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2/28/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Exodus 11:1-12:21     Luke 14     Job 29     1 Corinthians 15


Exodus 11

A Final Plague Threatened

Exodus 11:1 The LORD said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. 2 Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” 3 And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.

4 So Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5 and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. 7 But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ 8 And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. 9 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”

10 Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.


Exodus 12:1-21

The Passover

Exodus 12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.


Luke 14

Healing of a Man on the Sabbath

Luke 14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy.   ( A condition where fluid is retained in the tissues and cavities of the body—often caused by kidney or liver ailments, including cancer. )  ESV MacArthur Study Bible, Personal Size   3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Parable of the Great Banquet

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ ”

The Cost of Discipleship

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Salt Without Taste Is Worthless

34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


Job 29

Job’s Summary Defense

Job 29:1 And Job again took up his discourse, and said:

2  “Oh, that I were as in the months of old,
as in the days when God watched over me,
3  when his lamp shone upon my head,
and by his light I walked through darkness,
4  as I was in my prime,
when the friendship of God was upon my tent,
5  when the Almighty was yet with me,
when my children were all around me,
6  when my steps were washed with butter,
and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!
7  When I went out to the gate of the city,
when I prepared my seat in the square,
8  the young men saw me and withdrew,
and the aged rose and stood;
9  the princes refrained from talking
and laid their hand on their mouth;
10  the voice of the nobles was hushed,
and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.
11  When the ear heard, it called me blessed,
and when the eye saw, it approved,
12  because I delivered the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to help him.
13  The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me,
and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
14  I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
my justice was like a robe and a turban.
15  I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
16  I was a father to the needy,
and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.
17  I broke the fangs of the unrighteous
and made him drop his prey from his teeth.
18  Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,
and I shall multiply my days as the sand,
19  my roots spread out to the waters,
with the dew all night on my branches,
20  my glory fresh with me,
and my bow ever new in my hand.’

21  “Men listened to me and waited
and kept silence for my counsel.
22  After I spoke they did not speak again,
and my word dropped upon them.
23  They waited for me as for the rain,
and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.
24  I smiled on them when they had no confidence,
and the light of my face they did not cast down.
25  I chose their way and sat as chief,
and I lived like a king among his troops,
like one who comforts mourners.


1 Corinthians 15

The Resurrection of Christ

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Mystery and Victory

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55  “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

The Reasonable, Evidential Nature of Christian Faith

By J. Warner Wallace 2/23/2018

     Skeptics sometimes portray Christians as both “unreasonable” and “unreasoning”. The Christian culture only exacerbates the problem when it advocates for a definition of “faith” removed from evidence. Is true faith blind? How are true believers to respond to doubt? What is the relationship between faith and reason? Richard Dawkins once said:

     “Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.

     This view of Christian belief is common among skeptics and believers alike. Critics think Christians accept truth claims without any evidential support and many Christians embrace the claims of Christianity unaware of the strong evidence supporting our worldview. Dawkins is correct when he argues against forming beliefs without evidence. People who accept truth claims without any examination or need for evidence are prone to believing myths and making bad decisions.

     Christians Are Called to A Reasonable Faith | Christians, however, are not called to make decisions without good evidence. The God of the Bible does not call his children to obey blindly. The Gospels are themselves an important form of direct evidence; the testimony of eyewitnesses who observed the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. That’s why the scriptures repeatedly call us to have a reasoned belief in Christ, and not to resort to the behavior of unreasoning animals:

     Jude 4, 10 | For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.

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

Christian Subculture Is Dying. I Know Why. I Grew Up There

By Liberty Mcartor 2/25/2017

     The largest Christian bookstore chain in the nation announced Thursday that it will close its doors for good. The closing of the Family Christian Store’s 240 locations comes two years after the franchise declared bankruptcy.

     Many factors have undoubtedly led to the chain’s demise — including the growing number of people buying books and music online, which is affecting bookstores everywhere. But I’m a Millennial, and I submit that at least part of the explanation for the shrinking number of Christian bookstores has to do with the fact that my generation is rejecting Christian subculture.

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Liberty McArtor is a Staff Writer for The Stream. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Patrick Henry College and previously worked in Washington, D.C. as a radio producer for WMAL’s weekend talk show and at First Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas. Liberty resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with her husband and their beloved cat. Follow Liberty on Twitter @LibertyMcArtor.

The Stone and the Snake

By John Piper 2/25/2017

My Father bade me come, and said,
“Ask me for what you need. And spread
Before me all your heart. Seek me
For ev’ry true desire, and see
If I will ever fail to love
You perfectly with treasures of
My boundless store, my heart. And keep
On knocking. Though I do not sleep,
I have my reasons for delay,
And I delight to hear you pray.
If you should need an anchor for your boat,
But, lured by hunger, ask for bread,
I’ll mark your need, and lest you seaward float,
Give you a heavy stone instead.
Or if you need to drain a viper’s fang,
A healing antidote to make,
But ask for useless fish to ease the pang,
I will discern, and give the snake.
O precious child, think not, because
I meet your needs with love by laws
Beyond your grasp: It is in vain
For you to pray, as if the gain
Of snake and stone were no reply
To your desire. Dear Child, your cry
Does open treasuries, and shake
The heavens. I bid you come and take
These keys, and all my store unlock,
My heart. To ask, and seek, and knock.”

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     John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

John Piper Books:

I Want to Read a John Piper Book, but Where Should I Start?

By John Piper 1/23/2015

     Around here we love books: reading them, writing them, publishing them, promoting them. John Piper alone has authored over 50 titles. So I asked, in light of the overwhelming number of free books we host on the smorgasbord we call our Book page, which of them would Pastor John recommend first?

     What follows is a slightly edited transcript of his answer.

     I went to the website and clicked on the “Books” tab at the top of the website, and counted almost 80 available titles. That is overwhelming. What would you do if somebody said, “Yeah, go check out desiringGod.org and read one of those books?” You would stare at those 80 titles and wonder where in the world to start. So this is a good question.

     Let me give two answers; one for an ordinary person who knows little about the Bible who wants to grow in his new faith, and a second answer for a non-ordinary person, a deep, critical thinker, who asks a lot of questions and likes a lot of systematization.

     Piper Books for Ordinary Readers | So the first answer, which I think is probably the more important one: What about the ordinary new believer who doesn’t have a lot of Bible knowledge, who was recently converted and brought to trust Jesus as his Savior and Lord, and who wants to start reading and going deeper in Christ and the Scriptures?

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     John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

John Piper Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 25

Teach Me Your Paths
25 Of David.

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

ESV Study Bible

Exodus 11:1 – 12:20; Luke 14; Job 29; 1 Corinthians 15

By Don Carson 2/28/2018

     The Crushing plagues have followed their ordained sequence. Repeatedly, Pharaoh hardened his heart; yet, however culpable this man was, God sovereignly moved behind the scenes, actually warning Pharaoh, implicitly inviting repentance. For instance, through Moses God had already said to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go” (9:16-17). Yet now Pharaoh’s patience entirely collapses. He warns Moses that he is not to appear in the court again: “The day you see my face you will die” (10:28).

