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2/3/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Leviticus  8 - 10


Leviticus 8

Consecration of Aaron and His Sons

Leviticus 8 1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments and the anointing oil and the bull of the sin offering and the two rams and the basket of unleavened bread. 3 And assemble all the congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” 4 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the congregation was assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

5 And Moses said to the congregation, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded to be done.” 6 And Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. 7 And he put the coat on him and tied the sash around his waist and clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him and tied the skillfully woven band of the ephod around him, binding it to him with the band. 8 And he placed the breastpiece on him, and in the breastpiece he put the Urim and the Thummim. 9 And he set the turban on his head, and on the turban, in front, he set the golden plate, the holy crown, as the LORD commanded Moses.

10 Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them. 11 And he sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its utensils and the basin and its stand, to consecrate them. 12 And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him. 13 And Moses brought Aaron’s sons and clothed them with coats and tied sashes around their waists and bound caps on them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

14 Then he brought the bull of the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull of the sin offering. 15 And he killed it, and Moses took the blood, and with his finger put it on the horns of the altar around it and purified the altar and poured out the blood at the base of the altar and consecrated it to make atonement for it. 16 And he took all the fat that was on the entrails and the long lobe of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat, and Moses burned them on the altar. 17 But the bull and its skin and its flesh and its dung he burned up with fire outside the camp, as the LORD commanded Moses.

18 Then he presented the ram of the burnt offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. 19 And he killed it, and Moses threw the blood against the sides of the altar. 20 He cut the ram into pieces, and Moses burned the head and the pieces and the fat. 21 He washed the entrails and the legs with water, and Moses burned the whole ram on the altar. It was a burnt offering with a pleasing aroma, a food offering for the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.

22 Then he presented the other ram, the ram of ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. 23 And he killed it, and Moses took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 24 Then he presented Aaron’s sons, and Moses put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. And Moses threw the blood against the sides of the altar. 25 Then he took the fat and the fat tail and all the fat that was on the entrails and the long lobe of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat and the right thigh, 26 and out of the basket of unleavened bread that was before the LORD he took one unleavened loaf and one loaf of bread with oil and one wafer and placed them on the pieces of fat and on the right thigh. 27 And he put all these in the hands of Aaron and in the hands of his sons and waved them as a wave offering before the LORD. 28 Then Moses took them from their hands and burned them on the altar with the burnt offering. This was an ordination offering with a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. 29 And Moses took the breast and waved it for a wave offering before the LORD. It was Moses’ portion of the ram of ordination, as the LORD commanded Moses.

30 Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and of the blood that was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron and his garments, and also on his sons and his sons’ garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.

31 And Moses said to Aaron and his sons, “Boil the flesh at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and there eat it and the bread that is in the basket of ordination offerings, as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it.’ 32 And what remains of the flesh and the bread you shall burn up with fire. 33 And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it will take seven days to ordain you. 34 As has been done today, the LORD has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. 35 At the entrance of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, performing what the LORD has charged, so that you do not die, for so I have been commanded.” 36 And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the LORD commanded by Moses.

Leviticus 9

The LORD Accepts Aaron’s Offering

Leviticus 9 1 On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel, 2 and he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a bull calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. 3 And say to the people of Israel, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both a year old without blemish, for a burnt offering, 4 and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD, and a grain offering mixed with oil, for today the LORD will appear to you.’ ” 5 And they brought what Moses commanded in front of the tent of meeting, and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. 6 And Moses said, “This is the thing that the LORD commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.” 7 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Draw near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and for the people, and bring the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as the LORD has commanded.”

8 So Aaron drew near to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. 9 And the sons of Aaron presented the blood to him, and he dipped his finger in the blood and put it on the horns of the altar and poured out the blood at the base of the altar. 10 But the fat and the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver from the sin offering he burned on the altar, as the LORD commanded Moses. 11 The flesh and the skin he burned up with fire outside the camp.

12 Then he killed the burnt offering, and Aaron’s sons handed him the blood, and he threw it against the sides of the altar. 13 And they handed the burnt offering to him, piece by piece, and the head, and he burned them on the altar. 14 And he washed the entrails and the legs and burned them with the burnt offering on the altar.

