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Genesis 20     Matthew 19     Nehemiah 9     Acts 19


Genesis 20

Abraham and Abimelech

Genesis 20:1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” 11 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”

14 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.” 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. 18 For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.


Matthew 19

Teaching About Divorce

Matthew 19:1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

Let the Children Come to Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

The Rich Young Man

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.


Nehemiah 9

The People of Israel Confess Their Sin

Nehemiah 9:1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. 2 And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God. 4 On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God. 5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

6  “You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. 7 You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.

9 “And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, 10 and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day. 11 And you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters. 12 By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go. 13 You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments, 14 and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant. 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

16 “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 18 Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.

22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness.

26 “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. 27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

32 “Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. 33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. 35 Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. 36 Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. 37 And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress. 38  “Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.


Acts 19

Paul in Ephesus

Acts 19:1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all. 8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

The Sons of Sceva

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

A Riot at Ephesus

21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

23 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”

28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. 30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31 And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.


ESV Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

A Thorough Guide to the Non-Canonical Gospels

By J. Warner Wallace 1/17/2018

     Many years ago, when I first became interested in Christianity, I encountered a book at a local bookstore entitled, The Lost Books of the Bible. As a new investigator of the claims of the New Testament, I was immediately intrigued. “What?” I thought, “There are books about Jesus that were lost?” I couldn’t help but wonder what these books said about Jesus and why they were allegedly “lost” in the first place. I bought the book and bean to research the historical texts it described. I was disappointed to discover that the book should have been titled, The Well Known, Late Lies About Jesus That Were Ignored By Christians Who Knew Better. These texts were never part of the New Testament canon. They were written late in history and rejected by everyone who knew the truth about Jesus of Nazareth.

     My research into the topic resulted in a number of articles that I’ve reproduced here at ColdCaseChristainity.com. This series of posts will help you understand why such untruths about Jesus were written in the first place, what the documents said about Jesus, and why they were rejected as frauds:

     Information About the General Reliability of the Non-Canonical Texts | Before surveying each text, these articles examine why such texts would be written in the first place and whether or not these documents do anything to invalidate what we know about Jesus from the reliable New Testament manuscripts:

     What Motivated Early Non-Canonical Writers to Modify the Story of Jesus? | Although these late legends contain many exaggerations and lies, they built their myths and fabrications on the foundation of a true account. As we sift through the legendary claims, we can expose the true foundations upon which they crafted their stories. Once exposed, these foundations can give us even greater confidence the original story of Jesus is early and accurate, even though these late legends are not to be trusted.

     Do the Non-Canonical Gospels Challenge the Historicity of the New Testament? Those who sought to change the story of Jesus in antiquity were driven by a desire to validate their theological presuppositions. We have little reason to accept late re-writes of the life and ministry of Jesus; these non-canonical fictions were rejected by the ancients who recognized their late arrival and understood the self-serving motivations of their proponents.

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

Doubt: A Splinter In The Mind

By Bobby Conway 9/4/2015

     Beyond surpassing wonder about God or mere inquiry about Him and His truth, doubt digs much deeper. Doubt doesn’t just ask, “What is real?” It poses the challenge, “Is my faith real?” Is what I believe really valid? Or is it simply a modified myth, an uber-marketed religious fairy tale supported by millions of gullible minds throughout history?

     Doubt trumps wondering, and it body-slams mere curiosity. In its worst form, it goes beyond simply searching for answers to questions, inevitably denying the legitimacy of the questions themselves.

     For Christians, doubt can either serve us or sink us. It can drive us to seek truth or it can drown us in despair, hopelessness, and confusion. If ignored or left unchecked, it can bore into our brain, releasing a virus of unbelief, infecting and eventually destroying every healthy thought about God. It can take us to the place where nothing else matters. Where we find ourselves loathing even life itself.

     If left unchecked, intellectual doubt metastasizes, seeping its way into our emotions and collecting a wide array of fears, worries, anxieties, anger, confusion, depression, and ultimately despair at the thought of being played or duped or envisioning a life without our once “cherished belief” in God.

     Horrifying so, doubt is no stranger to our time. And capturing the zeitgeist of our changing times is quite the project. We live in a multi-textured culture that is replete with innumerable beliefs, opinions, ideas, and life philosophies. Ours is a culture of doubt and longing, faith and questioning, searching and probing. And much of the doubt has been accelerated by fast-paced change. Our culture is living between the tension of what we once were and what we are now becoming. And for many, waiting in the blank space between the definition of what we were and the search to define what we are becoming feels for the moment confusing, and even a bit uncomfortable.

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     Bobby Conway | about

Bobby Conway Books:

Why Political Correctness Is War By Other Means

By Raffaele Ventura 1/16/2017

     It is not by chance that the most fervent defenders of PC in the United States are called ‘social justice warriors,’ for behind their claims lies a permanent war.

     Political correctness was not such a bad idea in the beginning. Western societies have become terribly complex, and a healthy control of language can curb the rise of conflict—although often all it takes is a touch of politeness. This is the great lesson from sixteenth-century European wars of religion: some actions and words must be left outside the public space.

