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Genesis 26     Matthew 25     Esther 2     Acts 25

Genesis 26

God’s Promise to Isaac

Genesis 26:1 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2 And the LORD appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Isaac and Abimelech

6 So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7 When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. 8 When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. 9 So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’ ” 10 Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” 11 So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

12 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. 14 He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. 15 (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) 16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

17 So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, 20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. 22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.

26 When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” 28 They said, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.” 30 So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. 32 That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, “We have found water.” 33 He called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.

34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

Matthew 25

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Matthew 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Esther 2

Esther Chosen Queen

Esther 2:1 After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. 2 Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.

5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. 9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.

12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— 13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

Mordecai Discovers a Plot

19 Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

Acts 25

Paul Appeals to Caesar

Acts 25:1 Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2 And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, 3 asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. 4 Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5 “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”

6 After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7 When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. 8 Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” 9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” 10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”

Paul Appeals to Caesar

13 Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. 14 And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, 15 and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16 I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. 17 So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. 18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. 19 Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. 20 Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. 21 But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.”

23 So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

A 7 Day Bible Reading Plan to Help You Study the Evidence for God

By J. Warner Wallace 9/30/2015

     When I first began investigating the reliability of the New Testament Gospels, I found myself at an important philosophical crossroads. As I employed my skills as a cold-case detective to the claims of the gospel eyewitnesses, I grew increasingly confident in their trustworthy nature. The four-part template I typically used to assess eyewitnesses was particularly helpful in this regard. The gospels passed in every aspect of my testing (this investigative journey is chronicled in Cold-Case Christianity). But I still had a problem. Although I was convinced the authors were truly presentto see what they reported (or like Luke and Mark, had access to those who were truly present), could be corroborated by outside evidence, hadn’t been altered over the years and were free of bias, I was still dismissive of the supernatural elements present in the accounts. I rejected the claims of miraculous healings and deeds, and I certainly denied the Resurrection of Jesus. As an atheist and philosophical naturalist, I believed the Gospels were a form of historical fiction; a fanciful work rooted in a few historical truths. At this point in my investigation, I decided to take one last additional step. I decided to investigate my own philosophical naturalism.

     Was I warranted in believing everything in the universe could be explained with nothing more than space, time, matter and the laws of physics and chemistry? Could my naturalism truly account for the most interesting and demanding features of the universe? Every worldview must provide an explanation for the reality we experience. It was time for me to see if my philosophically natural worldview could account for eight critical pieces of evidence:

     The beginning of the universe
     The fine-tuning of the universe for the existence of life
     The origin of life in the universe
     The appearance of design in biological organisms
     The existence of consciousness
     Our experience of free agency
     The existence of transcendent, objective moral truths
     The persistent problem of evil

     The next step in my investigation would require me to critically examine my own presuppositions to see if they were supported by the evidence. This part of my journey is recorded in my new book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe.

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

Church Is More Important Than You Think

By Mike Mobley

     I’ve been reading many articles lately that keep proclaiming how many are leaving and “done” with the church, how no one can trust the church because of issues, and how church isn’t really that important. I know there are many backgrounds involved with this and everyone’s story is different, but I’d like to encourage you in the fact that the Church is more important than you might be thinking.

     Leaving And Being “Done” With Church | I think this line of thinking can apply to many people, but mostly it seems this is coming from the younger generation. Many are growing up in the church or at least observing it and when their expectations aren’t met, they are leaving. They are claiming that real Christianity doesn’t have to involve the church if they are following Jesus and they are doing just fine. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is not true.

     Church is the body of Christ. It’s the people. Every follower of Jesus is a member of the body and together, we make up the church. It isn’t a building or a location, but it’s made up of individuals. The church is the hope of the world and God will use His Church to advance His Kingdom.

     You simply can’t “leave” or be “done” with the church. What you’re really saying is that you want to follow Jesus on your own terms, not on the Bible’s terms.

     Can’t Trust Church Because of Issues | Another popular argument against the church is people can’t trust it because of so many issues that come up. Let’s remember again the church is made up of people. Sinful, flawed, people. We are all sinful…we all make mistakes…that’s the whole reason we need a Savior to begin with. We can’t live this life on our own and we certainly can’t live this life perfectly. So if we can’t do that, of course the church is going to have issues.

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     Saved by Grace through Faith. In love with Jesus, His Glory, and obviously my beautiful wife Joelle, daughter Peyton, and son Matthew! Seeking Him in everything to glorify Him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Online & Communications Minister at 121 Community Church.

Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

by Erica Boutwell

     In light of my most recent post regarding the days of Noah, I’d love to take a break from all the heaviness and explore a topic a little less heady . . . . . false teachers. If you haven’t had your coffee yet, you might want to go ahead and get that over with before continuing.

     I have felt so weighed down by this issue for some time now because we are walking around in a day and age where new false teachers are popping up every day and they are getting more and more clever yet brazen. The main reason being that it’s so easy for anyone to have a platform, thanks to the wonder of blogging and social media. Trust me, the irony of that statement is not lost on me.

     But that is the reality we are living in. Anyone who thinks they have something to say can click a few buttons, type a few words, click submit, and bam! They’ve now put their thoughts out there for anyone with internet access to read.

     The vast majority of these posts are about completely innocent topics such as the latest fashion trends on a budget, recipes for the best pot roast on the planet, and current movie reviews. To all of you, keep up the good work. You’ve saved many a buck for my family and plenty of meals at my house. But this is not who I’m talking about. The ones that we are to be wary of are those who dive into topics of the spiritual realm. Too many times now, this same scenario has played out in front of us . . .

     Someone starts a blog targeting a specific demographic of people (i.e. moms of young children, people passionate about health and fitness, all the oilies). They find that their following is growing leaps and bounds. People are coming to them in droves telling them how funny, relatable, and real they are. They start delving into topics a little outside of their original subject matter. The affirmation continues pouring in and suddenly they’re being asked about topics a little deeper than they’re used to. But they feel obligated to respond to their devoted readers. A few months later, we no longer have a wit-filled instruction manual on how to handle a crazy toddler or which exercises will target belly fat after the holidays. Suddenly we have someone picking apart passages of scripture and tackling spiritual topics, as though they are a well-studied scholar, in front of an audience of tens of thousands of followers who cling to every word they say, as though they are gospel.

