Judah and TamarGenesis 38:1 It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, 3 and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.
6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.
12 In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.
20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’ ” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.”
24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.
27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.
Jesus Feeds the Four ThousandMark 8:1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
The Pharisees Demand a Sign11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.
The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” ‘Plainly’ or quite openly as the NRSV says it translates parrēsia, meaning ‘with freedom of speech’ or ‘openly’. There was to be no secret about this. The fact of his Messiahship had been secret, because its character had been misunderstood. The popular Messianic expectation was of a revolutionary political leader. John tells us that at the peak of Jesus’ Galilean popularity, after feeding the five thousand, the crowds had ‘intended to come and make him king by force’ (John 6:15). Now that the apostles had clearly recognized and confessed his identity, however, he could explain the nature of his Messiahship and do so openly. Peter rebuked him, horrified by the fate he had predicted for himself. But Jesus rebuked Peter in strong language. The same apostle who in confessing Jesus’ divine Messiahship had received a revelation from the Father (Matt. 16:17) had been deceived by the devil to deny the necessity of the cross. ‘Out of my sight, Satan!’ Jesus said, with a vehemence which must have astonished his hearers. ‘You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’ The Cross of Christ
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 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.”
Eliphaz Speaks: The Innocent ProsperJob 4:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2 “If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
Yet who can keep from speaking?
3 Behold, you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
6 Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
7 “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same.
9 By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
10 The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
the teeth of the young lions are broken.
11 The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
12 “Now a word was brought to me stealthily;
my ear received the whisper of it.
13 Amid thoughts from visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
14 dread came upon me, and trembling,
which made all my bones shake.
15 A spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh stood up.
16 It stood still,
but I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
there was silence, then I heard a voice:
17 ‘Can mortal man be in the right before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?
18 Even in his servants he puts no trust,
and his angels he charges with error;
19 how much more those who dwell in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed like the moth.
20 Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces;
they perish forever without anyone regarding it.
21 Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them,
do they not die, and that without wisdom?’
Life in the SpiritRomans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Heirs with Christ12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Future Glory18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. True, his love for me is not based on my qualification or my preparation. But it is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather he accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Nor does he mean to leave us the way he found us, but to transform us into the likeness of his Son. Without that transformation and new conformity of life we do not have any evidence that we were ever his in the first place. ... while the theology of faith is simple, the experience of assurance is complex for two reasons. The first is that we are complex, not to say complicated, and assurance impacts on what moderns have tended to call the “self-image,” in this instance, “How do I think about myself in relation to God in Christ?” Full assurance is therefore a complex spiritual and psychological process by which confessing, “Christ died for sinners, and I rest on him,” becomes, “I am sure that nothing in all creation can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.” In one individual that complexity may be so beautifully simplified that its intricacy goes unnoticed. In others the complexity of their self-consciousness needs to be pastorally untangled before the clear connection between believing in Christ and realizing the implications of that become clear. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God’s Everlasting Love31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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Reasonable Atheists and Reasonable Believers Are Targeting the Same Group
By J. Warner Wallace 2/2/2018
Portland State University philosophy professor and vocal atheist, Peter Boghossian, wrote a book entitled, A Manual for Creating Atheists. Boghossian describes the effort as “the first-ever guide not for talking people into faith–but for talking them out of it.” He hopes to teach atheists “to engage the faithful in conversations that will help them value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their religious beliefs, mistrust their faith, abandon superstition and irrationality, and ultimately embrace reason.” In a recent YouTube video, Boghossian teaches a group of atheists what he refers to as “street epistemology” and makes an interesting observation. According to Boghossian, Christians fail to process truth claims rationally; instead of assessing the evidence and drawing the most reasonable inference, they seem to rely on personal experience, emotional response and blind faith. Boghossian describes such an approach as dangerous, particularly when applied by political leaders who set public policy related to sex education, same sex marriage, assisted suicide, corporal punishment in schools, family planning and creation education. Boghossian encourages atheists to engage Christians not on the evidence but on the way Christians evaluate truth claims in the first place. As a reasonable Christian case maker, I couldn’t agree more with Boghossian’s approach. In fact, I think reasonable atheists and reasonable Christians are trying to reach the very same group.
I’ve been traveling the country as a Christian case maker, teaching Christian groups in churches, conferences and schools. Sadly, I also find most Christians believe what they believe without assessing the evidence. In fact, I often have to make a case for case making! Many of my Christian brothers and sisters are quick to express appreciation for my visit, but are also eager to tell me they didn’t need any evidence in the first place. Some have been Christians all their lives, many believe the Holy Spirit has spoken to them, and others have simply become comfortable in the Christian community. All of these dear brothers and sisters have faithfully trusted Jesus for their salvation, but most are unable to defend what they believe (or how they came to their belief) when approached by aggressive skeptics, particularly those who have been trained by Boghossian.
Many Christians believe true faith is independent of evidence. Who needs faith if we have enough evidence to make the case? But Jesus seemed to hold evidence in high regard. He repeatedly offered evidence of His miracles to verify His identity, and He told His observers this evidence was sufficient (see John 5:36, John 10:37-38, and John 14:11). Jesus also spent forty days after the Resurrection, providing “many convincing proofs.” Biblical faith is not blind, it is a reasonable trust in the best inference from the evidence, even when unanswered questions still exist. If you think about it, all of us, regardless of worldview, believe what we believe even though we have less than complete evidence. Every worldview requires some level of reasonable trust.
