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Genesis 35-36     Mark 6     Job 2     Romans 6

Genesis 35

God Blesses and Renames Jacob

Genesis 35:1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.

5 And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7 and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. 8 And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So he called its name Allon-bacuth.

9 God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. 17 And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” 18 And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. 21 Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it.

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram. 27 And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. 28 Now the days of Isaac were 180 years. 29 And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Genesis 36

Esau’s Descendants

Genesis 36:1 These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). 2 Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, 3 and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. 4 And Adah bore to Esau, Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; 5 and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

6 Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. 7 For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together. The land of their sojournings could not support them because of their livestock. 8 So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom.)

9 These are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. 10 These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Basemath the wife of Esau. 11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 12 (Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These are the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife. 13 These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These are the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. 14 These are the sons of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

15 These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: the chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16 Korah, Gatam, and Amalek; these are the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Adah. 17 These are the sons of Reuel, Esau’s son: the chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah; these are the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. 18 These are the sons of Oholibamah, Esau’s wife: the chiefs Jeush, Jalam, and Korah; these are the chiefs born of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau’s wife. 19 These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their chiefs.

20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23 These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24 These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of Zibeon his father. 25 These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26 These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27 These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 28 These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These are the chiefs of the Horites: the chiefs Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, chief by chief in the land of Seir.

31 These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. 32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. 33 Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. 34 Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. 35 Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, reigned in his place, the name of his city being Avith. 36 Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. 37 Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates reigned in his place. 38 Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. 39 Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his place, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.

40 These are the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their clans and their dwelling places, by their names: the chiefs Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel, and Iram; these are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession.

Mark 6

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Mark 6:1 Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.

And he went about among the villages teaching.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

The Death of John the Baptist

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Jesus Walks on the Water

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Satan Attacks Job’s Health

Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Job’s Three Friends

11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

Romans 6

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?    First, we must understand that the nature of sin is not altered by the use God makes of it. Divine providence does not mean we can just go out and sin because, after all, God is overruling everything to His glory anyway. The will of God never contains permission for us to do that which runs contrary to His revealed will in the Bible. God’s will does not sanction our sin. Poison does not cease to be poison just because it may be part of a medicine that heals. Poison is still poison—and sin is still sin for which the sinner is responsible, even though God may choose to use that sin for the unfolding of His plan. God bears no blame for our sin.  The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances    3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. ...the simplest way to think of antinomianism is that it denies the role of the law in the Christian life. Its big text is Romans 6:14: “You are not under law but under grace.” In contrast, the Confession of Faith taught that while the law is not a covenant of works for the believer, it nevertheless functions as a rule of life. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance

Slaves to Righteousness

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Am I a Christian Simply Because I Was Raised in a Christian Culture?

By J. Warner Wallace 1/30/2018

     People who are unfamiliar with my journey of faith sometimes seek to explain my conversion from atheism on the basis of geography. The objection sounds something like this: “Christians believe Christianity is true simply because they were raised in a Christian culture. If they were raised in a Muslim culture, for example, they would believe Islam is true with the same passion and certainty.” While it is true that cultural and geographic influences often favor a particular point of view or behavior, our personal experience demonstrates that individuals often make private, independent choices in spite of the accepted beliefs of our culture. As an example, many of us are vegetarians in spite of the fact the culture is predominantly carnivorous. The history of Christianity also confirms the vast majority of Christian converts concluded that Christianity was true in spite of their geographic location or cultural background:

     The History of the Ancient World | Christianity emerged in a largely Jewish or Pagan culture (a polytheistic mix of religious beliefs within the Roman Empire) completely hostile to the claims of Christianity. History records the hardship faced by 1st Century Christians who concluded Christianity was true and devoted their lives to Jesus. These believers did not become Christians because Christianity was the default religion of the time.

     The History of China | China also has a history of religious suppression related to Christianity. The native culture of China has historically embraced some version of Shenism or Taoism. While Christian missionaries labored in China for centuries, their efforts were often suppressed by governmental regimes (like the Communist Party of China). In spite of this suppression and the cultural inclination toward Shenism or Taoism, Christianity has continued to grow as an underground movement, with some reporting as many as 130 million Christians now living in China. These believers did not become Christians because Christianity was the default religion of their region or culture.

     The History of Persecution | History has demonstrated Christianity continues to grow in spite of intense persecution. Christians have historically come to faith in regions where Christianity is not the default religion. For this reason, Christians are still the most persecuted religious group in the world, particularly in places like North Korea, Muslim countries, India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. These suffering believers did not become Christians because Christianity was the default religion of their region or culture.

     The History of Many of Us Here In America | While America has clearly been a predominantly Christian nation, our principles of freedom have allowed our citizens to embrace a number of competing religious worldviews without restriction. In fact, a recent Pew Forum poll revealed that Muslims and those who do not affiliate themselves with any religious belief system are the two fastest growing groups in America. Many Christians have come to faith in homes that were hostile or benign to theistic beliefs. In spite of their familial “micro-culture”, they converted to Christianity. These believers did not become Christians because Christianity was the default religion of their family.

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

Evolutionary science is in a depressed condition,” despite hype

By David Klinghoffer 2/1/17

     The records his own investigation of the evidence, including interviews with lions of science and philosophy such as Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, Colin Patterson, and Karl Popper. Lo and behold, it’s not beyond the intellectual reach of a reporter to get to the bottom of the controversy and to estimate the plausibility of Darwin’s theory.

     Not a religious apologist or a cheerleader for any competing view, but rather an old-fashioned skeptic, Bethell has been doubting Darwin since he was an undergraduate at Oxford University.

     Evolutionary science is in a depressed condition, despite all that the media do to put a bright face on the situation. They never tell you what biologists say behind closed doors, in their technical literature, or to a journalist with the temerity to ask difficult questions. A random individual on Twitter tweeted to me the other day, “Natural selection is the only theory that fits the facts. That’s why it’s a theory and not a long-discredited hypothesis like ‘intelligent design.’ Get out of your bubble.”

     The naivety is heartbreaking, foisted on us by the credulous, pampered media. In fact, Darwin’s theory, of boundless novelty generated via stuff blindly swishing around together, fits few or none of the facts. Get out of your own bubble, friend. Picking up a copy of Tom Bethell’s wonderful book (published by Discovery Institute Press, thank you very much) would be a fine start, an act of self-liberation and great read, as well. More.

     Actually, Bethell is simply what a journalist should be: A writer who explores genuine problems and doubts, as opposed to papering them over.

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     David Klinghoffer is a senior fellow in the Discovery Institute’s program in Religion, Liberty, and Public Life. He lives in the Seattle area with his wife and children.

David Klinghoffer Books:

The Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scrolls

By Biblical Archaeology Society Staff 1/20/2017

     At last, almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been transcribed, transliterated, translated and either published or nearly published. But as soon as this task is accomplished, scholars are faced with new challenges: Do insights from the scrolls add to the Masoretic text (known as the original Hebrew Bible text, or the Tanakh, which roughly corresponds to the Protestant Old Testament), and if so, should the original Hebrew Bible text be modified based this information? Scholars from both sides of the divide weigh in on this issue below.

