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Genesis 22     Matthew 21     Nehemiah 11     Acts 21

Genesis 22

The Sacrifice of Isaac

Genesis 22:1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.

20 Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23 (Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

Matthew 21

The Triumphal Entry

Matthew 21:1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5  “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“ ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

The Parable of the Tenants

The Triumphal Entry

33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“ ‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

Nehemiah 11

The Leaders in Jerusalem

Nehemiah 11:1 Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns. 2 And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.

3 These are the chiefs of the province who lived in Jerusalem; but in the towns of Judah everyone lived on his property in their towns: Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants, and the descendants of Solomon’s servants. 4 And in Jerusalem lived certain of the sons of Judah and of the sons of Benjamin. Of the sons of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, son of Zechariah, son of Amariah, son of Shephatiah, son of Mahalalel, of the sons of Perez; 5 and Maaseiah the son of Baruch, son of Col-hozeh, son of Hazaiah, son of Adaiah, son of Joiarib, son of Zechariah, son of the Shilonite. 6 All the sons of Perez who lived in Jerusalem were 468 valiant men.

7 And these are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, son of Joed, son of Pedaiah, son of Kolaiah, son of Maaseiah, son of Ithiel, son of Jeshaiah, 8 and his brothers, men of valor, 928. 9 Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer; and Judah the son of Hassenuah was second over the city. 10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin, 11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub, ruler of the house of God, 12 and their brothers who did the work of the house, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah, 13 and his brothers, heads of fathers’ houses, 242; and Amashsai, the son of Azarel, son of Ahzai, son of Meshillemoth, son of Immer, 14 and their brothers, mighty men of valor, 128; their overseer was Zabdiel the son of Haggedolim.

15 And of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni; 16 and Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chiefs of the Levites, who were over the outside work of the house of God; 17 and Mattaniah the son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, who was the leader of the praise, who gave thanks, and Bakbukiah, the second among his brothers; and Abda the son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun. 18 All the Levites in the holy city were 284. 19 The gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon and their brothers, who kept watch at the gates, were 172. 20 And the rest of Israel, and of the priests and the Levites, were in all the towns of Judah, every one in his inheritance. 21 But the temple servants lived on Ophel; and Ziha and Gishpa were over the temple servants. 22 The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica, of the sons of Asaph, the singers, over the work of the house of God. 23 For there was a command from the king concerning them, and a fixed provision for the singers, as every day required. 24 And Pethahiah the son of Meshezabel, of the sons of Zerah the son of Judah, was at the king’s side in all matters concerning the people.

Villages Outside Jerusalem

25 And as for the villages, with their fields, some of the people of Judah lived in Kiriath-arba and its villages, and in Dibon and its villages, and in Jekabzeel and its villages, 26 and in Jeshua and in Moladah and Beth-pelet, 27 in Hazar-shual, in Beersheba and its villages, 28 in Ziklag, in Meconah and its villages, 29 in En-rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages, Lachish and its fields, and Azekah and its villages. So they encamped from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom. 31 The people of Benjamin also lived from Geba onward, at Michmash, Aija, Bethel and its villages, 32 Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, 33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, 34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, 35 Lod, and Ono, the valley of craftsmen. 36 And certain divisions of the Levites in Judah were assigned to Benjamin.

Acts 21

Paul Goes to Jerusalem

Acts 21:1 And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed 6 and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”

15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.

Paul Visits James

17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.

Paul Arrested in the Temple

27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, 36 for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!”

Paul Speaks to the People

37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

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What I'm Reading

Forgive Us Our What? | Three Ways We Say the Lord’s Prayer

By Jon Bloom 1/19/2018

     Do you know the most famous prayer on the planet? The prayer the most people on the street could recite portions of if asked? The prayer hundreds of millions of Christians of every stripe pray regularly and tens of millions of non-Christians have heard enough to repeat?

(Mt 6:9–13) “Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10  Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread,
12  and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

     Forgive Us Our What? | If you recite the Lord’s Prayer by memory with a group of people outside of your local church, I imagine things usually go pretty smoothly till you get to the fourth line. Some will say “forgive us our debts,” some will say “trespasses,” and others will say “sins.”

     How we recite that phrase usually depends more on what English-speaking Christian tradition influenced us than what Bible translation we use. Those raised in Presbyterian or Reformed traditions are more likely to say “debts.” Those who come from Anglican/Episcopal, Methodist, or Roman Catholic traditions are more likely to say “trespasses.” Those whose churches were influenced by ecumenical liturgical movements of the late twentieth century are probably more likely to say “sins.”

     So which word is the right one? Well, nearly all of the most credible English translations over time have translated the Greek words, opheilēma/opheiletēs, as “debts/debtors.” And that’s because in the New Testament and the Septuagint, these words almost always convey the meaning of owing a financial or moral debt or obligation.

     In Luke’s version of the prayer, Jesus says, “and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4). In this case, the Greek word used for “sins” is hamartia, which in general means “sins” or “guilt.” But since it’s paired with opheilonti (“indebted to us”) it’s still clear that Jesus had the sense of debt in mind when referring to sin in the prayer he taught his disciples. So, saying “forgive us our sins” is not inaccurate; it just loses the nuance Jesus apparently intended.

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     Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.

Jon Bloom Books:

Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith
Things Not Seen: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Trusting God's Promises
Don't Follow Your Heart: God's Ways Are Not Your Ways

Is There a God?

By Sinclair Ferguson

     Answer the question “Is there a God?” in around 775 words? Is this perhaps the easiest assignment Tabletalk has ever commissioned, since the answer is so clear? There are no consistent atheists, only people hiding from God. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). God is the inescapable given who undergirds all things.

     Or, is this the hardest assignment Tabletalk has ever commissioned? A comprehensive answer might fill an entire library. What follows, then, is only a stray fragment from one chapter in a book in that library.

     ➝ 1 God the Creator is the only solution to Gottfried Leibniz’s and Martin Heidegger’s ultimate riddle: “Why is there something there, and not nothing?”

     Ex nihilo nihil fit—“Nothing comes from nothing.” Let us note that nothing is not a “pre-something”; it is not “something reduced to a minimum.” Nothing is NO thing, no THING. Nothing—a concept impossible for the mind to comprehend precisely because nothing lacks “reality” in the first place. To transform Rene Descartes’; famous dictum Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) we can say, Quod cogito, non cogito de nihilo (Because I am, I cannot conceive of nothing). That leads to another Descartes-esque thought: Quod cogito, ergo non possibile Deus non est (Because I think, therefore it is impossible that God does not exist). The cosmos, my existence, and my ability to reason all depend on the fact that life did not and could not come from nothing, but requires a reasonable and reasoning origin. The contrary (time + chance = reality) is impossible. Neither time nor chance is a pre-cosmic phenomenon.

