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Genesis 18     Matthew 17     Nehemiah 7     Acts 17


Genesis 18

Genesis 18:1 And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth 3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6 And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. 8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.


Matthew 17

The Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

The Temple Tax

24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”


Nehemiah 7

Nehemiah 7:1 Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. 3 And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes.” 4 The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.

Lists of Returned Exiles

5 Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written in it:

6 These were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried into exile. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town. 7 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah.

The number of the men of the people of Israel: 8 the sons of Parosh, 2,172. 9 The sons of Shephatiah, 372. 10 The sons of Arah, 652. 11 The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818. 12 The sons of Elam, 1,254. 13 The sons of Zattu, 845. 14 The sons of Zaccai, 760. 15 The sons of Binnui, 648. 16 The sons of Bebai, 628. 17 The sons of Azgad, 2,322. 18 The sons of Adonikam, 667. 19 The sons of Bigvai, 2,067. 20 The sons of Adin, 655. 21 The sons of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, 98. 22 The sons of Hashum, 328. 23 The sons of Bezai, 324. 24 The sons of Hariph, 112. 25 The sons of Gibeon, 95. 26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188. 27 The men of Anathoth, 128. 28 The men of Beth-azmaveth, 42. 29 The men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, 743. 30 The men of Ramah and Geba, 621. 31 The men of Michmas, 122. 32 The men of Bethel and Ai, 123. 33 The men of the other Nebo, 52. 34 The sons of the other Elam, 1,254. 35 The sons of Harim, 320. 36 The sons of Jericho, 345. 37 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 721. 38 The sons of Senaah, 3,930.

39 The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, namely the house of Jeshua, 973. 40 The sons of Immer, 1,052. 41 The sons of Pashhur, 1,247. 42 The sons of Harim, 1,017. 43 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, namely of Kadmiel of the sons of Hodevah, 74. 44 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148. 45 The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, 138.

46 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 47 the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, 48 the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Shalmai, 49 the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, 50 the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, 51 the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, 52 the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephushesim, 53 the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 54 the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 55 the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 56 the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha.

57 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, 58 the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 59 the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of Amon.

60 All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392.

61 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. 63 Also, of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name). 64 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise.


Acts 17

Paul and Silas in Thessalonica

Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

Paul and Silas in Berea

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

Paul in Athens

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

Paul Addresses the Areopagus

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

ESV Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

What Does “Gospel” Really Mean?

By J. Warner Wallace 1/15/2018

     We often describe God’s gracious offer of Salvation as “good news”, and while this makes sense, given the magnitude of God’s gift to us, there are actually good etymological reasons for describing Salvation in this way. The word “Gospel” is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word, “godspel”, or “good story” and was substituted for the original Greek word “euaggelion” which first signified “a present given to one who brought good tidings”, or “a sacrifice offered in thanksgiving for such good tidings having come”. In later Greek uses, it was employed for the good tidings themselves. That’s exactly what God is offering us with the Gospel; “good news” about what he did for us through Jesus Christ:

     The Gospel is All About What God Did For Us

     God wants us to rejoice over the good news of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Although our sin deserves death, Jesus paid the price and even defeated death so we too can live forever with God:

(1 Co 15:1–4) 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
ESV

     The Gospel is All About Grace

     Paul devoted his life to sharing what he believed to be very “good news”. He thought it was good news because he understood God was giving us a free gift only He could offer: the gift of Salvation, given freely as an act of grace (unmerited favor):

Click here to read all of the article

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

What Pro-Lifers Can and CAN’T Learn from the Civil Rights Movement

By Jason Jones & John Zmirak 1/15/2018

     Today we mark the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. He’s not just some ethnic hero, but a true American one. He is even, in critical ways, a conservative paragon. We’ll lay out why, and draw out what the pro-life movement can — and cannot — learn from King’s success.

     King a “conservative”? It seems absurd at first. King sparked massive change in American life. He radically unsettled the existing social order. He rejected calls for “prudence” and “gradual change.” He pointed to abstract principles to condemn concrete arrangements which had seemed to “work,” after a fashion, for 100 years since the Civil War.

     His Civil Rights movement, however just its cause, did create a template for a long list of less worthy jihads, on behalf of disgruntled feminists, abortion mongers, and same-sex libertines. On that point, Southern conservatives proved sadly correct: overturning the racial hierarchy in America let a lot of other genies out of the bottle. Some of those spirits are afflicting the black community worse than segregation ever did (i.e., abortion).

     No surprise that when King was organizing marches and sit-ins, most of the existing conservative movement opposed him. William F. Buckley and most of the writers at National Review were among them. But Buckley and NR came around as did most Americans. Here’s why:

     More than almost any other political leader since Lincoln, King sought to polish the Golden Egg of liberty and equal opportunity, without doing violence to the Goose — that is, America as an orderly nation of laws. Both his arguments and his tactics bear that out.

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     Per Amazon, John Zmirak received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. His focus was the English Renaissance, and the novels of Walker Percy. He taught composition at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, and written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods & Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention, representing Pat Buchanan. He has been Press Secretary to pro-life Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, and a reporter and editor at "Success" magazine and "Investor's Business Daily," among other publications. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in "First Things," "The Weekly Standard," "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "USA Today," "FrontPage Magazine," "The American Conservative," "The South Carolina Review," "The Atlantic," "Modern Age," "The Intercollegiate Review," "The New Republic," "Commonweal," and "The National Catholic Register," among other venues. He has contributed to "American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia" and "The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought." From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of "Faith & Family Magazine" and a reporter at "The National Catholic Register." He works now as an editor for several publishing companies.

