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1/11/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Genesis 12     Matthew 11     Nehemiah 1     Acts 11


The Call of Abram

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

Abram and Sarai in Egypt

10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

17 But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.


Messengers from John the Baptist

Matthew 11:1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. 2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17  “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”


Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


Nehemiah

Introduction

In 445 B.C. the Persian King Artaxerxes sent Nehemiah, an Israelite who was a trusted official, to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. With Nehemiah went the third wave of returning Jewish exiles. There was intense opposition from the other peoples in the land and disunity within Jerusalem. Despite this opposition, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls. He overcame these threats by taking wise defensive measures, by personal example, and by his obvious courage. Nehemiah did what God had put into his heart (2:12; 7:5) and found that the joy of the Lord was his strength (8:10). When the people began once again to fall into sin, Nehemiah had Ezra read to them from the Law. Nehemiah served twice as governor. The author is unknown, although parts come from Nehemiah’s own writings.

Report from Jerusalem

Nehemiah 1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah’s Prayer

4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Now I was cupbearer to the king.


Peter Reports to the Church

Acts 11:1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’

10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

The Church in Antioch

19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

What Was the Shape of Jesus’ Cross?

By J. Warner Wallace 1/8/2018

     Recently, after speaking at large conference, I was approached by a man who asked a question about the shape of the crucifixion cross of Jesus. He’d been approached by Jehovah’s Witnesses who challenged the traditional shape of the cross. They argued the Greek word for “cross” (stauros) simply meant an “upright pole”, “upright stake” or “torture stake”. His Jehovah’s Witness visitors claimed Jesus was actually nailed to a straight stake with a single spike through his hands and another through his feet. In my experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I’ve also heard them argue the traditional Christian shape of the cross was borrowed from pagan sources and, as a result, it is un-Christian to acknowledge the traditional cross shape in church architecture, worship or adornment. While the Greek words used for the cross in the New Testament are not specific about its shape (“stauros” = stake / pole and “xulon” = timber / tree), there are several evidential clues offered in the scripture to help us understand the true shape of Jesus’ cross.

     Before we look at the evidence related to the cross, we need to examine the many ways Roman executed criminals on wooden structures of one kind or another throughout history. Josephus, when writing about the siege of Jerusalem ion 70AD, acknowledged the fact Roman soldiers used a variety of methods and stake shapes to execute their prisoners:

     “(The Jews caught outside the walls of Jerusalem) were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city … the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5.11.1).

     In addition, the first-century Roman philosopher, Seneca the Younger, described crucifixions in a variety of ways:

     “I see before me crosses not all alike, but differently made by different peoples: some hang a man head downwards, some force a stick upwards through his groin, some stretch out his arms on a forked gibbet” (Seneca the Younger, “To Marcia on Consolation”, in Moral Essays, 6.20).

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

The Ultimate Reason Behind Unforgiveness

By Jean E. Jones 12/13/2016

     What’s the ultimate reason behind unforgiveness? Part 5 of “Forgive Intentional Sin—Don’t Just Manage Emotions.”

     Forgiving without excusing is hard, so hard it sometimes seems unforgiveness won’t ever let go.

     When I stopped excusing my mother’s actions as based on ignorance and inability to help herself, I had to learn something new: forgiving without excusing. I made good progress when I prayed in ways that bolstered faith in God’s promises and good care. The anger eased significantly. But it still sometimes flared unexpectedly.

     Unforgiveness & a Cry for Help | Then one day it erupted in a way that scared me. I was driving my pale blue Toyota Corolla to work as the sun was just rising, when I spied a girl in a steel blue school uniform skipping gaily, two perfect dark braids bouncing on her carefully pressed short-sleeved shirt.

     Her mother loves her, I thought. And then, I hate her!

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     About Jean E. Jones

Sin: The Forgotten Doctrine

By Sean McDowell 1/5/2017

     Studies continually show that most Americans—including many Christians—have poor theology. There is a lot of confusion about the person of Christ, the nature of salvation, and the attributes of God.

     And yet there is one particular doctrine that has pressing implications for so much of Christian theology, which in my experience, seems to have been forgotten in the church and the wider culture—the sinfulness of man. Do we really grasp how deeply human nature has been corrupted by sin? Failing to grasp the nuances and depth of human sinfulness has massive implications for one’s theology and for all of life.

     The consistent biblical teaching is that mankind is made in God’s image with inestimable worth, but has been deeply flawed by sin (Mark 7:21-23; John 2:24-25; Romans 3:9-20). How can I claim human sinfulness has been lost? Let me share two stories.

     The Problem of Hell | Recently I was speaking at a youth group in southern California, not far from where I live. After the service, a college student, who described himself as a former Christian, wanted to discuss the “Problem of Hell.” We talked for nearly 45 minutes and he raised the standard objections against the justice of Hell: How could a loving God send someone to Hell? How can a finite sin warrant an eternal punishment? How can people enjoy Heaven knowing their loved ones are in Hell? I did my best to respond with both kindness and truth.

     After our talk, it seemed that I had made almost no “dent” with his questions. He still thought God was a moral monster. And then it dawned on me: His problem was that he saw human being as basically good. If humans are basically good, and simply commit a few “sins” in their lifetime, as he believed, then Hell does seem like overkill. Moreover, Hell can only begin to make sense when we grasp the biblical view of mankind—that we are made in God’s image with infinite dignity, value, and worth, but our natures have been deeply corrupted because of sin. An unbiblical view of the nature of man was at the heart of his rejection of the faith.