     ➝ 2 This God must be the biblical God, for two reasons. The first is that only such a God adequately grounds the physical coherence of the cosmos as we know it. Second, His existence is the only coherent basis, whether acknowledged or otherwise, for rational thought and communication. Consequently, the nonbeliever of necessity must draw on, borrow from, indeed intellectually steal from a biblical foundation in order to think coherently and to live sanely. Thus, the secular humanist who argues that there are no ultimates must borrow from biblical premises in order to assess anything as in itself right or wrong.

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     Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson Books:

3 Elements that need to be in every funeral sermon

By Brian Croft 1/2018


     A pastor contacted me last week asking this question and thought there might be others asking it also. The most helpful advice I ever received about preaching at a funeral for someone I didn’t know is: “Don’t preach them into heaven. Don’t preach them into hell. Just preach the gospel for the people who are there.”

     This principle captures our task regardless the kind of funeral we do. Ironically, though we focus on remembering and celebrating the life of the deceased, the funeral service is ultimately for those who attend.

     The gospel must be preached clearly in the sermon. Only when we can personally have confidence in a person’s conversion should we feel comfortable to speak of the heavenly reward he/she has now received. If there is any doubt in your mind, it is best to focus on the gospel for your hearers and resist the temptation to provide a false comfort that you have little or no basis to give.

     A funeral sermon should not exceed 20 minutes and should highlight these three categories, preferably expounded from a text(s) of Scripture:

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     Brian Croft serves as senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville. He is also senior fellow for the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization at Southern Seminary. A veteran pastor and author of numerous books on practical aspects of pastoral ministry, Brian oversees Practical Shepherding, a gospel-driven resource center for pastors and church leaders to equip them in the practical matters of pastoral ministry. His latest book is Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying & Divided Churches (Christian Focus, 2016)

The Metaphysics Of Democracy

By Fr. Thomas Joseph White 1/2018

     Liberalism began as a political project that sought to curtail the role of religion in public life. Religious impulses haven’t proven easy to expel, however, even in secular societies. Contemporary secular liberalism aspires to be a universal project that supplants traditional religion and relegates it to the private sphere. Paradoxically, this process frustrates the spiritual desires of many modern secular people, who are unsatisfied with thin consumerism and wish to participate in something greater than themselves. Their mounting rejection of the liberal project has precipitated a crisis, one felt most acutely in the political realm. It has taken the form of a resurgent nationalism, an inchoate response to the suppression of faith that is inadequate and perhaps dangerous. We need to address the weakness of liberal modernity differently, which means metaphysically. No doubt, an appeal to metaphysics strikes many as strangely abstract and inconsequential. Politics is the realm of action, and people want to see church leaders, politicians, lawyers, and columnists fighting for religious causes. One can sympathize with this instinct, but it ignores the deeper problem. The dispute over metaphysics was the concrete issue from the beginning. It always has been.

     One story of modern democracy goes like this: The conflicts over religious absolutes in the pre-Enlightenment Christian period of European civilization gave rise to the realization that our public life should not be constituted by absolutist commitments. In order to persist in a pluralistic, peaceful way, democratic governments need to surrender their alliance with religious creeds and distance themselves from robust metaphysical accounts of reality and human purposes. The space for mutual human concord arises only when there is a public square where metaphysical rivals can live in mutual toleration. Today, this view translates into a simple theoretical principle. The modern state should practice an “ecumenism” of theoretical minimalism: It affirms no one particular creed so as to allow for the multiple beliefs of all those who inhabit public space. Liberal modernity functions through asceticism, restraining our strongest metaphysical judgments, rather than saturating public life with them.

     John Henry Newman took a different view of modern democratic liberalism. He famously declared in his “Biglietto Speech” the night before he was made a cardinal, “For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. . . . Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily.” In an extensive note in the Apologia he offers a definition of liberalism in which he presents its principles in the form of a creed consisting of eighteen propositions. These function as a system of secular faith and give orientation to modern politics in England, not unlike the Thirty-Nine Articles did in the seventeenth century. Basic to this view of the world is the primacy of what Newman calls the “principle of private judgment” in all matters religious, moral, and philosophical. The modern person is free to define his own meaning, and to do so he must be free from the influences of religious authorities. But this comes at a cost: Modern society must distance itself from any collective account of meaning and from all authorities who articulate such claims. When it comes to defining or defending the meaning of life, it’s every man for himself.

     The first view of democracy is more libertarian, of course, and it is compatible with Christian ideas in some important ways. The second view of democracy is less so and suggests that at the heart of the modern world, there is an implicit theological debate that rages (now joined by Islam) about whether and to what extent traditional religious faith is compatible with modern democracy.

     Contemporary secular progressivists seem to fit Newman’s description in that they are animated by a creed that is both anti-Christian and absolutist, and they stridently promote it. However, the secularism of our time is rife with sectarianism and marked by ideological disagreement and heterogeneity, which doesn’t tally with Newman’s version of liberalism as a “catholic” movement with a unified doctrine. The intellectual turmoil is evident when one considers the three metaphysical visions of reality that secularists promulgate, each one incompatible with Christianity and with one another.

     One of these views derives from classical liberalism—Locke, Kant, and Rawls. It emphasizes the metaphysical primacy of freedom of choice in the individual subject. Its battle cry is autonomy, and its fruits are the ethics of authenticity. Each person has the right to define the meaning of his life, his sexuality, his way of participating in civic space, and his consumer opportunities. From this metaphysics we get the culture of rights talk, and the notion that sincerity of conviction serves as a moral warrant for the views that one holds.

     Alongside this, there is the rival vision of the postmodern theorists who follow Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Foucault in outlining the ways that deep currents in human culture inform our mentality, structure our pre-reflective interpretation of experience, and privilege or disempower us in ways we fail to see. The metaphysics of Nietzsche are about power, not rights or the individual autonomy of each citizen. When one overturns social conventions that are arbitrary and oppressive, one makes room for artistic creativity and Dionysian freedom in a world marked by bourgeois convention and aesthetic mediocrity. From this strand of thinking we get the discourse of prophetic denunciation, militant calls for radical cultural transformation, and the politics of identity.

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     Thomas Joseph White, O.P., is director of the Thomistic Institute at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 10

Why Do You Hide Yourself?

10:6 He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
7 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
8 He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9 he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

ESV Reformation Study

5 Ways To Make The Most Of 936 Weekends

By Landon Coleman 1/14/2018

     936 … that’s the number of weekends you have with your children from the day they’re born until the day they turn 18. As a father of four I know 936 is a number that gets small quickly! In my house, our four 936’s have quickly become 781, 597, 506, and 326.

     I’ve been thinking about these numbers for the last several weeks, reflecting on my family as well as the families I see in my church. Before I get to the heart of this post, I want to share two thoughts that qualify what follows. First, I’m convinced that a child’s character and habits are set long before weekend number 937. This should give parents a sense of urgency as they think about how they will steward the time they have with their children. Second, it’s never too late for God to do a miracle in the life of your child. You may have wasted most of your 936 weekends on frivolous pursuits. But it’s not too late to chart a new course, and it’s not too late for God to do a miracle.

