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1/13/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Genesis   38 - 40


Genesis 38

Judah and Tamar

Genesis 38 1  It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, 3 and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.

6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

12 In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.

20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’ ” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.

27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.


Genesis 39

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

Genesis 39 1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.  George Lawson says, “When men are precious in God’s sight, they are honorable, whatever be their station in life. It is good to have those for our friends and for our servants who are beloved by the Lord. His kindness towards His people overflows to all with whom they are connected.”   The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances   5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.  Who’s to say which location was harder for Joseph? Was it in the cistern where he faced the prospect of death, or was it in the house where he faced temptation? ... Joseph’s story reminds us that when we shun trials, we miss blessings. When all you have is sunshine, all you get is a desert. For most of us, most of the time, it is true that more spiritual progress is made through failure and tears than is made through success and laughter. A poet penned these well-known words, “I walked a mile with pleasure and she chattered all the way, but left me none the wiser for all she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow and ne’er a word said she, but oh the things I learned from her, when sorrow walked with me.”   The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances  13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” 16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. 18 But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”

19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.

Genesis 40

Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners’ Dreams

Genesis 40 1  Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.

5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

A Spiritual Reality Check

By Caleb Cangelosi 1/9/2017

     What is reality? That question is one that is already wide opened in our culture. From television shows about artificial intelligence gaining consciousness to virtual reality devices, 2017 is already being declared the year that virtual and augmented reality will become our reality. In any event, the Christian can rest content that Paul fixes and settles his or her reality in Romans 6 - we are united to Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, and because of that we can live holy lives. There is no more foundational truth for our fight against sin and temptation, yet so often we do not know or appreciate it (see the recent interview with Rankin Wilbourne for more along these lines). Thus there is no better way to begin 2017 than by immersing ourselves again in this real reality and the responsibilities that flow out of it.

     Paul pens Romans 6 to respond to the legalistic objection to, and the antinomian distortion of, the grace of God in the gospel. If it is in fact true that where sin abounds, grace super-abounds (Romans 5:20-21), then may we continue in sin so that grace might increase? Depending on one's theological perspective, such license could be a feature (the antinomian) or a bug (the legalist). In fact, however, the assertion is unfounded, so Paul answers his question with a categorical denial and another question: "By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:2). In verses 3-4 Paul affirms (rather, asks the Romans if they don't already know) that those who have believed in Jesus Christ have been united with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection - and that our baptism pictured (signified) and promised (sealed) this glorious reality to all who trust in Christ. With Christ we died to sin once and for all, so that as those alive to God in Him "we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

     Just as physical death dissolves our connection to this life, and transfers us to another realm, from one state of existence to another, so when we believed the gospel our connection to sin was severed and broken. We died to the reign and rule of sin and death, and were transferred to the reign of grace and life in Jesus Christ (cf. Colossians 1:13-14). By His death and resurrection Jesus not only dealt with sin's inescapable penalty and guilt, He also destroyed sin's enslaving power and dominion: "[O]ur old self (the unregenerate man, dead in Adam) was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin (the body as controlled by sin) might be done away with (brought to nothing, rendered inoperative, ineffective, unable to dominate our lives any longer), so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin" (Romans 6:6-7).

     Through our being joined to Jesus' finished work, sin no longer has an authoritative grip upon us to force us to do its bidding. Just as sin and death are no longer master over Jesus (Romans 6:9-10), so sin and death are no longer master over us. All that Jesus did - His dying, being buried, rising from the dead - has become ours through faith in Him; we did it in Him. His reality has absolutely and certainly become our reality: "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection...If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him" (Romans 6:5, 8).

     If this is really true - and it is! - then what is our responsibility in light of this reality? We must comprehend, consider, and choose. It goes without saying that we must increasingly grow in our understanding of the incredible mystery that is our union with Christ. That's why Paul repeats in these verses truth that these believers already know (cf. "do you not know," "knowing this," and "knowing that" in Romans 6:3, 6, 9). Paul mentions our second responsibility in Romans 6:11 - "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." We must regard, reckon, realize, assume, look upon ourselves as one who is united to Christ in His death and resurrection, and so dead to sin and alive to God. Whether we feel this reality or not, it is really and truly our position in Christ. Finally, we must choose to live out this reality in our daily lives, particularly as it pertains to our body. Sin shall not be master over us (Romans 6:14), thus we must not let sin reign in our mortal bodies (Romans 6:12). We must not go on obeying its lusts and "presenting the members of our body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness" (Romans 6:12-13). Rather, we must present ourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness to God (Romans 6:13). Just as a married couple is one flesh by virtue of God's declaration, yet has to live out that union by striving for oneness in the way they speak and act and think toward one another, so we must choose to live as those no longer under the dominion of sin, but united to Jesus in His death and resurrection, able and willing to walk in newness of life, according to the holy commandments of God's law.

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Disciple of Jesus, husband, dad, associate pastor @pearorchard, LSU fan, biblio-archaeologist @logcollegepress. I enjoy books, history, 3D printing, waterfalls. Madison, MS.

Quantum Mechanics and the Nature of Reality

By Dr. Jeff Zweerink 7/20/15

     As Erwin Schrödinger cruises down the highway, a patrol officer pulls him over for a suspicious-looking car. The officer strolls up to Schrödinger’s open window and asks for his license and registration and whether the Nobel laureate will allow a search of his trunk. Schrödinger pops the trunk and the officer looks around. Approaching the window again he asks, “Are you aware you have a dead cat in your trunk?” Angrily, Schrödinger replies, “Well, I do now!”

     This joke refers to the eminent physicist Erwin Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment involving a cat that exemplifies the oddity of quantum mechanics. In the thought experiment, a box contains a cat and a vial of poison that a radioactive atom will trigger upon decaying. Because the radioactive decay is a quantum event, after one hour the atom will be an equal mixture of a decayed state and an undecayed state. According to some interpretations of quantum mechanics, the cat also exists in a mixture of dead and alive states. The really interesting aspect comes in trying to determine the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics.

     Some interpretations argue that the mathematical tools used to do quantum calculations, namely the wavefunction ψ, reflect the actual reality of the world and that the cat exists simultaneously in a mixture of disparate states. Others contend that the wavefunction represents our lack of knowledge; the cat is either dead or alive but we won’t know the proper state until we open the box. Even after 100 years of studying quantum mechanics, no experiments give a clear answer on the proper class of interpretations, although recent research tends to favor the “wavefunction-as-reality” models.

     A third class of models offers a more radical solution based on the existence of a multiverse. These models propose that a repulsive force exists between particles in each of the clones in parallel universes. This repulsive force causes ripples to propagate through all the parallel universes, leading to the weird effects seen in quantum experiments. Computer simulations with 41 such universes reproduce many of these “quantum” effects, including those of the iconic double-slit experiment, and the level of agreement increases with the number of parallel worlds. This suggests the intriguing possibility that future research may determine the number of parallel worlds in the multiverse.