     The Dead Sea Scrolls did not, as some early dreamers speculated, answer the age-old question: Where is the original Bible? Not, as it turns out, in the caves of Qumran. Nor do the scrolls include long lost books of the Bible. Furthermore, the scrolls did not utterly transform our image of the original Hebrew Bible text. Indeed, one of the most important contributions of the scrolls is that they have demonstrated the relative stability of the Masoretic text.

     Nevertheless, there are differences (some quite significant) between the scrolls and the Masoretic text. Furthermore, these differences have made scholars rethink variant readings found in other ancient manuscripts. How should scholars treat these variants with relationship to the Masoretic text? Should they try to determine which readings are the most original and then incorporate them in a new critical edition of the Hebrew Bible? Or should they continue to use the Masoretic text as their base? Does a single version of the Hebrew Bible exist that is older than all others presently known, and if so, where is the original Bible? These questions are not merely academic; for any changes made to scholarly editions of the Masoretic text will have repercussions for decades of research and will affect all future Bible translations.

     Per usual in the world of academics and research, there are scholars two sides to every argument. The case of using the Dead Sea Scrolls to modify the Masoretic text is no different. Ronald S. Hendel of the University of California, Berkeley, argues that scholars can reconstruct a more original Hebrew Bible text if they “combine the best from each tradition.” James A. Sanders, founder and president emeritus of the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center in Claremont, California, responds by urging scholars to “keep each tradition separate.”

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How Studying the Great Books Enhances Apologetics

By Melissa Cain Travis 1/31/17

     I love learning. I mean, I REALLY. LOVE. LEARNING. But there are most certainly days when I dream about what it would be like to not have a paper deadline pressing down upon me! If all goes as planned (I’ve lived too long to believe that things always go as planned), I’ll defend my dissertation and graduate in December of next year. Pray for me, I beseech thee!

     Usually, when people discover that, in addition to my academic and ministry work, I am a doctoral student, they immediately conclude that I’m working towards an advanced degree in apologetics. They’re surprised to learn that I’m actually doing an interdisciplinary humanities degree through a Great Books program (my chosen concentration being philosophy). I’m usually asked to explain what that means and why I chose this route.

     Many have never heard of the Great Books of the Western World (54 Volume Set), also referred to as the “Western canon.” Basically, this refers to a collection of major works, from a wide variety of genres and academic disciplines, that have significantly shaped human thought in the West on many important topics. The canon contains some of the most ancient literature still in existence and goes all the way through major scholarly works of the 20th century.

     Through nearly 2500 years of writing, we see unbroken threads, commonly spoken of as the Big Ideas–ideas that are both ancient and contemporary, ideas that have endured because of how deeply they connect to the human condition: the existence of God, the nature of man, and what it means to live “the Good Life.” Basically, who are we, where did we come from, where are we going, and why does it matter? (Or, does it matter?)

     When I first began investigating PhD programs, I didn’t dream of doing anything other than apologetics or philosophy of religion. Yet, one divine neon sign and seven semesters later, here I am, and I’ve discovered that there couldn’t have been a better course of study for me. Being immersed in the Great Books has transformed the way I approach conversations on philosophy, science, and Christianity (the triad of my academic and ministry passion). Here’s why.

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     Melissa Cain Travis | bio page

Melissa Cain Travis Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 18

The LORD Is My Rock and My Fortress
18 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David, The Servant Of The LORD, Who Addressed The Words Of This Song To The LORD On The Day When The LORD Delivered Him From The Hand Of All Is Enemies, And From The Hand Of Saul. He Said:

1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

ESV Study Bible

Power in Weakness

By Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel 1/23/17

     Several years ago, I (Jamin) had the joy of vacationing in Greece. The drive from Athens to Corinth took about an hour. The drive is so beautiful you almost forget about your destination. The brilliant blue water of the Aegean Sea is visible nearly the entire way. The city of Corinth is strategically positioned as a byway from the Aegean Sea to the Ionian Sea, as well as from mainland Greece to the Peloponnese. As you arrive and see the ruins, it is easy to imagine how glorious this city must have been in the first century. It was a city populated by a significant number of Roman freedmen (former slaves), along with Greeks, Jews and others. The Corinth that Paul visited in AD 50 was a cultural and economic hub with no solidified aristocracy, resulting in an open society with an unusual degree of freedom for upward mobility. This created an incredibly competitive environment. If you worked hard enough and were shrewd enough, you could ascend the ladder of status and power. Once at the top, you were justified in boasting of such an accomplishment. The city’s social landscape mirrored the competitive spirit of its famed Isthmian games.

     When Paul first preached the gospel in Corinth he had success (Acts 18), but subsequently the Corinthians began to question Paul’s authority as an apostle. They wanted proof that Christ was speaking through Paul (2 Corinthians 13:3). The Corinthians were wrestling with a significant question: What does Christian power really look like? More specifically in relationship to Paul was the question of what apostolic power ought to look like. The question had already caused a divide over which apostle/ teacher Corinthian Christians thought was the most special — Paul, Apollos, Peter, or Jesus himself (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). This question was at the heart of the tension between Paul and the “super-apostles” who had come into town challenging Paul’s authority and vying for power (2 Corinthians 11:5).

     The problem confronting Paul was that he did not embody any of the marks of power the Corinthians valued. In many ways, he was the exact opposite of what they desired: He did not have an impressive physical presence, he lacked bravado and confidence, and he was meek and gentle in his leadership (2 Corinthians 10:10). He did not speak with eloquence (2 Corinthians 11:6), and he did not boast in money, intentionally refusing to take money for his “services,” choosing to work a menial job that would have been socially dishonorable (2 Corinthians 11:7).

     On top of all this, Paul experienced continual suffering and hardship (2 Corinthians 11:21-30). Each of these things was a sign of weakness in the eyes of the Corinthians. The totality of Paul’s weaknesses had become unpalatable to them. The Corinthians wanted a super-apostle, not an apostle of weakness.

     In the face of the Corinthians’ critique of and open opposition to his authority, we might expect Paul to have marshalled a persuasive defense, silencing the Corinthians with an overwhelming display of his authority as an apostle of Christ. Or, at the very least, we might expect him to have hidden the weaknesses that were cause for criticism. He faced the potential of losing the Corinthian believers to a false gospel (2 Corinthians 11:1-6), and the stability of the church at Corinth largely rested on how Paul would respond to the critiques of his apostolic authority. Rather than meeting the Corinthians’ expectations, however, Paul shone a light on the very weaknesses that caused him criticism, putting his weakness front and center (2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 2 Corinthians 6:2-10; 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10).

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     Jamin Goggin serves as a pastor at Mission Hills Church. He has been in pastoral ministry for eleven years, including several years as the Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Saddleback Church. Jamin speaks and writes in the areas of spiritual formation, ministry and theology. He holds two Masters degrees and is currently earning a PhD in systematic theology. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Kristin, and their three children.

     Kyle Strobel is a professor of spiritual theology and formation at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University and is an emerging voice among evangelicals on spiritual formation, discipleship, and theology. Kyle speaks regularly and has written for Pastors.com, Relevant magazine (and Relevant Magazine.com), ChurchLeader.com, and DeeperStory.com. Kyle lives in Southern California with his wife, Kelli, and their two children.

Did Old Testament Men Treat Their Wives Like Property?