     With those qualifying thoughts on the table, here are 5 ways Christian parents can make the most of the 936 weekends they have with their children:

     Make church a habit. Right off the top you can subtract 36 weekends for illness and 36 weekends for vacation. Realistically, you’re starting with 864 Sundays to show your children the importance of corporate worship. I’ve only been a pastor 10 years, but 10 years has been long enough to see too many parents waste these 864 Sundays. Many of these same parents wonder why their grown children aren’t regular in church attendance? They spent 18 years sporadically attending church, then wonder why their children don’t want to attend at all. Church attendance needs to be a habit, not a last resort when nothing else is on the calendar.

     Be excited about participating church. Yes, church attendance needs to be a habit. It needs to be routine. But church attendance must be more than just routine attendance. It must be more than ritualistic participation. Church attendance must involve participation, and it must be something that parents anticipate with their children. It must be something that parents look forward to each week. It must be something parents are positive about in the car after church. Unfortunately, too many parents model a poor attitude for their children, unintentionally teaching them that church is something we have to do and get to critique over lunch.

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     Landon serves as the teaching pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas, where he lives with his wife Brooke. They have four children, Emma, Noelle, Amelia, and Clayton. Landon is a graduate of West Texas A&M University (BBA), and a two-time graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD). He is the author of Pastor to Pastor: Practical Advice for Regular Pastors and Pray Better: Learning to Pray Biblically. Landon has pastored churches in Kentucky and Oklahoma, and he has taught for Oklahoma Baptist University and BH Carroll Theological Institute. You can contact Landon via email at landon@regularpastor.com.

The Bible is clear: abortion is murder and needs to be stopped

By Jared Moore

     In the beginning, God created mankind, body and soul, male and female, in his image (Gen. 1:26-28; Matt. 10:28). God made mankind for the purpose of mirroring him. In light of creation, the image of God in man is meant to be displayed physically in a physical world.

(Ge 1:26–28) 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27  So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” ESV

(Mt 10:28) 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. ESV

     Created In The Image Of God | Body and soul exist in unity and they make up human nature. Natures do not act on their own; rather, persons act through their natures. This is not to say persons can be separated from their natures. They cannot be separated from their natures; persons are the acting subjects. (The Evolution of the Soul) Natures do not subsist in themselves, but in persons.

     Human persons act in and through their natures, their souls and bodies, simultaneously to make up a human being in unity. (Christian Theology) One cannot act through his soul without also acting through his body unless the soul has been separated from the body, meaning that the body is dead. In other words, the soul is the incorporeal substance and the body is the corporeal substance, and these make up a single substance, a capacity known as the human nature. If you have a human nature, you necessarily have a person; if you do not have a human nature, (pdf here) you necessarily do not have a person.

     To summarize, the person is the acting subject, and they act in and through their nature. To have a human nature on earth, one needs a human body (regardless of how minimal) and a human soul. If the body is ensouled, the soul is embodied, and a human nature exists.

     So, with these truths as a necessary foundation, we ask: Does Scripture teach that human embryos are human natures that subsist in persons? Two important pregnancies in God’s Word build a strong case: Jesus Christ in Mary’s womb and king David in his mother’s womb.

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     Jared Moore has served in pastoral ministry in a Southern Baptist context since 2000. He pastors Cumberland Homesteads Baptist Church in Crossville, TN. He and his wife Amber have four children. Jared is the author of 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to be Tipped and is also a Ph.D. student in systematic theology at SBTS and serves as a teaching assistant for Bruce Ware and Greg Allison.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     1. I believe it will not be out of place here to introduce the Ten Commandments of the Law, and give a brief exposition of them. In this way it will be made more clear, that the worship which God originally prescribed is still in force (a point to which I have already adverted); and then a second point will be confirmed--viz. that the Jews not only learned from the law wherein true piety consisted, but from feeling their inability to observe it were overawed by the fear of judgments and so drawn, even against their will, towards the Mediator. In giving a summary of what constitutes the true knowledge of God, [190] we showed that we cannot form any just conception of the character of God, without feeling overawed by his majesty, and bound to do him service. In regard to the knowledge of ourselves, we showed that it principally consists in renouncing all idea of our own strength, and divesting ourselves of all confidence in our own righteousness, while, on the other hand, under a full consciousness of our wants, we learn true humility and self-abasement. Both of these the Lord accomplishes by his Law, first, when, in assertion of the right which he has to our obedience, he calls us to reverence his majesty, and prescribes the conduct by which this reverence is manifested; and, secondly, when, by promulgating the rule of his justice (a rule, to the rectitude of which our nature, from being depraved and perverted, is continually opposed, and to the perfection of which our ability, from its infirmity and nervelessness for good, is far from being able to attain), he charges us both with impotence and unrighteousness. Moreover, the very things contained in the two tables are, in a manner, dictated to us by that internal law, which, as has been already said, is in a manner written and stamped on every heart. For conscience, instead of allowing us to stifle our perceptions, and sleep on without interruption, acts as an inward witness and monitor, reminds us of what we owe to God, points out the distinction between good and evil, and thereby convicts us of departure from duty. But man, being immured in the darkness of error, is scarcely able, by means of that natural law, to form any tolerable idea of the worship which is acceptable to God. At all events, he is very far from forming any correct knowledge of it. In addition to this, he is so swollen with arrogance and ambition, and so blinded with self-love, that he is unable to survey, and, as it were, descend into himself, that he may so learn to humble and abase himself, and confess his misery. Therefore, as a necessary remedy, both for our dullness and our contumacy, the Lord has given us his written Law, which, by its sure attestations, removes the obscurity of the law of nature, and also, by shaking off our lethargy, makes a more lively and permanent impression on our minds.

2. It is now easy to understand the doctrine of the law--viz. that God, as our Creator, is entitled to be regarded by us as a Father and Master, and should, accordingly, receive from us fear, love, reverence, and glory; nay, that we are not our own, to follow whatever course passion dictates, but are bound to obey him implicitly, and to acquiesce entirely in his good pleasure. Again, the Law teaches, that justice and rectitude are a delight, injustice an abomination to him, and, therefore, as we would not with impious ingratitude revolt from our Maker, our whole life must be spent in the cultivation of righteousness. For if we manifest becoming reverence only when we prefer his will to our own, it follows, that the only legitimate service to him is the practice of justice, purity, and holiness. Nor can we plead as an excuse, that we want the power, and, like debtors, whose means are exhausted, are unable to pay. We cannot be permitted to measure the glory of God by our ability; whatever we may be, he ever remains like himself, the friend of righteousness, the enemy of unrighteousness, and whatever his demands from us may be, as he can only require what is right, we are necessarily under a natural obligation to obey. Our inability to do so is our own fault. If lust, in which sin has its dominion, so enthrals us, that we are not free to obey our Father, there is no ground for pleading necessity as a defence, since this evil necessity is within, and must be imputed to ourselves.