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     Since my earliest memories, science and the Christian faith have featured prominently in my life - but I struggled when my scientific studies seemed to collide with my early biblical training. My first contact with RTB came when I heard Hugh Ross speak at Iowa State University. It was the first time I realized it was possible to do professional work incorporating both my love of science and my desire to serve God. I knew RTB's ministry was something I was called to be a part of

     While many Christians and non-Christians see the two as in perpetual conflict, I find they integrate well. They operate by the same principles and are committed to discovering foundational truths. My passion at RTB is helping Christians see how powerful a tool science is to declare God's glory and helping scientists understand how the established scientific discoveries demonstrate the legitimacy and rationality of the Christian faith. Is There Life Out There?

He Ain't Heavy: Witnessing Well During Seasons of Grief

By Laurel Bunker 1/11/17

     Have you ever heard the phrase, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans?” I have found that in the most unpredictable, most inconvenient, and often most shocking ways that this statement can be true.

     Just a few short weeks ago my family and I were on our way out of town for a much-needed vacation. We were cruising down the highway through the rolling hills of Wisconsin headed toward Chicago when I received a text from a friend. The content was not good.

     A young man with whom we had spent a great deal of time (whose love for the Lord was remarkable, a wonderful son and friend and one who seemingly had a bright future serving the Lord in ministry) was gone. Just like that. Gone. No goodbyes, no hugs, no chance to share final thoughts or words. No kiss on the forehead or the chance to caress his face now quiet in eternal rest. Just gone.

     I was speechless. The flood of feelings was overwhelming. The inability to think fast enough to respond “rightly” to my colleague’s text seemed next to impossible. Should it have been a consolation that he was on the mission field when it occurred? That he knew the Lord and was now forever with Him? Should scripture verses and hymns have come to mind with more immediacy than they did? Should I have been able to say, “It is well with my soul?”

     Perhaps. But the realities of these blessed truths did not come before the grief and the sorrow set in and as I began the process of contacting individuals with whom I needed to share this news so they could prepare and respond to the inevitable calls that we as a staff would receive.


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     Laurel Bunker is Dean of Campus Ministries at Bethel University.

Parenting With Grace (For Yourself)

By Erica Boutwell 1/9/2017

     When I got married at the age of 27, Stephen and I knew it wouldn’t be terribly long before we would start our family. We knew we wanted two or three kids and we had no idea if getting pregnant would be easy or difficult for us. So with only about five or six months of marriage under our belts, we started trying. By God’s grace, after only a few months we found out we were expecting our first baby, and the following May our Bishop Anthony arrived. A perfect 7 lb. 11oz. bundle of pure joy. I remember just sitting and watching him sleep. At different times, Stephen and I would look at each other and say, “What did we ever do before he was here?”

     Well fast forward nine and a half years and two little brothers later, and I can list for you about 364 things we used to do before he was here. Things like . . . go see a movie after church every Sunday, eat at a restaurant for under $25 and with almost no meltdowns, drive little cars with 2 doors and tiny gas tanks, and sleep uninterrupted ‘til 10:00am every Saturday. I wish I could say that there’s never a single moment that I wouldn’t give anything to go back to those days, but I’d be a liar. Because the bare-naked, raw, honest truth is that over the years we’ve moved from “What did we ever do before they were here?” to “Why did we have children again?” We are just in a really hard and trying season of parenting. I realize that every season of parenting has it’s own struggles, but for us right now, with energetic boys who are 9, 7, and 4, even the thought of going out in public with all 3 of them sends me into the fetal position. Just about every night I go to bed disappointed that I let another day go by without managing to control myself and my responses to the boys. And just about every morning I wake up praying that maybe this would be the day I don’t let them push me over the edge.

     Right now we are wrapping up a three-week stretch of winter break from school. Their old school in Texas got out a week earlier than their new school here in Tennessee, which means their new school starts a week later than their old school. So for 21 solid days we have had zero structure and to make life crazier, we made the biggest move we’ve ever made in the middle of it. And I don’t know about you, but we are a family who thrives in structure and without it we sort of fall apart at the seams. Needless to say, Monday morning could not come fast enough for me . . . I mean, us.

     Lately I’ve been going to the Lord and pleading for Him to show me how to be a better mother to these boys; to give me more patience as I deal with their defiance, more understanding as I mediate their arguments with one another, and more of a desire to enjoy them during this season. Something I felt Him say to my spirit is that I’m way too hard on myself. I’ve set my expectations for myself, and for the boys, way too high. I compare our family too often to other families. Then it hit me . . . I give myself zero grace so why on earth would I have any grace left to extend to our children? I strive every day to parent on my own strength, by my own standards, with my own expectations. Until I can get to a place where I’m willing to lay that down, nothing will change.

     I can’t expect to be able to model and teach grace to our boys if I refuse to receive and really embrace it for myself. Does this mean that I just let my shortcomings slide when I give in to my frustrations? Absolutely not! But it does mean that I can allow myself to take a step back and change how that moment of weakness will affect the rest of the day. I am so guilty of letting an altercation with or between the boys dictate the tone for the next several hours, when they’ve moved on within about 5 minutes. So then, when they are back to being silly so quickly, it just makes me even angrier, as if they should still be stewing over what had just happened. Then I realize at some point that our roles have reversed. Suddenly my children are teaching me. Oh, that I could move past a flawed moment so easily, with no grudge or grievance.

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     Erica Boutwell | I'm a Jesus-follower who also have the privilege of being the wife to a guy named Stephen and the mom to 3 wild boys. My passion is leading other Jesus-followers in worship, pouring into the next generation, and discipling women.

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.

12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.

17 I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.

ESV Reformation Study

The Beauty of Life

By Alexis Sparks

     I was not in her plans. The thought of having me brought her much fear, so she attempted to terminate my life. Though I was not in her plans, God knew me and formed me in her womb. He had plans for me. And now that I know the One who formed me and has a purpose for my life, I desire to bring glory to Him, Jesus Christ.

     The opportunities to laugh out loud, to smile brightly, to fall in love are all taken away when we interrupt God’s purpose for life. And had I not accepted His love for me, I might not have felt this way. The day that God reached down from Heaven and called my name to make me His daughter, I was forever changed. How could I not want to repay the Man who set me free from so much? Not only do I desire to thank Jesus for what He did for me, I desire to know Him and know His heart.