     So the stage is set for the last plague, the greatest and worst of all. After the previous nine disasters, one would think that Moses’ description of what would happen (Ex. 11) would prompt Pharaoh to hesitate. But he refuses to listen (11:9); and all this occurs, God says “so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt” (11:9).

     In Exodus 11 – 12 there is yet another almost incidental description of God’s sovereign provision. Exodus 11 tells us, almost parenthetically, that “the LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people” (11:3). This is followed in Exodus 12 by the description of the Egyptians urging the Israelites to leave the country (12:33). One can understand the rationale: how many more plagues like this last one could they endure? At the same time, the Israelites ask for clothing and silver and gold. “The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians” (12:36).

     Psychologically, it is easy enough, after the event, to explain all this. In addition to the fear the Israelites now incited among the Egyptians, perhaps guilt was also operating: who knows? “We owe them something.” Psychologically, of course, one could have concocted a quite different scenario: in a fit of rage, the Egyptians massacre the people whose leader and whose God have brought such devastating slaughter among them.

     In reality, however, the ultimate reason why things turn out this way is because of the powerful hand of God: the Lord himself made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people.

nbsp;    This is the element that is often overlooked by sociologists and others who treat all of culture like a closed system. They forget that God may intervene, and turn the hearts and minds of the people. Massive revival that transforms the value systems of the West is now virtually inconceivable to those enamored with closed systems. But if God graciously intervenes and makes the people “favorably disposed” to the preaching of the Gospel….

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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:

When I Glory in My Shame

By Tim Challies 2/25/2017

     There is nothing my dog won’t do for food. There is no command she won’t obey when we are looking, and no rule she won’t break when we are looking away, if only she can get a bit of food in her belly. I guess it is hard to fault her since, as a Lab, every gene in her body drives her to gorge herself. It’s like Paul was writing about her and her breed when he said, ” Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). Food is her idol, her god, the thing that will motivate her to do anything or everything.

     The thing that validates me is the thing I worship, the thing that momentarily takes the place of God in my life.

     I am no dog, but I, too, am hard-wired for something—for validation. Just as a dog will lie down or roll over or beg or bark on command to get a sausage—doesn’t she realize how pathetic she looks?—, there is not much I won’t do to receive validation, to have others affirm my self-worth according to my criteria. I want to feel special about myself, I want to feel big and important. And when I look for what makes me feel good about myself, I inevitably find my idols. The thing that validates me is the thing I worship, the thing that momentarily takes the place of God in my life.

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     I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

Tim Challies Books:

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     11. I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election; [284] and yet the difficulty is easily solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate. Meanwhile, believers are taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. [285] In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.

12. Although faith is a knowledge of the divine favor towards us, and a full persuasion of its truth, it is not strange that the sense of the divine love, which though akin to faith differs much from it, vanishes in those who are temporarily impressed. The will of God is, I confess, immutable, and his truth is always consistent with itself; but I deny that the reprobate ever advance so far as to penetrate to that secret revelation which Scripture reserves for the elect only. I therefore deny that they either understand his will considered as immutable, or steadily embrace his truth, inasmuch as they rest satisfied with an evanescent impression; just as a tree not planted deep enough may take root, but will in process of time wither away, though it may for several years not only put forth leaves and flowers, but produce fruit. In short, as by the revolt of the first man, the image of God could be effaced from his mind and soul, so there is nothing strange in His shedding some rays of grace on the reprobate, and afterwards allowing these to be extinguished. There is nothing to prevent His giving some a slight knowledge of his Gospel, and imbuing others thoroughly. Meanwhile, we must remember that however feeble and slender the faith of the elect may be, yet as the Spirit of God is to them a sure earnest and seal of their adoption, the impression once engraven can never be effaced from their hearts, whereas the light which glimmers in the reprobate is afterwards quenched. [286] Nor can it be said that the Spirit therefore deceives, because he does not quicken the seed which lies in their hearts so as to make it ever remain incorruptible as in the elect. I go farther: seeing it is evident, from the doctrine of Scripture and from daily experience, that the reprobate are occasionally impressed with a sense of divine grace, some desire of mutual love must necessarily be excited in their hearts. Thus for a time a pious affection prevailed in Saul, disposing him to love God. Knowing that he was treated with paternal kindness, he was in some degree attracted by it. But as the reprobate have no rooted conviction of the paternal love of God, so they do not in return yield the love of sons, but are led by a kind of mercenary affection. The Spirit of love was given to Christ alone, for the express purpose of conferring this Spirit upon his members; and there can be no doubt that the following words of Paul apply to the elect only: "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us," (Rom. 5:5); namely, the love which begets that confidence in prayer to which I have above adverted. On the other hand, we see that God is mysteriously offended with his children, though he ceases not to love them. He certainly hates them not, but he alarms them with a sense of his anger, that he may humble the pride of the flesh, arouse them from lethargy, and urge them to repentance. Hence they, at the same instant, feel that he is angry with them or their sins, and also propitious to their persons. It is not from fictitious dread that they deprecate his anger, and yet they retake themselves to him with tranquil confidence. It hence appears that the faith of some, though not true faith, is not mere pretence. They are borne along by some sudden impulse of zeal, and erroneously impose upon themselves, sloth undoubtedly preventing them from examining their hearts with due care. Such probably was the case of those whom John describes as believing on Christ; but of whom he says, "Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man," (John 2:24, 25). Were it not true that many fall away from the common faith (I call it common, because there is a great resemblance between temporary and living, everduring faith), Christ would not have said to his disciples, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," (John 8:31, 32). He is addressing those who had embraced his doctrine, and urging them to progress in the faith, lest by their sluggishness they extinguish the light which they have received. Accordingly, Paul claims faith as the peculiar privilege of the elect, intimating that many, from not being properly rooted, fall away (Tit. 1:1). In the same way, in Matthew, our Savior says, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up," (Mt. 16:13). Some who are not ashamed to insult God and man are more grossly false. Against this class of men, who profane the faith by impious and lying pretence, James inveighs (James 2:14). Nor would Paul require the faith of believers to be unfeigned (1 Tim. 1:5), were there not many who presumptuously arrogate to themselves what they have not, deceiving others, and sometimes even themselves, with empty show. Hence he compares a good conscience to the ark in which faith is preserved, because many, by falling away, have in regard to it made shipwreck.