3. When, under the guidance of the Law, we have advanced thus far, we must, under the same guidance, proceed to descend into ourselves. In this way, we at length arrive at two results: First, contrasting our conduct with the righteousness of the Law, we see how very far it is from being in accordance with the will of God, and, therefore, how unworthy we are of holding our place among his creatures, far less of being accounted his sons; and, secondly, taking a survey of our powers, we see that they are not only unequal to fulfil the Law, but are altogether null. The necessary consequence must be, to produce distrust of our own ability, and also anxiety and trepidation of mind. Conscience cannot feel the burden of its guilt, without forthwith turning to the judgment of God, while the view of this judgment cannot fail to excite a dread of death. In like manner, the proofs of our utter powerlessness must instantly beget despair of our own strength. Both feelings are productive of humility and abasement, and hence the sinner, terrified at the prospect of eternal death (which he sees justly impending over him for his iniquities), turns to the mercy of God as the only haven of safety. Feeling his utter inability to pay what he owes to the Law, and thus despairing of himself, he rethinks him of applying and looking to some other quarter for help.

4. But the Lord does not count it enough to inspire a reverence for his justice. To imbue our hearts with love to himself, and, at the same time, with hatred to iniquity, he has added promises and threatening. The eye of our mind being too dim to be attracted by the mere beauty of goodness, our most merciful Father has been pleased, in his great indulgence, to allure us to love and long after it by the hope of reward. He accordingly declares that rewards for virtue are treasured up with him, that none who yield obedience to his commands will labour in vain. On the other hand, he proclaims not only that iniquity is hateful in his sight, but that it will not escape with impunity, because he will be the avenger of his insulted majesty. That he may encourage us in every way, he promises present blessings, as well as eternal felicity, to the obedience of those who shall have kept his commands, while he threatens transgressors with present suffering, as well as the punishment of eternal death. The promise, "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them," (Lev. 18:5), and corresponding to this the threatening, "The souls that sinneth, it shall die," (Ezek. 18:4, 20); doubtless point to a future life and death, both without end. But though in every passage where the favour or anger of God is mentioned, the former comprehends eternity of life and the latter eternal destruction, the Law, at the same time, enumerates a long catalogue of present blessings and curses (Lev. 26:4; Deut. 28:1). The threatening attest the spotless purity of God, which cannot bear iniquity, while the promises attest at once his infinite love of righteousness (which he cannot leave unrewarded), and his wondrous kindness. Being bound to do him homage with all that we have, he is perfectly entitled to demand everything which he requires of us as a debt; and as a debt, the payment is unworthy of reward. He therefore foregoes his right, when he holds forth reward for services which are not offered spontaneously, as if they were not due. The amount of these services, in themselves, has been partly described and will appear more clearly in its own place. For the present, it is enough to remember that the promises of the Law are no mean commendation of righteousness as they show how much God is pleased with the observance of them, while the threatening denounced are intended to produce a greater abhorrence of unrighteousness, lest the sinner should indulge in the blandishments of vice, and forget the judgment which the divine Lawgiver has prepared for him.

5. The Lord, in delivering a perfect rule of righteousness, has reduced it in all its parts to his mere will, and in this way has shown that there is nothing more acceptable to him than obedience. There is the more necessity for attending to this, because the human mind, in its wantonness, is ever and anon inventing different modes of worship as a means of gaining his favour. This irreligious affectation of religion being innate in the human mind, has betrayed itself in every age, and is still doing so, men always longing to devise some method of procuring righteousness without any sanction from the Word of God. [191] Hence in those observances which are generally regarded as good works, the precepts of the Law occupy a narrow space, almost the whole being usurped by this endless host of human inventions. But was not this the very license which Moses meant to curb, when, after the promulgation of the Law, he thus addressed the people: "Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou does that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God." "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it," (Deut 12:28-32). Previously, after asking "what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?" he had added, "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life," (Deut. 4:8, 9). God foreseeing that the Israelites would not rest, but after receiving the Law, would, unless sternly prohibited give birth to new kinds of righteousness, declares that the Law comprehended a perfect righteousness. This ought to have been a most powerful restraint, and yet they desisted not from the presumptuous course so strongly prohibited. How do we act? We are certainly under the same obligation as they were; for there cannot be a doubt that the claim of absolute perfection which God made for his Law is perpetually in force. Not contented with it, however, we labour prodigiously in feigning and coining an endless variety of good works, one after another. The best cure for this vice would be a constant and deep-seated conviction that the Law was given from heaven to teach us a perfect righteousness; that the only righteousness so taught is that which the divine will expressly enjoins; and that it is, therefore, vain to attempt, by new forms of worship, to gain the favour of God, whose true worship consists in obedience alone; or rather, that to go a wandering after good works which are not prescribed by the Law of God, is an intolerable violation of true and divine righteousness. Most truly does Augustine say in one place, that the obedience which is rendered to God is the parent and guardian; in another, that it is the source of all the virtues. [192]

6. After we shall have expounded the Divine Law, what has been previously said of its office and use will be understood more easily, and with greater benefit. But before we proceed to the consideration of each separate commandment, it will be proper to take a general survey of the whole. At the outset, it was proved that in the Law human life is instructed not merely in outward decency but in inward spiritual righteousness. Though none can deny this, yet very few duly attend to it, because they do not consider the Lawgiver, by whose character that of the Law must also be determined. Should a king issue an edict prohibiting murder, adultery, and theft, the penalty, I admit, will not be incurred by the man who has only felt a longing in his mind after these vices, but has not actually committed them. The reason is, that a human lawgiver does not extend his care beyond outward order, and, therefore, his injunctions are not violated without outward acts. But God, whose eye nothing escapes, and who regards not the outward appearance so much as purity of heart, under the prohibition of murder, adultery, and thefts includes wrath, hatred, lust, covetousness, and all other things of a similar nature. Being a spiritual Lawgiver, he speaks to the soul not less than the body. The murder which the soul commits is wrath and hatred; the theft, covetousness and avarice; and the adultery, lust. It may be alleged that human laws have respect to intentions and wishes, and not fortuitous events. I admit this but then these must manifest themselves externally. They consider the animus with which the act was done, but do not scrutinise the secret thoughts. Accordingly, their demand is satisfied when the hand merely refrains from transgression. On the contrary, the law of heaven being enacted for our minds, the first thing necessary to a due observance of the Law is to put them under restraint. But the generality of men, even while they are most anxious to conceal their disregard of the Law, only frame their hands and feet and other parts of their body to some kind of observance, but in the meanwhile keep the heart utterly estranged from everything like obedience. They think it enough to have carefully concealed from man what they are doing in the sight of God. Hearing the commandments, "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not commit adultery," "Thou shalt not steal," they do not unsheathe their sword for slaughter, nor defile their bodies with harlots, nor put forth their hands to other men's goods. So far well; but with their whole soul they breathe out slaughter, boil with lust, cast a greedy eye at their neighbour's property, and in wish devour it. Here the principal thing which the Law requires is wanting. Whence then, this gross stupidity, but just because they lose sight of the Lawgiver, and form an idea of righteousness in accordance with their own disposition? Against this Paul strenuously protests, when he declares that the "law is spiritual" (Rom. 7:14); intimating that it not only demands the homage of the soul, and mind, and will, but requires an angelic purity, which, purified from all filthiness of the flesh, savours only of the Spirit.

