Isaac Blesses JacobGenesis 27:1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”
14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,
“See, the smell of my son
is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth
and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
“Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.
40 By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you grow restless
you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
The Plot to Kill JesusMatthew 26:1 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
Jesus Anointed at Bethany6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Judas to Betray Jesus14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
The Passover with the Disciples17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
Institution of the Lord’s Supper26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Jesus Before Caiaphas and the Council57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’ ” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
Peter Denies Jesus69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Haman Plots Against the JewsEsther 3:1 After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. 2 And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. 3 Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” 4 And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. 6 But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.
7 In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. 8 Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. 9 If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” 10 So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. 11 And the king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.”
12 Then the king’s scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king’s satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s signet ring. 13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. 15 The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.
Paul’s Defense Before AgrippaActs 26:1 So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense: 2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
9 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
Paul Tells of His Conversion12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
30 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
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Is the Account of Joseph Smith’s First Vision Reliable?
By J. Warner Wallace 7/11/2014
When I first began to examine the case for Christianity, my Mormon family encouraged me to examine Mormonism as well. Both systems make claims about history and are dependent on the reliability of witnesses. As a result, the veracity of either worldview depends entirely on the authority of its sources. Can we trust the Bible or the Book of Mormon? Can we trust the authors of these texts? In the end, the truth of Mormonism is dependent on its primary author: Joseph Smith. As I examined Joseph’s history, I became less and less convinced of his character and reliability. One important area of witness reliability involves accuracy and honesty over time. Has the witness changed his or her story over the years? If so, he or she can’t be trusted. As I examined the history of Joseph’s claims related to the Book of Mormon, I discovered he often changed his story. Joseph’s story about his first vision from God related to his discovery of the golden plates (from which the Book of Mormon were translated) changed a great deal. Key elements vary over the years in which it was first described. Joseph said he received this vision (prior to the discovery) yet kept quiet about it for several years before he ever shared it with anyone. All his descriptions are well after the fact. Before we can begin to examine the changing claims related to Joseph’s first vision, we should first review a few known historical facts:
A Spiritual Revival Occurred in 1824-25 | A spiritual revival took place in the area of Palmyra, New York, where Joseph and his family were living at the time. Church attendance and conversion records indicate strong growth starting in 1824.
Joseph Was On Trial in 1826 | At the age of 20, Joseph Smith was on trial for divination in South Bainbridge, New York. The 1826 Bainbridge Court Records of Judge Albert Nealy indicate Joseph was being tried as a “glass looker” (using a “seer stone” to discover buried gold in the ground) on March 20th, 1826. Joseph was found guilty of a misdemeanor in violation of the New York State vagrancy law because he was pretending to locate lost treasures with this seer stone placed in a hat (interestingly, this is the same method he later said he used to translate the Book of Mormon). The court records also indicate Joseph used other occult rituals to help him locate the treasures, including the sprinkling of animal blood to break the enchantment thought to guard the treasure. Because Joseph was a minor, he was allowed to leave the county rather than face jail time.
With these two known historical dates in mind, let’s examine the first vision accounts provided by Joseph and his closest friends over the years. In general, the accounts eventually developed several key elements. Joseph is initially visited by a spiritual being who tells him about buried Gold plates, but he is not allowed to retrieve the plates for some period of time. As we investigate the changing nature of the vision over time, we’ll track three key elements of the story: the motivation Joseph had for seeking God, Joseph’s age and the date of the vision, and who appeared to him in the vision:
1827 | Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith Jr. gave an account to Willard Chase, as related in his 1833 affidavit.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Can We Escape the Law of Non-Contradiction?
By Tim Barnett 10/31/15
A while back, I met with a local pastor to talk about apologetics—the defense of the Christian faith. During our friendly discussion, we got on to the subject of the nature of truth, at which time I made a case for the correspondence theory of truth.
This particular pastor subscribed to a postmodern view of truth—that there is no objective truth and that truth is a social construction based on linguistic practices.
While making my case, I referred to the laws of logic, and specifically, to the law of non-contradiction. The pastor immediately denied the law of non-contradiction. I was completely taken aback and could not believe what I was hearing. It was bad enough that I had to argue for truth, but now I found myself arguing for something as foundational as the laws of logic.
For those who don't know, the law of non-contradiction states that A and not-A (where A is a proposition) cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. For example, my car cannot be parked in my driveway and not parked in my driveway at the same time and in the same sense. This just seems so obviously true, and yet this notion was being rejected.
This pastor was convinced that the law of non-contradiction is just a Western convention. Furthermore, he indicated to me that he believes that Western “Either-Or” logic is too arrogant, dogmatic, and exclusive. He prefers to use the Eastern “Both-And” system of logic. Fortunately for me, this conversation that I found myself in was beginning to sound a lot like a story I heard Ravi Zacharias tell during one of his keynote addresses. You can listen to the story in the video below. (If you're in a rush, you can start listening at the 2:25 minute mark.)
The Basics for Engaging Culture
By Michael Guyer 1/19/2017
Tolerance is not all that it used to be. D.A. Carson sheds light on this reality. Carson notes a shift toward a new kind of tolerance in our culture. It is a shift from accepting the existence of different positions to accepting the different position itself.
Thus, “We move from allowing the free expression of contrary opinions to the acceptance of all opinions; we leap from permitting the articulation of beliefs and claims with which we do not agree to asserting that all beliefs and claims are equally valid.” (D.A. Carson)
This has never been more apparent than with the cultural shaming of HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines or other Christians who have been on the wrong end of this new tolerance: Phil Robertson with A&E, the Benham Brothers with HGTV and Louie Giglio with the White House.