John Zmirak Books:

Writing: If You Want To Remember It, Write It By Hand

By Timothy Paul Jones 1/7/2018

     Words and writing matter.

     In the opening chapter of the Scriptures, God speaks, and a cosmos bursts into being (Genesis 1:3). When he constitutes Israel as his  people, God speaks and writes, and a covenant is born (Exodus 31:18). John described the incarnation of God in Christ by declaring, “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). It is by words that our souls live, and it is because of words that souls die (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 12:36-37). In the words of George Will,

     "Everything humane depends on words—love, promise-keeping, story-telling, democracy. And baseball.

     From an eternal perspective, what’s important is not the format of these words but the meaning that the words convey. When it comes to our capacity to recall the words we hear and read, however, the way that we write them down has a profound effect on how much information we recall.

     My Journey from Paper to Pixels and Back to Paper Again | Throughout high school, college, and my first seminary degree, I kept handwritten journals, and every note I took in classes was penned by hand. In a box in the basement, I still have dozens of spiral-bound notebooks from those years.

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     My name is Timothy Paul Jones, and I love living with my wife and four daughters in the city of Louisville. Over the past two decades, I’ve had the privilege of leading several congregations as a pastor and in associate ministry roles. Now, I serve as a professor and associate vice president at one of the largest seminaries in the world, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here, I invest my time in mentoring a rising generation of God-called ministers of the gospel. I also serve as a pastor at the Midtown congregation of Sojourn Community Church and write books in the fields of apologetics and family ministry. A few of these books include the award-winning How We Got the Bible and Christian History Made Easy. My past scholarly research has focused on the psychology of faith and on factors that influence faith formation in Christian households. Currently, my focus has turned toward the reliability of the New Testament Gospels. In addition to earning a doctor of philosophy degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature and a master of divinity with an emphasis in church history and New Testament studies.

Timothy Paul Jones Books:

The New Testament in the strange words of David Bentley Hart

By N.T. Wright 1/15/2018

     When a theologian of the stature of David Bentley Hart offers a “pitilessly literal translation” of the New Testament that is “not shaped by later theological and doctrinal history” and aims to make “the familiar strange, novel, and perhaps newly compelling,” we are eager to see the result. He promises to bring out the “wildly indiscriminate polyphony” of the writers’ styles and emphases, converging on their “vibrant certainty that history has been invaded by God in Christ in such a way that nothing can stay as it was.”

     But his two main claims (to be “literal” and “undogmatic”) are not borne out, and the promise of displaying the strangeness of early Christian life disappears behind different kinds of strangeness. There are indeed some striking passages: we read that Saul had “wreaked such carnage” among the early believers, but was now “marshalling arguments that this man is the Anointed” (Acts 9:21–23). His opponents are people “whose God is their guts” (Phil. 3:19). And so on. But what does literal mean?

     Greek and English, as Hart knows well, do not work the same way. Pretending that they do produces not literal translation but the kind of thing you get in an interlinear version, as with “the one making me well, that one told me” (John 5:11), or “going and washing, I saw” (John 9:11). Hart frequently translates houtos and ekeinos as “this one” and “that one,” as in “having received the morsel, that one [i.e., Judas] immediately departed” (John 13:30). The strange English here has nothing to do with a cultural clash between the first Christians and ourselves.

     The definite article, or its absence, creates further problems. Hart knows that Greek often uses the article where English does not—for example, with abstract nouns (and so he does not translate hē agapē in 1 Corinthians 13 as “the love”). The converse is true, too: Greek often omits the article in cases where the English indefinite article (“a” or “an”) would be misleading. Yet Hart elevates the Greek non use of the article into a strict principle of his literal rendition, so that we frequently find mention of “a Holy Spirit.” In Luke 4:1, “Jesus, full of a Holy Spirit . . . was guided in the wilderness by the Spirit.” Sometimes this oddity is compounded by the switching of upper and lower case in quick succession: we have access “in one Spirit” to the Father, but we are “built up in spirit into God’s dwelling place” (Eph. 2:18, 22). Granted, the word pneuma was multivalent for Paul and in his context, but the combination of these two puzzles (capitalization and article) produces neither clarity nor beauty.

     The use of obsolete English words (“climes” for regions, “chaplet” for crown, “alee” as a nautical term, and so on) offers a different sort of strangeness. Jacob’s well has become a “font” (John 4:6). “You are God’s tilth” will mean nothing to most readers, and anyone hearing “one such as was rapt up all the way” will think of parcels, or perhaps overcoats, not heavenly journeys (1 Cor. 3:9, 2 Cor. 12:2). There’s also the occasional glaring error—such as the omission of “not” in Romans 8:12, where Hart’s version makes the mindboggling claim that “we are debtors to the flesh.”