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     Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell Books:

Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter

10 reasons taxpayers should defund Planned Parenthood

By Joe Carter 1/9/2017

     On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that as part of the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republican congressional leaders would include a provision that would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding.

     Here are ten reasons why every taxpayer should support congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood:

     1. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in America—and the largest recipient of federal funding for family planning.

     Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has 57 affiliates that operation approximately 650 “health centers.” PPFA require that at least one clinic per affiliate must perform abortions. The result is that PPFA is America’s largest abortion provider, performing more than 323,000 abortions a year.

     PPFA is also the largest single recipient of federal funding for family planning. A report produced by the by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2015 found that over a three year period (2010-2012), PPFA received $344.5 million in direct federal funds and an additional $1.2 billion in funding from Medicaid (which includes a combination of federal and state funds). Altogether, Planned Parenthood gets nearly a half a billion dollars every year from the American taxpayer.

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Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, the editor of the NIV, Lifehacks Bible, Hardcover: Practical Tools for Successful Spiritual Habits, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. He serves as an elder at Grace Hill Church in Herndon, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 7

In You Do I Take Refuge
7 A Shiggaion Of David, Which He Sang To The Lord Concerning The Words Of Cush, A Benjaminite.

1 O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.

3 O LORD my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust. Selah

ESV Reformation Study

The Story Behind December 25

By William J. Tighe

     Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

     Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

     A Mistake | The idea that the date was taken from the pagans goes back to two scholars from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Paul Ernst Jablonski, a German Protestant, wished to show that the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th was one of the many “paganizations” of Christianity that the Church of the fourth century embraced, as one of many “degenerations” that transformed pure apostolic Christianity into Catholicism. Dom Jean Hardouin, a Benedictine monk, tried to show that the Catholic Church adopted pagan festivals for Christian purposes without paganizing the gospel.

     In the Julian calendar, created in 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar, the winter solstice fell on December 25th, and it therefore seemed obvious to Jablonski and Hardouin that the day must have had a pagan significance before it had a Christian one. But in fact, the date had no religious significance in the Roman pagan festal calendar before Aurelian’s time, nor did the cult of the sun play a prominent role in Rome before him.

     There were two temples of the sun in Rome, one of which (maintained by the clan into which Aurelian was born or adopted) celebrated its dedication festival on August 9th, the other of which celebrated its dedication festival on August 28th. But both of these cults fell into neglect in the second century, when eastern cults of the sun, such as Mithraism, began to win a following in Rome. And in any case, none of these cults, old or new, had festivals associated with solstices or equinoxes.

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     William J. Tighe is Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a faculty advisor to the Catholic Campus Ministry. He is a Member of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.

What is the New Average Age for Kids to Have a Crisis of Faith?

By 3/18/2015

     I think many of us would say that the university years are the years when our kids are most likely to face a crisis of faith. We think of this as the time when kids are taking a ‘borrowed’ faith and deciding if they will make it their own or not.

     Many would also suggest high school – particularly the older grades – as having a strong potential for a crisis of faith. That’s when a child begins to cross over to adulthood – albeit in fits and starts.

     I would have said either of these times were likely candidates for a crisis of faith. But I recently learned that my information is outdated. There is a new average age when kids hit a crisis of faith.

     The average age for a crisis in faith is now 13.

     Now, I don’t have a formal study to back this up. But this is something that Christian apologists who work regularly with youth are finding.

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     Beyond Teachable Moments

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     4. Still it is insisted, that exhortations are vain, warnings superfluous, and rebukes absurd, if the sinner possesses not the power to obey. When similar objections were urged against Augustine, he was obliged to write his book, De Correptione et Gratia, where he has fully disposed of them. The substance of his answer to his opponents is this: "O, man! learn from the precept what you ought to do; learn from correction, that it is your own fault you have not the power; and learn in prayer, whence it is that you may receive the power." Very similar is the argument of his book, De Spiritu et Litera, in which he shows that God does not measure the precepts of his law by human strength, but, after ordering what is right, freely bestows on his elect the power of fulfilling it. The subject, indeed, does not require a long discussion. For we are not singular in our doctrine, but have Christ and all his apostles with us. Let our opponents, then, consider how they are to come off victorious in a contest which they wage with such antagonists. Christ declares, "without me ye can do nothing," (John i5:5). Does he the less censure and chastise those who, without him, did wickedly? Does he the less exhort every man to be intent on good works? How severely does Paul inveigh against the Corinthians for want of charity (1 Cor. 3:3); and yet at the same time, he prays that charity may be given them by the Lord. In the Epistle to the Romans, he declares that "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy," (Rom. 9:16). Still he ceases not to warn, exhort, and rebuke them. Why then do they not expostulate with God for making sport with men, by demanding of them things which he alone can give, and chastising them for faults committed through want of his grace? Why do they not admonish Paul to spare those who have it not in their power to will or to run, unless the mercy of God, which has forsaken them, precede? As if the doctrine were not founded on the strongest reason--reason which no serious inquirer can fail to perceive. The extent to which doctrine, and exhortation, and rebuke, are in themselves able to change the mind, is indicated by Paul when he says, "Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase," (1 Cor 3:7) in like manner, we see that Moses delivers the precepts of the Law under a heavy sanction, and that the prophets strongly urge and threaten transgressors though they at the same time confess, that men are wise only when an understanding heart is given them; that it is the proper work of God to circumcise the heart, and to change it from stone into flesh; to write his law on their inward parts; in short, to renew souls so as to give efficacy to doctrine.