13. It is necessary to attend to the ambiguous meaning of the term: for faith is often equivalent in meaning to sound doctrine, as in the passage which we lately quoted, and in the same epistle where Paul enjoins the deacons to hold "the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience;" in like manner, when he denounces the defection of certain from the faith. The meaning again is the same, when he says that Timothy had been brought up in the faith; and in like manner, when he says that profane babblings and oppositions of science, falsely so called, lead many away from the faith. Such persons he elsewhere calls reprobate as to the faith. On the other hand, when he enjoins Titus, "Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;" [287] by soundness he means purity of doctrine, which is easily corrupted, and degenerates through the fickleness of men. And indeed, since in Christ, as possessed by faith, are "hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," (Col. 1:2, 3), the term faith is justly extended to the whole sum of heavenly doctrine, from which it cannot be separated. On the other hand, it is sometimes confined to a particular object, as when Matthew says of those who let down the paralytic through the roof, that Jesus saw their faith (Mt. 9:2); and Jesus himself exclaims in regard to the centurion, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel," (Mt. 8:10). Now, it is probable that the centurion was thinking only of the cure of his son, by whom his whole soul was engrossed; [288] but because he is satisfied with the simple answer and assurance of Christ, and does not request his bodily presence, this circumstance calls forth the eulogium on his faith. And we have lately shown how Paul uses the term faith for the gift of miracles--a gift possessed by persons who were neither regenerated by the Spirit of God, nor sincerely reverenced him. In another passage, he uses faith for the doctrine by which we are instructed in the faith. For when he says, that "that which is in part shall be done away," (1 Cor. 13:10), there can be no doubt that reference is made to the ministry of the Church, which is necessary in our present imperfect state; in these forms of expression the analogy is obvious. But when the name of faith is improperly transferred to a false profession or lying assumption, the catachresis ought not to seem harsher than when the fear of God is used for vicious and perverse worship; as when it is repeatedly said in sacred history, that the foreign nations which had been transported to Samaria and the neighbouring districts, feared false gods and the God of Israel: in other words, confounded heaven with earth. But we have now been inquiring what the faith is, which distinguishes the children of God from unbelievers, the faith by which we invoke God the Father, by which we pass from death unto life, and by which Christ our eternal salvation and life dwells in us. Its power and nature have, I trust, been briefly and clearly explained.

14. Let us now again go over the parts of the definition separately: I should think that, after a careful examination of them, no doubt will remain. By knowledge we do not mean comprehension, such as that which we have of things falling under human sense. For that knowledge is so much superior, that the human mind must far surpass and go beyond itself in order to reach it. Nor even when it has reached it does it comprehend what it feels, but persuaded of what it comprehends not, it understands more from mere certainty of persuasion than it could discern of any human matter by its own capacity. Hence it is elegantly described by Paul as ability "to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," (Eph. 3:18, 19). His object was to intimate, that what our mind embraces by faith is every way infinite, that this kind of knowledge far surpasses all understanding. But because the "mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations" is now "made manifest to the saints," (Col. 1:26), faith is, for good reason, occasionally termed in Scripture understanding (Col. 2:2); and knowledge, as by John (1 John 3:2), when he declares that believers know themselves to be the sons of God. And certainly they do know, but rather as confirmed by a belief of the divine veracity than taught by any demonstration of reason. This is also indicated by Paul when he says, that "whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight)," (2 Cor. 5:6, 7) thus showing, that what we understand by faith is yet distant from us and escapes our view. Hence we conclude that the knowledge of faith consists more of certainty than discernment.

15. We add, that it is sure and firm, the better to express strength and constancy of persuasion. For as faith is not contented with a dubious and fickle opinion, so neither is it contented with an obscure and ill-defined conception. The certainty which it requires must be full and decisive, as is usual in regard to matters ascertained and proved. So deeply rooted in our hearts is unbelief, so prone are we to it, that while all confess with the lips that God is faithful, no man ever believes it without an arduous struggle. Especially when brought to the test, [289] we by our wavering betray the vice which lurked within. Nor is it without cause that the Holy Spirit bears such distinguished testimony to the authority of God, in order that it may cure the disease of which I have spoken, and induce us to give full credit to the divine promises: "The words of the Lord" (says David, Ps. 12:6) "are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times:" "The word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him," (Ps. 18:30). And Solomon declares the same thing almost in the same words, "Every word of God is pure," (Prov. 30:5). But further quotation is superfluous, as the 119th Psalm is almost wholly occupied with this subject. Certainly, whenever God thus recommends his word, he indirectly rebukes our unbelief, the purport of all that is said being to eradicate perverse doubt from our hearts. There are very many also who form such an idea of the divine mercy as yields them very little comfort. For they are harassed by miserable anxiety while they doubt whether God will be merciful to them. They think, indeed, that they are most fully persuaded of the divine mercy, but they confine it within too narrow limits. The idea they entertain is, that this mercy is great and abundant, is shed upon many, is offered and ready to be bestowed upon all; but that it is uncertain whether it will reach to them individually, or rather whether they can reach to it. Thus their knowledge stopping short leaves them only mid-way; not so much confirming and tranquilizing the mind as harassing it with doubt and disquietude. Very different is that feeling of full assurance (plerophori'a) which the Scriptures uniformly attribute to faith--an assurance which leaves no doubt that the goodness of God is clearly offered to us. This assurance we cannot have without truly perceiving its sweetness, and experiencing it in ourselves. Hence from faith the Apostle deduces confidence, and from confidence boldness. His words are, "In whom (Christ) we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him," (Eph. 3:12) thus undoubtedly showing that our faith is not true unless it enables us to appear calmly in the presence of God. Such boldness springs only from confidence in the divine favor and salvation. So true is this, that the term faith is often used as equivalent to confidence.

16. The principal hinge on which faith turns is this: We must not suppose that any promises of mercy which the Lord offers are only true out of us, and not at all in us: we should rather make them ours by inwardly embracing them. In this way only is engendered that confidence which he elsewhere terms peace (Rom. 5:1); though perhaps he rather means to make peace follow from it. This is the security which quiets and calms the conscience in the view of the judgment of God, and without which it is necessarily vexed and almost torn with tumultuous dread, unless when it happens to slumber for a moment, forgetful both of God and of itself. And verily it is but for a moment. It never long enjoys that miserable obliviousness, for the memory of the divine judgment, ever and anon recurring, stings it to the quick. In one word, he only is a true believer who, firmly persuaded that God is reconciled, and is a kind Father to him, hopes everything from his kindness, who, trusting to the promises of the divine favor, with undoubting confidence anticipates salvation; as the Apostle shows in these words, "We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end," (Heb. 3:14). He thus holds, that none hope well in the Lord save those who confidently glory in being the heirs of the heavenly kingdom. No man, I say, is a believer but he who, trusting to the security of his salvation, confidently triumphs over the devil and death, as we are taught by the noble exclamation of Paul, "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Rom. 8:38). In like manner, the same Apostle does not consider that the eyes of our understanding are enlightened unless we know what is the hope of the eternal inheritance to which we are called (Eph. 1:18). Thus he uniformly intimates throughout his writings, that the goodness of God is not properly comprehended when security does not follow as its fruit.

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

‘An Unlikely Ally’: What a Secular Atheist Is Teaching Christian Leaders

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra 2/28/2018

     Last month, Jonathan Haidt—professor of social psychology at New York University’s Stern School of Business, ethnically Jewish, politically left-leaning, and religiously atheist—stood on the main stage of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) conference.

     “I was born to be the sort of person who is opposed to your mission,” he told about 1,200 college leaders.