By Amy K. Hall 2/1/2017

     Every once in a while, I’ll hear someone throw out the idea that men in the Old Testament treated their wives like property as if it’s an obvious, accepted fact. I’m not convinced it’s true. Granted, I’m sure there were some men who did, just as there are terrible husbands now; but in the main, the passages I read in the Bible about husbands and wives don’t look at all like men viewing their wives as property. Here are a few verses that come to mind.

     The first is a law in Deuteronomy:

(Dt 24:5) When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken. ESV

     By law, a newly married man had to be free for a year in order to “give happiness to his wife.” It seems significant that the stated goal is to make the wife happy. For a year. By law. If women were considered property, I could imagine a law saying the husband should be free to enjoy his wife for a year, but not one saying he should be free to make her happy for a year. And the fact that this was a law means it was a society-wide value. The whole society would have to be behind this in order for it to work—in order for a man to stay at home for a year, bringing happiness to his wife.

     Next, look at Song of Solomon—an entire book of the Bible dedicated to a relationship between a man and a woman.

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     About Amy K. Hall, bio

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     13. If these holy Patriarchs expected a happy life from the hand of God (and it is indubitable that they did), they viewed and contemplated a different happiness from that of a terrestrial life. This is admirably shown by an Apostle, "By faith he [Abraham] sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city," (Heb. 11:9, 10, 13-16). They had been duller than blocks in so pertinaciously pursuing promises, no hope of which appeared upon the earth, if they had not expected their completion elsewhere. The thing which the Apostle specially urges, and not without reason, is, that they called this world a pilgrimage, as Moses also relates (Gen. 47:9). If they were pilgrims and strangers in the land of Canaan, where is the promise of the Lord which appointed them heirs of it? It is clear, therefore, that the promise of possession which they had received looked farther. Hence, they did not acquire a foot breadth in the land of Canaan, except for sepulture; thus testifying that they hoped not to receive the benefit of the promise till after death. And this is the reason why Jacob set so much value on being buried there, that he took Joseph bound by oath to see it done; and why Joseph wished that his bones should some ages later, long after they had mouldered into dust, be carried thither (Gen. 47:29, 30; 50:25).

14. In short, it is manifest, that in the whole course of their lives, they had an eye to future blessedness. Why should Jacob have aspired so earnestly to primogeniture, and intrigued for it at so much risk, if it was to bring him only exile and destitution, and no good at all, unless he looked to some higher blessing? And that this was his feeling, he declared in one of the last sentences he uttered, "I have waited for thy salvation, O God," (Gen. 49:18). What salvation could he have waited for, when he felt himself breathing his last, if he did not see in death the beginning of a new life? And why talk of saints and the children of God, when even one, who otherwise strove to resist the truth, was not devoid of some similar impression? For what did Balaam mean when he said, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his," (Num. 23:10), unless he felt convinced of what David afterward declares, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints?" (Ps. 116:15; 34:12). If death were the goal and ultimate limit, no distinction could be observed between the righteous and the wicked. The true distinction is the different lot which awaits them after death.

15. We have not yet come farther down than the books of Moses, whose only office, according to our opponents, was to induce the people to worship God, by setting before them the fertility of the land, and its general abundance; and yet to every one who does not voluntarily shun the light, there is clear evidence of a spiritual covenant. But if we come down to the Prophets, the kingdom of Christ and eternal life are there exhibited in the fullest splendour. First, David, as earlier in time, in accordance with the order of the Divine procedure, spoke of heavenly mysteries more obscurely than they, and yet with what clearness and certainty does he point to it in all he says. The value he put upon his earthly habitation is attested by these words, "I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. Verily every man at his best estate is altogether vanity. Surely every man walketh in a vain show. And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee," (Ps. 39:12, 5, 6, 7). He who confesses that there is nothing solid or stable on the earth, and yet firmly retains his hope in God, undoubtedly contemplates a happiness reserved for him elsewhere. To this contemplation he is wont to invite believers whenever he would have them to be truly comforted. For, in another passages after speaking of human life as a fleeting and evanescent show, he adds, "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him," (Ps. 103:17). To this there is a corresponding passage in another psalm, "Of old thou hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee," (Ps. 102:25-28). If, notwithstanding of the destruction of the heavens and the earth, the godly cease not to be established before God, it follows, that their salvation is connected with his eternity. But this hope could have no existence, if it did not lean upon the promise as expounded by Isaiah, "The heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished," (Isa. 51:6). Perpetuity is here attributed to righteousness and salvation, not as they reside in God, but as they are experienced by men.

16. Nor can those things which are everywhere said as to the prosperous success of believers be understood in any other sense than as referring to the manifestation of celestial glory. Of this nature are the following passages: "He preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." "His righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour--the desire of the wicked shall perish." "Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence." "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance." "The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants." [233] But the Lord often leaves his servants, not only to be annoyed by the violence of the wicked, but to be lacerated and destroyed; allows the good to languish in obscurity and squalid poverty, while the ungodly shine forth, as it were, among the stars; and even by withdrawing the light of his countenance does not leave them lasting joy. Wherefore, David by no means disguises the fact, that if believers fix their eyes on the present condition of the world, they will be grievously tempted to believe that with God integrity has neither favour nor reward; so much does impiety prosper and flourish, while the godly are oppressed with ignominy, poverty, contempt, and every kind of cross. The Psalmist says, "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious of the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." At length, after a statement of the case, he concludes, "When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me: until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end," (Ps. 73:2, 3, 16, 17).

17. Therefore, even from this confession of David, let us learn that the holy fathers under the Old Testament were not ignorant that in this world God seldom or never gives his servants the fulfilment of what is promised them, and therefore has directed their minds to his sanctuary, where the blessings not exhibited in the present shadowy life are treasured up for them. This sanctuary was the final judgment of God, which, as they could not at all discern it by the eye, they were contented to apprehend by faith. Inspired with this confidence, they doubted not that whatever might happen in the world, a time would at length arrive when the divine promises would be fulfilled. This is attested by such expressions as these: "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness," (Psalm 17:15). "I am like a green olive tree in the house of God," (Psalm 52:8). Again, "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing," (Psalm 92:12-14). He had exclaimed a little before "O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep." "When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish: it is that they shall be destroyed for ever." Where was this splendour and beauty of the righteous, unless when the appearance of this world was changed by the manifestation of the heavenly kingdom? Lifting their eyes to the eternal world, they despised the momentary hardships and calamities of the present life, and confidently broke out into these exclamations: "He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days," (Psalm 55:22, 23). Where in this world is there a pit of eternal destruction to swallow up the wicked, of whose happiness it is elsewhere said, "They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave?" (Job 21:13). Where, on the other hand, is the great stability of the saints, who, as David complains, are not only disturbed, but everywhere utterly bruised and oppressed? It is here. He set before his eyes not merely the unstable vicissitudes of the world, tossed like a troubled sea, but what the Lord is to do when he shall one day sit to fix the eternal constitution of heaven and earth, as he in another place elegantly describes: "They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." "For he sees that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless, man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling," (Psalm 49:6, 7, 10-14). By this derision of the foolish for resting satisfied with the slippery and fickle pleasures, of the world, he shows that the wise must seek for a very different felicity. But he more clearly unfolds the hidden doctrine of the resurrection when he sets up a kingdom to the righteous after the wicked are cast down and destroyed. For what, pray, are we to understand by the "morning," unless it be the revelation of a new life, commencing when the present comes to an end?

