature and Psalms (Old Testament Survey Series)

RE: Paul, Timothy and Titus
     Teacher's Commentary

     Biblical scholars, like scientists, often disagree. In the end we have to pray for Godly wisdom and discernment and decide for ourselves. Others may be held accountable for misleading us, but we are accountable for following them.

     Whether or not Paul went to Spain has always been an interesting topic of discussion. I have read enough commentaries on the subject to honestly say I don't know, but I do like the following. Keep in mind I am the kind of person who likes closure, but is there really ever closure in this life? Only God has the final word. So, having been warned, decide for yourself.

     I like to read the last words of famous men, even when I suspect someone else may have put those words in the celebrity’s mouth. Examples of questionable but famous last words, include those of the Emperor Julian, vigorous opponent of Christianity in the a.d. 360s, who supposedly said, “Thou has conquered, O pale Galilean.” And there was the millionaire whose last word to his gathered sons was reported to be “Remember—buy low and sell high.”

     But last words do give us insight into the values, concerns, and focus of a life. If I could record not just a saying, but a solid core of guidance for future generations, what would I say?

     Pretentious. It would be pretentious for you or me to presume to look ahead and give words of wisdom to guide future generations of our families. We are so limited in our understanding that we cannot see what next year holds, much less the coming decades. But as we come to Paul’s final letters in the New Testament, and to other late writings, we realize that we are reading “last words” which do apply to us today. These letters contain guidelines for living as God’s family in a world that is all too often an enemy of Christian values.

     These letters of Paul are more than words of wisdom from a gifted leader; they are words written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

     The first 30 years of the New Testament era had passed now. Jesus had entered history. The church had grown and developed after His death and resurrection. The power of the Gospel had brought hope and new life to millions of first-century pagans. The church had met opposition and attack, and had affirmed Jesus Christ as the center of its life. The church had come to understand itself as Jesus’ body, and God’s family and holy temple. The men and women who were the driving force in these early years—Paul, Peter, Barnabas, John, Apollos, Priscilla, and the others—were now old.

     There had been other changes. Christianity was no longer a novelty. The church knew second-and-third-generation believers. Once each Christian was a convert from paganism or Judaism, but now young men and women had grown up knowing the truths of the faith from childhood. Soon the Roman government would take an official position against Christianity. Within the faith, false teachers intruded, infiltrating twisted doctrine and warped lifestyles.

     A clear form of organization with definite offices and roles had developed within the church. How that organization was to function, without taking on the unhealthy characteristics of bureaucracy, was another challenge the church had to face.

     During the decades of the 60s through the 90s, Paul and the others looked ahead to foresee these emerging problems and needs. They knew that they must commit their ministry to others who would faithfully carry on the work of God. Thus they were led to leave us, in books like
1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 2 Peter, Jude, and the three letters of John, their last words. These letters speak to us today with a living authority and a wisdom that is part of our heritage from the Apostolic Age.

     Paul, Timothy, and Titus

     Paul. The Book of Acts closes with Paul imprisoned in Rome. Most commentators feel that he arrived there (Acts 28) about a.d. 59. Paul was kept under very lenient restraint. He had his own rented home, and welcomed many visitors. It was during this time that he wrote the Prison Epistles—Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. The apostle eventually gained his opportunity to appeal to the emperor, and won his release.

     Paul then very probably made his intended visit to Spain. An early church father, Clement of Rome, reports that Paul went “to the extreme limit of the west” before he suffered martyrdom. We can gather that he also had time to visit Ephesus in Macedonia (
1 Tim. 1:3) as well as Crete (Titus 1:5). Paul planned to spend the winter in Nicopolis on the west coast of Epirus (3:12). Certainly the apostle was again free, totally immersed in his ministries as a missionary and church supervisor.

     But when Paul wrote
2 Timothy, he was imprisoned a second time, and this time under no gentle restraint: he was in chains (2 Tim. 1:16). He lacked warm clothing and books (4:13). The prospect was so grim that Paul wrote, “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure” (v. 6).