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     Erica Boutwell | I'm a Jesus-follower who also have the privilege of being the wife to a guy named Stephen and the mom to 3 wild boys. My passion is leading other Jesus-followers in worship, pouring into the next generation, and discipling women.

How to Respond to Temptation and Satan

By Mike Mobley

     One thing is for sure for every follower of Jesus…we will face temptation and attempts from satan to destroy us. Sometimes our flesh will tempt us or tell us things that are untrue and other times I believe satan will try to tell us things to throw us off and remove us from following Christ. If he tried to tempt Jesus, why would he not try to tempt us?

(Lk 4:1–2) And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. ESV

     It’s amazing to think that Jesus can truly sympathize with our every need (Hebrews 4:15-16). He faces hunger, his body gets tired, at times he is weak…and then satan comes in to try to tempt him. How many times do we find ourselves getting tempted when we are weak? Sometimes we feel like temptation is just too much and it’s going to consume us, but let’s look at how Jesus responds.

(Lk 4:3–13) 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ ” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’ ”

9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’

11 and

“ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

     We Have Got To Read The Bible | I know sometimes that it’s hard to actually sit down and spend time with The Lord. In fact, it’s really a battle, however, Jesus reminds us of just how important it is to spend time reading scripture.

     Jesus responds each and every time with scripture and nothing else. He shows us the importance of reminding ourselves of what the Bible actually has to say along with telling that to satan and/or anyone else who tries to tempt us or destroy us.

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     Saved by Grace through Faith. In love with Jesus, His Glory, and obviously my beautiful wife Joelle, daughter Peyton, and son Matthew! Seeking Him in everything to glorify Him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Online & Communications Minister at 121 Community Church.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 13

How Long, O LORD?
13 To The Choirmaster: A Psalm Of David

1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

ESV Study Bible

Are the Five Solas Biblical?

By Stephen J. Wellum

     On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were posted at the University of Wittenberg to begin a theological discussion about the practice of indulgences, but unbeknown to Luther, this act was the spark that lit the flame of the Reformation. Over the next century, the Reformation resulted in profound changes both within the church and in the larger society. The Reformation was not a perfect time in history and some have wrongly blamed it for a number of our present problems such as individualism.

     Yet the Reformation was a true recovery of the gospel, which is reason enough to celebrate it and to learn from it.

     For example, the Reformers rightly emphasized the supremacy of the triune God, the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, a proper view of human dignity and depravity, the necessity of God’s grace to save, and the glorious, exclusive and all-sufficient work of our Lord Jesus Christ. In proclaiming these gospel truths, the Reformation returned to a thoroughly biblical view of the world, purged of some of its medieval distortions, and recaptured what is vital and essential to the Bible’s entire storyline.

     The Reformation solas best illustrate this recovery of the Bible’s central truths. Reformation theology is often summarized by the five solas. Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) is the formal principle of the Reformation and the foundation of all theology. God’s glory alone (soli Deo gloria) functions as a capstone for all Reformation theology, connecting its various parts to God’s one purpose for creating this world and humanity in it. In between these two solas, the other three emphasize that God has chosen and acted to save us by his grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), and grounded in and through Christ alone (solus Christus).

     What is noteworthy about the solas is their mutual dependence; each one only makes sense in relation to the others. Why? Ultimately, because all of the solas are grounded in the triune creator-covenant God of Scripture, who alone is the center of the universe, the Lord of creation, history, and redemption, who needs nothing from us but we need everything from him, and who rightly deserves and demands all glory, honor, and praise.

     In other words, central to the solas is a proper view of God and correspondingly, a proper view of humans in relation to him. In this way, the solas capture what is key to the entire Bible, namely the creator-creature distinction, with God, as our creator, Lord, and redeemer, receiving all the glory due his name, and us, as his redeemed image-bearers living our lives in worship, obedience, and service as debtors to God’s grace.

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     Stephen J. Wellum is professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary and editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.

A Map Of The Soul

By Michael Egnor 6/29/2017

     “Doctor, what’s that sound?”

     The voice startled me. I was performing brain surgery on a woman with a tumor near the area that controls speech. I was removing much of her frontal lobe, in order to remove the tumor. To map her speech area with an electrical probe, I needed her to be awake. So I performed the surgery under mild local sedation only. The brain itself feels no pain.

     It took me a moment to realize that it was my patient, not a nurse, speaking to me from under the surgical drapes. “Just the sound of the instruments,” I replied, not entirely candid. The sound was a lot of her frontal lobe going up my sucker into a canister.

     “It’s loud,” she said, half-laughing from nervousness and a sedative. “How’s the operation going?”

     “Fine. Everything’s going well. How do you feel?”

     “OK. Sleepy. It doesn’t hurt.”

     We chatted as I worked. She was drowsy, but quite coherent. She went on to recover nicely. Her tumor had been benign, and her prognosis was good.

     Francis Crick, neuroscientist and co-discoverer of the helical structure of DNA, expressed the widespread view that the mind is a function of material stuff: “A person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make them up and influenced them.” How, then, is it possible to converse with someone while removing the large portions of her brain that serve thought and reasoning?

     I’m a neuroscientist and professor of neurosurgery. The mind-brain question haunts me. Neurosurgeons alter the brain on a daily basis, and what we find doesn’t fit the prevailing view that the brain runs the mind as computer hardware runs software.

Click here to go to source

     Michael Egnor is a professor of neurological surgery at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     Fourth Commandment.


28. The purport of the commandment is, that being dead to our own affections and works, we meditate on the kingdom of God, and in order to such meditation, have recourse to the means which he has appointed. But as this commandment stands in peculiar circumstances apart from the others, the mode of exposition must be somewhat different. Early Christian writers are wont to call it typical, as containing the external observance of a day which was abolished with the other types on the advent of Christ. This is indeed true; but it leaves the half of the matter untouched. Wherefore, we must look deeper for our exposition, and attend to three cases in which it appears to me that the observance of this commandment consists. First, under the rest of the seventh days the divine Lawgiver meant to furnish the people of Israel with a type of the spiritual rest by which believers were to cease from their own works, and allow God to work in them. Secondly he meant that there should be a stated day on which they should assemble to hear the Law, and perform religious rites, or which, at least, they should specially employ in meditating on his works, and be thereby trained to piety. Thirdly, he meant that servants, and those who lived under the authority of others, should be indulged with a day of rest, and thus have some intermission from labour.