     My heart is drawn to Jesus like moths to flame when I read the testimony of Jesus’ compassion for so many societal outcasts. Despite Him being the Son of God, the One whom all was created through, He ate dinner with a thieving tax collector (Matthew 9:9-12, Luke 19:1-10), embraced an adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), healed an outcast with leprosy (Luke 17:11-19) a blind beggar (Mark 10:46), and a helpless and paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12), and forgave those who killed the very ones who loved Him most (Acts 9:1-9). Through each of these Jesus proves His humility and perfect mercy for all human kind. Jesus valued all life, the societal outcasts to the wretched sinners. Jesus being fully God and fully man did something we all struggle to do; He loves all and loves them unconditionally. God’s love is a free gift given to those who recognize their need for a Savior; He does not require you to do good deeds to make Him love you. He poured out His love for us through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. And it is up to us if we accept that love or not.

     My heart longs for those who have not experienced the insurmountable love of Christ through acceptance of His sacrifice for our sin. I long because I know what it’s like to live in this cruel world without experiencing His love. A world where even the noblest person will be mocked or told they’re not enough. Oh that all would know the depth of His love and be transformed by His amazing grace that was spilled for us as His blood was shed. There is no greater love in this world than the love of God, our Father in Heaven. To know this love is to know that your life, all life, is precious to Him.

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     This is a guest post by Alexis Sparks who is “an imperfect person loved by a perfect God with a heart’s desire to fall more in love with God and be transformed by Him.” You can contact her on Twitter and on Facebook

A Look at the First Apologists

By Chab 123 7/24/15

     Who were the first Apologists? Believe it or not, the first apologists were all Messianic Jews. You may say “Well, what are Messianic Jews?” Messianic Judaism is not new at all. All the authors of the New Testament were Jewish (with the possible exception of Luke). Linguistically speaking, Christianity didn’t exist in the first century. Judaism in the first century was not seen as a single “way.” There were many “Judaism’s”- the Sadducees, the Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots, etc. The followers of Jesus are referred to as a “sect” (Acts 24:14;28:22); “the sect of the Nazarenes” (24:5). Josephus refers to the “sects” of Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees. The first followers of Jesus were considered to be a sect of Second Temple Judaism. For many years the early faith in Jesus was strictly Jewish in both orientation and practice. Hence, the early Church was 100% percent Jewish!

     We see the growth of Messianic Judaism in The Book of Acts. For example, in Acts 2:41 3000 Jewish people come to faith at Pentecost after Peter’s Sermon. It then goes up to 5000 in Acts 4:4. In Acts 6:7 it says, “The number of disciples increased rapidly and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” Within twenty years the Jewish congregation said to Paul- “You see how many thousands (in Greek, it is literally “myriads” or “ten thousands”) or “countless thousands.” Hence, we see at least 100,000 Jewish believers in Jesus.

     Obviously, we see our first Gentile convert in Acts 10 (Cornelius).  It was only over a long period where the Church become a predominately Gentile based phenomena. To read more about this, see The Ways That Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages by Adam H. Becker and Annette Yoshiko Reed.  Isn’t it nice that we as Gentiles are no longer “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph .2:11-13), and “without hope.” May we thank God for allowing us to participate in His redemptive plan for the entire world. To see the historical basis and background of Messianic Judaism, Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and BiblicalFoundations by David J. Rudolph.

     Today, there are thousands of Messianic Jewish believers in the United States alone and across the world. Of course, the Apostle Paul (a Pharisee and a Jewish Believer himself) showed he had a tremendous burden for the Jewish people (Rom. 9:1-5; Rom. 10:1), and calls upon the Church to provoke Israel to jealousy (Rom. 11:11). Paul understood that since Gentiles (I am one of them), have received the blessing of knowing the Jewish Messiah, they have the responsibility to take the message of salvation back to Israel. Therefore, Christians of all denominational backgrounds should show interest in learning about how to share the good news of the Messiah with the Jewish people.

     Messianic Judaism pertains to those who are Jewish and have come to faith in the promised Messiah of Israel. Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus, and means “Salvation.” Jesus was actually called Yeshua, a Jewish man living in the land of Israel among Jewish people.

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     Eric Chabot (chab123), Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society. Click here for his bio.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     14. Another objection is founded on a mode of speaking which is constantly observed both in Scripture and in common discourse. God works are said to be ours, and we are said to do what is holy and acceptable to God, just as we are said to commit sin. But if sins are justly imputed to us, as proceeding from ourselves, for the same reason (say they) some share must certainly be attributed to us in works of righteousness. It could not be accordant with reason to say, that we do those things which we are incapable of doing of our own motion, God moving us, as if we were stones. These expressions, therefore, it is said, indicate that while, in the matter of grace, we give the first place to God, a secondary place must be assigned to our agency. If the only thing here insisted on were, that good works are termed ours, I, in my turn, would reply, that the bread which we ask God to give us is also termed ours. What, then, can be inferred from the title of possession, but simply that, by the kindness and free gift of Gods that becomes ours which in other respects is by no means due to us? Therefore let them either ridicule the same absurdity in the Lord's Prayer, or let them cease to regard it as absurd, that good works should be called ours, though our only property in them is derived from the liberality of God. But there is something stronger in the fact, that we are often said in Scripture to worship God, do justice, obey the law, and follow good works. These being proper offices of the mind and will, how can they be consistently referred to the Spirit, and, at the same time, attributed to us, unless there be some concurrence on our part with the divine agency? This difficulty will be easily disposed of if we attend to the manner in which the Holy Spirit acts in the righteous. The similitude with which they invidiously assail us is foreign to the purpose; for who is so absurd as to imagine that movement in man differs in nothing from the impulse given to a stone? Nor can anything of the kind be inferred from our doctrine. To the natural powers of man we ascribe approving and rejecting, willing and not willing, striving and resisting--viz. approving vanity, rejecting solid good, willing evil and not willing good, striving for wickedness and resisting righteousness. What then does the Lord do? If he sees meet to employ depravity of this description as an instrument of his anger, he gives it whatever aim and direction he pleases, that, by a guilty hand, he may accomplish his own good work. A wicked man thus serving the power of God, while he is bent only on following his own lust, can we compare to a stone, which, driven by an external impulse, is borne along without motion, or sense, or will of its own? We see how wide the difference is. But how stands the case with the godly, as to whom chiefly the question is raised? When God erects his kingdom in them, he, by means of his Spirit, curbs their will, that it may not follow its natural bent, and be carried hither and thither by vagrant lusts; bends, frames trains, and guides it according to the rule of his justice, so as to incline it to righteousness and holiness, and establishes and strengthens it by the energy of his Spirit, that it may not stumble or fall. For which reason Augustine thus expresses himself (De Corrept. et Gratia, cap. 2), "It will be said we are therefore acted upon, and do not act. Nay, you act and are acted upon, and you then act well when you are acted upon by one that is good. The Spirit of God who actuates you is your helper in acting, and bears the name of helper, because you, too, do something." In the former member of this sentence, he reminds us that the agency of man is not destroyed by the motion of the Holy Spirit, because nature furnishes the will which is guided so as to aspire to good. As to the second member of the sentence, in which he says that the very idea of help implies that we also do something, we must not understand it as if he were attributing to us some independent power of action; but not to foster a feeling of sloth, he reconciles the agency of God with our own agency, by saying, that to wish is from nature, to wish well is from grace. Accordingly, he had said a little before, "Did not God assist us, we should not only not be able to conquer, but not able even to fight."