     “Within two years of my bar mitzvah, I started calling myself an atheist. And not just an atheist, but one of those atheists that sees religion—Christianity especially—as the opponent, as the enemy, because they believe creationism and we scientists believe in evolution.”

     Several things changed his mind, Haidt said. Not to convert to Christianity—he’s still an atheist—but to drop his hostility toward it.

     “I got my first teaching position at the University of Virginia,” he told the CCCU. UVA draws students from all over the country, but especially from the western and southern parts of the state.

     “I had never met evangelical Christians, growing up in New York and going to Ivy League schools,” Haidt said. (He received a BA from Yale University and a PhD from the UVA, then did postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago.) “Of course they were there, but they weren’t as ‘out’ as they were at UVA.”

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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.


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     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Secrets of self-control (1)
     2/28/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘A man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires.’

James 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. ESV

     For the next few days let’s look at how to develop self-control. Here’s the first step: accept responsibility for your lack of self-control. Admit your problem. ‘A man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which can be enormously attractive.’ The main reason you do things – is because you like to! When you know something’s bad for you but you still do it, it’s because you want to. Sometimes we try to ignore the problem of self-control or deny it: ‘What problem? I don’t have a problem,’ or ‘It’s just the way I am,’ or ‘Everybody else is doing it.’ Sometimes we blame others: ‘If I just had different parents,’ or ‘The devil made me do it.’ As long as you waste your energy making excuses, you can’t make progress. James points out that we like to take the path of least resistance, and giving in to temptation is usually the easiest course. The starting point for developing self-control is to face what God has already said in His Word: ‘Everyone who sins is a slave to sin’ (John 8:34 NIV 2011 Edition). Do you want more self-control? Then admit you have a problem, and be specific about it: ‘I have this problem. This is where I need help.’ You may have a problem with food, drink, drugs, words, your temper, money, exercise, sex, TV, clothes, time – all these areas need self-control. So today get down on your knees and talk to God about the problem, believing that with His help you’ll be able to solve it.

Leviticus 26-27
Mark 2

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     A member of the Continental Congress, Richard Stockton was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court. Stockton, California, was named for his son who was the Naval officer who captured California in 1846. Richard Stockton, who died on this day, February 28, 1781, wrote in his Will: “As my children… may… be… impressed with the last words of their father, I think proper here, not only to subscribe to the… Christian religion… but also in the heart of a father’s affection, to charge… them to remember ‘that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ ”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

      The sense of Presence! I have spoken of it as stealing on one unawares. It is recorded of John Wilhelm Rowntree that as he left a great physician's office, where he had just been told that his advancing blindness could not be stayed, he stood by some railings for a few moments to collect himself when he "suddenly felt the love of God wrap him about as though a visible presence enfolded him and a joy filled him such as he had never known before." An amazing timeliness of the Invading Love, as the Everlasting stole about him in his sorrow. I cannot report such a timeliness of visitation, but only unpredictable arrivals and fadings-out. But without doubt it is given to many of richer experience to find the comfort of the Eternal is watchfully given at their crises in time.

     In the immediate experience of the Presence, the Now is no mere nodal point between the past and the future. It is the seat and region of the Divine Presence itself. No longer is the ribbon spread out with equal vividness before one, for the past matters less and the future matters less, for the Now contains all that is needed for the absolute satisfaction of our deepest cravings. Why want, and yearn, and struggle, when the Now contains all one could ever wish for, and more? The present Now is not something from which we hurriedly escape, toward what is hoped will be a better future. Instead of anxiety lest the future never yield all we have hoped, lest we fail to contribute our full stint before the shadows of the evening fall upon our lives, we only breathe a quiet prayer to the Now and say, "Stay, thou art so sweet." Instead of anxiety lest our past, our past defects, our long-standing deficiencies blight our well-intentioned future efforts, all our past sense of weakness falls away and we stand erect, in this holy Now, joyous, serene, assured, unafraid. Between the relinquished past and the untrodden future stands this holy Now, whose bulk has swelled to cosmic size, for within the Now is the dwelling place of God Himself. In the Now we are at home at last. The fretful winds of time are stilled, the nostalgic longings of this heaven­ born earth-traveler come to rest. For the one-dimensional ribbon of time has loosed its hold. It has by no means disappeared. We live within time, within the one-dimensional ribbon. But every time-now is found to be a continuance of an Eternal Now, and in the Eternal Now receives a new evaluation. We have not merely rediscovered time; we have found in this holy immediacy of the Now the root and source of time itself. For it is the Eternal who is the mother of our holy Now, nay, is our Now, and time is, as Plato said, merely its moving image.

     The sense of Presence is as if two beings were joined in one single configuration, and the center of gravity is not in us but in that Other. As two bodies, closely attached together and whirling in the air, are predominantly determined by the heavier body, so does the sense of Presence carry within it a sense of our lives being in large part guided, dynamically moved from beyond our usual selves. Instead of being the active, hurrying church worker and the anxious, careful planner of shrewd moves toward the good life, we become pliant creatures, less brittle, less obstinately rational. The energizing, dynamic center is not in us but in the Divine Presence in which we share. Religion is not our concern; it is God's concern. The sooner we stop thinking we are the energetic operators of religion and discover that God is at work, as the Aggressor, the Invader, the Initiator, so much the sooner do we discover that our task is to call men to be still and know, listen, hearken in quiet invitation to the subtle promptings of the Divine. Our task is to encourage others first to let go, to cease striving, to give over this fevered effort of the self­sufficient religionist trying to please an external deity. Count on God knocking on the doors of time. God is the Seeker, and not we alone; He is anxious to swell out our time-news into an Eternal Now by filling them with a sense of Presence. I am persuaded that religious people do not with sufficient seriousness count on God as an active factor in the affairs of the world. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock," but too many well-intentioned people are so preoccupied with the clatter of effort to do something for God that they don't hear Him asking that He might do something through them. We may admire the heaven­ scaling desires of the tower-builders on the Plain of Shinar, but they would have done better to listen and not drown out the call from heaven with the clang of the mason's trowel and the creaking of the scaffolding.


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Rick Adams


We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds;
we have been drenched by many storms;
we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretense;
experience has made us suspicious of others
and kept us from being truthful and open;
intolerable conflicts have worn us down
and even made us cynical.
Are we still of any use?
What we shall need is not geniuses,
or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians,
but plain, honest, and straightforward men.

Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough,
and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough,
for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Men come and go; leaders, teachers, thinkers speak and work for a season, and then fall silent and impotent. He abides. They die, but He lives. They are lights kindled, and, therefore, sooner or later quenched; but He is the true light from which they draw all their brightness, and He shines for evermore.
--- Alexander MacLaren

In the love of money and in the wisdom of this world, business is proposed, then the urgency of affairs push forward, and the mind cannot in this state discern the good and perfect will of God concerning us. The love of God is manifested in graciously calling us to come out of that which stands in confusion; but if we bow not in the name of Jesus, if we give not up those prospects of gain which in the wisdom of this world are open before us, but say in our hearts, "I must needs go on; and in going on I hope to keep as near the purity of truth as the business before me will admit of," the mind remains entangled and the shining of the light of life into the soul is obstructed.
--- John Woolman 1772

... from here, there and everywhere


Journal of John Woolman 2/28
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     1757, 1758. Considerations on the Payment of a Tax laid for Carrying on the War against the Indians -- Meetings of the Committee of the Yearly Meeting at Philadelphia -- Some Notes on Thomas a Kempis and John Huss -- The present Circumstances of Friends in Pennsylvania and New Jersey very Different from those of our Predecessors -- The Drafting of the Militia in New Jersey to serve in the Army, with some Observations on the State of the Members of our Society at that time -- Visit to Friends in Pennsylvania, accompanied by Benjamin Jones -- Proceedings at the Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings in Philadelphia, respecting those who keep Slaves.

     A FEW years past, money being made current in our province for carrying on wars, and to be called in again by taxes laid on the inhabitants, my mind was often affected with the thoughts of paying such taxes; and I believe it right for me to preserve a memorandum concerning it. I was told that Friends in England frequently paid taxes, when the money was applied to such purposes. I had conversation with several noted Friends on the subject, who all favored the payment of such taxes; some of them I preferred before myself, and this made me easier for a time; yet there was in the depth of my mind a scruple which I never could get over; and at certain times I was greatly distressed on that account.

     I believed that there were some upright-hearted men who paid such taxes, yet could not see that their example was a sufficient reason for me to do so, while I believe that the spirit of truth required of me, as an individual, to suffer patiently the distress of goods, rather than pay actively.

     To refuse the active payment of a tax which our Society generally paid was exceedingly disagreeable; but to do a thing contrary to my conscience appeared yet more dreadful. When this exercise came upon me, I knew of none under the like difficulty; and in my distress I besought the Lord to enable me to give up all that so I might follow him wheresoever he was pleased to lead me. Under this exercise I went to our Yearly Meeting at Philadelphia in the year 1755; at which a committee was appointed of some from each Quarterly Meeting, to correspond with the meeting for sufferers in London; and another to visit our Monthly and Quarterly Meetings. After their appointment, before the last adjournment of the meeting, it was agreed that these two committees should meet together in Friends' school-house in the city, to consider some things in which the cause of truth was concerned. They accordingly had a weighty conference in the fear of the Lord; at which time I perceived there were many Friends under a scruple like that before mentioned.

     As scrupling to pay a tax on account of the application hath seldom been heard of heretofore, even amongst men of integrity, who have steadily borne their testimony against outward wars in their time, I may therefore note some things which have occurred to my mind, as I have been inwardly exercised on that account. From the steady opposition which faithful Friends in early times made to wrong things then approved, they were hated and persecuted by men living in the spirit of this world, and suffering with firmness, they were made a blessing to the church, and the work prospered. It equally concerns men in every age to take heed to their own spirits; and in comparing their situation with ours, to me it appears that there was less danger of their being infected with the spirit of this world, in paying such taxes, than is the case with us now. They had little or no share in civil government, and many of them declared that they were, through the power of God, separated from the spirit in which wars were, and being afflicted by the rulers on account of their testimony, there was less likelihood of their uniting in spirit with them in things inconsistent with the purity of truth. We, from the first settlement of this land, have known little or no troubles of that sort. The profession of our predecessors was for a time accounted reproachful, but at length their uprightness being understood by the rulers, and their innocent sufferings moving them, our way of worship was tolerated, and many of our members in these colonies became active in civil government. Being thus tried with favor and prosperity, this world appeared inviting; our minds have been turned to the improvement of our country, to merchandise and the sciences, amongst which are many things useful, if followed in pure wisdom; but in our present condition I believe it will not be denied that a carnal mind is gaining upon us. Some of our members, who are officers in civil government, are in one case or other, called upon in their respective stations to assist in things relative to the wars; but being in doubt whether to act or to crave to be excused from their office, if they see their brethren united in the payment of a tax to carry on the said wars, may think their case not much different, and so might quench the tender movings of the Holy Spirit in their minds. Thus, by small degrees, we might approach so near to fighting that the distinction would be little else than the name of a peaceable people.

     It requires great self-denial and resignation of ourselves to God, to attain that state wherein we can freely cease from fighting when wrongfully invaded, if, by our fighting, there were a probability of overcoming the invaders. Whoever rightly attains to it does in some degree feel that spirit in which our Redeemer gave his life for us; and through Divine goodness many of our predecessors, and many now living, have learned this blessed lesson; but many others, having their religion chiefly by education, and not being enough acquainted with that cross which crucifies to the world, do manifest a temper distinguishable from that of an entire trust in God. In calmly considering these things, it hath not appeared strange to me that an exercise hath now fallen upon some, which, with respect to the outward means, is different from what was known to many of those who went before us.

     Sometime after the Yearly Meeting, the said committees met at Philadelphia, and, by adjournments, continued sitting several days. The calamities of war were now increasing; the frontier inhabitants of Pennsylvania were frequently surprised; some were slain, and many taken captive by the Indians; and while these committees sat, the corpse of one so slain was brought in a wagon, and taken through the streets of the city in his bloody garments, to alarm the people and rouse them to war.

     Friends thus met were not all of one mind in relation to the tax, which, to those who scrupled it, made the way more difficult. To refuse an active payment at such a time might be construed into an act of disloyalty, and appeared likely to displease the rulers, not only here but in England; still there was a scruple so fixed on the minds of many Friends that nothing moved it. It was a conference the most weighty that ever I was at, and the hearts of many were bowed in reverence before the Most High. Some Friends of the said committees who appeared easy to pay the tax, after several adjournments, withdrew; others of them continued till the last. At length an epistle of tender love and caution to Friends in Pennsylvania was drawn up, and being read several times and corrected, was signed by such as were free to sign it, and afterward sent to the Monthly and Quarterly Meetings.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 11:16-17
     by D.H. Stern

16     A gracious woman obtains honor;
aggressive men obtain wealth.

17     A man who is kind does himself good,
but the cruel does harm to himself.


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

                Do ye now believe?

     By this we believe … Jesus answered, Do ye now believe? --- John 16:30–31.

     ‘Now we believe.’ Jesus says—‘Do you? The time is coming when you will leave Me alone.’ Many a Christian worker has left Jesus Christ alone and gone into work from a sense of duty, or from a sense of need arising out of his own particular discernment. The reason for this is the absence of the resurrection life of Jesus. The soul has got out of intimate contact with God by leaning to its own religious understanding. There is no sin in it, and no punishment attached to it; but when the soul realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and produced for himself perplexities and sorrows and difficulties, it is with shame and contrition he has to come back.