7. In saying that this is the meaning of the Law, we are not introducing a new interpretation of our own; we are following Christ, the best interpreter of the Law (Mt. 5:22, 28, 44). The Pharisees having instilled into the people the erroneous idea that the Law was fulfilled by every one who did not in external act do anything against the Law, he pronounces this a most dangerous delusion, and declares that an immodest look is adultery, and that hatred of a brother is murder. "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment;" whosoever by whispering or murmuring gives indication of being offended, "shall be in danger of the council;" whosoever by reproaches and evil-speaking gives way to open anger, "shall be in danger of hell-fire." Those who have not perceived this, have pretended that Christ was only a second Moses, the giver of an evangelical, to supply the deficiency of the Mosaic Law. Hence the common axiom as to the perfection of the Evangelical Law, and its great superiority to that of Moses. This idea is in many ways most pernicious. For it will appear from Moses himself, when we come to give a summary of his precepts, that great indignity is thus done to the Divine Law. It certainly insinuates, that the holiness of the fathers under the Law was little else than hypocrisy, and leads us away from that one unvarying rule of righteousness. It is very easy, however, to confute this error, which proceeds on the supposition that Christ added to the Law, whereas he only restored it to its integrity by maintaining and purifying it when obscured by the falsehood, and defiled by the leaven of the Pharisees.

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

  • RE: Skeptics
  • History in Seminary
  • How We Got Our Bible

#1 Kendall Soulen  Wesley Theological Seminary


#2 Amy Oden   Wesley Theological Seminary


#3 Dean Bruce Birch   Wesley Theological Seminary


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The difference between Samson and Samuel (5)
     1/21/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favourable towards this people.”’

(Je 15:1) Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! ESV

     Difference five: Prayer. The Bible records only two occasions when Samson prayed: first, when he thought he was dying of thirst and needed water (Judges 15:18); second, in the last moments of his life when he’d lost everything and ended up in prison (see Judges 16:28). He was like the little boy who was asked, ‘Do you say your prayers every night?’ He replied, ‘No; sometimes I don’t need anything.’ On the other hand the Bible says, ‘Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel’ (1 Samuel 12:18 NKJV). One of the greatest tributes given to anyone in Scripture was spoken by God concerning Samuel’s prayer life: ‘Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favourable towards this people.”’ Such is the ‘clout’ Samuel had with God! The Bible also has much to say about the prayer life of Jesus. Sometimes He prayed all through the night; other times He was up praying before dawn. It was the secret of His effectiveness in ministry. He made regular deposits in prayer so He could make regular withdrawals of power when He needed it. And you’ll notice that He seldom prayed for anyone He healed. Why? Because He’d already spent time in prayer. Old-timers in church used to refer to this as ‘staying prayed up’. And it’s the secret of victorious Christian living.

Luke 1:39-56
Psalm 7-9

UCB The Word For Today

     January 21, 2016

     The deepest conviction of the Christian is that Christ was not wrong. --- Elton Trueblood, A Place To Stand

     I am not that bright. When asked to define faith I answered, “Faith is trusting Jesus Christ as a person, not a religion or an idea, but a real person. To be sure, the son of God, but still a person.” How can we trust Jesus for eternity if we do not trust Him for the here and now. I think we need to trust Jesus for the here and now and let eternity take care of itself.

     There are words I like and words I do not like. I prefer harmony over unity. Unity feels forced. I prefer response to react. Too many times I have reacted to hurt and caused hurt. I should have responded with the mind of Christ which means, don’t take offense. I don’t care for house. I like home. Lots of skilled people can build a house, but how many can build a home?

     Maybe there is no God. Then the universe is not a home, just an accident. Maybe there is a God, but he lives in quiet habitations, untroubled by petty human problems. Or maybe God can make himself so small and vulnerable as to take up residence in a human heart—and break when it is broken. Maybe home is where God is. And maybe it will be awhile before we feel at home. --- John Ortberg

Faith and Doubt

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     He produced epic films in Hollywood for almost five decades and started Paramount Pictures. His name was Cecil B. DeMille and he died this day, January 21, 1959. His best-known films include: Samson and Delilah, The Ten Commandments and The Greatest Show on Earth, for which he won an Academy Award. At the opening of The Ten Commandments, Cecil B. DeMille stated: “Man has made 32 million laws since the Commandments were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai… but he has never improved on God’s law…. They are the charter… of human liberty, for there can be no liberty without the law.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     In a letter to Rufus Jones written on September 26th, I938, he is eloquent on the experiences of the summer. "Two things have been very much on my mind about which I wanted to talk with thee . . . One thing was: I have had this summer, and still have, such a sweeping experience of 'refreshment of the spirit' so amazing, so sweet, and so prolonged as to go clear down to the roots of my being. The first verse of the Psalm I read in Meeting on First­ day 'My soul was in a ferment and I was pricked in the reins of my heart' (Psalm 73:21) was intensely personal as thee probably recognized and I have longed to talk to thee about it. No, that is not quite the way to say it: rather I have longed to talk about Him who deals so tenderly and lovingly to undeserving hearts. For the inner fellowship, the Gebundenheit, the Verbundenheit of souls who know and who live by His Presence is very deep. It is the stuff out of which the Kingdom is made, is it not? . . . The first days here in America were days of very difficult readjustment, for I was very deeply immersed in the German world. But now I feel I must get reconnected."

     The previous spring he had gone out to Albert Baily's farm with a group of seniors from Westtown School for a week-end retreat with them. They had had a moving time together and now one of these students, T. Canby Jones, was a freshman at Haverford College, and wished to continue the fellowship. He and several of his friends began coming over to Thomas Kelly's home one evening each week to talk and read together of books of mutual interest. They lived on a mixed diet of St. Augustine's Confessions and Gibran's The Prophet for the first few weeks and had an easy time of silence together after the readings. During the next two years they read a number of books of devotional literature together. Pere Grou, Meister Eckhart, Brother Lawrence, Letters by a Modern Mystic, The Little Flowers of St. Francis, and then, quite naturally, the New Testament and the Psalms. The group grew until it often had six or seven students. At times no one would appear. But Thomas Kelly was always on hand. He found in this close spiritual fellowship that developed, one of the greatest comforts of his life. One of the students describes the group, "Tom, of course, was always telling funny stories even about the deepest thoughts. We met when we felt the need, not definitely once a week, but usually so. Tom often spoke of dry periods, but he as often described with a radiant face the degrees of ecstasy one achieves when he is wholly committed to God. In the Spring of I939, Tom expressed his concern for message-bearing. He told us many times he wanted us to be a band of itinerant preachers and expressed the desire that groups like ours be started everywhere: spiritual dynamos for the revitalization of meetings and the church. The idea grew that this gathering of such cells, more than speaking should be our task . . . In short, our group was a little religious order. Grounded in seeking God and the meaning of life, rejoicing in the love for each other, and thankful for the life that resulted from that corporate search." It is a tribute to the vitality of this group that they have continued to meet after Thomas Kelly's death and have added several other seekers to their number.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7

