Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners’ DreamsGenesis 40:1 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.
5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” See "Help Others" in the panel on the right 8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”
9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”
20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
Teaching About DivorceMark 10:1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.
2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Let the Children Come to Me13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
The Rich Young Man17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”
The Request of James and John35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Job Replies: My Complaint Is JustJob 6:1 Then Job answered and said:
“Oh that my vexation were weighed,
and all my calamity laid in the balances!
3 For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
therefore my words have been rash.
4 For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison;
the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
5 Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass,
or the ox low over his fodder?
6 Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt,
or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow?
7 My appetite refuses to touch them;
they are as food that is loathsome to me.
8 “Oh that I might have my request,
and that God would fulfill my hope,
9 that it would please God to crush me,
that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
10 This would be my comfort;
I would even exult in pain unsparing,
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should be patient?
12 Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?
13 Have I any help in me,
when resource is driven from me?
14 “He who withholds kindness from a friend
forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
15 My brothers are treacherous as a torrent-bed,
as torrential streams that pass away,
16 which are dark with ice,
and where the snow hides itself.
17 When they melt, they disappear;
when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
18 The caravans turn aside from their course;
they go up into the waste and perish.
19 The caravans of Tema look,
the travelers of Sheba hope.
20 They are ashamed because they were confident;
they come there and are disappointed.
21 For you have now become nothing;
you see my calamity and are afraid.
22 Have I said, ‘Make me a gift’?
Or, ‘From your wealth offer a bribe for me’?
23 Or, ‘Deliver me from the adversary’s hand’?
Or, ‘Redeem me from the hand of the ruthless’?
24 “Teach me, and I will be silent;
make me understand how I have gone astray.
25 How forceful are upright words!
But what does reproof from you reprove?
26 Do you think that you can reprove words,
when the speech of a despairing man is wind?
27 You would even cast lots over the fatherless,
and bargain over your friend.
28 “But now, be pleased to look at me,
for I will not lie to your face.
29 Please turn; let no injustice be done.
Turn now; my vindication is at stake.
30 Is there any injustice on my tongue?
Cannot my palate discern the cause of calamity?
Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
The Message of Salvation to All5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”
“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Three Things You Can Do to Help Your Kids Defend the Truth
By J. Warner Wallace 2/5/2018
The statistics are alarmingly clear: Young Christians are leaving the Church in increasing numbers and when polled, most cite some form of intellectual skepticism as the chief cause of their departure. If you’re a parent, listen to the words offered by young ex-believers (excerpted from recent studies):
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
The Epidemic of Relativism Among Christian Youth
By Lenny Esposito 9/30/2014
I'm concerned. I'm deeply concerned. There's an epidemic spreading among Christian youth today that can have dangerous and perhaps even deadly consequences. What makes this more dangerous is that most parents and pastors don't even realize their kids are infected. I'm speaking of the danger of moral relativism, and how it's become rampant even within most Christian colleges and universities. Ask Christian young adults who have been active in their church or youth group if something like abortion or homosexual unions are wrong and many may say yes. But press them on if they should declare others sinful or wrong for participating in such actions and you may get a different response, one more akin to "It's wrong for me since I'm a Christian, but they aren't so it's right for them."
This idea that the only things binding on an individual is whatever his or her personal perception of morality is has become rampant among our youth today. I have a ministry partner who for the last couple of years also teaches at a conservative Christian college in Southern California. He has told me of how consistently he faces moral relativistic beliefs held by the students each year. He offered one example that is typical: he asked his students to pick a topic and defend it as a writing assignment. A young science major chose to write a defense against the use of embryonic stem cells in research, leveraging such appropriate arguments as how life begins at conception in her paper. However, when asked what the student would do if she discovered that her lab partners were using embryos in research, she replied that she couldn't tell them what to do. Their beliefs are different from hers, so she felt that she had no right to push her morality on another. While her paper read as though she was a moral absolutist, further digging showed that she was only applying that standard to herself, not others.
The Danger of Believing Relativism
This kind of thinking is how tyranny is born. If one cannot tell another his actions are evil, then they will continue until those that would dare to oppose immorality are themselves labeled as immoral. We have seen this in the criminal prosecution of Christians who simply wish to not be a part of homosexual unions. They are fined and their businesses closed down, really only acts of vengeance for nothing more than holding to a moral standard. And now, the kids we send to college hold not the belief that they cannot stand their moral ground, but that they should not stand their moral ground, because to do so is itself an immoral act!
Christians of all people should know that sin is sin regardless of whether one believes it to be or not. If moral precepts are true, then they are binding on all of humanity. Imagine if Nazi Germany was to have won World War II and Hitler was successful in his genocide of the Jewish people. Now, imagine 2014 in such an alternate timeline where every last soul on earth believes that Hitler was the savior of humanity for carrying out such a feat. Would that make it right? Could it ever be right simply because of popular consensus? Of course not!
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
Is Your Heart Overwhelmed?
By Liberty McArtor 2/1/2017
There’s one Bible verse that my mom always quoted more than the rest: When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2).
She would usually remind me of it when I was worrying about something, which I tended to do a lot. I would worry about my grades, choosing the right college, never getting enough driving hours in to actually obtain a driver license ….
In retrospect, my teen woes sound pretty silly. But the truth is, I haven’t changed that much. I still often find my heart overwhelmed, whether it’s by divisive politics and the evils of the world, or trying to save enough money and get the laundry done.
It’s like I can’t catch a breath. A break. All I catch are waves in the face, just when I think I’ve got my head above water.
But as my heart starts sinking under the weight of worry, Mom’s words — King David’s words — come floating my way. The verse is a true lifesaver, and usually one I didn’t even think to ask for.
Why Believing in Miracles is Not Illogical
By Lenny Esposito 1/24/2017
When Christians believe in miracles, are they being irrational? A recent Pew Research article entitled "Why America's 'nones' left religion behind" held this interesting quote:
About half of current religious "nones" who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention "science" as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said "I'm a scientist now, and I don't believe in miracles." Others reference "common sense," "logic" or a "lack of evidence" – or simply say they do not believe in God.
