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Genesis 19     Matthew 18     Nehemiah 8     Acts 18


Genesis 19

God Rescues Lot

Genesis 19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. 19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

God Destroys Sodom

23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. 29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.

Lot and His Daughters

30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

34 The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.


Matthew 18

Who Is the Greatest?

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.


Temptations to Sin

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

If Your Brother Sins Against You

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”


Nehemiah 8

Ezra Reads the Law      Great messaage on Neh 8,      click here

Nehemiah 8:1 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

This Day Is Holy

9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

Feast of Booths Celebrated

13 On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.


Acts 18

Paul in Corinth

Acts 18:1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.

Paul Returns to Antioch

18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. 19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. 21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.

22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.


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What I'm Reading

How Heretics Help Establish the Historicity of Jesus

By J. Warner Wallace 11/7/2014

     Last week I presented the case for the Resurrection of Jesus at the University of Transylvania in Lexington Kentucky. The students there listened attentively as I traced the New Testament “Chain of Custody” to demonstrate how early Church Fathers (like Polycarp, Ignatius and Clement) helped establish the reliability of the Resurrection account. I recounted the writings of many of these early Church leaders as they described what they learned from the original disciples and eyewitnesses of Jesus’. Historic claims related to the life of Jesus and the Resurrection can also be traced in the writings of men like Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Origen, Tatian, Justin Martyr and many others. After the talk (during the Q and A), one astute student noted some of the Church Fathers in my “Chain of Custody” actually held heretical positions related to Christian doctrines. He also observed these Church leaders were identified within the historic role-call of Roman Catholic leaders. He questioned how I might be willing to accept their testimony related to what they learned about the historicity of Jesus if I wasn’t willing to accept their “Roman Catholic-ish” beliefs about things such as the role of sacraments, the existence of purgatory or the nature of Mary. Can people who hold different theological views still play an important role in establishing the historicity of Jesus? Yes they can.

     In every criminal trial, we call witnesses who hold theological, philosophical, or political views differing from our own. We don’t have to agree on these issues (even if some of these points are critically important to our worldview) in order to contribute as a witness in a limited, focused way. Witnesses are asked to describe what they saw or heard at a particular point in time. Little more will be allowed by the judge. Imagine, for example, a witness observes a suspect to run to his car, enter on the driver’s side, start the engine, but then hesitate just prior to speeding from the location. At the trial, the witness will be asked to describe what he or she saw related to the actions of the suspect. But a question like, “Why do you think he hesitated before he fled the scene?” is beyond the scope of the witness’ knowledge and testimony. It’s one thing to testify about what you’ve seen, it’s another to testify about what you think it means. If an attorney was to ask, “Why do you think he hesitated before he fled the scene?” the opposing lawyer would surely object and rightly declare the answer to be nothing more than speculation on the part of the witness. How, for example, could the witness know what the suspect was thinking (or even experiencing) to explain why the suspect hesitated as he did?

     When examining the lineage of historic Church leaders, my focus is simply on their descriptions related to what they were taught by those who preceded them related to the facts of Jesus’ life and ministry. As a result, I am primarily concerned with their descriptions of the Gospels and the details included in these historical narratives. When a Church Father begins to pontificate on a theological position or interpretation, I recognize this as outside the scope of his testimony. An early Church leader may try to infer something about the nature of Jesus, for example, from the virgin conception, but this is not what concerns me. I am simply interested in the earliest accounts about the birth of Jesus and how these accounts were transmitted to those who came after the authors of the Gospels, not what these accounts imply. When examining an early Church Father, I am only interested in, “What were the facts about Jesus’ life you received from those who preceded you?” not, “What do you think all this means?”

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

Striving to Escape the Fall

By Nick Batzig 1/14/2017

     Marathons, mud runs, CrossFit, Yoga, diets, non-GMO and gluten-free foods, Christian financial programs, anti-vaccination and homeschooling have--each in their own way--taken over the driver's seat of the lives of so many in the church. While all of these things, in and of themselves, may be good things and have their proper place in a believer's life, they often hold too prominent a place. It is fairly easily to gauge whether we have given these things too prominent a place in our hearts and lives; we can be sure that we have when they become the overwhelming subject of conversation we have at church, when we get together with others and in what we spend out time reading or writing on social media. After all, Jesus taught us that we speak most what our hearts value most (Luke 6:45). So, what do these things--that seem so completely unassociated with one another--have in common? They can all be ways that we try to control our lives in order to escape the misery that is the effect of the fall.

     "The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery." So wrote the members of the Westminster Assembly in Q. 17 of the Shorter Catechism. Everything negative in this life falls into one of these two categories--namely, sin and misery. The catechism goes on to explain the estate of misery when it says, "All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever." Sin and misery are the all-encompassing and inescapable realities of this life in this fallen world. Christ came into the world to redeem us from our sin and the misery of this fallen world, and to give us eternal holiness and happiness. While Jesus bore the curse in our place, took the guilt and power of our sin upon Himself at Calvary and reconciled us to God (thereby, definitively dealing with our sin), the misery that came into the world on account of the fall remains until the resurrection. We are all subject--no matter what physical, dietary, monetary, medical and educational decisions that we make--to "all miseries in this life, to death itself."

