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2/9/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Genesis 42     Mark 12     Job 8     Romans 12


Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

Genesis 42:1 When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” 2 And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” 3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. 5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

6 Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. 7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” 8 And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10 They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.”

12 He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” 13 And they said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.” 14 But Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. 15 By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.” 17 And he put them all together in custody for three days.

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

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

29 When they came to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us and took us to be spies of the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we have never been spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of our father. One is no more, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. 34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I shall know that you are not spies but honest men, and I will deliver your brother to you, and you shall trade in the land.’ ”

35 As they emptied their sacks, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. And when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. 36 And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” 37 Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” 38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”


The Parable of the Tenants

Mark 12:1 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country.When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully.And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture:

“ ‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;

11  this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

The Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? It is presupposed as self-evident that God's dealings with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are a prototype and guarantee of His relationship to the covenant people.27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

The Great Commandment

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Whose Son Is the Christ?

35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,

“ ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’

37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

Beware of the Scribes

38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses Consider the widow's offering below) (and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The Widow’s Offering

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”


Bildad Speaks: Job Should Repent

Job 8:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:

2  “How long will you say these things,
and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
3  Does God pervert justice?
Or does the Almighty pervert the right?
4  If your children have sinned against him,
he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression.
5  If you will seek God
and plead with the Almighty for mercy,
6  if you are pure and upright,
surely then he will rouse himself for you
and restore your rightful habitation.
7  And though your beginning was small,
your latter days will be very great.

8  “For inquire, please, of bygone ages,
and consider what the fathers have searched out.
9  For we are but of yesterday and know nothing,
for our days on earth are a shadow.
10  Will they not teach you and tell you
and utter words out of their understanding?

11  “Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh?
Can reeds flourish where there is no water?
12  While yet in flower and not cut down,
they wither before any other plant.
13  Such are the paths of all who forget God;
the hope of the godless shall perish.
14  His confidence is severed,
and his trust is a spider’s web.
15  He leans against his house, but it does not stand;
he lays hold of it, but it does not endure.
16  He is a lush plant before the sun,
and his shoots spread over his garden.
17  His roots entwine the stone heap;
he looks upon a house of stones.
18  If he is destroyed from his place,
then it will deny him, saying, ‘I have never seen you.’
19  Behold, this is the joy of his way,
and out of the soil others will spring.

20  “Behold, God will not reject a blameless man,
nor take the hand of evildoers.
21  He will yet fill your mouth with laughter,
and your lips with shouting.
22  Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”



A Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1 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.

Gifts of Grace

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.

Marks of the True Christian

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

When Being a Christian Is Like Being a Californian

By J. Warner Wallace 3/25/2015

     I live in California; that makes me a Californian. I’ve lived here in gorgeous, temperate, beautiful Southern California my entire life (are you jealous yet?) I’ve got a right to call myself a Californian, even though I often take it for granted. After all, without doing some research online, I’d have great difficulty telling you when the state of California was even established or what that historic process looked like. I really don’t know the precise structure of California state government (i.e. how many members are in the state legislature). I also have no idea how the state government operates (i.e. the rules that govern how a bill is turned into a law), or the content of any of its core value or mission statements (if it even has such things). I barely know the names of the counties in my area, let alone the northern part of the state. I’m a rather poorly informed Californian, I will have to admit. But I do know that I like it here. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s sunny.

     So if you ask me why I’m a Californian, I guess I’d really have little to offer you aside from the fact that I was born here, am comfortable here, enjoy my proximity to the beach and the beautiful weather. While those are good reasons to live here, they have nothing to do with the rich history of our state, the way the state operates or the objective truth of its propositions. I have very selfish reasons for living here and I will readily admit them.

     As I travel and speak at churches around the country, I’ve come to realize that many of us are Christians in the same way I am a Californian. Maybe we have parents that were Christians and we’ve been a part of the Church for as long as we can remember. Maybe we like the Church because it’s comfortable, familiar or helpful. As a result, we haven’t really taken the time to understand what the Church truly claims about Jesus or about the nature of the world around us. We haven’t even taken the time to study the history of the Church or how the truth has been handed down to us. In many ways our membership in the Church is a lot like my citizenship in California; we’re just here because we were born here, it’s comfortable and it serves our purposes.

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

Help My Unbelief | Romans 12:3

By John Piper 6/12

In the context of this verse, Paul is concerned that people were thinking of themselves “more highly than [they] ought to think.” His final remedy for this pride is to say that not only are spiritual gifts a work of God’s free grace in our lives, but so also is the very faith with which we use those gifts. “. . . each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

     This means that every possible ground of boasting is taken away from us. How can we boast if even the qualification for receiving gifts is also a gift?

     This truth has a profound impact on how we pray. Jesus gives us the example in Luke 22:31–32. Before Peter denies him three times Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

     Jesus prays for Peter’s faith to be sustained even through the sin of denial, because he knows that God is the one who gives faith. So we should pray the way Jesus did — for ourselves and for others that God would sustain our faith.

     Thus, the man with the epileptic son cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). This is a good prayer. It acknowledges that without God we cannot believe as we ought to believe.