5. What purpose, then, is served by exhortations? It is this: As the wicked, with obstinate heart, despise them, they will be a testimony against them when they stand at the judgment-seat of God; nay, they even now strike and lash their consciences. For, however they may petulantly deride, they cannot disapprove them. But what, you will ask, can a miserable mortal do, when softness of heart, which is necessary to obedience, is denied him? I ask, in reply, Why have recourse to evasion, since hardness of heart cannot be imputed to any but the sinner himself? The ungodly, though they would gladly evade the divine admonitions, are forced, whether they will or not, to feel their power. But their chief use is to be seen in the case of believers, in whom the Lord, while he always acts by his Spirit, also omits not the instrumentality of his word, but employs it, and not without effect. Let this, then, be a standing truth, that the whole strength of the godly consists in the grace of God, according to the words of the prophet, "I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes," (Ezek. 11:19, 20). But it will be asked, why are they now admonished of their duty, and not rather left to the guidance of the Spirit? Why are they urged with exhortations when they cannot hasten any faster than the Spirit impels them? and why are they chastised, if at any time they go astray, seeing that this is caused by the necessary infirmity of the flesh? "O, man! who art thou that replies against God?" If, in order to prepare us for the grace which enables us to obey exhortation, God sees meet to employ exhortation, what is there in such an arrangement for you to carp and scoff at? Had exhortations and reprimands no other profit with the godly than to convince them of sin, they could not be deemed altogether useless. Now, when, by the Spirit of God acting within, they have the effect of inflaming their desire of good, of arousing them from lethargy, of destroying the pleasure and honeyed sweetness of sin, making it hateful and loathsome, who will presume to cavil at them as superfluous?

Should any one wish a clearer reply, let him take the following:--God works in his elect in two ways: inwardly, by his Spirit; outwardly, by his Word. By his Spirit illuminating their minds, and training their hearts to the practice of righteousness, he makes them new creatures, while, by his Word, he stimulates them to long and seek for this renovation. In both, he exerts the might of his hand in proportion to the measure in which he dispenses them. The Word, when addressed to the reprobate, though not effectual for their amendment, has another use. It urges their consciences now, and will render them more inexcusable on the day of judgment. Thus, our Saviour, while declaring that none can come to him but those whom the Father draws, and that the elect come after they have heard and learned of the Father (John 6:44, 45), does not lay aside the office of teacher, but carefully invites those who must be taught inwardly by the Spirit before they can make any profit. The reprobate, again, are admonished by Paul, that the doctrine is not in vain; because, while it is in them a savour of death unto death, it is still a sweet savour unto God (2 Cor. 2:16).

6. The enemies of this doctrine are at great pains in collecting passages of Scripture, as if, unable to accomplish any thing by their weight, they were to overwhelm us by their number. But as in battle, when it is come to close quarters, an unwarlike multitude, how great soever the pomp and show they make, give way after a few blows, and take to flight, [178] so we shall have little difficulty here in disposing of our opponents and their host. All the passages which they pervert in opposing us are very similar in their import; and hence, when they are arranged under their proper heads, one answer will suffice for several; it is not necessary to give a separate consideration to each. Precepts seem to be regarded as their stronghold. These they think so accommodated to our abilities, as to make it follow as a matter of course, that whatever they enjoin we are able to perform. Accordingly, they run over all the precepts, and by them fix the measure of our power. For, say they, when God enjoins meekness, submission, love, chastity, piety, and holiness, and when he forbids anger, pride, theft, uncleanness, idolatry, and the like, he either mocks us, or only requires things which are in our power.

All the precepts which they thus heap together may be divided into three classes. Some enjoin a first conversion unto God, others speak simply of the observance of the law, and others inculcate perseverance in the grace which has been received. We shall first treat of precepts in general, and then proceed to consider each separate class. That the abilities of man are equal to the precepts of the divine law, has long been a common idea, and has some show of plausibility. It is founded, however, on the grossest ignorance of the law. Those who deem it a kind of sacrilege to say, that the observance of the law is impossible, insist, as their strongest argument, that, if it is so, the Law has been given in vain (infra, Chap. 7 sec. 5). For they speak just as if Paul had never said anything about the Law. But what, pray, is meant by saying, that the Law "was added because of transgressions;" "by the law is the knowledge of sin;" "I had not known sin but by the law;" "the law entered that the offence might abound?" (Gal. 3:19; Rom. 3:20; 7:7; 5:20). Is it meant that the Law was to be limited to our strength, lest it should be given in vain? Is it not rather meant that it was placed far above us, in order to convince us of our utter feebleness? Paul indeed declares, that charity is the end and fulfilling of the Law (1 Tim. 1:5). But when he prays that the minds of the Thessalonians may be filled with it, he clearly enough acknowledges that the Law sounds in our ears without profit, if God do not implant it thoroughly in our hearts (1 Thess. 3:12).

7. I admit, indeed, that if the Scripture taught nothing else on the subject than that the Law is a rule of life by which we ought to regulate our pursuits, I should at once assent to their opinion; but since it carefully and clearly explains that the use of the Law is manifold, the proper course is to learn from that explanation what the power of the Law is in man. In regard to the present question, while it explains what our duty is it teaches that the power of obeying it is derived from the goodness of God, and it accordingly urges us to pray that this power may be given us. If there were merely a command and no promise, it would be necessary to try whether our strength were sufficient to fulfil the command; but since promises are annexed, which proclaim not only that aid, but that our whole power is derived from divine grace, they at the same time abundantly testify that we are not only unequal to the observance of the Law, but mere fools in regard to it. Therefore, let us hear no more of a proportion between our ability and the divine precepts, as if the Lord had accommodated the standard of justice which he was to give in the Law to our feeble capacities. We should rather gather from the promises hove ill provided we are, having in everything so much need of grace. But say they, Who will believe that the Lord designed his Law for blocks and stones? There is no wish to make any one believe this. The ungodly are neither blocks nor stones, when, taught by the Law that their lusts are offensive to God, they are proved guilty by their own confession; nor are the godly blocks or stones, when admonished of their powerlessness, they take refuge in grace. To this effect are the pithy sayings of Augustine, "God orders what we cannot do, that we may know what we ought to ask of him. There is a great utility in precepts, if all that is given to free will is to do greater honour to divine grace. Faith acquires what the Law requires; nay, the Law requires, in order that faith may acquire what is thus required; nay, more, God demands of us faith itself, and finds not what he thus demands, until by giving he makes it possible to find it." Again, he says, "Let God give what he orders, and order what he wills." [179]