     The Scriptures actually have quite a lot to say about the things that we foolishly trust in order to escape the misery of life. For instance, the Apostle Paul explained to Timothy that "bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Tim. 4:8). All forms of exercise may "profit a little;" however, they are not paramount in the life of the believer. The pursuit of "godliness" in light of "the world to come" must be of chief importance.

     Concerning foods, Jesus Himself made the audacious statement (i.e. audacious in light of the temporary dietary restrictions of the Old Covenant era), "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man" (Matt. 15:11). The Apostle Paul followed this with a warning about the danger of falling into the false religion of dietary asceticism when he wrote, "If you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--'Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men" (Co. 2:20-22)? The danger of being susceptible to these things is that they "have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, humility, and neglect of the body." However, when considered spiritually, "they are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Col. 2:23).

     The Apostle also warned the members of the church against loving money when he wrote, "those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition" (1 Tim. 6:9). By way of contrast, he commanded "those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17). For ever one verse in Scripture about God's desire for believers to be financially responsible there are two words about the ever present danger of greed. Often only the Lord knows whether we are being "financial responsible" or hiding greed behind the idea of "financial responsibility." Money is one of the greatest ways that men and women try to escape the fall, because in our minds money can purchase safety and satisfaction--happiness and health.

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     Nick Batzig is the organizing pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill, Ga. Nick attended Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and then moved to Philadelphia, where Nick was an intern at Tenth Presbyterian Church. In February 2009 Nick moved to Richmond Hill, GA to begin planting New Covenant Presbyterian Church. Currently, Nick is working on a Th.M at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. The subject of his thesis is “The Third Use of the Law in the Westminster Standards. Nick has written numerous articles for Tabletalk Magazine, Reformation 21, and is published in Jonathan Edwards and Scotland (Dunedin, 2011) Nick is also a regular panelists on Christ the Center, a podcast of The Reformed Forum. In addition, Nick is the host of East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards.

Will the ‘Trump Effect’ Trickle Down to Christian Conservatives?

By Dr. Michael Brown 1/13/2017

     Like no one before him, Donald Trump has shaken our nation, and love him or loathe him, he has done what no one else has ever done. On his journey to the presidency, he has broken (and rewritten) the rules, he has defied the establishment, he has challenged the status quo, he has played both the bully and the victim, he has proved the pundits wrong, and he has emerged from every storm stronger than before.

     Not only so, but the climate of the nation has changed (some say for better and some say for worse), to the point that what seemed inevitable just three months ago no longer seems so inevitable. Could it be that America is about to make a massive change in direction, a radical course correction?

     This, to me, is an important aspect of what some are calling the “Trump effect” (often in pejorative terms; a Google search on January 12 yielded 1,160,000 for “Trump effect” in quotes): The inevitable can be challenged; the status quo can be changed; the bullies can be conquered.

     Again, I’m aware that for many, President-elect Trump is the ultimate bully, hardly a model to follow, especially for followers of Jesus, and my goal here is not to call pastors and believers to emulate his tone or his style. Instead, I’m encouraging us to learn from his example that America’s course has not been inexorably set, that the seemingly impossible is very possible, that history is full of surprises, and that now is the time for fresh courage and commitment.

     The Nation Turned on a Dime | For several years now, we conservatives have been told that we have lost the culture wars, that we should throw in the towel and concede, that we should consolidate our losses and move on to non-controversial, spiritual issues, that the tide of history is set against us. And those of who refused to go along with this narrative were mocked and ridiculed, told that we represented a dying breed that was about to be replaced by an enlightened generation, mocked as unfortunate relics of a bygone age, ridiculed as an endangered species soon to be obsolete.

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     Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is a Senior Contributor to The Stream, and the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Breaking the Stronghold of Food. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

     He became a believer in Jesus 1971 as a sixteen year-old, heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer. Since then, he has preached throughout America and around the world, bringing a message of repentance, revival, reformation, and cultural revolution. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Theological Seminary, the King’s Seminary, and Regent University School of Divinity, and he has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications, including the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.

     Dr. Brown is a national and international speaker on themes of spiritual renewal and cultural reformation, and he has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors, and gay activists on radio, TV, and college campuses. He is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist. He and his wife Nancy, who is also a Jewish believer in Jesus, have been married since 1976. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.

     Dr. Michael Brown Books:

The Real Problem With Hypocrisy

By Jillian Jordoan, Roseanna Sommers and David Rand 1/13/2017

     What, exactly, is the problem with hypocrisy? When someone condemns the behavior of others, why do we find it so objectionable if we learn he engages in the same behavior himself?

     The answer may seem self-evident. Not practicing what you preach; lacking the willpower to live up to your own ideals; behaving in ways you obviously know are wrong — these are clear moral failings.

     Perhaps. But new research of ours, forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science (and in collaboration with our colleague Paul Bloom), suggests a different explanation. We contend that the reason people dislike hypocrites is that their outspoken moralizing falsely signals their own virtue. People object, in other words, to the misleading implication — not to a failure of will or a weakness of character.

     Imagine you have a co-worker who is something of an environmental activist. He hounds people to turn off their office lights when they step out for lunch and gets on their case if they throw recyclables in the trash. He protests when people print documents single-sided instead of double-sided. While he is overbearing at times, you agree with everything he advocates.

     Now imagine you discover that your co-worker, when at home, regularly fails to do any of these things. He is a hypocrite. You promptly revoke the moral credit you gave him for his activism. In fact, his hypocrisy now makes his activism seem not just not-positive, but negative: How dare he go around telling other people to switch off their lights when he doesn’t do so himself!