Those who never rebelled against God
or at some point in their lives
shaken their fists in the face of heaven,
have never encountered God at all.
--- Catherine Marshall

A deleted Bible results in a diluted gospel.
Protestantism, as it loses faith in the Bible,
is losing its religion.
We can decaffeinate coffee,
de-nicotine tobacco,
but we can’t de-Christianize Christianity.
--- Clarence Edward Noble Macartney

The godless Galileans feed our poor in addition to their own.
--- Roman Emperor Julian

For the real difference between happiness and joy is that one is grounded in this world, the other in eternity. Happiness cannot encompass suffering and evil. Joy can. Happiness depends on the present. Joy leaps into the future and triumphantly creates a new present out of it.
--- Elise Boulding, 1920-2010

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 4:20-22
     by D.H. Stern

20     My son, pay attention to what I am saying;
incline your ear to my words.
21     Don’t let them out of your sight,
keep them deep in your heart;
22     for they are life to those who find them
and health to their whole being.

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

                Recall what God remembers

     I remember … the kindness of thy youth. --- Jeremiah 2:2.

     Am I as spontaneously kind to God as I used to be, or am I only expecting God to be kind to me? Am I full of the little things that cheer His heart over me, or am I whimpering because things are going hardly with me? There is no joy in the soul that has forgotten what God prizes. It is a great thing to think that Jesus Christ has need of me—“Give Me to drink.” How much kindness have I shown Him this past week? Have I been kind to His reputation in my life?

     God is saying to His people—‘You are not in love with Me now, but I remember the time when you were.’ “I remember … the love of thine espousals.” Am I as full of the extravagance of love to Jesus Christ as I was in the beginning, when I went out of my way to prove my devotion to Him? Does He find me recalling the time when I did not care for anything but Himself? Am I there now, or have I become wise over loving Him? Am I so in love with Him that I take no account of where I go? or am I watching for the respect due to me, weighing how much service I ought to give?

     If, as I recall what God remembers about me, I find He is not what He used to be to me, let it produce shame and humiliation, because that shame will bring the godly sorrow that works repentance.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Tree
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The Tree

So God is born
     from our loss of nerve?
He is the tree that looms up
in our darkness, at whose feet
we must fall to be set again
on its branches on some April day
of the heart.
     He needs us
as a conductor his choir
for the performance of an unending
     What we may not
do is to have our horizon bare,
     is to make our way
on through a desert white with the bones
of our dead faiths. It is why,
some say, if there were no tree,
we would have to set one up
     for us to linger under,
its drops falling on us as though to confirm
he has blood like ourselves.
We have set one up, but
of steel and so leafless that
     he has taken himself
off out of the reach
of our transmitted prayers.
we explore the universe
on our wave-lengths, picking up nothing
     but those acoustic ghosts
that could as well be mineral
     signalling mineral
as immortal mind communicating with itself.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

     Martin Hengel

     Christology, the doctrine concerning God’s revelation in Christ and the salvation wrought through Christ, constitutes the core of Christian theology and belongs to the centre of the church’s proclamation. This significance is already evident in the writings of the first ‘theologian’ Paul, who says of himself that on the way to Damascus he received the gospel ‘through a revelation of Jesus Christ’ (Gal. 1:12) when ‘God chose … to reveal his Son in me’ (Gal. 1:16). When the apostle Paul refers in his letters to ‘the gospel of God’ or, more frequently, to ‘the gospel of Christ’, the basic notion of God’s self-revelation is being cast in terms of the inseparable ‘solidarity’ of the Father and Son, an idea which later would come to characterize the trinitarian understanding of God in Christianity. In Paul both the Father and Son can be addressed and invoked as ‘Kyrios’, and sometimes it is unclear (perhaps intentionally so) just which one is intended. Further, to a certain extent both are similarly addressed as the coming judge and can be credited with the ...creation itself. The Father has sent his Son into the world, and the Son is reconciling the present fallen world to the Father through his death on the cross. In restoring the world to the Father, the Son assumes the Father’s glory, though, to be sure, this all happens εἰς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ πατρός (Glory to God in the highest) (Phil. 2:11). We may be reasonably certain, then, that this first Christian author and theologian, whose unique—because apostolic—authority spans into the present, tells in his writing of an event between God and humanity, between heaven and earth; it is an event of incomparable drama with a programmatic comprehensiveness which supersedes anything else known from religious writers of the ancient world. On the basis of the Christ-event Paul formulated at once both a ‘theology’ and ‘anthropology’ and thus was well on the way to the later confession of the triune God, a way which would reach its first climax in the Johannine corpus. Paul and John are both witnesses, each in his own way, to the conviction that Christology lies at the heart of theology.The triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is revealed in the world as the one God. Today, as many are questioning this central Christian doctrine of God—allegedly because of the growing dialogue with other ‘monotheistic religions’—we do well to devote our attention to the dynamic within New Testament Christology as it evolved out of its earliest beginnings into a full-blown belief in the triune God. In my opinion, this is a matter which determines the extent to which, if at all, we can remain really Christian theologians.

     Here we are confronted by an (as yet) unresolved theological problem which already surfaces in Paul’s theology: how is God’s activity manifest through the Son and how can the Son’s activity be identified with that of the Father? In Paul’s writings, our earliest Christian source, we are already invited to think of God in a way which is open to trinitarian terms.

     But this development in the understanding of God and Christ did not originate with Paul. It is ultimately rooted in Jesus’ own self-understanding, his ‘Persongeheimnis’. Of course, what Jesus thought about himself is inaccessible to our historical and pyschological curiosity. We can say, however, that Jesus’ own proclamation contained quite a new form of ‘messianic’ claim which became visible and audible through his activity. Moreover, Jesus’ closest followers, the disciples, and thereafter the evangelists who were either directly or indirectly dependent on them, unanimously preserved the thrust of this claim despite the sometimes great theological differences among them. For the disciples, there was no doubt that their master taught, ‘not as the scribes’, but rather proclaimed ‘a new teaching in fullness of power’ (Mark 1:22, 27). They were also convinced that in the parables ‘the mystery of God’s reign’, previously only known by Jesus, had now been disclosed to them (Mark 4:11, 33–34). And further, they knew that Jesus’ healings and exorcisms not only fulfilled the eschatological promises of the Old Testament prophets, but also demonstrated that God’s heavenly and transcendent rule had now been made tangible. Yes, in the prerogative of divine power Jesus even dared to offer forgiveness of sins, that is—as Ernst Fuchs has said—‘to act in place of God’. It is no wonder that in all four gospels, from Mark to John, those who observe and hear Jesus are repeatedly made to ask a question which serves as a point of departure for Christology: ‘Who is this one?’ (Mark 4:41). This question, which has constantly been the subject of dispute, continues as a vital issue into the present day.

