Moses and Aaron Before PharaohExodus 7:1 And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” 6 Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the LORD commanded them. 7 Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.
8 Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ ” 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
The First Plague: Water Turned to Blood14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water. Stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. 16 And you shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But so far, you have not obeyed. 17 Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.” ’ ” 19 And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’ ”
20 Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. 21 And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. 23 Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile.
25 Seven full days passed after the LORD had struck the Nile.
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-TwoLuke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
Woe to Unrepentant Cities13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
The Return of the Seventy-Two17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Martha and Mary38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Job Replies: Where Is God?Job 24:1
“Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty,
and why do those who know him never see his days?
2 Some move landmarks;
they seize flocks and pasture them.
3 They drive away the donkey of the fatherless;
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.
4 They thrust the poor off the road;
the poor of the earth all hide themselves.
5 Behold, like wild donkeys in the desert
the poor go out to their toil, seeking game;
the wasteland yields food for their children.
6 They gather their fodder in the field,
and they glean the vineyard of the wicked man.
7 They lie all night naked, without clothing,
and have no covering in the cold.
8 They are wet with the rain of the mountains
and cling to the rock for lack of shelter.
9 (There are those who snatch the fatherless child from the breast,
and they take a pledge against the poor.)
10 They go about naked, without clothing;
hungry, they carry the sheaves;
11 among the olive rows of the wicked they make oil;
they tread the winepresses, but suffer thirst.
12 From out of the city the dying groan,
and the soul of the wounded cries for help;
yet God charges no one with wrong.
13 “There are those who rebel against the light,
who are not acquainted with its ways,
and do not stay in its paths.
14 The murderer rises before it is light,
that he may kill the poor and needy,
and in the night he is like a thief.
15 The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight,
saying, ‘No eye will see me’;
and he veils his face.
16 In the dark they dig through houses;
by day they shut themselves up;
they do not know the light.
17 For deep darkness is morning to all of them;
for they are friends with the terrors of deep darkness.
18 “You say, ‘Swift are they on the face of the waters;
their portion is cursed in the land;
no treader turns toward their vineyards.
19 Drought and heat snatch away the snow waters;
so does Sheol those who have sinned.
20 The womb forgets them;
the worm finds them sweet;
they are no longer remembered,
so wickedness is broken like a tree.’
21 “They wrong the barren, childless woman,
and do no good to the widow.
22 Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power;
they rise up when they despair of life.
23 He gives them security, and they are supported,
and his eyes are upon their ways.
24 They are exalted a little while, and then are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like the heads of grain.
25 If it is not so, who will prove me a liar
and show that there is nothing in what I say?”
1 Corinthians 111 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Head Coverings2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
The Lord’s Supper17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, Please read "Apostolic churches were confessional" in the accordian panel on the right side of this web page. 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Why Doesn’t God Answer All My Prayers?
By J. Warner Wallace 2/21/2018
You don’t have to be a Christian long to recognize you don’t always get what you pray for. Why doesn’t God seem to answer all our prayers? Is it because we aren’t praying properly, or have we simply failed to recognize God’s answer? Our ideas about prayer and God’s ideas about prayer are sometimes very different. Look at Jesus’ model supplication in the Gospel of Luke: “Father, hallowed be your name.
(Lk 11:2–4)2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.” ESV
Recognize the Holy Nature of God | Jesus begins by praising God and recognizing His holiness. He wants God’s will to be accomplished first, even before asking for anything for Himself. The Bible tells us that we must put God first if we want our prayers to be heard (Ezekiel 14:3, John 15:7). We’re called to abide in God first and put aside all other idols in our lives before we ask God for something.
Recognize Our Desperate Need Related to Forgiveness | The last part of Jesus’ prayer is centered entirely on the truth about each of us as believers. Jesus recognizes our need for forgiveness and our need to forgive others. More importantly, Jesus recognizes our natural fallen tendency to slip into sin and our need for God’s help in this area. The Bible says we must be honest about our sinful condition if we want our prayers to be heard (Isaiah 59:1-2). Honest confession is often missing from our conversations with God, but Jesus (the only perfect man who ever lived) did not deny our need for forgiveness. If He is modeling this for us, it must be important to God. Our need to examine our fallen nature is important because it helps us see God for who he really is (especially when compared to us).
Recognize the Simplicity of Our Material Need | In the middle of the Lord’s prayer, Jesus submits a simple request: “give us this day our daily bread”. Simple, immediate and humble. The request is focused more on our needs than our wants, and it asks for no more than what is required in the “here and now”. Jesus asks for more than His own need; His prayer is concerned with the needs of others (Proverbs 21:13). The Bible says we must be concerned with others if we want our prayers to be heard.
“Father, hallowed be your name.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
The Right and Wrong Reasons to Pursue Apologetics
By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 2/22/2018
A ways back I remember reading an article by William Lane Craig about advice for people who want be an apologist. In all honesty, Craig probably knows many people who have come to him asking for advice. I think he would admit that many of them want to live the life he has and is living (e.g.,lots of speaking gigs/debates, lots of fans, lots of attention, etc). The more I have thought about this issue, I can list some of the right and wrong reasons to pursue a career in apologetics. Or, perhaps here are some of the right and wrong reasons for being very active in the field of apologetics.
Wrong Reasons | #1: The Need for Attention | Given the overload of reality TV shows and celebrity worship, the last thing we need are apologists who have a narcissism problem. If you are craving attention and affirmation, than that can’t be motivation for being a player in apologetics. I am not saying that it is a bad thing to be encouraged and noted at all for contributions in the field of apologetics. However, we need to check ourselves in this area.
#2: The need to tear people down with knowledge | Sean McDowell gives us some tips on this one:
“Youth Specialties president Mark Matlock wrote a compelling essay about apologetics and emotional development.3 In it, he argued that apologetics often attracts people who have been emotionally hurt, and in turn, who use apologetics to hurt other people. He’s absolutely right. As the saying famously goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” There is power in knowledge. And many people seek power by gaining more information so they can control and even humiliate other people. If you are an apologist, I encourage you to ask yourself some deep questions: Why (honestly) are you an apologist? Is your heart genuinely broken for non-Christians? Do you pray for humility and guidance in your research and conversations with both Christians and non-Christians? I hope so.”
#3: The Need to Look Really Smart | Don’t get me wrong. I know we have an anti-intellectualism problem in the Church. I also know we have a fideism problem as well. But if you want to be an apologist to show people how smart you really are (and boast about your degrees), that is probably not a good thing. If anything, this only reveals that there is some sort of insecurity here. We need to check ourselves in this area.
Right Reasons: | #1: We want the Church strengthened and confident in their faith | Apologists work hard! They have to answer a lot of objections and have to be very knowledgeable about a variety of disciplines. We want Christians confident so that they will in turn want to obey the commands of Jesus (e.g., preach the Gospel and make disciples).
Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.
Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.
Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.
What Is the Unforgivable Sin?
By David Mathis 2/23/2018
“Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”It’s one of Jesus’s most enigmatic, controversial, and haunting statements. In the last two millennia, many a tortured soul have wrestled over this warning. Have I committed “the unforgivable sin”? When I addressed my angry profanity to God, when I spoke rebelliously against him, did I commit unforgivable blasphemy? Or, perhaps more often, especially in today’s epidemic of Internet porn, “Could I really be saved if I keep returning to the same sin I have vowed so many times never to return to again?”
Despite the enigma and controversy, we do have a simple pathway to clarity. Jesus’s “blasphemy against the Spirit” statement only appears in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). If we get a concrete sense of what he did (and didn’t) mean there, then we’re positioned to answer what such “unforgivable sin” might (and might not) mean for us today.
What Jesus Actually Said | Jesus hadn’t been teaching in public long when his hearers began comparing him to their teachers, called “the scribes,” part of the conservative Jewish group known as the Pharisees. The growing crowds “were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). The scribes heard the comparison and felt the tension, and soon escalated it (Mark 2:6, 16), as these Bible teachers of the day, with their many added traditions, quickly grew in their envy, and then hatred, for Jesus. The threat is so great these conservatives even are willing to cross the aisle to conspire with their liberal rivals, the Herodians (Mark 3:6).
The showdown comes in Mark 3:22–30 (Matthew 12:22–32). Scribes have descended from Jerusalem to set straight the poor, deceived people of backwater Galilee. “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” they say. “By the prince of demons he casts out the demons” (Mark 3:22). Click here to go to source David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is the husband of Megan, father of four, and his regular articles are available online at desiringGod.org/mathis.
David Mathis Books:
- 1 Habits of Grace Study Guide: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines
- 2 Acting the Miracle: God's Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification
- 3 Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged
- 4 How to Stay Christian in Seminary
- 5 The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C. S. Lewis
- 6 Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind
- 7 Cross: Unrivaled Christ, Unstoppable Gospel, Unreached Peoples, Unending Joy
- 8 With Calvin in the Theater of God: The Glory of Christ and Everyday Life
- 9 Finish the Mission (First) (9/19/12)
Is Religion Responsible for the Most Wars and Violence?
By Douglas Beaumont 2/22/2018
Introduction | I was listening to NPR the other day and heard this little bit of oft-repeated tripe: “Religion has been responsible for more violence and wars than any other blah, blah, blah.” Does this atheistic motto have any credibility? Let’s have a look.
While the religious beliefs of the conquering nation were often imposed once it took power, this was a method of indoctrination to crush future rebellion (like assimilation through intermarriage, languages, cultural syncretism, etc.). Doing so showed the “superiority” of the conqueror when they placed their “gods” on display. This also allowed these empires to use religion as a test for loyalty – but the wars they fought were for power and wealth, not faith.