There's a whole lot in that paragraph to unpack. However, the claim that faith is somehow against logic caught my eye. Just how would Christianity be illogical? One claim made by atheists is that believing in miracle accounts like those presented in the Bible is itself illogical.
The charge that believing in miracles is illogical as a long history, and most will point to David Hume's famous essay "On Miracles" in his An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. There, he makes this charge:
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.
What is a Miracle? | I think Hume makes two mistakes in his assertion above. First, his definition of a miracle, while widely repeated, is simply wrong. It isn't what Christians believe. Miracles are not violations of the laws of nature, but God's direct interaction to suspend his natural laws, which is a big difference.
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Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
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:
25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
the LORD my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
John Loftus and His Hypothetical God
By Tom Gilson 2/4/2017
John Loftus’s opinion is clear: God is a screw-up. Lazy. Ignorant. Incompetent. Or at least that’s what God would be, if God existed.
I’m reading John’s book How To Defend the Christian Faith: Advice From an Atheist, which he was kind enough to send me for review. Maybe he thought it was only fair, because it’s a book-length review of apologists like myself.
Among other things, he says (page 21) we’re “bumbling idiots and incompetent fools” — but that’s in comparison to an all-knowing God, so actually he wasn’t being all that unkind to us at that point. Don’t worry, though, it’s in there — he just saves it for other passages.
God’s Incompetence? | Here in the vicinity of that quote, though, he aims his criticism at God’s “failure” to accomplish his own task of getting people to believe in himself. In the opening paragraphs of chapter 1 he writes,
I’m going to address the most important question of all for would-be Christian apologists. It’s the obvious elephant in the room, not seen by apologists because they don’t have eyes for it. My argument is that God, if he exists, failed to effectively communicate his will. He failed to provide the sufficient evidence we need to believe.
What God should have done, says Loftus, is (1) to present himself to the world with incontrovertible evidence; for example, in the form of “overwhelming substantiation” for the gospel records, or more directly (2), “he could just speak to everyone directly. He could be a voice in everyone’s head.”
Tom Gilson is a senior editor of The Stream, author of the new 2016 parent-friendly guide to keeping kids in the faith, titled Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, the chief editor of True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism, and Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactician: A Preliminary Response To "A Manual For Creating Atheists" the author/host of the Thinking Christian blog.
He lives in southwest Ohio with Sara, his wife, and their two 20-something children. He has received a B.Mus. in Music Education with a specialty in performance from Michigan State University and an M.S. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida. When he’s not writing he loves drinking coffee, canoeing, walking in the woods, and playing his trombones.
5 Reasons You Should Listen To Christian Podcasts
By Landon Coleman 2/6/2017
If you’re not listening to Christian podcasts, I think you’re missing out. Here are 5 reasons you should be listening to Christian podcasts (tomorrow I’ll post 5 reasons you should be wary of “Christian” podcasts).
1. Podcasts can give you more exposure to the Word of God. Pastors often lament the fact that in a week of 168 hours we only get a couple of hours with our people at church. However, listening to good podcasts during the week can increase your exposure to the Word of God beyond the Sunday morning worship gathering.
2. Podcasts can help you stay current with your church. Many churches record and post sermons online. This is a great way to keep your people connected to the teaching ministry of your church. Older members who are home bound, members who are traveling, and members who have to work Sundays can stay current.
3. Podcasts allow you to learn from some great Bible teachers. The number of top notch Bible teachers you can access for free on the internet is simply remarkable. We live in a time and a place where we have more access to phenomenal Bible teaching than any other people in church history. Don’t waste that opportunity.
4. Podcasts help you “redeem the time.” Most of us have redeemable time that we could devote to learning. It may be while you do yard work, while you exercise, while you rock a baby to sleep, or while you’re driving in the car. These are moments that can easily be redeemed by plugging in and listening to a good Christian podcast.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
10. The three last contrasts to which we have adverted (sec. 4, 7, 9),
are between the Law and the Gospel, and hence in these the Law is
designated by the name of the Old, and the Gospel by that of the New
Testament. The first is of wider extent (sec. 1), comprehending under
it the promises which were given even before the Law. When Augustine
maintained that these were not to be included under the name of the Old
Testament (August. ad Bonifac. lib. 3 c. 14), he took a most correct
view, and meant nothing different from what we have now taught; for he
had in view those passages of Jeremiah and Paul in which the Old
Testament is distinguished from the word of grace and mercy. In the
same passage, Augustine, with great shrewdness remarks, that from the
beginning of the world the sons of promise, the divinely regenerated,
who, through faith working by love, obeyed the commandments, belonged
to the New Testament; entertaining the hope not of carnal, earthly,
temporal, but spiritual, heavenly, and eternal blessings, believing
especially in a Mediator, by whom they doubted not both that the Spirit
was administered to them, enabling them to do good, and pardon imparted
as often as they sinned. The thing which he thus intended to assert
was, that all the saints mentioned in Scripture, from the beginning of
the world, as having been specially selected by God, were equally with
us partakers of the blessing of eternal salvation. The only difference
between our division and that of Augustine is, that ours (in accordance
with the words of our Saviour, "All the prophets and the law prophesied
until John," Mt. 11:13) distinguishes between the gospel light and that
more obscure dispensation of the word which preceded it, while the
other division simply distinguishes between the weakness of the Law and
the strength of the Gospel. And here also, with regard to the holy
fathers, it is to be observed, that though they lived under the Old
Testament, they did not stop there, but always aspired to the New, and
so entered into sure fellowship with it. Those who, contented with
existing shadows, did not carry their thoughts to Christ, the Apostle
charges with blindness and malediction. To say nothing of other
matters, what greater blindness can be imagined, than to hope for the
expiation of sin from the sacrifice of a beast, or to seek mental
purification in external washing with water, or to attempt to appease
God with cold ceremonies, as if he were greatly delighted with them?
Such are the absurdities into which those fall who cling to legal
observances, without respect to Christ.
