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Exodus 9     Luke 12     Job 27     1 Corinthians 13

Exodus 9

The Fifth Plague: Egyptian Livestock Die

Exodus 9:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the LORD will fall with a very severe plague upon your livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks.   ( Apparently stabled livestock did not succumb to the pestilence. Although incredibly severe, some animals were still alive afterward for Egypt to continue without total loss to an economy that depended upon domesticated animals. A few months later, when the seventh plague struck, there were still some cattle, which, if left in the field, would have died (9:19). horses . . . camels. Horses, which were common in the period, had been brought into military service by the Hyksos. See Introduction: Author and Date. Camels were a domesticated animal by this time in the fifteenth century B.C. a very severe plague. In listing the different kinds of livestock, the severe nature of the plague was emphatically underscored as one that would for the first time target personal property. Egyptian literature and paintings substantiate how valuable livestock was to them. Whatever the exact nature of this pestilence—anthrax, murrain, or other livestock disease—it was clearly contagious and fatal. Religious implications were obvious: Egypt prized the bull as a sacred animal with special attention and worship being given to the Apis bull, the sacred animal of the god Ptah. Heliopolis venerated the bull, Mnevis. Further, the goddess Hathor, represented by a cow, or a cow-woman image, was worshiped in several cities. )  ESV MacArthur Study Bible, Personal Size   4 But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die.” ’ ” 5 And the LORD set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land.” 6 And the next day the LORD did this thing. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.

The Sixth Plague: Boils

8 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” 10 So they took soot from the kiln and stood before Pharaoh. And Moses threw it in the air, and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils came upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians. 12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.

The Seventh Plague: Hail

13 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.” ’ ” 20 Then whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the LORD left his slaves and his livestock in the field.

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” 23 Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.

27 Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Plead with the LORD, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” 29 Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the LORD. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the LORD’s. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.” 31 (The flax and the barley were struck down, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. 32 But the wheat and the emmer were not struck down, for they are late in coming up.) 33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and stretched out his hands to the LORD, and the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured upon the earth. 34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.

Luke 12

Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees

Luke 12:1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Have No Fear

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Acknowledge Christ Before Men

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.   ( ( Matt 12:31-32 ) The sin he was confronting was the Pharisees’ deliberate rejection of that which they knew to be of God ( cf. John 11:48; Acts 4:16 ). They could not deny the reality of what the Holy Spirit had done through him, so they attributed to Satan a work that they knew was of God ( Matt. 12:24; Mark 3:22 ). Someone never exposed to Christ’s divine power and presence might reject him in ignorance and be forgiven — assuming the unbelief gives way to genuine repentance. Even a Pharisee such as Saul of Tarsus could be forgiven for speaking against Jesus or persecuting his followers — because his unbelief stemmed from ignorance ( 1 Tim. 1:13 ). But those who know his claims are true and reject him anyway sin “against the Holy Spirit” — because it is the Holy Spirit who testifies of Christ and makes his truth known to us ( John 15:26; 16:14–15 ). No forgiveness was possible for these Pharisees who witnessed his miracles firsthand, knew the truth of his claims, and still blasphemed the Holy Spirit — because they had already rejected the fullest possible revelation. Also Heb. 6:4–6 and 10:29. )  ESV MacArthur Study Bible, Personal Size  11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Do Not Be Anxious

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

You Must Be Ready

35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.   ( The key here is readiness at all times for Christ’s return. Matt. 25:1–13. dress himself. I.e., he will take the servant’s role and wait on them. This remarkable statement pictures Christ, at his return, ministering as a servant to believers. )  ESV MacArthur Study Bible, Personal Size   38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Not Peace, but Division

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Interpreting the Time

54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Settle with Your Accuser

57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Job 27

Job Continues: I Will Maintain My Integrity

Job 27:1 And Job again took up his discourse, and said:

2  “As God lives, who has taken away my right,
and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,
3  as long as my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
4  my lips will not speak falsehood,
and my tongue will not utter deceit.
5  Far be it from me to say that you are right;
till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
6  I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;
my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.

7  “Let my enemy be as the wicked,
and let him who rises up against me be as the unrighteous.
8  For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off,
when God takes away his life?
9  Will God hear his cry
when distress comes upon him?
10  Will he take delight in the Almighty?
Will he call upon God at all times?
11  I will teach you concerning the hand of God;
what is with the Almighty I will not conceal.
12  Behold, all of you have seen it yourselves;
why then have you become altogether vain?

13  “This is the portion of a wicked man with God,
and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty:
14  If his children are multiplied, it is for the sword,
and his descendants have not enough bread.
15  Those who survive him the pestilence buries,
and his widows do not weep.
16  Though he heap up silver like dust,
and pile up clothing like clay,
17  he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it,
and the innocent will divide the silver.
18  He builds his house like a moth’s,
like a booth that a watchman makes.
19  He goes to bed rich, but will do so no more;
he opens his eyes, and his wealth is gone.
20  Terrors overtake him like a flood;
in the night a whirlwind carries him off.
21  The east wind lifts him up and he is gone;
it sweeps him out of his place.
22  It hurls at him without pity;
he flees from its power in headlong flight.
23  It claps its hands at him
and hisses at him from its place.

1 Corinthians 13

The Way of Love

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Reformation Study Bible

What I'm Reading

One Important Reason the Church Will Continue to Compromise

By J. Warner Wallace 2/24/2017

     Have you noticed the slow but growing compromise within the Church? It’s harder and harder to get two Christians to agree on anything related to sexuality, the exclusivity of salvation through Christ alone or even the historicity of Adam. We are a divided family, even though we share the same canonical foundation and have over two thousand years of family wisdom to guide us. I predict it will get worse. I think the Church will embrace the truth claims of the culture at an ever increasing rate because we’ve failed to make young Christians our priority. Let me explain.

     It’s pretty obvious that young people are leaving the church, especially during the college years. It’s also true, however, that some will eventually return to church as older adults. When you examine why young people leave and compare it to why they return you’ll start to understand the reason the church is struggling to maintain its classic, orthodox teachings.

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

Man in the Middle

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra 2/23/2017

     David Dockery, president of Trinity International University, knows the feeling of exhaustion. His wife, Lanese, gave birth to their three boys in three years. While he was president at Union University, one student shot another, and an EF4 tornado tore through while half of the students were on campus.

     But the most emotionally exhausting day in his life came on January 24, 1992.

     It was one of the happiest days and one of the saddest days of our lives jammed together,” he said.

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

Three Reasons I Am Not An Atheist

By Sean McDowell 6/22/2016

     My high school students often joke that I have an “inner atheist.” I do like to role-play an atheist with Christian audiences, and have even co-written an entire book responding to the New Atheists, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists. And yet atheism is not just an issue for me. I have many atheist friends with whom I enjoy regular conversations about life, philosophy, sports, and God. I have read the influential atheists of the past, such as Bertrand Russell and Camus, and many of the leading atheists today, such as Richard Dawkins. And yet, when all things are taken into consideration, there are three main reasons why I am not an atheist.