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     Jillian Jordan and Roseanna Sommers are graduate students, and David Rand is an associate professor, in the psychology department at Yale.

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.

13 Be gracious to me, O LORD!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.

15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah

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Literal Interpretation & False Assumptions

By Rachel Marrow 1/8/2017

     Preconceived notions are among the largest obstacles to Christianity. Secular skeptics often cite literal interpretation such as the six days of creation, animals on Noah’s ark, or the absence of dinosaurs as sound reasons to reject the Bible and Christianity as a whole.

     In reality, conclusions like these reveal how blind we are to our biases rather than any actual intellectual short-comings of the Christian faith. What are some of these common false assumptions?

     Read for Yourself

     Many have misconstrued notions of what is actually stated in the Bible. Instead, their knowledge often comes from second-hand source like TV or movies. Hollywood tends to misrepresent reality: spies always meet on park benches, undiagnosed-PTSD military personnel only stop saying “sir” in order to salute, and Christians are science-hating hypocritical snobs with southern drawls. Even ‘news’ networks push stories of sensationalism to bolster ratings rather than create an informed populace. While entertainment serves its purpose, philosophies should be judged by their merits. Those merits should reference their source documents, rather than caricatures presented by others.

     Acknowledge Literary Genre and Style

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     Rachel Marrow | I'm a Christian, Marine wife, mother of 4 young boys, and a classical homeschooler. I learn and process through writing, and hope to pass what I've learned to others. Sola gratia.

Where Obama's Final Push for a Two-State Solution Leaves Trump

By Todd Deatherage, Gerald McDermott, And Alex Awad 1/13/2017

     Though the Obama administration has just one week left in office, Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to a Paris peace conference this weekend in a last-ditch effort to advocate for the two-state solution he strongly endorsed last month.

     In an unusually blunt December 28 address, Kerry said that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are obstacles to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. “No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of what the settlements pose to that peace,” he said, calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the settlements and allow for Palestinian development.

     Israeli officials and defenders of the Jewish state are concerned by Kerry’s remarks, as well as the recent unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which declared the settlements illegal. The United States historically abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution to pass.

     Kerry will attend the January 15 event in Paris alongside representatives from 70 nations.

     Donald Trump and his ambassador to Israel nominee, David Friedman, support the settlements. Trump criticized the UN Security Council resolution, tweeting last month, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect,” and “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”

Click here to go to source

Rev. Dr. Alex Awad is a retired Palestinian missionary with the United Methodist Church, former dean of students at Bethlehem Bible College, and former pastor of East Jerusalem Baptist Church.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     6. That the whole matter may be made clearer, let us take a succinct view of the office and use of the Moral Law. Now this office and use seems to me to consist of three parts. First, by exhibiting the righteousness of God,--in other words, the righteousness which alone is acceptable to God,--it admonishes every one of his own unrighteousness, certiorates, convicts, and finally condemns him. This is necessary, in order that man, who is blind and intoxicated with self-love, may be brought at once to know and to confess his weakness and impurity. For until his vanity is made perfectly manifest, he is puffed up with infatuated confidence in his own powers, and never can be brought to feel their feebleness so long as he measures them by a standard of his own choice. So soon, however, as he begins to compare them with the requirements of the Law, he has something to tame his presumption. How high soever his opinion of his own powers may be, he immediately feels that they pant under the heavy load, then totter and stumble, and finally fall and give way. He, then, who is schooled by the Law, lays aside the arrogance which formerly blinded him. In like manner must he be cured of pride, the other disease under which we have said that he labours. So long as he is permitted to appeal to his own judgment, he substitutes a hypocritical for a real righteousness, and, contented with this, sets up certain factitious observances in opposition to the grace of God. But after he is forced to weigh his conduct in the balance of the Law, renouncing all dependence on this fancied righteousness, he sees that he is at an infinite distance from holiness, and, on the other hand, that he teems with innumerable vices of which he formerly seemed free. The recesses in which concupiscence lies hid are so deep and tortuous that they easily elude our view; and hence the Apostle had good reason for saying, "I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." For, if it be not brought forth from its lurkingplaces, it miserably destroys in secret before its fatal sting is discerned.