How should Christians respond? In light of the most recent focus on the Gaineses, a few helpful responses have already been posted (for example: Trevin Wax & Owen Strachan). In addition to these responses, an understanding of a biblically-informed tolerance is essential to sustain faithful witness in the face of this new tolerance (or intolerance).
Tolerance is grounded in recognizing we are all made in the image of God | A biblically-informed tolerance is grounded in creation. Specifically, it is grounded in humanity’s shared creation in the image of God: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Thus, our common identity in the image of God requires that we value the life and dignity of all people. And an expression of that dignity is leaving room for “other people to have different beliefs or practices without an attempt to suppress them.”
Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant
By Don Carson 2/26/12
The notion of tolerance is changing, and with the new definitions the shape of tolerance itself has changed. Although a few things can be said in favor of the newer definition, the sad reality is that this new, contemporary tolerance is intrinsically intolerant. It is blind to its own shortcomings because it erroneously thinks it holds the moral high ground; it cannot be questioned because it has become part of the West's plausibility structure. Worse, this new tolerance is socially dangerous and is certainly intellectually debilitating. Even the good that it wishes to achieve is better accomplished in other ways.
Let's begin with dictionaries. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the first meaning of the verb “to tolerate” is “To respect (others' beliefs, practices, etc.) without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing. 3. to put up with; to bear; as, he tolerates his brother-in-law. 4. in medicine, to have tolerance for (a specified drug, etc.).” Even the computer-based dictionary Encarta includes in its list “ACCEPT EXISTENCE OF DIFFERENT VIEWS to recognize other people's right to have different beliefs or practices without an attempt to suppress them.” So far so good: all these definitions are on the same page. When we turn to Encarta's treatment of the corresponding noun “tolerance,” however, a subtle change appears: “1. ACCEPTANCE OF DIFFERENT VIEWS the accepting of the differing views of other people, e.g., in religious or political matters, and fairness toward the people who hold these different views.”
This shift from “accepting the existence of different views” to “acceptance of different views,” from recognizing other people's right to have different beliefs or practices to accepting the differing views of other people, is subtle in form, but massive in substance. To accept that a different or opposing position exists and deserves the right to exist is one thing; to accept the position itself means that one is no longer opposing it. The new tolerance suggests that actually accepting another's position means believing that position to be true, or at least as true as your own. We move from allowing the free expression of contrary opinions to the acceptance of all opinions; we leap from permitting the articulation of beliefs and claims with which we do not agree to asserting that all beliefs and claims are equally valid. Thus we slide from the old tolerance to the new.
The problem of what “tolerance” means is in fact more difficult than these few comments on dictionary entries might suggest. For in contemporary usage, both meanings continue in popular use, and often it is unclear what the speaker or writer means. For instance, “She is a very tolerant person”: does this mean she gladly puts up with a lot of opinions with which she disagrees, or that she thinks all opinions are equally valid? A Muslim cleric says, “We do not tolerate other religions”: does this mean that, according to this cleric, Muslims do not think that other religions should be permitted to exist, or that Muslims cannot agree that other religions are as valid as Islam? A Christian pastor declares, “Christians gladly tolerate other religions”: does this mean, according to the pastor, that Christians gladly insist that other religions have as much right to exist as Christianity does, or that Christians gladly assert that all religions are equally valid? “You Christians are so intolerant,” someone asserts: does this mean that Christians wish all positions contrary to their own were extirpated, or that Christians insist that Jesus is the only way to God? The former is patently untrue; the latter is certainly true (at least, if Christians are trying to be faithful to the Bible): Christians do think that Jesus is the only way to God. But does that make them intolerant? In the former sense of “intolerant,” not at all; the fact remains, however, that any sort of exclusive truth claim is widely viewed as a sign of gross intolerance. But the latter depends absolutely on the second meaning of “tolerance.”
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).
Don Carson Books:
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 14The Fool Says, There Is No God
14 To The Choirmaster. Of David
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.
2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the LORD?
5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is his refuge.
“Silence,” Martyrdom, and the Call to Die
By Jake Meador 1/23/2017
In her review of Martin Scorsese’s new film “Silence,” Alissa Wilkinson wrote,
"The struggle for faith in a world marked by suffering and God’s silence is present in every frame of Silence. The answers in Scorsese’s film, as in Endō’s novel, are found not in words, but in the spaces between them. …
In Silence, Scorsese has found his natural match for plumbing those questions, which he does with considerable restraint. (Readers of Endō’s novel know the descriptions of torture are sickening; in Scorsese’s hands they are more psychologically than visually distressing.) He dives deep, and comes up not with answers so much as an honest suggestion that whenever we think we’ve found the answers, we’ve veered off track. He’s described making the film as a “pilgrimage” of sorts, which denotes both a journey and a struggle, and it shows. Silence is beautifully shot and moving, but it is not what you’d call uplifting. It’s a film that demands reflection, and a rewatch.
This response to the film seems to be fairly typical amongst evangelicals and some Catholics: The movement is to downplay whatever answers (I’ll resist the urge to use scare quotes) the characters come to in favor of emphasizing the journey they take to get there. It’s about process and what one learns in the midst of it rather than destination.
Fr. James Martin’s comments about the film, to the surprise of no one familiar with his work, do many of the same things I think Wilkinson does in her review and even suggest that there is a kind of fidelity in Rodrigues’ betrayal. (Pete Rollins is nodding along happily, no doubt.) Friend of Mere O Brett McCracken also reviewed the film, writing in Christianity Today about how the film exemplifies the sort of power-in-weakness teaching that pervades Scripture.