     1. Atheism Cannot Answer the Big Questions of Life. For any worldview to be considered valid, it needs to answer the big questions about life, such as: Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is the universe fine-tuned? Where did life come from? Why did consciousness emerge? Why are humans valuable? Is there objective beauty? The truth is that atheism cannot answer any of these questions, as I observed in an earlier post. Sure, there are many attempts to explain them on a naturalistic worldview, and some are better than others, but none of these explanations are more reasonable than those offered by theism. Atheism simply lacks the resources to account for the kinds of phenomena listed above.

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Books By Sean McDowell

Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter
Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Trade Paper

Freedom of access and outspokenness of address to God

By John R.W. Stott

     Through Christ we are now able to ‘approach God with freedom (parrēsia) and confidence’. We have parrēsia because of Christ’s high priesthood to come to God’s ‘throne of grace’, and parrēsia by Christ’s blood ‘to enter the Most Holy Place’ of God’s very presence. (Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16; 10:19) This freedom of access and this outspokenness of address to God in prayer are not incompatible with humility, for they are due entirely to Christ’s merit, not ours. His blood has cleansed our consciences (in a way that was impossible in Old Testament days), and God has promised to remember our sins no more. So now we look to the future with assurance, not fear. We feel the power of Paul’s logic that since, when we were God’s enemies, we were both justified and reconciled through Christ’s death, ‘how much more’, having been justified and reconciled, shall we be saved on the last day from God’s wrath. Now that we are ‘in Christ’, we are confident that ‘in all things’ God is working for our good, and that nothing can separate us from his love. (Heb. 9:14; 8:12 and 10:17 (cf. Jer. 31:34); Rom. 5:9–10; 8:28, 38–39)

(Eph 3:12) 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. ESV

(Heb 4:16) 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ESV

(Heb 10:19) 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, ESV

(Heb 9:14) 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. ESV

(Heb 8:12) 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” ESV

(Heb 10:17) 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” ESV

(Je 31:34) 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” ESV

(Ro 5:9–11) 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. ESV

(Ro 8:28–29) 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ESV

(Ro 8:38–39) 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ESV

The Cross of Christ

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 25

Teach Me Your Paths
25 Of David.

1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

ESV Study Bible

Exodus 9; Luke 12; Job 27; 1 Corinthians 13

By Don Carson 2/26/2018

     YOU’VE SEEN THE BUMPER STICKER: “The person with the most toys wins.” Wins what? The person with the most toys takes out of this life exactly what everyone else does. A billion years or so into eternity, how many toys we accumulated during our seventy years in this life will not seem too terribly important.

     Yet in a materialistic culture, it is horrifying to begin to recognize just how endemic greed is, how it seeps into all kinds of priorities and relationships. In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus is confronted by someone who begs him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” We do not know whether this individual had a just complaint or not. From Jesus’ perspective, it did not matter, for a more fundamental issue was at stake. For this individual, a share of the inheritance was more important than a godly relationship with his brother. Not only does Jesus insist he did not come to be an arbiter of such minor matters (12:14), he warns, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (12:15). Perhaps the person with the most toys does not win after all.

     This precipitates the parable of the rich farmer whose rising stores of grain prompt him to build bigger and bigger barns (12:16-20). In our culture, we might easily substitute builder or software producer or real estate agent for farmer. In a culture that fixates on present possessions, it is distressingly easy for believers to get sucked into the same vortex of greed. What starts as an entirely proper commitment to do one’s best for Christ’s sake degenerates into a selfish competitiveness and a bottomless acquisitiveness. You busily plan your retirement; after all, you tell yourself, you have “plenty of good things laid up for many years” (12:19). Because everyone is telling you how well you are doing, you do not hear the voice of God: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (12:20).

     The problem is not wealth itself. The Bible bears witness to some rich people who used their wealth for God, people who were not so attached to their wealth that it became a surrogate god. Yet one hesitates to point out this fact, for most of us are so good at deceiving ourselves we inevitably think this concession lets us off the hook. Others are greedy or miserly; I am hard working and frugal. Others are materialistic and hedonistic; I am realistic and believe that a merry heart does good like medicine. So meditate on Luke 12:21.

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

Don Carson Books:

The Victory of Christ

By John R.W. Stott

     What the New Testament affirms, in its own uninhibited way, is that at the cross Jesus disarmed and triumphed over the devil, and all the ‘principalities and powers’ at his command. First-century hearers of the gospel will have had no difficulty in accepting this, for ‘it is perhaps hard for modern man to realize how hag-ridden was the world into which Christ came’. The Patristic Doctrine of Redemption: A Study of the Development of Doctrine during the First Five Centuries Still today in many countries people live in dread of malevolent spirits. And in the supposedly sophisticated West a new and alarming fascination with the occult has developed, which has been ably documented by Michael Green in his I Believe in Satan's Downfall (Hodder Christian Paperbacks). And yet at the same time many ridicule continuing belief in a personal devil, with evil spirits under him, as a superstitious anachronism. Rudolf Bultmann’s dogmatic statement is well known: ‘it is impossible to use electric light and the wireless, and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time believe in the New Testament world of demons and spirits.’ Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate Michael Green sums up this anomaly of the coexistence of curiosity and incredulity by suggesting that two opposite attitudes would be equally pleasing to the devil: ‘The first is that of excessive preoccupation with the Prince of evil. The second is that of excessive scepticism about his very existence’ (p.16). Michael Green goes on to give seven reasons why he believes in the existence of that immensely powerful, evil and cunning being who is called Satan or the devil. They relate to philosophy, theology, the environment, experience, the occult, Scripture and above all Jesus. It is a cogent case; I have nothing to add to it.