11. The fifth distinction which we have to add consists in this, that until the advent of Christ, the Lord set apart one nation, to which he confined the covenant of his grace. Moses says, "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance," (Deut. 32:8, 9). In another passage he thus addresses the people: "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed, after them, even you, above all people, as it is this day," (Deut. 10:14, 15). That people, therefore, as if they had been the only part of mankind belonging to him he favoured exclusively with the knowledge of his name, depositing his covenant, as it were, in their bosom, manifesting to them the presence of his divinity and honouring them with all privileges. But to say nothing of other favours, the only one here considered is his binding them to him by the communion of his word, so that he was called and regarded as their God. Meanwhile, other nations, as if they had had no kind of intercourse with him, he allowed to wander in vanity not even supplying them with the only means of preventing their destructions--viz. the preaching of his word. Israel was thus the Lord's favourite child the others were aliens. Israel was known and admitted to trust and guardianship, the others left in darkness; Israel was made holy, the others were profane; Israel was honoured with the presence of God, the others kept far aloof from him. But on the fulness of the time destined to renew all things, when the Mediator between God and man was manifested the middle wall of partition, which had long kept the divine mercy within the confines of Israel, was broken down, peace was preached to them who were afar off, as well as to those who were nigh, that being, together reconciled to God, they might unite as one people. Wherefore, there is now no respect of Jew or Greek, of circumcision or uncircumcision, but Christ is all and in all. To him the heathen have been given for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession (Ps. 2:8), that he may rule without distinction "from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth," (Ps. 72:8).
12. The calling of the Gentiles, therefore, is a distinguishing feature illustrative of the superiority of the New over the Old Testament. This, it is true, had been previously declared by the prophets, in passages both numerous and clear, but still the fulfilment of it was deferred to the reign of the Messiah. Even Christ did not acknowledge it at the very outset of his ministry, but delayed it until having completed the whole work of redemption in all its parts, and finished the period of his humiliation, he received from the Father "a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow," (Phil. 2:9, 10). Hence the period being not yet completed, he declared to the woman of Canaan, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel," (Mt. 15:24). Nor in his first commission to the Apostles does he permit them to pass the same limits, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," (Mt. 10:5, 6). However plainly the thing may have been declared in numerous passages, when it was announced to the Apostles, it seemed to them so new and extraordinary, that they were horrified at it as something monstrous. At length, when they did act upon it, it was timorously, and not without reluctance. Nor is this strange; for it seemed by no means in accordance with reason, that the Lord, who for so many ages had selected Israel from the rest of the nations should suddenly, as it were, change his purpose, and abandon his choice. Prophecy, indeed, had foretold it, but they could not be so attentive to prophecies, as not to be somewhat startled by the novel spectacle thus presented to their eye. It was not enough that God had in old times given specimens of the future calling of the Gentiles. Those whom he had so called were very few in number, and, moreover, he in a manner adopted them into the family of Abraham, before allowing them to approach his people. But by this public call, the Gentiles were not only made equal to the Jews, but seemed to be substituted into their place, as if the Jews had been dead.  We may add, that any strangers whom God had formerly admitted into the body of the Church, had never been put on the same footing with the Jews. Wherefore, it is not without cause that Paul describes it as the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints (Col. 1:26).
13. The whole difference between the Old and New Testaments has, I think, been fully and faithfully explained, under these four or five heads in so far as requisite for ordinary instruction. But since this variety in governing the Church, this diversity in the mode of teaching, this great change in rites and ceremonies, is regarded by some as an absurdity, we must reply to them before passing to other matters. And this can be done briefly, because the objections are not so strong  as to require a very careful refutation. It is unreasonable they say, to suppose that God who is always consistent With himself permitted such a change as afterwards to disapprove what he had once ordered and commended. I answer, that God ought not to be deemed mutable, because he adapts different forms to different ages, as he knows to be expedient for each. If the husband man prescribes one set of duties to his household in winter, and another in summer, we do not therefore charge him with fickleness or think he deviates from the rules of good husbandry which depends on the regular course of nature. In like manner, if a father of a family, in educating, governing, and managing his children, pursues one course in boyhood another in adolescence and another in manhood we do not therefore say that he is fickle, or abandons his opinions. Why, then do we charge God with inconstancy when he makes fit and congruous arrangements for diversities of times? The latter similitude ought to be completely satisfactory. Paul likens the Jews to children, and Christians to grown men (Gal. 4:1). What irregularity is there in the Divine arrangement, which confined them to the rudiments which were suitable to their age, and trains us by a firmer and more manly discipline? The constancy of God is conspicuous in this, that he delivered the same doctrine to all ages, and persists in requiring that worship of his name which he commanded at the beginning. His changing the external form and manner does not show that he is liable to change. In so far he has only accommodated himself to the mutable and diversified capacities of man.
14. But it is said, Whence this diversity, save that God chose to make it? Would it not have been as easy for him from the first, as after the advent of Christ, to reveal eternal life in clear terms without any figures, to instruct his people by a few clear sacraments, to bestow his Holy Spirit, and diffuse his grace over the whole globe? This is very much the same as to bring a charge against God, because he created the world at so late a period, when he could have done it at the first, or because he appointed the alternate changes of summer and winter, of clay and night. With the feeling common to every pious mind, let us not doubt that every thing which God has done has been done wisely and justly, although we may be ignorant of the cause which required that it should be so done. We should arrogate too much to ourselves were we not to concede to God that he may have reasons for his counsel, which we are unable to discern. It is strange, they say, that he now repudiates and abominates the sacrifices of beasts, and the whole apparatus of that Levitical priesthood in which he formerly delighted. As if those external and transient matters could delight God, or affect him in any way!  It has already been observed, that he appointed none of these things on his own account, but instituted them all for the salvation of men. If a physician, adopting the best method, effects a cure upon a youth, and afterwards, when the same individual has grown old, and is again subject to the same disease, employs a different method of cure, can it be said that he repudiates the method which he formerly approved? Nay, continuing to approve of it, he only adapts himself to the different periods of life. In like manner, it was necessary in representing Christ in his absence, and predicting his future advent, to employ a different set of signs from those which are employed, now that his actual manifestation is exhibited. It is true, that since the advent of Christ, the calling of God is more widely addressed to all nations, and the graces of the Spirit more liberally bestowed than they had previously been. But who, I ask, can deny the right of God to have the free and uncontrolled disposal of his gifts, to select the nations which he may be pleased to illuminate, the places which he may be pleased to illustrate by the preaching of his word, and the mode and measure of progress and success which he may be pleased to give to his doctrine,--to punish the world for its ingratitude by withdrawing the knowledge of his name for certain ages, and again, when he so pleases, to restore it in mercy? We see, then, that in the calumnies which the ungodly employ in this matter, to perplex the minds of the simple, there is nothing that ought to throw doubt either on the justice of God or the veracity of Scripture.