I was a thoughtful atheist until the age of thirty-five. I first examined the claims of the Gospel authors using the investigative tools I learned as a cold-case detective. In other words, I examined the evidence and meticulously inferred to the most reasonable inference. I learned how to choose between competing explanations and use abductive reasoning to arrive at reasonable conclusions. I became familiar with the arguments for (and against) the Christian worldview. As it turns out, there’s more than enough evidence to conclude the Gospel accounts are a reliable record of history; Christians can believe what they believe because of the evidence rather than in spite of the evidence.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Twilight Musings: “Groaning Together”
By Elton Higgs 1/27/2017
One day when I was reading the familiar passage in Rom. 8 on our hope for the final deliverance from sin through the resurrection of our bodies, I was struck with the recurrence of the verb “groan” in the space of eight verses:
(Ro 8:20–27) 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ESV
There is an interlinking in these uses of “groaning,” with the first occurrence referring to the whole of creation, the second referring to all of God’s people, and the third to the agency of the Holy Spirit interceding for us with God.
This section of chapter 8 was introduced by the affirmation that as believers in Christ we have been certified by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit as children of God and heirs of His kingdom. However, our walk in the Spirit as sons and daughters of God entails suffering with Christ “in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17). Accordingly, both of the first two occurrences of groaning in this passage are associated with a particular kind of productive human suffering, childbirth. The first, the groaning of the physical creation to be “set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (v.21), is then linked to the inward groaning of each Christian for our “adoption as sons [and daughters], the redemption of our bodies” (v.23). Our suffering with Christ is not meaningless, but like the pains of childbirth, it ends in great joy, so that, as Paul has assured us, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18-19.
Six Things That May Change the Way You Think About Police Officers
By J. Warner Wallace 7/11/16
After the horrific events of last week, I’ve been asked repeatedly about race relations in America, the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police officers, and the increasing violence against police officers. As a member of the law-enforcement family (and a member of the Christian community), I would like to respond by providing some insight into the training and daily practices of police officers, particularly given the number of requests I’ve received. Although most of us are familiar with police work from television dramas and news reports, few people actually understand the nature of the environment in which police officers work. Once you understand what police officers are asked to do on a daily basis, it may be easier for you to assess the current situation and respond in a more reasonable way. Here are six important things everyone should keep in mind (and prayer) when assessing the actions of police officers in our country:
1. No one is more upset about “bad” police shootings than good police officers. | At the end of my law enforcement career, my Chief asked me to design an ethics program for our agency. I was eager to get involved. I know there are times when officers may act inappropriately. We’re all fallen human beings, and the standard for police officers is higher than just about any other profession in the country. We have to be perfect in times of crisis with little or no time to consider the options. Some are better at this than others, and a few are bound to do or say something they shouldn’t. No one is more offended when this happens than the hundreds of thousands of police officers who work hard to uphold the honor of the badge. No one hates a bad cop more than a good cop.
Today there are over 900,000 sworn officers nationwide. These law enforcement officers aren’t nearly as popular as other first-responders, like fire or paramedic personnel. In 2014, for example, police were assaulted 15,725 times, resulting in 13,824 injuries. In 2015, 123 of these officers were killed in the line of duty. Police officers obviously don’t work in a risk-free environment, but the risk is not an excuse for bad behavior. We will not excuse the inappropriate actions of a tiny minority when they occur. Instead, we want offenders banished from our ranks when it is justified. We will not tolerate the badge being tarnished. So, as you assess each allegation leveled against a police officer, remember this: if, in the end, it’s determined that the officer did something criminal, no one will be quicker to call for his or her prosecution than the law enforcement community.
2. Police officers are more than reactive; they are proactive. | This is incredibly important to remember. Unlike other first-responders, officers are expected to do more than simply respond. The largest division in every police agency is the Patrol Division. Fire personnel don’t patrol the street looking for the next fire, but police officers are asked to keep our communities safe by taking a proactive approach. We handle our calls for service, then we actively patrol the streets in an effort to prevent the next crime.
This proactive nature of police work is sometimes controversial and is the source of incredible risk on the part of every officer. Think about it for a minute: it would be a lot easier (and safer) for officers to stay in the station and simply respond to take reports after the fact. But that’s not what we do. Instead, we are on the street, ever-vigilant, hoping to be near enough to the robbery or assault to actually catch the bad-guy. Better yet, we want to stop crimes before they ever occur. When I first started as a police officer, all of us recognized this preventative effort as our duty. One of my partners would start each shift by saying, “Are you ready to get out there and crush crime?”
The economic story about Sweden’s social democracy the left never tells
By James Pethokoukis 2/1/2017
While many on the left have a soft spot for Scandinavian economies, a Milken Review Institute piece by Swedish economist Andreas Bergh offers a corrective. I highlight the following since it seems to describe the Sweden — high taxes, big welfare state — as imagined by many progressives:
In the 1970s, several well-intended political reforms backfired. The desire to increase income equality through high marginal tax rates and generous welfare benefits weakened work incentives and created strong incentives for tax avoidance. Indeed, in the 1970s and 1980s, many wealthy Swedes – notably Bjorn Borg – left the country to avoid the taxman.
Meanwhile, the desire to tame the business cycle and minimize unemployment led to the subsidization of noncompetitive industries. The unions’ desire to drive wages ahead of productivity growth led to inflation, while efforts to restore Sweden’s competitiveness through repeated currency devaluations led to both a lower living standard and investment-sapping uncertainty.
Perhaps most important, the mix of subsidies and devaluations sent the signal that firms in trouble could turn to the government for help, rather than be forced to innovate in order to stay competitive. When that happens, economies inevitably pay a price.
After the crisis of the early 1990s, the Swedish economy recovered smartly. In many ways, Sweden learned from its mistakes and took measures to avoid large budget deficits and inflationary wage pressures. By the mid-1990s, these changes were institutionalized – and strikingly, often with support from Social Democrats as well as the right-wing parties. Prominent examples include a tax reform that lowered marginal rates substantially and a pension reform that balanced the risks between pensioners and taxpayers by automatically adjusting payments to demographic and economic conditions.