     We need to rely on the resurrection life of Jesus much deeper down, to get into the habit of steadily referring everything back to Him; instead of this we make our commonsense decisions and ask God to bless them. He cannot, it is not in His domain, it is severed from reality. If we do a thing from a sense of duty, we are putting up a standard in competition with Jesus Christ. We become a ‘superior person,’ and say—‘Now in this matter I must do this and that.’ We have put our sense of duty on the throne instead of the resurrection life of Jesus. We are not told to walk in the light of conscience or of a sense of duty, but to walk in the light as God is in the light. When we do anything from a sense of duty, we can back it up by argument; when we do anything in obedience to the Lord, there is no argument possible; that is why a saint can be easily ridiculed.


My Utmost for His Highest

Ruins
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Ruins

And this was a civilization
That came to nothing--he spurned with his toe
The slave-coloured dust. We breathed it in
Thankfully, oxygen to our culture.

Somebody found a curved bone
In the ruins. A king's probably,
He said. Impertinent courtiers
We eyed it, the dropped kerchief of time.

H'm: Poems by R. S. Thomas

Teacher's Commentary
     Moses, the Man Part 2 of 2

     Don’t neglect prayer (Ex. 32). When Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving instruction from God, Israel was busy down in the valley. Under pressure from the people, Aaron had weakly given in, and actually made a golden calf for them to worship!

     God told Moses what had happened, and invited intercession with these words: “Now leave Me alone, so that My anger may burn against them.… Then I will make you into a great nation”. (
Exodus 32:10) God expressed His commitment to judge sin, and offered Moses an even greater place in history than he now fills! What did Moses do?

     Moses prayed.

     The striking prayer is recorded in verses (
Exodus 32:11–14). Moses called on God to glorify Himself by remembering His covenant promises to Abraham. Moses was looking to God and seeking His glory. He wanted to see God glorified in His people, and to this end he prayed for them.

     God did respond to Moses’ prayer. The guilty individuals would die, but the nation would live.

     Yet when Moses returned to camp, and saw for himself what the people were doing, his “anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces” (
Exodus 32:19). When Moses saw what God had seen he reacted just as God did, with anger!

     An angry Moses could never have prayed with the same concern as had Moses on that Mount.

     This too teaches us. In our lives we will see much which might appropriately anger or disgust us. Yet on the mountain, when Moses’ eyes were fixed on God, he prayed. We too are to keep our eyes on God and to pray, and not to keep our eyes on the sins of others. The New Testament says it. “For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (
James 1:20). Keeping close to the Lord, we will be protected, as Moses was, from an anger which might keep us from helping others. By keeping close to the Lord, we will also rely on Him, and express our concern for others in intercessory prayer.

     A faithful life (
Num.—Deut.). Moses led Israel for 40 years. And 38 of those years were spent leading a doomed generation through the wilderness—waiting. Two incidents selected from Exodus have helped us sense something of the lesson Moses learned of ministry’s burdens. The Book of Numbers helps us realize that leaders bear limited responsibility.

     In many ways, Moses seems to have been a failure. He failed to bring Israel into the land. He saw the generation that left Egypt wander aimlessly in the desert and, one by one, die. In all that time Moses saw little change in their responsiveness to God or to himself. Was Moses to blame?

     In Numbers 13 and 14 we read of Moses and the people hearing the report of spies about the strength of the Canaanites. In terror the people refused to obey God’s command to enter the land. The Bible tells us that “Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.” In horror they, with Joshua and Caleb, begged the people to listen to God.

     But the people would not.

     In Deuteronomy we read of Moses leading a new generation to a similar point of decision. Moses did not choose for this new generation. He could not. The people had to choose for themselves. And this time they chose to trust and to obey.

     There are limits to the responsibility of leaders. These limits are imposed by the very freedom God Himself gives all men to turn to Him, or to turn away. Moses’ ministry could bring Israel to the point of decision. Moses performed this ministry well. But Moses could not decide for them. One generation turned from God. And one generation turned to God. It was their own choice.

     It was not through Moses’ failure that the first generation turned away. Nor was it by Moses’ skill and success that the second turned to the Lord.

     The point, of course, is simple. Moses was called to be faithful to God and to fulfill his commission. He was not called to “succeed” or to “fail.” And so the New Testament commendation of Moses focuses not on what Moses accomplished, but on his faithfulness. “Moses … faithfully discharged his duty in the household of God” (Heb. 3:2, PH). It was Moses’ faithfulness to his task which counted with God all along.

     It’s the same for us today. Where there is faithfulness, failure does not bring blame. And it should not bring a sense of guilt! Where faithfulness is, success does not bring glory. Our responsibility is limited. We are called merely to bring others to the place where they can freely choose.

The Teacher's Commentary

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     TEXT / Shabbat 31a

     In citing a text from the Babylonian Talmud, the masekhet, or tractate (defined above as one of the sixty-three topical subsections of the Talmud) is listed, followed by a page number. The two-sided leaf of a folio page (one of the 5,400+ oversized pages of the traditional Vilna printing of the Babylonian Talmud) is numbered only on the front, which is called side “a.” The second side of the page is referred to as side “b.” For example, Shabbat 31a refers to the tractate Shabbat, the first side of the oversized folio page numbered 31.

     Another story of a non-Jew who came before Shammai. He said to him: “Convert me on the condition that you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.” He [Shammai] pushed him away with the builder’s measuring rod that was in his hand. He [the non-Jew] came before Hillel who converted him. He [Hillel] said to him: “What you hate, do not do to your friend. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Go and learn!”

     We have chosen short, self-contained texts that the reader can, with some effort, comprehend and even master. It should be understood, however, that in the Talmud these units are found as part of longer sugyot, or sections. Many modern scholars believe that the editors of the Talmud often joined together several independent and separate units, creating the appearance of long, complex discussions and debates.

    The reader is cautioned that a first, casual reading of a talmudic text may leave you puzzled and confused. Talmudic style is extremely terse and elliptical. It is often difficult even to figure out who exactly is speaking. We have attempted to translate the text as genuinely as possible so as to capture the authentic words and thoughts of the Talmud, cryptic as they sometimes may be. Occasionally, for the sake of clarity, we have added a word or phrase in brackets.

     CONTEXT

     Earlier in the Gemara, we read: Our Rabbis taught: “A person should always be as humble as Hillel and not as strict as Shammai.” (Shabbat 30b) Later, the Gemara adds: Shammai’s strictness could drive us out of the world; Hillel’s humility brought us under the wings of the Divine Presence. (Shabbat 31a)

     Hillel and Shammai were the two great leaders of the Jewish people in Israel in the first century B.C.E. They were known for their very different personalities and philosophies. Our section is one of a series of stories that accentuate these differences.

     Shammai seems to have taken the non-Jew’s challenge as impertinence, having no patience for those who exhibited disrespect for him or for his tradition. Hillel, on the other hand, saw the challenge as an opportunity. He interpreted the non-Jew’s question as a sincere request to learn about the essence of Judaism in “twenty-five words or less,” as we might say today.

     Hillel’s answer is a variation of the “Golden Rule” found in the Christian Bible. We should remember that Hillel lived some fifty years before Jesus. Both men probably based their saying on a verse in the Bible: “Love your fellow as yourself” (
Leviticus 19:18).