 The French is,"et ? icelle se doivent reduire quasi tous les passages, auxquels le viel Testament est opposé au Nouveau par comparaison."--And to this ought in a manner to be referred all the passages in which the Old Testament is, by way of camparison, opposed to the New.
 "Qualiter et aliis Sacramentis dari solet." French, "comme l'Escriture a coustume d'attribuer aux sacremens le nom des choses qu'ils representent;"--just as Scripture is wont to give sacraments the names of the things which they represent.
 "Passim." French, "cá et lá;"--here and there.
 "In demortuorum locum." The French is simply, "en leur lieu;"--into their place.
 "Firmæ," French, "Ne si fortes, ne si urgentes;"--neither so strong, nor so pressing.
 "Aut ullo modo affciant." French "ou comme si jamais il s'y fust arreté;"--or as if he could ever have stopped at them.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
By Richard S. Adams
I doubt many of us have endured what Job was required to experience, but I wonder if the seeming hopelessness of life doesn’t overtake all of us at one time or another? People and circumstances, events and situations affect us all differently, because, despite being so similar in so many ways, at the same time, we are very different.
When I think of difference I don’t think about color so much as I do world view. Still, though we all may have backgrounds as distinct as our parents, as different as our fingerprints, as unique as our genetic code, I still think Job 6:14-23 resonates with a lot of us.
Who cannot remember a time or times when you didn’t feel like Job, even if, ... in all honesty, your situation just wasn’t that bad. It is frequently necessary for me to be very intentional about what I am thinking about to prevent feelings of self-pity from taking root. After all, things can change for good or bad very quickly.
(Mt 6:34) Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. ESV
I know people who combat the feelings of Job 6:14-23 by going shopping, throwing themselves into their work, indulging in an unhealthy relationship, something, anything external to themselves. I know from experience these periods of being out of step with our own common sense are dangerous.
During these cycles, cycles because they return every now and then, do not make any life changing decisions. This is a time to draw closer to God, not to go to the mall or shop Amazon for a quick fix. Get your Bible and let God talk to you. Don't meditate and spend your time reflecting on your own thoughts and don't follow your heart! Your heart is the source of this malaise. One directee told me he needed a long motorcycle ride along the coast to be alone with himself. These delusional self-centered thoughts are the problem not the remedy. Instead of focusing inward look around and consider meeting someone else’s need.
(Je 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ESV
Thank God, as far as I know, I have no friends like Job. My struggles are mostly processing the uncertainty of 'now', rather than dealing with the horrors Job experienced. Most of our mental and emotional funks are a trust building opportunity for all of us. Feeling disconnected, rejected or Elijah like is a ruse of the enemy that too often works.
I know that more than anything … more than anything the desire of God’s heart is that you and I, all of us, trust God with all our heart. God continues to be faithful. In our learning to wait on God, instead of following the counsel of a broken world, we will get better and better at letting go of the anxiety and fears that isolate us from those who care about us.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox 1/2009 to 7/2018.
- 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
- July 15 Knowledge and World Peace
- July 16 The Church as Lobbyist
- Aug 3 Have You Noticed
- 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
Trust God, and act!
2/7/2018 Bob Gass
'Perhaps the LORD will act on our behalf.’
(1 Sa 14:6) Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” ESV
During the early days of Saul’s kingship, the Philistines controlled the western border of Israel, and battle lines were drawn at the pass called Michmash. Saul seemed content to sit on the sidelines, but Jonathan wanted to be on the front line. ‘Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side’ (v. 1 NIV 2011 Edition). There was only Jonathan and his armour bearer, so the odds didn’t look good. But when you make a move that is motivated by God’s glory, it moves the heart and hand of God. What it requires is a step of faith. And often it’s the longest, hardest, and scariest step you’ve ever taken. Usually when Israel’s kings went into battle it was because they had received a word from the Lord assuring their victory. Jonathan had received no such word. He simply said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf.’ Most people operate out of the opposite mentality: ‘Perhaps the Lord won’t act on our behalf.’ They let fear dictate their decisions instead of faith. So, they end up with Saul, sitting on the sidelines. And how did the battle turn out for Jonathan and his armour bearer? ‘So the Lord rescued Israel that day’ (v. 23 NIV 1984 Edition). All it took was one daring decision! That’s all it ever takes. When you move, God will move on your behalf. And if you don’t move, you’ll always wonder ‘what if?’ Our longest regrets are our inaction regrets – the things we would have, could have, or should have done but did not do. So, the word for you today is: trust God, and act!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Frederick Douglass was born this day, February 7, 1817. A former slave, he had become an abolitionist and a commanding spokesman for slaves. His powerful orations exposed the injustices of slavery and championed their right to life and liberty. In retelling of his conversion, Frederick Douglass said: “I loved all mankind, slaveholder not excepted, though I abhorred slavery more than ever. I saw the world in a new light…. I gathered scattered pages of the Bible from the filthy street gutters, and washed and dried them, that… I might get a word or two of wisdom from them.”
Thomas R. Kelly
1. THE NATURE OF HOLY OBEDIENCE
Meister Eckhart wrote: "There are plenty to follow our Lord half-way, but not the other half. They will give up possessions, friends and honors, but it touches them too closely to disown themselves." It is just this astonishing life which is willing to follow Him the other half, sincerely to disown itself, this life which intends complete obedience, without any reservations, that I would propose to you in all humility, in all boldness, in all seriousness. I mean this literally, utterly, completely, and I mean it for you and for me- commit your lives in unreserved obedience to Him.