7. Thus the Law is a kind of mirror. As in a mirror we discover any stains upon our face, so in the Law we behold, first, our impotence; then, in consequence of it, our iniquity; and, finally, the curse, as the consequence of both. He who has no power of following righteousness is necessarily plunged in the mire of iniquity, and this iniquity is immediately followed by the curse. Accordingly, the greater the transgression of which the Law convicts us, the severer the judgment to which we are exposed. To this effect is the Apostle's declaration, that "by the law is the knowledge of sin," (Rom. 3:20). By these words, he only points out the first office of the Law as experienced by sinners not yet regenerated. In conformity to this, it is said, "the law entered that the offence might abound;" and, accordingly, that it is "the ministration of death;" that it "worketh wrath" and kills (Rom. 5:20; 2 Cor. 3:7; Rom. 4:15). For there cannot be a doubt that the clearer the consciousness of guilt, the greater the increase of sin; because then to transgression a rebellious feeling against the Lawgiver is added. All that remains for the Law, is to arm the wrath of God for the destruction of the sinner; for by itself it can do nothing but accuse, condemn, and destroy him. Thus Augustine says, "If the Spirit of grace be absent, the law is present only to convict and slay us." [188] But to say this neither insults the law, nor derogates in any degree from its excellence. Assuredly, if our whole will were formed and disposed to obedience, the mere knowledge of the law would be sufficient for salvation; but since our carnal and corrupt nature is at enmity with the Divine law, and is in no degree amended by its discipline, the consequence is, that the law which, if it had been properly attended to, would have given life, becomes the occasion of sin and death. When all are convicted of transgression, the more it declares the righteousness of God, the more, on the other hand, it discloses our iniquity; the more certainly it assures us that life and salvation are treasured up as the reward of righteousness, the more certainly it assures us that the unrighteous will perish. So far, however are these qualities from throwing disgrace on the Law, that their chief tendency is to give a brighter display of the divine goodness. For they show that it is only our weakness and depravity that prevents us from enjoying the blessedness which the law openly sets before us. Hence additional sweetness is given to divine grace, which comes to our aid without the law, and additional loveliness to the mercy which confers it, because they proclaim that God is never weary in doing good, and in loading us with new gifts.

8. But while the unrighteousness and condemnation of all are attested by the law, it does not follow (if we make the proper use of it) that we are immediately to give up all hope and rush headlong on despair. No doubt, it has some such effect upon the reprobate, but this is owing to their obstinacy. With the children of God the effect is different. The Apostle testifies that the law pronounces its sentence of condemnation in order "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God," (Rom. 3:19). In another place, however, the same Apostle declares, that "God has concluded them all in unbelief;" not that he might destroy all, or allow all to perish, but that "he might have mercy upon all," (Rom. 11:32); in other words, that divesting themselves of an absurd opinion of their own virtue, they may perceive how they are wholly dependent on the hand of God; that feeling how naked and destitute they are, they may take refuge in his mercy, rely upon it, and cover themselves up entirely with it; renouncing all righteousness and merit, and clinging to mercy alone, as offered in Christ to all who long and look for it in true faith. In the precepts of the law, God is seen as the rewarder only of perfect righteousness (a righteousness of which all are destitute), and, on the other hand, as the stern avenger of wickedness. But in Christ his countenance beams forth full of grace and gentleness towards poor unworthy sinners.

9. There are many passages in Augustine, as to the utility of the law in leading us to implore Divine assistance. Thus he writes to Hilary, [189] "The law orders, that we, after attempting to do what is ordered and so feeling our weakness under the law, may learn to implore the help of grace." In like manner, he writes to Asellius, "The utility of the law is, that it convinces man of his weakness, and compels him to apply for the medicine of grace, which is in Christ." In like manner, he says to Innocentius Romanus, "The law orders; grace supplies the power of acting." Again, to Valentinus, "God enjoins what we cannot do, in order that we may know what we have to ask of him." Again, "The law was given, that it might make you guilty--being made guilty might fear; fearing, might ask indulgence, not presume on your own strength." Again, "The law was given, in order to convert a great into a little man--to show that you have no power of your own for righteousness; and might thus, poor, needy, and destitute, flee to grace." He afterwards thus addresses the Almighty, "So do, O Lord, so do, O merciful Lord; command what cannot be fulfilled; nay, command what cannot be fulfilled, unless by thy own grace: so that when men feel they have no strength in themselves to fulfil it, every mouth may be stopped, and no man seem great in his own eyes. Let all be little ones; let the whole world become guilty before God." But I am forgetting myself in producing so many passages, since this holy man wrote a distinct treatise, which he entitled De Spiritu et Litera. The other branch of this first use he does not describe so distinctly, either because he knew that it depended on the former, or because he was not so well aware of it, or because he wanted words in which he might distinctly and clearly explain its proper meaning. But even in the reprobate themselves, this first office of the law is not altogether wanting. They do not, indeed, proceed so far with the children of God as, after the flesh is cast down, to be renewed in the inner man, and revive again, but stunned by the first terror, give way to despair. Still it tends to manifest the equity of the Divine judgment, when their consciences are thus heaved upon the waves. They would always willingly carp at the judgment of God; but now, though that judgment is not manifested, still the alarm produced by the testimony of the law and of their conscience bespeaks their deserts.

10. The second office of the Law is, by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice. Such persons are curbed not because their mind is inwardly moved and affected, but because, as if a bridle were laid upon them, they refrain their hands from external acts, and internally check the depravity which would otherwise petulantly burst forth. It is true, they are not on this account either better or more righteous in the sight of God. For although restrained by terror or shame, they dare not proceed to what their mind has conceived, nor give full license to their raging lust, their heart is by no means trained to fear and obedience. Nay, the more they restrain themselves, the more they are inflamed, the more they rage and boil, prepared for any act or outbreak whatsoever were it not for the terror of the law. And not only so, but they thoroughly detest the law itself, and execrate the Lawgiver; so that if they could, they would most willingly annihilate him, because they cannot bear either his ordering what is right, or his avenging the despisers of his Majesty. The feeling of all who are not yet regenerate, though in some more, in others less lively, is, that in regard to the observance of the law, they are not led by voluntary submission, but dragged by the force of fear. Nevertheless, this forced and extorted righteousness is necessary for the good of society, its peace being secured by a provision but for which all things would be thrown into tumult and confusion. Nay, this tuition is not without its use, even to the children of God, who, previous to their effectual calling, being destitute of the Spirit of holiness, freely indulge the lusts of the flesh. When, by the fear of Divine vengeance, they are deterred from open outbreakings, though, from not being subdued in mind, they profit little at present, still they are in some measure trained to bear the yoke of righteousness, so that when they are called, they are not like mere novices, studying a discipline of which previously they had no knowledge. This office seems to be especially in the view of the Apostle, when he says, "That the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine," (1 Tim. 1:9, 10). He thus indicates that it is a restraint on unruly lusts that would otherwise burst all bonds.