     What had happened?

     Paul’s release from his first imprisonment probably took place around a.d. 60 or 61. His journey to Spain may have taken two years, say till 63. On his return Paul revisited many churches and wrote supportive letters to young Timothy and Titus (early 64). Then came a series of events that unleashed opposition to Christianity throughout the empire!

     Nero Claudius Caesar was Emperor of Rome from a.d. 54 to 67. Though a vicious and unbalanced man, his first five years were marked by sound administration, because he was content to let two supporters, Seneca and Burrus, run the empire. By 62, however, the young emperor grasped the full power of his position, having put to death those who had previously restrained him (including his mother). The situation rapidly deteriorated. In July of 64 a fire broke out in a slum and destroyed half of Rome, and the rumor circulated that Nero had put his capital to the torch in order to have more space for one of his grandiose building schemes.

     The increasingly unpopular emperor looked for a scapegoat upon whom he could turn the wrath of the people. Christians, already hated by the Roman mob, were chosen. During the next five years suppression of Christianity became the official policy of the Roman state, and persecution was intensified.

     Paul was rearrested, tumbled into a maximum security prison in Rome, and, within months after writing his second letter to Timothy, was executed. Deserted and alone during his last days (see
v. 16), the aged apostle’s final thoughts were for the harassed church, and the youthful leaders who must now accept the burden of guiding its course.

     Timothy. Our impressions of Timothy come from
Acts and from the letters he received from Paul. Timothy was a youth of good reputation, probably a resident of Lystra (Acts 16:2). His father was a Greek and his mother a devout Jewess who, with his grandmother Lois, instructed Timothy in the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5, 14). Timothy was probably a teen when he first joined Paul; fifteen years later Paul could write, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Tim. 4:12).

     It’s uncertain how heavily Timothy was involved in missionary work during the intervening years; however, his name keeps appearing in association with Paul and Silas. Certainly Paul had known this young man intimately. And Paul now committed to Timothy much of his own ministry, and gave him his last words of advice. Certainly, Paul was aware not only of the difficulties facing the church but of Timothy’s own weaknesses. Bastien Van Elderen, New Testament scholar and archeologist, sums up the impression of Timothy conveyed in Paul’s writings in the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia:

     He was a fairly young man who was somewhat retiring, perhaps even a bit shy. He appears to be sincere and devoted, but at times perhaps frightened by his opponents and their teachings. This perhaps is also reflected in his apparent inability to cope with the problems in the Corinthian church.

     How encouraging it is to see the mission of the church being committed to ordinary people. Retiring. Perhaps a bit shy. Sincere, but uncomfortable with opposition, and all too often unable to cope. Just ordinary people, like you and me. Yet Christ’s church has endured and, from generation to generation, communicated the life that is our Saviour’s enduring gift to those who choose to make Him their own. How important then Paul’s last words to Timothy would be. They comfort us ordinary people, and give us guidelines for maintaining the church of Jesus Christ as His living, growing family.

     Titus. We know even less of Titus than of Timothy, yet the infrequent reference in the epistles to this young leader is consistently favorable. He shows genuine devotion and concern (
2 Cor. 8:16–17); he is committed to those he serves (12:18). And Titus was apparently effective even in areas in which Timothy proved indecisive. Van Elderen reflects on the impact of Titus’ visit to Corinth as Paul’s emissary during a time of antagonism against the apostle.

     When Paul arrived in Troas, he did not find Titus (
2 Cor. 2:13). Although there were promising opportunities for mission work in Troas, Paul’s concern about Corinth and Titus led him to proceed to Macedonia. … In Macedonia Titus brings to Paul a comforting report about the Corinthians, which gives him much joy and peace of mind (2 Cor. 7:6–14). Titus seems to have established a good rapport with the Corinthians and Paul exuberantly expresses his gratitude for the happy turn of events.

     Aside from this portrait of an effective and promising young leader, we know only that Titus was a Gentile who remained uncircumcised. He, like Timothy, accompanied Paul and later Barnabas on missionary journeys. Now, like Timothy, Titus must provide leadership in place of the apostle, and like Timothy, would profit from Paul’s final advice.