Click here to read all of the article

According to Wikipedia: Nicholas Thomas Wright (born 1 December 1948) is a leading British New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired Anglican bishop. In academia, he is published as N. T. Wright, but is otherwise known as Tom Wright.[3] Between 2003 and his retirement in 2010, he was the Bishop of Durham. He then became Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St Mary’s College in the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

He writes prolifically about theology, Christian life, and the relationship of these two things. He advocates a biblical re-evaluation of and fresh approach to theological matters such as justification,[4] women's ordination,[5] and popular Christian views about life after death.[6] He has also criticised the idea of a literal Rapture.[7] Alternate source: Fulcrum website. The author of over seventy books, Wright is highly regarded in academic and theological circles primarily for his "Christian Origins and the Question of God" series.[8]The third volume, The Resurrection of the Son of God, is considered by many pastors and theologians to be a seminal Christian work on the resurrection of the historical Jesus,[9][10] while the most recently released fourth volume, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, is hailed as Wright's magnum opus.[

N.T. Wright Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 9

I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds
9 To The Choirmaster: According To Muth-Labben. A Psalm Of David.

7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.

9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

ESV Reformation Study

Alveda King defends Trump against racism accusations: Black Americans are benefiting from his presidency

By Caitlin Yilek 1/15/2018

     Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece defended President Trump against accusations of racism by pointing to the economic opportunities for black Americans.

     “I do not believe President Donald John Trump is a racist. The economy’s up. Jobs are up in the black community. There is great promise to get a lot of people who have been unfairly incarcerated out,” Alveda King told “Fox and Friends” on Monday, the federal holiday honoring her uncle.

     Trump was called racist after he referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries” during a discussion on immigration with lawmakers. Trump has denied he is a racist after days of intense backlash against his comments.

     “I’m the least racist person you will ever interview,” Trump told reporters at his Florida resort Sunday.

     King said Trump’s presidency is helping the black community because the unemployment rate for black workers fell to the lowest rate on record last month.

Click here to read all of the article

     Caitlin Yilek is the senior digital engagement editor at the Washington Examiner. She previously worked as a social media curator for The Hill. Before moving to Washington in 2015, she was a digital editor and writer for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota.

A Fifteen Point Christian Response to Richard Carrier

By Christian Apologist (SJ Thomason) 10/1/2017

(Jn 8:32) 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. ESV

     The following blog is in response to a rebuttal of one of my blogs by an historian called Richard Carrier. The blog is entitled “Resolving controversies surrounding Joseph of Arimathea and the women who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb.” While reading Carrier’s rebuttal, I came upon a number of assertions, which I have numbered and italicized in bold print in the following list. After each of his assertions, I have offered a response. Carrier’s blog can be accessed here: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12786

     Paul does not mention the empty tomb, Jesus’ burial, or a missing body.

     Paul does not need to mention the empty tomb, Jesus’ burial, or a missing body for his account of his encounter with the risen Jesus to be true. As examples, a mother does not need to detail a hospital room in order to prove she gave birth to a baby; a widow does not need to detail the burial site to prove her husband died and was buried; a lunch date does not need to detail the house she left to prove she left her house when meeting for lunch. These are parts of the account of Jesus’ resurrection, which is valid with or without their inclusion.

     Jesus’ resurrection itself is of the utmost importance to Christianity. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul quotes a Creed that the earliest Christians memorized.

(1 Co 15:3–8) 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. ESV

     In 1 Corinthians 15:20, Paul states:

(1 Co 15:20) But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. ESV

     In other words, Paul stated that he witnessed the risen Jesus, as did the early Christians he referenced in his letter to the Corinthians.

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     Author: Christian Apologist | Please visit my new blog at ChristianApologistweb.Wordpress.com. The author lives with her two sons, chief security officer/pooch, and husband who would rather be living in a houseboat near his identical twin brother. She works as a college professor, which helps to pay the mortgage. Over the past few decades, she has attempted to reconcile the logic and rationality of nature with the unexplained force of love within. World religions address the latter, yet none so perfectly and comprehensively as Christianity. By diving into the academic, literary, and church communities, she's found many answers to the complicated questions of life. Life's short, sometimes ugly, and there are no guarantees. If she were to be hit by a bus tomorrow (which might very well happen), she'll rest in peace knowing that a permanent record of her discoveries of the way, the truth, and the life exists for her family, friends, and anyone else interested. Follow on Twitter SJ Thomason@lead1225