29. We are taught in many passages [208] that this adumbration of spiritual rest held a primary place in the Sabbath. Indeed, there is no commandment the observance of which the Almighty more strictly enforces. When he would intimate by the Prophets that religion was entirely subverted, he complains that his sabbaths were polluted, violated, not kept, not hallowed; as if, after it was neglected, there remained nothing in which he could be honoured. The observance of it he eulogises in the highest terms, and hence, among other divine privileges, the faithful set an extraordinary value on the revelation of the Sabbath. In Nehemiah, the Levites, in the public assembly, thus speak: "Thou madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant." You see the singular honour which it holds among all the precepts of the Law. All this tends to celebrate the dignity of the mystery, which is most admirably expressed by Moses and Ezekiel. Thus in Exodus: "Verily my sabbaths shall ye keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that does sanctify you. Ye shall keep my sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever does any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever," (Exodus 31:13-17). Ezekiel is still more full, but the sum of what he says amounts to this: that the sabbath is a sign by which Israel might know that God is their sanctifier. If our sanctification consists in the mortification of our own will, the analogy between the external sign and the thing signified is most appropriate. We must rest entirely, in order that God may work in us; we must resign our own will, yield up our heart, and abandon all the lusts of the flesh. In short, we must desist from all the acts of our own mind, that God working in us, we may rest in him, as the Apostle also teaches (Heb. 3:13; 4:3, 9).

30. This complete cessation was represented to the Jews by the observance of one day in seven, which, that it might be more religiously attended to, the Lord recommended by his own example. For it is no small incitement to the zeal of man to know that he is engaged in imitating his Creator. Should any one expect some secret meaning in the number seven, this being in Scripture the number for perfection, it may have been selected, not without cause, to denote perpetuity. In accordance with this, Moses concludes his description of the succession of day and night on the same day on which he relates that the Lord rested from his works. Another probable reason for the number may be, that the Lord intended that the Sabbath never should be completed before the arrival of the last day. We here begin our blessed rest in him, and daily make new progress in it; but because we must still wage an incessant warfare with the flesh, it shall not be consummated until the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah: "From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord," (Isaiah 66:23); in other words, when God shall be "all in all," (I Cor. 15:28). It may seem, therefore, that by the seventh day the Lord delineated to his people the future perfection of his sabbath on the last day, that by continual meditation on the sabbath, they might throughout their whole lives aspire to this perfection.

31. Should these remarks on the number seem to any somewhat far-fetched, I have no objection to their taking it more simply: that the Lord appointed a certain day on which his people might be trained, under the tutelage of the Law, to meditate constantly on the spiritual rest, and fixed upon the seventh, either because he foresaw it would be sufficient, or in order that his own example might operate as a stronger stimulus; or, at least to remind men that the Sabbath was appointed for no other purpose than to render them conformable to their Creator. It is of little consequence which of these be adopted, provided we lose not sight of the principal thing delineated--viz. the mystery of perpetual resting from our works. To the contemplation of this, the Jews were every now and then called by the prophets, lest they should think a carnal cessation from labour sufficient. Beside the passages already quoted, there is the following: "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord," (Isaiah 58:13, 14). Still there can be no doubt, that, on the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ceremonial part of the commandment was abolished. He is the truth, at whose presence all the emblems vanish; the body, at the sight of which the shadows disappear. He, I say, is the true completion of the sabbath: "We are buried with him by baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life," (Rom. 6:4). Hence, as the Apostle elsewhere says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ," (Col. 2:16, 17); meaning by body the whole essence of the truth, as is well explained in that passage. This is not contented with one day, but requires the whole course of our lives, until being completely dead to ourselves, we are filled with the life of God. Christians, therefore, should have nothing to do with a superstitious observance of days.

32. The two other cases ought not to be classed with ancient shadows, but are adapted to every age. The sabbath being abrogated, there is still room among us, first, to assemble on stated days for the hearing of the Word, the breaking of the mystical bread, and public prayer; and, secondly, to give our servants and labourers relaxation from labour. It cannot be doubted that the Lord provided for both in the commandment of the Sabbath. The former is abundantly evinced by the mere practice of the Jews. The latter Moses has expressed in Deuteronomy in the following terms: "The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant;--that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou," (Deut. 5:14). Likewise in Exodus, "That thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed," (Exod. 23:12). Who can deny that both are equally applicable to us as to the Jews? Religious meetings are enjoined us by the word of God; their necessity, experience itself sufficiently demonstrates. But unless these meetings are stated, and have fixed days allotted to them, how can they be held? We must, as the apostle expresses it, do all things decently and in orders (1 Cor. 14:40). So impossible, however, would it be to preserve decency and order without this politic arrangements that the dissolution of it would instantly lead to the disturbance and ruin of the Church. But if the reason for which the Lord appointed a sabbath to the Jews is equally applicable to us, no man can assert that it is a matter with which we have nothing to do. Our most provident and indulgent Parent has been pleased to provide for our wants not less than for the wants of the Jews. Why, it may be asked, do we not hold daily meetings, and thus avoid the distinction of days? Would that we were privileged to do so! Spiritual wisdom undoubtedly deserves to have some portion of every day devoted to it. But if, owing to the weakness of many, daily meetings cannot be held, and charity will not allow us to exact more of them, why should we not adopt the rule which the will of God has obviously imposed upon us?

33. I am obliged to dwell a little longer on this because some restless spirits are now making an outcry about the observance of the Lord's day. They complain that Christian people are trained in Judaism, because some observance of days is retained. My reply is, That those days are observed by us without Judaism, because in this matter we differ widely from the Jews. We do not celebrate it with most minute formality, as a ceremony by which we imagine that a spiritual mystery is typified, but we adopt it as a necessary remedy for preserving order in the Church. Paul informs us that Christians are not to be judged in respect of its observance, because it is a shadow of something to come (Col. 2:16); and, accordingly, he expresses a fear lest his labour among the Galatians should prove in vain, because they still observed days (Gal. 4:10, 11). And he tells the Romans that it is superstitious to make one day differ from another (Rom. 14:5). But who, except those restless men, does not see what the observance is to which the Apostle refers? Those persons had no regard to that politic and ecclesiastical arrangement, [209] but by retaining the days as types of spiritual things, they in so far obscured the glory of Christ, and the light of the Gospel. They did not desist from manual labour on the ground of its interfering with sacred study and meditation, but as a kind of religious observance; because they dreamed that by their cessation from labour, they were cultivating the mysteries which had of old been committed to them. It was, I say, against this preposterous observance of days that the Apostle inveighs, and not against that legitimate selection which is subservient to the peace of Christian society. For in the churches established by him, this was the use for which the Sabbath was retained. He tells the Corinthians to set the first day apart for collecting contributions for the relief of their brethren at Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:2). If superstition is dreaded, there was more danger in keeping the Jewish sabbath than the Lord's day as Christians now do. It being expedient to overthrow superstition, the Jewish holy day was abolished; and as a thing necessary to retain decency, orders and peace, in the Church, another day was appointed for that purpose.