8. This will be more clearly seen by again attending to the three classes of precepts to which we above referred. Both in the Law and in the Prophets, God repeatedly calls upon us to turn to him. [180] But, on the other hand, a prophet exclaims, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented." He orders us to circumcise the foreskins of our hearts; but Moses declares, that that circumcision is made by his own hand. In many passages he demands a new heart, but in others he declares that he gives it. As Augustine says, "What God promises, we ourselves do not through choice or nature, but he himself does by grace." The same observation is made, when, in enumerating the rules of Tichonius, he states the third in effect to be--that we distinguish carefully between the Law and the promises, or between the commands and grace (Augustin. de Doctrine Christiana, lib. 3). Let them now go and gather from precepts what man's power of obedience is, when they would destroy the divine grace by which the precepts themselves are accomplished. The precepts of the second class are simply those which enjoin us to worship God, to obey and adhere to his will, to do his pleasure, and follow his teaching. But innumerable passages testify that every degree of purity, piety, holiness, and justices which we possess, is his gift. Of the third class of precepts is the exhortation of Paul and Barnabas to the proselytes, as recorded by Luke; they "persuaded them to continue in the grace of God," (Acts 13:43). But the source from which this power of continuance must be sought is elsewhere explained by Paul, when he says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord," (Eph. 6:10). In another passage he says, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption," (Eph. 4:30). But as the thing here enjoined could not be performed by man, he prays in behalf of the Thessalonians, that God would count them "worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power," (2 Thess. 1:11). In the same way, in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, when treating of alms, he repeatedly commends their good and pious inclination. A little farther on, however, he exclaims, "Thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. For indeed he accepted the exhortation," (2 Cor. 8:16, 17). If Titus could not even perform the office of being a mouth to exhort others, except in so far as God suggested, how could the others have been voluntary agents in acting, if the Lord Jesus had not directed their hearts?

9. Some, who would be thought more acute, endeavour to evade all these passages, by the quibble, that there is nothing to hinder us from contributing our part, while God, at the same time, supplies our deficiencies. They, moreover, adduce passages from the Prophets, in which the work of our conversion seems to be shared between God and ourselves; "Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts," (Zech. 1:3). The kind of assistance which God gives us has been shown above (sect. 7, 8), and need not now be repeated. One thing only I ask to be conceded to me, that it is vain to think we have a power of fulfilling the Law, merely because we are enjoined to obey it. Since, in order to our fulfilling the divine precepts, the grace of the Lawgiver is both necessary, and has been promised to us, this much at least is clear, that more is demanded of us than we are able to pay. Nor can any cavil evade the declaration in Jeremiah, that the covenant which God made with his ancient people was broken, because it was only of the letter--that to make it effectual, it was necessary for the Spirit to interpose and train the heart to obedience (Jer. 31:32). The opinion we now combat is not aided by the words, "Turn unto me, and I will turn unto you." The turning there spoken of is not that by which God renews the heart unto repentance; but that in which, by bestowing prosperity, he manifests his kindness and favour, just in the same way as he sometimes expresses his displeasure by sending adversity. The people complaining under the many calamities which befell them, that they were forsaken by God, he answers, that his kindness would not fail them, if they would return to a right course, and to himself, the standard of righteousness. The passage, therefore, is wrested from its proper meaning when it is made to countenance the idea that the work of conversion is divided between God and man (supra, Chap. 2 sec. 27). We have only glanced briefly at this subject, as the proper place for it will occur when we come to treat of the Law (Chap. 7 sec. 2 and 3).

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

Job Did Not Curse God, Will You?

By Richard S. Adams

     Last year at this time, and the year before that and the year before that, etc. etc. I was reading Job. Every new year started in Job, but after all these years I decided to stop using my through the Bible in a year reading plan. Instead I am using M’Cheyne Reading Plan. Here is his biography, The Biography of Robert Murray M'Cheyne and here he is on Wikipedia, click here.

     According to the web site bibleplan.org, "The 19th Century Scottish minister, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, (sometimes spelled McCheyne) who lived from 1813-1843, prepared a plan for Bible reading to take readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. There are approximately 4 chapters per day in this plan.

     This year I am also switching from the New Revised Standard Version which I have used sinced 2006 and instead I want to use the English Standard Version. I want a more literal English translation and many of the people whose books I enjoy reading recommend the ESV.

     So instead of Job this January it is Genesis, Matthew, Ezra, Nehemiah and Acts, but our culture's ever increasing hatred, yes hatred for God and the things of God reminds me of Job. Remember he was advised to curse God and die. That sounds post-modern to me.

     Tuesday Lily asked me what I thought of the Psalm reading for that day, especially verse 5.

(Ps 6:5) 5  For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?


     I guess the people alive right now who hate God will get their wish, they will have no memory of God. I cannot think of anything worse.

