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1/11/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Genesis  32 - 34


Genesis 32

Jacob Fears Esau

Genesis 32 1 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4 instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’ ”

6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, 8 thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.”

9 And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. 12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”

13 So he stayed there that night, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milking camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove.” 17 He instructed the first, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18 then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. And moreover, he is behind us.’ ” 19 He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you find him, 20 and you shall say, ‘Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us.’ ” For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterward I shall see his face.

Perhaps he will accept me.” 21 So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles with God

22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.


Genesis 33

Jacob Meets Esau

Genesis 33 1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. 2 And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3 He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

4 But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6 Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down. 7 Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 8 Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. 11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it.

12 Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you.” 13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. 14 Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

15 So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” 16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17 But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 18 And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city. 19 And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. 20 There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

Genesis 34

The Defiling of Dinah

Genesis 34 1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her. 3 And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob. He loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. 4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this girl for my wife.”

5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah. But his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came. 6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. 7 The sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it, and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had done an outrageous thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing must not be done.

8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him to be his wife. 9 Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You shall dwell with us, and the land shall be open to you. Dwell and trade in it, and get property in it.” 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12 Ask me for as great a bride-price and gift as you will, and I will give whatever you say to me. Only give me the young woman to be my wife.”

13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we agree with you—that you will become as we are by every male among you being circumcised. 16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to ourselves, and we will dwell with you and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter, and we will be gone.”

18 Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem. 19 And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. Now he was the most honored of all his father’s house. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21 “These men are at peace with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22 Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us to become one people—when every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us.” 24 And all who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.

25 On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city while it felt secure and killed all the males. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went away. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28 They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. 29 All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and plundered.

30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”

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

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
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
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
Genesis 32 - 34
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


Are You Ready To Rumble Genesis 32:24-30
s2-022 | 3-23-2014






Genesis 32-33
m2-020 | 3-26-2014





Genesis 34-36
m2-021 | 4-02-2014




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Genesis 32 - 34
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