Headed to the Super Bowl: Eagles’ QB Foles Says ‘All Glory Belongs to God’
By Nancy Flory 1/22/2018
The Philadelphia Eagles soundly defeated the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 Sunday, and heads to a Super Bowl LII showdown with the New England Patriots. For many on the team, the win was an opportunity to share their faith.
“First and foremost, all glory belongs to God,” said quarterback Nick Foles. “I wouldn’t be here without Him and this is just very humbling and unbelievable.”
“I’m blessed to have amazing teammates, amazing coaches,” he added.
Foles took over the starting job in December when star quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a knee injury. Like Wentz and several other teammates, Foles has been very vocal about his faith. He describes himself on Twitter as a “Believer in Jesus Christ, husband, father, son, brother.”
Team Unity | Members of the Eagles released a video in November titled, “The Locker Room’s Binding Force,” about how Christianity is a “big part of the team’s unity.” Wentz, safety Chris Maragos and wide-receiver Torrey Smith shared what their faith means to them.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER: THAT THY DAYS MAY BE LONG UPON THE LAND WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH THEE.
35. The end of this commandment is, that since the Lord takes pleasure in the preservation of his own ordinance, the degrees of dignity appointed by him must be held inviolable. The sum of the commandment, therefore, will be, that we are to look up to those whom the Lord has set over us, yielding them honour, gratitude, and obedience. Hence it follows, that every thing in the way of contempt, ingratitude, or disobedience, is forbidden. For the term honour has this extent of meaning in Scripture. Thus when the Apostle says, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour," (1 Tim. 5:17), he refers not only to the reverence which is due to them, but to the recompense to which their services are entitled. But as this command to submit is very repugnant to the perversity of the human mind (which, puffed up with ambitious longings will scarcely allow itself to be subject), that superiority which is most attractive and least invidious is set forth as an example calculated to soften and bend our minds to habits of submission. From that subjection which is most easily endured, the Lord gradually accustoms us to every kind of legitimate subjection, the same principle regulating all. For to those whom he raises to eminences he communicates his authority, in so far as necessary to maintain their station. The titles of Father, God, and Lord, all meet in him alone and hence whenever any one of them is mentioned, our mind should be impressed with the same feeling of reverence. Those, therefore, to whom he imparts such titles, he distinguishes by some small spark of his refulgence, so as to entitle them to honour, each in his own place. In this way, we must consider that our earthly father possesses something of a divine nature in him, because there is some reason for his bearing a divine title, and that he who is our prince and ruler is admitted to some communion of honour with God.
36. Wherefore, we ought to have no doubt that the Lord here lays down this universal rule--viz. that knowing how every individual is set over us by his appointment, we should pay him reverence, gratitude, obedience, and every duty in our power. And it makes no difference whether those on whom the honour is conferred are deserving or not. Be they what they may, the Almighty, by conferring their station upon them, shows that he would have them honoured. The commandment specifies the reverence due to those to whom we owe our being. This Nature herself should in some measure teach us. For they are monsters, and not men, who petulantly and contumeliously violate the paternal authority. Hence, the Lord orders all who rebel against their parents to be put to death, they being, as it where, unworthy of the light in paying no deference to those to whom they are indebted for beholding it. And it is evident, from the various appendices to the Law, that we were correct in stating, that the honour here referred to consists of three parts, reverence, obedience, and gratitude. The first of these the Lord enforces, when he commands that whose curseth his father or his mother shall be put to death. In this way he avenges insult and contempt. The second he enforces, when he denounces the punishment of death on disobedient and rebellious children. To the third belongs our Saviour's declaration, that God requires us to do good to our parents (Mt. 15). And whenever Paul mentions this commandment, he interprets it as enjoining obedience. 
37. A promise is added by way of recommendation, the better to remind us how pleasing to God is the submission which is here required. Paul applies that stimulus to rouse us from our lethargy, when he calls this the first commandment with promise; the promise contained in the First Table not being specially appropriated to any one commandment, but extended to the whole law. Moreover, the sense in which the promise is to be taken is as follows:--The Lord spoke to the Israelites specially of the land which he had promised them for an inheritance. If, then, the possession of the land was an earnest of the divine favour, we cannot wonder if the Lord was pleased to testify his favour, by bestowing long life, as in this way they were able long to enjoy his kindness. The meaning therefore is: Honour thy father and thy mother, that thou may be able, during the course of a long life, to enjoy the possession of the land which is to be given thee in testimony of my favour. But, as the whole earth is blessed to believers, we justly class the present life among the number of divine blessings. Whence this promise has, in like manner, reference to us also, inasmuch as the duration of the present life is a proof of the divine benevolence toward us. It is not promised to us, nor was it promised to the Jews, as if in itself it constituted happiness, but because it is an ordinary symbol of the divine favour to the pious. Wherefore, if any one who is obedient to parents happens to be cut off before mature age (a thing which not infrequently happens), the Lord nevertheless adheres to his promise as steadily as when he bestows a hundred acres of land where he had promised only one. The whole lies in this: We must consider that long life is promised only in so far as it is a blessing from God, and that it is a blessing only in so far as it is a manifestation of divine favour. This, however, he testifies and truly manifests to his servants more richly and substantially by death.