18. Hence the consideration which believers employed as a solace for their sufferings, and a remedy for their patience: "His anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life," (Psalm 30:5). How did their afflictions, which continued almost throughout the whole course of life, terminate in a moment? Where did they see the long duration of the divine benignity, of which they had only the slightest taste? Had they clung to earth, they could have found nothing of the kind; but looking to heaven, they saw that the period during which the Lord afflicted his saints was but a moment, and that the mercies with which he gathers them are everlasting: on the other hand, they foresaw that for the wicked, who only dreamed of happiness for a day, there was reserved an eternal and never-ending destruction. Hence those expressions: "The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot," (Prov. 10:7). "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints," (Psalm 116:15). Again in Samuel: "The Lord will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness," (1 Sam. 2:9); showing they knew well, that however much the righteous might be tossed about, their latter end was life and peace; that how pleasant soever the delights of the wicked, they gradually lead down to the chambers of death. They accordingly designated the death of such persons as the death "of the uncircumcised," that is, persons cut off from the hope of resurrection (Ezek. 28:10; 31:18). Hence David could not imagine a greater curse than this: "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous," (Psalm 69:28).

19. The most remarkable passage of all is that of Job: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another," (Job 19:25-27). Those who would make a display of their acuteness, pretend that these words are to be understood not of the last resurrection, but of the day when Job expected that God would deal more gently with him. Granting that this is partly meant, we shall, however, compel them, whether they will or not, to admit that Job never could have attained to such fulness of hope if his thoughts had risen no higher than the earth. It must, therefore, be confessed, that he who saw that the Redeemer would be present with him when lying in the grave, must have raised his eyes to a future immortality. To those who think only of the present life, death is the extremity of despair; but it could not destroy the hope of Job. "Though he slay me," said he, "yet will I trust in him," (Job 13:15). Let no trifler here burst in with the objection that these are the sayings of a few, and do not by any means prove that there was such a doctrine among the Jews. To this my instant answer is, that these few did not in such passages give utterance to some hidden wisdom, to which only distinguished individuals were admitted privately and apart from others, but that having been appointed by the Holy Spirit to be the teachers of the people, they openly promulgated the mysteries of God, which all in common behaved to learn as the principles of public religion. When, therefore, we hear that those passages in which the Holy Spirit spoke so distinctly and clearly of the spiritual life were public oracles in the Jewish Church, it were intolerably perverse to confine them entirely to a carnal covenant relating merely to the earth and earthly riches.

20. When we descend to the later prophets, we have it in our power to expatiate freely as in our own field. If, when David, Job, and Samuel, were in question, the victory was not difficult, much easier is it here; for the method and economy which God observed in administering the covenant of his mercy was, that the nearer the period of its full exhibition approached, the greater the additions which were daily made to the light of revelation. Accordingly, at the beginning, when the first promise of salvation was given to Adam (Gen. 3:15), only a few slender sparks beamed forth: additions being afterwards made, a greater degree of light began to be displayed, and continued gradually to increase and shine with greater brightness, until at length all the clouds being dispersed, Christ the Sun of righteousness arose, and with full refulgence illumined all the earth (Mal. 4). In appealing to the Prophets, therefore, we can have no fear of any deficiency of proof; but as I see an immense mass of materials, which would occupy us much longer than compatible with the nature of our present work (the subject, indeed, would require a large volume), and as I trust, that by what has already been said, I have paved the way, so that every reader of the very least discernment may proceed without stumbling, I will avoid a prolixity, for which at present there is little necessity; only reminding my readers to facilitate the entrance by means of the key which was formerly put into their hands (supra, Chap. 4 sec. 3, 4); namely, that whenever the Prophets make mention of the happiness of believers (a happiness of which scarcely any vestiges are discernible in the present life), they must have recourse to this distinction: that the better to commend the Divine goodness to the people, they used temporal blessings as a kind of lineaments to shadow it forth, and yet gave such a portrait as might lift their minds above the earth, the elements of this world, and all that will perish, and compel them to think of the blessedness of a future and spiritual life.

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

Faith, Reason and Open Borders

By John Zmirak 3/25/16

     Inflict mass migration's radical changes on a society and we are no longer faithful stewards of the prosperous, free societies for which our ancestors struggled -- a legacy betrayed for the pottage of self-satisfaction in deeming ourselves caring, compassion and tolerant to a fault

     As people who are blessed to be citizens of highly developed countries—such as Australia or the United States, my own homeland—we have a long list of privileges we did little or nothing to earn. Some of them, such as natural resources, are the gifts only of God. But most of the others came from our fellow man. They are less like a landscape than a legacy, a trust passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, across the centuries. These gifts came from our ancestors, either personal or political, who painstakingly built up the peaceful and orderly, free and dynamic countries in which we live.

     We are moved by a sense of compassion, and even of justice, to wish that we could share these blessings with people in other countries—if only by letting them come and live in ours. That’s a laudable sentiment, but it must be counter-balanced by a realistic understanding of where these privileges come from, how they are maintained from one generation to the next, and how fragile they really are. In fact we can overstrain our societies and destroy the very institutions that we so treasure, if we are reckless and overconfident in our acceptance of large numbers of new citizens from societies with hostile or alien values and incompatible civic habits. We can choke the goose that lays all these golden eggs.

     If we follow the carefully documented arguments of Daniel Hannan in Inventing Freedom (2014), we will see that some of the greatest blessings which we residents of the “Anglosphere” (from Canada to India, from Australia to the Falkland Islands) enjoy are the fruit of the political principles, personal sacrifices and prudent decisions of particular people—the rebels and preachers, barons and burghers, who resisted the arbitrary power of kings, and fought for religious, political and economic freedom. These distinct people, at distinct times and places, undertook political actions with enormous moral consequences, which generations of schoolchildren used to be dutifully drilled to remember: Runnymede, the Glorious Revolution, the abolition of the slave trade. All these political events were the fruit of certain stubborn beliefs, which we can boil down to one: that the dignity of each human being affirmed by Christian theology has political implications, which philosophers such as John Locke presented in secular form as “life, liberty and property”.

     As we study less history with each generation, it is all too easy for us to take these privileges for granted, to assume that because (as our theology teaches us) every person deserves them, that it is only natural that they enjoy them. But in fact, as we read the chronicles of the centuries, and survey not just non-Western civilisations, but most Western nations for most of their history, we will learn something quite different: that it is highly unusual for human life to be treated with unconditional respect; for citizens to be protected from arbitrary arrest and to be free to speak their minds; for the work of our hands and our brains to belong to us and our families, exempt from unfair confiscation. If life, liberty and property rights are what God intends for us—as we Westerners grow up believing—in cold fact, murder, bullying and theft are too frequently the norm.