     Five centuries later things have escalated, and PC is now a nightmare. It does not only define some areas where it now seems impossible to say anything (for example the so-called “safe spaces” of U.S. universities) but also fails in its basic function: instead of appeasing, it provides new and endless reasons for conflict.

     By identifying victims at all levels and complaining about aggressions and micro-aggressions behind every exchange of communication, PC ends up fomenting a “just war” available to everyone. It is easy to see who profits from this permanent conflict: the social class that manages it. The victory of the super-incorrect Donald Trump, a white person tit for tat, is nonetheless a sign of the frailty of this model of integration.

     How Tolerance Became Crucial to Peace | Earlier, political correctness functioned differently. When the sixteenth-century political philosopher Michel de Montaigne lived, for example, those who wanted to preserve the neutrality of the public sphere were simply called “politiques.” To end the civil war between Catholics and Protestants it was imperative to break down the vicious circle of vengeance.

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     Raffaele Ventura is an italian journalist, editor and independent researcher in the field of Culture Industry and Cultural History. His work has been published in IL, Internazionale, Linus, Philosophy Now and elsewhere. @eschatonit”

Ancient tablets reveal life of Jews in Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon

By Luke Baker 2/3/2015

     JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A new exhibition of ancient clay tablets discovered in modern-day Iraq is shedding light for the first time on the daily life of Jews exiled to Babylon some 2,500 years ago.

     The exhibition is based on more than 100 cuneiform tablets, each no bigger than an adult's palm, that detail transactions and contracts between Judeans driven from, or convinced to move from, Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar around 600 BC.

     Archaeologists got their first chance to see the tablets -- acquired by a wealthy London-based Israeli collector -- barely two years ago. They were blown away.

     "It was like hitting the jackpot," said Filip Vukosavovic, an expert in ancient Babylonia, Sumeria and Assyria who curated the exhibition at Jerusalem's Bible Lands Museum.

     "We started reading the tablets and within minutes we were absolutely stunned. It fills in a critical gap in understanding of what was going on in the life of Judeans in Babylonia more than 2,500 years ago."

Click here to read all of the article

     Luke Baker joined Reuters as a correspondent in 1997 and has worked across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2003, he was embedded with U.S. troops for the invasion of Iraq and spent nearly three years in the country, following the U.S. occupation and the descent into sectarian war. He is now based in Jerusalem as Reuters' bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories. Luke was born and raised in the UK, attending school in Dorset, before winning a scholarship to the United States. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995, with a degree in English and international affairs. His first job was as a news writer for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour in New York. After stringing for USA Today, he joined Reuters in Johannesburg, South Africa and spent three years covering the region, including civil wars in Angola and Congo and events in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Swaziland. He has also had long-term postings in Rome, Jerusalem, London and Brussels, and brief stints in bureaux from Cairo to Kabul. He is married with three daughters.

Luke Baker Books:

  1. Rory Red: for children with angry feelings
  1. Dateline Baghdad

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.

17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O LORD!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

ESV Reformation Study

The Culture War and the Benedict Option: An Interview with Rod Dreher

By Michael Schulson 3/7/2017

     Great article!

     “The culture war as we knew it is over,” writes the conservative Christian blogger and author Rod Dreher in his new book, The Benedict Option. “The so-called values voters—social and religious conservatives—have been defeated and are being swept to the political margins.” The election of Donald Trump, Dreher argues, is no solution. “The idea that someone as robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional,” he writes.

     Dreher sees threats everywhere—secularization, individualism, changing sexual mores, a decline in religious liberty protections—and his diagnosis is grim. He writes that “we in the modern West are living under barbarism.” Dreher’s solution is a kind of civic retreat.

     Enter the Benedict Option, as Dreher has branded it. He takes the Benedictine order of Catholic monks as inspiration for a kind of DIY monasticism (the subheader for one of the book’s sections is “Turn Your Home into a Domestic Monastery”). Conservative Christians, Dreher argues, should pull their kids from public schools and “mediocre Christian schools,” expend less energy on national politics, “secede culturally from the mainstream,” and work to build strong, tight-knit Christian communities that can ride out the coming secular storm. The image on the book’s cover is of Mont Saint-Michel, a fortified island monastery in France.

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     Michael Schulson is a freelance journalist covering religion, science, and technology. He lives in Durham, N.C.

How an Orthodox Rabbi Became an Unlikely Ally of the Christian Right

By Michael Schulson 2/14/2017

     Who is Michael Schulson? I'd like to know.

     “We are in a third world war,” said Shlomo Riskin, slamming his fist on the table. We were sitting in a windowless room in the D.C. convention center, and Riskin, an Orthodox rabbi, was explaining how he had ended up here, at the annual summit of Christians United For Israel, giving a speech to thousands of conservative evangelicals.

     Riskin kept banging on the table. “If you have eyes to see, extremist Islam has taken over Islam. And this is the third world war!”

     Riskin is one of the most influential rabbis of his generation. Now an Israeli, he was born and raised in Brooklyn. As a young man, Riskin voted for Democrats. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma. He officiated at a young Elena Kagan’s bat mitzvah and advocated for women’s rights. Over time, he developed a reputation as a religious progressive.