(Col 2:13–15) 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. ESV

The Cross of Christ

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     1. All these things will be easily understood after we have given a clearer definition of faith, so as to enable the readers to apprehend its nature and power. Here it is of importance to call to mind what was formerly taught, first, That since God by his Law prescribes what we ought to do, failure in any one respect subjects us to the dreadful judgment of eternal death, which it denounces. Secondly, Because it is not only difficult, but altogether beyond our strength and ability, to fulfill the demands of the Law, if we look only to ourselves and consider what is due to our merits, no ground of hope remains, but we lie forsaken of God under eternal death. Thirdly, That there is only one method of deliverance which can rescue us from this miserable calamity--viz. when Christ the Redeemer appears, by whose hand our heavenly Father, out of his infinite goodness and mercy, has been pleased to succor us, if we with true faith embrace this mercy, and with firm hope rest in it. It is now proper to consider the nature of this faith, by means of which, those who are adopted into the family of God obtain possession of the heavenly kingdom. For the accomplishment of so great an end, it is obvious that no mere opinion or persuasion is adequate. And the greater care and diligence is necessary in discussing the true nature of faith, from the pernicious delusions which many, in the present day, labour under with regard to it. Great numbers, on hearing the term, think that nothing more is meant than a certain common assent to the Gospel History; nay, when the subject of faith is discussed in the Schools, by simply representing God as its object, they by empty speculation, as we have elsewhere said (Book 2, chap. 6, sec. 4), hurry wretched souls away from the right mark instead of directing them to it. For seeing that God dwells in light that is inaccessible, Christ must intervene. Hence he calls himself "the light of the world;" and in another passage, "the way, the truth, and the life." None cometh to the Father (who is the fountain of life) except by him; for "no man knoweth who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." For this reason, Paul declares, "I count all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." In the twentieth chapter of the Acts, he states that he preached "faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ;" and in another passage, he introduces Christ as thus addressing him: "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness;" "delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,"--"that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified through faith which is in me." Paul further declares, that in the person of Christ the glory of God is visibly manifested to us, or, which is the same thing, we have "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." [277] It is true, indeed, that faith has respect to God only; but to this we should add, that it acknowledges Jesus Christ whom he has sent. God would remain far off, concealed from us, were we not irradiated by the brightness of Christ. All that the Father had, he deposited with his only begotten Son, in order that he might manifest himself in him, and thus by the communication of blessings express the true image of his glory. Since, as has been said, we must be led by the Spirit, and thus stimulated to seek Christ, so must we also remember that the invisible Father is to be sought nowhere but in this image. For which reason Augustine treating of the object of faith (De Civitate Dei, lib. 11, ch. 2), elegantly says, "The thing to be known is, whither we are to go, and by what way;" and immediately after infers, that "the surest way to avoid all errors is to know him who is both God and man. It is to God we tend, and it is by man we go, and both of these are found only in Christ." [278] Paul, when he preaches faith towards God, surely does not intend to overthrow what he so often inculcates--viz. that faith has all its stability in Christ. Peter most appropriately connects both, saying, that by him "we believe in God," (1 Pet. 1:21).

2. This evil, therefore, must, like innumerable others, be attributed to the Schoolmen, [279] who have in a manner drawn a veil over Christ, to whom, if our eye is not directly turned, we must always wander through many labyrinths. But besides impairing, and almost annihilating, faith by their obscure definition, they have invented the fiction of implicit faith, with which name decking the grossest ignorance, they delude the wretched populace to their great destruction. [280] Nay, to state the fact more truly and plainly, this fiction not only buries true faith, but entirely destroys it. Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the Church? Faith consists not in ignorance, but in knowledge--knowledge not of God merely, but of the divine will. We do not obtain salvation either because we are prepared to embrace every dictate of the Church as true, or leave to the Church the province of inquiring and determining; but when we recognize God as a propitious Father through the reconciliation made by Christ, and Christ as given to us for righteousness, sanctification, and life. By this knowledge, I say, not by the submission of our understanding, we obtain an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. For when the Apostle says, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation," (Rom. 10:10); he intimates, that it is not enough to believe implicitly without understanding, or even inquiring. The thing requisite is an explicit recognition of the divine goodness, in which our righteousness consists.

3. I indeed deny not (so enveloped are we in ignorance), that to us very many things now are and will continue to be completely involved until we lay aside this weight of flesh, and approach nearer to the presence of God. In such cases the fittest course is to suspend our judgment, and resolve to maintain unity with the Church. But under this pretext, to honor ignorance tempered with humility with the name of faith, is most absurd. Faith consists in the knowledge of God and Christ (John 17:3), not in reverence for the Church. And we see what a labyrinth they have formed out of this implicit faith--every thing, sometimes even the most monstrous errors, being received by the ignorant as oracles without any discrimination, provided they are prescribed to them under the name of the Church. This inconsiderate facility, though the surest precipice to destruction, is, however, excused on the ground that it believes nothing definitely, but only with the appended condition, if such is the faith of the Church. Thus they pretend to find truth in error, light in darkness, true knowledge in ignorance. Not to dwell longer in refuting these views, we simply advise the reader to compare them with ours. The clearness of truth will itself furnish a sufficient refutation. For the question they raise is not, whether there may be an implicit faith with many remains of ignorance, but they maintain, that persons living and even indulging in a stupid ignorance duly believe, provided, in regard to things unknown, they assent to the authority and judgment of the Church: as if Scripture did not uniformly teach, that with faith understanding is conjoined.

4. We grant, indeed, that so long as we are pilgrims in the world faith is implicit, not only because as yet many things are hidden from us, but because, involved in the mists of error, we attain not to all. The highest wisdom, even of him who has attained the greatest perfection, is to go forward, and endeavor in a calm and teachable spirit to make further progress. Hence Paul exhorts believers to wait for further illumination in any matter in which they differ from each other, Phil. 3:15). [281] And certainly experience teaches, that so long as we are in the flesh, our attainments are less than is to be desired. In our daily reading we fall in with many obscure passages which convict us of ignorance. With this curb God keeps us modest, assigning to each a measure of faith, that every teacher, however excellent, may still be disposed to learn. Striking examples of this implicit faith may be observed in the disciples of Christ before they were fully illuminated. We see with what difficulty they take in the first rudiments, how they hesitate in the minutest matters, how, though hanging on the lips of their Master, they make no great progress; nay, even after running to the sepulchre on the report of the women, the resurrection of their Master appears to them a dream. As Christ previously bore testimony to their faith, we cannot say that they were altogether devoid of it; nay, had they not been persuaded that Christ would rise again, all their zeal would have been extinguished. Nor was it superstition that led the women to prepare spices to embalm a dead body of whose revival they had no expectation; but, although they gave credit to the words of one whom they knew to be true, yet the ignorance which still possessed their minds involved their faith in darkness, and left them in amazement. Hence they are said to have believed only when, by the reality, they perceive the truth of what Christ had spoken; not that they then began to believe, but the seed of a hidden faith, which lay as it were dead in their hearts, then burst forth in vigor. They had, therefore, a true but implicit faith, having reverently embraced Christ as the only teacher. Then, being taught by him, they felt assured that he was the author of salvation: in fine, believed that he had come from heaven to gather disciples, and take them thither through the grace of the Father. There cannot be a more familiar proof of this, than that in all men faith is always mingled with incredulity.

5. We may also call their faith implicit, as being properly nothing else than a preparation for faith. The Evangelists describe many as having believed, although they were only roused to admiration by the miracles, and went no farther than to believe that Christ was the promised Messiah, without being at all imbued with Evangelical doctrine. The reverence which subdued them, and made them willingly submit to Christ, is honored with the name of faith, though it was nothing but the commencement of it. Thus the nobleman who believed in the promised cure of his son, on returning home, is said by the Evangelist (John 4:53) to have again believed; that is, he had first received the words which fell from the lips of Christ as an oracular response, and thereafter submitted to his authority and received his doctrine. Although it is to be observed that he was docile and disposed to learn, yet the word "believed" in the former passage denotes a particular faith, and in the latter gives him a place among those disciples who had devoted themselves to Christ. Not unlike this is the example which John gives of the Samaritans who believed the women, and eagerly hastened to Christ; but, after they had heard him, thus express themselves, "Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world," (John 4:42). From these passages it is obvious, that even those who are not yet imbued with the first principles, provided they are disposed to obey, are called believers, not properly indeed, but inasmuch as God is pleased in kindness so highly to honor their pious feeling. But this docility, with a desire of further progress, is widely different from the gross ignorance in which those sluggishly indulge who are contented with the implicit faith of the Papists. If Paul severely condemns those who are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth," how much more sharply ought those to be rebuked who avowedly affect to know nothing?