James Pethokoukis is a columnist and blogger at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, he was the Washington columnist for Reuters Breakingviews, the opinion and commentary wing of Thomson Reuters.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 18The 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:
13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
The truth of Romans 8:28
By Alistair Begg from The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances
The truth of Romans 8:28 is far more than just what I call kitchen-verse theology. Now let me explain what I mean by that. Commit thy ways to Him
Kitchen-verse theology is when we take a plaque with a verse on it and stick it above the kitchen sink, with the idea that when we say it over and over again as a sort of Christian mantra, it will somehow start working for us. This is often accompanied by the notion that working for “our good” will mean an abundance of sunshine and the absence of rain. But the idea that Romans 8:28 is only “at work” in the sunshine and not the storm produces a theology of triumphalism.
Such a perspective fails to reckon with life when the clouds come and the wheels fall off. We need to learn that God’s providential hand is at work in the hard times. And that He works for the good of those who love Him in all things — not just in the triumphs and successes, but in the dungeon. The “good” of those who love Him is ultimately our conformity to Christ and our sanctification.
We need also to recognize that when God in His providence shines His light into our darkness, as He did in the dungeon for Joseph, He’s not doing it because we have merited His favor. You see, some of us have got it right about the doctrine of justification. We understand that we cannot earn salvation, which is a gift of God’s free grace. But that’s true not only of coming to Christ, but also of living for Christ. We don’t merit His favor. He doesn’t repay us for the good things we’ve done by making the sun shine on us. If Joseph had anticipated that, how would we explain what happened to him?
Joseph responded to temptation with absolute integrity and purity, and what was his reward? A trip to the dungeon. But then, suddenly, in the midst of that experience, the clouds parted and the sun shone upon him in the person of the warden.
God chose to do this out of His own goodness, motivated by nothing in Joseph and driven by nothing in the circumstances, but only by His sovereign plan and purpose. John Calvin says, “Since we are unworthy that He should grant us his help, the cause of its communication must be in Himself, seeing that He is merciful.”
Some of us are still living with a form of cause-and-effect Christianity. But think about the way we parents love our children. We say no to them in certain things. The kids don’t understand, and they complain. But we do it anyway, because it’s for their good.
And sometimes, when they are least deserving, we lavish our attention upon them so as to move their hearts to repentance at the awareness of our unconditional favor. We do so because we love them with a passion.
God is far more willing to bless us than we are to take the time to even ask Him for blessings. And when He shines the sun of His providence into the life of His servant, it is not because the servant has merited God’s favor, which is induced by nothing other than God’s goodness.
So when we sing, “God is so good, He’s so good to me,” we have to acknowledge that this remains true even in the dungeon — because our good God is working all things out in conformity with the purpose of His will.
Our problem is that we have a limited perspective. All we can see is Earth, not what God is doing from heaven’s side to bring about His good purpose in us and in others.
If we could see all that God is doing, we would say, “Oh, this is fabulous!” But, instead, we’re tempted to declare, “I don’t think I should be in this dark dungeon. This shouldn’t be happening to me. This isn’t fair.”
That’s why we need a theology. We can’t live wisely without biblical doctrine. We can live only as silly people.
But once we begin to understand the great truths that underpin our faith, we can say with John Wesley,
Thy works into His hands;
And rest in His unchanging Word
Who heaven and earth commands.
Through waves and clouds and storms
His power will clear thy way;
Wait thou His time; the darkest night
Shall end in brightest day.
Leave to His sovereign sway
To choose and to command;
So shalt thou, wondering, own His way
How wise, how strong His hand.
I remember a dear lady I often visited in the hospital in Edinburgh. She had been the chief nurse in the royal infirmary and had given her entire life to the care of others. Now, hospitalized in grave condition, she would say to me, “Alistair, read me the Bible. Just read me the Bible.”
This woman knew she had little prospect of being discharged. But she knew where she was going when she left. Joseph had no prospect of coming out of the dungeon. But he knew that God was working in his life for good (Genesis 50:20).
Dr. Alistair Begg | (Trent University; London School of Theology; Westminster Seminary) was born in Scotland and spent the first 30 years of life in the United Kingdom. Since September of 1983, he has been the senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on the national radio program Truth For Life which stems from his weekly Bible teaching at Parkside. He and his wife, Susan, have three grown children.
Dr. Alistair Begg Books:
Commit thy ways to Him
Mr. President: Don’t Cave to Liberal Fearmongering. Protect Religious Freedom
By Ryan T. Anderson 2/2/2017
Liberals are up in arms over a possible executive order from President Donald Trump protecting religious freedom.
A draft copy of the executive order was leaked to LGBT groups and liberal media outlets in an attempt to prevent the president from issuing it.
But the president should not cave. He should stand up to the liberal outrage and hostility to ordinary American values that fueled his rise in the first place.
The executive order is good, lawful public policy. And it makes good on several promises then-candidate Trump made to his supporters.
Indeed, just this morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump pledged, “My administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty.” This executive order is the place to start.
Ryan T. Anderson is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation, and the Founder and Editor of Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Good, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ. A Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University, he earned his Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. Anderson’s research has been cited by two U.S. Supreme Court justices in two Supreme Court cases.
His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the Harvard Health Policy Review, the Weekly Standard, and National Review. Anderson has appeared on ABC, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and the Fox News Channel. In addition to a memorable 2013 debate about marriage on CNN's Piers Morgan Live, his news interviews include appearances on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CNN's New Day with Chris Cuomo, MSNBC's The Ed Show with Ed Schultz, and Fox News' Hannity.
Ryan T. Anderson Books:
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO TESTAMENTS.
This chapter consists principally of three parts. I. Five points of difference between the Old and the New Testament, sec. 1-11. II. The last of these points being, that the Old Testament belonged to the Jews only, whereas the New Testament belongs to all; the calling of the Gentiles is shortly considered, sec. 12. III. A reply to two objections usually taken to what is here taught concerning the difference between the Old and the New Testaments, sec. 13, 14.