11. To both may be applied the declaration of the Apostle in another place, that "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ," (Gal. 3:24); since there are two classes of persons, whom by its training it leads to Christ. Some (of whom we spoke in the first place), from excessive confidence in their own virtue or righteousness, are unfit to receive the grace of Christ, until they are completely humbled. This the law does by making them sensible of their misery, and so disposing them to long for what they previously imagined they did not want. Others have need of a bridle to restrain them from giving full scope to their passions, and thereby utterly losing all desire after righteousness. For where the Spirit of God rules not, the lusts sometimes so burst forth, as to threaten to drown the soul subjected to them in forgetfulness and contempt of God; and so they would, did not God interpose with this remedy. Those, therefore, whom he has destined to the inheritance of his kingdom, if he does not immediately regenerate, he, through the works of the law, preserves in fear, against the time of his visitation, not, indeed, that pure and chaste fear which his children ought to have, but a fear useful to the extent of instructing them in true piety according to their capacity. Of this we have so many proofs, that there is not the least need of an example. For all who have remained for some time in ignorance of God will confess, as the result of their own experience, that the law had the effect of keeping them in some degree in the fear and reverence of God, till, being regenerated by his Spirit, they began to love him from the heart.

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



  • Pastor's Role
  • Mission Accomplished
  • Crown of Righteousness


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The difference between Samson and Samuel (2)
     1/18/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Get her for me, for she pleases me well.’

(Jdg 14:3) 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” ESV


     Difference two: Relationships. ‘Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren…that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”’ When it came to relationships, Samson was guided by his lower impulses instead of the principles of God’s Word. And he paid dearly for it. Three times we read in Scripture: ‘Samson went down’ (v. 1 NKJV). He went down to Timnath and married the wrong woman. He went down to Gaza and spent the night with a harlot. He went down to Sorek, ended up in the lap of Delilah, and lost his strength, his freedom, his reputation, his anointing, and his life. Samuel, on the other hand, was raised up to purify the ministry. Eli the High Priest had two sons called Hophni and Phinehas that he had ordained to the priesthood, but they were taking bribes to cover sin and brazenly consorting with prostitutes. There’s a lesson here for every redeemed child of God: ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers’ (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV 2011 Edition). Is God being biased or unloving? No, He’s being protective! When you’re ‘yoked together’ in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share your faith, your values, your goals, and your priorities, you end up in a tug of war with each pulling in a different direction. When problems arise, as they surely will, what you need is someone by your side who turns to the same source you do for the solution - God.

(Jdg 14:1) 1 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. ESV


(2 Co 6:14) 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? ESV


Genesis 39-40
Matthew 11

UCB The Word For Today
Simply Christian
     January 18, 2016

     Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment.”

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     By a resolution of the Senate, he was esteemed as one of the five greatest senators in U.S. history. An outstanding orator, his political career spanned almost four decades, serving as Secretary of State for Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore. His name was Daniel Webster, born this day, January 18, 1782. Webster fought to end the slave trade, opposed creating a national bank and settle the Northeast boundary of the United States. Daniel Webster stated: “If our posterity neglects religious instruction… no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     Thomas Kelly had done nothing with the manuscript on Explanation and Reality in the Philosophy of Emile Meyerson which because of its specialized character could never be published except under a heavy subsidy. This token of his intense period of scholarly application he felt determined to publish in spite of the expense involved which he could ill afford. It appeared in the late summer of 1937. It was well reviewed in the Journal of Philosophy and appreciated by the few competent to judge it. This book in some ways marked the culmination of seven tireless years of application to improve himself in scholarly attainment.

     He had not been satisfied merely to receive the stimulus of the department of philosophy at Harvard. He wanted also to have the stamp of their approval upon a work of his scholarship, perhaps ultimately to receive a Harvard degree. In the late autumn of 1937 after the publication of this book, a new life direction took place in Thomas Kelly. No one knows exactly what happened, but a strained period in his life was over. He moved toward adequacy. A fissure in him seemed to close, cliffs caved in and filled up a chasm, and what was divided grew together within him. Science, scholarship, method, remained good, but in a new setting. Now he could say with Isaac Pennington, "Reason is not sin but a deviating from that from which reason came is sin."


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


Some people always sigh
in thanking God.
--- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If a man fights his way through his doubts
to the conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord,
he has attained to a certainty
that the man who unthinkingly accepts things can never reach.
--- William Barclay

The reasons why so many people are being killed are quite complicated, yet there are some clear, simple strands. One is that people have found a meaning to live, to sacrifice, struggle, and even die. And whether their life spans sixteen years, sixty, or ninety, for them their life has had a purpose. In many ways, they are fortunate people.
--- Ita Ford

This is my Father’s world;
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world;
the battle is not done;
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied,
And earth and heaven be one.
--- Maltbie Babcock (Simply Christian)

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 4:7-13
     by D.H. Stern

7     The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom!
And along with all your getting, get insight!
8     Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will bring you honor;
9     she will give your head a garland of grace,
bestow on you a crown of glory.”
10     Listen, my son, receive what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
11     I’m directing you on the way of wisdom,
guiding you in paths of uprightness;
12     when you walk, your step won’t be hindered;
and if you run, you won’t stumble.
13     Hold fast to discipline, don’t let it go;
guard it, for it is your life.