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

John Piper Books:

Calvin On Doubt

By John Calvin

We cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety. . . . Believers are in perpetual conflict with their own unbelief. . . . He who, struggling with his own weakness, presses toward faith in his moments of anxiety is already in large part victorious. . . . In order to understand this, it is necessary to return to that division of flesh and spirit which we have mentioned elsewhere. It most clearly reveals itself at this point. Therefore the godly heart feels in itself a division because it is partly imbued with sweetness from its recognition of divine goodness, partly grieves in bitterness from an awareness of its calamity; partly rests upon the promise of the gospel, partly trembles at the evidence of its own iniquity; partly rejoices at the expectation of life, partly shudders at death. This variation arises from imperfection of faith, since in the course of the present life it never goes so well with us that we are wholly cured of the disease of unbelief and entirely filled and possessed by faith. Hence arise these conflicts; when unbelief, which reposes in the remains of the flesh, rises up to attack the faith that has been inwardly conceived

Institutes of the Christian Religion

Atheism is a Worldview

By Roger Browning 2/1/2017

If I’m going to say that atheism is a worldview, I better start defining terms before I find myself on the wrong side of my own issue. So, the first part of this post will be defining “atheism” and “worldview.” Once I do that, I’m going to give an analogous depiction of life incorporating the definitions and then draw a conclusion to affirm the title.

     Atheism. Two distinct definitions come to mind. The first is the literal definition based on the original Greek. ‘a’, meaning ‘no’ and ‘theos’, meaning ‘god’. In the strictest sense, atheism literally means no-god. But, literal translations don’t always carry over to current word usage. The word “joystick” for example, hardly means rejoice peg. The second definition is more popular with a lot of atheists at the moment, and that is: a disbelief in god or gods. I’ve written a lot on why I think these two definitions are the same (here and here). Nate has also discussed this here and here, and there are some great external links for good measure here and here). Since a lot of ground has already been covered on the second definition, I’m going to move on.

     Worldview. Until about 6 months ago, I didn’t really think this word needed a definition; it’s pretty straightforward, actually. The word “worldview” is simply a view of the world. But, in good faith, we will grab a more accurate definition for our friends at Google: “a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.” This definition actually works to my advantage, but we’ll get to that.

     As a quick recap, atheism is either a belief in no god or a non-belief in god (because these are not the same?? I digress) and worldview is the perception of reality as it pertains to origins of the world. Can we agree to these two points? Leave some feedback below.

     Now, an analogous incorporation of these two terms.

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     Could not find profile on Roger Browning except he writes for A Clear Lens and is willing to engage with people who mostly insult.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 18

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

37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.
41 They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.

ESV Study Bible

People criticize pro-lifers for focusing so much on abortion. But there’s a reason we do.

By Matthew Lee Anderson 2/3/2017

I have been pro-life for as long as I can remember. My family were not culture warriors: We never picketed, and I’m not sure we ever discussed the subject at home. My only memories of anything close to activism are of occasional appeals to our church to donate diapers to a local crisis pregnancy center. I was impressed by the urgency of the requests, which focused almost exclusively on the burdens disadvantaged single mothers faced and the opportunity we had to aid them. That somewhat idyllic approach impressed on me the vague but definite intuition that life in the womb was worth preserving and the woman who bore it worth supporting. This impression that being pro-life means supporting the people whose wombs bear life as much as the life itself has never left me.

     My activist impulses have grown since my youth, and those instincts have been sharpened. The reasons for this are complex, and personal: Like many people, I have been intimate with those struggling to conceive and with those desperately seeking to avoid doing so. The heart-wrenching pain of infertility and miscarriage, the struggles of teenage motherhood, the fears and anxieties of an unwanted pregnancy — as I have grown older, such experiences have deepened my sense that human life is a wonderful, tragic mystery. Whatever else we think about it, the drama of conception leads to the most profound joys and sorrows, the most ardent hopes and expectations, and the most visceral fears and anxieties. In college, I would describe myself as pro-life; I now joke that I am rabidly pro-life. Only it’s not really a joke.

     Yet what it means to be “pro-life” is, these days, hotly contested — and, I think, often misunderstood. The question has been unavoidable in 2017: The Women’s March was dominated by headlines about whether the “pro-life feminist” is a viable species; the March for Life was accompanied by the annual hand-wringing about news outlets naming us “anti-abortion”; the refugee ban was met by denunciations framed by pro-life concerns; and the president’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court justice prompted dismissive charges of hypocrisy for the movement’s narrow focus.

     Beneath these disputes lies a simple charge: Pro-lifers care about what happens in the womb, and nothing beyond it. Such a depiction is almost certainly a caricature. And yet it aggravates a real phenomenon: The pro-life movement has emphasized embryos in the womb for reasons that go to the heart of being “pro-life” itself. Without grasping the peculiar ethos that animates this emphasis, the decision by pro-lifers to succumb to the temptation of Donald Trump for the sake of a Supreme Court justice will remain an unintelligible mystery and degradation.

     The ethos of the pro-life movement, which unabashedly emphasizes life in the womb, is not precisely its beliefs: Those are well-known enough, even if controversial. Ask a pro-lifer why they object to abortion, and you are likely to get a hodgepodge of reasons appealing to God, to science, and to claims about human dignity or rights.

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Matthew Lee Anderson is a doctoral candidate in Christian ethics at Oxford University, and the founder of Mere Orthodoxy. He invites you to follow him on Twitter or email him at matthewleeanderson.84@gmail.com.

Neglected Big Problems

By Robin Hanson 2/5/2017

Some problems are often mentioned in media, such as global warming, war, medical funding, political conflicts. Some problems are less often mentioned in media, but still often discussed in academic publications: encouraging innovation, managing large organizations, extending lifespans, and setting the right amount of regulation. But some problems are obviously big, yet rarely much discussed in media or academia as problems to solve. They are neglected. Oh people on occasion lament such problems, but they don’t often talk seriously about how we might think systematically about solving or mitigating them.

     In this post I’d just like to remind folks of a few big neglected problems. I’m not going to propose solutions to them here, though I wouldn’t mind inspiring others to think more about them. Most of them have to do with ancient inherited habits that don’t seem to work that well in the modern world.