Click here to read all of the article

     Michael Schulson is a freelance journalist covering religion, science, and technology. He lives in Durham, N.C.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     12. The third use of the Law (being also the principal use, and more closely connected with its proper end) has respect to believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already flourishes and reigns. For although the Law is written and engraven on their hearts by the finger of God, that is, although they are so influenced and actuated by the Spirit, that they desire to obey God, there are two ways in which they still profit in the Law. For it is the best instrument for enabling them daily to learn with greater truth and certainty what that will of the Lord is which they aspire to follow, and to confirm them in this knowledge; just as a servant who desires with all his soul to approve himself to his master, must still observe, and be careful to ascertain his master's dispositions, that he may comport himself in accommodation to them. Let none of us deem ourselves exempt from this necessity, for none have as yet attained to such a degree of wisdom, as that they may not, by the daily instruction of the Law, advance to a purer knowledge of the Divine will. Then, because we need not doctrine merely, but exhortation also, the servant of God will derive this further advantage from the Law: by frequently meditating upon it, he will be excited to obedience, and confirmed in it, and so drawn away from the slippery paths of sin. In this way must the saints press onward, since, however great the alacrity with which, under the Spirit, they hasten toward righteousness, they are retarded by the sluggishness of the flesh, and make less progress than they ought. The Law acts like a whip to the flesh, urging it on as men do a lazy sluggish ass. Even in the case of a spiritual man, inasmuch as he is still burdened with the weight of the flesh, the Law is a constant stimulus, pricking him forward when he would indulge in sloth. David had this use in view when he pronounced this high eulogium on the Law, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes," (Ps. 19:7, 8). Again, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," (Ps. 119:105). The whole psalm abounds in passages to the same effect. Such passages are not inconsistent with those of Paul, which show not the utility of the law to the regenerate, but what it is able of itself to bestow. The object of the Psalmist is to celebrate the advantages which the Lord, by means of his law, bestows on those whom he inwardly inspires with a love of obedience. And he adverts not to the mere precepts, but also to the promise annexed to them, which alone makes that sweet which in itself is bitter. For what is less attractive than the law, when, by its demands and threatening, it overawes the soul, and fills it with terror? David specially shows that in the law he saw the Mediator, without whom it gives no pleasure or delight.

13. Some unskilful persons, from not attending to this, boldly discard the whole law of Moses, and do away with both its Tables, imagining it unchristian to adhere to a doctrine which contains the ministration of death. Far from our thoughts be this profane notion. Moses has admirably shown that the Law, which can produce nothing but death in sinners, ought to have a better and more excellent effect upon the righteous. When about to die, he thus addressed the people, "Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life," (Deut. 32:46, 47). If it cannot be denied that it contains a perfect pattern of righteousness, then, unless we ought not to have any proper rule of life, it must be impious to discard it. There are not various rules of life, but one perpetual and inflexible rule; and, therefore, when David describes the righteous as spending their whole lives in meditating on the Law (Psalm 1:2), we must not confine to a single age, an employment which is most appropriate to all ages, even to the end of the world. Nor are we to be deterred or to shun its instructions, because the holiness which it prescribes is stricter than we are able to render, so long as we bear about the prison of the body. It does not now perform toward us the part of a hard taskmaster, who will not be satisfied without full payment; but, in the perfection to which it exhorts us, points out the goal at which, during the whole course of our lives, it is not less our interest than our duty to aim. It is well if we thus press onward. Our whole life is a race, and after we have finished our course, the Lord will enable us to reach that goal to which, at present, we can only aspire in wish.

14. Since, in regard to believers, the law has the force of exhortation, not to bind their consciences with a curse, but by urging them, from time to time, to shake off sluggishness and chastise imperfection,--many, when they would express this exemption from the curse, say, that in regard to believers the Law (I still mean the Moral Law) is abrogated: not that the things which it enjoins are no longer right to be observed, but only that it is not to believers what it formerly was; in other words, that it does not, by terrifying and confounding their consciences, condemn and destroy. It is certainly true that Paul shows, in clear terms, that there is such an abrogation of the Law. And that the same was preached by our Lord appears from this, that he would not have refuted the opinion of his destroying the Law, if it had not been prevalent among the Jews. Since such an opinion could not have arisen at random without some pretext, there is reason to presume that it originated in a false interpretation of his doctrine, in the same way in which all errors generally arise from a perversion of the truth. But lest we should stumble against the same stone, let us distinguish accurately between what has been abrogated in the Law, and what still remains in force. When the Lord declares, that he came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil (Mt. 5:17); that until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or little shall remain unfulfilled; he shows that his advent was not to derogate, in any degree, from the observance of the Law. And justly, since the very end of his coming was to remedy the transgression of the Law. Therefore, the doctrine of the Law has not been infringed by Christ, but remains, that, by teaching, admonishing, rebuking, and correcting, it may fit and prepare us for every good work.