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     Per Amazon, John Zmirak received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. His focus was the English Renaissance, and the novels of Walker Percy. He taught composition at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, and written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods & Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention, representing Pat Buchanan. He has been Press Secretary to pro-life Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, and a reporter and editor at "Success" magazine and "Investor's Business Daily," among other publications. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in "First Things," "The Weekly Standard," "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "USA Today," "FrontPage Magazine," "The American Conservative," "The South Carolina Review," "The Atlantic," "Modern Age," "The Intercollegiate Review," "The New Republic," "Commonweal," and "The National Catholic Register," among other venues. He has contributed to "American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia" and "The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought." From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of "Faith & Family Magazine" and a reporter at "The National Catholic Register." He works now as an editor for several publishing companies.

John Zmirak Books:

  • Lecture 27 Job Theology
  • L - 28 Job Suffering
  • L - 29 Job Message

#1   John H. Walton


#2    John H. Walton


#3    John H. Walton


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The marriage covenant (3)
     2/3/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Being heirs together of the grace of life.’

(1 Pe 3:7) Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. ESV

     A good marriage is built on mutual sacrifice. Adam had to sacrifice something near and dear to him in order to get Eve – a rib. And your wife will know you love her when you’re willing to give up things that are important to you in order to meet her needs and promote her well-being. Too many men want to be married but still function as singles. They don’t want to sacrifice any time, attention, or resources for the benefit of their wives. They don’t want a wife; they want a maid. They want to marry someone so they can be served. No – it’s the opposite! The Bible says you and your wife are ‘heirs together’. That means she is an equal partner. So, her opinions, thoughts, and perspectives matter. Yes, as the leader of your home you may make the final decision, but when you don’t get your wife’s input and consider her viewpoint, holy wedlock can turn into unholy deadlock. Your wife will respond to you when she feels cherished and valued (see Ephesians 5:29). You say, ‘But my wife’s as cold as ice.’ How did she get that way? Ice only stays icy in a cold environment. So instead of complaining, work at changing your environment. Husbands are thermostats and wives are thermometers. Husbands determine the climate and wives thrive or shrivel accordingly. There’s a reason your wife is ‘cold’. And there’s a solution: warm her up and watch her melt! When you begin to love, nurture, cherish, and protect her as Christ did the church, you’ll have a whole new woman in your arms. Try it and see.

Exodus 23-24
Matthew 20:1-16

UCB The Word For Today

Bread of the Presence
     February 3, 2016

     In the Old Testament also there was the Bread of the Presence; but this, as it belonged to the Old Testament, has come to an end; but in the New Testament there is bread of heaven, and a cup of salvation, sanctifying soul and body.… Consider therefore the bread and the wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord’s declaration, the body and blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to you, yet let faith establish you. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that body and blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to you.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Lectures on the Christian Sacraments. The Procatechesis and the Five Mystagogical Catechesis

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On the frigid night of February 3, 1943, the Allied ship Dorchester plowed through the waters near Greenland. At 1am, a Nazi submarine fired a torpedo into its flank, killing many in the explosion and trapping others below deck. In the ensuing chaos, four chaplains: a priest, a rabbi and two protestant ministers; distributed life jackets. When there were none left, the four chaplains ripped off their own jackets and put them on four young men. Standing embraced on the slanting deck, the chaplains bowed their heads in prayer as they sank to their icy deaths. Congress honored them by declaring this “Four Chaplains Day.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     We may suppose these depths of prayer are our achievement, the precipitate of our own habits at the surface level settled into subconscious regions. But this humanistic account misses the autonomy of the life of prayer. It misses the fact that this inner level has a life of its own, invigorated not by us but by a divine Source. There come times when prayer pours forth in volumes and originality such as we cannot create. It rolls through us like a mighty tide. Our prayers are mingled with a vaster Word, a Word that at one time was made flesh. We pray, and yet it is not we who pray, but a Greater who prays in us. Something of our punctiform selfhood is weakened, but never lost. All we can say is, Prayer is taking place, and I am given to be in the orbit. In holy hush we bow in Eternity, and know the Divine Concern tenderly enwrapping us and all things within His persuading love. Here all human initiative has passed into acquiescence, and He works and prays and seeks His own through us, in exquisite, energizing life. Here the autonomy of the inner life becomes complete and we are joyfully prayed through, by a Seeking Life that flows through us into the world of men. Sometimes this prayer is particularized, and we are impelled to pray for particular persons or particular situations with a quiet or turbulent energy that, subjectively considered, seems utterly irresistible. Sometimes the prayer and this Life that flows through us reaches out to all souls with kindred vision and upholds them in His tender care. Sometimes it flows out to the world of blinded struggle, and we become cosmic Saviors, seeking all those who are lost.

     This "infused prayer" is not frequently given, in full intensity. But something of its autonomous character remains, not merely as a memory of a time when the fountains of creation were once revealed and we were swept along in their rising waters. It remains as an increasing awareness of a more than ourselves, working persuadingly and powerfully at the roots of our own soul, and in the depths of all men. It is an experimental assurance of Divine Labor and persuasion pervading the world, impelling men to their cross. In holy awe we are drawn anew to "keep dose to the fresh up-springings of the Life," amazed at that which is revealed as at work, at the base of all being, all men and ourselves. And we have our first­ hand assurance that He who began that good work in us, as in Timothy, can establish us in Him, can transform intermittency and alternation into simultaneity and continuity.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

So great is my veneration for the BIBLE that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens to their country and respectable members of society.
--- John Quincy Adams

God brings men into deep waters not to drown them,
but to cleanse them.
--- John H. Aughey

A little girl repeating the Twenty-Third Psalm said it this way: "The Lord is my Shepherd, that's all I want.
--- Baraca-Philathea News

For nothing else in all of heaven or earth counts so much as His will, His slightest wish, His faintest breathing. And holy obedience sets in, sensitive as a shadow, obedient as a shadow, selfless as a shadow.
--- Thomas R. Kelly

Anything large enough for a wish to light upon,
is large enough to hang a prayer upon.
--- George MacDonald

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 7:13-20
     by D.H. Stern

13     She grabs him, gives him a kiss,
and, brazen-faced, she says to him,
14     “I had to offer peace sacrifices,
and I fulfilled my vows today.
15     This is why I came out to meet you,
to look for you; now I’ve found you.
16     I’ve spread quilts on my couch
made of colored Egyptian linen.
17     I’ve perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
18     Come on, let’s make love till morning;
we’ll enjoy making love.
19     My husband isn’t at home,
he’s gone on a long trip;
20     he took a bag of money with him
and won’t be back till the moon is full.”

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

                The recognized ban of relationship

     We are made as the filth of the world. ---
1 Cor. 4:9–13.

     These words are not an exaggeration. The reason they are not true of us who call ourselves ministers of the gospel is not that Paul forgot the exact truth in using them, but that we have too many discreet affinities to allow ourselves to be made refuse. “Filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” is not an evidence of sanctification, but of being “separated unto the gospel.”

     “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,” says Peter. If we do think it strange concerning the things we meet with, it is because we are craven-hearted. We have discreet affinities that keep us out of the mire—‘I won’t stoop; I won’t bend.’ You do not need to, you can be saved by the skin of your teeth if you like; you can refuse to let God count you as one separated unto the gospel. Or you may say—‘I do not care if I am treated as the offscouring of the earth as long as the Gospel is proclaimed.’ A servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to go to martyrdom for the reality of the gospel of God. When a merely moral man or woman comes in contact with baseness and immorality and treachery, the recoil is so desperately offensive to human goodness that the heart shuts up in despair. The marvel of the Redemptive Reality of God is that the worst and the vilest can never get to the bottom of His love. Paul did not say that God separated him to show what a wonderful man He could make of him, but “to reveal his son in me.”