     The high Christology of the Fourth Gospel is already, at least partially, foreshadowed in a number of synoptic passages. These include the saying about authority in the relationship between the Father and Son,5 the temptation stories—both from ‘Q’—the parable of the wicked tenants, the question concerning the sonship of David and lordship of the Messiah on the basis of Psalm 110, and Jesus’ answer to the high priest’s question in Mark. These are all passages whose historical origins have been debated by modern exegetes. The rise of ‘historical-critical’ analysis has not, however, been able to curb the prejudicial biases of scholars with respect to the historical figure of Jesus and his divine mission, and thus historical-critics cannot lay claim to an objectivity any more than those who, in the ‘hey-day’ of Protestant orthodoxy, held that the written text itself possesses final authority. In the end, the old ‘orthodox’ rationalism, which betrays an ahistorical and fundamentalistic longing for security, and modern forms of rationalism, which seek to domesticate Jesus in accordance with selfish interests and ideologies, are after all in their roots not very different from one another. By way of contrast, we should first attempt to comprehend this Jesus and the disciples’ message about him in all their strangeness and unfamiliarity! The σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ (offense of the cross) of the crucified Messiah is less understood today than in the time of Paul.

Studies in Early Christology (Academic Paperback)

400 Year Later
     Word Biblical Commentary

     In A.D. 28 one of the Old Testament prophets returned. It had been nearly 400 years, and God had been silent. Malachi, the last of those Old Testament greats, closed his book with a promise—and a warning. “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5–6, KJV).

     Thus, the Jews had been guided to turn their eyes ahead, and look for the day of Messiah’s coming. They were promised a forerunner, someone to warn them and turn their hearts back to God’s ways. Implicit in Malachi’s words was a choice. Unless the hearts of God’s people were turned, the Messiah’s coming would not bring Israel the expected blessing, but would bring a curse.

     Later Jesus would tell crowds that John, then executed by Herod (a son of Herod the great), was the greatest of all the prophets and was, in fact, a messenger sent to prepare Messiah’s way. And Jesus added these words:
“If you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14). Israel did not accept John’s Elijah - ministry. Their hearts would not turn. The golden opportunity slipped by. The Messiah’s body came to fit a wooden cross rather than an ivory throne, and Israel was destined to know another 2,000 years of scattering, of ghettos, of pogroms, of unrealized hopes. History would now pivot to focus on the second coming of Messiah. The fulfillment of Malachi’s words would await another Elijah.

Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 5, Numbers (budd), 446pp

Take Heart
     January 21

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

     Our Lord has taught us to connect heaven with the thought of himself—“my” Father’s house. (Classic Sermons on Heaven and Hell (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)) Heaven is the house of Christ’s Father. It is as when an arch is built and last the keystone is put in that binds it all into one, or as when a palace has been raised with all its rooms and their furniture complete, but it is dark or dimly seen by lights carried from place to place. The sun arises, and by the central dome the light is poured into all the corridors and chambers. The Lord Jesus Christ is the sun of this house. If we think of its rooms and wonder where the final resting place will be, it is where Christ takes up his dwelling. His person is the place of heaven. If we think of its extent and variety, our imaginations might be bewildered and our souls chilled by boundless fields of knowledge, which stir the intellect and famish the heart. But where he is, knowledge becomes the wisdom of love—the daylight softened—and a heart beats in the universe, which throbs to its remotest and minutest fiber, for “in him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

     If we think of heaven in its unity of communion, it is in him that it is maintained and felt—at his throne, through his love—according to his prayer. And if we think of a Father in heaven, it is Christ who has revealed him.
“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:18). Even in heaven, God cannot be seen by created eye; the pure in heart see him, but with the heart. For the human eye, it is Jesus Christ, the glorified God-man, who says in heaven as on earth, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” He who gave us a corporeal nature and surrounded us with a material world has put into us the craving wish to approach him with our entire beings, soul, body, and spirit, and he has met the wish in the Son of God. In his person are enshrined the infinite attributes of God, so that finite creatures can look on them and comprehend them and see the Father in the Son. Thus God becomes open to human vision and accessible to human affection.
--- John Ker

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

You are here
     A Prayer from long ago

   Turn your eyes on Jesus,
   Not on the needs of the day.
   My daily needs are ever before you,
   All I can do is all I can do
   And then trust you will do beyond.

   My happiest day... I have discovered,
   Is not when all my needs are met,
   But when you, Lord, assure me you are here.

   When you send unexpected waves of your presence...
   You are here, You are here.
   When I'd rather sing then worry,
   You are here, You are here.
   When laughter comes easy in the midst of trials,
   You are here, You are here.

   Yes, I know it, and I thank you God,
   You are here, You are here.

Lily Adams is a Christ follower and has been a Christ follower all the 34 years I have known her and surely long before. The Lord has filled her with God's Holy Spirit and used her to convict me over and over again of my sin. She is a creative spirit, but reluctant to share. She is a best friend, bride, mother and grandmother of 10.

By Lily Adams

You Are Here
RE: Numbers 9 Passover

On This Day   January 21
     The Pint-Size Pope

     Would you stand barefoot in the snow for three days to receive forgiveness of sin?

     One man did. In the eleventh century the church fell into widespread corruption, and a dwarf-size reformer named Hildebrand became Pope Gregory VII. Gregory immediately instituted change, insisting that he—not secular kings—had the prerogative of appointing church leaders in the various nations of Europe.

     Germany’s emperor Henry IV resisted and tried to replace Gregory. The pope excommunicated Henry, dispatching an edict that the emperor’s subjects should no longer obey him. Henry flew into a rage, storming around for months as his subjects rebelled. He finally realized the only way to save his crown was by seeking Gregory’s forgiveness.

     The winter of 1077 was among the coldest in memory. Even so, a few days before Christmas Henry left Germany with his wife and infant son, crossing the Alps as a penitent seeking absolution. The queen and child were lifted and lowered across the icy slopes in rough sledges of oxhide. Horses were killed for warmth and food. The little entourage arrived at the palace housing the pope in Canossa, Italy, on January 21, 1077, when the cold was severest. For three days Henry stood in the snow, a penitent with bare head and feet, in a coarse woolen shirt, shivering, and knocking for entrance. “The stern old pope, as hard as a rock and as cold as the snow, refused till he was satisfied that the cup of humiliation was drained to the dregs.”*

     Henry was finally allowed into the presence of the pint-size pope, throwing himself at his feet and bursting into tears, saying, “Spare me, holy father, spare me!”