15. Hence it appears that the grace of God (as this name is used when regeneration is spoken of) is the rule of the Spirit, in directing and governing the human will. Govern he cannot, without correcting, reforming, renovating (hence we say that the beginning of regeneration consists in the abolition of what is ours); in like manner, he cannot govern without moving, impelling, urging, and restraining. Accordingly, all the actions which are afterwards done are truly said to be wholly his. Meanwhile, we deny not the truth of Augustine's doctrine, that the will is not destroyed, but rather repaired, by grace--the two things being perfectly consistent--viz. that the human will may be said to be renewed when its vitiosity and perverseness being corrected, it is conformed to the true standard of righteousness and that, at the same time, the will may be said to be made new, being so vitiated and corrupted that its nature must be entirely changed. There is nothing then to prevent us from saying, that our will does what the Spirit does in us, although the will contributes nothing of itself apart from grace. We must, therefore, remember what we quoted from Augustine, that some men labour in vain to find in the human will some good quality properly belonging to it. Any intermixture which men attempt to make by conjoining the effort of their own will with divine grace is corruption, just as when unwholesome and muddy water is used to dilute wine. But though every thing good in the will is entirely derived from the influence of the Spirit, yet, because we have naturally an innate power of willing, we are not improperly said to do the things of which God claims for himself all the praise; first, because every thing which his kindness produces in us is our own (only we must understand that it is not of ourselves); and, secondly, because it is our mind, our will, our study which are guided by him to what is good.

16. The other passages which they gather together from different quarters will not give much trouble to any person of tolerable understanding, who pays due attention to the explanations already given. They adduce the passage of Genesis, "Unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him," (Gen. 4:7). This they interpret of sin, as if the Lord were promising Cain that the dominion of sin should not prevail over his mind, if he would labour in subduing it. We, however, maintain that it is much more agreeable to the context to understand the words as referring to Abel, it being there the purpose of God to point out the injustice of the envy which Cain had conceived against his brother. And this He does in two ways, by showing, first, that it was vain to think he could, by means of wickedness, surpass his brother in the favour of God, by whom nothing is esteemed but righteousness; and, secondly, how ungrateful he was for the kindness he had already received, in not being able to bear with a brother who had been subjected to his authority. But lest it should be thought that we embrace this interpretation because the other is contrary to our view, let us grant that God does here speak of sin. If so, his words contain either an order or a promise. If an order, we have already demonstrated that this is no proof of man's ability; if a promise, where is the fulfilment of the promise when Cain yielded to the sin over which he ought to have prevailed? They will allege a tacit condition in the promise, as if it were said that he would gain the victory if he contended. This subterfuge is altogether unavailing. For, if the dominion spoken of refers to sin, no man can have any doubt that the form of expression is imperative, declaring not what we are able, but what it is our duty to do, even if beyond our ability. Although both the nature of the case, and the rule of grammatical construction, require that it be regarded as a comparison between Cain and Abel, we think the only preference given to the younger brother was, that the elder made himself inferior by his own wickedness.

17. They appeal, moreover, to the testimony of the Apostle Paul, because he says, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy," (Rom. 9:15). From this they infer, that there is something in will and endeavour, which, though weak in themselves, still, being mercifully aided by God, are not without some measure of success. But if they would attend in sober earnest to the subject there handled by Paul, they would not so rashly pervert his meaning. I am aware they can quote Origin and Jerome [184] in support of this exposition. To these I might, in my turn, oppose Augustine. But it is of no consequence what they thought, if it is clear what Paul meant. He teaches that salvation is prepared for those only on whom the Lord is pleased to bestow his mercy--that ruin and death await all whom he has not chosen. He had proved the condition of the reprobate by the example of Pharaoh, and confirmed the certainty of gratuitous election by the passage in Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." Thereafter he concludes, that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. If these words are understood to mean that the will or endeavour are not sufficient, because unequal to such a task, the Apostle has not used them very appropriately. We must therefore abandon this absurd mode of arguing, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth;" therefore, there is some will, some running. Paul's meaning is more simple--there is no will nor running by which we can prepare the way for our salvation--it is wholly of the divine mercy. He indeed says nothing more than he says to Titus, when he writes, "After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us," (Titus 3:4, 5). Those who argue that Paul insinuated there was some will and some running when he said, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth," would not allow me to argue after the same fashion, that we have done some righteous works, because Paul says that we have attained the divine favour, "not by works of righteousness which we have done." But if they see a flaw in this mode of arguing, let them open their eyes, and they will see that their own mode is not free from a similar fallacy. The argument which Augustine uses is well founded, "If it is said, It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,' because neither will nor running are sufficient; it may, on the other hand, be retorted, it is not of God that showeth mercy,' because mercy does not act alone," (August. Ep. 170, ad Vital. See also Enchirid. ad Laurent. cap. 32). This second proposition being absurd, Augustine justly concludes the meaning of the words to be, that there is no good will in man until it is prepared by the Lord; not that we ought not to will and run, but that both are produced in us by God. Some, with equal unskilfulness, wrest the saying of Paul, "We are labourers together with God," (1 Cor. 3:9). There cannot be a doubt that these words apply to ministers only, who are called "labourers with God," not from bringing any thing of their own, but because God makes use of their instrumentality after he has rendered them fit, and provided them with the necessary endowments.

18. They appeal also to Ecclesiasticus, who is well known to be a writer of doubtful authority. But, though we might justly decline his testimony, let us see what he says in support of free will. His words are, "He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his counsel; If thou wilt, to keep the commandments, and perform acceptable faithfulness. He has set fire and water before thee: stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man is life and death; and whether him liketh shall be given him," (Ecclesiasticus 15:14-17). Grant that man received at his creation a power of acquiring life or death; what, then, if we, on the other hand, can reply that he has lost it? Assuredly I have no intention to contradict Solomon, who asserts that "God has made man upright;" that "they have sought out many inventions," (Eccl. 7:29). But since man, by degenerating, has made shipwreck of himself and all his blessings, it certainly does not follow, that every thing attributed to his nature, as originally constituted, applies to it now when vitiated and degenerate. Therefore, not only to my opponents, but to the author of Ecclesiasticus himself (whoever he may have been), this is my answer: If you mean to tell man that in himself there is a power of acquiring salvation, your authority with us is not so great as, in the least degree, to prejudice the undoubted word of God; but if only wishing to curb the malignity of the fleshy which by transferring the blame of its own wickedness to God, is wont to catch at a vain defence, you say that rectitude was given to man, in order to make it apparent he was the cause of his own destruction, I willingly assent. Only agree with me in this, that it is by his own fault he is stript of the ornaments in which the Lord at first attired him, and then let us unite in acknowledging that what he now wants is a physician, and not a defender.