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

As Though
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                As Though

As though there were no time
  like the present and that
  vanishing. As though Sirius were not
  light years away and the universe
  endlessly old. As though
  there were not in the earth's
  acres room for a thousand
  like him and as many
  bosoms, whiter than mine,
  for him to lay his head
  on. Love me, he said, holding
  his two hands out like a beggar
  so I could drop my child in them,
  one more creature to grow up
  in a world that goes tirelessly round,
  trying to understand what distances are.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Third Chapter / The Doctrine Of Truth

     HAPPY is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and words that fade, but as it actually is. Our opinions, our senses often deceive us and we discern very little.

     What good is much discussion of involved and obscure matters when our ignorance of them will not be held against us on Judgment Day? Neglect of things which are profitable and necessary and undue concern with those which are irrelevant and harmful, are great folly.

     We have eyes and do not see.

     What, therefore, have we to do with questions of philosophy? He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak—the Beginning Who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man understands or judges aright. He to whom it becomes everything, who traces all things to it and who sees all things in it, may ease his heart and remain at peace with God.

     O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be still, let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak to me.

     The more recollected a man is, and the more simple of heart he becomes, the easier he understands sublime things, for he receives the light of knowledge from above. The pure, simple, and steadfast spirit is not distracted by many labors, for he does them all for the honor of God. And since he enjoys interior peace he seeks no selfish end in anything. What, indeed, gives more trouble and affliction than uncontrolled desires of the heart?

     A good and devout man arranges in his mind the things he has to do, not according to the whims of evil inclination but according to the dictates of right reason. Who is forced to struggle more than he who tries to master himself? This ought to be our purpose, then: to conquer self, to become stronger each day, to advance in virtue.

     Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well.

     If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious organizations. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.

     Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you knew so well in life and who were famous for their learning? Others have already taken their places and I know not whether they ever think of their predecessors. During life they seemed to be something; now they are seldom remembered. How quickly the glory of the world passes away! If only their lives had kept pace with their learning, then their study and reading would have been worth while.

     How many there are who perish because of vain worldly knowledge and too little care for serving God. They became vain in their own conceits because they chose to be great rather than humble.

     He is truly great who has great charity. He is truly great who is little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest honor. He is truly wise who looks upon all earthly things as folly that he may gain Christ. He who does God’s will and renounces his own is truly very learned.

The Imitation Of Christ

Teacher's Commentary
     Abraham’s Failures

     Sometimes we tend to idealize Bible people. We forget that, while they were giants in many ways, they were also all too human. In fact, before we look at the faith of a man like Abraham, we need to realize that he was, like all believers, far from perfect!

     We have an early indication of Abram’s flaws in
Genesis 12. Abram had been called by God to go to a land which the Lord Himself chose. He had obeyed in an act that required real faith. But once in the land, Abram’s faith was shaken by a famine. Rather than trust God or wait for further direction, he went to Egypt. There he continued to show lack of trust by getting Sarah to tell a half-truth about their relationship, to deny she was his wife. Fear that he might be killed outweighed his commitment to his wife! Even when she was taken in Pharaoh’s household, Abram did not reveal their relationship. Instead he profited in silence from the favor extended to the supposed brother!

     Abraham’s tendency to rely on his wits rather than on God also is shown in the events leading up to the birth of Ishmael. Some 10 years passed while Abraham waited for God to send the son He had promised. Finally Sarah began urging him to take her maid as a secondary wife. Even though this was a custom of the land, it took Sarah’s nagging to make him take action. He “hearkened to [obeyed] the voice of Sarai” (
16:2). Perhaps Abram thought he would “help” God keep His promises! Perhaps he felt that 86 was just too old to wait any longer. In any case Abram did not consult God. He simply went ahead, without direction, relying on his own plan to fulfill God’s purposes. Self reliance and self-effort took the place of trust in God.

     And Then, how stunning. Abraham repeated the sin he did in Egypt! Again Abraham misrepresented Sarah as only his sister, and she was placed in the harem of a king named Abimelech. God protected Sarah even though her husband was not willing to, and before Abimelech came to her God spoke to him in a vision. Abimelech, fearful at the divine visit, complained to Abraham that he might have led the king into unknowing sin! Abram’s reply was weak (
20:11–12). Abraham was worried, afraid that the people of the foreign land they visited might not fear God, and thus might kill him for Sarah. Abraham feared for his life—but not for his wife!

     Abraham apparently had not stopped to think that though a particular people might not know God, God knew them! There was no place that Abraham could go to be beyond the protection of the Lord. Yet, even after an earlier rebuke in Egypt, Abraham repeated the same sin and let fear and selfishness control his choices.

     No, the Abraham we meet on the pages of the Bible is no idealized man. He is a man we need to see both as weak, and as a willful sinner.

The Teacher's Commentary

The Skinny on Judah and Tamar
     Wayne D. Turner

     This story is most interesting, although it is not immediately apparent why it is included in the Genesis account. Let's establish that right now; Pharez (aka Phares, aka Perez), the son born out of this incident, is an ancestor of King David and Jesus, the Messiah. Had it not been for the actions of Tamar, Judah's line might have been terminated; that's why this story is so significant.

     Verse 1 shows us that this incident began to unfold about the same time as the events in Joseph's life between chapters 37 and 39. We know Joseph to be 17 years old at the end of chapter 37 according to Genesis 37:2. We further know from the sequence of the births of Jacob's children that Judah was about three years older than Joseph, making him about 20 years old or so. Since the family moved into Egypt approximately 22 years later (when Joseph was 39; that means that these events took place over the 22 years when Judah was between the ages of approximately 20 to 42.

     This story begins with an undesirable marriage - Judah to a Canaanite woman. SOoooo...based upon family history, you know that Jacob and Leah couldn't have been too keen on that union. Who can forget Isaac's word to his son, Jacob, in when he flatly commanded him, "Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan."

     So, Judah had his first son, Er; he married him off to a woman named Tamar. Er died at the hand of the Lord because of excessive wickedness (verse 7). Judah told his second son Onan to assist by helping Tamar conceive so Er would have a descendant in his name, a practice that was later included in the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10); it is known as "levirate marriage." Onan took the free pass for personal pleasure, but intentionally withdrew at the critical moment for the express purpose of not allowing Tamar to conceive a child; God considered this a wicked act and slew him also.

     Why did Onan do it? Actually, while the text doesn't say, it's really quite simple to venture a pretty solid guess here. Remember the valuable blessing of the firstborn? His dead brother, Er, was the firstborn of Judah, and Tamar's son, though to be conceived with the help of Onan, would have still been Er's son, not his own. Onan must have considered that if he held out with Tamar, the firstborn grandson of Judah would be his own son by his own wife. Moreover, Onan would have been responsible for Tamar's son's support to adulthood.

     Judah promised Tamar that his third son would do the surrogate job when he matured, but he failed to keep his promise after his son was grown. Judah later referred to his failure to follow through with his commitment to her as an act of unrighteousness when he says of Tamar in verse 26, "...She hath been more righteous than I..."