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


                It is the Lord!

     Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. --- John 20:28.

     “Give Me to drink.” How many of us are set upon Jesus Christ slaking our thirst when we ought to be satisfying Him? We should be pouring out now, spending to the last limit, not drawing on Him to satisfy us. “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me” —that means a life of unsullied, uncompromising, and unbribed devotion to the Lord Jesus, a satisfaction to Him wherever He places us.

     Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. It is easier to serve than to be drunk to the dregs. The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him. We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings. Are we being more devoted to service than to Jesus Christ?


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Cadenza
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Cadenza

Is absence enough?
  I asked from my absent place
  by love's fire. What god,
  fingers in its ears, leered at me
  from above the lintel, face
  worn by the lapping
  of too much time? Leaves prompted
  to prayer, green hands folded
  in green evenings. Who
  to? I questioned, avoiding
  that chipped gaze. Was lightning
  the answer, scissoring
  between clouds, the divine
  cut-out with his veins
  on fire? That such brightness
  should be attended by such
  noise! I supposed, watching
  the starry equations,
  his thinking was done
  in a great silence; yet after
  he goes out, following
  himself into oblivion,
  the memory of him must smoke
  on in this ash, waiting
  for the believing people
  to blow on it. So some say
  were the stars born. So,
  say I, are those sparks
  forged that are knocked like nails
  one by one into the usurping flesh.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

The Openhearted
     Teacher's Commentary

     Some have always sensed God’s love. It was the same in Jesus’ day; some people were very close to God, and immediately responded to Jesus. We are introduced to two of these openhearted men in John 1. We also discover in this chapter a pattern which the writer followed in the rest of his Gospel.

     The pattern. Jesus’ unveiling of God typically took place in miracle followed by discourse.

     In the other Gospels, miracles are generally treated as authenticating or teaching signs. For instance, Matthew concentrated reports of miracles in chapters 8 and 9. This section immediately followed the Sermon on the Mount and demonstrated the authority of the King over nature, evil spirits, disease, and even death. But John presented the miracles of Jesus as first steps in each fresh unveiling of the Father and His grace. In general, each reported miracle or group of miracles leads to a teaching discourse. The miracle thus does more than serve as the divine seal of approval on Jesus; it usually illustrates what He is about to teach as well.

     So in studying the Gospel of John, we’ll find this pattern over and over. New units of thought are introduced by miracles, and concluded with extended explanations by Jesus of some new aspect of God’s grace.

     John the Baptist (John 1:19–34). John was probably Jesus’ cousin, and certainly a childhood friend. John had been sent by God to announce that the promised Saviour of Israel was about to appear. John was called to “testify concerning that Light,” a Light much different from Jewish expectations. Even though John had known Jesus from childhood, he never recognized his Cousin as the Son of God. John too was looking for a different revelation than one of grace and goodness.

     But when Jesus came to be baptized by John, John, in a private miracle, saw “the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him.” John immediately believed.

     Nathanael (John 1:35–51). John gave witness to Jesus and pointed Him out as the Son of God. Soon some of John’s followers began to trail after Jesus, and Christ began to select men who would join His most intimate circle of followers. One of these, Philip, hurried to Nathanael and told him that they had found the Christ, and that He was Jesus of Nazareth.

     Nathanael was skeptical. The prophets said nothing of anyone great coming from the Galilean town, Nazareth. But Nathanael went with Philip to see for himself. And he was stunned by Jesus’ greeting: “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

     When Jesus went on to describe the place where Philip had found Nathanael, far out of Jesus’ sight, Nathanael was convinced: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (v. 49).

     What do we learn from these two incidents? First, we note that each of these men had a preconceived idea of what God was like and how He would act. John described the stern judgments the coming Messiah would execute. Nathanael knew that the Deliverer would come from some place other than Nazareth.

     Second, we note that Jesus did not completely fit the preconceived ideas of either. John never dreamed that his gentle, godly Cousin could be the mighty Deliverer that his preaching described (v. 33). Nathanael would find out only later that the Man from Nazareth was actually born in Bethlehem, the place the prophets foretold the coming King would be born. While both John and Nathanael believed deeply in God, both had concepts about His Son that were not fully correct.

     Third, each received and responded to a small, personal miracle. Later Jesus would perform many public miracles, and some of these would be absolutely spectacular. It might seem insignificant to us for Jesus to describe the place where Nathanael was when Philip found him (v. 48). But each of these men, John and Nathanael, immediately recognized the hand of God. And each immediately set aside his preconceived notions, to submit to the authority of Jesus. Each accepted the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, the revealer of truth as well as of grace (vv. 34, 49).