1. Five points of difference between the Old and the New Testaments. These belong to the mode of administration rather than the substance. First difference. In the Old Testament the heavenly inheritance is exhibited under temporal blessings; in the New, aids of this description are not employed.
2. Proof of this first difference from the simile of an heir in pupillarity, as in Gal. 4:1.
3. This the reason why the Patriarchs, under the Law, set a higher value on this life and the blessings of it, and dreaded the punishments, these being even more striking. Why severe and sudden punishments existed under the Law.
4. A second difference. The Old Testament typified Christ under ceremonies. The New exhibits the immediate truth and the whole body. The scope of the Epistle to the Hebrews in explaining this difference. Definition of the Old Testament.
5. Hence the Law our Schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.
6. Notwithstanding, among those under the Law, some of the strongest examples of faith are exhibited, their equals being scarcely to be found in the Christian Church. The ordinary method of the divine dispensation to be here attended to. These excellent individuals placed under the Law, and aided by ceremonies, that they might behold and hail Christ afar off.
7. Third difference. The Old Testament is literal, the New spiritual. This difference considered first generally.
8. Next treated specially, on a careful examination of the Apostle's text. A threefold antithesis. The Old Testament is literal, deadly, temporary. The New is spiritual, quickening, eternal. Difference between the letter and the spirit.
9. Fourth difference. The Old Testament belongs to bondage, the New to liberty. This confirmed by three passages of Scripture. Two objections answered.
10. Distinction between the three last differences and the first. Confirmation of the above from Augustine. Condition of the patriarchs under the Old Testament.
11. Fifth difference. The Old Testament belonged to one people only, the New to all.
12. The second part of the chapter depending on the preceding section. Of the calling of the Gentiles. Why the calling of the Gentiles scented to the Apostles so strange and new.
13. The last part of the chapter. Two objections considered. 1. God being immutable, cannot consistently disapprove what he once ordered. Answer confirmed by a passage of Scripture.
14. Objections. 2. God could at first have transacted with the Jews as he now does with Christians. Answer, showing the absurdity of this objection. Another answer founded on a just consideration of the divine will and the dispensation of grace.
1. What, then? you will say, Is there no difference between the Old and the New Testaments? What is to become of the many passages of Scripture in which they are contrasted as things differing most widely from each other? I readily admit the differences which are pointed out in Scripture, but still hold that they derogate in no respect from their established unity, as will be seen after we have considered them in their order. These differences (so far as I have been able to observe them and can remember) seem to be chiefly four, or, if you choose to add a fifth, I have no objections. I hold and think I will be able to show, that they all belong to the mode of administration rather than to the substance. In this way, there is nothing in them to prevent the promises of the Old and New Testament from remaining the same, Christ being the foundation of both. The first difference then is, that though, in old time, the Lord was pleased to direct the thoughts of his people, and raise their minds to the heavenly inheritance, yet, that their hope of it might be the better maintained, he held it forth, and, in a manner, gave a foretaste of it under earthly blessings, whereas the gift of future life, now more clearly and lucidly revealed by the Gospel, leads our minds directly to meditate upon it, the inferior mode of exercise formerly employed in regard to the Jews being now laid aside. Those who attend not to the divine purpose in this respect, suppose that God's ancient people ascended no higher than the blessings which were promised to the body. They hear the land of Canaan so often named as the special, and as it were the only, reward of the Divine Law to its worshipers; they hear that the severest punishment which the Lord denounces against the transgressors of the Law is expulsion from the possession of that land and dispersion into other countries; they see that this forms almost the sum of the blessings and curses declared by Moses; and from these things they confidently conclude that the Jews were separated from other nations not on their own account, but for another reason--viz. that the Christian Church might have an emblem in whose outward shape might be seen an evidence of spiritual things. But since the Scripture sometimes demonstrates that the earthly blessings thus bestowed were intended by God himself to guide them to a heavenly hope, it shows great unskilfulness, not to say dullness, not to attend to this mode of dispensation. The ground of controversy is this: our opponents hold that the land of Canaan was considered by the Israelites as supreme and final happiness, and now, since Christ was manifested, typifies to us the heavenly inheritance; whereas we maintain that, in the earthly possession which the Israelites enjoyed, they beheld, as in a mirror, the future inheritance which they believed to be reserved for them in heaven.
2. This will better appear from the similitude which Paul uses in Galatians (Gal. 4:1). He compares the Jewish nation to an heir in pupillarity, who, as yet unfit to govern himself, follows the direction of a tutor or guide to whose charge he has been committed. Though this simile refers especially to ceremonies, there is nothing to prevent us from applying it most appropriately here also. The same inheritance was destined to them as to us, but from nonage they were incapable of entering to it, and managing it. They had the same Church, though it was still in puerility. The Lord, therefore kept them under this tutelage, giving them spiritual promises, not clear and simple, but typified by earthly objects. Hence, when he chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their posterity, to the hope of immortality, he promised them the land of Canaan for an inheritance, not that it might be the limit of their hopes, but that the view of it might train and confirm them in the hope of that true inheritance, which, as yet, appeared not. And, to guard against delusion, they received a better promise, which attested that this earth was not the highest measure of the divine kindness. Thus, Abraham is not allowed to keep down his thoughts to the promised land: by a greater promise his views are carried upward to the Lord. He is thus addressed, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward," (Gen. 15:1). Here we see that the Lord is the final reward promised to Abraham that he might not seek a fleeting and evanescent reward in the elements of this world, but look to one which was incorruptible. A promise of the land is afterwards added for no other reason than that it might be a symbol of the divine benevolence, and a type of the heavenly inheritance, as the saints declare their understanding to have been. Thus David rises from temporal blessings to the last and highest of all, "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." "My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God," (Ps. 73:26; 84:2). Again, "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot," (Ps. 16:5). Again "I cried unto thee O Lord: I said Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living," (Ps. 142:5). Those who can venture to speak thus, assuredly declare that their hope rises beyond the world and worldly blessings. This future blessedness, however, the prophets often describe under a type which the Lord had taught them. In this way are to be understood the many passages in Job (Job 18:17) and Isaiah, to the effect, That the righteous shall inherit the earth, that the wicked shall be driven out of it, that Jerusalem will abound in all kinds of riches, and Sion overflow with every species at abundance. In strict propriety, all these things obviously apply not to the land of our pilgrimage, nor to the earthly Jerusalem, but to the true country, the heavenly city of believers, in which the Lord has commanded blessing and life for evermore (Ps. 133:3).