34. It was not, however, without a reason that the early Christians substituted what we call the Lord's day for the Sabbath. The resurrection of our Lord being the end and accomplishment of that true rest which the ancient sabbath typified, this day, by which types were abolished serves to warn Christians against adhering to a shadowy ceremony. I do not cling so to the number seven as to bring the Church under bondage to it, nor do I condemn churches for holding their meetings on other solemn days, provided they guard against superstition. This they will do if they employ those days merely for the observance of discipline and regular order. The whole may be thus summed up: As the truth was delivered typically to the Jews, so it is imparted to us without figure; first, that during our whole lives we may aim at a constant rest from our own works, in order that the Lord may work in us by his Spirit; secondly that every individual, as he has opportunity, may diligently exercise himself in private, in pious meditation on the works of God, and, at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church, for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer: And, thirdly, that we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us. In this way, we get quit of the trifling of the false prophets, who in later times instilled Jewish ideas into the people, alleging that nothing was abrogated but what was ceremonial in the commandment, [210] (this they term in their language the taxation of the seventh day), while the moral part remains--viz. the observance of one day in seven. [211] But this is nothing else than to insult the Jews, by changing the day, and yet mentally attributing to it the same sanctity; thus retaining the same typical distinction of days as had place among the Jews. And of a truth, we see what profit they have made by such a doctrine. Those who cling to their constitutions go thrice as far as the Jews in the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism; so that the rebukes which we read in Isaiah (Isa. 1:13; 58:13) apply as much to those of the present day, [212] as to those to whom the Prophet addressed them. We must be careful, however, to observe the general doctrine--viz. in order that religion may neither be lost nor languish among us, we must diligently attend on our religious assemblies, and duly avail ourselves of those external aids which tend to promote the worship of God.

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

  • Chosen In Him
  • They Crucified Him
  • The Witnesses

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The island of blessing
     1/25/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘You are complete in Him.’

(Col 2:10) and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. ESV

     In his book Outlive Your Life, author Max Lucado says the Greek word for ‘blessed’, makarios, was the name of an island off Greece. It was known as ‘the blessed island’ because it was self-contained. The residents didn’t need to leave it in order to get their needs met. The natural resources of this island were so rich that everything needed to enjoy life was already there. There’s a lesson here for you. The moment you trust in Christ as your Saviour, He becomes your king and you begin living in His kingdom. You don’t have to leave it and go elsewhere to find what you need, because it’s all around you in the island of blessing. You don’t have to strive for God’s blessing; you simply have to ‘tune in’ and receive it. It’s like your radio; there are no orchestras or newscasters inside it, it’s only a conduit and a point of contact. Even when your radio stops working, there are still signals in the air. All your radio does is receive the signal that comes from another source and deliver it to you. If you lose sight of that fact, you’ll give the radio more credit than it deserves. One of the reasons we don’t recognise the blessings of God in our lives is that we confuse the means of delivery with the source. If something doesn’t miraculously fall into our lap, we think it didn’t come from God. No, God will bless you at different times, through different people, in different ways. But you must always remember that they are only the carriers of blessing, while He is the source of it (see Psalm 31:19).

Exodus 4-6
Matthew 14:22-36

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     President Ronald Reagan delivered his State of the Union Address to Congress on this day, January 25, 1984, making reference to the fact that they open each session of Congress with prayer. President Reagan stated: “Each day your members observe a 200-year-old tradition meant to signify America is one nation under God. I must ask: If you can begin your day with a member of the clergy standing right here leading you in prayer, then why can’t freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every school room across this land?”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     The Light Within      Meister Eckhart wrote, "As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world; into its turmoil and its fitfulness." Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. It is a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us. It is a Light Within which illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the face of men. It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. It is the Shekinah of the soul, the Presence in the midst. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action. And He is within us all.

     You who read these words already know this inner Life and Light. For by this very Light within you, is your recognition given. In this humanistic age we suppose man is the initiator and God is the responder. But the Living Christ within us is the initiator and we are the responders. God the Lover, the accuser, the revealer of light and darkness presses within us. "Behold I stand at the door and knock." And all our apparent initiative is already a response, a testimonial to His secret presence and working within us.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

He who has learned to pray,
has learned the greatest secret
of a holy and happy life.
--- William Law

True loyalty to God is manifest by one
who trusts his reason
and refuses to follow authority indiscriminately.
--- Hartman, D.

To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: 'You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself.' We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.
--- Jean Vanier

Now this testimony I must leave to the world, that God has sent his good Spirit into the hearts of the children of men, to be their guide, leader and director in all things relating to his kingdom; and upon the receiving and obeying, or resisting and disobeying this Spirit, stands man’s eternal felicity or woe, for nothing short of it can give mankind the knowledge of the mysteries of God’s salvation; and all knowledge without it, is earthly and carnal, and can never give life to the soul.
--- Ambrose Rigge, 1616-1660

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 5:15-23
     by D.H. Stern

15     Drink the water from your own cistern,
fresh water from your own well.
16     Let what your springs produce be dispersed outside,
streams of water flowing in the streets;
17     but let them be for you alone
and not for strangers with you.
18     Let your fountain, the wife of your youth,
be blessed; find joy in her—
19     a lovely deer, a graceful fawn;
let her breasts satisfy you at all times,
always be infatuated with her love.
20     My son, why be infatuated with an unknown woman?
Why embrace the body of a loose woman?
21     For ADONAI is watching a man’s ways;
he surveys all his paths.
22     A wicked person’s own crimes will trap him,
he will be held fast by the ropes of his sin.
23     He will die from lack of discipline;
the magnitude of his folly will make him totter and fall.