     Relearn Every Generation – We must each relearn many basic life lessons during our individual lifetimes, lessons that millions or billions of others already learned in their previous lifetimes, or that millions or billions of others are currently learning in parallel with us. There seem huge potential gains from finding better ways to learn from our ancestors and colleagues.

     Changing World – Early in life we read the world around us and choose life plans and paths matched to that world. During our life the world around us changes, and we make some adaptations to that, but they seem insufficient. For example, we often seek to achieve in ways that were awarded with high status when we were young, to find that our achievements are much less valued by the new world.

     Poor Matching – We match people as friends, lovers, spouses, and workers. Our distant ancestors only had a few available options for matches, and we inherited many intuitive mechanisms appropriate for that situation. But we now have a vast world with far more matches possible, and it seems like we don’t use that larger scope very well. We still rely heavily on inherited informal mechanisms. I see so many lonely and otherwise mismatched people.

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     Robin Hanson | bio

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

      3. Another principal part of our reconciliation with God was, that man, who had lost himself by his disobedience, should, by way of remedy, oppose to it obedience, satisfy the justice of God, and pay the penalty of sin. Therefore, our Lord came forth very man, adopted the person of Adam, and assumed his name, that he might in his stead obey the Father; that he might present our flesh as the price of satisfaction to the just judgment of God, and in the same flesh pay the penalty which we had incurred. Finally, since as God only he could not suffer, and as man only could not overcome death, he united the human nature with the divine, that he might subject the weakness of the one to death as an expiation of sin, and by the power of the other, maintaining a struggle with death, might gain us the victory. Those, therefore, who rob Christ of divinity or humanity either detract from his majesty and glory, or obscure his goodness. On the other hand, they are no less injurious to men, undermining and subverting their faith, which, unless it rest on this foundation, cannot stand. Moreover, the expected Redeemer was that son of Abraham and David whom God had promised in the Law and in the Prophets. Here believers have another advantage. Tracing up his origin in regular series to David and Abraham, they more distinctly recognise him as the Messiah celebrated by so many oracles. But special attention must be paid to what I lately explained, namely, that a common nature is the pledge of our union with the Son of God; that, clothed with our flesh, he warred to death with sin that he might be our triumphant conqueror; that the flesh which he received of us he offered in sacrifice, in order that by making expiation he might wipe away our guilt, and appease the just anger of his Father.

4. He who considers these things with due attention, will easily disregard vague speculations, which attract giddy minds and lovers of novelty. One speculation of this class is, that Christ, even though there had been no need of his interposition to redeem the human race, would still have become man. I admit that in the first ordering of creation, while the state of nature was entire, he was appointed head of angels and men; for which reason Paul designates him "the first-born of every creature," (Col. 1:15). But since the whole Scripture proclaims that he was clothed with flesh in order to become a Redeemer, it is presumptuous to imagine any other cause or end. We know well why Christ was at first promised--viz. that he might renew a fallen world, and succour lost man. Hence under the Law he was typified by sacrifices, to inspire believers with the hope that God would be propitious to them after he was reconciled by the expiation of their sins. Since from the earliest age, even before the Law was promulgated, there was never any promise of a Mediator without blood, we justly infer that he was destined in the eternal counsel of God to purge the pollution of man, the shedding of blood being the symbol of expiation. Thus, too, the prophets, in discoursing of him, foretold that he would be the Mediator between God and man. It is sufficient to refer to the very remarkable prophecy of Isaiah (Is. 53:4, 5), in which he foretells that he was "smitten for our iniquities;" that "the chastisement of our peace was upon him;" that as a priest "he was made an offering for sin;" "that by his stripes we are healed;" that as all "like lost sheep have gone astray," "it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and put him to grief," that he might "bear our iniquities." After hearing that Christ was divinely appointed to bring relief to miserable sinners, whose overleaps these limits gives too much indulgence to a foolish curiosity.

Then when he actually appeared, he declared the cause of his advent to be, that by appeasing God he might bring us from death unto life. To the same effect was the testimony of the Apostles concerning him (John 1:9; 10:14). Thus John, before teaching that the Word was made flesh, narrates the fall of man. But above all, let us listen to our Saviour himself when discoursing of his office: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Again, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." "The Son of man is come to save that which was lost." Again, "They that be whole need not a physician." [241] I should never have done were I to quote all the passages. Indeed, the Apostles, with one consent, lead us back to this fountain; and assuredly, if he had not come to reconcile God, the honour of his priesthood would fall, seeing it was his office as priest to stand between God and men, and "offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins," (Heb. 5:1); nor could he be our righteousness, as having been made a propitiation for us in order that God might not impute to us our sins (2 Cor. 5:19). In short, he would be stript of all the titles with which Scripture invests him. Nor could Paul's doctrine stand "What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh," (Rom. 8:3). Nor what he states in another passage: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men," (Tit. 2:11). In fine, the only end which the Scripture uniformly assigns for the Son of God voluntarily assuming our nature, and even receiving it as a command from the Father, is, that he might propitiate the Father to us by becoming a victim. "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer;"--"and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name." "Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again."--"This commandment have I received of my Father." "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up." "Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name." [242] Here he distinctly assigns as the reason for assuming our nature, that he might become a propitiatory victim to take away sin. For the same reason Zacharias declares (Luke 1:79), that he came "to perform the mercy promised to our fathers," "to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death." Let us remember that all these things are affirmed of the Son of God, in whom, as Paul elsewhere declares, were "hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and save whom it was his determination "not to know any thing," (Col. 2:3; 1 Cor. 2:2).