19. There is nothing more frequent in their mouths than the parable of the traveller who fell among thieves, and was left half dead (Luke 10:32). I am aware that it is a common idea with almost all writers, that under the figure of the traveller is represented the calamity of the human race. Hence our opponents argue that man was not so mutilated by the robbery of sin and the devil as not to preserve some remains of his former endowments; because it is said he was left half dead. For where is the half living, unless some portion of right will and reason remain? First, were I to deny that there is any room for their allegory, what could they say? There can be no doubt that the Fathers invented it contrary to the genuine sense of the parable. Allegories ought to be carried no further than Scripture expressly sanctions: so far are they from forming a sufficient basis to found doctrines upon. And were I so disposed I might easily find the means of tearing up this fiction by the roots. The Word of God leaves no half life to man, but teaches, that, in regard to life and happiness, he has utterly perished. Paul, when he speaks of our redemption, says not that the half dead are cured (Eph. 2:5, 6; 5:14) but that those who were dead are raised up. He does not call upon the half dead to receive the illumination of Christ, but upon those who are asleep and buried. In the same way our Lord himself says, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God," (John 5:25). How can they presume to set up a flimsy allegory in opposition to so many clear statements? But be it that this allegory is good evidence, what can they extort out of it? Man is half dead, therefore there is some soundness in him. True! he has a mind capable of understanding, though incapable of attaining to heavenly and spiritual wisdom; he has some discernment of what is honourable; he has some sense of the Divinity, though he cannot reach the true knowledge of God. But to what do these amount? They certainly do not refute the doctrine of Augustine--a doctrine confirmed by the common suffrages even of the Schoolmen, that after the fall, the free gifts on which salvation depends were withdrawn, and natural gifts corrupted and defiled (supra, chap. 2 sec. 2). Let it stand, therefore, as an indubitable truth, which no engines can shake, that the mind of man is so entirely alienated from the righteousness of God that he cannot conceive, desire, or design any thing but what is wicked, distorted, foul, impure, and iniquitous; that his heart is so thoroughly envenomed by sin that it can breathe out nothing but corruption and rottenness; that if some men occasionally make a show of goodness, their mind is ever interwoven with hypocrisy and deceit, their soul inwardly bound with the fetters of wickedness.

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[178] The French is, "Mais c'est comme si un capitaine assembloit force gens qui ne fussent nullement duits ? la guerre pour espouvanter son ennemi. Avant que les mettre en oeuvre, il feroient grande monstre; mais s'il faloit venir en bataille et joindre eontre son ennemi on les feroit fuir du premier coup." But it is as if a captain were to assemble a large body of people, in no wise trained to war, to astonish the enemy. Before coming into action they would make a great show; but if they were to go into battle, and come to close quarters with the enemy, the first stroke would make them fly.

[179] August. Enchir. ad Laurent. de Gratia et Liber. Arbit. cap. 16. Homil 29, in Joann. Ep. 24.

[180] Joel 2:12; Jer. 31:18; Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 31:18. Vid. Calvin. adv. Pighium.

[181] The French is, "Et de fait cette raison a grande apparence humainement. Car on peut deduire gue ce seroit une cruauté de Dieu,"&c.--And, in fact, humanly speaking, there is great plausibility in this argument. For, it may be maintained, that it would be cruelty in God, &c.

[182] The French adds, "Veu qu'en cela il fait le profit de ses serviteurs et rend les iniques plus damnables;" seeing that by this he promotes the good of his servants, and renders the wicked more deserving of condemnation.

[183] The French is "Où est-ce que sera cette facilité, veu que notre natute succombe en cet endroit, et n'y a celui qui ne trebusche voulant marcher?" Where is this facility, seeing that our nature here gives way, and there is not a man who in wishing to walk does not tumble?

[184] Orig. Lig. 7 in Epist. ad Rom.--Hieron. Dial. i in Pelagium.--For the passage in Augustine, see the extract in Book 3. chap. 24 sec. 1.

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     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

Jesus and the Wild Animals

By David Mathis 7/25/2012

     It’s one of the stranger asides in all the Gospels.

     In Mark’s first chapter, verses 12–13, after Jesus’s baptism, “The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals . . . .”

     Say what? Jesus with the wild animals? What significance does that carry in this grand opening chapter of Mark?

     No Random Detail | Mark has such limited space to tell about the history-altering life of the Son of God come as man. Why bother mentioning that in his forty-day wilderness venture Jesus “was with the wild animals”?

     I doubt we should assume it’s a random detail. Mark’s narrative is much too carefully crafted to think that. Then what’s the point?

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

How did John the Baptist know that Jesus was the Son of God?

By Lydia McGrew

     The Gospel of John tells the baptism of Jesus in an interesting way— by way of a flashback narrated by John the Baptist. By the time the first scene of the Gospel opens, it appears that the baptism has already taken place. John the Baptist, after pointing Jesus out as the Lamb of God, says this,

(Jn 1:30–34) This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” ESV

     The detail of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, familiar from Christian art throughout the ages, is also found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John the Baptist as quoted in John is explicit: He discovered who Jesus was at the time of his baptism because of a combination of factors— an interior revelation to himself from God and the visible sign of the Spirit descending like a dove. So far, so clear.

     Those of us who are familiar with the baptismal accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke are apt to overlook, however, what John the Baptist leaves unexplained in this account of the baptism. He does not say why he bore witness that Jesus is the Son of God. 3 There is no statement here that John the Baptist received a revelation that the one he was waiting for was the Son of God. One can infer that John knew something “heavy” about the one he foretold from his cryptic reference to him as “being before him,” discussed in the previous section. But this certainly is not a clear statement that the one to come is the Son of God.

     In any event, John the Baptist seems to be referring to some further knowledge that he gained at the time of the baptism from something specific that occurred then. He says that he has “seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.” But why would the sight of the Spirit descending like a dove tell him that? What he recounts as a personal revelation is that the person on whom the Spirit descends is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Nothing about being the Son of God.

     The answer is found in a well-known detail of the baptism of Jesus, but one that is not told in the Gospel of John. Here it is from Matthew:

(Mt 3:16–17) 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” ESV

     Mark 1.11 and Luke 3.22 are similar. Now John’s words are explained: John the Baptist and all who witnessed the scene at the baptism had reason to think that Jesus was the Son of God because a voice from heaven said that he was the Son of God. If we take it that the events recounted in the other Gospels actually occurred, this explains the words of John the Baptist in the Gospel of John.