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

  • Salvation Guarantee 1 Rom 5:1–2
  • 2 Rom 5:2–8
  • 3 Rom 5:9–11

  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Instead of worrying, pray
     2/26/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.’

(Php 4:6) do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ESV

     One Bible teacher writes: ‘The pressures of our times have many of us caught in a web of the most acceptable, yet energy-draining sin in the Christian family: worry. Chances are good you woke up this morning, stepped out of bed, and before doing anything, strapped on your well - worn backpack of anxiety. You started the day not with a prayer on your mind, but loaded down by worry. What a dreadful habit! Jesus challenged His followers with the question, “Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27 NASB). Worry solves nothing. It creates unrest and uneasiness, and if left unchecked it can churn our waves of anxiety into a perfect storm of emotions. Add a little imagination and creativity, and our worst fears come to life in Technicolor brilliance. The stress from worry drains our energy and preoccupies our minds, stripping us of our peace…We fret over big things and little things. Some of us have a laundry list of concerns that feed our addiction to worry. It’s a very unattractive addiction, yet we somehow manage to make a joke out of it. I’ve heard people say with a smile, “If I don’t have something to worry about, I get worried about not having something to worry about.” Anxiety has become a favourite pastime we love to hate. And worse, we’re passing it on to our children. As they see the worry on our faces and hear it from our lips, we’re mentoring them in the art of anxiety.’ So, what’s the answer? ‘Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.’

Leviticus 23-24
Mark 1:1-22

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Hailed as the greatest of the Romanticists poets, he is best know for writing The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. His father had been a general in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army. His name was Victor Marie Hugo, born this day, February 26, 1802. Hugo supported Napoleon’s heir, but when he turned out to be a tyrant, Hugo opposed him and was forced into exile for nineteen years. Victor Hugo wrote: “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly


     There is a tendency today, in this generation, to suppose that the religious life must prove its worth because it changes the social order. The test of the importance of any supposed dealing with Eternity is the benefits it may possibly bring to affairs in time. Time, and the enrichment of events in time, are supposed to pass a judgment upon the worth of fellowship with the Eternal. We breathe the air of a generation which, as the old phrase goes, takes time seriously." Men nowadays take time far more seriously than eternity.

     German theology of a century ago emphasized a useful distinction between This-sidedness and Other­ sidedness, or Here and Yonder. The church used to be chiefly concerned with Yonder, it was oriented toward the world beyond, and was little concerned with this world and its sorrows and hungers. Because the sincere workingman, who suffered under economic privations, called out for bread, for whole wheat flour bread, the church of that day replied, "You're worldly-minded, you're crass, you're materialistic, you're oriented toward the Here. You ought to seek the heavenly, the eternal, the Yonder." But the workingman wasn't materialistic, he was hungry; and Marxian socialism promised him just the temporal bread he needed, whereas the church had rebuked him for not hungering for the eternal Bread.

     All this is now changed. We are in an era of This sidedness, with a passionate anxiety about economics and political organization. And the church itself has largely gone "this-sided," and large areas of the Society of Friends seem to be predominantly concerned with this world, with time, and with the temporal order. And the test of the worthwhileness of any experience of Eternity has become: "Does it change things in time? If so, let us keep it, if not, let us discard it."

     I submit that this is a lamentable reversal of the true order of dependence. Time is no judge of Eternity. It is the Eternal who is the judge and tester of time.

     But in saying this I am not proposing that we leave the one-sidedness of the Here and of time-preoccupation for the equal one-sidedness of the Yonder, nor advocate a lofty scorn of this maimed and bleeding world while we bask serenely upon the sunny shores of the Eternal. But I am persuaded that in the Quaker experience of Divine Presence there is a serious retention of both time and the timeless, with the final value and significance located in the Eternal, who is the creative root of time itself. For "I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love which flowed over the ocean of darkness."

     The possibility of this experience of Divine Presence, as a repeatedly realized and present fact, and its transforming and transfiguring effect upon all life­ this is the central message of Friends. Once discover this glorious secret, this new dimension of life, and we no longer live merely in time but we live also in the Eternal. The world of time is no longer the sole reality of which we are aware. A second Reality hovers, quickens, quivers, stirs, energizes us, breaks in upon us and in love embraces us, together with all things, within Himself. We live our lives at two levels simultaneously, the level of time and the level of the Timeless. They form one sequence, with a fluctuating border between them. Sometimes the glorious Eternal is in the ascendancy, but still we are aware of our daily temporal routine. Sometimes the clouds settle low and we are chiefly in the world of time, yet we are haunted by a smaller sense of Presence, in the margin of consciousness.

     But, fluctuating in predominance though the two levels be, such a discovery of an Eternal Life and Love breaking in, nay, always there, but we were too preoccupied to notice it, makes life glorious and new. And one sings inexpressibly sweet songs within one self, and one tries to keep one's inner hilarity and exuberance within bounds lest, like the men of Pentecost, we be mistaken for men filled with new wine. Traditional Quaker decorum and this burning experience of a Living Presence are only with the greatest difficulty held together! I'd rather be jolly Saint Francis hymning his canticle to the sun than a dour old sobersides Quaker whose diet would appear to have been spiritual persimmons.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Rick Adams

Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and bring Him nearer to our own image.
--- A. W. Tozer

I am prepared to die,
but there is no cause for which
I am prepared to kill.
--- Mohandas Gandhi

There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers.
--- Charles Spurgeon

If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.
--- Dale Carnegie

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 2/26
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, inVirginia, 20th of the 5th month, 1757.

     From the Yearly Meeting in Virginia I went to Carolina, and on the first of sixth month was at Wells Monthly Meeting, where the spring of the gospel ministry was opened, and the love of Jesus Christ experienced among us; to his name be the praise.

     Here my brother joined with some Friends from New Garden who were going homeward; and I went next to Simons Creek Monthly Meeting, where I was silent during the meeting for worship. When business came on, my mind was exercised concerning the poor slaves, but I did not feel my way clear to speak. In this condition I was bowed in spirit before the Lord, and with tears and inward supplication besought him so to open my understanding that I might know his will concerning me; and, at length, my mind was settled in silence. Near the end of their business a member of their meeting expressed a concern that had some time lain upon him, on account of Friends so much neglecting their duty in the education of their slaves, and proposed having meetings sometimes appointed for them on a weekday, to be attended only by some Friends to be named in their Monthly Meetings. Many present appeared to unite with the proposal. One said he had often wondered that they, being our fellow-creatures, and capable of religious understanding, had been so exceedingly neglected; another expressed the like concern, and appeared zealous that in future it might be more closely considered. At length a minute was made, and the further consideration of it referred to their next Monthly Meeting. The Friend who made this proposal hath negroes; he told me that he was at New Garden, about two hundred and fifty miles from home, and came back alone; that in this solitary journey this exercise, in regard to the education of their negroes, was from time to time renewed in his mind. A Friend of some note in Virginia, who hath slaves, told me that he being far from home on a lonesome journey had many serious thoughts about them; and his mind was so impressed therewith that he believed he saw a time coming when Divine Providence would alter the circumstance of these people, respecting their condition as slaves.