The Teacher's Commentary

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Lessons for Everyday Living

     Just as the Talmud can jump from one topic to another, so too it jumps from one time and place to another. Imagine the following conversation being recorded in a history book:

     Thomas Jefferson told Abraham Lincoln: “I do not think that the framers of the Constitution had it in mind to prohibit slavery.” To which Lincoln answered: “I cannot conceive that they did not!” John Kennedy interrupted: “Mr. Jefferson, you are correct in theory. And Mr. Lincoln, you are correct in practice!”

     We understand immediately that such a conversation never took place. Yet in the Talmud, such exchanges are found on every page. The editors of the Talmud “cut and pasted” together snippets of teachings from a five-hundred-year period. Sometimes they were conversations that actually took place; other times they created the appearance of a conversation by putting together the sayings of two teachers (from two eras) on a single topic. Very often the Gemara goes a step further: It puts an argument into the mouth of a particular Rabbi, implying: “Here’s what so-and-so might have said about this had he been there.…”

     From this approach, we learn that the Talmud is a vibrant, dynamic, organic work. It is not restricted by time or space. It brings us back into the past and enables us to question and address people long since gone about how they dealt with the critical issues in their lives. It also enables us to bring those from the past into the present, so that we can see how they would apply the lessons of the past to the problems of today.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

RE: Prayer
     MarkKate Morse

     An orientation toward individualism and tasks puts the responsibility for outcomes on an individual's shoulders. Jesus clearly put responsibility on the group. The Holy Spirit was poured out on everyone gathered, male and female, old and young, slaves and free. Therefore, the group bears the responsibility for bringing requests to God and partnership together and with the Holy Spirit, who takes the request to God knowing God's will. There are 38 references to prayer in Acts and 60% of them occur in community. The pervasiveness of prayer in the early church clearly marked it as a praying church (Acts 1:14; 2:42).

     One of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to intercede on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is directly related to our prayer lives. We are called to always pray, but it is the Holy Spirit that packages the prayer according to the will of God. The obedience and prayer is to pray, not to pray a certain way or to get a certain outcome. We often assume that prayer isn't worth it when we pray and nothing seems to happen. However, through the Holy Spirit we know that it is not our business to make anything happen. That is the business of the Holy Spirit through God. Our business is to pray, especially together.

     If the world operates with probable patterns, then we can accept those patterns as natural (the sun comes up; clouds cause rain; germs cause illness; storms happen). God sometimes overrides them, so we pray.
     Since we have free will, then we bear the consequences of free will when in sin or ignorance; we do things that bring harm to ourselves or others. God sometimes intervenes on our behalf, so we pray.
     Since sin and evil are let loose for a time and the end times have not arrived, then evil and sinful people will hurt and destroy the innocent. We still pray.

     Though Jesus Christ overcame evil on the cross, suffering is still the fabric of everyone's life. God is uniquely manifested in suffering. We pray for the suffering.

     Since God created us in a good world, sometimes the evil prosper and the good suffer (the rain falls on the just and unjust). God has promised a day when there will be no more tears.

     When we allow the Holy Spirit to take our prayers to the father for the father's will, in faith we trust:

     God's timing as inscrutable and loving for eternity
     God's righteousness and justice
     God's mystery and universal sovereignty as preeminent
     God's worthiness of our praise and trust

     The Scriptures tell us to pray for others. So we pray. We pray in faith. We are called to pray, not to take responsibility for answers. So pray fervently, with hope, with specific desires and with confidence in a God who loves us and died for us and a Holy Spirit who intercedes for us. As priests for a world desperately needing intercessors, it is the role of the individual and church to pray. We are not asked to take responsibility for the outcome of prayer. We pray urgently and freely for the needs of our friends, family and this world. Intercessory prayer is a prayer of participation in God's will.