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     1. From the whole course of the observations now made, we may infer, that the Law was not superadded about four hundred years after the death of Abraham in order that it might lead the chosen people away from Christ, but, on the contrary, to keep them in suspense until his advent; to inflame their desire, and confirm their expectation, that they might not become dispirited by the long delay. By the Law, I understand not only the Ten Commandments, which contain a complete rule of life, but the whole system of religion delivered by the hand of Moses. Moses was not appointed as a Lawgiver, to do away with the blessing promised to the race of Abraham; nay, we see that he is constantly reminding the Jews of the free covenant which had been made with their fathers, and of which they were heirs; as if he had been sent for the purpose of renewing it. This is most clearly manifested by the ceremonies. For what could be more vain or frivolous than for men to reconcile themselves to God, by offering him the foul odour produced by burning the fat of beasts? or to wipe away their own impurities by be sprinkling themselves with water or blood? In short, the whole legal worship (if considered by itself apart from the types and shadows of corresponding truth) is a mere mockery. Wherefore, both in Stephen's address (Acts 7:44), and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, great weight is justly given to the passage in which God says to Moses, "Look that thou make them after the pattern which was showed thee in the mount," (Exod. 25:40). Had there not been some spiritual end to which they were directed, the Jews, in the observance of them, would have deluded themselves as much as the Gentiles in their vanities. Profane men, who have never made religion their serious study, cannot bear without disgust to hear of such a multiplicity of rites. They not merely wonder why God fatigued his ancient people with such a mass of ceremonies, but they despise and ridicule them as childish toys. This they do, because they attend not to the end; from which, if the legal figures are separated, they cannot escape the charge of vanity. But the type shows that God did not enjoin sacrifice, in order that he might occupy his worshippers with earthly exercises, but rather that he might raise their minds to something higher. This is clear even from His own nature. Being a spirit, he is delighted only with spiritual worship. The same thing is testified by the many passages in which the Prophets accuse the Jews of stupidity, for imagining that mere sacrifices have any value in the sight of God. Did they by this mean to derogate in any respect from the Law? By no means; but as interpreters of its true meaning, they wished in this way to turn the attention of the people to the end which they ought to have had in view, but from which they generally wandered. From the grace offered to the Jews we may certainly infer, that the law was not a stranger to Christ. Moses declared the end of the adoption of the Israelites to be, that they should be "a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation," (Exod. 19:6). This they could not attain, without a greater and more excellent atonement than the blood of beasts. For what could be less in accordance with reason, than that the sons of Adams who, from hereditary taint, are all born the slaves of sin, should be raised to royal dignity, and in this way made partakers of the glory of God, if the noble distinction were not derived from some other source? How, moreover, could the priestly office exist in vigour among those whose vices rendered them abominable in the sight of God, if they were not consecrated in a holy head? Wherefore, Peter elegantly transposes the words of Moses, teaching that the fulness of grace, of which the Jews had a foretaste under the Law, is exhibited in Christ, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood," (1 Pet. 2:9). The transposition of the words intimates that those to whom Christ has appeared in the Gospel, have obtained more than their fathers, inasmuch as they are all endued with priestly and royal honour, and can, therefore, trusting to their Mediator, appear with boldness in the presence of God.

2. And it is to be observed, by the way, that the kingdom, which was at length erected in the family of David, is part of the Law, and is comprehended under the dispensation of Moses; whence it follows, that, as well in the whole tribe of Levi as in the posterity of David, Christ was exhibited to the eyes of the Israelites as in a double mirror. For, as I lately observed (sec. 1), in no other way could those who were the slaves of sin and death, and defiled with corruption, be either kings or priests. Hence appears the perfect truth of Paul's statement, "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ," "till the seed should come to whom the promise was made" (Gal. 3:24, 19). For Christ not yet having been made familiarly known to the Jews, they were like children whose weakness could not bear a full knowledge of heavenly things. How they were led to Christ by the ceremonial law has already been adverted to, and may be made more intelligible by several passages in the Prophets. Although they were required, in order to appease God, to approach him daily with new sacrifices, yet Isaiah promises, that all their sins would be expiated by one single sacrifice, and with this Daniel concurs (Isa. 53:5; Dan. 9:26, 27). The priests appointed from the tribe of Levi entered the sanctuary, but it was once said of a single priest, "The Lord has sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek," (Ps. 110:4). The unction of oil was then visible, but Daniel in vision declares that there will be another unction. Not to dwell on this, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews proves clearly, and at length, from the fourth to the eleventh chapter, that ceremonies were vain, and of no value, unless as bringing us to Christ. In regard to the Ten Commandments, we must, in like manner, attend to the statement of Paul, that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth," (Rom. 10:4); and, again, that ministers of the new testament were "not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the split giveth life," (2 Cor. 3:6). The former passage intimates, that it is in vain to teach righteousness by precept, until Christ bestow it by free imputation, and the regeneration of the Spirit. Hence he properly calls Christ the end or fulfilling of the Law, because it would avail us nothing to know what God demands did not Christ come to the succour of those who are labouring, and oppressed under an intolerable yoke and burden. In another place, he says that the Law "was added because of transgressions," (Gal. 3:19), that it might humble men under a sense of their condemnation. Moreover, inasmuch as this is the only true preparation for Christ, the statements, though made in different words, perfectly agree with each other. But because he had to dispute with perverse teachers, who pretended that men merited justification by the works of the Law, he was sometimes obliged, in refuting their error, to speak of the Law in a more restricted sense, merely as law, though, in other respects, the covenant of free adoption is comprehended under it.

3. But in order that a sense of guilt may urge us to seek for pardon, it is of importance to know how our being instructed in the Moral Law renders us more inexcusable. If it is true, that a perfect righteousness is set before us in the Law, it follows, that the complete observance of it is perfect righteousness in the sight of God; that is, a righteousness by which a man may be deemed and pronounced righteous at the divine tribunal. Wherefore Moses, after promulgating the Law, hesitates not to call heaven and earth to witness, that he had set life and death, good and evil, before the people. Nor can it be denied, that the reward of eternal salvation, as promised by the Lord, awaits the perfect obedience of the Law (Deut. 30:19). Again, however, it is of importance to understand in what way we perform that obedience for which we justly entertain the hope of that reward. For of what use is it to see that the reward of eternal life depends on the observance of the Law, unless it moreover appears whether it be in our power in that way to attain to eternal life? Herein, then, the weakness of the Law is manifested; for, in none of us is that righteousness of the Law manifested, and, therefore, being excluded from the promises of life, we again fall under the curse. I state not only what happens, but what must necessarily happen. The doctrine of the Law transcending our capacity, a man may indeed look from a distance at the promises held forth, but he cannot derive any benefit from them. The only thing, therefore, remaining for him is, from their excellence to form a better estimate of his own misery, while he considers that the hope of salvation is cut off, and he is threatened with certain death. On the other hand, those fearful denunciations which strike not at a few individuals, but at every individual without exceptions rise up; rise up, I say, and, with inexorable severity, pursue us; so that nothing but instant death is presented by the Law.