15. What Paul says, as to the abrogation of the Law, evidently applies not to the Law itself, but merely to its power of constraining the conscience. For the Law not only teaches, but also imperiously demands. If obedience is not yielded, nay, if it is omitted in any degree, it thunders forth its curse. For this reason, the Apostle says, that "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for 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). Those he describes as under the works of the Law, who do not place righteousness in that forgiveness of sins by which we are freed from the rigour of the Law. He therefore shows, that we must be freed from the fetters of the Law, if we would not perish miserably under them. But what fetters? Those of rigid and austere exaction, which remits not one iota of the demand, and leaves no transgression unpunished. To redeem us from this curse, Christ was made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Deut. 21:23, compared with Gal. 3:13, 4:4). In the following chapter, indeed, he says, that "Christ was made under the law, in order that he might redeem those who are under the law;" but the meaning is the same. For he immediately adds, "That we might receive the adoption of sons." What does this mean? That we might not be, all our lifetime, subject to bondage, having our consciences oppressed with the fear of death. Meanwhile, it must ever remain an indubitable truth, that the Law has lost none of its authority, but must always receive from us the same respect and obedience.

16. The case of ceremonies is different, these having been abrogated not in effect but in use only. Though Christ by his advent put an end to their use, so far is this from derogating from their sacredness, that it rather commends and illustrates it. For as these ceremonies would have given nothing to God's ancient people but empty show, if the power of Christ's death and resurrection had not been prefigured by them,--so, if the use of them had not ceased, it would, in the present day, be impossible to understand for what purpose they were instituted. Accordingly, Paul, in order to prove that the observance of them was not only superfluous, but pernicious also, says that they "are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ," (Col. 2:17). We see, therefore, that the truth is made clearer by their abolition than if Christ, who has been openly manifested, were still figured by them as at a distance, and as under a veil. By the death of Christ, the veil of the temple was rent in vain, the living and express image of heavenly things, which had begun to be dimly shadowed forth, being now brought fully into view, as is described by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 10:1). To the same effect, our Saviour declares, that "the law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it," (Luke 16:16); not that the holy fathers were left without the preaching of the hope of salvation and eternal life, but because they only saw at a distance, and under a shadow, what we now behold in full light. Why it behaved the Church to ascend higher than these elements, is explained by John the Baptist, when he says, "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," (John 1:17). For though it is true that expiation was promised in the ancient sacrifices, and the ark of the covenant was a sure pledge of the paternal favour of God, the whole would have been delusory had it not been founded on the grace of Christ, wherein true and eternal stability is found. It must be held as a fixed point, that though legal rites ceased to be observed, their end serves to show more clearly how great their utility was before the advent of Christ, who, while he abolished the use, sealed their force and effect by his death.

17. There is a little more difficulty in the following passage of Paul: "You, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross," &c. (Col. 2:13, 14). He seems to extend the abolition of the Law considerably farther, as if we had nothing to do with its injunctions. Some err in interpreting this simply of the Moral Law, as implying the abolition not of its injunctions, but of its inexorable rigour. Others examining Paul's words more carefully, see that they properly apply to the Ceremonial Law, and show that Paul repeatedly uses the term ordinance in this sense. He thus writes to the Ephesians: "He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man," (Eph. 2:14). There can be no doubt that he is there treating of ceremonies, as he speaks of "the middle wall of partition" which separated Jews and Gentiles. I therefore hold that the former view is erroneous; but, at the same time, it does not appear to me that the latter comes fully up to the Apostle's meaning. For I cannot admit that the two passages are perfectly parallel. As his object was to assure the Ephesians that they were admitted to fellowship with the Jews, he tells them that the obstacle which formerly stood in the way was removed. This obstacle was in the ceremonies. For the rites of ablution and sacrifice, by which the Jews were consecrated to the Lord, separated them from the Gentiles. But who sees not that, in the Epistle to the Colossians, a sublimer mystery is adverted to? No doubt, a question is raised there as to the Mosaic observances, to which false apostles were endeavouring to bind the Christian people. But as in the Epistle to the Galatians he takes a higher view of this controversy, and in a manner traces it to its fountain, so he does in this passage also. For if the only thing considered in rites is the necessity of observing them, of what use was it to call it a handwriting which was contrary to us? Besides, how could the bringing in of it be set down as almost the whole sum of redemption? Wherefore, the very nature of the case clearly shows that reference is here made to something more internal. I cannot doubt that I have ascertained the genuine interpretation, provided I am permitted to assume what Augustine has somewhere most truly affirmed, nay, derived from the very words of the Apostle--viz. that in the Jewish ceremonies there was more a confession than an expiation of sins. For what more was done in sacrifice by those who substituted purifications instead of themselves, than to confess that they were conscious of deserving death? What did these purifications testify but that they themselves were impure? By these means, therefore, the handwriting both of their guilt and impurity was ever and anon renewed. But the attestation of these things was not the removal of them. Wherefore, the Apostle says that Christ is "the mediator of the new testament,--by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament," (Heb. 9:15). Justly, therefore, does the Apostle describe these handwritings as against the worshipers, and contrary to them, since by means of them their impurity and condemnation were openly sealed. There is nothing contrary to this in the fact that they were partakers of the same grace with ourselves. This they obtained through Christ, and not through the ceremonies which the Apostle there contrasts with Christ, showing that by the continued use of them the glory of Christ was obscured. We perceive how ceremonies, considered in themselves, are elegantly and appositely termed handwritings, and contrary to the salvation of man, in as much as they were a kind of formal instruments which attested his liability. On the other hand, when false apostles wished to bind them on the Christian Church, Paul, entering more deeply into their signification, with good reason warned the Colossians how seriously they would relapse if they allowed a yoke to be in that way imposed upon them. By so doing, they, at the same time, deprived themselves of all benefit from Christ, who, by his eternal sacrifice once offered, had abolished those daily sacrifices, which were indeed powerful to attest sin, but could do nothing to destroy it.