     Tamar takes matters into her own hands. As she waits for Judah to fulfill his promise to her with regard to his youngest son, it becomes obvious to her that he has forgotten. Since Judah had sent Tamar back to live with her own father in the meantime, she was not in Judah's daily view to remind him of his promise. After the death of Judah's Canaanite wife, Shuah, he goes up to where they are shearing his sheep - perhaps his first outing as a widower. While out with the boys, he decides to seek comfort from a local prostitute. Here's the twist; Tamar knew that the only way she could legitimately bear an heir was in the name of her deceased husband, Judah's oldest son. She therefore poses as a prostitute and has relations with Judah himself. She does it to bear a son; he does it exclusively for pleasure.

     At this point, she is still considered family property and had not been released by Judah to marry someone else. He doesn't realize with whom he has just been so very intimate. She's smart though - gets a security deposit for the transaction - items that are indisputably the property of Judah. The Hebrew word for "pledge" used in verses 17, 18 and 20 is "ar-aw-bone´." It's actually only used these three times in all of the Old Testament. Yet, it is transliterated into Greek in three New Testament passages and translated "earnest" [of the Spirit].

     When it is told Judah that Tamar is pregnant, the solution is simple in his mind (verse 24); "Bring her forth, and let her be burnt." That's enough to give in-laws a bad name. Hey! Hang on a minute Judah! Wait 'til you find out who the father's gonna be! Well, all right then, let the children be born! At birth, isn't it interesting that here's yet another struggle between two wombmates vying for the right to become the firstborn? Remember Jacob and Esau? Even though Zarah gets a hand out first and gets tagged, Pharez doesn't give up and manages to beat his brother out to win the highly-esteemed privilege of being "the firstborn." And that's how Pharez came into life; he was the ancestor of King David and Jesus, the Messiah. And that's why this amusing story is so vital to Jewish history. Come to think of it, didn't Grandpa Jacob use a disguise to fool his father back in Gen 27.

     But wait! There's more - an issue even larger than the ancestry of King David. God had made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that the land of Canaan would be their possession - not the Canaanites. You will recall that Abraham and then Isaac took great measures to make certain their sons did not marry Canaanite women. When Judah married a woman of Canaan (verse 2), as Jacob's oldest unblemished son, he threatened to invalidate that promise. While he wasn't the oldest son (he was actually #4), he was the oldest who had not committed an atrocious act. However, Tamar's son by Judah served to skip the generation that included the descendent of the Canaanite woman with the blessing of the firstborn. Certainly that is why this narrative is so very significant in Jewish history. As a result of Tamar's actions, Judah's eldest son has NO Canaanite blood, despite the fact that Judah had married a Canaanite woman through whom his other sons had been born.

     Now...it may seem like what Tamar did was dishonest. However, she really just managed to secure the right of the firstborn for her son which had been promised to her by Judah many years earlier. Isn't it interesting that she used trickery to get what was rightfully hers just as Jacob and his mother Rebekah had done with Isaac a few decades earlier in Gen 27.

     Then there's this other interesting twist to the story - the order of the births of Pharez and his twin brother Zarah. While being delivered, Zarah stuck his hand out first and was marked with a scarlet thread by the midwife. He subsequently pulled his hand back in and his brother, Pharez, actually ended up being born first. That surprised the midwife and she exclaimed, "How hast thou broken forth?" As a result of this exclamation, he was named Pharez, which is the Hebrew word for "break forth."

Quotes from Bibletrack

Take Heart
     February 3

     If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?
--- Jeremiah 12:5.

     I do not understand life, but still less can I comprehend how people in trouble and loss can run away from the Christian faith ( When Life Tumbles In Then What? ) In God’s name, run to what? Have we not lost enough without losing that too? If Christ is right—if there are, hidden from our eyes, wisdom and planning and kindness and love in these dark dispensations—then we can see them through. But if Christ was wrong, and all that is not so; if God set his foot on my home heedlessly, as I might tread on some insect in my path, haven’t I the right to be angry? If Christ was right, and immortality and the dear hopes of which he speaks do really lie ahead, we can manage to make our way to them. But if it is not so, if there is nothing more, how dark the darkness grows! You people in the sunshine may believe the faith, but we in the shadow must believe it. We have nothing else!

     [Out of loss and bereavement] already some things have become very clear to me. This to begin, that the faith works, fulfills itself, is real, and that its most audacious promises are true. The glorious assertions of the Scriptures are not mere suppositions and guesses. There is no perhaps about them. These splendid truths are flowers that human hands like ours plucked in the gardens of their actual experience. Why is the prophet so sure that God will comfort all hurt things? How did the psalmist know that those who are broken in their hearts and grieved in their minds, God heals? Because it had happened to them, because in their dark days they had felt his helpfulness and tenderness. And it is true. When we are cast into some fiery furnace we are never alone. “I will not leave you as orphans,” said Christ. There is a presence with us, a comforter, a fortifier, who upholds and brings us through from hour to hour and day to day.

     There is a marvelous picture in the National Gallery. Christ hangs on the cross, and at first, that is all one sees. But in the background, gradually there stands out another form, God’s form; other hands support Christ, God’s hands. The presence, the sufficiency, the sympathy of God grow very real, very sure, very wonderful!
--- Arthur John Gossip

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

On This Day   February 3
     Apostle to the North

     In the evangelization of Europe, the Scandinavians were the last Teutonic peoples to accept Christianity. These Vikings from the North threatened Western Christendom, and their raids terrorized Britain and Western Europe. One man wanted to reach them, and his desire for a martyr’s crown gave him courage to try.

     Anskar, born in France in 801, was schooled from age five at the monastery of Corbey founded by Columba, and he possessed a tender heart. As a young man he was recruited to help establish a new monastery, New Corbey, in Germany.

     While there Anskar heard of a Scandinavian politician, Harald, who was asking for military assistance. The resulting discussions opened a door, albeit dangerous, for a missionary to go to the Danes. Anskar volunteered. His friends tried to dissuade him, but he was ready, he told them, to perish if need be. He didn’t die, but little is known of Anskar’s resulting trip to Denmark, and when Harald fell from power, Anskar was expelled.

     Swedish envoys soon requested missionaries, and Anskar again headed north. This time his ship was attacked by pirates, and he lost his possessions but not his life. Reaching Sweden, he was warmly welcomed by King Bjorn. But his preaching produced few converts.

     Meanwhile, German emperor Louis the Pious, seeing Anskar’s work, conceived an ambitious plan for Christianizing the North. He had Anskar appointed archbishop, gave him money, and established a monastery in Flanders as headquarters for the Scandinavian thrust. Anskar did his best, but headway was difficult. Pirates raided his monastery. He lived in hiding. His missionaries were driven from Sweden. Many of his converts reverted to paganism.

     But Anskar prayed and fasted and worked until February 3, 865, when he felt the life draining from his body. He gave urgent instructions to his associates, then died peacefully — without gaining his coveted martyr’s crown. His efforts failed to establish a permanent Scandinavian base for Christianity, but the seed was planted, and in the tenth century the church there gained a sure foothold. For this reason, Anskar is known in church history as the “Apostle to the North.”

     Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me.
--- John 17:15-18.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 3

     “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors.” --- Romans 8:12.

     As God’s creatures, we are all debtors to him: to obey him with all our body, and soul, and strength. Having broken his commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to his justice, and we owe to him a vast amount which we are not able to pay. But of the Christian it can be said that he does not owe God’s justice anything, for Christ has paid the debt his people owed; for this reason the believer owes the more to love. I am a debtor to God’s grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor to his justice, for he will never accuse me of a debt already paid. Christ said, “It is finished!” and by that he meant, that whatever his people owed was wiped away for ever from the book of remembrance. Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine justice; the account is settled; the handwriting is nailed to the cross; the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God’s justice no longer. But then, because we are not debtors to our Lord in that sense, we become ten times more debtors to God than we should have been otherwise. Christian, pause and ponder for a moment. What a debtor thou art to divine sovereignty! How much thou owest to his disinterested love, for he gave his own Son that he might die for thee. Consider how much you owe to his forgiving grace, that after ten thousand affronts he loves you as infinitely as ever. Consider what you owe to his power; how he has raised you from your death in sin; how he has preserved your spiritual life; how he has kept you from falling; and how, though a thousand enemies have beset your path, you have been able to hold on your way. Consider what you owe to his immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, he has not changed once. Thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast—yield thyself as a living sacrifice, it is but thy reasonable service.

          Evening - February 3

     “Tell me … where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.” --- Song of Solomon 1:7.

     These words express the desire of the believer after Christ, and his longing for present communion with him. Where doest thou feed thy flock? In thy house? I will go, if I may find thee there. In private prayer? Then I will pray without ceasing. In the Word? Then I will read it diligently. In thine ordinances? Then I will walk in them with all my heart. Tell me where thou feedest, for wherever thou standest as the Shepherd, there will I lie down as a sheep; for none but thyself can supply my need. I cannot be satisfied to be apart from thee. My soul hungers and thirsts for the refreshment of thy presence. “Where dost thou make thy flock to rest at noon?” for whether at dawn or at noon, my only rest must be where thou art and thy beloved flock. My soul’s rest must be a grace-given rest, and can only be found in thee. Where is the shadow of that rock? Why should I not repose beneath it? “Why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” Thou hast companions—why should I not be one? Satan tells me I am unworthy; but I always was unworthy, and yet thou hast long loved me; and therefore my unworthiness cannot be a bar to my having fellowship with thee now. It is true I am weak in faith, and prone to fall, but my very feebleness is the reason why I should always be where thou feedest thy flock, that I may be strengthened, and preserved in safety beside the still waters. Why should I turn aside? There is no reason why I should, but there are a thousand reasons why I should not, for Jesus beckons me to come. If he withdrew himself a little, it is but to make me prize his presence more. Now that I am grieved and distressed at being away from him, he will lead me yet again to that sheltered nook where the lambs of his fold are sheltered from the burning sun.

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

Amazing Grace
     February 3


     S. Trevor Francis, 1834–1925

     I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:17, 18)

     Who can fully grasp the dimensions of God’s great love for us? Yet the Scriptures teach that we are to have a growing awareness of divine love. Love is the very heart and essence of God, not only for the lovely but for the vilest of sinners. Christ did not die merely to display God’s love—He died because God is love (
1 John 4:8). If the New Testament teaches us anything, it teaches us about God’s love in searching for lost men. Becoming a Christian in a very real sense is simply putting ourselves in the way of being found by God—to stop running from His loving pursuit.

     As we mature in the Christian faith, we begin to realize that every situation that comes our way is an opportunity for God’s love to be made more evident in our lives. Once we realize this, our attitude changes dramatically toward suffering people as well as toward ourselves when we are called to suffer. Then even during those times when our spiritual fervor declines and our devotion to God subsides, despite these shortcomings, God’s love remains unfailing—continually working for our eternal good.

     The author of this text, S. Trevor Francis, was a prominent lay leader with the Plymouth Brethren in England and was known as an effective devotional speaker throughout Great Britain and around the world.

     O the deep, deep love of Jesus—vast, unmeasured, boundless free! Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me, underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love—leading onward, leading homeward, to my glorious rest above.
     O the deep, deep love of Jesus—spread His praise from shore to shore! How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore. How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own; how for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne.
     O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of ev’ry love the best! ’Tis an ocean vast of blessing; ’tis a haven sweet of rest. O the deep, deep love of Jesus—’tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me; and it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee.

     For Today: Romans 5:8; 8:35–39; Ephesians 3:14–20; 1 John 4:8; Revelation 1:5, 6.

     Ask God to enlarge your understanding of His great love and the ability to share it with others. Reflect on this musical truth ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, February 3, 2018 | Epiphany

Saturday Of The Fourth Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 75, 76
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 23, 27
Old Testament     Genesis 24:28–38, 49–51
New Testament     Hebrews 12:12–29
Gospel     John 7:14–36

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 75, 76
75 To The Choirmaster: According To Do Not Destroy. A Psalm Of Asaph. A Song.

1 We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.

2 “At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
3 When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
4 I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
5 do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with haughty neck.’ ”

6 For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
8 For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.

9 But I will declare it forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

76 To The Choirmaster: With Stringed Instruments. A Psalm Of Asaph. A Song.

1 In Judah God is known;
his name is great in Israel.
2 His abode has been established in Salem,
his dwelling place in Zion.
3 There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah

4 Glorious are you, more majestic
than the mountains full of prey.
5 The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil;
they sank into sleep;
all the men of war
were unable to use their hands.
6 At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
both rider and horse lay stunned.

7 But you, you are to be feared!
Who can stand before you
when once your anger is roused?
8 From the heavens you uttered judgment;
the earth feared and was still,
9 when God arose to establish judgment,
to save all the humble of the earth. Selah

10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise you;
the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.
11 Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them;
let all around him bring gifts
to him who is to be feared,
12 who cuts off the spirit of princes,
who is to be feared by the kings of the earth.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 23, 27
23 A Psalm Of David.

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

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

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

27 Of David.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Old Testament
Genesis 24:28–38, 49–51

28 Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things.

29 Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. 30 As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31 He said, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” 32 So the man came to the house and unharnessed the camels, and gave straw and fodder to the camels, and there was water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” He said, “Speak on.”

34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The LORD has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, camels and donkeys. 36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old, and to him he has given all that he has. 37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell, 38 but you shall go to my father’s house and to my clan and take a wife for my son.’

49 Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.” 50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing has come from the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.”

New Testament
Hebrews 12:12–29

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

John 7:14–36

14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s5 will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”

The Book of Common Prayer

Lecture 19 "Covenant with his eyes" (Job 31:1)
John H. Walton

Lecture 20 Elihu's discourse (Job 32-37)
John H. Walton

Job, Lecture 21 God speech 1 and Job's response
John H. Walton

Lecture 22 (Behemoth and Leviathan) (Job 40:6-41:34)
John H. Walton

Lecture 23, Epilogue (Job 42)
John H. Walton

Lecture 24, Job in the Book of Job
John H. Walton

Lecture 25, The world in the Book of Job
John H. Walton

Lecture 26, God in the Book of Job
John H. Walton