4. Therefore, if we look merely to the Law, the result must be despondency, confusion, and despair, seeing that by it we are all cursed and condemned, while we are kept far away from the blessedness which it holds forth to its observers. Is the Lord, then, you will ask, only sporting with us? Is it not the next thing to mockery, to hold out the hope of happiness, to invite and exhort us to it, to declare that it is set before us, while all the while the entrance to it is precluded and quite shut up? I answer, Although the promises, in so far as they are conditional, depend on a perfect obedience of the Law, which is nowhere to be found, they have not, however, been given in vain. For when we have learned, that the promises would be fruitless and unavailing, did not God accept us of his free goodness, without any view to our works, and when, having so learned, we, by faith, embrace the goodness thus offered in the gospel, the promises, with all their annexed conditions, are fully accomplished. For God, while bestowing all things upon us freely, crowns his goodness by not disdaining our imperfect obedience; forgiving its deficiencies, accepting it as if it were complete, and so bestowing upon us the full amount of what the Law has promised. But as this point will be more fully discussed in treating of justification by faith, we shall not follow it further at present.

5. What has been said as to the impossible observance of the Law, it will be proper briefly to explain and confirm, the general opinion being, that nothing can be more absurd. Hence Jerome has not hesitated to denounce anathema against it. [186] What Jerome thought, I care not; let us inquire what is the truth. I will not here enter into a long and intricate discussion on the various kinds of possibility. By impossible, I mean, that which never was, and, being prevented by the ordination and decree of God, never will be. I say, that if we go back to the remotest period, we shall not find a single saint who, clothed with a mortal body, ever attained to such perfection as to love the Lord with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength; and, on the other hand, not one who has not felt the power of concupiscence. Who can deny this? I am aware, indeed of a kind of saints whom a foolish superstition imagines, and whose purity the angels of heaven scarcely equal. This, however, is repugnant both to Scripture and experience. But I say further, that no saint ever will attain to perfection, so long as he is in the body. Scripture bears clear testimony to this effect: "There is no man that sinneth not," saith Solomon (1 Kings 8:46). David says, "In thy sight shall no man living be justified," (Psalm 143:2). Job also, in numerous passages, affirms the same thing. But the clearest of all is Paul, who declares that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh," (Gal. 5:17). And he proves, that "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse," for the simple reason, that it is written, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them," (Gal. 3:10; Deut. 27:26); intimating, or rather assuming it as confessed, that none can so continue. But whatever has been declared by Scripture must be regarded as perpetual, and hence necessary. The Pelagians annoyed Augustine with the sophism, that it was insulting to God to hold, that he orders more than believers are able, by his grace, to perform; and he, in order to evade it, acknowledged that the Lord was able, if he chose, to raise a mortal man to angelic purity; but that he had never done, and never would do it, because so the Scripture had declared (Augustine, lib. de Nat. et Grat). This I deny not: but I add, that there is no use in absurdly disputing concerning the power of God in opposition to his truth; and therefore there is no ground for cavilling, when it is said that that thing cannot be, which the Scriptures declare will never be. But if it is the word that is objected to, I refer to the answer which our Saviour gave to his disciples when they asked, "Who then can be saved?" "With men," said he, "this is impossible; but with God all things are possible" (Mt. 19:25). Augustine argues in the most convincing manner, that while in the flesh, we never can give God the love which we owe him. "Love so follows knowledge, that no man can perfectly love God who has not previously a full comprehension of his goodness," (Augustin. de Spiritu et Litera, towards the end, and elsewhere). So long as we are pilgrims in the world, we see through a glass darkly, and therefore our love is imperfect. Let it therefore be held incontrovertible, that, in consequence of the feebleness of our nature, it is impossible for us, so long as we are in the flesh, to fulfil the law. This will also be proved elsewhere from the writings of Paul (Rom. 8:3). [187]

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



  • The Lord is Coming 2
  • Telling the Truth
  • Prayer & Praise


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The difference between Samson and Samuel (1)
     1/17/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Time would fail me to tell of…Samson…and Samuel.’

(Heb 11:32) And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— ESV


     Samson and Samuel are mentioned in the same Scripture, but there are big differences between them. You ask, ‘Why should I be interested?’ Because as a Christian, you are like them. Each had a miraculous birth, so they’re a picture of those who’ve been born again and called to serve God. Paul writes, ‘These things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition…Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall’ (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 NKJV). Difference one: Finances. Samson was greedy and manipulating, whereas Samuel practised integrity. One day Samson bet thirty Philistine princes that they couldn’t solve his riddle, saying, ‘If you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing’ (Judges 14:13 NKJV). Quite a wardrobe, eh? Samson’s emphasis was ‘you shall give me’. He’s an example of Christians in business who discredit the cause of Christ by unethical practices, and those in ministry who twist the Scriptures and resort to emotional manipulation to raise money. The world is watching, so let’s heed the Scripture: ‘Provide things honest in the sight of all men’ (Romans 12:17 KJV). Samuel was totally different. After forty years of his exemplary leadership, the people paid this tribute to him: ‘You have not cheated or oppressed us’ (1 Samuel 12:4 NKJV). When others can say that about you, you did it right! Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Matthew 6:21 KJV). The condition of your heart is revealed in how you handle finances.