A Guidebook to Prayer: 24 Ways to Walk with God

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Twenty-Third / Thoughts On Death

     VERY soon your life here will end; consider, then, what may be in store for you elsewhere. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are quickly forgotten. Oh, the dullness and hardness of a heart which looks only to the present instead of preparing for that which is to come!

     Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would not fear death very much. It is better to avoid sin than to fear death. If you are not prepared today, how will you be prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know you will have a tomorrow?

     What good is it to live a long life when we amend that life so little? Indeed, a long life does not always benefit us, but on the contrary, frequently adds to our guilt. Would that in this world we had lived well throughout one single day. Many count up the years they have spent in religion but find their lives made little holier. If it is so terrifying to die, it is nevertheless possible that to live longer is more dangerous. Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and prepares for it every day.

     If you have ever seen a man die, remember that you, too, must go the same way. In the morning consider that you may not live till evening, and when evening comes do not dare to promise yourself the dawn. Be always ready, therefore, and so live that death will never take you unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly, for in the unexpected hour the Son of God will come. When that last moment arrives you will begin to have a quite different opinion of the life that is now entirely past and you will regret very much that you were so careless and remiss.

     How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what he wants to be found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a lively desire to advance in virtue, a love for discipline, the works of penance, readiness to obey, self-denial, and the endurance of every hardship for the love of Christ, these will give a man great expectations of a happy death.

     You can do many good works when in good health; what can you do when you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise they who undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy.

     Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not put off the care of your soul till later, for men will forget you more quickly than you think. It is better to provide now, in time, and send some good account ahead of you than to rely on the help of others. If you do not care for your own welfare now, who will care when you are gone?

     The present is very precious; these are the days of salvation; now is the acceptable time. How sad that you do not spend the time in which you might purchase everlasting life in a better way. The time will come when you will want just one day, just one hour in which to make amends, and do you know whether you will obtain it?

     See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you can free yourself and the great fear from which you can be saved, if only you will always be wary and mindful of death. Try to live now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful. Learn to die to the world now, that then you may begin to live with Christ. Learn to spurn all things now, that then you may freely go to Him. Chastise your body in penance now, that then you may have the confidence born of certainty.

     Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are not sure of living even a day? How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.

     Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for you? Do now, beloved, what you can, because you do not know when you will die, nor what your fate will be after death. Gather for yourself the riches of immortality while you have time. Think of nothing but your salvation. Care only for the things of God. Make friends for yourself now by honoring the saints of God, by imitating their actions, so that when you depart this life they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.

     Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its affairs do not concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it up to God, for you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct your daily prayers, your sighs and tears, that your soul may merit after death to pass in happiness to the Lord.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     February 23

     Pray continually. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

     It is not necessary to pronounce many words. (Fraņois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, “The Saints Converse with God,” ( The World's Great Sermons, Volume 02 ) To pray is to say, “Let your will be done.” It is to form a good purpose, to raise your heart to God, to lament your weakness, to sigh at the recollection of your frequent disobedience. This prayer demands neither method nor science nor reasoning; it is not essential to quit your work; it is a simple movement of the heart toward its Creator and a desire that whatever you are doing you may do to his glory. The best of all prayers is to act with a pure intention and with a continual reference to the will of God. It depends much on ourselves whether our prayers are effective. It is not by a miracle but by a movement of the heart that we are benefited, by a submissive spirit.

     Do not devote all your time to action, but reserve a certain portion of it for meditation on eternity. Jesus invited his disciples to go apart in a desert place and rest awhile. How much more necessary is it for us to approach the source of all virtue, that we may revive our declining faith and charity, when we return from busy lives, where people speak and act as if they had never known that there is a God! We should look on prayer as the remedy for our weakness, the rectifier of our faults. He who was without sin prayed constantly; how much more ought we, who are sinners, to be faithful in prayer!

     That we feel God should bless our labors is another powerful motive to prayer. It often happens that all human help is vain. It is God alone who can aid us, and it does not require much faith to believe that it is less our exertions than the blessing of the Almighty that can give success to our wishes.