3. Hence the reason why the saints under the Old Testament set a higher value on this mortal life and its blessings than would now be meet. For, though they well knew, that in their race they were not to halt at it as the goal, yet, perceiving that the Lord, in accommodation to their feebleness, had there imprinted the lineaments of his favour, it gave them greater delight than it could have done if considered only in itself. For, as the Lord, in testifying his good will towards believers by means of present blessings, then exhibited spiritual felicity under types and emblems, so, on the other hand, by temporal punishments he gave proofs of his judgment against the reprobate. Hence, by earthly objects, the favour of the Lord was displayed, as well as his punishment inflicted. The unskilful, not considering this analogy and correspondence (if I may so speak) between rewards and punishments, wonder that there is so much variance in God, that those who, in old time, were suddenly visited for their faults with severe and dreadful punishments, he now punishes much more rarely and less severely, as if he had laid aside his former anger, and, for this reason, they can scarcely help imagining, like the Manichees, that the God of the Old Testament was different from that of the New. But we shall easily disencumber ourselves of such doubts if we attend to that mode of divine administration to which I have adverted--that God was pleased to indicate and typify both the gift of future and eternal felicity by terrestrial blessings, as well as the dreadful nature of spiritual death by bodily punishments, at that time when he delivered his covenant to the Israelites as under a kind of veil.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Prosperity and the Camp Fire
By Richard S. Adams
I remember Lily and I listening to a very popular preacher teaching on the blessings of God from Deuteronomy. We could hear his listeners applauding and voicing their approval. We all want to be blessed, but they remind me of the real estate infomercials that used to be on television late at night. That was years ago. Maybe they are still on, but I’m older now so I’m in bed by ten.
I believe God wants to bless us, but equating God’s blessings to Abraham’s land and wealth strikes me as short sighted. It is indeed part of the story, but when I hear a cheer leading message like this I am reminded of a message I heard Dr. Chuck Conniry give to a class of graduating MBA’s and PhD’s.
It was a time of jubilation; celebrating several years of hard work and sacrifice on the student’s part, but it had also been a time of sacrifice for their loved ones. Wives, children, parents and friends were gathered for this rite of passage. This would be a great time to deliver a message on the blessings of God, but instead, Chuck talked about what Jesus said to his disciples. “Pick up your cross and follow me.”
(Mt 16:24) 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ESV
Chuck reminded the audience what kind of world these young and old pastors were entering. The October 2006 news was filled with the story of the Pennsylvania milk truck driver who shot eleven people and killed five girls.
Most of us don’t need an explanation of what Jesus meant by pick up your cross and follow me, certainly these graduating seminary students understood the theological, spiritual and personal meaning of these words. Jesus did not say, jump in your Lexus and follow me or even put on your backpack and follow me. No, he was quite clear when he said pick up your cross
Reality is sobering, but we have become masters of distraction. We come up with all kinds of ways to look the other way, put space between us and what we should be doing and worst of all, we intentionally put space between ourselves and others. It takes more and more to interrupt us from our daily entertainment and the gadgets that distract us.
We are quite delusional if we think an armful of wood will keep our camp fire burning all night. Whether the wood burns slowly or quickly, it still burns. Sooner or later those shadows just beyond the light of the camp fire will be upon us. What then?
Jesus told us we will have trouble. He spoke to any who would listen, but mostly it was those who had plenty of trouble who listened.
(Jn 16:33) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ESV
Jesus said to love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. That’s trouble right there. Love the person who did this to me, said that about me, is always rude to me! Jesus said that all the law and all the commandments rest on loving the Lord and your neighbor with all your strength. Besides the pain in the neck I mentioned, it includes your in-laws and family members who always take advantage of you.
(Mt 22:37–40) 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ESV
Joel Osteen’s message, despite all the cheering in the background, is as hollow as the real estate infomercials that may or may not still be peddling their wares on television.
Jesus said that to whoever would and will listen. He also said the way is narrow and few would, will find it. All the cheers, pep rallies, and promises of abundance won’t stop the camp fire from finally burning out. What then?
(Ho 4:6) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2008, on staff at Portland Seminary since 2009.Articles
- Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
- Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
- Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
- Feb 14 Hindsight
- Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
- Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
- Feb 23 Job 23:14
- Feb 25 No Time To Text
- Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
- Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
- May 10 Ruth | Relationships
- June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
- July 14 Tom - Gen & Revelation
- Nov 27 The Way The World Is
- Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
- Dec 11 Open Door
- Dec 20 Replacement Theology
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Be ‘aware’ of God in your situation
2/5/2018 Bob Gass
‘I was not aware of it.’
(Ge 28:16) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” ESV
One night Jacob had a dream. He saw a ladder with angels on it extending all the way up to heaven, and God said to him, ‘I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go’ (v. 15 NIV 2011 Edition). The next morning Jacob said, ‘The Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ When it comes to recognising God at work in your life, you can be spiritually tuned in, or be like Jacob and not be ‘aware’ of Him. It was business as usual for Moses the day he noticed the burning bush – not an uncommon sight in a hot desert climate. Except this time the bush kept burning, and ‘when…he turned aside to look, God called to him’ (Exodus 3:4 NKJV). You’ll have some of your greatest encounters with God in the everyday experiences of life. But you have to be open and receptive, otherwise you’ll miss Him. Author William Barry says: ‘Whether we’re aware of it or not, at every moment of our existence we’re encountering God…who is trying to catch our attention…to draw us into a reciprocal conscious relationship.’ And you never know where He’ll appear, or through whom He’ll speak. After the resurrection, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was just the gardener. Paul writes, ‘Wake up, sleeper’ (Ephesians 5:14 NIV). You can be awakened by a miraculous healing, a restored relationship, or even a great trial. Don’t just look for God in your triumphs; look for Him in your troubles too. Theologian Frederick Buechner said, ‘There is no event so commonplace but that God is present, leaving you room to recognise or not to recognise Him.’