(Mk 1:11) 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” ESV

(Lk 3:22) 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” ESV

     The fit between John the Baptist’s words and the voice from heaven also confirms John. Suppose for a moment that John the evangelist were not giving a reliable, partly independent, factual account of events, including the testimony of John the Baptist. Suppose that, for example, he were putting words in John the Baptist’s mouth, telling about the baptism partly fictionally and partly based on accounts in the earlier Gospels. That hypothesis does not explain the omission of the voice from heaven from John the Baptist’s words in John. If the Gospel author were inventing a speech for John the Baptist based upon other accounts of events, he would at least be expected to make the speech complete, not to write it in a way that raises unnecessary questions. John the Baptist’s account would also be even more dramatic and theologically profound if it included the voice from heaven, and it would have been simple to include the voice in a single additional sentence. John the Baptist could have been made to say, “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. And I heard the mighty voice from heaven that said, ‘This is my beloved Son.’”

     As discussed in the previous section, the Gospel of John begins by affirming at length and with much theological depth that Jesus is the only Son of the Father (John 1.14). John certainly wishes to teach that Jesus is the Son of God. But in all of this, neither in the preface nor in the narrative account of the words of John the Baptist does he ever mention the voice from heaven. In a fictionalized account, especially one from so theological a writer as John, this is an astonishing omission.

     In a truthful account, it is not surprising at all. In fact, the hypothesis that provides the best explanation of the coincidence noted in this section (and the one in the previous section) is the most simple-minded, the one that might seem the most naïve— namely, that the author of the Gospel recorded these words and attributed them to John the Baptist because that is the way that John the Baptist actually told the story, and the author of the fourth Gospel knew what he said, perhaps even from hearing it himself. John the Baptist’s words, including their inclusions and omissions, are readily explicable in the context in which they are set. Jesus’ baptism has occurred, we can guess, about six weeks previously. Based on the Synoptic Gospels we can conjecture that Jesus went away to be tempted in the wilderness and has recently returned. John the Baptist sees him upon his return and begins talking about him, either to the crowds or to his own disciples or to both.

     Like most eyewitnesses, John the Baptist does not tell everything. He selects details. His focus at this point is on his own partial knowledge prior to the baptism and his progressive understanding of who Jesus is. He is telling his audience, perhaps consisting mainly of people who were present at the baptism, how his interior revelations concerning the descent of the Holy Spirit were fulfilled in what he saw at the baptism. He marvels and goes over, again and again, the fact that he did not even know before that Jesus was the one to come. This may have been all the more striking to him if he had known Jesus previously as a kinsman. Now, in light of the knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, his own earlier words, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me” take on a profound meaning, since John the Baptist knows that his cousin is younger than he is by several months. So he repeats that, too, with emphasis, and makes his own avowal, based on what he saw and heard at the baptism, that Jesus is the Son of God. In all that he has to say, he simply happens to leave out the voice from heaven, and that is how his words are reported in the Gospel of John.

     It should not be assumed that, because the Gospel writer emphasizes certain aspects of the narrative for his own theological purposes, he therefore treats John the Baptist as a malleable character into whose mouth he puts his own ideas. Nor is that the picture that emerges from a careful examination of the text.

Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts

Lydia McGrew




  • Therapeutic
  • Gospel Singularity
  • Doctrine of Substitution

#1 Keith G. Meador | Biola University

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     God’s definition of ‘rich’
     1/13/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘The blessing of the Lord – it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it].’

(Pr 10:22) 22 The blessing of the LORD makes rich,
and he adds no sorrow with it.
ESV

     When the famous publisher William Randolph Hearst read about a certain painting, he became very interested in acquiring it for his collection. He sent people all over the world to search for it, but they couldn’t find it anywhere. A year later, out of the blue, one of his employees came to him and told him that the painting had been found. Excited about the discovery, Hearst asked where it had been all this time. His employee said, ‘It was in your basement. You owned it all the time.’ The problem was, Hearst had never read the ledger that had the record of everything he owned. Your Bible is a ledger filled with blessings God wants you to experience. Now, none of these blessings are greater than salvation, but it’s not the only blessing. ‘The blessing of the Lord – it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it].’ John D. Rockefeller once said he’d exchange his fortune for a chance to go back and work as a clerk in his old Cleveland, Ohio, office. Why? Because stress caused him to suffer bouts of insomnia, ulcers, and depression. The blessing of God brings success – without stress! God tells you about it in His Word. He wants you to be ‘rich’ in your relationships, in your health, in your peace of mind, in your career, and in everything that concerns you. So get to know what God has promised you, then begin praying and believing Him for it.

Genesis 29-30
Matthew 9:1-17

UCB The Word For Today

IMHO
     January 13, 2016

     We live in a cacophony of noise, various voices and other sundry sounds that battle one another for our attention. This battle between noise and silence is a spiritual battle. The noise level exceeds audible limits, it is more than audible. It rises up in our conscious and subconscious. Left unchecked we become reactionary, unable to respond to people and or circumstances with clear-mindedness.

     Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” So many people claim that God does not exist. Imagine a great table full of guests. All but one are speaking; louder and louder as they compete for your attention. The Lord will not speak until we are willing to listen, and that means being quiet, seeking the silence.


     This brings us to the first of two golden rules at the heart of spirituality. You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship. Those who worship money become, eventually, human calculating machines. Those who worship sex become obsessed with their own attractiveness or prowess. Those who worship power become more and more ruthless.

     So what happens when you worship the creator God whose plan to rescue the world and put it to rights has been accomplished by the Lamb who was slain? The answer comes in the second golden rule: because you were made in God’s image, worship makes you more truly human. When you gaze in love and gratitude at the God in whose image you were made, you do indeed grow. You discover more of what it means to be fully alive. --- N. T. Wright

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Educated at Oxford, James Oglethorpe joined the Austrian army and was fighting Turks at age 17. Back in England, he entered Parliament and presided over prison reform. There he got the idea of founding a colony in America where the poor and destitute could start afresh and where people persecuted for their faith could find refuge. James Oglethorpe secured a charter for the Colony of Georgia and on this day, January 13, 1733, one hundred and twenty settlers went ashore, knelt down and declared: “Our end in leaving our native country is not to gain riches and honor, but singly this: to live wholly to the glory of God.”

American Minute
A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     But within him, there was the hunger for scholarly achievement and scholarly recognition that drove him on without relenting. The summer of 1932 he worked on his book on Meyerson in the New York Public Library and the Library at Columbia University. In 1933 he spent the entire summer in Widener Library while his family lived in Maine. In 1934 he was invited by John Hughes to join the staff of the summer school at Pendle Hill (a Quaker Center for Graduate Religious and Social Study at Wallingford, Pennsylvania) and gave a course of lectures which he called The Quest for Reality. "What a great month it was," he wrote to a friend, "It was the first time I felt 'released' … I only wish I could spend the rest of the summer re-writing the stuff and seeing if it could get into print."