     From hence I went to a meeting at Newbegun Creek, and sat a considerable time in much weakness; then I felt truth open the way to speak a little in much plainness and simplicity, till at length, through the increase of Divine love amongst us, we had a seasoning opportunity. This was also the case at the head of Little River, where we had a crowded meeting on a first-day. I went thence to the Old Neck, where I was led into a careful searching out of the secret workings of the mystery of iniquity, which, under a cover of religion exalts itself against that pure spirit which leads in the way of meekness and self-denial. Pineywoods was the last meeting I was at in Carolina; it was large, and my heart being deeply engaged, I was drawn forth into a fervent labor amongst them.

     When I was at Newbegun Creek a Friend was there who labored for his living, having no negroes, and who had been a minister many years. He came to me the next day, and as we rode together, he signified that he wanted to talk with me concerning a difficulty he had been under, which he related nearly as follows: That as moneys had of late years been raised by a tax to carry on the wars, he had a scruple in his mind in regard to paying it, and chose rather to suffer restraint of his goods; but as he was the only person who refused it in those parts, and knew not that anyone else was in the like circumstances, he signified that it had been a heavy trial to him, especially as some of his brethren had been uneasy with his conduct in that case. He added, that from a sympathy he felt with me yesterday in meeting, he found freedom thus to open the matter in the way of querying concerning Friends in our parts; I told him the state of Friends amongst us as well as I was able, and also that I had for some time been under the like scruple. I believed him to be one who was concerned to walk uprightly before the Lord, and esteemed it my duty to preserve this note concerning him, Samuel Newby.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 11:12-13
     by D.H. Stern

12     He who belittles another lacks good sense,
whereas a person of discernment stays silent.

13     A gossip goes around revealing secrets,
but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Have you heard people claim
     Healing by His stripes?

     The Christian conviction that Christ ‘has destroyed death’ (2 Tim. 1:10) has led some believers to deduce that he has also destroyed disease, and that from the cross we should claim healing as well as forgiveness. A popular exposition of this topic is Bodily Healing and the Atonement, which has been re-edited and re-published by Kenneth E. Hagin of the pentecostal Rhema Church. McCrossan states his case in these terms: ‘All Christians should expect God to heal their bodies today, because Christ died to atone for our sicknesses as well as for our sins’. He bases his argument on Isaiah 53:4, which he translates ‘surely he hath borne our sicknesses and carried our pains’. He particularly emphasizes that the first Hebrew verb (nasa’) means to bear in the sense of ‘suffering the punishment for something’. Since it is also used in Isaiah 53:12 (‘he bore the sin of many’), ‘the clear teaching...is that Christ bore our sicknesses in the very same way that he bore our sins’.
     There are three difficulties in the way of accepting this interpretation, however. First, nasa’ is used in a variety of Old Testament contexts, including the carrying of the ark and other tabernacle furniture, the carrying of armour, weapons and children. It occurs in Isaiah 52:11 with reference to those who ‘carry the vessels of the LORD’. So the verb in itself does not mean to ‘bear the punishment of’. We are obliged to translate it thus only when sin is its object. That Christ ‘bore’ our sicknesses may (in fact, does) mean something quite different.
     Secondly, the concept McCrossan puts forward does not make sense. ‘Bearing the penalty of sin’ is readily intelligible, since sin’s penalty is death and Christ died our death in our place. But what is the penalty of sickness? It has none. Sickness may itself be a penalty for sin, but it is not itself a misdemeanour which attracts a penalty. So to speak of Christ ‘atoning for’ our sicknesses is to mix categories; it is not an intelligible notion.
     Thirdly, Matthew (who is the evangelist most preoccupied with the fulfilment of Old Testament Scripture) applies Isaiah 53:4 not to the atoning death but to the healing ministry of Jesus. It was in order to fulfil what was spoken through Isaiah, he writes, that Jesus ‘healed all the sick’. So we have no liberty to reapply the text to the cross. It is true that Peter quotes the following verse ‘by his wounds we are healed’, but the contexts in both Isaiah and Peter make it clear that the ‘healing’ they have in mind is salvation from sin. 47
     We should not, therefore, affirm that Christ died for our sicknesses as well as for our sins, that ‘there is healing in the atonement’, or that health is just as readily available to everybody as forgiveness. That does not mean, however, that our bodies are unaffected by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We should certainly take seriously these statements of Paul about the body:
     We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body (2 Cor. 4:10–11).
     The apostle is referring to the infirmity and mortality of our human bodies, specially (in his case) in relation to physical persecution. It is, he says, like experiencing in our bodies the dying (or putting to death) of Jesus, and the purpose of this is that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our bodies. He does not seem to be referring to the resurrection of his body, for he comes to that later. Nor are his words exhausted in his survival of physical assaults, in which he was ‘struck down, but not destroyed’ (v. 9). No, he seems to be saying that now in our mortal bodies (which are doomed to die) there is being ‘revealed’ (twice repeated) the very ‘life’ of Jesus (also twice repeated). Even when we are feeling tired, sick and battered, we experience a vigour and vitality which are the life of the risen Jesus within us. Paul expresses the same thought in verse 16: ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’
     That the life of Jesus should be constantly revealed in our bodies; that God has put into the human body marvellous therapeutic processes which fight disease and restore health; that all healing is divine healing; that God can and sometimes does heal miraculously (without means, instantaneously and permanently) – these things we should joyfully and confidently affirm. But to expect the sick to be healed and the dead to be raised as regularly as we expect sinners to be forgiven, is to stress the ‘already’ at the expense of the ‘not yet’, for it is to anticipate the resurrection. Not till then will our bodies be entirely rid of disease and death.

The Cross of Christ

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with. --- John 4:11.

     ‘I am impressed with the wonder of what God says, but He cannot expect me really to live it out in the details of my life!’ When it comes to facing Jesus Christ on His own merits, our attitude is one of pious superiority—‘Your ideals are high and they impress us, but in touch with actual things, it cannot be done.’ Each of us thinks about Jesus in this way in some particular. These misgivings about Jesus start from the amused questions put to us when we talk of our transactions with God—‘Where are you going to get your money from? How are you going to be looked after?’ Or they start from ourselves when we tell Jesus that our case is a bit too hard for Him. ‘It is all very well to say “Trust in the Lord,” but a man must live, and Jesus has nothing to draw with—nothing whereby to give us these things.’ Beware of the pious fraud in you which says—‘I have no misgivings about Jesus, only about myself.’ None of us ever had misgivings about ourselves; we know exactly what we cannot do, but we do have misgivings about Jesus. We are rather hurt at the idea that He can do what we cannot.

      My misgivings arise from the fact that I ransack my own person to find out how He will be able to do it. My questions spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, let me bring them to the light and confess them—‘Lord, I have had misgivings about Thee, I have not believed in Thy wits apart from my own; I have not believed in Thine Almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.’