5. Should any one object, that in this there is nothing to prevent the same Christ who redeemed us when condemned from also testifying his love to us when safe by assuming our nature, we have the brief answer, that when the Spirit declares that by the eternal decree of God the two things were connected together--viz. that Christ should be our Redeemer, and, at the same time, a partaker of our nature, it is unlawful to inquire further. He who is tickled with a desire of knowing something more, not contented with the immutable ordination of God, shows also that he is not even contented with that Christ who has been given us as the price of redemption. And, indeed, Paul not only declares for what end he was sent, but rising to the sublime mystery of predestination, seasonably represses all the wantonness and prurience of the human mind. "He has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the Beloved: In whom we have redemption through his blood," (Eph. 1:4-7). Here certainly the fall of Adam is not presupposed as anterior in point of time, but our attention is directed to what God predetermined before all ages, when he was pleased to provide a cure for the misery of the human race. If, again, it is objected that this counsel of God depended on the fall of man, which he foresaw, to me it is sufficient and more to reply, that those who propose to inquire, or desire to know more of Christ than God predestinated by his secret decree, are presuming with impious audacity to invent a new Christ. Paul, when discoursing of the proper office of Christ, justly prays for the Ephesians that God would strengthen them "by his Spirit in the inner man," that they might "be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," (Eph. 3:16, 18); as if he intended of set purpose to set barriers around our minds, and prevent them from declining one iota from the gift of reconciliation whenever mention is made of Christ. Wherefore, seeing it is as Paul declares it to be, "a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," (1 Tim. 1:15), in it I willingly acquiesce. And since the same Apostle elsewhere declares that the grace which is now manifested by the Gospel "was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," (2 Tim. 1:9), I am resolved to adhere to it firmly even to the end. This moderation is unjustly vituperated by Osiander, who has unhappily, in the present day, again agitated this question, which a few had formerly raised. He brings a charge of overweening confidence against those who deny that the Son of God would have appeared in the flesh if Adam had not fallen, because this notion is not repudiated by any passage of Scripture. As if Paul did not lay a curb on perverse curiosity when after speaking of the redemption obtained by Christ, he bids us "avoid foolish questions," (Tit. 3:9). To such insanity have some proceeded in their preposterous eagerness to seem acute, that they have made it a question whether the Son of God might not have assumed the nature of an ass. This blasphemy, at which all pious minds justly shudder with detestation, Osiander excuses by the pretext that it is no where distinctly refuted in Scripture; as if Paul, when he counted nothing valuable or worth knowing "save Jesus Christ and him crucified," (I Cor. 2:2), were admitting, that the author of salvation is an ass. He who elsewhere declares that Christ was by the eternal counsel of the Father appointed "head over all things to the church," would never have acknowledged another to whom no office of redemption had been assigned.

6. The principle on which Osiander founds is altogether frivolous. He will have it that man was created in the image of God, inasmuch as he was formed on the model of the future Messiah, in order to resemble him whom the Father had already determined to clothe with flesh. Hence he infers, that though Adam had never fallen from his first and pure original, Christ would still have been man. How silly and distorted this view is, all men of sound judgment at once discern; still he thinks he was the first to see what the image of God was, namely, that not only did the divine glory shine forth in the excellent endowments with which he was adorned, but God dwelt in him essentially. But while I grant that Adam bore the image of God, inasmuch as he was united to God (this being the true and highest perfection of dignity), yet I maintain, that the likeness of God is to be sought for only in those marks of superiority with which God has distinguished Adam above the other animals. And likewise, with one consent, acknowledge that Christ was even then the image of God, and, accordingly, whatever excellence was engraven on Adam had its origin in this, that by means of the only begotten Son he approximated to the glory of his Maker. Man, therefore, was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), and in him the Creator was pleased to behold, as in a mirror, his own glory. To this degree of honour he was exalted by the kindness of the only begotten Son. But I add, that as the Son was the common head both of men and angels, so the dignity which was conferred on man belonged to the angels also. For when we hear them called the sons of God (Ps. 82:6), it would be incongruous to deny that they were endued with some quality in which they resembled the Father. But if he was pleased that his glory should be represented in men and angels, and made manifest in both natures, it is ignorant trifling in Osiander to say, that angels were postponed to men, because they did not bear the image of Christ. They could not constantly enjoy the immediate presence of God if they were not like to him; nor does Paul teach (Col. 3:10) that men are renewed in the image of God in any other way than by being associated with angels, that they may be united together under one head. In fine, if we believe Christ, our felicity will be perfected when we shall have been received into the heavens, and made like the angels. But if Osiander is entitled to infer that the primary type of the image of God was in the man Christ, on the same ground may any one maintain that Christ behoved to partake of the angelic nature, seeing that angels also possess the image of God.