     But directly after the close of the summer school he was at Widener Library again working on the Meyerson manuscript. At Pendle Hill, the deeply religious vein in him that his intimates at Earlham knew and were greatly refreshed by, could pour itself out unrestrained and use his scholarship as a vehicle. But once out of this atmosphere, it was rigorous scholarship alone, he protested, that was the goal of his heart's desire. In a letter to Professor A. L. Gillett, he is almost savage in his intellectualist declarations, "One thing is evident: I am hopelessly committed to the life of a scholar. I'm not able to be concerned primarily in practical problems of helpfulness through organizations and classes but find the current is irresistible in its flow toward the pole of pure scholarship and research. . . . Lael tends to think I am selfishly acquisitive in my attitude, but I can't be anything but this kind of person, and I might as well surrender to it." He wrote in the same tone to Professor Clarence I. Lewis, his dearest personal friend in the department of philosophy at Harvard, "I merely want to write and work as a typical scholar interested in the basic problems of research in metaphysics and epistemology.... While the emphasis I have laid is upon comprehensive world background in philosophy, I rather expect writing will move in the opposite direction, toward closer and more detailed studies."

A Testament of Devotion
Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


Never make a principle
out of your experience
--- Oswald Chambers


Erase all thought and fear of God from a community,
and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.
--- William McGuffey

Forgiveness—when God buries our sins and does not mark the grave.
--- Louis Paul Lehman

Friends come back from their worship with a new sense of ordination, but not the ordination of human hands. Something has happened in the stillness that makes the heart more tender, more sensitive, more shocked by evil, more dedicated to ideals of life, and more eager to push back the skirts of darkness and to widen the area of light and love.
--- Rufus Jones (1863-1948)

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 3:13-18
     by D.H. Stern

13     Happy the person who finds wisdom,
the person who acquires understanding;
14     for her profit exceeds that of silver,
gaining her is better than gold,
15     she is more precious than pearls—
nothing you want can compare with her.
16     Long life is in her right hand,
riches and honor in her left.
17     Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18     She is a tree of life to those who grasp her;
whoever holds fast to her will be made happy.


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


                Have you ever been alone with God?

     When He was alone, the twelve … asked of Him …
--- Mark 4:10.

     His Solitude with us. When God gets us alone by affliction, heartbreak, or temptation, by disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted affection, by a broken friendship, or by a new friendship — when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are dumbfounded and cannot ask one question, then He begins to expound. Watch Jesus Christ’s training of the twelve. It was the disciples, not the crowd outside, who were perplexed. They constantly asked Him questions, and He constantly expounded things to them; but they only understood after they had received the Holy Spirit
(see John 14:26).

     If you are going on with God, the only thing that is clear to you, and the only thing God intends to be clear, is the way He deals with your own soul. Your brother’s sorrows and perplexities are an absolute confusion to you. We imagine we understand where the other person is, until God gives us a dose of the plague of our own hearts. There are whole tracts of stubbornness and ignorance to be revealed by the Holy Spirit in each one of us, and it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone. Are we alone with Him now, or are we taken up with little fussy notions, fussy comradeships in God’s service, fussy ideas about our bodies? Jesus can expound nothing until we get through all the noisy questions of the head and are alone with Him.

My Utmost for His Highest
The Other
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The Other

They did it to me.
  I preferred dead, lying
  in the mind's mortuary.
  Conic out, they shouted;
  with a screech of steel
  I jumped into the world
  smiling my cogged smile,
  breaking with iron hand
  the hands they extended.

They rose in revolt;
  I cropped them like tall
  grass; munched on the cud
  of nations. A little oil,
  I begged in conspiracy
  with disaster. Ice
  in your veins, the poet
  taunted; the life in you
  ticking away; your breath
  poison. I took him apart
  verse by verse, turning
  on him my x-ray
  eyes to expose the emptiness
  of his interiors. In houses
  with no hearth he huddles
  against me now, mortgaging
  his dwindling techniques
  for the amenities I offer.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Take Heart
     January 13



     I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God. --- Exodus 20:5.

     Jealousy is so associated with evil that we hesitate to attribute it to God. (Wind on the Heath (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The)) And yet the Bible, which knows our human hearts and searches out the latent evil in them, assures us of the jealousy of God.

     We begin to see the solution of this difficulty when we recall the connection of jealousy with love. Jealousy is the shadow cast by love. That is the difference between jealousy and envy. We may be envious of other people although it has never been our lot to love them. Jealousy is one side of love, though often a very dark and tragic side. It is along such lines that we begin to fathom the possibility of jealousy in God. For the God of the Bible in his essential nature is revealed to us as Love. And if that love flows out on humanity in an infinite and everlasting mercy, it also, if it is deep and mighty, can scarcely lack the attribute of jealousy.

     For it is God alone who has the right to the undivided devotion of the creature. That is where human jealousy is evil. That is the source of all its bitter tragedy. It is the passionate claim of one poor human creature to the undivided devotion of another. And it is always selfish and forever wrong. No human heart is large or deep enough entirely to absorb another heart. We are all finite creatures at our highest, and one such creature cannot fill another. And so our jealousy tends to become sinful because it is our assertion of a claim that is proper to the infinity of God. For only God can satisfy the heart—even the poorest and the meanest heart. Only he can absorb it without wronging it, for in him we live and move and have our being. Only he has the full right to say in the highest spiritual interest of his children, “My child, give me your heart.” The jealousy of God does not differ from human jealousy in this, that both are born of love—a love that cannot tolerate a rival. But human jealousy grows dark and terrible because it makes a claim that is impossible, and the jealousy of God makes [the claim] by right.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day   January 13
     Finding Her Place

     Sometimes it takes awhile for young people to find themselves. Amy Carmichael grew up in Belfast, enjoying a carefree life until her father died and left the family debt-ridden. The ensuing pressure helped direct her attention to spiritual things, and in 1886 she gave her life to Christ. She struggled vocationally till the words “Go Ye” so impressed her that on January 13, 1892, she yielded to overseas service. She sailed to Japan.

     But she didn’t seem to fit there, and Amy struggled to find her place. She left for Shanghai, then, to the dismay of family and friends, abruptly sailed for Ceylon. Returning to England, she decided on India. But for several years, she couldn’t find her niche there, and she was often criticized by fellow missionaries.

     But she gradually noticed that children were drawn to her, so much so that Indian parents feared Amy was “bewitching” their youngsters. One day, she met a girl who had escaped from the Hindu temple with stories of horror. The Hindus were secretly using children as temple prostitutes. Evidently, parents sold baby girls to the temple, and when the children were eight or nine, they “married” the idol and were pressed into harlotry.

     Most people disbelieved such stories, and for several years Amy worked as a detective, assembling evidence to prove the atrocities real. She rescued several more children, and by 1904, was responsible for 17 youngsters. Amy was occasionally hauled into court for kidnapping, and death threats were common.