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The View from the Window
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The View from the Window

Like a painting it is set before one,
  But less brittle, ageless; these colours
  Are renewed daily with variations
  Of light and distance that no painter
  Achieves or suggests. Then there is movement,
  Change, as slowly the cloud bruises
  Are healed by sunlight, or snow caps
  A black mood; but gold at evening
  To cheer the heart. All through history
  The great brush has not rested,
  Nor the paint dried; yet what eye,
  Looking coolly, or, as we now,
  Through the tears' lenses, ever saw
  This work and it was not finished?

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Teacher's Commentary
     Authentication: Matthew 8:1–9:34

     The next events seem to merge in a fast-paced narrative. The acts of the King are traced as, over and over, they demonstrate the validity of Jesus’ claim to authority.

     Willing and able (Matt. 8:1–13). Immediately after Jesus’ descent from the mount on which He spoke His sermon, a leper met Him. He said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean” (v. 2). This man sensed Jesus’ power, but was uncertain whether Christ would use that power for his sake. Jesus reached out and touched the leper, healing him. The King is willing to exercise His authority to help humankind.

     Entering the city of Capernaum, a Roman officer met Jesus to ask for the healing of a servant. Christ offered to go with the Roman, who objected. “I do not deserve to have You come under my roof” (v. 8). Instead the Roman asked Jesus merely to speak the word. Jesus spoke; the servant was healed. Jesus is able.

     There are three very special riches for us in this extended passage.

(1)     Under authority. The Roman soldier speaking to Jesus said, “I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes” (Matt. 8:9). He said this to explain the confidence he had in Jesus which enabled him to ask Jesus to heal from a distance, by the mere speaking of a word. His point was this: As a soldier, his authority over others was derived. It was his relationship in the chain of command which gave this military man his power. When he spoke, all the power of Rome’s mighty empire, under whose authority he stood, spoke through him.

     And what about Jesus? How was Jesus able to speak and have nature, demons, and even death jump to obey? Because here on earth Jesus also operated under authority; the authority of God. When Jesus spoke all the limitless power of God Himself spoke through Him.

      It’s like this today. We can trust Jesus. The full power of Almighty God is His.

(2)     New wineskins. A fascinating dialogue here is inserted in Matthew 9:14–17. John the Baptist’s disciples had noted that Jesus was unlike their master. They came to ask why. Jesus explained, and added, “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Matt. 9:17).

     You and I cannot stuff Jesus or our experience with Him into our old ways of thinking and living. Life with Jesus is a new and exciting thing. He Himself wants to fill us, to expand our personalities, and to reshape us to fit who He is. When Jesus, the Man with all power, comes into our lives, we are privileged to open ourselves up to newness.

(3)     Dead and blind. Through these two chapters the acts of Jesus follow a progression. Each portrait shows Christ as having power over a greater enemy than the last: sickness, nature, demons, sin, and then death itself.

     Why then does an instance of healing the blind follow the raising of the ruler’s daughter? For our sakes! You and I can find the faith to believe that Jesus will make us fully alive when He returns. But how often we look at the dead dimensions of our present lives with despair. The blind men were living—but with dead eyes. When they begged for healing, Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt. 9:28) They did believe. Jesus touched their eyes. And where the moment before there had been death, now there was sight.

     Jesus comes into our lives with hope for today. If your personality has died to the capacity to live, or has shriveled in bitterness, or if you have lost the capacity for compassion, Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I am able?” We can answer, “Yes!” Jesus does have the power to revive the deadened areas of our lives.

     To really understand the significance of the extended passage we’ve been considering, we need to note one of its peculiarities. Throughout this sequence of events Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He did not use the term in the Sermon on the Mount. The first occurrences are here.

     The term “Son of man” is found in both the Old Testament and the New. In the New it is used 94 times, and, with 5 exceptions, always by Christ of Himself. Clearly Jesus affirms something important about Himself in His selection and use of this term.

     On the one hand, of course, the phrase “Son of man” emphasizes Jesus’ full humanity. But even greater significance is found in the fact that, as in Matthew 9:6, “Son of man” signifies Jesus’ redemptive work and mission. In the term “Son of man” Jesus presents Himself as the Victor, for He accomplished all that man was intended to do, and becomes all that man was intended to be.

     The demons recognized and spoke to Jesus as the “Son of God” (8:29). They were right; they knew Him for who He is. The whole Bible makes it very clear that the One who became Man at Bethlehem truly is the Creator God. John insisted that Jesus is God, coexisting with the Father from the beginning (John 1). Jesus does not hesitate to claim equality with God (John 17). Paul’s writings affirm Jesus as God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament prophecy identifies Jesus as the “Father of eternity” (a phrase meaning the source or originator of eternity itself!) and speaks of the Child to be born as “a Son … given” (Isa. 9:6, KJV). The name Immanuel, as we have seen, means, “With us is God.” Jesus had every right to speak of Himself as the Son of God, for that is who He is.

     Yet Jesus chose another title for Himself: “Son of man.” A Man, with God’s prerogative of forgiving sin. A Man, with power to heal and to give life. A Man, yet Victor over death.

     In Jesus the very power of God entered the mainstream of humanity, and in Jesus’ authority as the Son of man you and I find an anchor for our hope. Many years ago Johann Burger (1598–1662) caught a vision of the authority of the Son of man, and expressed it in the hymn, “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I.”

     Jesus lives and reigns supreme;
     And His kingdom still remaining.
     I shall also be with Him,
     Ever living, ever reigning.
     God has promised: be it must;
     Jesus is my hope and trust.

     The Man with all power lives today. His kingdom does remain. With Him, we also shall reign. Then—and now.

The Teacher's Commentary

The Labyrinth
     Richard S. Adams

     When you walk a labyrinth you walk around and around, not forwards, not backwards, never losing ground, never gaining ground. No one carries a plumb line to measure the progress of another. One minute you seem to pass them on their journey, but the next minute they pass you.

     I’ve walked the labyrinth at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Portland, as well a labyrinth in the woods on the other side of the Columbia River. Most memorable, however, was a labyrinth drawn in the sand by Anne Buck, at the Friends Retreat Center near Twin Rocks.

     Dr. Laura Simmons, one of my former profs at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, invited some chaplains and spiritual directors to spend a few days together at the coast for a Contemplative Retreat. I love the coast anyway, but the people made it a very rich time for me.

     Anne took a long stick and created a labyrinth for all of us to walk on. The incoming tide added an awareness of time and present that I did not feel when I walked the labyrinth at the candle lit Episcopal Church or the woodsy crowd of trees on the other side of the Columbia river in Washington.

     We walked the labyrinth together, starting at different times. Occasionally our paths were close and if we tried we could reach out and touch one another, but at other times we were far away. So many metaphors accompanied the knowledge that our sandy journey around the labyrinth would soon be washed away.

     Regardless of how we are taught to think, do we really move forward or back? Do we move from the general to the specific or from the simple to the complex? Do we start at the beginning, move past the middle and finally finish at the end? We’ve been taught to think this way, but do you ever feel like you’ve made the same mistake before, yet here you are again? Maybe I’ll get it right this time. Back in Texas when we caught ourselves making the same mistake again we would say it is time for another trip around the mountain, refering to Moses and his band of complainers.