     Gregory forgave him.

     We don’t have to stand barefoot in the cold, for Christ hung on Calvary that our sins, though scarlet, should be as white as snow.

     I, the Lord, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow or wool.
--- Isaiah 1:18.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 21

     “And so all Israel shall be saved." --- Romans 11:26.

     Then Moses sang at the Red Sea, it was his joy to know that all Israel were safe. Not a drop of spray fell from that solid wall until the last of God’s Israel had safely planted his foot on the other side the flood. That done, immediately the floods dissolved into their proper place again, but not till then. Part of that song was, “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed.” In the last time, when the elect shall sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb, it shall be the boast of Jesus, “Of all whom thou hast given me, I have lost none.” In heaven there shall not be a vacant throne.

     “For all the chosen race
     Shall meet around the throne,
     Shall bless the conduct of his grace,
     And make his glories known.”

     As many as God hath chosen, as many as Christ hath redeemed, as many as the Spirit hath called, as many as believe in Jesus, shall safely cross the dividing sea. We are not all safely landed yet:

     “Part of the host have crossed the flood,
     And part are crossing now.”

     The vanguard of the army has already reached the shore. We are marching through the depths; we are at this day following hard after our Leader into the heart of the sea. Let us be of good cheer: the rear-guard shall soon be where the vanguard already is; the last of the chosen ones shall soon have crossed the sea, and then shall be heard the song of triumph, when all are secure. But oh! if one were absent—oh! if one of his chosen family should be cast away—it would make an everlasting discord in the song of the redeemed, and cut the strings of the harps of paradise, so that music could never be extorted from them.

          Evening - January 21

     “He was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst?” --- Judges 15:18.

     Samson was thirsty and ready to die. The difficulty was totally different from any which the hero had met before. Merely to get thirst assuaged is nothing like so great a matter as to be delivered from a thousand Philistines! but when the thirst was upon him, Samson felt that little present difficulty more weighty than the great past difficulty out of which he had so specially been delivered. It is very usual for God’s people, when they have enjoyed a great deliverance, to find a little trouble too much for them. Samson slays a thousand Philistines, and piles them up in heaps, and then faints for a little water! Jacob wrestles with God at Peniel, and overcomes Omnipotence itself, and then goes “halting on his thigh!” Strange that there must be a shrinking of the sinew whenever we win the day. As if the Lord must teach us our littleness, our nothingness, in order to keep us within bounds. Samson boasted right loudly when he said, “I have slain a thousand men.” His boastful throat soon grew hoarse with thirst, and he betook himself to prayer. God has many ways of humbling his people. Dear child of God, if after great mercy you are laid very low, your case is not an unusual one. When David had mounted the throne of Israel, he said, “I am this day weak, though anointed king.” You must expect to feel weakest when you are enjoying your greatest triumph. If God has wrought for you great deliverances in the past, your present difficulty is only like Samson’s thirst, and the Lord will not let you faint, nor suffer the daughter of the uncircumcised to triumph over you. The road of sorrow is the road to heaven, but there are wells of refreshing water all along the route. So, tried brother, cheer your heart with Samson’s words, and rest assured that God will deliver you ere long.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     January 21


     Harriet B. Stowe, 1812–1896

     Morning by morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; morning by morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation. (Psalm 5:3)

     “How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!… When I awake, I am still with Thee”. This was the phrase that inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe as she meditated one morning on Psalm 139:17, 18. In the midst of a busy and productive life—as a writer, an avid crusader against world-wide slavery, and a mother of six—it was Harriet Stowe’s practice to rise at 4:30 each morning to “see the coming of the dawn, hear the singing of the birds, and to enjoy the over-shadowing presence of her God.”

     As a devoted mother and the wife of a seminary professor, Harriet still found time to write numerous hymns, a volume of religious verse, and approximately 40 books dealing with the various social problems of her time. Her best known novel was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which had a strong influence against slavery just before the Civil War.

     In later life, as she looked back over many of the difficulties she had experienced in her busy years of raising a family while engaging in many pursuits, Harriet wrote, “I thank God there is one thing running through all of them—from the time I was 13 years old [the age of her conversion]—and that is the intense unwavering sense of Christ’s educating, guiding presence and care.”

     It is commonly agreed by hymnists that for sheer poetic beauty, there are few hymn texts that excel these lines:

     Still, still with Thee—when purple morning breaketh, when the bird waketh and the shadows flee; fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight, dawns the sweet consciousness—I am with Thee!
     Alone with Thee amid the mystic shadows—the solemn hush of nature newly born; alone with Thee in breathless adoration, in the calm dew and freshness of the morn.
     Still, still with Thee—as to each new-born morning a fresh and solemn splendor still is giv’n; so doth this blessed consciousness, awaking, breathe each day nearness unto Thee and heav’n!
     So shall it be at last in that bright morning, when the soul waketh and life’s shadows flee; O in that hour, fairer than daylight dawning, shall rise the glorious tho’t—I am with Thee!

     For Today: Job 19:25–27; Psalm 139:17, 18; Colossians 3:4; 1 John 4:13.

     Live this day with a fresh awareness of God’s beauty in nature and of His companionship in your life. Let this musical message remind you to be ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Sunday, January 21, 2018 | Epiphany

Third Sunday After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 63:1–8 (9–11) 98
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 103
Old Testament     Genesis 13:2–18
New Testament     Galatians 2:1–10
Gospel     Mark 7:31–37

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 63:1–8 (9–11) 98

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

[     9 But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.     ]

98 A Psalm.

1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2 The LORD has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
9 before the LORD, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 103
103 Of David.

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Old Testament
Genesis 13:2–18

2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. 5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.

8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.

14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

New Testament
Galatians 2:1–10

2 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Mark 7:31–37

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

The Book of Common Prayer

Your Kingdom Come 2
Alistair Begg

Your Will be Done 2
Alistair Begg

Keeping Faith-Orthodoxy in a Time of Transition
Kendall Soulen   Wesley Theological Seminary

What is the problem with absolutes?
Sondra Wheeler   Wesley Theological Seminary

Why Can't Religious People Have Fun Too?
Michael Koppel   Wesley Theological Seminary

Theological Making of Disciples
Robert K. Martin   Wesley Theological Seminary

Wealth, Faith, and Responsibility Full
Sondra Wheeler   Wesley Theological Seminary

Seeing, Remembering, and Connecting
That Transforms Us, the Church, the World
Karen Bloomquist   Wartburg Seminary

Is Your Church Healthy    Jerry O'Neill   
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Gergory Of Nazianus   Jeff Stivason   
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Creationism Exegesis    C.J. Williams   
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

An Encouraging Word
Alistair Begg

I Take You
Alistair Begg

Loved by God
Alistair Begg

Daniel's Prayer
Alistair Begg

Gabriel and the 70 Weeks
Alistair Begg