38. Moreover, while the Lord promises the blessing of present life to children who show proper respect to their parents, he, at the same time, intimates that an inevitable curse is impending over the rebellious and disobedient; and, that it may not fail of execution, he, in his Law, pronounces sentence of death upon theme and orders it to be inflicted. If they escape the judgment, he, in some way or other, will execute vengeance. For we see how great a number of this description of individuals fall either in battle or in brawls; others of them are overtaken by unwonted disasters, and almost all are a proof that the threatening is not used in vain. But if any do escape till extreme old age, yet, because deprived of the blessing of God in this life, they only languish on in wickedness, and are reserved for severer punishment in the world to come, they are far from participating in the blessing promised to obedient children. It ought to be observed by the way, that we are ordered to obey parents only in the Lord. This is clear from the principle already laid down: for the place which they occupy is one to which the Lord has exalted them, by communicating to them a portion of his own honour. Therefore the submission yielded to them should be a step in our ascent to the Supreme Parent, and hence, if they instigate us to transgress the law, they deserve not to be regarded as parents, but as strangers attempting to seduce us from obedience to our true Father. The same holds in the case of rulers, masters, and superiors of every description. For it were unbecoming and absurd that the honour of God should be impaired by their exaltation--an exaltation which, being derived from him, ought to lead us up to him. 
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Each child is unique
1/26/2018 Bob Gass
‘Before you were born I set you apart.’
(Je 1:5) 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” ESV
Does a baby come into the world with a complex personality, or is that child a blank slate on which experience will write? In the past, behavioural scientists believed newborns had no temperamental or emotional characteristics upon arrival from the womb. Their little personalities were supposedly formed entirely by the experiences that came their way in ensuing years. But most parents knew better. Every mother of two or more children was convinced that each of her infants had a different personality – a different feel – from the very first time they were held. Now, after years of research, numerous authorities in child development acknowledge that those mothers were right. One important study identified nine characteristics that varied in babies – such as moodiness, level of activity, and responsiveness. They also found that the differences from child to child tended to persist into later life. Indeed, babies do differ in infinite ways that define our humanness and our individuality. If every snowflake that falls has its own design, and if every grain of sand at the seashore is unique, it makes no sense to suppose that children are assembly-line products stamped out by the same giant cookie cutter. There’s no denying the importance of environment and human experience in shaping who we are and how we think. But there can be no doubt that each person on earth is a one-of-a-kind creation from the earliest moments of life. As God told Jeremiah: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.’ You need to know that about your children.
January 26, 2016
Last week I interviewed for a job I really wanted. I would have been a spiritual director for an assisted living facility. $21 an hour sounded good, plus benefits, and the opportunity to do service for people struggling to find purpose themselves. The goal is always to be an extension of God's life, an expression of God's love and an exhibition of God's power, as I heard Charles Stanley say over 30 years ago.
I really liked the man interviewing me and he seemed to like me too, but a woman with twenty years of experience rightfully got the job. Interesting how hope can energize your life, but then the let-down is so painful when things don’t work out the way you hoped. Count it all joy Paul said, sigh. Life is full of hills and valleys and sometimes it seems the valleys are one after another.
I know God is interested in whether we react or respond to the hills and valleys in life and I so much want to respond with the mind of Christ, but I am failing. The disappointment is hard to brush off. I need to let it go.
I am still trying to come back. Thank goodness I meet with several directees this week. I love meeting with people to talk about their relationship with God. Selfishly it helps me with mine. I've heard preachers say they preach to themselves. I get that. When you tell someone something it sticks in your heart when you know you need to work on that too. Whenever my thoughts turn from me to God I am always encouraged.
I say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day. I dwell on the words and the meaning. I hope it is a praise to the Lord. It is a constant comfort to me.
by Bill Federer
After commanding in World War I, he became superintendent of West Point, and at the age of 30, became youngest Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. During World War II, he became Allied Supreme Commander in the Southwest Pacific and received the surrender of the Japanese. He served as Commander of the U.N. forces during the Korean War. His name was Douglas MacArthur, and he was born on this day, January 26, 1880. To the cadets at West Point, Douglas MacArthur stated: “The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training - sacrifice.”
Thomas R. Kelly
The basic response of the soul to the Light is internal adoration and joy, thanksgiving and worship, self-surrender and listening. The secret places of the heart cease to be our noisy workshop. They become a holy sanctuary of adoration and of self-oblation, where we are kept in perfect peace, if our minds be stayed on Him who has found us in the inward springs of our life. And in brief intervals of over powering visitation we are able to carry the sanctuary frame of mind out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness, and in a hyperaesthesia of the soul, we see all mankind tinged with deeper shadows, and touched with Galilean glories. Powerfully are the springs of our will moved to an abandon of singing love toward God; powerfully are we moved to a new and overcoming love toward time-blinded men and all creation. In this Center of Creation all things are ours, and we are Christ's and Christ is God's. We are owned men, ready to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint.
But the light fades, the will weakens, the humdrum returns. Can we stay this fading? No, nor should we try, for we must learn the disciplines of His will, and pass beyond this first lesson of His Grace. But the Eternal Inward Light does not die when ecstasy dies, nor exist only intermittently, with the flickering of our psychic states. Continuously renewed immediacy, not receding memory of the Divine Touch, lies at the base of religious living. Let us explore together the secret of a deeper devotion, a more subterranean sanctuary of the soul, where the Light Within never fades, but burns, a perpetual Flame, where the wells of living water of divine revelation rise up continuously, day by day and hour by hour, steady and transfiguring. The "bright shoots of everlastingness" can become a steady light within, if we are deadly in earnest in our dedication to the Light, and are willing to pass out of first stages into maturer religious living. Only if this is possible can the light from the inner sanctuary of the soul be a workaday light for the marketplace, a guide for perplexed feet, a recreator of culture-patterns for the race of men.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
If you are not as close to God as you used to be,
--- Author Unknown
Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires … upon force!…
Christ founded His upon love;
and at this hour millions…
would die for Him.