     We must pray with attention. God listens to the voice of the heart, not to that of the lips. The whole heart must be engaged in prayer. Every human object must disappear from our minds. To whom should we speak with attention if not to God? This attention to prayer may be practiced with less difficulty than we imagine. True, the most faithful souls suffer from occasional involuntary distractions. But these unbidden wanderings of the mind ought not to trouble us; they may promote our perfection even more than the most sublime and affecting prayers, if we strive to overcome them and submit with humility to this experience of our infirmity.
--- François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon

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

On This Day   February 23
     Eighty and Six Years

     Though Polycarp is not mentioned in the Bible, he was born during the New Testament age, converted early in life, and trained for the ministry by the apostle John himself. Polycarp and John remained friends for 20 years. They worked in churches 20 miles from one another, John in Ephesus and Polycarp at his home church in Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey). When John wrote the Revelation, he addressed a portion of it to the believers in Smyrna, and of that church he had no critical words. It may well have been Polycarp who read John’s message to the congregation: I know how much you suffer and how poor you are, but you are rich. … Don’t worry about what you will suffer. … If you are faithful until you die, I will reward you with a glorious life (Rev 2:9,10).

     Though Polycarp devoted most of his time to pastoring the church at Smyrna, he also became well-known elsewhere. We still have a letter he wrote to the Philippian church, and in it he quotes extensively from the New Testament. He traveled to Rome to consult with Bishop Anicletus about theological matters. He battled heresy throughout the empire. All in all, he serves as a vital link between the apostles and the rest of church history.

     He faced his greatest test in the mid-second century, during the reign of Antoninus Pius. A persecution broke out against Christians, and several of his church members were killed. On February 23, c. 155 a Roman officer publicly demanded that Polycarp renounce Christ. The old pastor’s famous reply has echoed through history: “Eighty and six years have I served him and he has done me no wrong. Can I revile my King that saved me?”

     “I’ll throw you to the beasts!” shouted the Roman. Polycarp told him to bring them on. “Then I’ll have you burned,” the man warned.

     Polycarp replied, “You try to frighten me with fire that burns for an hour and you forget the fire of hell that never goes out.”

     An hour later his body was ashes, his soul with Christ.

     Don’t worry about what you will suffer. The devil will throw some of you into jail, and you will be tested and made to suffer for ten days. But if you are faithful until you die, I will reward you with a glorious life. If you have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
--- Revelation 2:10-11a.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 23

     “I will never leave thee.” --- Hebrews 13:5.

     No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, he has said to all. When he opens a well for one, it is that all may drink. When he openeth a granary-door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is the occasion of its being opened, but all hungry saints may come and feed too. Whether he gave the word to Abraham or to Moses, matters not, O believer; he has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed. There is not a high blessing too lofty for thee, nor a wide mercy too extensive for thee. Lift up now thine eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, for all this is thine. Climb to Pisgah’s top, and view the utmost limit of the divine promise, for the land is all thine own. There is not a brook of living water of which thou mayst not drink. If the land floweth with milk and honey, eat the honey and drink the milk, for both are thine. Be thou bold to believe, for he hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”In this promise, God gives to his people everything. “I will never leave thee.” Then no attribute of God can cease to be engaged for us. Is he mighty? He will show himself strong on the behalf of them that trust him. Is he love? Then with lovingkindness will he have mercy upon us. Whatever attributes may compose the character of Deity, every one of them to its fullest extent shall be engaged on our side. To put everything in one, there is nothing you can want, there is nothing you can ask for, there is nothing you can need in time or in eternity, there is nothing living, nothing dying, there is nothing in this world, nothing in the next world, there is nothing now, nothing at the resurrection-morning, nothing in heaven which is not contained in this text—“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

          Evening - February 23

     “Take up the cross, and follow me.” --- Mark 10:21.

     You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to his easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; he leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if he carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.

     Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with to-morrow’s sun, you may go forth to the day’s cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified.