15 Then he presented the people’s offering and took the goat of the sin offering that was for the people and killed it and offered it as a sin offering, like the first one. 16 And he presented the burnt offering and offered it according to the rule. 17 And he presented the grain offering, took a handful of it, and burned it on the altar, besides the burnt offering of the morning.

18 Then he killed the ox and the ram, the sacrifice of peace offerings for the people. And Aaron’s sons handed him the blood, and he threw it against the sides of the altar. 19 But the fat pieces of the ox and of the ram, the fat tail and that which covers the entrails and the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver— 20 they put the fat pieces on the breasts, and he burned the fat pieces on the altar, 21 but the breasts and the right thigh Aaron waved for a wave offering before the LORD, as Moses commanded.

22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.


Leviticus 10

The Death of Nadab and Abihu

Leviticus 10 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ ” And Aaron held his peace.

4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Come near; carry your brothers away from the front of the sanctuary and out of the camp.” 5 So they came near and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, “Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning that the LORD has kindled. 7 And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.

8 And the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying, 9 “Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. 10 You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD has spoken to them by Moses.”

12 Moses spoke to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his surviving sons: “Take the grain offering that is left of the LORD’s food offerings, and eat it unleavened beside the altar, for it is most holy. 13 You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due and your sons’ due, from the LORD’s food offerings, for so I am commanded. 14 But the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed you shall eat in a clean place, you and your sons and your daughters with you, for they are given as your due and your sons’ due from the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the people of Israel. 15 The thigh that is contributed and the breast that is waved they shall bring with the food offerings of the fat pieces to wave for a wave offering before the LORD, and it shall be yours and your sons’ with you as a due forever, as the LORD has commanded.”

16 Now Moses diligently inquired about the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it was burned up! And he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the surviving sons of Aaron, saying, 17 “Why have you not eaten the sin offering in the place of the sanctuary, since it is a thing most holy and has been given to you that you may bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD? 18 Behold, its blood was not brought into the inner part of the sanctuary. You certainly ought to have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded.” 19 And Aaron said to Moses, “Behold, today they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, and yet such things as these have happened to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the LORD have approved?” 20 And when Moses heard that, he approved.

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

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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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

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).

     Radically, Paul embraced the very things that the Corinthians rejected, identifying these weaknesses as signs of his true apostleship. He argued that his weakness was actually verification of the power of God working through him, and he rejected the Corinthian view of power as worldly success, bravado, and status. For Paul, the power to dominate and win was antithetical to the nature of the gospel. This is not merely a question of what leadership “style” you like, but a question of whether you embrace the way of Jesus. The high point of Paul’s defiant response to the Corinthians’ lust for power is found in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

2 Co 12:8–10 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   ESV

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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:

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream

By John Bunyan 1678

THE FIFTH STAGE

     FAITH. Yes, I met with Shame; but of all the men that I met with on my pilgrimage, he, I think, bears the wrong name. The other would be said nay, after a little argumentation, and somewhat else; but this bold-faced Shame would never have done.

     CHR. Why, what did he say to you?

     FAITH. What? why, he objected against religion itself. He said it was a pitiful, low, sneaking business for a man to mind religion. He said, that a tender conscience was an unmanly thing; and that for a man to watch over his words and ways, so as to tie up himself from that hectoring liberty that the brave spirits of the times accustomed themselves unto, would make him the ridicule of the times. He objected also, that but few of the mighty, rich, or wise, were ever of my opinion; nor any of them neither, before they were persuaded to be fools, and to be of a voluntary fondness to venture the loss of all for nobody knows what.

1 Cor. 1:26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.   ESV

1 Cor 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.   ESV

Phil. 3:7–9 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith —   ESV

John 7:48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?   ESV

He, moreover, objected the base and low estate and condition of those that were chiefly the pilgrims of the times in which they lived; also their ignorance and want of understanding in all natural science. Yea, he did hold me to it at that rate also, about a great many more things than here I relate; as, that it was a shame to sit whining and mourning under a sermon, and a shame to come sighing and groaning home; that it was a shame to ask my neighbor forgiveness for petty faults, or to make restitution where I have taken from any. He said also, that religion made a man grow strange to the great, because of a few vices, which he called by finer names, and made him own and respect the base, because of the same religious fraternity: And is not this, said he, a shame?