(1 Co 10:11–12) 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. ESV

(Jdg 14:13) 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” ESV

(Ro 12:17) Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. ESV

(1 Sa 12:4) They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” ESV

(Mt 6:21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ESV

Genesis 36-38
Matthew 1:17-42

UCB The Word For Today

IMHO
     January 17, 2016

     As I said, my mornings begin slowly. I am most comfortable starting a new day with a slow process; start the coffee, turn on the heater, open the curtains, turn on Lily’s laptop, my laptop and then sip my first cup of coffee. It is often, usually, a time of reading and reflection. I always think of Lily and wonder why God has been so good to me. I have always admired Lily’s tenderness and thoughtfulness of others. I have always delighted in her sense of joy and kindness. She is easy to like and somewhere along our journey together we seem to have developed a mutual delight, admiration, and respect for one another. We are quite different from each other. It is quite understandable that I would be so captivated by her, but for the life of me I cannot understand why she loves me. It is a mystery, but a mystery that I am grateful that it continues.

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On January 17, 1781, Washington’s southern army defeated the British troops at Cowpens. In hot pursuit, Lord Cornwallis reached the Catawba River just two hours after the American troops had crossed, but a storm made the river impassable. He nearly overtook the Americans again at the Yadkin River, just as they were getting out on the other side, but a torrential rain flooded the river. This happened a third time at the Dan River. British Commander Henry Clinton wrote: “Here the royal army was again stopped by a sudden rise of the waters, which had only just fallen (almost miraculously) to let the enemy over.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     Thomas Kelly enjoyed his courses at Haverford College. This was especially true of his Greek philosophy and of a course in Oriental Philosophy which he inaugurated to carry on the interest that had taken him to Hawaii. At the time of his death he had interested one of the foundations in purchasing for the Haverford College Library extensive sets of reference books in Indian, Chinese and Japanese philosophy and culture. A course in the history and philosophy of Quakerism which he inherited from Rufus Jones gave him an occasion to immerse himself in Quaker history to his great delight. As a teacher at Haverford, he appealed to a small group of students whose enthusiasm for him and dedication to him knew few bounds. In the spring of 1938, he wrote to his faithful friend at Hartford, "I am more happy here at Haverford than anybody has a right to be, in this vale of tears and trouble(!) It is just about as ideal as one could ever wish for-yet with very human shortcomings."

     In the first two years at Haverford, Little Richard Kelly was passing out of the baby stage. Lois Kelly, a beautiful girl of nine, was the idol of her father and reciprocated his affection. After the silent Quaker meeting for worship one day she told her mother that she had spent the meeting hour deciding whom she loved best, as she looked up at the gallery (where the elders of the meeting sit facing the meeting). After some weighing of the matter, she decided that she loved her daddy first, God second, Rufus Jones third, and J. Henry Bartlett fourth!


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him
than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word,
'darkness' on the walls of his cell. --- C. S. Lewis

Science brings man nearer to God…
There is something in the depths of our souls
which tells us that the world may be more
than a mere combination of events.
--- Louis Pasteur

A Christian is a person who, when getting to the end of his/her rope, ties a knot and determines to hang on, realizing that human extremity now becomes God’s opportunity.
--- Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions


To have our senses exercised to discern between truth and falsehood, light and darkness, order and disorder, the will of God and the will of the flesh, is, I believe, the end and object of our training in this world.
--- Caroline Stephen, 1834-1909


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
--- Greek Proverb

... from here, there and everywhere


The Peace of Wild Things
     Wendell Berry


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

Proverbs 4:1-6
     by D.H. Stern

1     Listen, children, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention, in order to gain insight;
2     for I am giving you good advice;
so don’t abandon my teaching.

3     For I too was once a child to my father;
and my mother, too, thought of me as her special darling.
4     He too taught me; he said to me,
“Let your heart treasure my words;
keep my commands, and live;
5     gain wisdom, gain insight;
don’t forget or turn from the words I am saying.
6     Don’t abandon [wisdom]; then she will preserve you;
love her, and she will protect you.


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


                The vocation of the natural life

     But when it pleased God … to reveal His son in me …
---
Gal. 1:15–16.

     The call of God is not a call to any particular service; my interpretation of it may be, because contact with the nature of God has made me realize what I would like to do for Him. The call of God is essentially expressive of His nature; service is the outcome of what is fitted to my nature. The vocation of the natural life is stated by the apostle Paul - "When it pleased God to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him” (i.e., sacramentally express Him) “among the Gentiles.”

     Service is the overflow of superabounding devotion; but, profoundly speaking, there is no call to that, it is my own little actual bit, and is the echo of my identification with the nature of God. Service is the natural part of my life. God gets me into a relationship with Himself whereby I understand His call, then I do things out of sheer love for Him on my own account. To serve God is the deliberate love - gift of a nature that has heard the call of God. Service is expressive of that which is fitted to my nature: God’s call is expressive of His nature; consequently when I receive His nature and hear His call, the voice of the Divine nature sounds in both and the two work together. The Son of God reveals Himself in me, and I serve Him in the ordinary ways of life out of devotion to Him.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Adder
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Adder

What is this creature discarded
  like a toy necklace
  among the weeds and flowers,
  singing to me silently

  of the fire never to be put out
  at its thin lips? It is scion
  of a mighty ancestor
  that spoke the language

  of trees to our first
  parents and greened its scales
  in the forbidden one, timelessly shining
  as though autumn were never to be.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Take Heart
     January 17



     The time has come for my departure. --- 2 Timothy 4:6.