7. Osiander has no reason to fear that God would be found a liar, if the decree to incarnate the Son was not previously immutably fixed in his mind. Even had Adam not lost his integrity, he would, with the angels, have been like to God; and yet it would not therefore have been necessary that the Son of God should become either a man or an angel. In vain does he entertain the absurd fear, that unless it had been determined by the immutable counsel of God, before man was created, that Christ should be born, not as the Redeemer, but as the first man, he might lose his precedence, since he would not have been born, except for an accidental circumstance, namely, that he might restore the lost race of man; and in this way would have been created in the image of Adam. For why should he be alarmed at what the Scripture plainly teaches, that "he was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin?" (Heb. 4:15). Hence Luke, also, hesitates not to reckon him in his genealogy as a son of Adam (Luke 3:38). I should like to know why Christ is termed by Paul the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:47), unless it be that a human condition was decreed him, for the purpose of raising up the ruined posterity of Adam. For if in point of order, that condition was antecedent to creation, he ought to have been called the first Adam. Osiander confidently affirms, that because Christ was in the purpose of God foreknown as man, men were formed after him as their model. But Paul, by calling him the second Adam, gives that revolt which made it necessary to restore nature to its primitive condition an intermediate place between its original formation and the restitution which we obtain by Christ: hence it follows, that it was this restitution which made the Son of God be born, and thereby become man. Moreover, Osiander argues ill and absurdly, that as long as Adam maintained his integrity, he would have been the image of himself, and not of Christ. I maintain, on the contrary, that although the Son of God had never become incarnate, nevertheless the image of God was conspicuous in Adam, both in his body and his soul; in the rays of this image it always appeared that Christ was truly head, and had in all things the pre-eminence. In this way we dispose of the futile sophism put forth by Osiander, that the angels would have been without this head, had not God purposed to clothe his Son with flesh, even independent of the sin of Adam. He inconsiderately assumes what no rational person will grant, that Christ could have had no supremacy over the angels, so that they might enjoy him as their prince, unless in so far as he was man. But it is easy to infer from the words of Paul (Col. 1:15), that inasmuch as he is the eternal Word of God, he is the first-born of every creature, not because he is created, or is to be reckoned among the creatures, but because the entire structure of the world, such as it was from the beginning, when adorned with exquisite beauty had no other beginning; then, inasmuch as he was made man, he is the first-born from the dead. For in one short passage (Col. 1:16-18), the Apostle calls our attention to both views: that by the Son all things were created, so that he has dominion over angels; and that he became man, in order that he might begin to be a Redeemer. Owing to the same ignorance, Osiander says that men would not have had Christ for their king unless he had been a man; as if the kingdom of God could not have been established by his eternal Son, though not clothed with human flesh, holding the supremacy while angels and men were gathered together to participate in his celestial life and glory. But he is always deluded, or imposes upon himself by this false principle, that the church would have been akefalon--without a head--had not Christ appeared in the flesh. In the same way as angels enjoyed him for their head, could he not by his divine energy preside over men, and by the secret virtue of his Spirit quicken and cherish them as his body, until they were gathered into heaven to enjoy the same life with the angels? The absurdities which I have been refuting, Osiander regards as infallible oracles. Taking an intoxicating delight in his own speculations, his wont is to extract ridiculous plans out of nothing. He afterwards says that he has a much stronger passage to produce, namely, the prophecy of Adam, who, when the woman was brought to him, said, "This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh," (Gen. 2:23). But how does he prove it to be a prophecy? Because in Matthew Christ attributes the same expression to God! as if every thing which God has spoken by man contained a prophecy. On the same principle, as the law proceeded from God, let Osiander in each precept find a prophecy. Add, that our Saviour's exposition would have been harsh and grovelling, had he confined himself to the literal meaning. He was not referring to the mystical union with which he has honoured the Church, but only to conjugal fidelity, and states, that the reason why God declared man and wife to be one flesh, was to prevent any one from violating that indissoluble tie by divorce. If this simple meaning is too low for Osiander, let him censure Christ for not leading his disciples to the hidden sense, by interpreting his Father's words with more subtlety. Paul gives no countenance to Osiander's dream, when, after saying that "we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones," he immediately adds, "This is a great mystery," (Eph. 5:30-32). For he meant not to refer to the sense in which Adam used the words, but sets forth, under the figure and similitude of marriage, the sacred union which makes us one with Christ. His words have this meaning; for reminding us that he is speaking of Christ and the Church, he, by way of correction, distinguishes between the marriage tie and the spiritual union of Christ with his Church. Wherefore, this subtlety vanishes at once. I deem it unnecessary to discuss similar absurdities: for from this very brief refutation, the vanity of them all will be discovered. Abundantly sufficient for the solid nurture of the children of God is this sober truth, that "when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them who were under the law," (Gal. 4:4, 5).

__________________________________________________________________

[241] John 3:16; 5:25; Mt. 18:11; 9:12.

[242] Luke 24:46; John 10:17; 3:14; 12:27, 28.

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



  • Trinitarian Spirituality
  • Early Church Worship
  • MetaNarrative


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     God uses ordinary people (2)
     2/9/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Remember…few of you were wise in the world’s eyes…when God called you.’

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

     Max Lucado writes: ‘Edith Hayes was a spry eighty-year-old with thinning white hair, a wiry five-foot frame, and an unquenchable compassion for South Florida’s cancer patients. I was fresh out of seminary in 1979 and sitting in an office of unpacked boxes when she walked in and introduced herself. “My name is Edith, and I help cancer patients.” She extended her hand. I offered a chair. She politely declined. “Too busy. You’ll see my team here at the church building every Tuesday morning. You’re welcome to come, but if you do we’ll put you to work.” Her team, I came to learn, included a hundred or so silver-haired women who occupied themselves with the unglamorous concern of sore-seepage. They made cancer wounds their mission, stitching together truckloads of disposable pads each Tuesday, and then delivering them to patients throughout the week. Edith rented an alley apartment, lived on her late husband’s pension, wore glasses that magnified her pupils, and ducked applause like artillery fire.’ Edith’s story does away with the excuse, ‘I’m too old to do something for God.’ Noah was over six hundred years old when he came out of the ark and helped to start the human race all over again. If you’re older, think about it this way: you’re a walking repository of decades of wisdom and knowledge. So, before you leave this earth, endeavour to give to others what God has entrusted to you. Right now, somebody, somewhere, needs something you have, and if you ask God, He will show you who they are. When He does – get involved!