None of them fought wars for their religion (Hussein, for example, killed members of his own religion), although each held to strong philosophies and world views – the motivation for their wars was not religious dispute. (Unless one counts Atheism as a religion.*)
Ancient World Empires | Which of these world empires ever fought against, or conquered another nation, due to religious beliefs?
Ancient and Modern War Leaders | What about the leaders of the most violent people groups? How many of them fought wars to further their own religion?
Modern and Contemporary Wars
While the religious beliefs of the conquering nation were often imposed once it took power, this was a method of indoctrination to crush future rebellion (like assimilation through intermarriage, languages, cultural syncretism, etc.). Doing so showed the “superiority” of the conqueror when they placed their “gods” on display. This also allowed these empires to use religion as a test for loyalty – but the wars they fought were for power and wealth, not faith.
None of them fought wars for their religion (Hussein, for example, killed members of his own religion), although each held to strong philosophies and world views – the motivation for their wars was not religious dispute. (Unless one counts Atheism as a religion.*)
None of them fought wars for their religion (Hussein, for example, killed members of his own religion), although each held to strong philosophies and world views – the motivation for their wars was not religious dispute. (Unless one counts Atheism as a religion.*)
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 24The King of Glory
24 A Psalm Of David.
1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
Exodus 7; Luke 10; Job 24; 1 Corinthians 11
By Don Carson 2/24/2018
The story is told of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the most influential preachers of the twentieth century. When he was dying of cancer, one of his friends and former associates asked him, in effect, “How are you managing to bear up? You have been accustomed to preaching several times a week. You have begun important Christian enterprises; your influence has extended through tapes and books to Christians on five continents. And now you have been put on the shelf. You are reduced to sitting quietly, sometimes managing a little editing. I am not so much asking therefore how you are coping with the disease itself. Rather, how are you coping with the stress of being out of the swim of things?”
Lloyd-Jones responded in the words of Luke 10: “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (10:20 – though of course Lloyd-Jones would have cited the King James Version).
The quotation was remarkably apposite. The disciples have just returned from a trainee mission, and marvel that “even the demons submit to us in your name” (10:17). At one level, Jesus encourages them. He assures them that (in some visionary experience?) he has seen Satan fall like lightning from heaven (10:18). Apparently Jesus understands this trainee mission by his disciples as a sign, a way-stage, of Satan’s overthrow, accomplished in principle at the cross (cf. Rev. 12:9-12). He tells his disciples that they will witness yet more astonishing things than these (Luke 10:18-19). “However,” he adds (and then come the words quoted by Lloyd-Jones), “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (10:20).
It is so easy to rejoice in success. Our self-identity may become entangled with the fruitfulness of our ministry. Of course, that is dangerous when the success turns sour – but that is not the problem here. Things could not be going better for Jesus’ disciples. And then the danger, of course, is that it is not God who is being worshiped. Our own wonderful acceptance by God himself no longer moves us, but only our apparent success.
This has been the sin of more than a few “successful” pastors, and of no fewer “successful” lay people. While proud of their orthodoxy and while entrusted with a valid mission, they have surreptitiously turned to idolizing something different: success. Few false gods are so deceitful. When faced with such temptations, it is desperately important to rejoice for the best reasons – and there is none better than that our sins are forgiven, and that by God’s own gracious initiative our names have been written in heaven.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).
Don Carson Books:
- 1 An Introduction to the New Testament
- 2 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 3 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 4 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Hardcover: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 5 Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation
- 6 Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- 7 Exegetical Fallacies
- 8 For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Volume 1
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Matthew (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 11 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 12 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 13 How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 14 New Testament Commentary Survey
- 15 For the Love of God, Volume 2: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word
- 16 9: Matthew and Mark (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 17 Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14
- 18 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 19 The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures
- 20 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: John 14-17
- 21 Introducing NT: A Short Guide to Its History and Message
- 22 Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
- 23 Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes
- 24 Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: An Exposition of Matthew 5-10
- 25 The Intolerance of Tolerance
- 26 From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation
- 27 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 28 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension
- 29 The Expositor's Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke Vol. 8
- 30 Christ and Culture Revisited
- 31 NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 32 The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 33 Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day
- 34 Gagging of God, The
- 35 The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices
- 36 The God Who Is There Leader's Guide: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 37 What Is the Gospel?
- 38 His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke
- 39 The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the OT
- 40 Love in Hard Places
- 41 Coming Home: Essays on the New Heaven and New Earth
- 42 God's Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World
- 43 Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
- 44 Telling the Truth
- 45 God's Word, Our Story: Learning from the Book of Nehemiah
- 46 Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications
- 47 The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7
- 48 Sunsets: Reflections for Life's Final Journey
- 49 God with Us: Themes from Matthew
- 50 A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13
- 51 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 52 The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry
- 53 Teach Us to Pray: Prayer in the Bible and the World
- 54 Matthew, Vol.2 (Ch. 13-28), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 55 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 56 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 57 Entrusted with the Gospel: Pastoral Expositions of 2 Timothy
- 58 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension
- 59 The Holy Spirit
- 60 The Plan
- 61 Collected Writings on Scripture
- 62 The Inclusive-Language Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 63 Matthew, Vol.1 (Ch. 1-12), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 64 Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Influence of Carl F. H. Henry
- 65 The Restoration of All Things
- 66 Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times
- 67 Christ's Redemption
- 68 Exegetical Fallacies
- 69 Justification
- 70 Greek Accents: A Student's Manual
- 71 Gospel-Centered Ministry
- 72 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 77 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 78 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 79 [(Christ and Culture Revisited)]
- 80 When Jesus Confronts the World: An Exposition of Matthew 8-10
- 81 The Church: God's New People
- 82 Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life
- 83 Love in Hard Places
- 84 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place In God'S Story
- 85 NT Commentary Survey
- 86 The Inclusive Language Debate
- 87 Exegetical Fallacies
- 88 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14-17
- 89 NT Commentary Survey
- 90 How long, O Lord? (2nd edition): Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 91 Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century
- 92 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 93 By D. A. Carson - Gagging of God
- 94 Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed
- 95 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 96 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 97 A Call to Spiritual Reformation
The Doctrines of Grace: By His Grace and for His Glory
By Steven J. Lawson 1/8/2018
“Those who have received salvation are to attribute it to sovereign grace alone, and to give all the praise to Him, who makes them to differ from others.” --- Jonathan Edwards
The doctrines of grace are so called because these five major headings of theology, often identified as the five points of biblical Calvinism, contain the purest expression of the saving grace of God. Each of these five doctrines—radical depravity, sovereign election, definite atonement, irresistible call, and preserving grace—supremely display the sovereign grace of God. These five headings stand together as one comprehensive statement of the saving purposes of God. For this reason, there is really only one point to the doctrines of grace, namely, that God saves sinners by His grace and for His glory. These two realities—God’s grace and glory—are inseparably bound together. Whatever most magnifies God’s grace most magnifies His glory. And that which most exalts God’s grace is the truth expressed in the doctrines of grace.
On the other hand, compromising any one of the five points dilutes and diminishes the grace of God. For instance, to speak of a mere partial corruption of man, one in which the lost sinner is only spiritually sick in his sin, makes a misdiagnosis that grossly diminishes the grace of God. Likewise, to espouse a conditional election that is dependent upon God’s foresight of man’s faith corrupts the grace of God. To teach that Christ made a universal atonement, making salvation possible for all (though actual for none), cheapens the grace of God. To believe in a resistible call that allows for the free will of man compromises the grace of God. And to think of reversible grace, which would allow man to fall away from the faith, contaminates the pure grace of God. These views undermine the grace of God, and because of that, sad to say, they rob God of His glory. And yet, such views are widely held in the church today. In any syncretistic Arminian scheme of theology, salvation is seen as being partly of God and partly of man—whether it be that man adds his good works or that he contributes his own self-generated faith to the finished work of Christ. These schemes divide the glory between God and man. To whatever extent one deviates from any of the five doctrines of grace, one marginalizes the glory that is due to God alone for the salvation of sinners.
Giving Glory to God Alone | Writing shortly before his death in 2000, James Montgomery Boice noted:
“Having a high view of God means something more than giving glory to God … it means giving glory to God alone. This is the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. While the former declares that God alone saves sinners, the latter gives the impression that God enables sinners to have some part in saving themselves. Calvinism presents salvation as the work of the triune God—election by the Father, redemption in the Son, calling by the Spirit. Furthermore, each of these saving acts is directed toward the elect, thereby infallibly securing their salvation. By contrast, Arminianism views salvation as something that God makes possible but that man makes actual. This is because the saving acts of God are directed toward different persons: the Son’s redemption is for humanity in general; the Spirit’s calling is only for those who hear the gospel; narrower still, the Father’s election is only for those who believe the gospel. Yet in none of these cases (redemption, calling, or election) does God actually secure the salvation of even one sinner! The inevitable result is that rather than depending exclusively on divine grace, salvation depends partly on a human response. So although Arminianism is willing to give God the glory, when it comes to salvation, it is unwilling to give Him all the glory. It divides the glory between heaven and earth, for if what ultimately makes the difference between being saved and being lost is man’s ability to choose God, then to just that extent God is robbed of His glory. Yet God Himself has said, ‘I will not yield My glory to another’ (Isa. 48:11).”
This is why the doctrines of grace are so desperately needed in our churches. They give glory to God alone. They define salvation as being all of God. When salvation is correctly perceived in this way, then—and only then—God receives all the glory for it. Only sola gratia produces soli Deo gloria.
This excerpt is taken from Foundations of Grace by Steven J. Lawson.