     A familiar and striking figure is used when Paul speaks of the time of his “departure.” ( Classic Sermon Outlines: Over 100 Sermon Outlines by 3 of the Best Known Preachers of All Time ) The thought is found in most tongues. Death is a going away, or, as Peter calls it, an exodus. But the well-worn image receives new depth and sharpness of outline in Christianity. To those who have learned the meaning of Christ’s resurrection and feed their souls on the hopes that it warrants, death is merely a change of place or state, an accident affecting locality and little more.

     We have had plenty of changes before. Life has been one long series of departures. This is different from the others mainly in that it is the last and that to go away from this visible and fleeting show, where we wander aliens among things that have no true kindred with us, is to go home, where there will be no more pulling up the tent pegs and toiling across the deserts in monotonous change. How strong is the conviction, spoken in that name for death, that the essential life lasts on quite unaltered through it all! How slight the else formidable thing is made. We may change climates and for the stormy bleakness of life may have the long still days of heaven, but we do not change ourselves. We lose nothing worth keeping when we leave behind the body, as a dress not fitted for home, where we are going.

     We only travel one more stage, though it is the last, and part of it is in pitchy darkness. Some pass over it as in a fiery chariot, like Paul and many a martyr. Some have to toil through it with slow steps and bleeding feet and fainting heart, but all may have a Brother with them and, holding his hand, may find that the journey is not so hard as they feared and the home, from which they shall remove no more, better than they hoped when they hoped the most.
--- Alexander Maclaren


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

On This Day   January 17
     Death by Baptism

     As Ulrich Zwingli preached in Zurich, he sought to bring reformation to Switzerland within the context of the established state church. In Zurich and throughout Europe, there was little difference between state and church. All babies baptized were thereby considered members of the church and citizens of the city. But Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, impatient with Zwingli’s reforms, began holding Bible classes in private homes, and their investigation of Scripture raised questions about state-sponsored sprinkling of infants.

     When Grebel’s wife gave birth to a son the stage was set for conflict. On January 17, 1525, the Zurich City Council arranged a public debate on the issue. Zwingli insisted that all children be baptized by their eighth day, while Grebel and Manz argued that baptism symbolized a believer’s commitment to Christ. They lost.

     Four days later under cloak of darkness, a dozen men trudged through falling snow to Manz’s house. After kneeling in prayer, one of them, George Blaurock, asked Grebel to baptize him in the apostolic fashion—upon his confession of personal faith in Christ. Grebel did so, then Blaurock, a former priest, baptized the others.

     Zwingli was incensed, and these radical reformers were soon driven from Zurich. They established a congregation in the nearby village of Zollikon, the first “free” church of modern times. But they weren’t free from Zwingli, who hounded them, or from Zurich’s arm of persecution.

     Grebel, his health failing in prison, died of the plague. Blaurock was burned at the stake. And Zurich officials decided that if Manz wanted baptism so badly, they would give it to him. Taking him from Wellenberg prison, they bound his arms and legs. As they rowed down the middle of Zurich’s Limmat River, his mother shouted over the splashing oars for him to remain true to Christ. After he sang “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit,” he was rolled overboard, and the cold waters of Lake Zurich closed over his head.

     As they were going along the road, they came to a place where there was some water. The official said, “Look! Here is some water. Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the chariot to stop. Then they both went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
--- Acts 8:36-38.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 17

     “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion." --- Revelation 14:1.

     The apostle John was privileged to look within the gates of heaven, and in describing what he saw, he begins by saying, “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” This teaches us that the chief object of contemplation in the heavenly state is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Nothing else attracted the apostle’s attention so much as the person of that Divine Being, who hath redeemed us by his blood. He is the theme of the songs of all glorified spirits and holy angels. Christian, here is joy for thee; thou hast looked, and thou hast seen the Lamb. Through thy tears thine eyes have seen the Lamb of God taking away thy sins. Rejoice, then. In a little while, when thine eyes shall have been wiped from tears, thou wilt see the same Lamb exalted on his throne. It is the joy of thy heart to hold daily fellowship with Jesus; thou shalt have the same joy to a higher degree in heaven; thou shalt enjoy the constant vision of his presence; thou shalt dwell with him for ever. “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” Why, that Lamb is heaven itself; for as good Rutherford says, “Heaven and Christ are the same thing;” to be with Christ is to be in heaven, and to be in heaven is to be with Christ. That prisoner of the Lord very sweetly writes in one of his glowing letters—“O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have thee still, it would be a heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want.” It is true, is it not, Christian? Does not thy soul say so?

     “Not all the harps above
     Can make a heavenly place,
     If God his residence remove,
     Or but conceal his face.”

     All thou needest to make thee blessed, supremely blessed, is “to be with Christ.”

          Evening - January 17

     “And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house.”
--- 2 Samuel 11:2.