     Despite more and more people laughing at the thought of a sovereign God many continue to blame God for their circumstances, situations, and even the people who haunt their lives? Aren't our yesterday choices (as well as the choices of others) what bring us to where we are today?

     Well, yes and no. We deceive ourselves if we think our best choices are enough. Do we really have control over our life or are our attempts to control others as well as ourselves nothing but wishful imaginations? Control is an easy concept, but slippery in application. It is a very short rope that cannot be depended on to lead us through a maze, help us cross a ravine or pull us from a pit. By all means we should always do our best, but our very best efforts are no guarantee of success.

     Job is a good example of this. He demonstrates the 'devil did “NOT” make him do it.’ Despite pressure from his wife he did not curse God. Also, he did not get his questions answered. In the end we will most likely take our unanswered questions to the grave with us, but despite that we are still accountable and responsible. We may fail and we may die despite our best efforts, our best choices, and the best of attitudes. Why? Because regardless of what we may think, we are not in control of our life. If we do die, God promises we will not perish.

     How we react or respond to life's circumstances, situations and people is a daily shaping and molding process, a process we "can" control, but the results are the Lord's. If we choose to respond in the mind of Christ, instead of reacting in the flesh, our submission to the process is our gift to the Lord.

     

Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2008, on staff at Portland Seminary since 2009.

Articles


  • Neuroscience and Soul
  • Human Soul
  • Soul Recovery

#1 Swinburne and O'Connor   Biola University

 

#2 James Houston   Biola University

 

#3 Bruce Hindmarsh   Biola University

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Stop doing things that don’t work
     1/11/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.’

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ESV

     The story’s told of a couple who decided to go duck hunting together. They heard that they needed a good duck hunting dog, so they went to a kennel and got one. They heard that they needed a good shotgun, so they went to the store and bought one. Then they went hunting. At the end of the day they hadn’t got a single duck. The husband said to his wife, ‘Honey, we’ve got to be doing something wrong here.’ His wife replied, ‘Well, maybe if we throw the dog up a little higher he could catch a duck this time.’ When it comes to the Christian life, we try to accomplish things with tools that don’t work or don’t make sense. A dog is not the right weapon to get ducks – you need firepower to bring a duck down. Why did Paul write, ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom’? Because when the word of Christ dwells richly in your heart, you’re equipped with God’s wisdom. You can’t solve a problem by using the very elements that caused it. You need God’s wisdom, and it’s found in His Word. Less than 30 per cent of Christians read their Bible daily. Think about that: 70 per cent of Christians look for the answer in the wrong places. When you have a problem, the first thing you should ask is, ‘What does God’s Word say about this?’ ‘The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple’ (Psalm 119:130 NKJV). Instead of doing things that don’t work – turn to God’s Word.

Gen 25-26
Matt 8:1-17

UCB The Word For Today

IMHO
     January 11, 2016

     Each morning I warm up the car after I put Lily’s bucket of towels in the trunk. I pray for her and ask God to bring her home safe to me. I know she is a blessing wherever she goes and I ask God that those she blesses might in turn bless her. This morning as I was praying it suddenly dropped into my spirit that she is an extension of God’s life, for me, and an expression of God’s love, for me, and extension of God’s power, in me, because God has used her to change me in so many ways. That is how we are all supposed to be to one another. Why did it take me so long to begin to understand this?

     When someone fails to find meaning in their life, or the meaning they found turns out to be insufficient, they can experience an existential frustration or noögenic neurosis. It may appear to be a mental disease, but it is the result of attitude.

     In logotherapy, finding the meaning of life is at the root of mental happiness. If someone does not find the meaning of their life, they can feel directionless, unfulfilled, and depressed. Similar symptoms manifest if someone decided on a meaning but it fails to motivate the person, such as if it is a cause in which they do not really believe, or if the person discovers that the cause is not what they originally thought it was. This lack of certainty in the foundation of a person can cause symptoms that might appear to be linked to a mental disease. A noögenic neurosis can result in deep depression, indecisiveness, or apathy, which may be confused for something with a neurological cause. However, a change of attitude may change the person's entire outlook and resolve the symptoms.


Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     He was the grandson of Princeton president Jonathan Edwards, whose preaching began the Great Awakening revival. He became the president of Yale, serving for twenty-two years. His name was Timothy Dwight, and he died this day, January 11, 1817. Finding many of Yale’s students enamored with French enlightenment, Timothy Dwight often visited with students on campus, logically answering questions of faith. By the end of his tenure, not only did the majority of the student body profess Christianity, but many became ministers. Timothy Dwight wrote: “Where there is no religion, there is no morality…. the ultimate foundation of… life, liberty and property is buried in ruins.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     There was a natural attractiveness and love able ness about Thomas Kelly that drew students and colleagues to him. His rich humor, all remember. "He laughed with the rich hearty abandon of wind and sun upon the open prairie. I have never heard richer, heartier laughter than his. He delighted in earth's incongruities, all the more perhaps because he saw eternal things and the values that transcend the earth even the… publicans and sinners among the students respected and loved him; he said to all, with Walt Whitman, 'Not till the sun refuses you do I refuse you.' "

     A daughter, Lois, was born early in 1928 and the Kelly family built themselves a new home which they gaily shared with their student friends. But by 1930, the burning urge to be on with the quest, to broaden horizons, to extend opportunities led to a decision to study philosophy at what was still regarded as the most distinguished center in the United States, at Harvard University. At great personal sacrifice and once again with the loyal encouragement of Lael Kelly, they gave up their new home, borrowed money and went to Cambridge, Massachusetts for the year. In 1931, he had an opportunity to fill a year's vacancy at Wellesley College while the professor of philosophy was on sabbatical leave. This meant opportunity for a further year of study at Harvard and he accepted it eagerly. He felt that his scholarship was getting the stimulus it had long lacked. At Wellesley in 1931-32 he not only taught the traditional courses and managed a seminar in Contemporary Realism, but supplemented the family income by preaching in a Congregational Church each Sunday at Fall River.