Steven J. Lawson Books:
- 1 The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 2 The Kind of Preaching God Blesses
- 3 The Daring Mission of William Tyndale (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 4 The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 5 The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 6 Holman Old Testament Commentary - Psalms 76-150
- 7 The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 8 Holman Old Testament Commentary - Psalms
- 9 Famine in the Land
- 10 The Expository Genius of John Calvin (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 11 The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
- 12 Pillars of Grace
- 13 Made in Our Image: The Fallacy of the User-Friendly God
- 14 Foundations of Grace
- 15 The Attributes of God Study Guide
- 16 Pillars of Grace (A Long Line of Godly Men, Volume Two)
- 17 When All Hell Breaks Loose: You May Be Doing Something Right : Surprising Insights from the Life of Job
- 18 The Legacy: Ten Core Values Every Father Must Leave His Child
- 19 In It to Win It: Pursuing Victory in the One Race that Really Counts
- 20 As Firmes Resoluções de Jonathan Edwards (Portuguese Edition)
- 21 Faith Under Fire: Standing Strong When Satan Attacks
- 22 Absolutely Sure: Settle the Question of Eternal Life
- 23 Men Who Win: Pursuing the Ultimate Prize
- 24 Final Call
- 25 Heaven Help Us!: Truths About Eternity That Will Help You Live Today Insights from the Book of Rev Elation (Christian living)
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
3. Here it will be proper to point out the titles which the Scripture
bestows on the Spirit, when it treats of the commencement and entire
renewal of our salvation. First, he is called the "Spirit of adoption,"
because he is witness to us of the free favor with which God the Father
embraced us in his well-beloved and only-begotten Son, so as to become
our Fathers and give us boldness of access to him; nays he dictates the
very words, so that we can boldly cry, "Abba, Father." For the same
reason, he is said to have "sealed us, and given the earnest of the
Spirit in our hearts," because, as pilgrims in the world, and persons
in a manner dead, he so quickens us from above as to assure us that our
salvation is safe in the keeping of a faithful God. Hence, also, the
Spirit is said to be "life because of righteousness." But since it is
his secret irrigation that makes us bud forth and produce the fruits of
righteousness, he is repeatedly described as water. Thus in Isaiah "Ho,
every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." Again, "I will pour
water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground."
Corresponding to this are the words of our Savior, to which I lately
referred, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink."
Sometimes, indeed, he receives this name from his energy in cleansing
and purifying, as in Ezekiel, where the Lord promises, "Then will I
sprinkle you with clean water, and ye shall be clean." As those
sprinkled with the Spirit are restored to the full vigor of life, he
hence obtains the names of "Oil" and "Unction." On the other hand, as
he is constantly employed in subduing and destroying the vices of our
concupiscence, and inflaming our hearts with the love of God and piety,
he hence receives the name of Fire. In fine, he is described to us as a
Fountain, whence all heavenly riches flow to us; or as the Hand by
which God exerts his power, because by his divine inspiration he so
breathes divine life into us, that we are no longer acted upon by
ourselves, but ruled by his motion and agency, so that everything good
in us is the fruit of his grace, while our own endowments without him
are mere darkness of mind and perverseness of heart. Already, indeed,
it has been clearly shown, that until our minds are intent on the
Spirit, Christ is in a manner unemployed, because we view him coldly
without us, and so at a distance from us. Now we know that he is of no
avail save only to those to whom he is a head and the first-born among
the brethren, to those, in fine, who are clothed with him.  To
this union alone it is owing that, in regard to us, the Savior has not
come in vain. To this is to be referred that sacred marriage, by which
we become bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, and so one with him
(Eph. 5:30), for it is by the Spirit alone that he unites himself to
us. By the same grace and energy of the Spirit we become his members,
so that he keeps us under him, and we in our turn possess him.
4. But as faith is his principal work, all those passages which express his power and operations are, in a great measure, referred to it, as it is, only by faith that he brings us to the light of the Gospel, as John teaches, that to those who believe in Christ is given the privilege "to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name, which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," (John 1:12). Opposing God to flesh and blood, he declares it to be a supernatural gift, that those who would otherwise remain in unbelief, receive Christ by faith. Similar to this is our Savior's reply to Peter, "Flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven," (Matt. 16:17). These things I now briefly advert to, as I have fully considered them elsewhere. To the same effect Paul says to the Ephesians, "Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise," (Eph. 1:13); thus showing that he is the internal teacher, by whose agency the promise of salvation, which would otherwise only strike the air or our ears, penetrates into our minds. In like manner, he says to the Thessalonians, "God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth," (2 Thess. 2:13); by this passage briefly reminding us, that faith itself is produced only by the Spirit. This John explains more distinctly, "We know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he has given us;" again, "Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit," (1 John 3:24; 4:13). Accordingly to make his disciples capable of heavenly wisdom, Christ promised them "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive," (John 14:17). And he assigns it to him, as his proper office, to bring to remembrance the things which he had verbally taught; for in vain were light offered to the blind, did not that Spirit of understanding open the intellectual eye; so that he himself may be properly termed the key by which the treasures of the heavenly kingdom are unlocked, and his illumination, the eye of the mind by which we are enabled to see: hence Paul so highly commends the ministry of the Spirit  (2 Cor. 3:6), since teachers would cry aloud to no purpose, did not Christ, the internal teacher, by means of his Spirit, draw to himself those who are given him of the Father. Therefore, as we have said that salvation is perfected in the person of Christ, so, in order to make us partakers of it, he baptizes us "with the Holy Spirit and with fire," (Luke 3:16), enlightening us into the faith of his Gospel, and so regenerating us to be new creatures. Thus cleansed from all pollution, he dedicates us as holy temples to the Lord.
 Eph. 4:15; Rom. 6:5; 11:17; 8:29; Gal. 3:27.
 Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13, 14; Rom. 8:10; Isa. 55:1; 44:3; John 7:37; Ezek. 36:25; John 2:14; 1 John 2:20, 27; Luke 3:16; Acts 11:21.
 The French adds, "qui vaut autant a dire comme la predication ayant avec soy vivacité spirituelle;"--that is to say, preaching carrying spiritual quickening along with it.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Strengthen your faith (2)
2/24/2018 Bob Gass
‘Position yourselves, stand still and see the [deliverance] of the LORD, who is with you.’
(2 Ch 20:17) You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” ESV
When you doubt God you disappoint Him, because He deserves better. So, you must seek to strengthen your faith, because faith honours God and God honours faith. And He will send opportunities disguised as problems designed to strengthen your faith. When Job lost his health, his wealth, and his children, the Bible says he ‘fell to the ground and worshipped’ (Job 1:20 NKJV). Job didn’t worship God because of his circumstances, but in spite of them. Notice the two things he did: 1) He looked up. He recognised God’s sovereign right to decide all things. He trusted God’s loving character and believed He would ultimately do what was best for him. And you must do that too! 2) He listened for a word. He realised this testing time was also a teaching time, so he declared, ‘He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10 NKJV). Like gold being processed by the refiner, Job trusted God to bring out the best in him. Was it easy to do? No. We want to cling to the familiar and return to the safety of yesterday, even though we know it’s not what God wants for us. The fears, surprises, and adversity that lie around the bend make us want to cut and run. But if you do, you’ll short-circuit God’s plan for your life. What should you do instead? Position yourself in faith: ‘Stand still and see the [deliverance] of the Lord, who is with you.’ Whatever you are going through right now, remember that God is ‘with you’.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
“Remember the Alamo” was the cry of the Texas army. The battle began today, February 24th, 1836, when three thousand Mexicans attacked 182 Texans. Within thirteen days, all defenders were killed, including Davy Crockett and James Bowie. The Texas Declaration of Independence stated: “General Antonio Lopez Santa Ana, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers, as the cruel alternative, either abandon our homes… or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny…. [He] denies us the right of worshiping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience.”
Thomas R. Kelly
No single person can hold all dedicated souls within his compass in steadfast Fellowship with equal vividness, There are degrees of Fellowship, from wider, more diffused relations of love to nearer, more intense inter-knittedness. As each of us is at a point in space which compels us to a perspective relationship to all things, some near, some far, so each of us is dear to some and remote from others in the bonds of love.
Within the wider Fellowship emerges the special circle of a few on whom, for each of us, a particular emphasis of nearness has fallen. These are our special gift and task. These we "carry" by inward, wordless prayer. By an interior act and attitude we lift them repeatedly before the throne and hold them there in power. This is work, real labor of the soul. It takes energy but it is done in joy. But the membership of such special groups is different and overlapping. From each individual the bonds of special fellowship radiate near and far. The total effect, in a living Church, would be sufficient intersection of these bonds to form a supporting, carrying network of love for the whole of mankind. Where the Fellowship is lacking the Church invisible is lacking and the Kingdom of God has not yet come. For these bonds of divine love and "carrying" are the stuff of the Kingdom of God. He who is in the Fellowship is in the Kingdom.
Two people, three people, ten people may be in living touch with one another through Him who underlies their separate lives. This is an astounding experience, which I can only describe but cannot explain in the language of science. But in vivid experience of divine Fellowship it is there. We know that these souls are with us, lifting their lives and ours continuously to God and opening themselves, with us, in steady and humble obedience to Him. It is as if the boundaries of our self were enlarged, as if we were within them and as if they were within us. Their strength, given to them by God, becomes our strength, and our joy, given to us by God, becomes their joy. In confidence and love we live together in Him. On the borders of the experience lie amazing events, at which reputable psychologists scoff, and for which I would not try any accounting. But the solid kernel of community of life in God is in the center of the experience, renewing our life and courage and commitment and love. For daily and hourly the cosmic Sacrament is enacted, the Bread and the Wine are divided amongst us by a heavenly Ministrant, and the substance of His body becomes Our life and the substance of His blood flows in our veins. Holy is the Fellowship, wondrous is the Ministrant, marvelous is the Grail.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Concern for the symbol has completely disappeared from our science. And yet, if one were to give oneself the trouble, one could easily find, in certain parts at least of contemporary mathematics... symbols as clear, as beautiful, and as full of spiritual meaning as that of the circle and mediation. From modern thought to ancient wisdom the path would be short and direct, if one cared to take it.