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

                Leave room for God

     But when it pleased God … ---
Gal. 1:15.

     As workers for God we have to learn to make room for God—to give God ‘elbow room.’ We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen, and we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never looked for Him to come? Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him. That is the way to make room for Him. Expect Him to come, but do not expect Him only in a certain way. However much we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that at any minute He may break in. We are apt to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. All of a sudden God meets the life—“When it was the good pleasure of God.…”

     Keep your life so constant in its contact with God that His surprising power may break out on the right hand and on the left. Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes.

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


I was Shakespeare's man that time,
     walking under a waned moon
to hear the barn owl cry:
     Treason. My sword failed me,
          withering at its green
     I took Donne's word,
clothing my thought's skeleton
     in black lace, walking awhile
          by the bone's light:
but the tombstone misled me.

     Shelley put forth
his waxwork hand, that came off
in my own and I sank down
     with him to see time
     at its experiment at the sand's
     I walked Yeats'
street, pausing at the flowering
     of the water in a shop
window, foreseeing its drooping
     from being too often
     I stand now, tolling my name
in the poem's empty church,
     summoning to the celebration
          at which the transplanted
organs arc loth to arrive.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Teacher's Commentary
     Power Over All

     Power over all (Matt. 8:14–9:31). The next event shows Jesus’ authority over all the powers to which you and I are subject.

Sickmess  heals                  
Matthew 8:14-17
Nature       stills a storm      
Matthew 8:23-27
Demons   casts them out   
Matthew 8:28-32
Sin              forgives              
Matthew 9:1-8
Death         makes alive      
Matthew 9:18-26

     There is nothing to limit the authority of Jesus, who has demonstrated His power over everything under which you and I are crushed! This Man is able to speak “as One having authority” (
Matthew 7:29)—because He does!

     There are three very special riches for us in this extended passage.

     (1) Under authority. The Roman soldier speaking to Jesus said, “I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes” (
Matt. 8:9). He said this to explain the confidence he had in Jesus which enabled him to ask Jesus to heal from a distance, by the mere speaking of a word. His point was this: As a soldier, his authority over others was derived. It was his relationship in the chain of command which gave this military man his power. When he spoke, all the power of Rome’s mighty empire, under whose authority he stood, spoke through him.

     And what about Jesus? How was Jesus able to speak and have nature, demons, and even death jump to obey? Because here on earth Jesus also operated under authority; the authority of God. When Jesus spoke all the limitless power of God Himself spoke through Him.

     It’s like this today. We can trust Jesus. The full power of Almighty God is His.

     (2) New wineskins. A fascinating dialogue here is inserted in
Matthew 9:14–17. John the Baptist’s disciples had noted that Jesus was unlike their master. They came to ask why. Jesus explained, and added, “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Matt. 9:17).

     You and I cannot stuff Jesus or our experience with Him into our old ways of thinking and living. Life with Jesus is a new and exciting thing. He Himself wants to fill us, to expand our personalities, and to reshape us to fit who He is. When Jesus, the Man with all power, comes into our lives, we are privileged to open ourselves up to newness.

     (3) Dead and blind. Through these two chapters the acts of Jesus follow a progression. Each portrait shows Christ as having power over a greater enemy than the last: sickness, nature, demons, sin, and then death itself.

     Why then does an instance of healing the blind follow the raising of the ruler’s daughter? For our sakes! You and I can find the faith to believe that Jesus will make us fully alive when He returns. But how often we look at the dead dimensions of our present lives with despair. The blind men were living—but with dead eyes. When they begged for healing, Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (
Matt. 9:28) They did believe. Jesus touched their eyes. And where the moment before there had been death, now there was sight.

     Jesus comes into our lives with hope for today. If your personality has died to the capacity to live, or has shriveled in bitterness, or if you have lost the capacity for compassion, Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I am able?” We can answer, “Yes!” Jesus does have the power to revive the deadened areas of our lives.

     To really understand the significance of the extended passage we’ve been considering, we need to note one of its peculiarities. Throughout this sequence of events Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He did not use the term in the Sermon on the Mount. The first occurrences are here.

     The term “Son of man” is found in both the Old Testament and the New. In the New it is used 94 times, and, with 5 exceptions, always by Christ of Himself. Clearly Jesus affirms something important about Himself in His selection and use of this term.

     On the one hand, of course, the phrase “Son of man” emphasizes Jesus’ full humanity. But even greater significance is found in the fact that, as in
Matthew 9:6, “Son of man” signifies Jesus’ redemptive work and mission. In the term “Son of man” Jesus presents Himself as the Victor, for He accomplished all that man was intended to do, and becomes all that man was intended to be.

     The demons recognized and spoke to Jesus as the “Son of God” (
8:29). They were right; they knew Him for who He is. The whole Bible makes it very clear that the One who became Man at Bethlehem truly is the Creator God. John insisted that Jesus is God, coexisting with the Father from the beginning (John 1). Jesus does not hesitate to claim equality with God (John 17). Paul’s writings affirm Jesus as God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament prophecy identifies Jesus as the “Father of eternity” (a phrase meaning the source or originator of eternity itself!) and speaks of the Child to be born as “a Son … given” (Isa. 9:6,). The name Immanuel, as we have seen, means, “With us is God.” Jesus had every right to speak of Himself as the Son of God, for that is who He is.

     Yet Jesus chose another title for Himself: “Son of man.” A Man, with God’s prerogative of forgiving sin. A Man, with power to heal and to give life. A Man, yet Victor over death.

     In Jesus the very power of God entered the mainstream of humanity, and in Jesus’ authority as the Son of man you and I find an anchor for our hope. Many years ago Johann Burger (1598–1662) caught a vision of the authority of the Son of man, and expressed it in the hymn, “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I.”

Jesus lives and reigns supreme;
And His kingdom still remaining.
I shall also be with Him,
Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised: be it must;
Jesus is my hope and trust.

     The Man with all power lives today. His kingdom does remain. With Him, we also shall reign. Then—and now.

The Teacher's Commentary

Take Heart
     January 25

     And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
--- Luke 15:5–6.

