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Genesis 14     Matthew 13     Nehemiah 3     Acts 13


Abram Rescues Lot

Genesis 14:1 In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20  and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”


And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”


The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.He who has ears, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“ ‘ “You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

15  For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’


16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

The Parable of the Weeds

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Prophecy and Parables

34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”


The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

New and Old Treasures

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.


Rebuilding the Wall      Great messaage on Neh 3,      click here

Nehemiah 3:1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

3 The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 4 And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. 5 And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.

6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 7 And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of the governor of the province Beyond the River. 8 Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters.

13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate.

14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

15 And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. 18 After him their brothers repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. 19 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress. 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired another section from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. 22 After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, repaired. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress and to the corner.25  Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. 27 After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.

28 Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber. 31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate, and to the upper chamber of the corner. 32 And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.


Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Barnabas and Saul on Cyprus

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas at Antioch in Pisidia

13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:    Unlike Israel's pagan neighbors, the biblical authors did not view history as terrifying, and unlike modernized Americans, they did not view it as worthless. To the contrary, they viewed it as the very arena of redemption. Their identity as a people rested on three great events in their past that revealed the intent of God for them: the call of Abraham, the deliverance from Egypt, and the establishment of the Davidic kingdom. These events also provided the framework within which Paul made his justification for believing that Christ was God's final, culminating act in redemptive history (Acts 13:16-48).  No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

“ ‘You are my Son,
today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, (Romans 6:9 Hebrews 9:25-28 and Acts 13:35-37) no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

“ ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, (Psalm 16:10)

“ ‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41  “ ‘Look, you scoffers, (Habakkuk 1:5, Isaiah 29:14)
be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’ ”


42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, (Isaiah 49:6)
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”


48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.


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

 

#2    
Albert Mohler


 

#3    
Albert Mohler


 


  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: Quality Paperback Edition

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

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

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, January 13, 2018 | Epiphany


Saturday Of The First Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 20, 21:1–7 (8–13)
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 110:1–5 (6–7) 116, 117
Old Testament     Genesis 6:9–22
New Testament     Hebrews 4:1–13
Gospel     John 2:13–22

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 20, 21:1–7 (8–13)

20 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
3 May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

4 May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans!
5 May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.

9 O LORD, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.

1 O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
2 You have given him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
3 For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4 He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.
5 His glory is great through your salvation;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6 For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

[ 8 Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. 9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. 10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man. 11 Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed. 12 For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows. 13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power. ] PSALMS (EVENING) Psalm 110:1–5 (6–7) 116, 117 1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. [ 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head. ] 116 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6 The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 I said in my alarm, “All mankind are liars.” 12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 14 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. 18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD! 117 Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! 2 For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD! OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 6:9–22 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. NEW TESTAMENT Hebrews 4:1–13 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Gospel
John 2:13–22

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.


The Book of Common Prayer


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





Discernment: Decision Making
Chad Miller   Biola University






The Rise, Decline, and Recovery of the Human Soul
Bruce Hindmarsh   Biola University





C.S. Lewis Spiritual Formation
Houston & Hindmarsh   Biola University






Questions of Biblical Modesty
Emily Maynard   Biola University





Spiritual Social Justice
Tom Crisp   Biola University






Non-Violent Communication
Graham Reside   Biola University





Terms of Endearment
Alistair Begg






On the Basis of Love
Alistair Begg





Times of Difficulty
Alistair Begg






When Trials Come 1
Alistair Begg





When Trials Come 2
Alistair Begg






Rich Man, Poor Man
Alistair Begg





Is Genesis Literal History?
John MacArthur