--- Simone Weil
“Oh Lord, why does Thou receive these men?”
And He will say: “This is why I receive them, oh ye wise,
this is why I receive them, oh ye of understanding,
that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.”
--- Fyodor Dostoevsky
The best of a book is not the thought which it contains,
but the thought which it suggests;
just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones
but in the echoes of our hearts.
--- John Greenleaf Whittier
Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson
... from here, there and everywhere
by Dr. David Wells
In time, as the New Testament letters were completed and the canon was eventually closed, there seems little doubt that the whole apostolic exposition of the disclosure of God, of his character, acts, and will (especially as these were revealed in Christ), became the substance of what was confessed. To be a believer, then as later, meant believing what the apostles taught. It is in this sense that apostolic succession is a New Testament truth. Believers succeed the apostles as they accept what the apostles taught. It is a succession not of ecclesiastical power as the Church of Rome teaches but of doctrine.
This is why the apostles not only framed Christian faith in doctrinal terms but called for its preservation and protection in this form. There is no Christian faith in the absence of "sound doctrine" (1 Tim. 1:10; Tit. 1:9), "sound instruction" (1 Tim. 6:3), or the "pattern of sound teaching" (2 Tim. 1:13-14). It is this doctrine, or, more precisely, the truth it contains and expresses, that was "taught" by the apostles and "delivered" to the Church. It is this message that is our only ground for hope (Tit. 1:9) and salvation (1 Cor. 15:2; 1 Pet. 1:23-25). Without it, we have neither the Father nor the Son (2 John 9). Indeed, Paul says that we can grow in Christ only if we stay within this doctrinal framework, for its truth provides the means of our growth (Col. 2:6). It is no wonder that Christians are urged not to depart from the apostolic teaching they received "in the beginning" (John 2:7, 24, 26; 3:11) or from what they had heard (Heb. 2:1), for it is the "faith once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3). Nor should we be amazed to read of Paul's admonition to Timothy that it is only by adhering to this "good teaching" that he will become a "good minister of Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 4:6). For all of these reasons, the apostles instructed believers to "guard" this faith (2 Tim. 1:13-14; 4:3; cf. Tit. 1:9; Gal. 1:9), defend it (Jude 3), "stand firm" in it, not to "drift" from it, to become "established" in it, and to transmit it intact to succeeding generations.
No one who is familiar with apostolic teaching and practice could imagine that bare, credal orthodoxy alone is being advocated in these passages. It is clear, for example, both from the structure of many of Paul's letters and from many of his specific statements, that he saw belief and practice as inextricably related to each other, the former being the foundation of the latter and the latter being the evidence of the working of the former. This same correlation is forcefully presented in John's first epistle, in which three tests are developed for discerning the presence and authenticity of a biblical spirituality: believing the right doctrine (2:18-27; 4:1-6, 13-21), obedience to right doctrine (2:3-6; 2:28-3:10), and giving expression to right doctrine in a life of love (2:7-11; 3:11-18; 4:7-12). Obedience and love are not substitutes for or alternatives to the doctrine, however; they are the ways — the indispensable ways — in which doctrine is to be worked out in our character, attitudes, relationships, and work. The apostolic exposition of God, his character, his acts, and his will (especially as these were focused in the giving of his incarnate Son) form the foundation without which one cannot have Christian faith.
It is only our familiarity with the New Testament language that hides from us the explosiveness of the apostolic conclusions. Why were they so adamant about the preservation, appropriation, and propagation of this doctrinally framed teaching? The answer is that it is the "truth" (2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:15; Tit. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2 Pet. 1:12; James 1:8; 3 John 4). It is only by coming to know this "truth" that one comes to know God, for he can be known only through Christ who is the center and object of this teaching (Tit. 2:4; Heb. 10:26; 1 Pet. 1:22; cf. 2 Tim. 3:7).
The apostles asserted that Christ alone is the truth in the midst of a world that was more religiously diverse than any we have known in the West until relatively recently. We today are far closer in religious temper to apostolic times than any period since the Reformation. Indeed, most of the modern period in the West has been quite unlike apostolic times inasmuch as we have been spared interreligious conflict and much of the doubt that invariably accompanies such conflict. It is, therefore, hard to imagine a more specious argument than the one advanced along many fronts today, backed actively by the World Council of Churches and implicitly by the documents of the Second Vatican Council, that the contemporary experience of religious pluralism is the reason that the apostolic formulation of faith can no longer be held! Such assertions make the apostles and often Jesus himself look like innocents who were spared the dreadful dilemmas that, sadly, we have to face with such flinty honesty, in the process divesting ourselves of the very truth that they insisted must be preserved.
This book was published 12/31/96. I confess I struggled in the first two chapters. After that, a great read.
University of Virginia Library 1994
Fourteenth of fifth month. -- I was this day at Camp Creek Monthly Meeting, and then rode to the mountains up James River, and had a meeting at a Friend's house, in both which I felt sorrow of heart, and my tears were poured out before the Lord, who was pleased to afford a degree of strength by which way was opened to clear my mind amongst Friends in those places. From thence I went to Fork Creek, and so to Cedar Creek again, at which place I now had a meeting. Here I found a tender seed, and as I was preserved in the ministry to keep low with the truth, the same truth in their hearts answered it, that it was a time of mutual refreshment from the presence of the Lord. I lodged at James Standley's, father of William Standley, one of the young men who suffered imprisonment at Winchester last summer on account of their testimony against fighting, and I had some satisfactory conversation with him concerning it. Hence I went to the Swamp Meeting, and to Wayanoke Meeting, and then crossed James River, and lodged near Burleigh. From the time of my entering Maryland I have been much under sorrow, which of late so increased upon me that my mind was almost overwhelmed, and I may say with the Psalmist, "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God," who, in infinite goodness, looked upon my affliction, and in my private retirement sent the Comforter for my relief, for which I humbly bless His holy name.
The sense I had of the state of the churches brought a weight of distress upon me. The gold to me appeared dim, and the fine gold changed, and though this is the case too generally, yet the sense of it in these parts hath in a particular manner borne heavy upon me. It appeared to me that through the prevailing of the spirit of this world the minds of many were brought to an inward desolation, and instead of the spirit of meekness, gentleness, and heavenly wisdom, which are the necessary companions of the true sheep of Christ, a spirit of fierceness and the love of dominion too generally prevailed. From small beginnings in error great buildings by degrees are raised, and from one age to another are more and more strengthened by the general concurrence of the people; and as men obtain reputation by their profession of the truth, their virtues are mentioned as arguments in favor of general error; and those of less note, to justify themselves, say, such and such good men did the like. By what other steps could the people of Judah arise to that height in wickedness as to give just ground for the Prophet Isaiah to declare, in the name of the Lord, "that none calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth" (Isa. lix. 4), or for the Almighty to call upon the great city of Jerusalem just before the Babylonish captivity, "If ye can find a man, if there be any who executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth, and I will pardon it"? (Jer. v. 1.)
The prospect of a way being open to the same degeneracy, in some parts of this newly settled land of America, in respect to our conduct towards the negroes, hath deeply bowed my mind in this journey, and though briefly to relate how these people are treated is no agreeable work, yet, after often reading over the notes I made as I travelled, I find my mind engaged to preserve them. Many of the white people in those provinces take little or no care of negro marriages; and when negroes marry after their own way, some make so little account of those marriages that with views of outward interest they often part men from their wives by selling them far asunder, which is common when estates are sold by executors at vendue. Many whose labor is heavy being followed at their business in the field by a man with a whip, hired for that purpose, have in common little else allowed but one peck of Indian corn and some salt, for one week, with a few potatoes; the potatoes they commonly raise by their labor on the first day of the week. The correction ensuing on their disobedience to overseers, or slothfulness in business, is often very severe, and sometimes desperate.
Men and women have many times scarcely clothes sufficient to hide their nakedness, and boys and girls ten and twelve years old are often quite naked amongst their master's children. Some of our Society, and some of the society called Newlights, use some endeavors to instruct those they have in reading; but in common this is not only neglected, but disapproved. These are the people by whose labor the other inhabitants are in a great measure supported, and many of them in the luxuries of life. These are the people who have made no agreement to serve us, and who have not forfeited their liberty that we know of. These are the souls for whom Christ died, and for our conduct towards them we must answer before Him who is no respecter of persons. They who know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, and are thus acquainted with the merciful, benevolent, gospel spirit, will therein perceive that the indignation of God is kindled against oppression and cruelty, and in beholding the great distress of so numerous a people will find cause for mourning.
From my lodgings I went to Burleigh Meeting, where I felt my mind drawn in a quiet, resigned state. After a long silence I felt an engagement to stand up, and through the powerful operation of Divine love we were favored with an edifying meeting. The next meeting we had was at Black-Water, and from thence went to the Yearly Meeting at the Western Branch. When business began, some queries were introduced by some of their members for consideration, and, if approved, they were to be answered hereafter by their respective Monthly Meetings. They were the Pennsylvania queries, which had been examined by a committee of Virginia Yearly Meeting appointed the last year, who made some alterations in them, one of which alterations was made in favor of a custom which troubled me. The query was, "Are there any concerned in the importation of negroes, or in buying them after imported?" which was thus altered, "Are there any concerned in the importation of negroes, or buying them to trade in?" As one query admitted with unanimity was, "Are any concerned in buying or vending goods unlawfully imported, or prize goods?" I found my mind engaged to say that as we profess the truth, and were there assembled to support the testimony of it, it was necessary for us to dwell deep and act in that wisdom which is pure, or otherwise we could not prosper. I then mentioned their alteration, and referring to the last-mentioned query, added, that as purchasing any merchandise taken by the sword was always allowed to be inconsistent with our principles, so negroes being captives of war, or taken by stealth, it was inconsistent with our testimony to buy them; and their being our fellow-creatures, and sold as slaves, added greatly to the iniquity. Friends appeared attentive to what was said; some expressed a care and concern about their negroes; none made any objection, by way of reply to what I said, but the query was admitted as they had altered it.