If you don't realize the revolutionary explosiveness of this proposal you don't understand what I mean. Only now and then comes a man or a woman who, like John Woolman or Francis of Assisi, is willing to be utterly obedient, to go the other half, to follow God's faintest whisper. But when such a commitment comes in a human life, God breaks through, miracles are wrought, world-renewing divine forces are released, history changes. There is nothing more important now than to have the human race endowed with just such committed lives. Now is no time to say, "Lo, here. Lo, there." Now is the time to say, "Thou art the man." To this extraordinary life I call you or He calls you through me - not as a lovely ideal, a charming pattern to aim at hopefully, but as a serious, concrete program of life, to be lived here and now, in industrial America, by you and by me.
This is something wholly different from mild, conventional religion which, with respectable skirts held back by dainty fingers, anxiously tries to fish the world out of the mud hole of its own selfishness. Our churches, our meeting houses are full of such respectable and amiable people. We have plenty of Quakers to follow God the first half of the way. Many of us have become as mildly and as conventionally religious as were the church folk of three centuries ago, against whose mildness and mediocrity and passionlessness George Fox and his followers flung themselves with all the passion of a glorious and a new discovery and with all the energy of dedicated lives. In some, says William James, religion exists as a dull habit, in others as an acute fever. Religion as a dull habit is not that for which Christ lived and died.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
To know God
is at once the easiest
and the most difficult thing in the world.
--- A.W. Tozer
Study hard, for the well of spiritual knowledge is deep, and our brains are shallow.
--- Richard Baxter
No nation is better than its sacred book. In that book are expressed its highest ideals of life, and no nation rises above those ideals. No nation has a sacred book to be compared with ours. This American nation from its first settlement at Jamestown to the present hour is based upon and permeated by the principles of the Bible. The more this Bible enters into our national life the grander and purer and better will that life become.
--- David Josiah Brewer
Whereas the study of Scripture centers on exegesis, the meditation of Scripture centers on internalizing and personalizing the passage. The written Word becomes a living wordaddressed to you.
--- Richard Foster
Almost nothing that makes any real difference can be proved.
--- Frederick Buechner
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
I attain knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of ADONAI is hatred of evil.
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil ways and duplicitous speech.
14 Good advice is mine, and common sense;
I am insight, power is mine.
15 By me kings reign,
and princes make just laws.
16 By me princes govern,
nobles too, and all the earth’s rulers.
17 I love those who love me;
and those who seek me will find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me,
lasting wealth and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, fine gold,
my produce better than the finest silver.
20 I follow the course of righteousness
along the paths of justice,
21 to endow with wealth those who love me
and fill their treasuries.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Hand Of God:
Finding His Care In All Circumstances
We read in Genesis 40:6–7 that Joseph took that opportunity when he saw that Pharaoh’s two officials were dejected. Joseph could have said to himself, Look, I’ve got my own problems. I’m the one who should be dejected. Forget these guys.
But the reason Joseph noticed these men were downcast is because he was looking. His head wasn’t drooped so low by his own grief that he couldn’t see the needs of others.
I once read about a seminary professor who went into a depression so deep that he didn’t care about anyone or anything. Everything seemed hopeless.
One day a visiting friend urged him to think of people who had been of major help to him, and from that list to select one person to whom to write a letter expressing his gratitude.
The man thought about it for some time, and into his mind’s eye came the face of a schoolteacher he had had when he was a small boy. This teacher had instilled in him a love of literature, and he was grateful. So he decided to write her a letter telling her how she had inspired him.
He received a reply in the shaky handwriting of the elderly woman. The note said, “Dear William, when I read your letter I was blinded with tears, for I remember you as a little fellow in my class. You have warmed my old heart. I taught school for fifty years. Yours is the first letter of thanks I have received from a student, and I shall cherish it until I die.”
With that letter, a little sliver of light came into the dungeon of this professor’s life. He was encouraged to write another thank-you note to a significant person in his life, and then another and another until he had written five hundred notes of gratitude and was no longer in the depression.
Are you in a dungeon at the moment? Are circumstances closing you down that are known only to you and to God? Turn your gaze outward toward others, and you will see those who need your help.
Instead of quitting or trying to fight your way out from under unjust suffering, consider Jesus. Hang in there, and keep running the race (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Now we may be tempted to say, “If I’m going to have to take these elbows in the ribs and kicks in the shins, I don’t want to be in this race.”
But then we look at Christ. And our mouths are closed. We see Jesus on the cross and hear Him say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). We consider the roll call of the faithful in Hebrews 11, ... of those who endured so much, ... and we keep on running.
Dr. Alistair Begg Books:
- 1 Name above All Names
- 2 On Being a Pastor: Understanding Our Calling and Work
- 3 Pathway to Freedom: How God's Laws Guide Our Lives
- 4 Preaching for God's Glory (Redesign) (Today's Issues)
- 5 The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances
- 6 Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith
- 7 Evening by Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on ESV Version
- 8 Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure
- 9 What Angels Wish They Knew: The basics of true Christianity
- 10 Pathway to Freedom: How God's Laws Guide Our Lives
- 11 One Year NIV Devotional: New Testament
- 12 Pathway to Freedom: How God's Laws Guide Our Lives by Alistair Begg (2015-03-01)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The discipline of dejection
But we trusted … and beside all this, to-day is the third day … --- Luke 24:21.
Every fact that the disciples stated was right; but the inferences they drew from those facts were wrong. Anything that savours of dejection spiritually is always wrong. If depression and oppression visit me, I am to blame; God is not, nor is anyone else. Dejection springs from one of two sources—I have either satisfied a lust or I have not. Lust means—I must have it at once. Spiritual lust makes me demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Who gives the answer. What have I been trusting God would do? And to-day—the immediate present—is the third day, and He has not done it, therefore I imagine I am justified in being dejected and in blaming God. Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer. It is impossible to be well physically and to be dejected. Dejection is a sign of sickness, and the same thing is true spiritually. Dejection spiritually is wrong, and we are always to blame for it.
We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God’s power (the fact that we are dejected proves that we do), and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
And in the midst of the council
a bittern called from the fen
outside. A sparrow flew in
and disappeared through the far doorway
'If your faith can explain. . . .' So
they were baptized, and the battles began
for the kingdom of this world. Were
you sent, sparrow? An eagle
would have been more appropriate,
some predator to warn them
of the ferocity of the religion
that came their way.