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

Amazing Grace
     February 23


     Traditional Spiritual

     They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer … All the believers were together and had everything in common.
(Acts 2:42, 44)

     The local church has been described as a laboratory where believers learn to love one another regardless of color, nationality, or financial status. Our common heavenly citizenship is the one dominant tie that binds our hearts together. One of the basic results of our weekly corporate worship should be the growing bond of love and unity that develops between believers. This bond of fellowship should result in God’s family members learning to care, honor, and serve one another in love. We should treat others with the same tenderness and understanding that we have experienced from God Himself. This determination to live in a love relationship with fellow believers is infinitely more important than the issues or differences that may separate us.

     Christian unity does not mean that we must eliminate all diversities. We should be able to differ with each other while maintaining love, respect, and a warm, unified spirit. When our differences get out of hand and hard feelings develop, however, the communion service should always be a reminder that we must reconcile our differences and once more restore a spirit of unity within the body of Christ. The bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper should remind us of this truth each time we participate together (1 Corinthians 11:17–34).

     Let us break bread together on our knees; let us break bread together on our knees; when I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun, O Lord, have mercy on me.
     Let us drink the cup together on our knees; let us drink the cup together on our knees; when I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun, O Lord, have mercy on me.
     Let us praise God together on our knees; let us praise God together on our knees; when I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun, O Lord, have mercy on me.

     For Today: Psalm 133:1; Matthew 26:26–30; Luke 24:30; Romans 15:5, 6; Hebrews 10:25.

     Reflect on this statement: I should value not only those for whom Christ died, but above all those in whom Christ now lives. Consider how a more loving and caring relationship could be promoted among the members of your local church. Ponder this important matter ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday, February 23, 2018 | Lent

Friday Of The First Week In Lent
Year 2

On the same date: Eve of St. Matthias, Evening Prayer

Invitatory     Psalm 95
Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 40, 54
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 51
Old Testament     Genesis 40:1–23
New Testament     1 Corinthians 3:16–23
Gospel     Mark 2:13–22

Index of Readings

Psalm 95

95 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

Psalm (Morning)
Psalm 40, 54

40 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is the man who makes
the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.

6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!

54 To The Choirmaster: With Stringed Instruments. A Maskil Of David, When The Ziphites Went And Told Saul, “Is Not David Hiding Among Us?”

1 O God, save me by your name,
and vindicate me by your might.
2 O God, hear my prayer;
give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For strangers have risen against me;
ruthless men seek my life;
they do not set God before themselves. Selah

4 Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5 He will return the evil to my enemies;
in your faithfulness put an end to them.

6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
7 For he has delivered me from every trouble,
and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 51

51 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David, When Nathan The Prophet Went To Him, After He Had Gone In To Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Old Testament
Genesis 40:1–23

40 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.

5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 3:16–23

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Mark 2:13–22

13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

The Book of Common Prayer

Book Of Common Prayer
     On The Same Date | Vigil | Holy Day

Eve Of St. Matthias
Evening Prayer—Eves Of Apostles And Evangelists
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: Friday of the First Week in Lent

Psalms     Psalm 48, 122 or Psalm 84, 150
Old Testament     Isaiah 43:10–15 or Isaiah 52:7–10
New Testament     Revelation 21:1–4, 9–14 or Matthew 9:35–10:4

Index of Readings

Option A
Psalm 48, 122

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.

122 A Song Of Ascents. Of David.

1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
2 Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
8 For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.

Option B
Psalm 84, 150

84 To The Choirmaster: According To The Gittith. A Psalm Of The Sons Of Korah.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.

8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!

10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

150 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
Option A
Isaiah 43:10–15

10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.
13 Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”

14 Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I send to Babylon
and bring them all down as fugitives,
even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.”

Option B
Isaiah 52:7–10

7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the LORD to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

New Testament
Option A
Revelation 21:1–4, 9–14

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Option B
Matthew 9:35–10:4

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

The Book of Common Prayer

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Religious Faith - Public Square 2
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Religious Faith-Public Square 3
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Romans 12:1-2 | John MacArthur

A Vision of God in a Time of Crisis
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