     CHR. And what did you say to him?

     FAITH. Say? I could not tell what to say at first. Yea, he put me so to it, that my blood came up in my face; even this Shame fetched it up, and had almost beat me quite off. But at last I began to consider, that that which is highly esteemed among men, is had in abomination with God.

Luke 16:15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.   ESV

And I thought again, this Shame tells me what men are; but he tells me nothing what God, or the word of God is. And I thought, moreover, that at the day of doom we shall not be doomed to death or life according to the hectoring spirits of the world, but according to the wisdom and law of the Highest. Therefore, thought I, what God says is best, is indeed best, though all the men in the world are against it. Seeing, then, that God prefers his religion; seeing God prefers a tender Conscience; seeing they that make themselves fools for the kingdom of heaven are wisest, and that the poor man that loveth Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates him; Shame, depart, thou art an enemy to my salvation. Shall I entertain thee against my sovereign Lord? How then shall I look him in the face at his coming?

Mark 8:38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”   ESV

Should I now be ashamed of his ways and servants, how can I expect the blessing? But indeed this Shame was a bold villain; I could scarcely shake him out of my company; yea, he would be haunting of me, and continually whispering me in the ear, with some one or other of the infirmities that attend religion. But at last I told him, that it was but in vain to attempt farther in this business; for those things that he disdained, in those did I see most glory: and so at last I got past this importunate one. And when I had shaken him off, then I began to sing,

     “The trials that those men do meet withal,
     That are obedient to the heavenly call,
     Are manifold, and suited to the flesh,
     And come, and come, and come again afresh;
     That now, or some time else, we by them may
     Be taken, overcome, and cast away.
     O let the pilgrims, let the pilgrims then,
     Be vigilant, and quit themselves like men.”

     CHR. I am glad, my brother, that thou didst withstand this villain so bravely; for of all, as thou sayest, I think he has the wrong name; for he is so bold as to follow us in the streets, and to attempt to put us to shame before all men; that is, to make us ashamed of that which is good. But if he was not himself audacious, he would never attempt to do as he does. But let us still resist him; for, notwithstanding all his bravadoes, he promoteth the fool, and none else. “The wise shall inherit glory,” said Solomon; “but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”

Prov. 3:35  The wise will inherit honor,
but fools get disgrace.
  ESV

     FAITH. I think we must cry to Him for help against Shame, that would have us to be valiant for truth upon the earth.

     CHR. You say true; but did you meet nobody else in that valley?

     FAITH. No, not I; for I had sunshine all the rest of the way through that, and also through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

     CHR. ’Twas well for you; I am sure it fared far otherwise with me. I had for a long season, as soon almost as I entered into that valley, a dreadful combat with that foul fiend Apollyon; yea, I thought verily he would have killed me, especially when he got me down, and crushed me under him, as if he would have crushed me to pieces; for as he threw me, my sword flew out of my hand: nay, he told me he was sure of me; but I cried to God, and he heard me, and delivered me out of all my troubles. Then I entered into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and had no light for almost half the way through it. I thought I should have been killed there over and over; but at last day brake, and the sun rose, and I went through that which was behind with far more ease and quiet.

Moreover, I saw in my dream, that as they went on, Faithful, as he chanced to look on one side, saw a man whose name was Talkative, walking at a distance beside them; for in this place there was room enough for them all to walk. He was a tall man, and something more comely at a distance than at hand. To this man Faithful addressed himself in this manner.

     FAITH. Friend, whither away? Are you going to the heavenly country?

     TALK. I am going to the same place.

     FAITH. That is well; then I hope we shall have your good company?

     TALK. With a very good will, will I be your companion.

     FAITH. Come on, then, and let us go together, and let us spend our time in discoursing of things that are profitable.

     TALK. To talk of things that are good, to me is very acceptable, with you or with any other; and I am glad that I have met with those that incline to so good a work; for, to speak the truth, there are but few who care thus to spend their time as they are in their travels, but choose much rather to be speaking of things to no profit; and this hath been a trouble to me.