The fire was not more voluble
than the blood that would answer
Charles by divine right
king. And not all our engines can drain
Marston Moor. The bittern is
silent now. The ploughshares are beaten
to guns and bombs. Daily we publish
hurrying with it to and fro on steel
wings, the good news of the kingdom.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Seventh Chapter / Avoiding False Hope And Pride
VAIN is the man who puts his trust in men, in created things.
Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to seem poor in this world. Do not be self-sufficient but place your trust in God. Do what lies in your power and God will aid your good will. Put no trust in your own learning nor in the cunning of any man, but rather in the grace of God Who helps the humble and humbles the proud.
If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends because they are powerful, but in God Who gives all things and Who desires above all to give Himself. Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and destroyed by a little sickness. Do not take pride in your talent or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural gifts that you have.
Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.
The Imitation Of Christ
Psychologically / Theologically
In the psychological world, the distinction between sin and sickness is presented as a rather simplistic dichotomy. In the world of Christian theology, where sin and darkness are inextricably connected, the dichotomy disappears. Consider Millard Erickson’s definition of sin: “Sin is any lack of conformity, active or passive, to the moral will of God. This may be a matter of act, of thought, or of inner disposition or state.” (1) Here we see that sin and sickness are intertwined and inseparable. Sin can be a matter of act or thought, as is generally assumed, but sin is also an inner disposition, a part of our character that resembles a chronic sickness. Theological Edwin Zackrison explains: “Biblically, the sin problem involves more than simply our bad actions, whether personal or social in their implications and complications. In Scripture and theology sin is a condition that goes to the root of our being for it has to do with our relationship to our origin and to God.” (2) Christian theology includes both a personal and an original concept of sin. Too often counselors who are not Christians understand only the personal concept of sin and thereby misrepresent Christianity.
Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling (AACC Library)
Risking the danger of oversimplification, one may say that Evangelicals and Roman Catholics together teach that God by his grace is the only Saviour of sinners, that self-salvation is impossible, and that the death of Jesus Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice is the ultimate ground of justification. But precisely what justification is, how it relates to other aspects of salvation, and how it takes place – these are areas of continuing and anxious debate.
Evangelicals feel the need to press Roman Catholics about sin, grace, faith and works. Roman Catholics are uncomfortable when we talk about ‘total depravity’ (that every part of our humanness has been twisted by the Fall), which lies behind our insistence on the need both for a radical salvation and for non-contributory grace. They find this a pessimistic view of the human condition, involving an inadequate doctrine of creation. They add that human beings have not lost their free will, and are therefore able to cooperate with grace and contribute to salvation. We, however, see the need to underline the New Testament antitheses regarding salvation. ‘It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, so that no-one can boast.’ ‘We...know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.’ Again, ‘he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy’. (Eph. 2:8–9; Gal. 2:16; Titus 3:5.) We cannot avoid the stark alternative which such texts put before us. Not works, but grace. Not law, but faith. Not our righteous deeds but his mercy. There is no co-operation here between God and us, only a choice between two mutually exclusive ways, his and ours. Moreover, the faith which justifies is emphatically not another work. No, to say ‘justification by faith’ is merely another way of saying ‘justification by Christ’. Faith has absolutely no value in itself; its value lies solely in its object. Faith is the eye that looks to Christ, the hand that lays hold of him, the mouth that drinks the water of life. And the more clearly we see the absolute adequacy of Jesus Christ’s divine-human person and sin-bearing death, the more incongruous does it appear that anybody could suppose that we have anything to offer. That is why justification by faith alone, to quote Cranmer again, ‘advances the true glory of Christ and beats down the vain glory of man’.
If we desire to press Roman Catholics on these points, however, we need also to respond to their pressures upon us. The chief might be a series of questions like the following. ‘Do you still insist that when God justifies sinners he “pronounces” but does not “make” them righteous? that justification is a legal declaration, not a moral transformation? that righteousness is “imputed” to us, but neither “infused” in us nor even “imparted” to us? that we put on Christ’s righteousness like a cloak, which conceals our continuing sinfulness? that justification, while changing our status, leaves our character and conduct unchanged? that every justified Christian, as the Reformers taught, is simul justus et peccator (at one and the same time a righteous person and a sinner)? If so, is not justification a legal fiction, even a giant hoax, a phoney transaction external to yourself, which leaves you inwardly unrenewed? Are you not claiming to be changed when in fact you are not changed? Is not your doctrine of “justification by faith alone” a thinly disguised free licence to go on sinning?’
These are searching questions. In one way or another, I have heard all of them asked. And there is no doubt that we Evangelicals, in our zeal to emphasize the utter freeness of salvation, have sometimes been incautious in our phraseology, and have given the impression that good works are of no importance. But then the apostle Paul could evidently be incautious too, since his critics flung exactly the same charge at him, which led him to cry: ‘What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase?’ (Rom. 6:1). His indignant riposte to his own rhetorical question was to remind his readers of their baptism. Did they not know that, when they were baptized into Christ Jesus, they were baptized into his death? Having thus died with him to sin, how could they possibly live in it any longer? (vv. 2–3).
What Paul was doing by this response was to show that justification is not the only image of salvation. It would be entirely mistaken to make the equation ‘salvation equals justification’. ‘Salvation’ is the comprehensive word, but it has many facets which are illustrated by different pictures, of which justification is only one. Redemption, as we have seen, is another, and bears witness to our radical deliverance from sin as well as guilt. Another is re-creation, so that ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’ (2 Cor. 5:17). Yet another is regeneration or new birth, which is the inward work of the Holy Spirit, who then remains as a gracious indwelling presence, transforming the believer into the image of Christ, which is the process of sanctification. All these belong together. Regeneration is not an aspect of justification, but both are aspects of salvation, and neither can take place without the other. Indeed, the great affirmation ‘he saved us’ is broken down into its component parts, which are ‘the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’ on the one hand and being ‘justified by his grace’ on the other (Titus 3:5–7). The justifying work of the Son and the regenerating work of the Spirit cannot be separated. It is for this reason that good works of love follow justification and new birth as their necessary evidence. For salvation, which is never ‘by works’, is always ‘unto works’. Luther used to illustrate the correct order of events by reference to the tree and its fruit: ‘The tree must be first, and then the fruit. For the apples make not the tree, but the tree makes the apples. So faith first makes the person, who afterwards brings forth works.’ ( Martin Luther, A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, on Gal. 3:10.)