     Like many others Seminary challenged my faith and lack of faith. I thought I knew what I believed, but I discovered I believed what I believed because of the environment in which I grew up. Seminary was a watershed in my life. It taught me to be more aware of what is being said around me and more aware of what is happening around me, but I have discovered that that awareness is not as important as the lenses through which I hear and see these ideas and actions. The lens is most important.

     More and more I am being pulled into scripture. I am learning that it matters little what I feel or what I think. Time will wash all of this away, just as Anne's labyrinth dissolved in the tide. What is most important is what God says. No tide or human endeavor will ever make God's Word pass away. What is truly real is only seen through the lens of scripture.

     The tide came in and washed away Ann’s labyrinth in the sand. Who kept score, who won, who lost? Does it really matter? I still remember the people, the blue skies, the sounds and smells. It was a good time for me, but it is gone now. So too, all the angry debates over this and over that will pass away, but God's Word will remain and not return void. 2,000 years ago it was written:

1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. ESV


Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2008, on staff at Portland Seminary since 2009.

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Halakhah and Aggadah

     After studying the Talmud for even a brief time, one quickly discovers that there are two very different kinds of discourse. The first (and that which constitutes the greater portion) is called halakhah. It comes from the root meaning “to go” or “to walk.” Halakhah, often translated as “law,” deals with the questions “What are we obligated to do and how are we to do it?” Halakhah is serious, detailed, and often dry and legalistic.

     The second type of material is known as aggadah, often translated, imprecisely, as “legend.” The word is based on the same root as haggadah, and actually means “the telling.” It is often exciting and engaging material, and includes stories as well as Midrashic expositions of the Bible. If halakhah is the answer to the questions “What?” and “How?,” aggadah may be characterized as the response to the question “Why?”

     Many people make the mistake of seeing halakhah and aggadah as two separate and distinct realms. Depending on their interests and dispositions, they tend to favor one to the exclusion of the other. The “serious” student, interested in law and its practical applications, views aggadah as frivolous and too easy, something appropriate for children or the beginner. Others find the halakhah too legalistic and trivial and spend their time exploring the soul of the Jewish tradition in the aggadah.

     In actuality, halakhah and aggadah are two sides of the same coin. They cannot and should not be separated. One can get a true sense of the Talmud only when these two realms are allowed to interact and stand next to each other. They need to function the same way that the heart and the mind do in a human being. The person who acts solely on the intellect is a robot; one who responds only from his emotions is a fool. The two must be in harmony and must work together in balance. The same is true of the Jewish tradition. A Judaism that is concerned only with ritual without understanding why those observances are to be followed is a perversion of our religion. In a similar vein, those who reject or ignore ritual and law, claiming that they are Jews “in their hearts,” are creating a very hollow hybrid of our rich heritage. Ultimately, the same is true of the Talmud.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Two / The Interior Life

     The First Chapter / Meditation

     THE kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord. (
Luke 17:21)

     Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.

     Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.

     Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: “If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23)

     Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for you. He will provide for you. He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end.

     Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with the wind. Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you.

     You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you are wholly united with Christ.

     Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose? Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with them. Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.

     If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your thoughts to Christ’s passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind but little the scorn of men, and you will easily bear their slanderous talk.

     When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.

     Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise himself.

     A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.

     He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think it is, is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men.

     He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things, does not seek special places or times to perform devout exercises. A spiritual man quickly recollects himself because he has never wasted his attention upon externals. No outside work, no business that cannot wait stands in his way. He adjusts himself to things as they happen. He whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about the strange, perverse behavior of others, for a man is upset and distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in externals.

     If all were well with you, therefore, and if you were purified from all sin, everything would tend to your good and be to your profit. But because you are as yet neither entirely dead to self nor free from all earthly affection, there is much that often displeases and disturbs you. Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man as impure attachment to created things. But if you refuse external consolation, you will be able to contemplate heavenly things and often to experience interior joy.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     February 26

     Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
--- Psalm 37:4.

     Without cheerful seeking we cannot have a gracious answer. (Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse of Delight in Prayer,” ed. William Symington, Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings at www.puritansermons.com, accessed Aug. 20, 2001.)

     God will not give an answer to prayers that dishonor him. A flat and lumpish attitude is not for his honor. We do not read of lead employed about the temple but the purer and most glittering metals. God wants the most excellent service, because he is the most excellent Being. He wants the most delightful service, because he bestows the most delightful gifts. It is a dishonor to so great a majesty to put him off with low and dead-hearted services. It is not for the credit of our great Master to have his servants dejected in his work, as though God were a wilderness and the world a paradise.

     Dull and lumpish prayer does not reach him and therefore cannot expect an answer. Such desires are as arrows that sink down at our feet; there is no force to carry them to heaven.

     Lumpishness speaks an unwillingness that God should hear us. Any who coldly and dully put up a petition to a sovereign give the ruler good reason to think that they do not care for an answer. That farmer has no great mind to harvest who is lazy in tilling the ground and sowing the seed. How can we think God should delight to read over our petitions when we take so little delight in presenting them? God does not give mercy to an unwilling person. God makes his people willing. Dull spirits seek God as if they did not care if they find him; such attitudes either account God not real or their petitions unnecessary.

     Without delight we are not fit to receive a mercy. Delight in a mercy wanted makes room for desire, and large desires make room for mercy. If no delight in begging, there will be no delight in enjoying. If there is no cheerfulness to enliven our prayers when we need a blessing, there will be little joy to enliven our praise when we receive a blessing. A weak, sickly stomach is not fit to be seated at a plentiful table. God will not send his mercies except to a soul who will welcome them. A cheerful soul is fit to receive the least and fit to receive the greatest mercy. Such individuals will more prize a little mercy than dull petitioners will prize a greater, because they have a sense of their needs. If Zacchaeus had not a great joy at the news of Christ’s coming by his door, he would not have so readily entertained and welcomed him.
--- Stephen Charnock

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

On This Day   February 26
     Hair and Helper

     God often uses single men and women to do more alone than they could do if encumbered with family obligations. Other times, however, a spouse is needed.

     Francois Coillard, born in France in 1834, studied theology in Paris and Strasbourg and sailed to South Africa in 1857 under the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. He was single, clean-shaven, and young. The Africans were perplexed, wondering how this beardless, wifeless youth could teach them anything. “Beards and wives are necessary for respect,” they said. “We can’t listen to one with neither hair nor helper.”

     Hearing these whispers, Coillard immediately grew a fine beard. But what could be done about a wife? Yes, he had someone in mind, a young lady in Paris. In fact, he had secretly fallen in love with her while still there but had said nothing about it — not even to the young lady herself. Francois was insecure and afraid and quiet. He had sailed away without a word to Miss Christina Mackintosh.

     Now he regretted it, and at length he wrote to a mutual friend, Madame Andre-Walther, asking her to propose marriage to Miss Mackintosh for him. Six months passed, then came the dreaded word: “I don’t know you well enough.” It wasn’t an outright rejection, for Christina remembered the young missionary and had been attracted to him. Nevertheless, Coillard was broken by the news. His diary and letters betray intense emotional suffering, and he longed for someone to talk to. But he was in the bush with no one near him but the Lord.