--- Napoleon Bonaparte
Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. --- C. S. Lewis
A monk was once asked, “What do you do up there in the monastery?” He replied, “We fall and get up, fall and get up, fall and get up again. --- Esther De Waal
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
if you committed yourself on behalf of another;
2 you have been snared by the words of your mouth,
caught by the words of your own mouth.
3 Do this now, my son, and extricate yourself,
since you put yourself in your friend’s power:
go, humble yourself, and pester your friend;
4 give your eyes no sleep,
give your eyelids no rest;
5 break free, like a gazelle from the [hunter’s] trap,
like a bird from the grip of the fowler.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Look again and consecrate
If God so clothe the grass of the field, … shall He not much more clothe you?
--- Matthew 6:30.
A simple statement of Jesus is always a puzzle to us if we are not simple. How are we going to be simple with the simplicity of Jesus? By receiving His Spirit, recognizing and relying on Him, obeying Him as He brings the word of God, and life will become amazingly simple. ‘Consider,’ says Jesus, ‘how much more your Father Who clothes the grass of the field will clothe you, if you keep your relationship right with Him.’ Every time we have gone back in spiritual communion it has been because we have impertinently known better than Jesus Christ. We have allowed the cares of the world to come in, and have forgotten the ‘much more’ of our Heavenly Father.
“Behold the fowls of the air”—their one aim is to obey the principle of life that is in them and God looks after them. Jesus says that if you are rightly related to Him and obey this Spirit that is in you, God will look after your ‘feathers.’
“Consider the lilies of the field”—they grow where they are put. Many of us refuse to grow where we are put, consequently we take root nowhere. Jesus says that if we obey the life God has given us, He will look after all the other things. Has Jesus Christ told us a lie? If we are not experiencing the ‘much more,’ it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us, we are taken up with confusing considerations. How much time have we taken up worrying God with questions when we should have been absolutely free to concentrate on His work? Consecration means the continual separating of myself to one particular thing. We cannot consecrate once and for all. Am I continually separating myself to consider God every day of my life?
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Prepare yourself for the message.
You are prepared?
Silence is the message.
The message is.... Wait.
Are you sure? An echo?
An echo of an echo?
Was it always there
with us failing
to hear it?
What was the shell doing
on the shore? An ear endlessly
What? Sound? Silence?
Which came first?
I'll tell you a story
as it was told me by the teller
Where did he hear it?
By listening? To silence? To sound?
To an echo? To an echo
of an echo?
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Sometimes we tend to idealize Bible people. We forget that, while they were giants in many ways, they were also all too human. In fact, before we look at the faith of a man like Abraham, we need to realize that he was, like all believers, far from perfect!
We have an early indication of Abram’s flaws in Genesis 12. Abram had been called by God to go to a land which the Lord Himself chose. He had obeyed in an act that required real faith. But once in the land, Abram’s faith was shaken by a famine. Rather than trust God or wait for further direction, he went to Egypt. There he continued to show lack of trust by getting Sarah to tell a half-truth about their relationship, to deny she was his wife. Fear that he might be killed outweighed his commitment to his wife! Even when she was taken in Pharaoh’s household, Abram did not reveal their relationship. Instead he profited in silence from the favor extended to the supposed brother!
Abraham’s tendency to rely on his wits rather than on God also is shown in the events leading up to the birth of Ishmael. Some 10 years passed while Abraham waited for God to send the son He had promised. Finally Sarah began urging him to take her maid as a secondary wife. Even though this was a custom of the land, it took Sarah’s nagging to make him take action. He “hearkened to [obeyed] the voice of Sarai” (16:2). Perhaps Abram thought he would “help” God keep His promises! Perhaps he felt that 86 was just too old to wait any longer. In any case Abram did not consult God. He simply went ahead, without direction, relying on his own plan to fulfill God’s purposes. Self reliance and self-effort took the place of trust in God.
And Then, how stunning. Abraham repeated the sin he did in Egypt! Again Abraham misrepresented Sarah as only his sister, and she was placed in the harem of a king named Abimelech. God protected Sarah even though her husband was not willing to, and before Abimelech came to her God spoke to him in a vision. Abimelech, fearful at the divine visit, complained to Abraham that he might have led the king into unknowing sin! Abram’s reply was weak (20:11–12). Abraham was worried, afraid that the people of the foreign land they visited might not fear God, and thus might kill him for Sarah. Abraham feared for his life—but not for his wife!
Abraham apparently had not stopped to think that though a particular people might not know God, God knew them! There was no place that Abraham could go to be beyond the protection of the Lord. Yet, even after an earlier rebuke in Egypt, Abraham repeated the same sin and let fear and selfishness control his choices.
No, the Abraham we meet on the pages of the Bible is no idealized man. He is a man we need to see both as weak, and as a willful sinner.
The Teacher's Commentary
Richard S. Adams
The author of Genesis 24:45 writes, “Before I had finished speaking in my heart … there was Rebekah”. Paul said we are to be praying constantly. In other words, we are to be continually aware of the Lord's presence (1Th 5:17). Remember, God knows our thoughts and the intentions of our heart (Hebrews 4:12). How could Abraham’s servant recognize Rebekah if he was not in touch, connected with the Lord?