As some of their members have heretofore traded in negroes, as in other merchandise, this query being admitted will be one step further than they have hitherto gone, and I did not see it my duty to press for an alteration, but felt easy to leave it all to Him who alone is able to turn the hearts of the mighty, and make way for the spreading of truth on the earth, by means agreeable to his infinite wisdom. In regard to those they already had, I felt my mind engaged to labor with them. and said that as we believe the Scriptures were given forth by holy men, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and many of us know by experience that they are often helpful and comfortable, and believe ourselves bound in duty to teach our children to read them; I believed that if we were divested of all selfish views, the same good spirit that gave them forth would engage us to teach the negroes to read, that they might have the benefit of them. Some present manifested a concern to take more care in the education of their negroes.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
but the duplicity of the treacherous destroys them.
4 On the day of wrath, wealth doesn’t help;
but righteousness rescues from death.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The delight of sacrifice
I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.
--- 2 Cor. 12:15.
When the Spirit of God has shed abroad the love of God in our hearts, we begin deliberately to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests in other people, and Jesus Christ is interested in every kind of man there is. We have no right in Christian work to be guided by our affinities; this is one of the biggest tests of our relationship to Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, not fling it away, but deliberately lay my life out for Him and His interests in other people, not for a cause. Paul spent himself for one purpose only—that he might win men to Jesus Christ. Paul attracted to Jesus all the time, never to himself. “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” When a man says he must develop a holy life alone with God, he is of no more use to his fellow men: he puts himself on a pedestal, away from the common run of men. Paul became a sacramental personality; wherever he went, Jesus Christ helped Himself to his life. Many of us are after our own ends, and Jesus Christ cannot help Himself to our lives. If we are abandoned to Jesus, we have no ends of our own to serve. Paul said he knew how to be a ‘door-mat’ without resenting it, because the mainspring of his life was devotion to Jesus. We are apt to be devoted not to Jesus Christ but to the things which emancipate us spiritually. That was not Paul’s motive: “I could wish myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren”—wild, extravagant—is it? When a man is in love it is not an exaggeration to talk in that way, and Paul is in love with Jesus Christ.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Thirteen Blackbirds Look at a Man
It is calm.
It is as though
we lived in a garden
that had not yet arrived
at the knowledge of
good and evil.
But there is a man in it.
There will be
rain falling vertically
from an indifferent
sky. There will stare out
from behind its
bars the face of the man
who is not enjoying it.
than a blackberry
bush. As the sun comes up
fresh, what is the darkness
stretching from horizon
to horizon? It is the shadow
of the forked man.
We have eaten
the blackberries and spat out
the seeds, but they lie
glittering like the eyes of a man.
After we have stopped
singing, the garden is disturbed
by echoes, it is
the man whistling, expecting
everything to come to him.
We wipe our beaks
on the branches
wasting the dawn's
jewellery to get rid
of the taste of a man.
which is not the case
with a man, our
bills give us no trouble.
Who said the
number was unlucky?
It was a man, who,
trying to pass us,
had his licence endorsed
In the cool
of the day the garden
seems given over
to blackbirds. Yet
we know also that somewhere
there is a man in hiding.
To us there are
eggs and there are
Backbirds. But there is the man,
too, trying without feathers
to incubate a solution.
We spread our
our air space. A man stands
nder us and worries
at his ability to do the same.
When night comes
like a visitor
from outer space
we stop our ears
lest we should hear tell
of the man in the moon.
at an end. The migrants
depart. When they return
in spring to the garden,
will there be a man among them?
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Job wanted God to explain why he, a righteous man, had to suffer as he did. Also he wanted an explanation of why so many wicked folks went through life unpunished. This latter theme fills chap. 24, as the variety and intensity of sins and sinners and the suffering of their victims is spelled out in some detail.
24:2–12 The victims of the cruel and thieving wicked are forced to endure the most wretched of conditions — starvation, cold, and expulsion. These desperate circumstances and more are pictured in these verses in order to underscore the absence of justice and the seeming apathy of the divine judge.
24:2 The first two sins reflect the pastoral culture from which Job came. The moving of “boundary stones” was forbidden in Deut 19:14; Prov 22:28; 23:10. Stealing or seizing (cf. 20:19) flocks was, of course, forbidden in the law of Moses and in virtually every other law code yet discovered. It is possible that these two crimes were interconnected. By moving the boundaries while the flock grazed near the border, the thief thus brought them over to his side of the line.
24:3 This chiastically arranged verse introduces the victims of these crimes. They are the powerless members of the community, those with no men to lead their families 22:9. Deuteronomy 24:6 forbids seizing the means of livelihood as payment for a debt. The donkey and the ox were necessities for the “orphan” (“fatherless” in 22:9; 23:9) and the “widow” (Deut 10:12–19).
24:4 Several commentators and English translations rearrange the verses of this section, but if the flow seems irregular or the logic flawed, it must be remembered who was speaking and the extreme anguish that he was suffering. This is no trial lawyer with a polished presentation but a man with a dreadful disease, on an ash heap, accused of awful crimes by healthy friends with sick arguments. Only GNB and NIV make the passive verb in the second stich active. Such a move improves the parallelism, but it is less vivid than the NEB “the destitute huddle together.” The ungodly “thrust” and “force” the “poor” and “needy” “from the path” and “into hiding” (cf. Prov 28:28). Habel suggests a metaphorical interpretation: “When the property and possessions of the poor are appropriated, they are compelled to leave the mainstream of society and eke out an existence in the hidden corners of their community.”
24:5 How to arrange this long verse into lines is the major challenge of the translator. As Rowley says, “Innumerable emendations have been proposed, but none has been generally accepted.” The NIV has included all the words and presented three lines fairly equal in length. The three preceding verses reported what the wicked did; now the focus is on the situation of the oppressed victims. Like animals they spent their days gathering enough food to sustain life. The least productive area, the desert, was their harvest field and hunting ground.
24:6 The comparison seems to continue in this verse. Their extreme poverty is graphically illustrated, assuming that the “fodder” they gather is for themselves rather than their animals. “Gleaning” was regularly the way the poor fed themselves (cf. Lev 19:10; Ruth 2).
24:7 To the discomfort of banishment and starvation, Job added the hardship created by lack of shelter and clothing. Exodus 22:27 forbad keeping an outer garment overnight for collateral (Job 22:6).
24:8 Job’s picture of the poor and oppressed grows more pitiful with each verse. Now they are abandoned, starved, naked, and “drenched by mountain rains.”
24:9 The Hebrew verbs here are active, the subjects understood to be the wicked. Because of the shift in subject, the NIV resorted to passive verbs so that the orphan “is snatched” and the nursing infant “is seized.” In v. 3 the wicked wealthy took “the widow’s ox in pledge.” Here they take the suckling child for the same reason.
24:10 Except for the verb, v. 10a is identical to v. 7a. Like other phrases in this description of oppression, Job echoed terms that Eliphaz used in his accusation of Job. So “take in pledge” and “naked” were in 22:6, “hungry” in 22:7, and “widows” and “fatherless” in 22:9. The second stich is parallel to the two in v. 11. In the midst of plenty they must do without.
24:11 Surrounded by grain, olives, and wine, the oppressed workers must suffer starvation and thirst. The law provided that even the animals that trod out the grain should be allowed to nibble of it (Deut 25:4). Here, human beings are forbidden to partake of the rich man’s abundance for which they toil. The first line is uncertain. Of it Pope said, “The difficulties … are formidable and one can only guess at the meaning.” An NIV footnote gives a very possible alternative to “among the terraces” (lit. “between their walls”) as “between the millstones.” The verb occurs only here but is assumed to be related to yiṣhār, “[olive] oil.”
24:12 Job concluded his description of the abuses and exploitation of the poor by the rich by telling of their dying groans and vain cries for help. Job reached another low point in his view of divine justice and came almost as close to blasphemy as he did in 9:22–24. It appeared to him that God was oblivious to all this evil.
Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 34a, Mark 1-8:26 (guelich), 498pp
Verses 13 and 17 form the introduction and conclusion to this short list of serious offenses, crimes that parallel the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments (Exod 20:13–15). The motif of darkness pervades this passage; all three offenses are committed at night. Verses 13–16 are all triplets.
24:13 “Light” is associated with right, just as darkness is with wrong. Evil people rebel against what is right and prefer darkness to light because they do not want their deeds to be seen.
24:14 The point of the verse is clear — murderers kill innocent and weak people. But the Hebrew says they do it “at the light.” It could be understood as a merismus (see comment at 1:20): By day they kill; by night they are like robbers.
Most commentaries and translations produce a better parallel and work around to what seems inconsistent with v. 13 by reading “at twilight” (AB), “at dusk” (NRSV), “before daylight” (NEB), “at dawn” (NASB, AAT), “when there is no light” (NAB, reading the preposition as a negative), “at evening” (NJPS).
24:15 The next category of malfeasance is adultery. This variety of sinner likewise prefers the darkness (Prov 7:8–9). He “covers/conceals/ disguises” the face, further to ensure anonymity. Murder and adultery, but not theft (cf. Exod 22:1–4), were capital crimes in ancient Israel (Gen 9:6; Exod 21:12; 22:2; Lev 20:10). Virtually all ancient law codes outside Israel dealt similarly with these offenses.