     I wonder whether the sheep could see that the shepherd rejoiced.(Spurgeon's Sermons on Soulwinning (C.H. Spurgeon Sermon Outline Series)) I do not suppose that it could, but it could feel it. At any rate, I know that Christ has a way of saving us—oh, so gently, so lovingly, so gleefully, that he makes us happy in being saved. He saves us rejoicingly. It is a matter of thanksgiving to him when he gets hold of his lost sheep and gets it on his shoulders. It makes me glad to think that it is so.

     We are not saved by a grudging Christ, who seems as if he were weary of us and must save us to get rid of us. He does not act with us as some rude surgeon might do who says, “I will attend to you directly, but I have plenty else to do, and you gratis patients are a trouble.” Nor does he roughly set the bone. No; Jesus comes, and he molds the dislocated joint, and when he sets it—there is bliss even about the method of the setting. We look into his face, and we see that he puts his most tender sympathy into each movement. You know the different ways that workers have. Some kind of work one is soon sick of. The principle of division of labor is a very admirable one for the production of results on a large scale, but it is a miserable business for the worker to have to do the same thing over and over again, all day long, as if he or she were an automaton. The best work is done by the happy, joyful worker, and so it is with Christ. He does not save souls out of necessity—as though he would rather do something else if he might—but his very heart is in it, he rejoices to do it, and therefore he does it thoroughly, and he communicates his joy to us in the doing of it.

     Notice that Jesus Christ loves other people to rejoice with him, so that, when he finds a sinner, he has so much love in his heart that his joy runs over. Let us catch the blessed infection. If you have just heard of somebody being saved, be glad about it because Jesus is glad.
--- C. H. Spurgeon

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

On This Day   January 25
     “This Superstition …”

     Emperor Nerva, dying suddenly on January 25, 98, was succeeded by his adopted son, Trajan. The young man was a soldier, a general with rigid posture, vigorous energy, and conservative ideas. He proved a tireless and able administrator, lowering taxes, publishing a budget, and cutting the cost of government. His building projects benefited the empire, and, in contrast to fellow emperors, he remained faithful to his wife.

     Trajan sent his advisor Pliny the Younger to Bithynia when troubling reports arose in 110 about corruption there. Arriving at the Black Sea, Pliny encountered Christians, and he didn’t know what to do with them. His famous letter to Trajan—the earliest extant Roman document regarding Christianity (which Pliny called a “superstition”)—described a worship service and asked for advice:

     Their guilt or error amounted to this: on an appointed day they meet before daybreak, recite a hymn antiphonally to Christ, as to a god, and bind themselves by an oath to abstain from theft, robbery, adultery and breach of faith. After the conclusion of this ceremony it was their custom to depart and meet again to take food; but it was ordinary and harmless food. I applied torture to two maidservants who were called deaconesses. But I found nothing but a depraved and extravagant superstition. The matter seemed to justify my consulting you, especially on account of the number of those imperiled; many of all ages and classes and of both sexes are being put in peril by accusation. This superstition has spread not only in the cities, but in the villages and rural districts as well.

     Trajan wrote back, and his answer established Roman policy for years. It was a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Christians, he said, were not to be tracked down like animals, but if any were found in the normal course of affairs, they were to be punished. If they recanted, they were to be pardoned.

     Though moderate, Trajan became the first to persecute Christians as distinct from the Jews, and among those who perished under his reign was Ignatius, bishop of Antioch.

  I praise and honor God Most High. …
  When God does something, we cannot change it
  or even ask why.
  --- Daniel 4:34,35.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 25

     “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us.”
--- Isaiah 63:7.

     And canst thou not do this? Are there no mercies which thou hast experienced? What though thou art gloomy now, canst thou forget that blessed hour when Jesus met thee, and said, “Come unto me”? Canst thou not remember that rapturous moment when he snapped thy fetters, dashed thy chains to the earth, and said, “I came to break thy bonds and set thee free”? Or if the love of thine espousals be forgotten, there must surely be some precious milestone along the road of life not quite grown over with moss, on which thou canst read a happy memorial of his mercy towards thee? What, didst thou never have a sickness like that which thou art suffering now, and did he not restore thee? Wert thou never poor before, and did he not supply thy wants? Wast thou never in straits before, and did he not deliver thee? Arise, go to the river of thine experience, and pull up a few bulrushes, and plait them into an ark, wherein thine infant- faith may float safely on the stream. Forget not what thy God has done for thee; turn over the book of thy remembrance, and consider the days of old. Canst thou not remember the hill Mizar? Did the Lord never meet with thee at Hermon? Hast thou never climbed the Delectable Mountains? Hast thou never been helped in time of need? Nay, I know thou hast. Go back, then, a little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark now, light up the lamps of the past, they shall glitter through the darkness, and thou shalt trust in the Lord till the day break and the shadows flee away. “Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been ever of old.”

          Evening - January 25

     “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” --- Romans 3:31.

     When the believer is adopted into the Lord’s family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once; but then he is under a new rule, and a new covenant. Believer, you are God’s child; it is your first duty to obey your heavenly Father. A servile spirit you have nothing to do with: you are not a slave, but a child; and now, inasmuch as you are a beloved child, you are bound to obey your Father’s faintest wish, the least intimation of his will. Does he bid you fulfil a sacred ordinance? It is at your peril that you neglect it, for you will be disobeying your Father. Does he command you to seek the image of Jesus? Is it not your joy to do so? Does Jesus tell you, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”? Then not because the law commands, but because your Saviour enjoins, you will labour to be perfect in holiness. Does he bid his saints love one another? Do it, not because the law says, “Love thy neighbour,” but because Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments;” and this is the commandment that he has given unto you, “that ye love one another.” Are you told to distribute to the poor? Do it, not because charity is a burden which you dare not shirk, but because Jesus teaches, “Give to him that asketh of thee.” Does the Word say, “Love God with all your heart”? Look at the commandment and reply, “Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already—I have no need, therefore, to fulfil thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now and he has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute.” May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ’s love, that your prayer may be, “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.

Morning and Evening:

Amazing Grace
     January 25


     John Oxenham, 1852–1941

     There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

     One of the clear teachings of the Bible is that the gospel does not presuppose the superiority of any race or culture. In the past, missionary endeavor has too frequently imposed “our” culture on others while spreading the gospel, often putting native believers in bondage to another culture rather than to Christ and the Scriptures alone.