     But children multiplied on her doorstep, and by 1945, thousands had been placed in Amy’s Dohnavur Fellowship, a series of homes for outcast children. Many youngsters grew up becoming Christian husbands, wives, and leaders.

     During these years, Amy Carmichael also made time for another ministry—writing. By the time of her death at Dohnavur in 1951 at age 83, she had written 35 books on her work in India and on the victorious Christian life. She had found her place and filled it well.

The ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?” The king will answer,
“Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”
--- Matthew 25:37-40.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 13

     “Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber" --- 1 Kings 22:48.

     Solomon’s ships had returned in safety, but Jehoshaphat’s vessels never reached the land of gold. Providence prospers one, and frustrates the desires of another, in the same business and at the same spot, yet the Great Ruler is as good and wise at one time as another. May we have grace to-day, in the remembrance of this text, to bless the Lord for ships broken at Ezion-geber, as well as for vessels freighted with temporal blessings; let us not envy the more successful, nor murmur at our losses as though we were singularly and specially tried. Like Jehoshaphat, we may be precious in the Lord’s sight, although our schemes end in disappointment.

     The secret cause of Jehoshaphat’s loss is well worthy of notice, for it is the root of very much of the suffering of the Lord’s people; it was his alliance with a sinful family, his fellowship with sinners. In 2 Ch. 20:37, we are told that the Lord sent a prophet to declare, “Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works.” This was a fatherly chastisement, which appears to have been blest to him; for in the verse which succeeds our morning’s text we find him refusing to allow his servants to sail in the same vessels with those of the wicked king. Would to God that Jehoshaphat’s experience might be a warning to the rest of the Lord’s people, to avoid being unequally yoked together with unbelievers! A life of misery is usually the lot of those who are united in marriage, or in any other way of their own choosing, with the men of the world. O for such love to Jesus that, like him, we may be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners; for if it be not so with us, we may expect to hear it often said, “The Lord hath broken thy works.”

          Evening - January 13

     “The iron did swim.” --- 2 Kings 6:6.

     The axe-head seemed hopelessly lost, and as it was borrowed, the honour of the prophetic band was likely to be imperilled, and so the name of their God to be compromised. Contrary to all expectation, the iron was made to mount from the depth of the stream and to swim; for things impossible with man are possible with God. I knew a man in Christ but a few years ago who was called to undertake a work far exceeding his strength. It appeared so difficult as to involve absurdity in the bare idea of attempting it. Yet he was called thereto, and his faith rose with the occasion; God honoured his faith, unlooked-for aid was sent, and the iron did swim. Another of the Lord’s family was in grievous financial straits, he was able to meet all claims, and much more if he could have realized a certain portion of his estate, but he was overtaken with a sudden pressure; he sought for friends in vain, but faith led him to the unfailing Helper, and lo, the trouble was averted, his footsteps were enlarged, and the iron did swim. A third had a sorrowful case of depravity to deal with. He had taught, reproved, warned, invited, and interceded, but all in vain. Old Adam was too strong for young Melancthon, the stubborn spirit would not relent.

     Then came an agony of prayer, and before long a blessed answer was sent from heaven. The hard heart was broken, the iron did swim.

     Beloved reader, what is thy desperate case? What heavy matter hast thou in hand this evening? Bring it hither. The God of the prophets lives, and lives to help his saints. He will not suffer thee to lack any good thing. Believe thou in the Lord of hosts! Approach him pleading the name of Jesus, and the iron shall swim; thou too shalt see the finger of God working marvels for his people. According to thy faith be it unto thee, and yet again the iron shall swim.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     January 13

          HE LEADETH ME

     Joseph H. Gilmore, 1834–1918

     He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. (Psalm 23:2 KJV)

     The blessedness and awe of being led by Almighty God Himself so impressed the author of this text that he wrote these beloved words spontaneously—and these exact words have been sung by believers around the world for more than a century. Although Joseph Gilmore became a distinguished university and seminary professor, an author of several textbooks in Hebrew and English literature, and a respected Baptist minister, he is best remembered today for this one hymn, hurriedly written when he was just 28.

     Gilmore scribbled down these lines while visiting with friends after preaching about the truths of the 23rd Psalm at the Wednesday evening service of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He left this account:

     “At the close of the service we adjourned to Deacon Watson’s pleasant home, where we were being entertained. During our conversation the blessedness of God’s leading so grew upon me that I took out my pencil, wrote the text just as it stands today, handed it to my wife, and thought no more of it.

     Without telling her husband, Mrs. Gilmore sent the verses to the Watchman and Reflector Magazine, where it first appeared the following year. Three years later Joseph Gilmore went to Rochester, New York, as a candidate to become the pastor of Second Baptist Church. He recalls:

     Upon entering the chapel I took up a hymnal, thinking—I wonder what they sing here. To my amazement the book opened up at “He Leadeth Me,” and that was the first time I knew that my hurriedly written lines had found a place among the songs of the church.

     William Bradbury, an important American contributor to early gospel hymnody, added two additional lines to the chorus: “His faithful foll’wer I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me.” Does that describe you?

     He leadeth me! O blessed thought! O words with heav’nly comfort fraught! Whate’er I do, where’er I be, still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
     Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine, nor ever murmur nor repine; content, whatever lot I see, since ’tis my God that leadeth me!
     And when my task on earth is done, when by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won, e’en death’s cold wave I will not flee, since God thru Jordan leadeth me.
     Chorus: He leadeth me, He leadeth me, by His own hand He leadeth me; His faithful foll’wer I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me.

     For Today: Psalm 23; 139:10, 24; Isaiah 41:13, 14; John 16:13.

     Visualize a loving shepherd tenderly leading his sheep. Then be especially responsive to God’s guidance. Reflect on this tuneful thought ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
When Trials Come
     Alistair Begg


Pt 1





Pt 2




Alistair Begg
     Alistair Begg


Terms of Endearment






On the Basis of Love





Times of Difficulty






Rich Man, Poor Man




Genesis 38 - 40
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


Genesis 38
m2-023 | 4-16-2014






Genesis 39
m2-024 | 4-23-2014





Genesis 40
s2-025 | 4-27-2014




     ==============================      ==============================


Genesis 38 - 40
Lean-into-GOD





Religious Environmentalism
Roger Gottlieb | Vanderbilt University






Moral Agency of the Poor
Douglas Hicks | Vanderbilt University





The Politics of Faith in America
Ray Suarez | Vanderbilt University






A History of the Slave Ship
Marcus Rediker | Vanderbilt University





Human Rights: Agendas and Institutions
David Reidy | Vanderbilt University






Global Transgenerational Justice
James Bohman | Vanderbilt University





Intersections of Genetics and Faith in the Clinic
Ruth Schwartz Cowan | Vanderbilt University






Religion and Genomics/Sharing History
Cowan and Smith | Vanderbilt University





Gen 39: Joseph & Potiphar's Wife
David Wang | Biola University