My Theology professor, Larry Shelton, said our relationship with God is like being hooked up to a life support system. What happens when we are disconnected from the oxygen?
I do not like to fly. Honestly, I am afraid to fly and I only do it when it is absolutely necessary. Never mind the statistics; it is a powerful and intrusive reminder that I have no control over my own safety.
Despite not wanting to, there are times when I’ve had to fly. If you’re on a non-stop flight from Portland to New York it isn’t supposed to be on and off. If it is, you’re a casualty. Neither is our relationship and our connection with God supposed to be on and off.
Like Larry’s description of a life-support system, Paul says our connection, our relationship with God is supposed to be non-stop. When we break that connection by thinking what we should not think, saying what we should not say, or doing what we should not do … we always crash. Putting ourselves before or over someone else is a sure fire indication we’re disconnected from the Lord and our life support system.
Romans 8:22 says the whole earth groans in labor pains and in the next verse we too groan... waiting for our adoption, waiting to be with the Lord. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to be with the Lord now. Do you groan when you know you have disconnected yourself from God?
Our relationship with God is not dependent on praying in public or praying with eloquence, but it is dependent on being connected; groaning without words for God’s presence or groaning with sadness because we’ve usurped God’s rightful place in our heart.
God understands our desire to draw closer, but we need to understand a non-stop flight is supposed to be just that, non-stop, continual. As Larry said, we cannot survive when we come off life support.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2008, on staff at Portland Seminary since 2009.Articles
- Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
- Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
- Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
- Feb 14 Hindsight
- Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
- Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
- Feb 23 Job 23:14
- Feb 25 No Time To Text
- Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
- Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
- May 10 Ruth | Relationships
- June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
- July 14 Tom - Gen & Revelation
- Nov 27 The Way The World Is
- Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
- Dec 11 Open Door
- Dec 20 Replacement Theology
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.
Heaven is a home. (Spurgeon's Sermons on Soulwinning (C.H. Spurgeon Sermon Outline Series)) Don’t you like to think of it under that aspect? It is the home of Jesus, and if it is the home of Jesus, can any other home be equal to it?
Note that lost ones are known in heaven. I give you that thought more from the Greek than from the English here. “When he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep—the lost one.’ ” That is how it should run. It is as if the friends knew that one had been lost, and the loss had been deplored. Up there they know which are Christ’s sheep and which are lost. Heaven is nearer earth than some of us dream. And there are more communications between earth and heaven than some folk dream, for here it is clear that when the shepherd came home he said to them, “I have found the sheep, the lost one.” So they knew all about it.
Notice, next, that repentance is regarded as coming home. This sheep was not in heaven. No, but as soon as it had been brought into the fold it is described as repenting, and Jesus and the angels rejoice over it. If a person truly repents, and Christ saves that individual, it is clear that he or she never will be lost. A certain old proverb forbids us to count our chickens until they are hatched, and I do not think that angels would do so in the case of immortal souls. If they believed that repenting sinners might afterward be lost, they would not ring the marriage bells just yet, but they would wait a while to see how things went on. If converts can yet perish there is not one that the angels dare rejoice over, for if any child of God might fall away and perish, why not every one of us? If anyone falls from grace, I fear I shall.
I believe that where the Lord begins the good work of grace he will carry it on and perfect it: “My sheep listen to my voice.… I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” Now, if they have eternal life, it cannot come to an end, for eternal life is eternal, evidently; if they have eternal life, the Shepherd and his friends may justifiably sing. Sing away, angels!
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Cyrus McCormick’s father dreamed of inventing a machine to harvest crops. He tinkered for years, but it was Cyrus who became famous for inventing the reaper. Cyrus went to Chicago at age 38 with $60 in his pocket to open his factory. By age 40 he was a millionaire.
He met a young lady from New York, Nettie Fowler. Nettie was striking, tall, graceful, with shining brown eyes. The radiance on her face, Cyrus learned, came from her relationship with Christ. They fell in love and married on January 26, 1859. Nettie was 26 years younger than Cyrus, and the couple enjoyed 26 years together. Cyrus’ death in 1884 left Nettie wealthy beyond belief. What did she do with her money?
She established McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago for young Presbyterian ministers. She enabled John R. Mott of the Student Volunteer Movement to go to the ends of the earth to organize student missions. She helped form the World’s Student Christian Federation. She contributed to the evangelic campaigns of D. L. Moody. She supported Wilfred Grenfell, missionary to Labrador, and George Livingstone Robinson, archaeologist to Petra. She funded Tusculum College in Tennessee, and gave generously to educational efforts in Appalachia.
She absorbed herself in Asian missions, and her house off Michigan Avenue in Chicago became a Christian halfway house between the Orient and the West, a center of international Christianity. It was always full of missionaries and overseas Christians.
She improved the water supply in one country, provided a hospital in another, and a Christian college in another. She built a women’s clinic in Persia and a seminary in Korea. She sent agricultural machines to India.
She did it all in the name of Christ. But she never thought of herself as a great giver. Others, she felt, did more. She could give money, but “… the greatest gift of all comes from the self-sacrifice and devotion of missionaries,” she said.
You can tell where people’s hearts are by looking at their check stubs.
Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is.
--- Matthew 6:19-21.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 26
“Your heavenly Father.”
--- Matthew 6:26.