     Two years passed. He tried to forget Christina, but without success. Finally he wrote her again, this time in person, bathing his letter in prayer. On July 5, 1860 the answer came. Coillard wrote in his diary, “I cannot believe my own happiness.”

     Christina had accepted.

     They were married February 26, 1861. “Today,” the Africans told him, “you are a man.” They listened to him now, and for the next 30 years the Coillards worked hand-in-hand in Barotseland, establishing churches and planting the gospel.

     Our God, you are the one who rides on the clouds,
     And we praise you.
     Your name is the LORD,
     And we celebrate as we worship you.
     Our God, from your sacred home
     You take care of orphans and protect widows.
     You find families for those who are lonely.
      --- Psalm 68:4-6

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 26

     “Salvation is of the Lord.” --- Jonah 2:9.

     Salvation is the work of God. It is he alone who quickens the soul “dead in trespasses and sins,” and it is he also who maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both “Alpha and Omega.” “Salvation is of the Lord.” If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God’s gifts to me; if I hold on in a consistent life, it is because he upholds me with his hand. I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. Wherein I sin, that is my own; but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed a spiritual enemy, the Lord’s strength nerved my arm. Do I live before men a consecrated life? It is not I, but Christ who liveth in me. Am I sanctified? I did not cleanse myself: God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements sanctified to my good. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly art. I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh increase of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help cometh from heaven’s hills: without Jesus I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I, except I abide in him. What Jonah learned in the great deep, let me learn this morning in my closet: “Salvation is of the Lord.”

          Evening - February 26

     “Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague.” --- Leviticus 13:13.

     Strange enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This evening it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and in no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then he is clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy; but when sin is seen and felt, it has received its deathblow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are “nothing else but sin,” for no confession short of this will be the whole truth; and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment —it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to truly awakened sinners: the very circumstance which so grievously discouraged them is here turned into a sign and symptom of a hopeful state! Stripping comes before clothing; digging out the foundation is the first thing in building—and a thorough sense of sin is one of the earliest works of grace in the heart. O thou poor leprous sinner, utterly destitute of a sound spot, take heart from the text, and come as thou art to Jesus ---

     “For let our debts be what they may, however great or small,
     As soon as we have nought to pay, our Lord forgives us all.
     ’Tis perfect poverty alone that sets the soul at large:
     While we can call one mite our own, we have no full discharge.”

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

Amazing Grace
     February 26

          GOD BE WITH YOU

     Jeremiah E. Rankin, 1828–1904

     The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
(Romans 16:20)

     It is my joy in life to find at every turning of the road,
     The strong arms of a comrade
          kind to help me onward with my load.
     And since I have no gold to give,
          and love alone can make amends—
     My daily prayer is, while I live,
          “God, make me worthy of my friends.”
--- Unknown

     Often we hear someone tell us glibly to “have a good day!” Would not a far better farewell for Christians be the loving wish of today’s hymn text—“God be with you”? The added thought of “till we meet again” suggests a sincere desire for continued friendship.

     The writer of this hymn text, Dr. Jeremiah Rankin, pastored several prominent Congregational churches throughout the East until 1889, when he became president of Howard University, the noted school for the education of black students. A powerful preacher and an excellent leader and promoter of congregational singing, Rankin wrote much poetry, including the still popular hymn “Tell It to Jesus.” He also edited a number of well-known gospel songbooks.

     No other hymn except perhaps “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” has been as widely used as this one as a closing benediction in church services. “God Be With You” was a favorite in the Moody and Sankey meetings throughout North America and England. It became the official closing song for the Christian Endeavor Conventions around the world. And still today, no finer farewell can be expressed by Christians to one another as they leave a place of worship than the sincere wish, “God be with you till we meet again.”

     God be with you till we meet again, by His counsels guide, uphold you, with His sheep securely fold you—God be with you till we meet again.
     God be with you till we meet again, ’neath His wings protecting hide you, daily manna still provide you—God be with you till we meet again.
God be with you till we meet again, when life’s perils thick confound you, put His arms unfailing round you—God be with you till we meet again.
     God be with you till we meet again, keep love’s banner floating o’er you, smite death’s threat’ning wave before you—God be with you till we meet again.
     Chorus: Till we meet, till we meet, till we meet at Jesus’ feet, till we meet, till we meet—God be with you till we meet again.

     For Today: Exodus 33:14; Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 5:7–10.

     Avoid trite and casual greetings and farewells. Instead, practice a genuine concern for others. Try saying good-bye to friends or family with some of the lovely wishes expressed in this text: God be with you … guide, uphold you, hide you, put His arms around you.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Monday, February 26, 2018 | Lent

Monday Of The Second Week In Lent
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 56, 57 (58)
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 64, 65
Old Testament     Genesis 41:46–57
New Testament     1 Corinthians 4:8–20 (21)
Gospel     Mark 3:7–19a

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 56, 57 (58)
56 To The Choirmaster: According To The Dove On Far-Off Terebinths. A Miktam Of David, When The Philistines Seized Him In Gath.

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
3 When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

5 All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
7 For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

8 You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

12 I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.

57 To The Choirmaster: According To Do Not Destroy. A Miktam Of David, When He Fled From Saul, In The Cave.

1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

4 My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

6 They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

[     58 To The Choirmaster: According To Do Not Destroy. A Miktam Of David.

1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.

6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;
when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,
like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!

10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”     ]

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 64, 65
64 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the throng of evildoers,
3 who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
4 shooting from ambush at the blameless,
shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”
6 They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.

7 But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
9 Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.

10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!

65 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David. A Song.

1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
3 When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!

5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
6 the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
7 who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

9 You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.

Old Testament
Genesis 41:46–57

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, 48 and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.

50 Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

53 The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.”

56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 4:8–20 (21)

8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.

[21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? ]

Mark 3:7–19a

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

The Book of Common Prayer

Jacob's Trouble | Exo 9:13-18
s2-039 8-10-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 9
m2-037 8-13-2014 | Brett Meador

Why Study Revelation?
Greg Stevenson
Pepperdine University

Resources for Studying Revelation
Greg Stevenson
Pepperdine University

2013 Pepperdine Bible Lectures
Mike Cope
Pepperdine University

Christian Faith and Sustainability
Chris Doran
Pepperdine University

Hunger Aug 17, 2012
Tony Hall
Pepperdine University

Burden of Proof
J. Warner Wallace
Cold Case Christianity

Characteristics of a Useful Vessel
2 Timothy 2:14–26 | John MacArthur

God’s Gift of Righteousness
Romans 3:21–25 | John MacArthur

Christ Died for God
Romans 3:25–31 | John MacArthur

Abraham: The Old Testament
Pattern of Saving Faith 1
Romans 4:1–8 | John MacArthur

Abraham: The Old Testament
Pattern of Saving Faith 2
Romans 4:9–12 | John MacArthur

Abraham: The Old Testament
Pattern of Saving Faith 3
Romans 4:13–17 | John MacArthur

Abraham: The Old Testament
Pattern of Saving Faith 4
Romans 4:18–25 | John MacArthur