24:16 Verses 14–16 are framed by the word “light,” just as vv. 13–17 are enclosed by the opposites “light” and “morning.” Thieves also operate under cover of darkness for obvious reasons (John 3:20).
24:17 This summary verse maintains the themes of light and darkness. In v. 16c the text reads literally, “They do not know the light.” By contrast in v. 17, “They make friends with the terrors of darkness.” Both words in v. 17 for “darkness” are ṣalmāwet, “shadow of death” (Ps 23:4). Like all fast - talking lawbreakers they turn things upside down and call them by opposite names, so their “morning” is “darkness” (cf. Isa 5:20; 29:16; Amos 5:7; 6:12b; Matt 6:22–23).
On this depressing note Job ended his description of the wicked, who appear to go unpunished because of an apathetic God. Some psalms reflect a corresponding attitude, and so may some of God’s people today as they suffer defenselessly at the hands of others or watch tyrants misusing and victimizing the powerless.
Job: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The tabernacle furnishings
It is in the furnishings of the tabernacle that we gain insight into what God’s presence in our lives provides. Each of the furnishings speaks clearly of a ministry of God through which the believer is protected from himself and enabled to become all God intends.
(1) The bronze altar. There was only one door to this “tent of meeting.” Any person who wanted to come into God’s presence had to come through the one door which the plan of God provided. At the door, placed so that no one who entered could avoid it, stood the bronze altar. This was the altar of sacrifice; the place on which daily the prescribed offerings for Israel would be laid. As Leviticus would later make clear, “The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Lev. 17:11). No one could approach God or receive the benefits of His presence without entering by the door of sacrifice and atonement.
Later Jesus would use this same picture in speaking of Himself. “I am the gate,” He announced. “Whoever enters through Me will be saved. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:9, 11). The message is clear. Access to the benefits God has provided for us is ours only as we come to God in the single way He has planned.
(2) The bronze laver. The laver, a large container for water, was made of the same bronze metal as the altar. It stood at the entrance of the tabernacle itself, and was for the cleansing of those who entered the Presence. Jesus used a similar symbolism at the time of the Last Supper when He washed the disciples’ feet. They have been cleansed, He told them, so they did not need another “bath.” But as they had walked the dusty roads after the bathing, their feet needed to be washed again and again (John 13:2–12).
Believers have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. Yet daily we need to turn to God for cleansing. The provision of cleansing is clearly ours: “If we confess our sins [those daily failures that mar the lives even of those who have experienced salvation], He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The continual cleansing each of us needs is provided in Christ, and pictured in the laver before the tabernacle entrance. Purified, we can freely enter the presence of our God.
(3) The table of the bread of the Presence. Immediately inside the first veil a table was set. On this table, placed to the right in the chamber, was kept a constant supply of fresh food and drink. All that the believer needs to strengthen and sustain him is found in God’s presence.
(4) The golden lampstand. To the left as one entered the first chamber stood a seven-branched candlestick, so designed that there was a constant flow of oil to feed it. This was the sole source of light in the tabernacle. Natural light was blocked off by a series of curtains and coverings.
In the presence of God, He alone provides the light we need to see our way. And that light is enough.
(5) Golden altar of incense. Centered before the veil that separated the holy place and the most holy place stood an altar of incense. This altar spoke of worship and of other dimensions of prayer (cf. Rev. 8:3–4). Here praise and prayer blended as the priests approached the presence of God, awed and yet exalted by His closeness.
(6) The ark of the covenant. There was a single article of furniture within the most holy place. The thick veil that separated this chamber was moved only one time a year, when the high priest entered there alone on the high and holy Day of Atonement, carrying the blood of sacrifice to sprinkle on the mercy seat. It was here, in the inner chamber, that the presence of God was focused.
The veil itself communicates a message. The New Testament says that “the Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the most holy place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing” (Heb. 9:8). The Bible tells us that at the moment of Christ’s death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51).
There is for us the fullness of God’s presence, a fullness that goes beyond even the rich provision God made for His Old Testament people.
What then was the ark, and what did it speak of? The ark itself was a gold-covered chest, containing special reminders of God’s work for His people. There was a container of manna, speaking of complete and miraculous provision. There were the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, speaking of the righteousness God alone can produce. Later there was added Aaron’s rod, which miraculously budded and bore fruit, speaking of God’s power to bring life from the dead.
The ark itself was named “of the covenant,” a reminder of God’s commitment to fulfill all His promises.
On the ark rested a special cover, overlaid with gold, and called the “mercy seat.” Here, between two carved angels whose wings met over the center of the mercy seat, God invested the fullness of His own presence—and it was here alone that God fully touched men.
This is why the act of God in tearing the temple veil from top to bottom is so significant. In that act, which accompanied our Lord’s crucifixion, we are told that there is no longer a curtain between the believer and the full experience of God’s presence! No wonder Hebrews invites, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16). For the believer today, who has come through the one door to God, Jesus, and has entered, cleansed, into a relationship with God in which the Lord strengthens us, guides us, and invites us to worship, there is even more. There is full and complete welcome into the holiest place of all—the very presence of God where miracles are the norm, and where righteousness is worked in the personality of men and women who have passed from death to life.
The Teacher's Commentary
Letter to American Christians
I would like to share with you an imaginary letter from the pen of the Apostle Paul. The postmark reveals that it comes from the city of Ephesus. After opening the letter I discovered that it was written in Greek rather than English. At the top of the first page was this request: "Please read to your congregation as soon as possible, and then pass on to the other churches."
For several weeks I have worked assiduously with the translation. At times it has been difficult, but now I think I have deciphered its true meaning. May I hasten to say that if in presenting this letter the contents sound strangely Kingian instead of Paulinian, attribute it to my lack of complete objectivity rather than Paul's lack of clarity.
It is miraculous, indeed, that the Apostle Paul should be writing a letter to you and to me nearly 1900 years after his last letter appeared in the New Testament. How this is possible is something of an enigma wrapped in mystery. The important thing, however, is that I can imagine the Apostle Paul writing a letter to American Christians in 1956 A.D. And here is the letter as it stands before me.
I, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to you who are in America, Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
For many years I have longed to be able to come to see you. I have heard so much of you and of what you are doing. I have heard of the fascinating and astounding advances that you have made in the scientific realm. I have heard of your dashing subways and flashing airplanes. Through your scientific genius you have been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. You have been able to carve highways through the stratosphere. So in your world you have made it possible to eat breakfast in New York City and dinner in Paris, France. I have also heard of your skyscraping buildings with their prodigious towers steeping heavenward. I have heard of your great medical advances, which have resulted in the curing of many dread plagues and diseases, and thereby prolonged your lives and made for greater security and physical well-being. All of that is marvelous. You can do so many things in your day that I could not do in the Greco-Roman world of my day. In your age you can travel distances in one day that took me three months to travel. That is wonderful. You have made tremendous strides in the area of scientific and technological development.
But America, as I look at you from afar, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress. Your poet Thoreau used to talk about "improved means to an unimproved end." How often this is true. You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality. You have allowed your civilization to outdistance your culture. Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood. So America, I would urge you to keep your moral advances abreast with your scientific advances.
I am impelled to write you concerning the responsibilities laid upon you to live as Christians in the midst of an unChristian world. That is what I had to do. That is what every Christian has to do. But I understand that there are many Christians in America who give their ultimate allegiance to man-made systems and customs. They are afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially. They live by some such principle as this: "everybody is doing it, so it must be alright." For so many of you Morality is merely group consensus. In your modern sociological lingo, the mores are accepted as the right ways. You have unconsciously come to believe that right is discovered by taking a sort of Gallup poll of the majority opinion. How many are giving their ultimate allegiance to this way.
But American Christians, I must say to you as I said to the Roman Christians years ago, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Or, as I said to the Phillipian Christians, "Ye are a colony of heaven." This means that although you live in the colony of time, your ultimate allegiance is to the empire of eternity. You have a dual citizenry. You live both in time and eternity; both in heaven and earth. Therefore, your ultimate allegiance is not to the government, not to the state, not to nation, not to any man-made institution. The Christian owes his ultimate allegiance to God, and if any earthly institution conflicts with God's will it is your Christian duty to take a stand against it. You must never allow the transitory evanescent demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God.
I understand that you have an economic system in America known as Capitalism. Through this economic system you have been able to do wonders. You have become the richest nation in the world, and you have built up the greatest system of production that history has ever known. All of this is marvelous. But Americans, there is the danger that you will misuse your Capitalism. I still contend that money can be the root of all evil. It can cause one to live a life of gross materialism. I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life. You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of the wheel base on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity.
The misuse of Capitalism can also lead to tragic exploitation. This has so often happened in your nation. They tell me that one tenth of one percent of the population controls more than forty percent of the wealth. Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. If you are to be a truly Christian nation you must solve this problem. You cannot solve the problem by turning to communism, for communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. You can work within the framework of democracy to bring about a better distribution of wealth. You can use your powerful economic resources to wipe poverty from the face of the earth. God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. God intends for all of his children to have the basic necessities of life, and he has left in this universe "enough and to spare" for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth.
I would that I could be with you in person, so that I could say to you face to face what I am forced to say to you in writing. Oh, how I long to share your fellowship.
Let me rush on to say something about the church. Americans, I must remind you, as I have said to so many others, that the church is the Body of Christ. So when the church is true to its nature it knows neither division nor disunity. But I am disturbed about what you are doing to the Body of Christ. They tell me that in America you have within Protestantism more than two hundred and fifty six denominations. The tragedy is not so much that you have such a multiplicity of denominations, but that most of them are warring against each other with a claim to absolute truth. This narrow sectarianism is destroying the unity of the Body of Christ. You must come to see that God is neither a Baptist nor a Methodist; He is neither a Presbyterian nor a Episcopalian. God is bigger than all of our denominations. If you are to be true witnesses for Christ, you must come to see that America.