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Persecuted in England for preaching religious liberty, Roger Williams fled to Boston, arriving this day, February 5th, 1631. He pastored a short time in the Massachusetts Bay Colony only to be sentenced to be sent back to England for his opposition to the state church. He escaped and lived among the Narragansett Indians, befriending them and learning their language. They gave him the land upon which he founded Providence Plantation, Rhode Island. This was the first place ever where the freedom to worship was separated from the control of the state. In 1639, he organized the first Baptist Church in the new world.
Thomas R. Kelly
Again, we have quailed and been tormented in our obscurity, we have fretted and been anxious because of our limitations, set by our own nature and by our surroundings. The tasks are so great, and we have accomplished so little, and been assigned such lowly talents and occupations.
But instructed in one point of view of the paradox, we bestride the mountains or the valleys of earthly importance with a holy indifference, contempt, and detachment. Placed in coveted surroundings, recipients of honors, we count them as refuse, as nothing, utterly nothing. Placed in the shadows, we are happy to pick up a straw for the love of God. No task is so small as to distress us, no honor so great as to turn our heads.
Such loosening of the chains of attachment is easy, if we be given times of a sense of unutterable nearness to Himself. In those moments what would we not leave for Him? What mean honors or dishonors, comforts or wants, in Him? For some persons, in such moments, the work of detachment, contemptus mundi, exists chiefly as an intellectual obligation, ominously hovering over their heads as duty, but not known as experienced joy in the new freedom of utter poverty. Still others obstruct this detachment, reject it as absurd or unneeded, and cling to mammon while they seek to cling to God.
Double-mindedness in this matter is wholly destructive of the spiritual life. Totalitarian are the claims of Christ. No vestige of reservation of "our" rights can remain. Straddle arrangements and compromises between our allegiances to the surface level and the divine Center cannot endure. Unless the willingness is present to be stripped of our last earthly dignity and hope, and yet still praise Him, we have no message in this our day of refugees, bodily and spiritual. Nor have we yielded to the monitions of the Inner Instructor.
But actually completed detachment is vastly harder than intended detachment. Fugitive islands of secret reservations elude us. Rationalizations hide them. Intending absolute honesty, we can only bring ourselves steadfastly into His presence and pray, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults." And in the X-ray light of Eternity we may be given to see the dark spots of life, and divine grace may be given to reinforce our will to complete abandonment in Him. For the guidance of the Light is critical, acid, sharper than a two-edged sword. He asks all, but He gives all.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The only ground of hope for the continuance of our free institutions
is in the proper moral and religious training of the children.
--- President Zachary Taylor American Minute
Count not thyself to have found true peace,
if thou hast felt no grief;
nor that then all is well
if thou hast no adversary;
nor that this is perfect,
if all things fall out according to thy desire.
--- Thomas à Kempis The Imitation of Christ
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
--- Rene Descartes (1596-1650) Sophia's fire
Scripture, collecting in our minds the otherwise confused notions of deity, dispels the darkness and gives us a clear view of the true God. --- John Calvin The Biblical Basis of Christian Counseling for People Helpers: Relating the Basic Teachings of Scripture to People's Problems (Pilgrimage Growth Guide)
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
pay attention to what I am saying.
25 Don’t let your heart turn to her ways;
don’t stray onto her paths.
26 For many are those she has struck down dead,
numerous those she has killed.
27 Her house is the way to Sh’ol;
it leads down to the halls of death.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Are you ready to be offered?
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.
--- Phil. 2:17.
Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful—to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say—‘I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching me and saying, “Well done.” ’
It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door-mat under other people’s feet. Suppose God wants to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased”—are you ready to be offered up like that? Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket—to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served? Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Remembering David Jones
Because you had been in the dark wood
and heard doom's nightingales sing,
men listened to you when you told
them how death is many but life
one. The shell's trumpet sounded
over the fallen, but there was no
resurrection. You learned your lettering
the propped capitals which described
how once they were human beings.
Men march because they are alive,
and their quest is the Grail, garrisoned
by the old furies so it is blood
wets their lips. Europe gave you
your words, but your hand practiced
an earlier language,
weaving time's branches
together to form the thicket the soldier
is caught in, who is love's sacrifice
to itself, with the virgin's smile poised
like a knife over it as over her first born.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Fifth Chapter / Reading the Holy Scripture
TRUTH, not eloquence, is to be sought in reading the Holy Scriptures; and every part must be read in the spirit in which it was written. For in the Scriptures we ought to seek profit rather than polished diction.
Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as willingly as learned and profound ones. We ought not to be swayed by the authority of the writer, whether he be a great literary light or an insignificant person, but by the love of simple truth. We ought not to ask who is speaking, but mark what is said. Men pass away, but the truth of the Lord remains forever. God speaks to us in many ways without regard for persons.
Our curiosity often impedes our reading of the Scriptures, when we wish to understand and mull over what we ought simply to read and pass by.
If you would profit from it, therefore, read with humility, simplicity, and faith, and never seek a reputation for being learned. Seek willingly and listen attentively to the words of the saints; do not be displeased with the sayings of the ancients, for they were not made without purpose.
The Imitation Of Christ
In the unit on Isaac and Jacob, we saw four ways to study the Old Testament. The story of Joseph lends itself to yet another study approach: the typological.