     Written in 1908 by the noted English writer, John Oxenham, this missionary hymn text was part of a script for a pageant at a giant missionary event sponsored by the London Missionary Society’s exhibition, The Orient in London. It is estimated that over a quarter of a million people viewed this presentation. It was continued from 1908–1914 both in England and in the United States.

     An interesting account of the impact of this hymn relates an incident during the closing days of World War II when two ships were anchored together, one containing Japanese aliens, and the other American soldiers, all waiting to be repatriated. For an entire day they lined the rails, glaring at one another. Suddenly someone began to sing “In Christ There Is No East Or West.” Then another on the opposite ship joined in. Soon there was an extraordinary chorus of former enemies unitedly praising God with these words:

     In Christ there is no East or West, in him no South or North, but one great fellowship of love thru out the whole wide earth.
     In Him shall true hearts ev’rywhere their high communion find; His service is the golden cord close-binding all mankind.
     Join hands then, brothers of the faith, whate’er your race may be; who serves my Father as a son is surely kin to me.
     In Christ now meet both East and West, in Him meet South and North; all Christly souls are one in Him throughout the whole wide earth.
               Words from “Bees in Amber” by John Oxenham

     For Today: Acts 10:34, 35; Romans 9:1–3; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 1:27; 1 Peter 3:8.

     Purpose to pray each day of the week for the work of the gospel in a different area of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, the Pacific, the Caribbean … Perhaps this musical message will be a helpful reminder ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Lord & His Prayer / N.T. Wright

     This book began life as a series of sermons preached in Lichfield Cathedral in Advent 1995. That explains some of its particular emphases, though I hope it will be found equally relevant wherever and whenever it is read. A few more words about its origin may help.

     I have been wanting for some time to share with a different audience some of the fruits from my last ten years of academic study, working on the historical life of Jesus. I didn’t want just to write another series of lectures; if my conclusions are correct, it is actually more appropriate that such thoughts should come together within the worshipping and witnessing life of the church.

     Jesus’ message summons us to focus our thoughts on the coming of the Kingdom of God. Because that is a huge and difficult idea, I here focus that thought, too, on one small point: namely, the prayer that Jesus taught, the so-called ‘Lord’s Prayer’. We live, as Jesus lived, in a world all too full of injustice, hunger, malice and evil. This prayer cries out for justice, bread, forgiveness and deliverance. If anyone thinks those are irrelevant in today’s world, let them read the newspaper and think again.

     The more I have studied Jesus in his historical setting, the more it has become clear to me that this prayer sums up fully and accurately, albeit in a very condensed fashion, the way in which he read and responded to the signs of the times, the way in which he understood his own vocation and mission and invited his followers to share it. This prayer, then, serves as a lens through which to see Jesus himself, and to discover something of what he was about.

     When Jesus gave his disciples this prayer, he was giving them part of his own breath, his own life, his own prayer. The prayer is actually a distillation of his own sense of vocation, his own understanding of his Father’s purposes. If we are truly to enter into it and make it our own, it can only be if we first understand how he set about living the Kingdom himself.

     A further reason for my taking of the Lord’s Prayer as my theme in the sermons from which this book developed has to do with our stated aim in the Lichfield Cathedral Strategic Plan, developed by the Chapter over the last two years. Our first priority for action, we have said, is ‘to develop the prayer-life of the Cathedral.’ This dovetails completely with the Lichfield Diocesan Strategic Plan, entitled ‘Growing the Kingdom’, in which our Bishop, Keith Sutton, has placed ‘worship and prayer’ as the first of our stated objectives.

     One central part of our task as a Cathedral, of course, is precisely to be a powerhouse of prayer for the whole Diocese. 1995 saw the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the present (Gothic) Cathedral, built on the site of the previous Saxon and Norman ones, and we have been using our celebrations to launch various new ideas and programmes. The series of sermons which turned into this book began shortly after our celebrations had reached their climax. As we took a deep breath after all the tumult and excitement of the festivities, I couldn’t think of any better way to draw 1995 towards its close than to turn our thoughts to what we all agree is one of the most central things in our life, namely, prayer.

     Where better to start that than with the prayer that Jesus himself taught us? If we value and marvel at the fact that Christian worship has been offered in our Cathedral church for nearly thirteen hundred years—and it is indeed a wonderful thing—how much more ought we to cherish and marvel at the fact that for nearly two thousand years people have prayed this prayer. When you take these words on your lips you stand on hallowed ground.

The Lord and His Prayer

The Lord & His Prayer / N.T. Wright
     Chapter 1 Our Father in Heaven

     The very first word of the Lord’s Prayer, therefore (in Greek or Aramaic, ‘Father’ would come first), contains within it not just intimacy, but revolution. Not just familiarity; hope.

     The other strong echo of ‘Father’ within Jesus’ world reinforces and fills out this revolutionary, kingdom-bearing meaning. God promised to King David that from his family there would come a child who would rule over God’s people and whose kingdom would never be shaken. Of this coming King, God said to David, ‘I will his Father, and he shall be my Son’ (2 Samuel 7:14). The Messiah, the King that would come, would focus in himself God’s promise to the whole people. And in Isaiah this promise, though still affirmed, is thrown open to all God’s people. ‘If anyone is thirsty, let them come and drink … and I will make with them an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David’ (Isaiah 55:1, 3). The two pictures go together. Freedom for Israel in bondage will come about through the liberating work of the Messiah. And Jesus, picking up all these resonances, is saying to his followers: this is your prayer. You are the liberty-people. You are the Messianic people.

     You see, the Jews had clung on to that Exodus-hope, down through the years in which they still lived with slavery, with exile, with the awful sense that the promises were taking a mighty long time to be fully fulfilled. ‘Surely you are our Father’, says one of the later prophecies, ‘though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us’ (Isaiah 63:16). In other words, the national hope seems to have slipped away; the things we thought were so secure have turned to dust and ashes; yet we cling on to the fact that you are our Father, and that fact gives us hope where humanly there is no hope. Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Egypt, Syria, and now Rome; when would the tyranny of evil end? When would Israel be free? Most Jews knew in their bones, because they celebrated it at Passover and sang about it in the Psalms, that freedom would come when God gave them the new, final Exodus. Many believed that this would happen when the Messiah came. The very first word of the Lord’s Prayer says: Let it be now; and let it be us. Father … Our Father …

     Jesus’ own life and work and teaching, then, was not simply about a timeless new vision of God. Jesus didn’t come simply to offer a new pattern, or even a new depth, of spirituality. Spiritual depth and renewal come, as and when they come, as part of the larger package. But that package itself is about being delivered from evil; about return from exile; about having enough bread; about God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. It’s the Advent-package. Jesus was taking the enormous risk of saying that this package was coming about through his own work. All of that is contained in the word ‘Father’, used in this way, within this prayer.