     In the Context section, we attempt to explain the Gemara, providing background information about the individuals and the issues that are mentioned. We show how the particular text we have chosen fits into the overall discussion of the tractate. We offer elucidation of the texts so that the reader can fill in the gaps and better understand not only what the Rabbis said, but also what it was that they meant.

     In the Marginal Notes, there is additional material that helps to explain and bring a focus to the Gemara. These notes are often quotations from the Bible or from sections of rabbinic literature other than the one being studied. This approach follows that of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Itzḥaki, 1040–1105) whose brief explanations are printed in the margins of the traditional Talmud text and are indispensable to understanding the Gemara.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Two / The Interior Life

     The Third Chapter / Goodness And Peace in Man

     FIRST keep peace with yourself; then you will be able to bring peace to others. A peaceful man does more good than a learned man. Whereas a passionate man turns even good to evil and is quick to believe evil, the peaceful man, being good himself, turns all things to good.

     The man who is at perfect ease is never suspicious, but the disturbed and discontented spirit is upset by many a suspicion. He neither rests himself nor permits others to do so. He often says what ought not to be said and leaves undone what ought to be done. He is concerned with the duties of others but neglects his own.

     Direct your zeal, therefore, first upon yourself; then you may with justice exercise it upon those about you. You are well versed in coloring your own actions with excuses which you will not accept from others, though it would be more just to accuse yourself and excuse your brother. If you wish men to bear with you, you must bear with them. Behold, how far you are from true charity and humility which does not know how to be angry with anyone, or to be indignant save only against self!

     It is no great thing to associate with the good and gentle, for such association is naturally pleasing. Everyone enjoys a peaceful life and prefers persons of congenial habits. But to be able to live at peace with harsh and perverse men, or with the undisciplined and those who irritate us, is a great grace, a praiseworthy and manly thing.

     Some people live at peace with themselves and with their fellow men, but others are never at peace with themselves nor do they bring it to anyone else. These latter are a burden to everyone, but they are more of a burden to themselves. A few, finally, live at peace with themselves and try to restore it to others.

     Now, all our peace in this miserable life is found in humbly enduring suffering rather than in being free from it. He who knows best how to suffer will enjoy the greater peace, because he is the conqueror of himself, the master of the world, a friend of Christ, and an heir of heaven.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     February 28

     As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
--- Psalm 103:13.

     There is a sentiment that is accepted by many Christians that God puts us to much sorrow, wisely and for our good, while his own heart is callous to our suffering, because he foresees the good that will come out of it. (C. H. Spurgeon, “God’s Fatherly Pity, ” sermon 1,650 in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series, preached on Thursday evening March 2, 1882, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington; downloaded from Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Sermons, at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/WCarson/.) An analogy might in that case be suggested between God and a skillful surgeon, who cuts to remove a cancer from the flesh. The surgeon would be too intent on the success of the operation to bestow much sympathy on the sufferings that will effect a permanent cure.

     But I pray you not to think that it is exactly so with God. Of course, in a higher scale, he has all the wisdom of the physician, and he does view our afflictions in light of that hereafter when he will heal all our diseases and give us beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Still he does not steel his heart to the present trouble of his people, but, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”

     The surgeon can look at the patient, while causing pain, with the intrepidity of one whose nerves cannot easily be shaken. But a father must leave the room, he cannot bear it; the mother cannot look on—they are carried away with the immediate distress. And so it is with God; even though his wisdom and foreknowledge enable him to see the end as well as the beginning, yet like a father feeling compassion for his children, so the Lord feels compassion for those who fear him. [The verse] is in the present tense and carries the idea of continuity: at this very moment he has compassion on those who fear him. Though he knows your trials will work for your good, yet he has compassion on you. Though he knows that there is sin in you, which may require discipline, yet he has compassion on you. Though he can hear the songs and glees that will ultimately come of your present sighs and griefs, yet still he has compassion on your groans and wails, for “he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men” (Lam. 3:33). In all our distresses and present griefs he takes his share; he has compassion for us as a father has compassion for his children.
--- C. H. Spurgeon


  31     For the Lord will not
  reject forever.
  32     Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
  according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
  33     for he does not willingly afflict
  or grieve anyone. --- Lamentations 3:31-33
. (New Revised Standard Version. 1989)

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

On This Day   February 28
     Opening China

     James Morrison, an agriculturist from Scotland, married an English girl, Hannah Nicholson, and had eight children. The youngest, Robert, born in 1782, was a plodder. His schoolmaster uncle viewed him as an average student with a high degree of determination.

     He became a Christian at age 15 and joined a praying society that met every Monday night in his father’s workshop. Robert spent weekends studying the Bible, applying his brand of determination to Christian growth. He redoubled his academic disciplines, moving his bed to a corner in his father’s workshop so he could study in solitude through late evenings. He later wrote, “The happiest abode (so far as the house goes) was my father’s workshop, swept clean by my own hands of a Saturday evening, and dedicated to prayer and meditation on Sunday. There was my bed, and there was my study.”

     By 1801 he felt he could only be happy by entering the ministry, and in preparation, he began taking Latin. As it turned out he discovered a gift for languages, and he began thinking about missionary service. His mother, hearing of it, was alarmed. She wasn’t well, and felt she couldn’t part from him. Robert agreed to stay by her side as long as she lived.

     She died the next year, and on November 24, 1802 Robert applied for admission at a preachers’ college in London. Two years later he sought duty with the London Missionary Society. His father’s protests broke his heart but not his determination. He pursued further training, then boarded ship and sailed from Britain on February 28, 1807, becoming the first Protestant missionary to China.

     His plodding, viselike determination served him as well in China as it had in England, for he witnessed no breakthroughs for seven years. Finally he baptized his first convert. He persevered another 18 years, encountering staggering difficulties and seeing fewer than a dozen others follow Christ. At his death there were only three native Christians in the entire Chinese Empire.

     But he opened the door, and today there are millions.

     Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete.
--- Hebrews 12:1,2a.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 28

     “My expectation is from him.” --- Psalm 62:5.

     It is the believer’s privilege to use this language. If he is looking for aught from the world, it is a poor “expectation” indeed. But if he looks to God for the supply of his wants, whether in temporal or spiritual blessings, his “expectation” will not be a vain one. Constantly he may draw from the bank of faith, and get his need supplied out of the riches of God’s lovingkindness. This I know, I had rather have God for my banker than all the Rothschilds. My Lord never fails to honour his promises; and when we bring them to his throne, he never sends them back unanswered. Therefore I will wait only at his door, for he ever opens it with the hand of munificent grace. At this hour I will try him anew. But we have “expectations” beyond this life. We shall die soon; and then our “expectation is from him.” Do we not expect that when we lie upon the bed of sickness he will send angels to carry us to his bosom? We believe that when the pulse is faint, and the heart heaves heavily, some angelic messenger shall stand and look with loving eyes upon us, and whisper, “Sister spirit, come away!” As we approach the heavenly gate, we expect to hear the welcome invitation, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” We are expecting harps of gold and crowns of glory; we are hoping soon to be amongst the multitude of shining ones before the throne; we are looking forward and longing for the time when we shall be like our glorious Lord—for “We shall see him as he is.” Then if these be thine “expectations,” O my soul, live for God; live with the desire and resolve to glorify him from whom cometh all thy supplies, and of whose grace in thy election, redemption, and calling, it is that thou hast any “expectation” of coming glory.