A type is an event, character, or institution which has a place and purpose in Bible history, but which also, by divine design, foreshadows the future.
For instance, Christ is sometimes called the “second Adam,” and in Romans 5:14 Adam is spoken of as a “pattern of the One to come.” There is no exact correspondence here. Yet Christ and Adam are alike in that each is the head of a race: Adam of sinful man; Christ of redeemed humanity. In regard to headship, Adam as the source of humankind does foreshadow Jesus, the source of mankind’s transformed brotherhood.
Another type is seen in the Passover lamb, the animal whose blood was sprinkled over the door of Jewish households at the time of Exodus. When the angel of death saw the blood on the doorposts, he passed over the blood-protected home. So 1 Corinthians says, “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed” (5:7). The helpless lamb, whose blood bought safety for an Old Testament generation, speaks to us of Jesus’ blood as well. Although it is a mistake to think of Jesus Christ as helpless!
A type, then, bears some resemblance in function or meaning in the original historical setting, to something or to someone yet to come.
Some Bible teachers have gone too far in seeking types of Christ or of Christian doctrines in the Old Testament. So we want to be careful in seeking typical significances. We never, for instance, build doctrine on types. What we do is to study carefully a historical setting for a basis of typical meaning. At times we’ll find areas of strong resemblance between Old Testament events or persons and features of the New Testament. And these correspondences will help us appreciate the meaning of truths which stand constant throughout the sweep of history as central elements in God’s plan.
But why speak of types and typology here? Because many Bible students have seen in Joseph’s life and mission many parallels to Christ. Rejected by his brothers, sold for silver, suffering in a foreign land for the good of those who betrayed him, Joseph does bear a striking resemblance to the Saviour. And Joseph’s forgiving spirit also foreshadows the attitude of Jesus, who one day would cry from a cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
The Teacher's Commentary
If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?
--- Jeremiah 12:5.
Yes, unbelievably they come. ( When Life Tumbles In Then What? )
You remember our Lord’s story of two men who lived in the same village, went to the same synagogue, and one day, some kind of gale blew into their lives. In the one case, everything collapsed. For that unhappy soul had built on sand, and in his day of need, everything was undermined and vanished. But the other, though he, too, faced the emptiness, the loneliness, the pain, came through braver and stronger and mellower and nearer God. For he had built on the rock.
That has always been my chief difficulty about preaching. Thomas Carlyle said that the chirpy optimism of Emerson maddened him. “He seemed to me like a man, standing himself well back out of the least touch of the spray, who throws chatty observations on the beauty of the weather to a poor soul battling for his life in huge billows that are buffeting the breath and the life out of him, wrestling with mighty currents that keep sweeping him away.” It did not help.
I, too, have had a happy life, and always when I have spoken of the gospel and the love of God and Christ’s brave reading of this puzzling life, it has seemed that an easy answer lay ready to anybody who found these hard to credit. “Yes, yes,” they might well say irritably, “if I stood in the sunshine where you are, no doubt I, too, could talk like that! But if your path ran over the cold moors, where the winds cut to the very bone, if you were sat down where I am, I wonder if you would be so absolutely sure?” We will listen to Jesus Christ—for he spoke from the darkness round the cross. We may not understand him or agree with him or obey him, but nobody can challenge his right to speak. But you! Wait until you stand in the rushing of the Jordan. And what will you say then?
I will tell you now. I know that we are warned in Job that the most drastic test of faith is not even these tremendous sorrows but a long purgatory of physical and mental agony. Still, I do not think that anyone will challenge my right to speak today. I always thought greatly of the Christian faith, but I think more of it now, far more.
--- Arthur John Gossip
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
To God Be the Glory
The hymns To God Be the Glory, Blessed Assurance, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, and He Hideth My Soul remind us that it’s never too late to begin serving Christ. Some people start as children, others as teens or young adults. But Moses was 80 when God commissioned him, and Paul was middle-aged. So was Fanny Crosby, author of the above hymns.
Fanny was born in a cottage in South East, New York, in 1820. Six weeks later, she caught a cold in her eyes, and a visiting doctor prescribed mustard poultices, leaving her virtually blind for life. Growing into childhood, she determined to make the best of it, writing at age eight: O what a happy soul I am! / Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
Fanny spent many years in New York’s Institution for the Blind, first as a student, then as a teacher and writer-in-residence. Her career flourished; her fame swelled. She recited her poems before Congress and became friends with the most powerful people in America, including presidents.
But not until 1851 did Fanny meet her greatest friend, the Lord Jesus. While attending a revival meeting at John Street Methodist Church in New York, she later recalled, a prayer was offered, and “they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, ‘Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?’ and when they reached the line, ‘Here, Lord, I give myself away,’ my very soul was flooded with celestial light.”
Fourteen years later she met the hymnist William Bradbury, who told her, “Fanny, I thank God we have met, for I think you can write hymns.” Bradbury suggested an idea for a song he needed, and on February 5, 1864, Fanny Crosby, seizing his idea, wrote: We are going, we are going / To a home beyond the skies / Where the fields are robed in beauty / And the sunlight never dies.
It was her first hymn, and she was 44. But by the time she reached her “home beyond the skies” 50 years later, she had written 8,000 more.
I will start playing my harps before the sun rises. I will praise you, LORD, for everyone to hear; I will sing hymns to you in every nation. Your love reaches higher than the heavens, And your loyalty extends beyond the clouds. --- Psalm 108:2-4.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 5
“The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” --- 1 John 4:14.