Exodus 34-35
Matthew 22:23-46

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.” This was the campaign slogan of ninth President William Henry Harrison, born this day, February 9, 1773. He was the first President to die in office, serving the shortest term of only thirty days. A Major General, Harrison was commander of the Northwest, winning the Battle of Tippecanoe. He was the son of Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration, and grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President. William Henry Harrison stated: “There are certain rights possessed by each individual… The American citizen… claims them because he is… fashioned by the same Almighty hand as the rest of his species.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     II. GATEWAYS INTO HOLY OBEDIENCE

     In considering one gateway into this life of holy obedience, let us dare to venture together into the inner sanctuary of the soul, where God meets man in awful immediacy. There is an indelicacy in too-ready speech. Paul felt it unlawful to speak of the things of the third heaven. But there is also a false reticence, as if these things were one's own work and one's own possession, about which we should modestly keep quiet, whereas they are wholly God's amazing work and we are nothing, mere passive receivers. "The lion hath roared, who can but tremble? The voice of Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3:8).

     Some men come into holy obedience through the gateway of profound mystical experience.

     It is an overwhelming experience to fall into the hands of the living God, to be invaded to the depths of one's being by His presence, to be, without warning, wholly uprooted from all earth-born securities and assurances, and to be blown by a tempest of unbelievable power which leaves one's old proud self utterly, utterly defenseless, until one cries, "All Thy waves and thy billows are gone over me" (Ps. 42:7). Then is the soul swept into a Loving Center of ineffable sweetness, where calm and unspeakable peace and ravishing joy steal over one. And one knows now why Pascal wrote, in the center of his greatest moment, the single word, "Fire." There stands the world of struggling, sinful, earth-blinded men and nations, of plants and animals and wheeling stars of heaven, all new, all lapped in the tender, persuading Love at the Center. There stand the saints of the ages, their hearts open to view, and lo, their hearts are our heart and their hearts are the heart of the Eternal One. In awful solemnity the Holy One is over all and in all, exquisitely loving, infinitely patient, tenderly smiling. Marks of glory are upon all things, and the marks are cruciform and bloodstained. And one sighs, like the convinced Thomas of old, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). Dare one lift one's eyes and look? Nay, whither can one look and not see Him? For field and stream and teeming streets are full of Him. Yet as Moses knew, no man can look on God and live-live as his old self. Death comes, blessed death, death of one's alienating will. And one knows what Paul meant when he wrote, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20).


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Nothing is so deadening to the divine
as a habitual dealing
with the outside of spiritual things.
--- The Scottish novelist George Macdonald

The Bible holds up before us ideals that are within sight of the weakest and the lowliest, and yet so high that the best and the noblest are kept with their faces turned ever upward. It carries the call of the Saviour to the remotest corners of the earth; on its pages are written the assurances of the present and our hopes for the future.
--- William Jennings Bryan

Sometimes the Lord calms the storm,
sometimes He lets the storm rage …
and calms His child.
--- Audrey J. Brennan

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it.
--- C.S. Lewis

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 8:32-36
     by D.H. Stern

32     “Therefore, children, listen to me:
happy are those who keep my ways.
33     Hear instruction, and grow wise;
do not refuse it.
34     How happy the person who listens to me,
who watches daily at my gates
and waits outside my doors.
35     For he who finds me finds life
and obtains the favor of ADONAI.
36     But he who misses me harms himself;
all who hate me love death.”


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


                Are you exhausted spiritually?

     The everlasting God … fainteth not, neither is weary.
--- Isaiah 40:28.

      Exhaustion means that the vital forces are worn right out. Spiritual exhaustion never comes through sin but only through service, and whether or not you are exhausted will depend upon where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter—“Feed My sheep,” but He gave him nothing to feed them with. The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you to the dregs. Be careful that you get your supply, or before long you will be utterly exhausted. Before other souls learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus direct, they have to draw on it through you; you have to be literally ‘sucked’, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and His sheep as well as for Himself.

     Has the way in which you have been serving God betrayed you into exhaustion? If so, then rally your affections. Where did you start the service from? From your own sympathy or from the basis of the Redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually go back to the foundation of your affections and recollect where the source of power is. You have no right to say—‘Oh Lord, I am so exhausted.’ He saved and sanctified you in order to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that your supply comes from Him. “All my fresh springs shall be in Thee.”

     Tell God you are ready to be offered, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Citizen
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Citizen

Here for a while heard
  voices powerless
  to obey looked fear
  in the face was outstared
  by it took lust
  for love burned more
  than his fingers saw need
  lie dropped it a tear
  passed on. Visitors
  from a far country
  beauty addressed him
  truth too he was no
  linguist keeping his balance
  without grace took
  one step forward and one
  back on the shining tightrope
  between dark and dark.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Ninth Chapter / Obedience and Subjection

     IT IS a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior and not to be one’s own master, for it is much safer to be subject than it is to command. Many live in obedience more from necessity than from love. Such become discontented and dejected on the slightest pretext; they will never gain peace of mind unless they subject themselves wholeheartedly for the love of God.

     Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected from change and different places have deceived many.

     Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.

     Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be willing to listen to those of others. If, though your own be good, you accept another’s opinion for love of God, you will gain much more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to listen to advice and take it than to give it. It may happen, too, that while one’s own opinion may be good, refusal to agree with others when reason and occasion demand it, is a sign of pride and obstinacy.


The Imitation Of Christ

Teacher's Commentary
     The Hebrew People

     The Hebrew people, the family of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, had come to Egypt in the days of Joseph. They had settled on the west of the Nile’s delta, an area called Goshen, on the southern end of which Cairo stands today. Even after Joseph’s death, probably during the rule of Amenemhet III (about 1805 B.C.), the Israelites experienced good years. Then, about 1730 B.C., a new people began a gradual conquest of Egypt. The country was ruled by a foreign aristocracy, the Hyksos, Semites from Asia. Goshen was one of the first areas conquered, and slavery was imposed on Israel.