God’s people are doubly his children, they are his offspring by creation, and they are his sons by adoption in Christ. Hence they are privileged to call him, “Our Father which art in heaven.” Father! Oh, what precious word is that. Here is authority: “If I be a Father, where is mine honour?” If ye be sons, where is your obedience? Here is affection mingled with authority; an authority which does not provoke rebellion; an obedience demanded which is most cheerfully rendered—which would not be withheld even if it might. The obedience which God’s children yield to him must be loving obedience. Do not go about the service of God as slaves to their taskmaster’s toil, but run in the way of his commands because it is your Father’s way. Yield your bodies as instruments of righteousness, because righteousness is your Father’s will, and his will should be the will of his child. Father!—Here is a kingly attribute so sweetly veiled in love, that the King’s crown is forgotten in the King’s face, and his sceptre becomes, not a rod of iron, but a silver sceptre of mercy—the sceptre indeed seems to be forgotten in the tender hand of him who wields it. Father!—Here is honour and love. How great is a Father’s love to his children! That which friendship cannot do, and mere benevolence will not attempt, a father’s heart and hand must do for his sons. They are his offspring, he must bless them; they are his children, he must show himself strong in their defence. If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father? Abba, Father! He who can say this, hath uttered better music than cherubim or seraphim can reach. There is heaven in the depth of that word—Father! There is all I can ask; all my necessities can demand; all my wishes can desire. I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, “Father.”
Evening - January 26
“All they that heard it wondered at those things.” --- Luke 2:18.
We must not cease to wonder at the great marvels of our God. It would be very difficult to draw a line between holy wonder and real worship; for when the soul is overwhelmed with the majesty of God’s glory, though it may not express itself in song, or even utter its voice with bowed head in humble prayer, yet it silently adores. Our incarnate God is to be worshipped as “the Wonderful.” That God should consider his fallen creature, man, and instead of sweeping him away with the besom of destruction, should himself undertake to be man’s Redeemer, and to pay his ransom price, is, indeed marvellous! But to each believer redemption is most marvellous as he views it in relation to himself. It is a miracle of grace indeed, that Jesus should forsake the thrones and royalties above, to suffer ignominiously below for you. Let your soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder is in this way a very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship and heartfelt thanksgiving. It will cause within you godly watchfulness; you will be afraid to sin against such a love as this. Feeling the presence of the mighty God in the gift of his dear Son, you will put off your shoes from off your feet, because the place whereon you stand is holy ground. You will be moved at the same time to glorious hope. If Jesus has done such marvellous things on your behalf, you will feel that heaven itself is not too great for your expectation. Who can be astonished at anything, when he has once been astonished at the manger and the cross? What is there wonderful left after one has seen the Saviour? Dear reader, it may be that from the quietness and solitariness of your life, you are scarcely able to imitate the shepherds of Bethlehem, who told what they had seen and heard, but you can, at least, fill up the circle of the worshippers before the throne, by wondering at what God has done.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
CHRIST FOR THE WORLD WE SING
Samuel Wolcott, 1813–1886
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19, 20)
The task of worldwide evangelization is a staggering challenge. It is estimated that the world’s population is presently about 5 billion people, with two-thirds of mankind still unreached with the gospel. Also one-third of the human race is nearly destitute, lacking the basic necessities for survival. Yet we are told that by the year 2,000 the population will add another billion, and that in the next 100 years the population will double to more than 10 billion people. All this time, other world religions are also pressing their claims with increasing vigor. Islam is growing at a rate of 16 percent annually, Hinduism at 12 percent. Christianity’s growth is estimated at less then 10 percent.
Samuel Wolcott, author of this missionary text, had a burning zeal for the spread of the gospel and the spiritual needs of the world. In his earlier years he had been a missionary to Syria before poor health forced his return to America. Later he served as pastor in numerous Congregational churches, as well as acting as secretary of the Ohio Home Missionary Society. It was while pastoring the Plymouth Congregational Church in Cleveland, Ohio, that he wrote this text. He stated:
The Young Men’s Christian Association of Ohio met in one of our churches with their motto in evergreen letters over the pulpit, “Christ for the World, and the World for Christ.”
Pastor Wolcott was so moved by this motto that he promptly wrote these words, which have since been widely used to challenge Christians to have a vision for the needs of our entire world.
Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with loving zeal: The poor and them that mourn, the faint and overborne, sinsick and sorrow worn, whom Christ doth heal.
Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with fervent prayer: The wayward and the lost, by restless passions tossed, redeemed at countless cost from dark despair.
Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with joyful song: The newborn souls, whose days, reclaimed from error’s ways, inspired with hope and praise, to Christ belong.
For Today: Psalm 22:27; Mark 13:10; 16:15; Romans 10:12–15.
Ask God to give you a worldwide vision for the furtherance of the gospel. Determine to take a greater interest in your church’s mission program. Allow this hymn to help ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Prayer is, of course a mystery. It’s become quite commonplace to say this. Many Christians, including many clergy, have come to accept that they don’t find prayer easy, that they don’t really understand what it does or can do. Many have become, in a puzzled sort of way, vaguely reconciled to this perplexity, as though it makes them in some way second-class citizens. Some lay folk, if you ask them about their own prayer, will tend to say ‘Oh, I leave that to the clergy.’ Some clergy will say, ‘Oh, I leave the serious stuff to the monks and nuns.’ Some in the monastic communities will say ‘well, we can’t all be mystics, can we?’
Well, no, I suppose not. But there is good scriptural warrant for finding prayer puzzling and mysterious. St Paul, in a famous passage, says that ‘we don’t know how to pray, or what to pray for, as we ought’, and says that we therefore depend on God’s spirit to help us, catching us up into the agonizing dialogue between the living God and the pain of the world, even though we don’t really understand what’s happening (Romans 8:18–27). That may be humbling, but it should also be encouraging.