It is a sweet thought that Jesus Christ did not come forth without his Father’s permission, authority, consent, and assistance. He was sent of the Father, that he might be the Saviour of men. We are too apt to forget that, while there are distinctions as to the persons in the Trinity, there are no distinctions of honour. We too frequently ascribe the honour of our salvation, or at least the depths of its benevolence, more to Jesus Christ than we do the Father. This is a very great mistake. What if Jesus came? Did not his Father send him? If he spake wondrously, did not his Father pour grace into his lips, that he might be an able minister of the new covenant? He who knoweth the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost as he should know them, never setteth one before another in his love; he sees them at Bethlehem, at Gethsemane, and on Calvary, all equally engaged in the work of salvation. O Christian, hast thou put thy confidence in the Man Christ Jesus? Hast thou placed thy reliance solely on him? And art thou united with him? Then believe that thou art united unto the God of heaven. Since to the Man Christ Jesus thou art brother, and holdest closest fellowship, thou art linked thereby with God the Eternal, and “the Ancient of days” is thy Father and thy friend. Didst thou ever consider the depth of love in the heart of Jehovah, when God the Father equipped his Son for the great enterprise of mercy? If not, be this thy day’s meditation. The Father sent him! Contemplate that subject. Think how Jesus works what the Father wills. In the wounds of the dying Saviour see the love of the great I AM. Let every thought of Jesus be also connected with the Eternal, ever-blessed God, for “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.”
Evening - February 5
“At that time Jesus answered.” --- Matthew 11:25.
This is a singular way in which to commence a verse—“At that time Jesus answered.” If you will look at the context you will not perceive that any person had asked him a question, or that he was in conversation with any human being. Yet it is written, “Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father.” When a man answers, he answers a person who has been speaking to him. Who, then, had spoken to Christ? his Father. Yet there is no record of it; and this should teach us that Jesus had constant fellowship with his Father, and that God spake into his heart so often, so continually, that it was not a circumstance singular enough to be recorded. It was the habit and life of Jesus to talk with God. Even as Jesus was, in this world, so are we; let us therefore learn the lesson which this simple statement concerning him teaches us. May we likewise have silent fellowship with the Father, so that often we may answer him, and though the world wotteth not to whom we speak, may we be responding to that secret voice unheard of any other ear, which our own ear, opened by the Spirit of God, recognizes with joy. God has spoken to us, let us speak to God—either to set our seal that God is true and faithful to his promise, or to confess the sin of which the Spirit of God has convinced us, or to acknowledge the mercy which God’s providence has given, or to express assent to the great truths which God the Holy Ghost has opened to our understanding. What a privilege is intimate communion with the Father of our spirits! It is a secret hidden from the world, a joy with which even the nearest friend intermeddleth not. If we would hear the whispers of God’s love, our ear must be purged and fitted to listen to his voice. This very evening may our hearts be in such a state, that when God speaks to us, we, like Jesus, may be prepared at once to answer him.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
IMMORTAL LOVE–FOREVER FULL
John Greenleaf Whittier, 1807–1892
To know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)
Love is Silence—when your words would hurt.
Love is Patience—when your neighbor’s curt.
Love is Deafness—when a scandal flows.
Love is Thoughtfulness—for others’ woes.
Love is Promptness—when stern duty calls.
Love is Courage—when misfortune falls.
The Bible teaches that the three cardinal virtues of the Christian life are faith, hope, love, with love as the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). These virtues in a person’s life are the most convincing evidences of a personal relationship with Christ. True faith must always lead to a life of love for God and others. It also gives purpose for this life and the glorious hope of spending eternity with our King of Love. Our love relationship with others should be characterized as sacrificial, sensitive, and sharing. We should relate to people even as Jesus did. He loved individuals simply for themselves and met and accepted them at the place of their personal need.
In 1867 John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker and recognized as one of America’s finest poets, wrote a 38 stanza poem titled “Our Master.” This hymn text with its emphasis upon the constancy of God’s immortal love was taken from that poem. It was Whittier who once stated “a good hymn is the best use to which poetry can be directed.” The musical setting by William V. Wallace, a Scottish violinist and composer, was adapted from a longer love song, “Waft, Ye Winds,” written by Wallace in 1856.
Immortal Love—forever full, forever flowing free, forever shared, forever whole, a never ebbing sea!
We may not climb the heav’nly steeps to bring the Lord Christ down; in vain we search the lowest deeps, for Him no depths can drown.
But warm, sweet, tender, even yet a present help is He; and faith has still its Olivet, and love its Galilee.
The healing of His seamless dress is by our beads of pain; we touch Him in life’s throng and press, and we are whole again.
Thru Him the first fond prayers are said our lips of childhood frame; the last low whispers of our dead are burdened with His name.
O Lord and Master of us all, whate’er our name or sign, we own Thy sway, we hear Thy call, we test our lives by Thine!
For Today: Psalm 139; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:38, 39; 1 John 4:19.
Reflect on the constancy of our Lord’s immortal love as you meditate on this thoughtful hymn text. ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Monday, February 5, 2018 | Epiphany
Monday Of The Fifth Week After Epiphany
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 80
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 77 (79)
Old Testament Genesis 25:19–34
New Testament Hebrews 13:1–16
Gospel John 7:37–52
Index of Readings
80 To The Choirmaster: According To Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, A Psalm.
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
4 O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It sent out its branches to the sea
and its shoots to the River.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13 The boar from the forest ravages it,
and all that move in the field feed on it.
14 Turn again, O God of hosts!
Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
15 the stock that your right hand planted,
and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Psalm 77 (79)
77 To The Choirmaster: According To Jeduthun. A Psalm Of Asaph.
1 I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
4 You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old,
the years long ago.
6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
7 “Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
[ 79 A Psalm Of Asaph.
1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
2 They have given the bodies of your servants
to the birds of the heavens for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.
3 They have poured out their blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there was no one to bury them.
4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
mocked and derided by those around us.
5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out your anger on the nations
that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
that do not call upon your name!
7 For they have devoured Jacob
and laid waste his habitation.
8 Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and atone for our sins,
for your name’s sake!
10 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
be known among the nations before our eyes!
11 Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
12 Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors
the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise. ]
19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”
24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
13 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as6 the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
The Book of Common Prayer