          Evening - February 28

     “The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.” --- 1 Kings 17:16.

     See the faithfulness of divine love. You observe that this woman had daily necessities. She had herself and her son to feed in a time of famine; and now, in addition, the prophet Elijah was to be fed too. But though the need was threefold, yet the supply of meal wasted not, for she had a constant supply. Each day she made calls upon the barrel, but yet each day it remained the same. You, dear reader, have daily necessities, and because they come so frequently, you are apt to fear that the barrel of meal will one day be empty, and the cruse of oil will fail you. Rest assured that, according to the Word of God, this shall not be the case. Each day, though it bring its trouble, shall bring its help; and though you should live to outnumber the years of Methuselah, and though your needs should be as many as the sands of the seashore, yet shall God’s grace and mercy last through all your necessities, and you shall never know a real lack. For three long years, in this widow’s days, the heavens never saw a cloud, and the stars never wept a holy tear of dew upon the wicked earth: famine, and desolation, and death, made the land a howling wilderness, but this woman never was hungry, but always joyful in abundance. So shall it be with you. You shall see the sinner’s hope perish, for he trusts his native strength; you shall see the proud Pharisee’s confidence totter, for he builds his hope upon the sand; you shall see even your own schemes blasted and withered, but you yourself shall find that your place of defence shall be the munition of rocks: “Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure.” Better have God for your guardian, than the Bank of England for your possession. You might spend the wealth of the Indies, but the infinite riches of God you can never exhaust.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 28

          SWEETER AS THE YEARS GO BY

     Words and Music by Lelia N. Morris, 1862–1929

     The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is not wickedness in Him.” (Psalm 92:12–15)

     For the believer, growing older should mean a greater awareness of God’s love and fellowship as well as a time of greater usefulness in Christian service. The golden years can and should be the most fruitful time of life. A lifetime of companionship with God should result in a mellow and gracious Christ-like spirit. Because there are fewer demands and pressures for life’s necessities, the older Christian should have opportunities for effective ministry that he never before attempted.

     There is nothing more tragic, however, than to see a professing Christian become disgruntled and self-centered in later years. It is true that we simply bring into full bloom the traits that were begun in our early years. If we wish to have positive and productive attitudes in our senior years, we must begin to develop these traits while we are still young.

     Author and composer Mrs. Lelia Morris was an active worker in the Methodist church. She continued to write gospel songs during the last 15 years of her life, even after going blind in her early fifties. “Sweeter as the Years Go By” was written during the early years of her blindness. It is said that during this difficult time in her life, Mrs. Morris used a 28-foot long blackboard with music lines on it to help her hymn writing. In all, Lelia Morris wrote more than 1,000 hymn texts, as well as many of the tunes. Her handicap never deterred her from being effective and productive for God. Even in blindness she found her Lord sweeter as the years went by.

     Of Jesus’ love that sought me, when I was lost in sin; of wondrous grace that brought me back to His fold again; of heights and depths of mercy, far deeper than the sea, and higher than the heavens, my theme shall ever be.
     He trod in old Judea life’s pathway long ago; the people thronged about Him His saving grace to know; He healed the broken hearted, and caused the blind to see; and still His great heart yearneth in love for even me.
     ’Twas wondrous love which led Him for us to suffer loss—to bear without a murmur the anguish of the cross; with saints redeemed in glory let us our voices raise, till heaven and earth re-echo with our Redeemer’s praise.
     Refrain: Sweeter as the years go by, sweeter as the years go by; richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter, sweeter as the years go by.


     For Today: Psalm 92:12, 14; Proverbs 16:31; John 15:10, 11.

     Seek out a respected elderly person. Learn his secret for a contented and useful life with God. Keep this musical message upon your lips ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Wednesday, February 28, 2018 | Lent

Wednesday Of The Second Week In Lent
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 72
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 119:73–96
Old Testament     Genesis 42:18–28
New Testament     1 Corinthians 5:9–6:8
Gospel     Mark 4:1–20

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 72
72 Of Solomon.

1 Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!

5 May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
7 In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9 May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts!
11 May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!

12 For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live;
may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
17 May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!

18 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!

20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 119:73–96

73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!

81 My soul longs for your salvation;
I hope in your word.
82 My eyes long for your promise;
I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
84 How long must your servant endure?
When will you judge those who persecute me?
85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me;
they do not live according to your law.
86 All your commandments are sure;
they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
87 They have almost made an end of me on earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your steadfast love give me life,
that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

89 Forever, O LORD, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
91 By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
94 I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
95 The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your testimonies.
96 I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Old Testament
Genesis 42:18–28

18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, 20 and bring your youngest brother to me. So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so. 21 Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” 22 And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” 23 They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 Then he turned away from them and wept. And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. 25 And Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them.

26 Then they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed. 27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. 28 He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”

New Testament
1 Corinthians 5:9–6:8

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

6 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

Gospel
Mark 4:1–20

4 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

     “ ‘they may indeed see but not perceive,
     and may indeed hear but not understand,
     lest they should turn and be forgiven.’ ”

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.1 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

The Book of Common Prayer


Jesus Our Passover (Exodus 12:1-13)
m2-040 8-17-2014 | Brett Meador






The Essential Ministry of the Holy Spirit 3
Galatians 5:16-25 | John MacArthur





God’s Own Defense of Scripture 1
Psalm 19 | John MacArthur






God’s Own Defense of Scripture 2
Selected Scripture | John MacArthur





Certainties that Drive an Enduring Ministry 1
2 Corinthians 4:1-2 | John MacArthur






Certainties that Drive an Enduring Ministry 2
2 Corinthians 4:2-18
John MacArthur





Sufficient Grace for Humbling Circumstances 1
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 | John MacArthur






Sufficient Grace for Humbling Circumstances 2
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 | John MacArthur





The Childlikeness of Believers 1
Matthew 18:1-10 | John MacArthur






The Childlikeness of Believers 2
Matthew 18:10-14 | John MacArthur





The Childlikeness of Believers: Confronting Sin
Matthew 18:15-20 | John MacArthur






The Childlikeness of Believers: Granting Forgiveness
Matthew 18:21-35 | John MacArthur





A Call for Authoritative Preaching
Titus 2:15 | John MacArthur






Compelling Reasons for Biblical Preaching 1
2 Timothy 3:1-4:4 | John MacArthur





Compelling Reasons for Biblical Preaching 2
2 Timothy 3:1-4:4 | John MacArthur






Exposing the Marks of Counterfeit Authority
Matthew 23:1-12 | John MacArthur





The Theology of Creation
Selected Scriptures | John MacArthur






The Kind of Worship God Desires 4
Selected Scriptures | John MacArthur