Once we hold fast that the work of the Son for us and the work of the Spirit in us, that is to say, justification and regeneration, are inseparable twins, it is quite safe to go on insisting that justification is an external, legal declaration that the sinner has been put right with God, forgiven and reinstated. This is plain from the popular use of the word. As Leon Morris has pointed out, ‘when we speak of justifying an opinion or an action, we do not mean that we change or improve it. Rather we mean that we secure a verdict for it, we vindicate it’. (The Cross in The New Testament) Similarly, when Luke says that everybody, on hearing Jesus’ teaching, ‘justified God’, what he means is that they ‘acknowledged that God’s way was right’ (Luke 7:29).
The Cross of Christ
The Rest Of Joseph's Story
The rest of the Joseph story traces the trips of his brothers to Egypt during the famine years to buy grain. They confronted Joseph several times but did not recognize him. After several visits Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, urging them not to be afraid. Joseph had come to realize that “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (45:7). Looking beyond the brothers’ sinful motives, Joseph realized that it was God, not they, who had ordained his sojourn in Egypt. This realization had removed all bitterness from Joseph’s heart.
Joseph then had his entire family, some 76 persons, come to live in Egypt, and he set aside a fertile area for them. After the death of Jacob, whose body was returned to Palestine for burial, the brothers still feared Joseph and expected revenge. They could not understand this man whose willingness to do the will of God had given him joy even in suffering. Again Joseph reassured them: “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (50:20–21).
And with this explanation Joseph promised to provide for them and their little ones.
The last paragraph of Genesis reveals even more of Joseph’s faith. He relied on the covenant of God. Someday God would visit this family and take them again to the land sworn to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. At that time, Joseph decreed that his people should carry his coffin with them on their return journey. Joseph’s life had been lived in a land that, for all its power, was a land of exile. But his body would lie, awaiting the final fulfillment of the covenant, in the dust of the Promised Land.
There are many riches to explore in these chapters. It is particularly fascinating to study Joseph’s character. No matter how discouraged he must have become at the many reversals he experienced, we never see Joseph doing less than his best. In moments of crisis we see him choosing to do what is right. Rather than being eaten up with bitterness against his brothers, or returning hatred for hatred, Joseph looks beyond them to see the hand of God. And he remains sure that God’s hand is on him “for good.”
How often we look at our tragedies as injustice, or as punishment for some unknown fault. We need more of Joseph’s trust in the loving goodness of God. God does sometimes lead His children into suffering. But it is always done in order that He might bring through the suffering some greater good.).
The Teacher's Commentary
I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.
--- Luke 7:7.
You are much more sinful than you think you are, much more unworthy than you know yourself to be. (Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Men, Book 2 ) Instead of attempting a soothing of your dark thoughts, I pray you believe that yours is a hopeless case apart from Christ. This disease is not skin deep. It lies in the source and fountain of your life and poisons your heart. The flames of hell must wrap themselves about you certainly unless Christ interposes to save you. You have not nor will you ever have merit of any sort. And more, you have no power to escape from your lost condition unaided by the Savior’s hand. No words can exaggerate your deplorable condition, and no feelings can ever represent your real state in colors too alarming. You are not worthy that Christ should come to you. You are not worthy to draw near to Christ.
But—and here is a glorious contrast—never let this for a single moment interfere with your full belief that he who is God but who took our nature, who suffered in our stead on the cross, who now rules in heaven is able and willing to do for you immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine. Your inability does not prevent the working of his power. Your unworthiness cannot put fetters to his bounty or limits to his grace. You may be an ill-deserving sinner, but that is no reason why he should not pardon you. Jesus Christ is able and willing to save those who come to God through him. Your emptiness does not affect his fullness. Your weakness does not alter his power. Your inability does not diminish his omnipotence. Your undeserving does not restrain his love.
Your troubled hearts, your sense of your unworthiness should drive you to Christ. You are unworthy, but “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). He gave himself for our—what? Excellences and virtues? No, he “gave himself for our sins” (Gal. 1:4), according to the Scriptures. We read that he “died for sins… the righteous for the”—righteous? No, “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18), to bring us to God. Gospel pharmacy is for the sick; gospel bread is for the hungry; gospel fountains are open to the unclean; gospel water is given to the thirsty. Let your huge and painful wants impel you to fly to Jesus. Let the vast cravings of your insatiable spirit compel you to go to him. Your unworthiness should act as a wing to bear you to Christ, the sinner’s Savior.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
A Strong Tower
In 1934 Adolf Hitler summoned German church leaders to his Berlin office to berate them for insufficiently supporting his programs. Pastor Martin Niemoller explained that he was concerned only for the welfare of the church and of the German people. Hitler snapped, “You confine yourself to the church. I’ll take care of the German people.” Niemoller replied, “You said that ‘I will take care of the German people.’ But we too, as Christians and churchmen, have a responsibility toward the German people. That responsibility was entrusted to us by God, and neither you nor anyone in this world has the power to take it from us.”
Hitler listened in silence, but that evening his Gestapo raided Niemoller’s rectory, and a few days later a bomb exploded in his church. During the months and years following, he was closely watched by the secret police, and in June 1937 he preached these words to his church: “We have no more thought of using our own powers to escape the arm of the authorities than had the apostles of old. We must obey God rather than man.” He was soon arrested and placed in solitary confinement.
Dr. Niemoller’s trial began on February 7, 1938. That morning, a green-uniformed guard escorted the minister from his prison cell and through a series of underground passages toward the courtroom. Niemoller was overcome with terror and loneliness. What would become of him? Of his family? His church? What tortures awaited them all?