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[186] See among the works of Justin. Quæst. 103; and Hieronymus ad Ctesiphont adv. Pelegianos, where he seems to admit and deny the same proposition.

[187] Book 2. chap. 12 sec. 4; and Book 3, chap. 4 sec. 27; and chap. 11 sec 23.

[188] August. de Corrept. et Gratia. Ambros. Lib. 1 de Jac. et cap. 6 de Vita Beat.

[189] August. Ep. 89, Quæst. 2; ad Assell. Ep. 200; ad Innocent. Ep. 95; Lib. de Corrept. et Gratia ad Valent.; in Ps. 70 et 117; Item, Concio. 27.

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



  • Only Basis for Boasting
  • Mr. Temporary
  • Friendship Matters


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The difference between Samson and Samuel (3)
     1/19/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘The LORD your God was your king.’

(1 Sa 12:12) And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. ESV


     Difference three: Motives. Samson repeatedly dishonoured the Lord by his actions and his lifestyle. That’s because he had no regard for God’s honour. What a contrast Samuel was! When Israel wanted a king in order to be like all the surrounding nations, it broke his heart. He said to the people, ‘The LORD your God was your king.’ Honouring God was his highest priority. And there’s a lesson here for us, especially those in ministry. Every time someone steps behind a pulpit, they must check their ego and ask themselves the motive question: ‘Is my aim to make God look good, or myself look good?’ And it’s a hard question to answer. The Bible says, ‘For the LORD is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed’ (1 Samuel 2:3 NKJV). The truth is that without the power of God’s indwelling Spirit, none of us have what it takes to do the job, and we must never forget that. The tragedy of Samson’s end is described in these two Scriptures: ‘He awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him’ (Judges 16:20 NKJV). ‘So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them’ (v. 25 NKJV). Note the word perform. Without God’s grace and power we are all, at best, just performers. So stay humble, and seek only to exalt the Lord.

Genesis 41-42
Matthew 12:1-21

UCB The Word For Today
IMHO
     January 19, 2016

     Funny how the brain introduces unexpected thoughts. This morning I was thinking about a conversation I had with one of my directees last year about prayer. I was trying to make the point that the Lord’s Prayer covers all the bases, especially God’s will be done. I pointed out that God answered Hezekiah’s prayer for longer life (Isaiah 38) after the prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah his sickness would lead to death. During that extra fifteen years Hezekiah had a son and his name was Manasseh. Manasseh was the most evil king of all Judah’s kings. My directee told me not to forget that great was Manasseh’s repentance. He reigned longer than any other king from Judah or Israel and he died peacefully in his own bed. I had to go reread the story. One more point then that great is God’s forgiveness. (2 Kings 20:21-21:18 and 2 Chronicles 33:10-20)

     Philosopher André Comte-Sponville writes poignantly about the beauty of humility: “Humility may be the most religious of virtues. How one longs to kneel down in churches!” But he said he could not bring himself to do this because he would have to believe that God created him, and human beings seem to him too wretched to permit that possibility. “To believe in God would be a sin of pride.”

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

Sands of Time
     Anne R. Cousin

   The sands of time are sinking,
   The dawn of heaven breaks;
   The summer morn I’ve sighed for –
   The fair, sweet morn awakes:
   Dark, dark had been the midnight
   But dayspring is at hand,
   And glory, glory dwelleth
   In Emmanuel’s land.

   The king there in His beauty,
   Without a veil is seen:
   It were a well-spent journey,
   Though seven deaths lay between:
   The Lamb with His fair army,
   Doth on Mount Zion stand,
   And glory, glory dwelleth
   In Emmanuel’s land

   O Christ, He is the fountain,
   The deep, sweet well of love!
   The streams on earth I’ve tasted
   More deep I’ll drink above:
   There to an ocean fullness
   His mercy doth expand,
   And glory, glory dwelleth
   In Emmanuel’s land.

   The bride eyes not her garment,
   But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
   I will not gaze at glory
   But on my King of grace.
   Not at the crown He giveth
   But on His pierced hand;
   The Lamb is all the glory
   Of Emmanuel’s land.

   O I am my Beloved’s
   And my Beloved is mine!
   He brings a poor vile sinner
   Into His house of wine
   I stand upon His merit –
   I know no other stand,
   Not e’en where glory dwelleth
   In Emmanuel’s land.