     Later, when the Hyksos were driven out, Israel’s lot was no easier. The people had grown numerous. And they were more closely related to the Asiatic Hyksos than to the Egyptians. By the time of Thutmose I, Egypt’s great empire builder, the presence of this foreign population was threatening. Thutmose’s concern over a potential enemy at home while his armies were away seeking new conquests led to severe measures. He commanded Egypt’s midwives to kill newborn Hebrew boys. When this failed, he directed all Egyptians to seize the male children that were born to the Hebrews and fling them into the Nile to drown. Israel’s plight was desperate.

     And then God acted.

     This is why a study of Bible history can sometimes be so exciting for us. At times our plight too becomes desperate. We too feel helpless, and can only call on God to act.

     But what does God do? How does He work in our lives to lift us out of our bondage, and set us on the way to freedom? In the New Testament, looking back on the days that Exodus reports, God tells us that the things that happened to Israel were “examples.” The word “example” literally means “type”—a model or pattern. Israel’s experiences were written down as signposts for us … signposts along a common road to freedom that we too are invited to travel (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11). Simply put, our own personal experience with God closely parallels the experience of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament story of redemption. These Old Testament books show us how Israel was led from slavery to freedom. They tell the story of redemption, and help us understand what God intends to do in our lives as well.


The Teacher's Commentary

Word Biblical Commentary
     The Book of Exodus

     The Book of Exodus is the first book of the Bible. There in the ancient stories of Moses at Sinai, Israel in Egypt and Israel leaving Egypt, Israel in the Wilderness and Israel with Moses at Sinai are more beginnings for faith than are to be found in the Book of Beginnings.

     In the Book of Exodus God gives Israel his special name, his special deliverance, his special guidance, his special covenant, his special worship, his special mercy and his special description of himself. In the Book of Exodus, the people Israel is born; Torah is born, and with it the Bible; the theology of Presence and response to Presence is born, and with it the special iconography of that large part of the Hebrew-Christian tradition which symbolizes ideas rather than beings; and priesthood and cultus in ancient Israel are born, laying the ancient sub-foundations of Temple, Synagogue and Church.

Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 3, Exodus

Take Heart
     February 9

     My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
--- Psalm 73:26.

     I find in [Mary] the loneliness of love. ( Wind on the Heath (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) The mother of Jesus was the bride of loneliness. Had her husband, Joseph, been spared to her through the years, it might have been very different with Mary. She might have turned to him when things were difficult. But Joseph died when Jesus was a boy, and Mary was left utterly alone, to love and ponder and be brokenhearted. Other mothers could compare experiences, but that was what Mary of Nazareth could not do. Even to her family she dare not turn for sympathy, for they thought [Jesus] was beside himself. Because Christ was unutterably wonderful, Mary was unutterably lonely, and she was lonely because she loved him so.

     Every mother knows something of that loneliness, as childhood reaches to manhood or to womanhood. There comes a day when the most perfect mother has to make room for others in her son’s or daughter’s heart. And you have to multiply all that ten thousand times into the absorbing passion of the Son of God if you would understand the loneliness of Mary. Not to be able to blast and blight his slanderers when they said he had a devil and was mad—to be utterly powerless to keep him silent when every word was ringing out his death-knell—and then to stand at the cross and see him nailed there and hear the exceeding bitter cry he cried—could any loneliness be worse than that? Love is the secret of the sweetest song, and love is the fountain of the deepest loneliness. Sooner or later in this shadowed world a loving mother is a lonely mother. And it is when you remember Mary’s love for a Son who was as mysterious as God that you come to think of her, in all her glory, as perhaps the loneliest woman in the world.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day   February 9
     Defending the faith

     “Defend the faith,” wrote Jude, “the faith that God has once for all given to his people.” No one has done that better than Athanasius. Born in 296 to Christian parents in Egypt, Athanasius was ordained to the ministry just as a heretic named Arius was teaching that Jesus Christ was not divine. Christ, said Arius and his followers the Arians, was created higher than angels but inferior to the Father.

     Emperor Constantine convened a church council in Nicaea in 325 to settle the issue, and Athanasius attended. The young man strongly agreed with the council’s decision. Jesus is God. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all divine — one God existing in three names. God, Athanasius believed, became a man and died to provide our forgiveness.

     Athanasius soon afterward became bishop of Alexandria. But Constantine, still troubled by the rancor, ordered him to allow Arians to join his church. Athanasius refused, kicking over a hornet’s nest of intrigue. Traveling to Constantinople, he planted himself in front of Constantine’s horse, grabbed the bridle, and demanded the emperor retract his order. Instead, he found himself deposed.

     After Constantine’s death, Athanasius returned to Alexandria, but not for long. The Arians had him exiled again in 339, and he spent the next several years in Rome, where his teaching attracted crowds and his writings an eager audience.

     He returned to his church in 346. Thousands welcomed him, the city ablaze with torches, and his enemies retreated. But only briefly. On February 9, 356, as Athanasius led midnight worship, 5,000 soldiers stormed the church and the doors began buckling. Athanasius calmly asked his assistant to read Psalm 136 then slipped out a side door and escaped to the Egyptian desert.

     He was later restored to his church, only to be exiled a fourth time. But he soon returned and ministered until his death at age 77. Seventeen of his 45 years of ministry had been away from his congregation. But today we owe enormous gratitude to Athanasius. He devoted his difficult life to protecting orthodox doctrine and to defending the faith that God once for all gave to his people.