     At Harvard the great event of the year was a course in directed reading under Professor A. N. Whitehead. It was in this reading that he conceived his first interest in the French philosopher, Emile Meyerson, upon whom he later wrote his only published book. He had taken a course in Cosmologies Ancient and Modern under Professor Whitehead the previous year and the turn of Professor Whitehead's thought grew on him and intrigued him. In June 1932, he wrote Professor A. L. Gillett, "I have begun to look in the direction of Whitehead for a richer analysis of the datum and find him tremendous." As Professor Whitehead talked, Thomas Kelly felt, as others have done, as though he were present at the day of creation and saw and shared in the whole drama, for there was no mistaking the fact that this great metaphysician possessed "a feeling of intimacy with the inside of the cosmos" to borrow a phrase of Justice Holmes. Professor Whitehead's child-fresh font of unusual and apt words that he minted to illuminate some experience also gripped Thomas Kelly and gave him new courage to allow himself great freedom in his own style of expression-a trait that is peculiarly striking in the devotional essays included in this volume.


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


There is a tendency to see divine intervention
in things that happen in the normal course of miracles.
--- Robert Brault

          www.robertbrault.com


The truly powerful ideas
are precisely the ones
that never have to justify themselves.
--- Dallas Willard

In the holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints.
--- Frederick Buechner

Peace is a deep disposition of the heart.
It is an ability to let go of the need to be right, an ability based on
the knowledge that our rightness or wrongness in any issue is
totally irrelevant to God’s love for us or for our neighbor.
--- Roberti Bondi

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 3:7-10
     by D.H. Stern

7     Don’t be conceited about your own wisdom;
but fear ADONAI, and turn from evil.
8     This will bring health to your body
and give strength to your bones.

9     Honor ADONAI with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your income.
10     Then your granaries will be filled
and your vats overflow with new wine.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Progress of Revelation:
      Old Testament

Book Approximate Writing Date Author
 1. Job Unknown Anonymous
 2. Genesis 1445–1405 B.C. Moses
 3. Exodus 1445–1405 B.C. Moses
 4. Leviticus 1445–1405 B.C. Moses
 5. Numbers 1445–1405 B.C. Moses
 6. Deuteronomy 1445–1405 B.C. Moses
 7. Psalms 1410–450 B.C. Multiple Authors
 8. Joshua 1405–1385 B.C. Joshua
 9. Judges c. 1043 B.C. Samuel
10. Ruth c. 1030–1010 B.C. Samuel (?)
11. Song of Solomon 971–965 B.C. Solomon
12. Proverbs 971–686 B.C. Solomon primarily
13. Ecclesiastes 940–931 B.C. Solomon
14. 1 Samuel 931–722 B.C. Anonymous
15. 2 Samuel 931–722 B.C. Anonymous
16. Obadiah 850–840 B.C. Obadiah
17. Joel 835–796 B.C. Joel
18. Jonah c. 760 B.C. Jonah
19. Amos c. 755 B.C. Amos
20. Hosea 755–710 B.C. Hosea
21. Micah 735–710 B.C. Micah
22. Isaiah 700–681 B.C. Isaiah
23. Nahum c. 650 B.C. Nahum
24. Zephaniah 635–625 B.C. Zephaniah
25. Habakkuk 615–605 B.C. Habakkuk
26. Ezekiel 590–570 B.C. Ezekiel
27. Lamentations 586 B.C. Jeremiah
28. Jeremiah 586–570 B.C. Jeremiah
29. 1 Kings 561–538 B.C. Anonymous
30. 2 Kings 561–538 B.C. Anonymous
31. Daniel 536–530 B.C. Daniel
32. Haggai c. 520 B.C. Haggai
33. Zechariah 480–470 B.C. Zechariah
34. Ezra 457–444 B.C. Ezra
35. 1 Chronicles 450–430 B.C. Ezra (?)
36. 2 Chronicles 450–430 B.C. Ezra (?)
37. Esther 450–331 B.C. Anonymous
38. Malachi 433–424 B.C. Malachi
39. Nehemiah 424–400 B.C. Ezra


ESV MacArthur Study Bible

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                What my obedience to God costs other people

     They laid hold upon one Simon, … and on him they laid the cross. --- Luke 23:26.

     If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it — ‘You call this Christianity?’ We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be paid.

     Our human pride entrenches itself on this point, and we say — ‘I will never accept anything from anyone.’ We shall have to, or disobey God. We have no right to expect to be in any other relation than our Lord Himself was in (see Luke 8:2–3).

     Stagnation in spiritual life comes when we say we will bear the whole thing ourselves. We cannot. We are so involved in the universal purposes of God that immediately we obey God, others are affected. Are we going to remain loyal in our obedience to God and go through the humiliation of refusing to be independent, or are we going to take the other line and say — ‘I will not cost other people suffering’? We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be a grief to our Lord. Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to obey and to leave all consequences with Him.

     Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Gradual
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Gradual

I have come to the borders
  of the understanding. Instruct
  me, God, whether to press
  onward or to draw hack.