A Puritan's Mind


     Philosopher André Comte-Sponville writes poignantly about the beauty of humility: “Humility may be the most religious of virtues. How one longs to kneel down in churches!” But he said he could not bring himself to do this because he would have to believe that God created him, and human beings seem to him too wretched to permit that possibility. “To believe in God would be a sin of pride.”

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     William Orville Douglas died this day, January 19, 1980. He was a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for 36 years, after teaching law at Yale and Columbia University. In the 1952 case of Zorach v. Clauson, Justice William Douglas asserted: “The First Amendment… does not say that in every respect there shall be a separation of Church and State…. Otherwise the state and religion would be aliens to each other.” Justice Douglas continued: “We are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being…. When the state encourages religious instruction… it follows the best of our traditions.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     He went to the Germantown Friends' Meeting at Coulter Street to deliver three lectures in January 1938. He told me that the lectures wrote themselves. At Germantown, people were deeply moved and said, "This is authentic." His writings and spoken messages began to be marked by a note of experimental authority. "To you in this room who are seekers, to you, young and old who have toiled all night and caught nothing, but who want to launch out into the deeps and let down your nets for a draught, I want to speak as simply, as tenderly, as clearly as I can. For God can be found. There is a last rock for your souls, a resting place of absolute peace and joy and power and radiance and security. There is a Divine Center into which your life can slip, a new and absolute orientation in God, a Center where you live with Him and out of which you see all of life, through new and radiant vision, tinged with new sorrows and pangs, new joys unspeakable and full of glory." It was the same voice, the same pen, the same rich imagery that always crowded his writing, and on the whole a remarkably similar set of religious ideas. But now he seemed to be expounding less as one possessed of "knowledge about" and more as one who had had unmistakable "acquaintance with." In April 1938, he wrote to Rufus Jones, "The reality of Presence has been very great at times recently. One knows at first-hand what the old inquiry meant, 'Has Truth been advancing among you?’ “

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Faith requires no apology.
And, if faith in God creates the problem,
it is surely understandable
that faith in God is going to answer it.
--- James S. Stewart

The course of human history consists of a series of encounters… in which each man or woman or child… is challenged by God to make [the] free choice between doing God’s will and refusing to do it. When Man refuses, he is free to make his refusal and to take the consequences.
--- Arnold Joseph Toynbee

The way of God was ever hated by the world and the powers thereof. Never heed the rough spirits nor the heavy, for their bound is set, and their limit known; but mind the Seed, which hath dominion over all. And forsake not the assembling of yourselves together in which you have found God and his promise and power and blessing amongst you, your understanding opened.
--- Francis Howgill, 1618-1668

That book, (The Bible) Sir, is the Rock upon which our republic rests.
--- Andrew Jackson

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 4:14-15
     by D.H. Stern


14     Don’t follow the path of the wicked
or walk on the way of evildoers.
15     Avoid it, don’t go on it,
turn away from it, and pass on.


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


                Vision and darkness

     An horror of great darkness fell upon him. ---
Genesis 15:12.

     Whenever God gives a vision to a saint, He puts him, as it were, in the shadow of His hand, and the saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a darkness which comes from excess of light, and then is the time to listen. Genesis 16 is an illustration of listening to good advice when it is dark instead of waiting for God to send the light. When God gives a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will make you in accordance with the vision He has given if you will wait His time. Never try and help God fulfil His word. Abraham went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all self-sufficiency was destroyed; there was no possibility left of relying on commonsense ways. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not of displeasure. Never pump up joy and confidence, but stay upon God (cf. Isaiah 50:10, 11).

     Have I any confidence in the flesh? Or have I got beyond all confidence in myself and in men and women of God, in books and prayers and ecstasies; and is my confidence placed now in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am the Almighty God” — El-Shaddai, the Father - Mother God. The one thing for which we are all being disciplined is to know that God is real. As soon as God becomes real, other people become shadows. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever perturb the one who is built on God.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Centuries
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Centuries

The fifteenth passes with drums
     and in armour;
the monk watches it
     through the mind's grating.

The sixteenth puts on its cap and bells
to poach vocabulary from a king's laughter.

The seventeenth wears a collar of lace
     at its neck,
the flesh running from thought's candle.

The eighteenth has a high fever
     and hot blood,
but clears its nostrils with the snuff of wit.

The nineteenth emerges from history's cave
rubbing its eyes at the glass prospect.

The twentieth is what is looked forward to
beating its wings at windows
     that are not there.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Take Heart
     January 19



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

     It is the Father’s house, a paternal home. (Classic Sermons on Heaven and Hell (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)) The Father is needed to make it a home in any sense; needed to give the heart rest either on earth or in heaven. Those who inquire into the facts and laws of the world and find no God in it have made themselves homeless. Those who have found human affection but no God beneath it have found only the shadow of a home. Thought and affection are shallow, short-lived things without him—the Father of our spirits—who sets the solidarity in families.