The guard’s face was impassive, and he was silent as stone. But as they exited a tunnel to ascend a final flight of stairs, Niemoller heard a whisper. At first he didn’t know where it came from, for the voice was soft as a sigh. Then he realized that the officer was breathing into his ear the words of Proverbs 18:10: The LORD is a mighty tower where his people can run for safety.
Niemoller’s fear fell away, and the power of that verse sustained him through his trial and his years in Nazi concentration camps.
The LORD is a mighty tower
Where his people can run for safety —
The rich think their money is a wall of protection.
Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor.
--- Proverbs 18:10-12.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 7
“Arise, and depart.” --- Micah 2:10.
The hour is approaching when the message will come to us, as it comes to all—“Arise, and go forth from the home in which thou hast dwelt, from the city in which thou hast done thy business, from thy family, from thy friends. Arise, and take thy last journey.” And what know we of the journey? And what know we of the country to which we are bound? A little we have read thereof, and somewhat has been revealed to us by the Spirit; but how little do we know of the realms of the future! We know that there is a black and stormy river called “Death.” God bids us cross it, promising to be with us. And, after death, what cometh? What wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view? No traveller has ever returned to tell. But we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness. The journey of death may be dark, but we may go forth on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through the gloomy valley, and therefore we need fear no evil. We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall be going to our Father’s house—to our Father’s home, where Jesus is—to that royal “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” This shall be our last removal, to dwell for ever with him we love, in the midst of his people, in the presence of God. Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.
“Prepare us, Lord, by grace divine,
For thy bright courts on high;
Then bid our spirits rise, and join
The chorus of the sky.”
Evening - February 7
“And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.” --- Revelation 11:12.
Without considering these words in their prophetical connection, let us regard them as the invitation of our great Forerunner to his sanctified people. In due time there shall be heard “a great voice from heaven” to every believer, saying, “Come up hither.” This should be to the saints the subject of joyful anticipation. Instead of dreading the time when we shall leave this world to go unto the Father, we should be panting for the hour of our emancipation. Our song should be ---
“My heart is with him on his throne, And ill can brook delay; Each moment listening for the voice, ‘Rise up and come away.’ ”
We are not called down to the grave, but up to the skies. Our heaven-born spirits should long for their native air. Yet should the celestial summons be the object of patient waiting. Our God knows best when to bid us “Come up thither.” We must not wish to antedate the period of our departure. I know that strong love will make us cry,
“O Lord of Hosts, the waves divide,
And land us all in heaven;”
but patience must have her perfect work. God ordains with accurate wisdom the most fitting time for the redeemed to abide below. Surely, if there could be regrets in heaven, the saints might mourn that they did not live longer here to do more good. Oh, for more sheaves for my Lord’s garner! more jewels for his crown! But how, unless there be more work? True, there is the other side of it, that, living so briefly, our sins are the fewer; but oh! when we are fully serving God, and he is giving us to scatter precious seed, and reap a hundredfold, we would even say it is well for us to abide where we are. Whether our Master shall say “go,” or “stay,” let us be equally well pleased so long as he indulges us with his presence.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
JESUS, LOVER OF MY SOUL
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7)
The universal recognition of a personal dependence upon the infinite God has no doubt made this appealing hymn the best loved of the more than 6500 texts of Charles Wesley. Written shortly after Charles’ “heart-warming” experience at the Adlersgate Hall in London in 1738, this text has since brought comfort and inspiration to countless numbers during “the storms of life.”
The simple yet vivid language of this hymn gives it a special quality. Some have called it the “finest heart-hymn in the English language.” Also the exaltation of Christ is truly noteworthy in such picturesque terms as “lover,” “healer,” “fountain,” “wing,” and “pilot.” But possibly the greatest appeal of these lines is the assurance they give of Christ’s consolation and protection through all of life and then for eternity.
There is no authenticated information as to what particular situation caused Wesley to write this text. A frightening storm at sea that he experienced while returning home from America may account for the nautical references. A story also has been mentioned of a bird flying into Charles’ cabin for safety, while another incident is given of his hiding under a hedge after an attack by an angry mob opposing his ministry. Still others see this text as a picture of Wesley’s own life as a young man as he struggled to find his peace with God before his dramatic Aldersgate conversion experience.
How important it is that we learn the truth taught in these words!
Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly. While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high! Hide me, O my Savior, hide—till the storm of life is past; safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none—hangs my helpless soul on Thee. Leave, ah, leave me not alone; still support and comfort me! All my trust on Thee is stayed—All my help from Thee I bring. Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.
Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find. Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick and lead the blind. Just and holy is Thy name—I am all unrighteousness; false and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.
Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin; let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within. Thou of life the fountain art— Freely let me take of Thee; spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.
For Today: Psalm 37:39, 40; 2 Corinthians 1:3–7; Revelation 7:17.
Remember to fly to Christ for refuge whenever the “storm of life” becomes overwhelming. He alone is our refuge and the one true foundation of life.
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 | Epiphany
Wednesday Of The Fifth Week After Epiphany
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 119:97–120
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 81, 82
Old Testament Genesis 27:1–29
New Testament Romans 12:1–8
Gospel John 8:12–20
Index of Readings
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
107 I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O LORD, according to your word!
108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD,
and teach me your rules.
109 I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.
113 I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
117 Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for your statutes continually!
118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes,
for their cunning is in vain.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross,
therefore I love your testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of you,
and I am afraid of your judgments.
Psalm 81, 82
81 To The Choirmaster: According To The Gittith. Of Asaph.
1 Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
2 Raise a song; sound the tambourine,
the sweet lyre with the harp.
3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our feast day.
4 For it is a statute for Israel,
a rule of the God of Jacob.
5 He made it a decree in Joseph
when he went out over the land of Egypt.
I hear a language I had not known:
6 “I relieved your shoulder of the burden;
your hands were freed from the basket.
7 In distress you called, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah
8 Hear, O my people, while I admonish you!
O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
9 There shall be no strange god among you;
you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
10 I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
11 “But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
13 Oh, that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes.
15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe toward him,
and their fate would last forever.
16 But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
82 A Psalm Of Asaph.
1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!
27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”
14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,
“See, the smell of my son
is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth
and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father2 who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
The Book of Common Prayer