Even those who have made the long journey into really serious prayer come back to tell the rest of us that it remains a great mystery, that it’s often very hard work with little apparent or immediate reward. They do, however, tend then to add tantalising things about mounting up with wings like eagles, about being changed from glory into glory, about God having prepared for those who love him such good things as pass human understanding. Those people who, like Moses, disappear into the cloud of unknowing sometimes return without realising that their faces are shining.
As we pursue this mystery, then, where better to start than with the words Jesus himself taught us? The ‘Lord’s Prayer’ has of course, like all parts of the New Testament, been subjected to rigorous historical and theological analysis. I have learnt much from this scholarly research; but this book is not the place for quoting the scholars, or noting my various discussions with them. Those who want to follow things up could read The Prayers of Jesus by Joachim Jeremias (SCM, 1967), though in various ways scholarship has moved on since then. There is also a good article on the Lord’s Prayer by J. L. Houlden in the very useful Anchor Bible Dictionary. Much significant commentary on the prayer, however, is contained in the relevant section of commentaries on Matthew and Luke, and of books about Jesus himself. I refer readers to those.
How do you set about praying? From our point of view, there is a fairly obvious order of priorities. We’re usually in some sort of mess, and we want God to get us out of it. Then we’ve usually got some fairly pressing needs, and we want God to supply them. It may strike us at that point that there’s a larger world out there. Again, we probably move from mess to wants: please sort out the Middle East, please feed the hungry, please house the homeless.
But then, once more, it may dawn on us that there’s not just a larger world out there; there’s a larger God out there. He’s not just a celestial cleaner-up and sorter-out of our messes and wants. He is God. He is the living God. And he is our Father. If we linger here, we may find our priorities quietly turned inside out. The contents may remain; the order will change. With that change, we move at last from paranoia to prayer; from fuss to faith.
The Lord’s Prayer is designed to help us make this change: a change of priority, not a change of content. This prayer doesn’t pretend that pain and hunger aren’t real. Some religions say that; Jesus didn’t. This prayer doesn’t use the greatness and majesty of God to belittle the human plight. Some religions do that; Jesus didn’t. This prayer starts by addressing God intimately and lovingly, as ‘Father’—and by bowing before his greatness and majesty. If you can hold those two together, you’re already on the way to understanding what Christianity is all about.
Before turning to the details, let me suggest three practical ways to use the Lord’s Prayer, perhaps at a special time of the year such as Lent or Advent, or just as a way of developing one’s prayer life.
First, there is the time-honoured method of making the Lord’s Prayer the framework for regular daily praying. Take each clause at a time, and, while holding each in turn in the back of your mind, call into the front of your mind the particular things you want to pray for, as it were, under that heading. Under the clause, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, for example, it would be surprising if you didn’t want to include the peace of the world, with some particular instances. The important thing is to let the medicine and music of the prayer encircle the people for whom you are praying, the situations about which you are concerned, so that you see them transformed, bathed in the healing light of the Lord’s love as expressed in the prayer.
Second, some people use the Lord’s Prayer in the same way that some use the Orthodox Jesus-prayer. Repeat it slowly, again and again, in the rhythm of your breathing, so that it becomes, as we say, second nature. Those of us who live busy or stressful lives may find a discipline like that very difficult; but, again, it may be precisely people like that who need—perhaps, physically need—the calming and nourishing medicine of this prayer to be woven into the fabric of their subconscious. Next time you make a car journey by yourself, leave the radio switched off, and try it. Yes, it takes time. What else would you expect?
Third, you might like, for a while, to take the clauses of the prayer one by one and make each in turn your ‘prayer for the day’. Sunday: Our Father. Monday: Hallowed be thy Name. Tuesday: Thy Kingdom Come. Wednesday: Give us this day. Thursday: Forgive us our trespasses. Friday: Deliver us from evil. Saturday: The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory. Use the clause of the day as your private retreat, into which you can step at any moment, through which you can pray for the people you meet, the things you’re doing, all that’s going on around you. The ‘prayer of the day’ then becomes the lens through which you see the world.
There are, of course, dozens of other ways in which this prayer can be used, by groups or by individuals. These are just some suggestions for a start. If they help any readers to discover the value of a treasure they already own, I shall be glad.
This book is dedicated to Julian, Rosamund, Harriet and Oliver. They have put up with their father preaching sermons, taking services, writing books, travelling away from home to give lectures, and generally being busy with the things that theologians have to do but which put a strain on family life. It seems only right that they should receive a token, however small, of my love, and my gratitude for all that they are and all that they mean to me.
The Lord and His Prayer
Friday, January 26, 2018 | Epiphany
Friday Of The Third Week After Epiphany
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 40, 54
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 51
Old Testament Genesis 17:15–27
New Testament Hebrews 10:11–25
Gospel John 6:1–15
Index of Readings
Psalm 40, 54
40 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man who makes
the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
11 As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!
54 To The Choirmaster: With Stringed Instruments. A Maskil Of David, When The Ziphites Went And Told Saul, “Is Not David Hiding Among Us?”
1 O God, save me by your name,
and vindicate me by your might.
2 O God, hear my prayer;
give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For strangers have risen against me;
ruthless men seek my life;
they do not set God before themselves. Selah
4 Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5 He will return the evil to my enemies;
in your faithfulness put an end to them.
6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
7 For he has delivered me from every trouble,
and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.
51 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David, When Nathan The Prophet Went To Him, After He Had Gone In To Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
22 When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
6 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
The Book of Common Prayer