But I must not stop with a criticism of Protestantism. I am disturbed about Roman Catholicism. This church stands before the world with its pomp and power, insisting that it possesses the only truth. It incorporates an arrogance that becomes a dangerous spiritual arrogance. It stands with its noble Pope who somehow rises to the miraculous heights of infallibility when he speaks ex cathedra. But I am disturbed about a person or an institution that claims infallibility in this world. I am disturbed about any church that refuses to cooperate with other churches under the pretense that it is the only true church. I must emphasize the fact that God is not a Roman Catholic, and that the boundless sweep of his revelation cannot be limited to the Vatican. Roman Catholicism must do a great deal to mend its ways.
There is another thing that disturbs me to no end about the American church. You have a white church and you have a Negro church. You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church. How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ? You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name" and "Dear Lord and Father of all Mankind," you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America. They tell me that there is more integration in the entertaining world and other secular agencies than there is in the Christian church. How appalling that is.
I understand that there are Christians among you who try to justify segregation on the basis of the Bible. They argue that the Negro is inferior by nature because of Noah's curse upon the children of Ham. Oh my friends, this is blasphemy. This is against everything that the Christian religion stands for. I must say to you as I have said to so many Christians before, that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus." Moreover, I must reiterate the words that I uttered on Mars Hill: "God that made the world and all things therein . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."
So Americans I must urge you to get rid of every aspect of segregation. The broad universalism standing at the center of the gospel makes both the theory and practice of segregation morally unjustifiable. Segregation is a blatant denial of the unity which we all have in Christ. It substitutes an "I-it" relationship for the "I-thou" relationship. The segregator relegates the segregated to the status of a thing rather than elevate him to the status of a person. The underlying philosophy of Christianity is diametrically opposed to the underlying philosophy of segregation, and all the dialectics of the logicians cannot make them lie down together.
I praise your Supreme Court for rendering a great decision just two or three years ago. I am happy to know that so many persons of goodwill have accepted the decision as a great moral victory. But I understand that there are some brothers among you who have risen up in open defiance. I hear that their legislative halls ring loud with such words as "nullification" and "interposition." They have lost the true meaning of democracy and Christianity. So I would urge each of you to plead patiently with your brothers, and tell them that this isn't the way. With understanding goodwill, you are obligated to seek to change their attitudes. Let them know that in standing against integration, they are not only standing against the noble precepts of your democracy, but also against the eternal edicts of God himself. Yes America, there is still the need for an Amos to cry out to the nation: "Let judgement roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream."
May I say just a word to those of you who are struggling against this evil. Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
In your struggle for justice, let your oppressor know that you are not attempting to defeat or humiliate him, or even to pay him back for injustices that he has heaped upon you. Let him know that you are merely seeking justice for him as well as yourself. Let him know that the festering sore of segregation debilitates the white man as well as the Negro. With this attitude you will be able to keep your struggle on high Christian standards.
Many persons will realize the urgency of seeking to eradicate the evil of segregation. There will be many Negroes who will devote their lives to the cause of freedom. There will be many white persons of goodwill and strong moral sensitivity who will dare to take a stand for justice. Honesty impels me to admit that such a stand will require willingness to suffer and sacrifice. So don't despair if you are condemned and persecuted for righteousness' sake. Whenever you take a stand for truth and justice, you are liable to scorn. Often you will be called an impractical idealist or a dangerous radical.
Sometimes it might mean going to jail. If such is the case you must honorably grace the jail with your presence. It might even mean physical death. But if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing could be more Christian. Don't worry about persecution America; you are going to have that if you stand up for a great principle. I can say this with some authority, because my life was a continual round of persecutions. After my conversion I was rejected by the disciples at Jerusalem. Later I was tried for heresy at Jerusalem. I was jailed at Philippi, beaten at Thessalonica, mobbed at Ephesus, and depressed at Athens. And yet I am still going. I came away from each of these experiences more persuaded than ever before that "neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come . . . shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.
I must bring my writing to a close now. Timothy is waiting to deliver this letter, and I must take leave for another church. But just before leaving, I must say to you, as I said to the church at Corinth, that I still believe that love is the most durable power in the world. Over the centuries men have sought to discover the highest good. This has been the chief quest of ethical philosophy. This was one of the big questions of Greek philosophy. The Epicurean and the Stoics sought to answer it; Plato and Aristotle sought to answer it. What is the summon bonum of life? I think I have an answer America. I think I have discovered the highest good. It is love. This principle stands at the center of the cosmos. As John says, "God is love." He who loves is a participant in the being of God. He who hates does not know God.
So American Christians, you may master the intricacies of the English language. You may possess all of the eloquence of articulate speech. But even if you "speak with the tongues of man and angels, and have not love, you are become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
Too bad, I guess the link below was pulled. However, I found this "Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 November 1956. MLKP." Maybe this was the original. I don't know. click here
Diane Hussey - Change your water - change your LIFE!
Lessons for Everyday Living
When we first open the pages of the Talmud, we might expect to read deep, philosophical debates on the most critical issues of human existence. We look forward to learning sublime words of wisdom that answer life’s most difficult questions. We wait in anticipation for sparks of genius that will help to illuminate the dark world that we live in.
But we are in for a shock. Our first impressions of the subject matter of the Talmud might leave us confused, perplexed, even disappointed. Much of the Gemara is concerned with details of the most mundane and pedestrian topics: What objects can be carried in and out of a house on the Sabbath; who is responsible for damage done by an ox that gores another animal; how long must a woman wait after her monthly period before resuming marital relations? These and a thousand other such questions occupy the pages of the Talmud. Many people peruse these discussions and ask: “Is that all there is?”
We who have been brought up on western literature expect deep philosophical issues to be dealt with through serious essays and monographs. The Rabbis of the Talmud use a very different method to deal with the very same issues: Instead of addressing the macrocosm, they concentrate on the microcosm, focusing on the minute details of everyday life. We do them—and ourselves—a terrible disservice if we think that they were interested only in minute and trivial matters. The Rabbis found God in the details of the mundane and the everyday. We must learn to read their discussions conceptually. We must search beneath the surface, reading between the lines in order to truly understand what the Talmud is teaching us. For example, the question about carrying on the Sabbath is in reality about the significance of time and how one makes ordinary occasions into special ones. The discussion of the goring ox is actually about the extent of an individual’s responsibility towards others in a community. And the debates about the menstrual cycle are in essence about the nature of sexuality and the role it plays in a marriage. It’s easy to see what the Rabbis are saying. The challenge, however, is to understand their deeper meanings and ultimate concerns.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Twenty-Fourth / Judgment And The Punishment Of Sin
IN ALL things consider the end; how you shall stand before the strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce judgment in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance of an angry man, what answer will you make to the God Who knows all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself against the day of judgment when no man can be excused or defended by another because each will have enough to do to answer for himself? In this life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs audible, your sorrow satisfying and purifying.
The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than for his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives offenses from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than to anger; when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to bring the body into complete subjection to the spirit.
It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.
For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in which he has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning prongs, and gluttons tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst; the wanton and lust-loving will be bathed in burning pitch and foul brimstone; the envious will howl in their grief like mad dogs.
Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with the most abject want. One hour of suffering there will be more bitter than a hundred years of the most severe penance here. In this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the comfort of friends, but the damned have no rest or consolation.
You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so that on the day of judgment you may rest secure with the blessed. For on that day the just will stand firm against those who tortured and oppressed them, and he who now submits humbly to the judgment of men will arise to pass judgment upon them. The poor and humble will have great confidence, while the proud will be struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this world and to be scorned for Christ will then appear to have been wise.
In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be glad; the irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every pleasure. Then the cheap garment will shine with splendor and the rich one become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will count more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience will gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the learned; and contempt for riches will be of more weight than every treasure on earth.
Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you preferred silence to prolonged gossip.
Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing than all earthly delights.
Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you impatient now, what will hell fire do? In truth, you cannot have two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this world and afterward reign with Christ.
If your life to this moment had been full of honors and pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve Him alone.
He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment or judgment or hell, because perfect love assures access to God.
It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and judgment.
It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Start of Diocletian’s Great Persecution
DIOCLETIAN became Roman emperor in 284. Under him, the empire experienced its cruelest and most systematic persecution of Christians. To share the load of governance, he made Maximian his co-emperor and Galerius and Constantius junior emperors. To bind Galerius to himself, Diocletian gave him his daughter Valeria as a wife, allegedly a Christian.
In 298 Diocletian required that all soldiers and imperial officials sacrifice to the heathen gods. Five years later, junior emperor Galerius, who was a cruel man and hated Christianity, met with his father-in-law in Nicomedia and urged him to persecute Christians more harshly.
At first Diocletian resisted the idea. To persuade him, Galerius brought learned pagans to the conference. Finally, when the oracle of the sun god at Miletus agreed with Galerius, Diocletian gave in. On this day 24 February 303 he decreed that all who would not serve the gods of Rome should lose their offices, have their property seized, and be demoted if they were persons of rank. He forbade Christians to meet for worship, ordered their churches destroyed, and their holy books burned. As soon as this proclamation was posted, a Christian tore it down, and loudly reproached the emperors. For this, he was roasted alive over a slow fire, but died without uttering a groan. Down came the great church at Nicomedia, and the persecutors burned its books.
Before the end of the year, Diocletian issued two more proclamations against Christians and Maximian issued a fourth the following year. One ordered the imprisonment of Christian teachers, filling the prisons with bishops and clergy. The next ordered that these prisoners either sacrifice to the pagan gods or be tortured. The third directed that all Christians should be required to sacrifice on pain of torture.