     FAITH. That is, indeed, a thing to be lamented; for what thing so worthy of the use of the tongue and mouth of men on earth, as are the things of the God of heaven?

     TALK. I like you wonderful well, for your saying is full of conviction; and I will add, What thing is so pleasant, and what so profitable, as to talk of the things of God? What things so pleasant? that is, if a man hath any delight in things that are wonderful. For instance, if a man doth delight to talk of the history, or the mystery of things; or if a man doth love to talk of miracles, wonders, or signs, where shall he find things recorded so delightful, and so sweetly penned, as in the holy Scripture?

     FAITH. That is true; but to be profited by such things in our talk, should be our chief design.

     TALK. That’s it that I said; for to talk of such things is most profitable; for by so doing a man may get knowledge of many things; as of the vanity of earthly things, and the benefit of things above. Thus in general; but more particularly, by this a man may learn the necessity of the new birth, the insufficiency of our works, the need of Christ’s righteousness, etc. Besides, by this a man may learn what it is to repent, to believe, to pray, to suffer, or the like: by this, also, a man may learn what are the great promises and consolations of the Gospel, to his own comfort. Farther, by this a man may learn to refute false opinions, to vindicate the truth, and also to instruct the ignorant.

     FAITH. All this is true; and glad am I to hear these things from you.

     TALK. Alas! the want of this is the cause that so few understand the need of faith, and the necessity of a work of grace in their soul, in order to eternal life; but ignorantly live in the works of the law, by which a man can by no means obtain the kingdom of heaven.

     FAITH. But, by your leave, heavenly knowledge of these is the gift of God; no man attaineth to them by human industry, or only by the talk of them.

     TALK. All this I know very well; for a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven: all is of grace, not of works. I could give you a hundred scriptures for the confirmation of this.

     FAITH. Well, then, said Faithful, what is that one thing that we shall at this time found our discourse upon?

     TALK. What you will. I will talk of things heavenly, or things earthly; things moral, or things evangelical; things sacred, or things profane; things past, or things to come; things foreign, or things at home; things more essential, or things circumstantial: provided that all be done to our profit.

     FAITH. Now did Faithful begin to wonder; and stepping to Christian, (for he walked all this while by himself,) he said to him, but softly, What a brave companion have we got! Surely, this man will make a very excellent pilgrim.

     CHR. At this Christian modestly smiled, and said, This man, with whom you are so taken, will beguile with this tongue of his, twenty of them that know him not.

     FAITH. Do you know him, then?

     CHR. Know him? Yes, better than he knows himself.

     FAITH. Pray what is he?

     CHR. His name is Talkative: he dwelleth in our town. I wonder that you should be a stranger to him, only I consider that our town is large.

     FAITH. Whose son is he? And whereabout doth he dwell?

     CHR. He is the son of one Say-well. He dwelt in Prating-Row; and he is known to all that are acquainted with him by the name of Talkative of Prating-Row; and, notwithstanding his fine tongue, he is but a sorry fellow.

     FAITH. Well, he seems to be a very pretty man.

     CHR. That is, to them that have not a thorough acquaintance with him, for he is best abroad; near home he is ugly enough. Your saying that he is a pretty man, brings to my mind what I have observed in the work of a painter, whose pictures show best at a distance; but very near, more unpleasing.

     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.


  • Leviticus 1-7
  • The Lamb Slain
  • Leviticus 8-10

#1 9-15-1999 / W3078 | Jon Courson

 

#2 9-12-1999 / S3067 | Jon Courson

 

#3 9-22-1999 / W3079 | Jon Courson

 


     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

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

Amazing Grace
     February 3

          O THE DEEP, DEEP LOVE OF JESUS

     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

Strange Fire
     John MacArthur


Strange Fire





Strange Fire Q & A 1






Strange Fire Q & A 2




Leviticus 8 - 10
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


Strange Fire Leviticus 9:22-24, 10:1-11
s2-065 | 3-01-2015






Leviticus 8 - 10
m2-062 | 3-04-2015




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Leviticus 8 - 10
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