  To say I am a child
  is a pretence at humility
  that is unworthy of me.
  Rather am I at one with those

  minds, all of whose instruments
  are beside the point of
  their sharpness. I need a technique
  other than that of physics

  for registering the ubiquity
  of your presence. A myriad prayers
  are addressed to you in a thousand
  languages and you decode

  them all. Liberty for you
  is freedom from our too human
  senses, yet we die
  when they nod. Call your horizons

  in. Suffer the domestication
  for a moment of the ferocities
  you inhabit, a garden for us to refine
  our ignorance in under the boughs of love.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Take Heart
     January 11



     Give thanks in all circumstances. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

     How may the habit of thankfulness be formed and maintained? (Sermons and Addresses)

     If you wish to establish the habit of doing a certain thing, take pains to do that thing on every possible occasion and avoid everything inconsistent with it. If you wish to form the habit of thankfulness, just begin by being thankful—not next year but tonight; not for some great event or experience but for whatever has just occurred, whatever has been pleasant and, yes, for whatever has been painful. Find some special occasion for thanksgiving this very night. And then go on searching for material for gratitude and continuing to be thankful hour by hour, day by day. Thus the habit will be formed by a very law of human nature.

     But remember that good habits cannot be maintained without attention. They require self-control, self-constraint. Isn’t the habit of thankfulness worth taking pains to maintain? I once dined with Ole Bull, the celebrated violinist, and found him a man of generous soul, full of noble impulses and enthusiasm, rich with the experience of travel. And I was interested in a remark of his: “When I stop practicing one day, I see the difference; when I stop two days, my friends see the difference; when I stop a week, everybody sees the difference.” Here was a man who by lifelong labor had cultivated a wonderful natural gift until he was probably the foremost of his time, and yet he could not afford to stop practicing for a single week or even for a single day. “They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (
1 Cor. 9:25). Shall we shrink from vigilance and effort to keep up the habit of thankfulness to God?

     Thankfulness helps to allay anxiety. Notice what the apostle says to the Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God… will guard your hearts and your minds” (Phil. 4:6–7). Notice that we are to prevent anxiety by prayer as to the future with thanksgiving for the past.

     Thankfulness cannot fail to deepen penitence. “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Rom. 2:4). When we are in the habit of thankfully recalling the kindnesses and mercies of our heavenly Father, we perceive more clearly and lament more earnestly the evil of sin against him, and what is more, this will strengthen us to turn from our sins to his blessed service.

     Thankfulness brightens hope. “I love to think on mercies past, And future good implore.” If we have been accustomed to set up milestones of God’s mercy on the path of life, then every glance backward will help us to look forward with more of humble hope.

     Thankfulness strengthens for endurance and exertion. We all know how much more easily and effectively those work who work cheerfully, and the very nutriment of cheerfulness is found in thankfulness as to the past and hope as to the future.
--- John A. Broadus


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

On This Day   January 11
     Scandal of the Century

     American Christianity suffered from clergy scandals long before the televangelist disgraces of the 1980s. The most popular pastor of his time, Henry Ward Beecher, created “the scandal of the century” in 1870, and to this day no one knows the full story.

     Beecher, pastor of Brooklyn’s Plymouth Church, was a witty, dynamic, larger-than-life political activist, promoting heartfelt causes like racial equality and woman suffrage. Though theologically liberal, he became the best known preacher in America.

     But his speaking engagements and church duties kept him away from home, and he grew distant from his wife, Eunice. Beecher was an imposing man with broad shoulders, flowing hair, and grayish-blue eyes full of expression. He exuded vitality and charm, especially with women. Rumors began surfacing about his involvements, and when Elizabeth Tilton came into his life the rumors rose to the surface like gaseous bubbles.

     “Libby’s” husband, journalist Theodore Tilton, traveled widely, and she was lonely. She approached Beecher for counseling and soon became his closest confidante. In 1870 Libby confessed that she and Beecher had become intimate. Beecher denied all but kissing Libby and giving her emotional support, and the situation simmered for years.

     It burst on the public on January 11, 1875, when Tilton sued Beecher for alienating his wife’s affections. Eunice stood by her husband, but she aged instantly, her hair turning white. The trial dragged on, becoming the talk of the nation. In the end the jury was deadlocked. While Beecher’s supporters gave him the benefit of the doubt, the New York Times spoke for most when it editorialized on July 3, 1875: “Sensible men throughout the country will in their hearts be compelled to acknowledge that Mr. Beecher’s management of his private affairs has been entirely unworthy of his name, position, and sacred calling.”

     Beecher himself admitted as much to attorneys who once apologized for disturbing him on Sunday. “We have it on good authority,” he said, “that it is lawful to pull an ass out of the pit on the Sabbath. Well, there never was a bigger ass, or a deeper pit.”

     Anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile. That’s why officials must have a good reputation and be faithful in marriage. They must be self-controlled, sensible, well-behaved, friendly to strangers, and able to teach.
--- 1 Timothy 3:1-2.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 11

     “These have no root." --- Luke 8:13.