     These insights are important to us at the beginning of our study of John’s Gospel. As you read and study God's word yourself, honestly seeking to draw closer to God ..., you can expect God to be at work in your own ... life. God will perform private miracles for you. These probably will not be spectacular, nor will they be public. But, in little ways, God lets us know that He is speaking personally to us. And, like John and Nathanael, we each have our own ideas about what God is like and how He will act. But it is vital that you and I, like John and Nathanael, be willing to put aside our incomplete understandings of God and His grace when we discover, in Jesus the Son of God, some fresh unveiling of truth or fresh evidence of grace.

     The disciples (John 2:1–11). At a wedding in Cana, Jesus sustained the joy of the occasion by turning water into wine when the supply of drink ran out. Few besides the disciples saw the miracle, but, actually, the miracle was for them. In that miracle Jesus began to unveil His glory, and “His disciples put their faith in Him” (v. 11).

The Teacher's Commentary

Take Heart
     January 18



     In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. --- John 14:2.

     Change in things around us is like fixity to the change that is in ourselves. (Classic Sermons on Heaven and Hell (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)) Old times are gone, old interests, old aims; the haunts, the friends, the faces of our youth — where are they? Gone, or so changed that we dare not think to recall them. Or, if we try, we cannot; they are so different, so far away they are shadows, like things in a dream. And we are changing within. There are few who can say the spring leaves are as green, the flowers as sweet, the summer days as long and sunny, the heart as open and free from distrust as when life was young.

     There is indeed compensation for this, if we will seek it. If we have a home in God through Christ, it brings in something better than youthful brightness, the taste of which is like the wine of Christ’s higher feast that makes the guests say, “The new is better.”

     But here, too, there is frequently change. The anchor of our hope loses its hold, our sense of pardon and peace may be broken, and the face of God may look dim and distant. The disciples who were in fellowship with Christ at the close of the week were, before another, scattered or hopelessly seeking him in his grave.

     It is from such changes that the promise of Christ carries us. The permanence of the dwelling will ensure permanence in all that belongs to the dwellers in it, otherwise the home and the inhabitants would be out of harmony. There will be no wavering of faith, no waning of hope, no chill of love.

     Here, change leaves some lost good behind it; there, change will take all its good things forward into fuller possession. “There remains, then, a Sabbath - rest for the people of God.” We can rely on nothing else but his promise for the fulfillment of it. Sometimes it looks so strange, so unearthly, so utterly away from all the laws of nature and life as we see them here that it seems incredible. It is for faith, not for sight; for the trust of the heart, not for the telescope of science. Heaven is a state before it is a place. It is being in God, then with God. The locality will flow from the heart.
--- John Ker


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

On This Day   January 18
     Perfidious Prelates

     Jesus surely chose his disciples knowing that sooner or later most of us would identify with impetuous, impulsive Peter.

     James Mitchell was a Peter: part preacher/part assassin — and perhaps with good reason for being both. He was a Covenanter, one of the Scottish Presbyterians who vowed to resist English efforts to impose Anglo - Catholic forms on their churches. Their resistance drew fire from the monarchy and from the church itself, the chief tormentor being the Prelate, Archbishop James Sharp, who caught and killed Presbyterians like dogs.

     Something had to be done, Mitchell reasoned. On July 11, 1668, as the archbishop sat in his horse - drawn coach, Mitchell pointed a pistol at him and fired through the open door. He missed, hitting another bishop in the hand. Eventually Mitchell was captured, imprisoned, and tortured with the boot, a tight box fitted around the leg into which staves were slowly driven, shattering the leg an inch at a time. Mitchell and his crushed limb were then thrown into a series of squalid prisons where he subsisted on snow water sprinkled with oatmeal.

     On January 18, 1678, the preacher and would - be assassin was taken to the center of Edinburgh for execution. Loud drumming drowned out his last words, but he had hidden away two copies of his message, and from the scaffold he flung them to the crowd. The next day these words were plastered across Scotland:

     I acknowledge my private and particular sins have been such as deserved a worse death; but I hope in the merits of Jesus Christ to be free from the eternal punishment due me for sin. I am brought here that I might be a witness for his despised truths and interests in this land, where I am called to seal the same with my blood: and I wish heartily that my poor life may put an end to the persecution of the true members of Christ in this place, so much actuated by these perfidious prelates. …

     The perfidious prelates, however, found more blood to drink in the years to come.

     Simon Peter had brought along a sword. He now pulled it out and struck at the servant of the high priest. The servant’s name was Malchus, and Peter cut off his right ear. Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away. I must drink from the cup that my Father has given me.”
--- John 18:10,11.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 18

     “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." --- Hebrews 4:9.

     How different will be the state of the believer in heaven from what it is here! Here he is born to toil and suffer weariness, but in the land of the immortal, fatigue is never known. Anxious to serve his Master, he finds his strength unequal to his zeal: his constant cry is, “Help me to serve thee, O my God.” If he be thoroughly active, he will have much labour; not too much for his will, but more than enough for his power, so that he will cry out, “I am not wearied of the labour, but I am wearied in it.” Ah! Christian, the hot day of weariness lasts not for ever; the sun is nearing the horizon; it shall rise again with a brighter day than thou hast ever seen upon a land where they serve God day and night, and yet rest from their labours. Here, rest is but partial, there, it is perfect. Here, the Christian is always unsettled; he feels that he has not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God. Higher they cannot go. Ah, toil-worn labourer, only think when thou shalt rest for ever! Canst thou conceive it? It is a rest eternal; a rest that “remaineth.” Here, my best joys bear “mortal” on their brow; my fair flowers fade; my dainty cups are drained to dregs; my sweetest birds fall before Death’s arrows; my most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the flood-tides of my bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow; but there, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. Happy day! happy! when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.