     My dear friends, I really wanted to write you about God’s saving power at work in our lives. But instead, I must write and ask you to defend the faith that God has once for all given to his people.
--- Jude 3.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 9

     “And David enquired of the Lord.” --- 2 Samuel 5:23.

     When David made this enquiry he had just fought the Philistines, and gained a signal victory. The Philistines came up in great hosts, but, by the help of God, David had easily put them to flight. Note, however, that when they came a second time, David did not go up to fight them without enquiring of the Lord. Once he had been victorious, and he might have said, as many have in other cases, “I shall be victorious again; I may rest quite sure that if I have conquered once I shall triumph yet again. Wherefore should I tarry to seek at the Lord’s hands?” Not so, David. He had gained one battle by the strength of the Lord; he would not venture upon another until he had ensured the same. He enquired, “Shall I go up against them?” He waited until God’s sign was given. Learn from David to take no step without God. Christian, if thou wouldst know the path of duty, take God for thy compass; if thou wouldst steer thy ship through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped, if we would let our Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid, if we would leave to his sovereign will to choose and to command. The Puritan said, “As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself, he’ll cut his own fingers;” this is a great truth. Said another old divine, “He that goes before the cloud of God’s providence goes on a fool’s errand;” and so he does. We must mark God’s providence leading us; and if providence tarries, tarry till providence comes. He who goes before providence, will be very glad to run back again. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go,” is God’s promise to his people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to him, and say, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Leave not thy chamber this morning without enquiring of the Lord.


          Evening - February 9

     “Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil [or, the evil one].” --- Luke 11:4.

     What we are taught to seek or shun in prayer, we should equally pursue or avoid in action. Very earnestly, therefore, should we avoid temptation, seeking to walk so guardedly in the path of obedience, that we may never tempt the devil to tempt us. We are not to enter the thicket in search of the lion. Dearly might we pay for such presumption. This lion may cross our path or leap upon us from the thicket, but we have nothing to do with hunting him. He that meeteth with him, even though he winneth the day, will find it a stern struggle. Let the Christian pray that he may be spared the encounter. Our Saviour, who had experience of what temptation meant, thus earnestly admonished his disciples—“Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”

     But let us do as we will, we shall be tempted; hence the prayer “deliver us from evil.” God had one Son without sin; but he has no son without temptation. The natural man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards, and the Christian man is born to temptation just as certainly. We must be always on our watch against Satan, because, like a thief, he gives no intimation of his approach. Believers who have had experience of the ways of Satan, know that there are certain seasons when he will most probably make an attack, just as at certain seasons bleak winds may be expected; thus the Christian is put on a double guard by fear of danger, and the danger is averted by preparing to meet it. Prevention is better than cure: it is better to be so well armed that the devil will not attack you, than to endure the perils of the fight, even though you come off a conqueror. Pray this evening first that you may not be tempted, and next that if temptation be permitted, you may be delivered from the evil one.

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

Amazing Grace
     February 9

          I AM HIS AND HE IS MINE

     George Wade Robinson, 1838–1877

     Your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

     Spiritual maturity is a growing appreciation of God simply for who He is. Only then can we begin to revel in our eternal union with Him. This realization gives all of life a different perspective. Life takes on a new dignity, worth, and meaning. Even nature is viewed differently—“earth around is sweeter green …” Learning to abide in Christ means that we live with a calmer, more relaxed attitude because we rely on God rather than ourselves—“things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest.” John Wesley often spoke of this kind of life as “living with a loose rein.” Our union with Christ also makes us victors when we realize that “while God and I shall be,” nothing in life can ever separate us from this eternal love relationship (Romans 8:35).

     The author of this text, George Wade Robinson, was a pastor of Congregational churches in England. The composer, James Mountain, was an Anglican minister who became greatly influenced by the Moody-Sankey campaigns in England in the early 1870’s. Mountain later devoted his life to the work of evangelism both in Great Britain and world-wide. “I Am His and He Is Mine” first appeared in James Mountain’s collection, Hymns of Consecration and Faith, published in 1876. The truths this hymn presents so well become more meaningful each time we sing it.

     Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know—Spirit, breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so! O this full and perfect peace, O this transport all divine— In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.

     Heav’n above is softer blue; earth around is sweeter green; something lives in ev’ry hue Christless eyes have never seen! Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flow’rs with deeper beauties shine, since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.

     Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest; closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast! O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign, while He whispers in my ear—I am His and He is mine.

     His forever, only His—Who the Lord and me shall part? Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart! Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, first-born light in gloom decline, but while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.


     For Today: Song of Solomon 6:3; John 14:1–8; 15:9–11; Galatians 2:20.

     Take time to truly meditate upon God and all that He is. Then revel and rejoice in the glorious truth that you are inseparably united with Him.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday, February 9, 2018 | Epiphany


Friday Of The Fifth Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 88
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 91, 92
Old Testament     Genesis 27:46–28:4, 28:10–22
New Testament     Romans 13:1–14
Gospel     John 8:33–47

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 88
88 A Song. A Psalm Of The Sons Of Korah. To The Choirmaster: According To Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil Of Heman The Ezrahite.

1 O LORD, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
5 like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

8 You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9 my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But I, O LORD, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 91, 92

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

92 A Psalm. A Song For The Sabbath.

1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

5 How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6 The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
7 that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
8 but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
9 For behold, your enemies, O LORD,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Old Testament
Genesis 27:46–28:4, 28:10–22

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

28 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 3 God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4 May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!”

10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

New Testament
Romans 13:1–14

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Gospel
John 8:33–47

33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave3 to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

The Book of Common Prayer


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