     For Jesus, it was a great wager of faith and vocation. It meant leaving the security of home, family and job because his Father was calling him to a new job. He called the fishermen to become fishers of men. He himself, the carpenter, was called to take wood and nails to accomplish the real Exodus, the real defeat of evil. Calling God ‘Father’ was not simply comfortable or reassuring. It contained the ultimate personal challenge.

     That is why, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he called God ‘Father’ once more. In John’s gospel Jesus uses the image of father and son to explain what he was himself doing. In that culture, the son is apprenticed to the father. He learns his trade by watching what the father is doing. When he runs into a problem, he checks back to see how his father tackles it. That’s what Jesus is doing in Gethsemane, when everything suddenly goes dark on him. Father, is this the way? Is this really the right path? Do I really have to drink this cup? The letter to the Hebrews says, with considerable daring, that the Son ‘learned obedience by what he suffered’ (Hebrews 5:7–9; compare 2:10–18). What we see in Gethsemane is the apprentice son, checking back one more time to see how the Father is doing it. And what is the project that Father and Son together are engaged upon? Nothing less than the new Exodus, rescuing Israel and the whole world from evil, injustice, fear and sin. The daring thing about that passage in Hebrews is this: Jesus too, like us, went on learning what it actually meant to call God ‘Father’. And the learning process was only complete when he said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’

     The word ‘Father’, then, concentrates our attention on the doubly revolutionary message and mission of Jesus. It is the Exodus-message, the message that tyrants and oppressors rightly fear. But it isn’t a message of simple human revolution. Most revolutions breed new tyrannies; not this one. This is the Father’s revolution. It comes through the suffering and death of the Son. That’s why, at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, we pray to be delivered from the great tribulation; which is, not surprisingly, what Jesus told his disciples to pray for in the garden. This revolution comes about through the Messiah, and his people, sharing and bearing the pain of the world, that the world may be healed. This is the kingdom-message, the Advent-message.

     But if we in turn are to be the messengers, we need to learn to pray this prayer. We, too, need to learn what it means to call God ‘Father’, and we mustn’t be surprised when we find ourselves startled by what it means. The one thing you can be sure of with God is that you can’t predict what he’s going to do next. That’s why calling God ‘Father’ is the great act of faith, of holy boldness, of risk. Saying ‘our father’ isn’t just the boldness, the sheer cheek, of walking into the presence of the living and almighty God and saying ‘Hi, Dad.’ It is the boldness, the sheer total risk, of saying quietly ‘Please may I, too, be considered an apprentice son.’ It means signing on for the Kingdom of God.

The Lord and His Prayer

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, January 25, 2018 | Epiphany

Thursday Of The Third Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 50
Psalms (Evening)     (Psalm 59, 60) or Psalm 118
Old Testament     Genesis 16:15–17:14
New Testament     Hebrews 10:1–10
Gospel     John 5:30–47

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 50
50 A Psalm Of Asaph.

1 The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.

3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah

7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

16 But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes
or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
and you keep company with adulterers.

19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”

Psalms (Evening)
Option A
(Psalm 59, 60)

[     59 To The Choirmaster: According To Do Not Destroy. A Miktam Of David, When Saul Sent Men To Watch His House In Order To Kill Him.

1 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me;
2 deliver me from those who work evil,
and save me from bloodthirsty men.

3 For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O LORD,
4 for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Awake, come to meet me, and see!
5 You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah

6 Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
7 There they are, bellowing with their mouths
with swords in their lips—
for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”

8 But you, O LORD, laugh at them;
you hold all the nations in derision.
9 O my Strength, I will watch for you,
for you, O God, are my fortress.
10 My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.

11 Kill them not, lest my people forget;
make them totter by your power and bring them down,
O Lord, our shield!
12 For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips,
let them be trapped in their pride.
For the cursing and lies that they utter,
13 consume them in wrath;
consume them till they are no more,
that they may know that God rules over Jacob
to the ends of the earth. Selah

14 Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
15 They wander about for food
and growl if they do not get their fill.

16 But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17 O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.

60 To The Choirmaster: According To Shushan Eduth. A Miktam Of David; For Instruction; When He Strove With Aram-Naharaim And With Aram-Zobah, And When Joab On His Return Struck Down Twelve Thousand Of Edom In The Valley Of Salt.

1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
you have been angry; oh, restore us.
2 You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open;
repair its breaches, for it totters.
3 You have made your people see hard things;
you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.

4 You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah
5 That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us!

6 God has spoken in his holiness:
“With exultation I will divide up Shechem
and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
7 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet;
Judah is my scepter.
8 Moab is my washbasin;
upon Edom I cast my shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

9 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
11 Oh, grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the salvation of man!
12 With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.     ]

Option B
Psalm 118

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Testament
Genesis 16:15–17:14

15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

New Testament
Hebrews 10:1–10

10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

John 5:30–47

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

The Book of Common Prayer

Realism | Richard Betts
Columbia University

What Is Biblical Worship?
Daniel Block    Wheaton College

Knowing Jesus | Richard Hays
Wheaton College

Spiritual Mentoring | Leighton Ford
Wheaton College

Holy Spirit & Scripture
Kevin Vanhoozer    Wheaton College

The Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth
Rebecca DeYoung    Wheaton College

Who Is My Neighbor? | Rodney Sisco
Wheaton College

Jewish Roots: God's Plan for Reconciliation
Daniel Juster    Wheaton College

Spiritual Formation & Salvation
Dallas Willard    Wheaton College

Culture and Change | Carlo Clementi   
Columbia University

Eliminating Poverty | Jeffrey Sachs   
Columbia University

Introducing Ephesians
Alistair Begg

Till All His Foes Submit
Alistair Begg

Genesis 26-27
m2-017 3-05-2014 | Brett Meador