          Evening - January 18

     “He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
--- Luke 24:27.

     The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had a most profitable journey. Their companion and teacher was the best of tutors; the interpreter one of a thousand, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Lord Jesus condescended to become a preacher of the gospel, and he was not ashamed to exercise his calling before an audience of two persons, neither does he now refuse to become the teacher of even one. Let us court the company of so excellent an Instructor, for till he is made unto us wisdom we shall never be wise unto salvation.

     This unrivalled tutor used as his class-book the best of books. Although able to reveal fresh truth, he preferred to expound the old. He knew by his omniscience what was the most instructive way of teaching, and by turning at once to Moses and the prophets, he showed us that the surest road to wisdom is not speculation, reasoning, or reading human books, but meditation upon the Word of God. The readiest way to be spiritually rich in heavenly knowledge is to dig in this mine of diamonds, to gather pearls from this heavenly sea. When Jesus himself sought to enrich others, he wrought in the quarry of Holy Scripture.

     The favoured pair were led to consider the best of subjects, for Jesus spake of Jesus, and expounded the things concerning himself. Here the diamond cut the diamond, and what could be more admirable? The Master of the House unlocked his own doors, conducted the guests to his table, and placed his own dainties upon it. He who hid the treasure in the field himself guided the searchers to it. Our Lord would naturally discourse upon the sweetest of topics, and he could find none sweeter than his own person and work: with an eye to these we should always search the Word. O for grace to study the Bible with Jesus as both our teacher and our lesson!

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     January 18

          SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY

     John W. Peterson, 1921–   Alfred B. Smith, 1916–

     Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. (Psalm 69:16)

     Charles Haddon Spurgeon, known as the “Prince of Preachers” of the 19th century, labored for more than 20 years on his unrivaled commentary of the Psalms, a seven-volume work entitled The Treasury of David. “Only those who have meditated profoundly upon the Psalms,” wrote Spurgeon, “can have any adequate conception of the wealth they contain.” Meditate on this comment that Mr. Spurgeon made about the 23rd Psalm, the basis of this hymn:

     The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, “my.” He does not say, “The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock.” If He is a shepherd to no one else, He is a shepherd to me. He cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer’s position, he is even now under the pastoral care of Jehovah.

     Two well-known names in the field of gospel music, John W. Peterson and Alfred B. Smith, collaborated in 1958 to write this popular paraphrase of Psalm 23. Mr. Smith recalls the humorous touch that provided the initial inspiration for this song:

     It was written after receiving a letter from one of the descendants of P. P. Bliss, telling of Bliss’s first country school teacher, Miss Murphy, whom he dearly loved. It told of her teaching the class (before they could read or write) to memorize the 23rd Psalm. When the part “surely goodness and mercy” was reached, little Philip thought it said, “surely good Miss Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life.” This little incident focused our thoughts on the phrase which became the heart and title of the song.

     A pilgrim was I, and a wand’ring, in the cold night of sin I did roam, when Jesus the kind Shepherd found me, and now I am on my way home.
     He restoreth my soul when I’m weary, He giveth me strength day by day; He leads me beside the still waters; He guards me each step of the way.
     When I walk thru the dark lonesome valley, my Savior will walk with me there; and safely His great hand will lead me to the mansions He’s gone to prepare.
     Chorus: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever, and I shall feast at the table spread for me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days, all the days of my life.


     For Today: Exodus 15:13; Psalm 16:11; 23; Revelation 19:9.

     Carry the truth of this musical message with you as you live in the joy and confidence of your heavenly Father’s love and care for you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, January 18, 2018 | Holy Day


Confession Of St. Peter
Morning Prayer
Years 1 & 2

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

Psalms     Psalm 66, 67
Old Testament     Ezekiel 3:4–11
New Testament     Acts 10:34–44

Index of Readings

Psalms
Psalm 66, 67

66 To The Choirmaster. A Song. A Psalm.

1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Selah

5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

8 Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14 that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!

67 T0 The Choirmaster: With Stringed Instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2 that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7 God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Old Testament
Ezekiel 3:4–11

4 And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. 5 For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. 8 Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. 9 Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” 10 Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. 11 And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.”

New Testament
Acts 10:34–44

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.


The Book of Common Prayer

Book Of Common Prayer
     On The Same Date | Confession of St. Peter


Evening Prayer
Years 1 & 2

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

Psalms     Psalm 118
Old Testament     Ezekiel 34:11–16
New Testament     John 21:15–22

Index of Readings

Psalms
Psalm 118

118 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they went out like a fire among thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.

14 The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
16 the right hand of the LORD exalts,
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”

17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
18 The LORD has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, give us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God,
and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God; I will extol you.
29 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

Old Testament
Ezekiel 34:11–16

11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

New Testament
John 21:15–22

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”


The Book of Common Prayer


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If Anyone is Sick..., Part Two
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Bringing Back the Wanderers
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Our Ascended Christ
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The Servant King
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Christ's Sacrifice of Himself
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Building, Growing
Alistair Begg





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Keeping Watch
Alistair Begg





Basics 2015 Q and A
Alistair Begg






Back to the Basics, Again Part Two
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Death and Dying
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