     It is to teach us this that God has made a father’s love the bond of a true human household. You recollect how Joseph, when he spoke with his brothers, could not rest until he had an answer to his question, “How is your aged father?” The good of the land of Egypt would have been empty and its glory gone without his father to look on and share it with him. It is not that love like this leads us to think of having a father in God; God himself, desiring to be our Father, has put this love into our hearts that it may reflect his own. Let a soul but once awake truly to the feeling of its misery, if it is orphaned in the universe—no pitying eye looking down on its solitude, no hand to guide its wanderings or hold it up in its weakness, no infinite heart to which it can bring its own when wounded and bleeding—let it see, or think it sees, that the world is fatherless and that there is no hope beyond the grave for those that are broken in their hearts and grieved in their minds, and I cannot understand how that soul would not be stricken with despair. If it were possible to enter heaven and find no Father there, heaven would be the grave of hope. But what will make the heavenly house a home is that it will have not friends and brothers and sisters only, but a Father whose presence will fill it and make itself felt in every pulse of every heart.
--- John Ker


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

On This Day   January 19
     Charles I

     The mixing of politics and spirituality can be explosive for a head of state or the head of a church—and especially when both heads occupy one set of shoulders.

     The English Reformation occurred when divorce-prone King Henry VIII declared himself head of the Anglican church, replacing the pope. But it didn’t satisfy those desiring genuine renewal. The Puritans didn’t feel Henry went far enough in purifying the church from the “rags of popery” and returning it to the Scriptures.

     Henry’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, opposed the Puritans. Her successor, King James I, threatened at the Hampton Court Conference to “harry them out of the kingdom.” But it was James’s son, Charles I, who lost his head over them.

     Charles was born in 1600 and assumed the throne 25 years later. He was deeply religious and morally unsullied, a perfect family man. He was an obstinate monarch, however, and committed to the divine right of kings. He took a Catholic wife and appointed a Catholic-leaning archbishop of Canterbury. He oppressed the Puritans, and thousands of them fled to America; the rest stayed and simmered.

     Charles ruled long without a Parliament, but when he tried to force changes in the Scottish church, his northern kingdom revolted. Needing money and arms, Charles at last summoned Parliament. But it proved even more opposed to Charles than the Scots, and when Charles attempted to arrest its leaders, civil war erupted. Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan forces, aided by the Scots, defeated the king’s supporters in 1645.

     On January 19, 1649, King Charles was placed on trial. The judges sat on a raised dais at one end of Westminster Hall, soldiers stood at the other end, and Charles sat alone in the center. The drama gripped the nation, and in the end the king, condemned, went to the scaffold calmly. His head was severed with one swing of the ax while a groan rose from the horrified crowd. If he could have governed his kingdom as he had cared for his family, they said, he would have been among England’s greatest monarchs.

     He didn’t, and the head of the head of the Anglican church was lost.

  We humans make plans, but the LORD has the final word.
  We may think we know what is right,
  but the LORD is the judge of our motives.
  --- Proverbs 16:1,2.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 19

     “I sought him, but I found him not." --- Song of Solomon 3:1.

     Tell me where you lost the company of a Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find him. Did you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust doth dwell. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true proverb, “Look for a thing where you dropped it, it is there.” So look for Christ where you lost him, for he has not gone away. But it is hard work to go back for Christ. Bunyan tells us, the pilgrim found the piece of the road back to the Arbour of Ease, where he lost his roll, the hardest he had ever travelled. Twenty miles onward is easier than to go one mile back for the lost evidence.

     Take care, then, when you find your Master, to cling close to him. But how is it you have lost him? One would have thought you would never have parted with such a precious friend, whose presence is so sweet, whose words are so comforting, and whose company is so dear to you! How is it that you did not watch him every moment for fear of losing sight of him? Yet, since you have let him go, what a mercy that you are seeking him, even though you mournfully groan, “O that I knew where I might find him!” Go on seeking, for it is dangerous to be without thy Lord. Without Christ you are like a sheep without its shepherd; like a tree without water at its roots; like a sere leaf in the tempest—not bound to the tree of life. With thine whole heart seek him, and he will be found of thee: only give thyself thoroughly up to the search, and verily, thou shalt yet discover him to thy joy and gladness.


          Evening - January 19

     “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.”
--- Luke 24:45.

     He whom we viewed last evening as opening Scripture, we here perceive opening the understanding. In the first work he has many fellow-labourers, but in the second he stands alone; many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus differs from all other teachers; they reach the ear, but he instructs the heart; they deal with the outward letter, but he imparts an inward taste for the truth, by which we perceive its savour and spirit. The most unlearned of men become ripe scholars in the school of grace when the Lord Jesus by his Holy Spirit unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom to them, and grants the divine anointing by which they are enabled to behold the invisible. Happy are we if we have had our understandings cleared and strengthened by the Master! How many men of profound learning are ignorant of eternal things! They know the killing letter of revelation, but its killing spirit they cannot discern; they have a veil upon their hearts which the eyes of carnal reason cannot penetrate. Such was our case a little time ago; we who now see were once utterly blind; truth was to us as beauty in the dark, a thing unnoticed and neglected. Had it not been for the love of Jesus we should have remained to this moment in utter ignorance, for without his gracious opening of our understanding, we could no more have attained to spiritual knowledge than an infant can climb the Pyramids, or an ostrich fly up to the stars. Jesus’ College is the only one in which God’s truth can be really learned; other schools may teach us what is to be believed, but Christ’s alone can show us how to believe it. Let us sit at the feet of Jesus, and by earnest prayer call in his blessed aid that our dull wits may grow brighter, and our feeble understandings may receive heavenly things.