     My soul, examine thyself this morning by the light of this text. Thou hast received the word with joy; thy feelings have been stirred and a lively impression has been made; but, remember, that to receive the word in the ear is one thing, and to receive Jesus into thy very soul is quite another; superficial feeling is often joined to inward hardness of heart, and a lively impression of the word is not always a lasting one. In the parable, the seed in one case fell upon ground having a rocky bottom, covered over with a thin layer of earth; when the seed began to take root, its downward growth was hindered by the hard stone and therefore it spent its strength in pushing its green shoot aloft as high as it could, but having no inward moisture derived from root nourishment, it withered away. Is this my case? Have I been making a fair show in the flesh without having a corresponding inner life? Good growth takes place upwards and downwards at the same time. Am I rooted in sincere fidelity and love to Jesus? If my heart remains unsoftened and unfertilized by grace, the good seed may germinate for a season, but it must ultimately wither, for it cannot flourish on a rocky, unbroken, unsanctified heart. Let me dread a godliness as rapid in growth and as wanting in endurance as Jonah’s gourd; let me count the cost of being a follower of Jesus, above all let me feel the energy of his Holy Spirit, and then I shall possess an abiding and enduring seed in my soul. If my mind remains as obdurate as it was by nature, the sun of trial will scorch, and my hard heart will help to cast the heat the more terribly upon the ill-covered seed, and my religion will soon die, and my despair will be terrible; therefore, O heavenly Sower, plough me first, and then cast the truth into me, and let me yield thee a bounteous harvest.

          Evening - January 11

     “I have prayed for thee.” --- Luke 22:32.

     How encouraging is the thought of the Redeemer’s never- ceasing intercession for us. When we pray, he pleads for us; and when we are not praying, he is advocating our cause, and by his supplications shielding us from unseen dangers. Notice the word of comfort addressed to Peter—“Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat; but”—what? “But go and pray for yourself.” That would be good advice, but it is not so written. Neither does he say, “But I will keep you watchful, and so you shall be preserved.” That were a great blessing. No, it is, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” We little know what we owe to our Saviour’s prayers. When we reach the hill-tops of heaven, and look back upon all the way whereby the Lord our God hath led us, how we shall praise him who, before the eternal throne, undid the mischief which Satan was doing upon earth. How shall we thank him because he never held his peace, but day and night pointed to the wounds upon his hands, and carried our names upon his breastplate! Even before Satan had begun to tempt, Jesus had forestalled him and entered a plea in heaven. Mercy outruns malice. Mark, he does not say, “Satan hath desired to have you.” He checks Satan even in his very desire, and nips it in the bud. He does not say, “But I have desired to pray for you.” No, but “I have prayed for you: I have done it already; I have gone to court and entered a counterplea even before an accusation is made.” O Jesus, what a comfort it is that thou hast pleaded our cause against our unseen enemies; countermined their mines, and unmasked their ambushes. Here is a matter for joy, gratitude, hope, and confidence.


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

Amazing Grace
     January 11

          DAY BY DAY

     Lina Sandell Berg, 1832–1903   Translated by Andrew L. Skoog, 1856–1934

     Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

     It is a common tendency for people to look ahead. They wonder—what will happen next? That’s why the pseudo science of astrology is booming today as never before. Because we are apprehensive of the future, wondering when some health problem or perhaps a financial difficulty will surprise us, we long for a reassuring word of comfort.

     “Day by Day” was written by a young Swedish woman who learned early in life the all-important lesson of living each day with the conscious presence and strength of her Lord. Lina Sandell has often been called the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden” for her many contributions to Gospel hymnody. From her pen flowed approximately 650 hymns which strongly influenced the waves of revival that swept the Scandinavian countries during the latter half of the 19th century.

     At the age of 26 Lina had an experience that greatly influenced her life. She was accompanying her father aboard ship to the city of Gothenburg, Sweden, across Lake Vattern. The ship gave a sudden lurch and Lina’s father, a devout Lutheran minister, fell overboard and drowned before the eyes of his devoted daughter. Although Lina had written many hymn texts prior to this tragic experience, now more than ever poetic thoughts that expressed a tender, child-like trust in her Lord began to flow freely from her broken heart.

     Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here; trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear. He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what He deems best—lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.
     Ev’ry day the Lord Himself is near me with a special mercy for each hour; all my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me, He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r. The protection of His child and treasure is a charge that on Himself He laid: “As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,” this the pledge to me He made.


     For Today: Deuteronomy 33:25; Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 14:3; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Hebrews 4:16.

     Practice the kind of deep and peaceful trust that Lina Sandell has expressed in this hymn. Focus only on the challenges and difficulties of today and trust the Lord for tomorrow. Sing this message as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, January 11, 2018 | Epiphany


Thursday Of The First Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 18:1–19
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 18:20–50
Old Testament     Genesis 4:17–26
New Testament     Hebrews 3:1–11
Gospel     John 1:43–51

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 18:1–19

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

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

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

7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.

13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 18:20–50

20 The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

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.

31 For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
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.
44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45 Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.

46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47 the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
48 who rescued me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you delivered me from the man of violence.

49 For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.

Old Testament
Genesis 4:17–26

17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

23 Lamech said to his wives:

   “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
   you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
   I have killed a man for wounding me,
   a young man for striking me.
   24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
   then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.

New Testament
Hebrews 3:1–11

3 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

   “Today, if you hear his voice,
   8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
   on the day of testing in the wilderness,
   9 where your fathers put me to the test
   and saw my works for forty years.
   10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
   and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
   they have not known my ways.’
   11 As I swore in my wrath,
   ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ ”

Gospel
John 1:43–51

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,13 you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

The Book of Common Prayer



Existential Problem of Evil &
The Brothers Karamazov
Tim O'Connor   Biola University





Jesus & the Problem of Evil
Tim O'Connor   Biola University






Emergent Individualism
Richard Swinburne   Biola University





Brain Science vs the Soul?
Dr. Richard Swinburne   Biola University






A Soul to be Free?
Richard Swinburne   Biola University





Souls & Existence?
Richard Swinburne   Biola University






What Happens When We Die?
Richard Swinburne   Biola University





Theological Disagreement
Richard Swinburne   Biola University






The Problem of Evil
Tim O'Connor   Biola University





1 John Theology
Fred Sanders   Biola University