Christians suffered terribly, especially in the eastern empire. Some were thrown to wild beasts, others burned alive or roasted on griddles. Some were skinned or had their flesh scraped from their bones. Others were crucified. A few were tied between trees that were bent so as to meet and, when the branches were released, the force ripped these victims limb from limb. Eventually the Romans wearied of this and set the remaining Christians to work in mines or gave them menial jobs. In many instances, they gouged out an eye or maimed a hand or foot before sending the workers off. From this period come many notable martyrs, including the young girl, Agnes of Rome.
Click here to go to source
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas. --- 2 Timothy 4:13.
We are taught in this passage how similar one child of God is to another. ( Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Men, Book 2 (C.H. Spurgeon Sermon Series , No 2) ) We look on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as being great and blessed—we think that they lived in a higher region than we do. We cannot think that if they had lived in these times they would have been Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We suppose that these are very bad days and that any great height of grace is not easily attainable. But if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had lived now, instead of being less, they would have been greater saints—for they only lived in the dawn, and we live in the noon. The apostles are called Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Thus they are set up on an elevated niche. If we had seen Peter and Paul, we would have thought them very ordinary people—wonderfully like ourselves. If we had gone into their daily lives and trials, we would have said, “You are superior to what I am in grace. But somehow you are people like me. I have a quick temper; so have you, Peter. I have a thorn in the flesh; so have you, Paul. I complain of rheumatism, and the apostle Paul, when aged, feels the cold and wants his cloak.”
The Bible is not intended for transcendental, superelevated souls—it is an everyday book. These people were everyday people, only they had more grace, but we can get more grace as well. The fountain at which they drew is as full and free to us as to them. We only have to believe in their fashion and trust to Jesus in their way, and although our trials are the same as theirs, we will overcome.
I like to see religion brought out in everyday life. Tell me about the godliness of your shop, your counter, and your kitchen. Let me see how grace enables you to be patient in the cold or joyful in hunger or industrious in labor. Grace is no common thing, yet it shines best in common things. To preach a sermon or sing a hymn is a paltry thing compared with the power to suffer cold and hunger and nakedness for Christ’s sake.
Courage then, fellow pilgrim, the road was not smoothed for Paul any more than it is for us. There was no royal road to heaven in those days other than there is now. They had to go through sloughs and bogs and mire as we do still. But they have gained the victory at last, and even so shall we.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On February 24, 1208 Francis of Assisi attended Mass in the little church of Saint Mary of the Angels. The priest read from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 10: Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: You received without paying, now give without being paid. Don’t take along any gold, silver, or copper coins. And don’t carry a traveling bag or an extra shirt or sandals.
Those verses so moved Francis that he resolved to become an itinerant evangelist in the mold of the original apostles. He shared his burden with a few followers, and they devised a simple strategy: to wander through the country as poor men, preaching the gospel and attending those with needs. Francis put his thoughts into writing and traveled to Rome, seeking endorsement from Pope Innocent III. The pope hesitated. “My son,” he said, “your plan of life seems too hard and rough.” But he eventually acquiesced, and Francis later wrote: When the Lord entrusted brothers to me, nobody told me how to treat them, but the Most High revealed to me personally that I ought to live according to the norms of the Holy Gospel. I had it all written down in a few simple words, and the lord Pope approved it. And those who wished to embrace the life gave the poor everything they had and contented themselves with a tunic patched inside and out, and a belt and some underclothes. And we did not wish for anything more.
Within eight years Francis’s order numbered 5,000 men, and by the time he died from tuberculoid leprosy in his mid-forties, he was so beloved that his followers feared the masses would steal his body. So they entombed him beneath the altar of the Basilica of Saint Francis under a slab of granite, gravel, ten welded bands of iron, a 190-pound grill, and a 200-pound rock. They buried him so well, in fact, that his coffin wasn’t discovered until the 19th century. His followers, however, continued his mission, and today the Franciscan Order in all its branches is the largest religious order in the Roman Catholic Church.
As you go, announce that the kingdom of heaven will soon be here. … You received without paying, now give without being paid. Don’t take along any gold, silver, or copper coins. And don’t carry a traveling bag or an extra shirt or sandals or a walking stick.
--- Matthew 10:7-10.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 24
“I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” --- Ezekiel 34:26.
Here is sovereign mercy—“I will give them the shower in its season.” Is it not sovereign, divine mercy?—for who can say, “I will give them showers,” except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain. Who sendeth down the rain upon the earth? Who scattereth the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord? So grace is the gift of God, and is not to be created by man. It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds, but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful is the divine blessing. In vain you labour, until God the plenteous shower bestows, and sends salvation down. Then, it is plenteous grace. “I will send them showers.” It does not say, “I will send them drops,” but “showers.” So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, he usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we want plenteous grace to keep us humble, to make us prayerful, to make us holy; plenteous grace to make us zealous, to preserve us through this life, and at last to land us in heaven. We cannot do without saturating showers of grace. Again, it is seasonable grace. “I will cause the shower to come down in his season.” What is thy season this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. “As thy days so shall thy strength be.” And here is a varied blessing. “I will give thee showers of blessing.” The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God’s blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If he gives converting grace, he will also give comforting grace. He will send “showers of blessing.” Look up to-day, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering.
Evening - February 24
“O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy upon Jerusalem? … And the Lord answered the angel … with good words and comfortable words.” --- Zechariah 1:12,13.
What a sweet answer to an anxious enquiry! This night let us rejoice in it. O Zion, there are good things in store for thee; thy time of travail shall soon be over; thy children shall be brought forth; thy captivity shall end. Bear patiently the rod for a season, and under the darkness still trust in God, for his love burneth towards thee. God loves the church with a love too deep for human imagination: he loves her with all his infinite heart. Therefore let her sons be of good courage; she cannot be far from prosperity to whom God speaketh “good words and comfortable words.” What these comfortable words are the prophet goes on to tell us: “I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.” The Lord loves his church so much that he cannot bear that she should go astray to others; and when she has done so, he cannot endure that she should suffer too much or too heavily. He will not have his enemies afflict her: he is displeased with them because they increase her misery. When God seems most to leave his church, his heart is warm towards her. History shows that whenever God uses a rod to chasten his servants, he always breaks it afterwards, as if he loathed the rod which gave his children pain. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” God hath not forgotten us because he smites—his blows are no evidences of want of love. If this is true of his church collectively, it is of necessity true also of each individual member. You may fear that the Lord has passed you by, but it is not so: he who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting his own children. He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature he ever made, or the only saint he ever loved. Approach him and be at peace.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
SAVIOR, TEACH ME, DAY BY DAY
Jane E. Leeson, 1807–1882
If anyone loves Me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
It is wonderful to have experienced God’s gift of love in days past, but the real challenge of victorious Christian living is knowing God in a new and fresh way each day. This is what gives our lives zest and enables us to face any new challenge. But this daily learning about our Savior is more than merely pursuing theological knowledge. Biblical knowledge must always be joined with a loving relationship with Christ, since knowledge in itself can easily develop into a false spiritual pride. For many of us, our greatest need is simply to be reminded of what we already know and to translate our knowledge into loving action. Our love for God is not really genuine until we have learned to share it with others.
There are numerous laws on the statute books of our land that attempt to teach us to be better people. The Christian, however, is also governed by two other basic commands: “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind … thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). And even beyond this, we are to treat one another with the same tender spirit that we have experienced from our Lord (Philippians 2:5).
“Savior, Teach Me, Day by Day,” which was originally written for children, spurs us on to the kind of service our Lord was talking about. Its basic theme—learning to love Christ who first loved us—involves a response of action: obedience (stanza 1); “prompt to serve” (stanza 2); “strong to follow” (stanza 3); and living joyously (stanza 4). The hymn was first published in 1842.
The author, Jane Eliza Leeson, was a rather unknown English writer of religious verse. She was a member of a strange and spurious sect known as the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. In later life Miss Leeson became a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet her one enduring hymn still speaks to each of us of every age:
Savior, teach me, day by day, love’s sweet lesson to obey; sweeter lesson cannot be, loving Him who first loved me.
With a child’s glad heart of love, at Thy bidding may I move, prompt to serve and follow Thee, loving Him who first loved me.
Teach me thus Thy steps to trace, strong to follow in Thy grace, learning how to love from Thee, loving Him who first loved me.
Love in loving finds employ, in obedience all her joy; ever new that joy will be, loving Him who first loved me.
For Today: Psalm 18:1; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Philippians 1:9; 1 John 3:18.
Ask the question, “What have I learned about God during the past few days?” Also, “What new insights do I wish to learn this day?”
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Saturday, February 24, 2018 | Holy Day
Years 1 & 2
On the same date: St. Matthias, Evening Prayer
Psalms Psalm 80
Old Testament 1 Samuel 16:1–13
New Testament 1 John 2:18–25
Index of Readings
80 To The Choirmaster: According To Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, A Psalm.
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
4 O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It sent out its branches to the sea
and its shoots to the River.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13 The boar from the forest ravages it,
and all that move in the field feed on it.
14 Turn again, O God of hosts!
Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
15 the stock that your right hand planted,
and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
1 Samuel 16:1–13
16 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the LORD commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
1 John 2:18–25
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.
Years 1 & 2
On the same date: St. Matthias, Morning Prayer
Psalms Psalm 33
Old Testament 1 Samuel 12:1–5
New Testament Acts 20:17–35
Index of Readings
33 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
13 The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
1 Samuel 12:1–5
12 And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. 2 And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. 3 Here I am; testify against me before the LORD and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5 And he said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”
17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
The Book of Common Prayer