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

Amazing Grace
     January 19

          BE STILL, MY SOUL

     Katharina von Schlegel, 1697–?   English Translation-Jane L. Borthwick, 1813–1897

     Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

     Spiritual revivals throughout history have always been accompanied by an outburst of new song. This was especially true of the 16th century reformation movement when, following centuries of dormancy during the Middle Ages, congregational singing was rediscovered. However, by the 17th century the church was once more cold and non-evangelistic. Again God lit the fires of revival in the latter half of that century with a movement known as the Pietistic Revival in Germany, which was similar to the Puritan and Wesleyan movements in England. The Pietistic movement also gave birth to many rich German hymns, one of which incorporates the contributions of three persons.

     Katharina von Schlegel was the outstanding woman of this revival movement. Little is known of her other than that she was a Lutheran and may have been the canoness of an evangelical women’s seminary in Germany. However, we do know that she contributed a number of lyrics to a collection of spiritual songs published in 1752.

     Approximately 100 years after it was written, this hymn text was translated into English by Jane Borthwick, a scholar noted for her fine work in translating German texts. This hymn tune is an arrangement of one movement from Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia.” Sibelius was Finland’s best-known composer, and his music is generally characterized by a strong nationalistic fervor.

     God has used the talents of these three individuals from different lands to provide His people with a hymn that teaches so well the biblical truth that we all need to relearn daily: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength …” (Isaiah 40:31).

     Be still, my soul—the Lord is on thy side! Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; leave to thy God to order and provide—In ev’ry change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul—thy best, thy heav’nly Friend thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
     Be still, my soul—thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past; thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake—All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul—the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.


     For Today: Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 30:15; 40:31; Hebrews 10:35.

     Determine to live by the truth that “the Lord is on thy side!” Remember that “All now mysterious shall be bright at last ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday, January 19, 2018 | Epiphany


Friday Of The Second Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 31
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 35
Old Testament     Genesis 11:27–12:8
New Testament     Hebrews 7:1–17
Gospel     John 4:16–26

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 31
31 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
2 Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!

3 For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.

11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17 O LORD, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.

19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the LORD,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.

23 Love the LORD, all you his saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD!

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 35
35 Of David.

1 Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler
and rise for my help!
3 Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers!
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation!”

4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life!
Let them be turned back and disappointed
who devise evil against me!
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the LORD driving them away!
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!

7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life.
8 Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!
And let the net that he hid ensnare him;
let him fall into it—to his destruction!

9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD,
exulting in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you,
delivering the poor
from him who is too strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?”

11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me of things that I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good;
my soul is bereft.
13 But I, when they were sick—
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting;
I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
14 I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
as one who laments his mother,
I bowed down in mourning.

15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered;
they gathered together against me;
wretches whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
16 like profane mockers at a feast,
they gnash at me with their teeth.

17 How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their destruction,
my precious life from the lions!
18 I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.

19 Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.
20 For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.
21 They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, “Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it!”

22 You have seen, O LORD; be not silent!
O Lord, be not far from me!
23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24 Vindicate me, O LORD, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!
25 Let them not say in their hearts,
“Aha, our heart’s desire!”
Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”

26 Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who rejoice at my calamity!
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
who magnify themselves against me!

27 Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
“Great is the LORD,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
28 Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long.

Old Testament
Genesis 11:27–12:8

27 Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32 The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran. 12 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.

New Testament
Hebrews 7:1–17

7 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

4 See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

     “You are a priest forever,
     after the order of Melchizedek.”

Gospel
John 4:16–26

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”


The Book of Common Prayer


What Made Jonathan Edwards
a Christian Hedonist?
John Piper   Desiring God






Give the Bible Functional Authority
in Your Speech and Writing
John Piper   Desiring God





Joy in This World Panel Discussion
Piper, Storms, Rigney, & Borgman   Desiring God






Q & A with John Piper in Houston
John Piper   Desiring God





Joy Changes Everything
An Invitation to Christian Hedonism
John Piper   Desiring God






How to Find Gold
in God’s Word Discussion
Piper, Naselli, & DeRouchie   Desiring God





The Cost of Love
in the Call to the Nations
John Piper   Desiring God






What Is It Like
to Enjoy God?–Job 22
John Piper   Desiring God





Praying in the Closet
and in the Spirit
John Piper   Desiring God






Good Enough Not Good Enough
John Lachs   Vanderbilt University





Must Life be Tragic?
Robert Talisse   Vanderbilt University






Free Will?
Jeffrey Tlumak   Vanderbilt University





Apocalypse Now?
Mareike Sattler   Vanderbilt University






Pride Poisons Ethnic Harmony
John Piper   Desiring God