     At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation. Both at home and abroad we are liable to meet with allurements to evil; the morning opens with peril, and the shades of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps, but woe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armour-bearer of Sin is Self-confidence.

     David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord’s battles, instead of which he tarried at Jerusalem, and gave himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed at eventide. Idleness and luxury are the devil’s jackals, and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters noxious creatures swarm, and neglected soil soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briars. Oh for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful! When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day, and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning, and set holy watchfulness to guard the door.

     Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for retirement and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret, a sanctuary from sin! While our hearts are so like a tinder-box, and sparks so plentiful, we had need use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops, and enter closets, and even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless grace prevent. Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen.


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

Amazing Grace
     January 17

          THE KING OF LOVE MY SHEPHERD IS

     Henry W. Baker, 1821–1877

     For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. (Psalm 95:7)

     The beloved words of Psalm 23 have undoubtedly provided greater comfort and encouragement to God’s people through the years than any other portion of Scripture. In times of deep need, how eloquently these tender words from the psalmist David minister to our wounded spirits. This psalm has also formed the textual basis for more sacred music than any other scriptural setting. But to many devout Christians the best-loved hymn based on Psalm 23 is this paraphrase by an English musician, Sir Henry Baker. In this text Baker skillfully combines thoughts of King David with lessons from the New Testament. For example, the words from the third stanza are based on the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:5. The fourth stanza includes the phrase “Thy cross before to guide me.” Here the shepherd is identified as Christ by the inclusion of the cross symbolism.

     Sir Henry William Baker is highly regarded by students of hymnody for his work as the editor-in-chief of one of the most monumental hymnals ever published, Hymns, Ancient and Modern, a book which sold more than 60 million copies after it was published in 1861. See how these words can direct you again to the love of the Good Shepherd.

     The King of Love my Shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never;
     I nothing lack if I am His and He is mine forever.
     Where streams of living water flow my ransomed soul He leadeth,
     and where the verdant pastures grow, with food celestial feedeth.
     Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love He sought me,
     and on His shoulder gently laid, and home rejoicing brought me.
     In death’s dark vale I fear no ill with Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
     Thy rod and staff my comfort still, Thy cross before to guide me.
     Thou spread’st a table in my sight; Thine unction grace bestoweth;
     and O what transport of delight from Thy pure chalice floweth!
     And so through all the length of days Thy goodness faileth never:
     Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise within Thy house for ever!


     For Today: Psalm 23; John 10:9; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Peter 2:25.

     Take time to read and meditate again on the 23rd Psalm. Reflect on the tender love and care that an earthly shepherd has for his sheep. Relate this to your heavenly Shepherd’s guidance and care for your life. Let this musical message help you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | Epiphany


Wednesday Of The Second Week After Epiphany
Year 2

On the same date: Eve Confession of St. Peter, Evening Prayer

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 38
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 119:25–48
Old Testament     Genesis 9:18–29
New Testament     Hebrews 6:1–12
Gospel     John 3:22–36

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 38

38 A Psalm Of David, For The Memorial Offering.

1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

5 My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.

12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
and meditate treachery all day long.

13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.

15 But for you, O LORD, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,
who boast against me when my foot slips!”

17 For I am ready to fall,
and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin.
19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty,
and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20 Those who render me evil for good
accuse me because I follow after good.

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD!
O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 119:25–48

25 My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
38 Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared.
39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
40 Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life!

41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in your rules.
44 I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever,
45 and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
47 for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.

Old Testament
Genesis 9:18–29

18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.

20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

     “Cursed be Canaan;
     a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said,

     “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem;
     and let Canaan be his servant.
     27 May God enlarge Japheth,
     and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
     and let Canaan be his servant.”

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

New Testament
Hebrews 6:1–12

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Gospel
John 3:22–36

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.


The Book of Common Prayer

Book Of Common Prayer
     On The Same Date | Vigil | Holy Day


Eve Confession Of St. Peter
Evening Prayer—Eves Of Apostles And Evangelists
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: Wednesday of the Second Week after Epiphany

Psalms     Psalm 48, 122 or Psalm 84, 150
Old Testament     Isaiah 43:10–15 or Isaiah 52:7–10
New Testament     Revelation 21:1–4, 9–14 or Matthew 9:35–10:4

Index of Readings

Psalms
Option A
Psalm 48, 122

48 A Song. A Psalm Of The Sons Of Korah.

1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.
3 Within her citadels God
has made himself known as a fortress.

4 For behold, the kings assembled;
they came on together.
5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic; they took to flight.
6 Trembling took hold of them there,
anguish as of a woman in labor.
7 By the east wind you shattered
the ships of Tarshish.
8 As we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of the LORD of hosts,
in the city of our God,
which God will establish forever. Selah

9 We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 As your name, O God,
so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments!

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.

122 A Song Of Ascents. Of David.

1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
2 Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
8 For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.

Or
Option B
Psalm 84, 150

84 To The Choirmaster: According To The Gittith. A Psalm Of The Sons Of Korah.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.

8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!

10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

150 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
Option A
Isaiah 43:10–15

10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.
13 Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”

14 Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I send to Babylon
and bring them all down as fugitives,
even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.”

Or
Option B
Isaiah 52:7–10

7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the LORD to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

New Testament
Option A
Revelation 21:1–4, 9–14

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Or
Option B
Matthew 9:35–10:4

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.


The Book of Common Prayer


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Planning Properly, Part Two
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