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Genesis 28     Matthew 27     Esther 4     Acts 27

Jacob Sent to Laban

Genesis 28:1 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 3 God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4 May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!” 5 Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.

Esau Marries an Ishmaelite

6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, 9 Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.

Jacob’s Dream

10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

Jesus Delivered to Pilate

Matthew 27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.

Judas Hangs Himself

3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

Jesus Before Pilate

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

The Crowd Chooses Barabbas

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Jesus Is Mocked

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion

32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him.  We must not lose sight of the truth which was unwittingly uttered by the Jewish scoffers. They themselves are witnesses that Jesus of Nazareth trusted in God: why then was he permitted to perish? Jehovah had aforetime delivered those who rolled their burdens upon him: why was this man deserted? Oh that they had understood the answer! Note further, that their ironical jest, "seeing he delighted in him," was true. The Lord did delight in his dear Son, and when he was found in fashion as a man, and became obedient unto death, he still was well pleased with him. Strange mixture! Jehovah delights in him, and yet bruises him; is well pleased, and yet slays him.  The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)  For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

     Pilate, Caiaphas and Judas – on whom the evangelists fasten the major blame for the crucifixion of Jesus, and at those associated with them, whether priests or people or soldiers. Of each person or group the same verb is used, paradidōmi, to ‘hand over’ or ‘betray’. Jesus had predicted that he would be ‘betrayed into the hands of men’ or ‘handed over to be crucified’.  Matt. 17:22; 26:2  And the evangelists tell their story in such a way as to show how his prediction came true. First, Judas ‘handed him over’ to the priests (out of greed). Next, the priests ‘handed him over’ to Pilate (out of envy). Then Pilate ‘handed him over’ to the soldiers (out of cowardice), and they crucified him.  Matt. 26:14–16  (Judas);  27:18  (the priests);  27:26  (Pilate) Our instinctive reaction to this accumulated evil is to echo Pilate’s astonished question, when the crowd howled for his blood: ‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ (Matt. 27:23). But Pilate received no rational answer. The hysterical crowd only shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’ But why?
     It is natural to make excuses for them, for we see ourselves in them and we would like to be able to excuse ourselves. Indeed, there were some mitigating circumstances. As Jesus himself said in praying for the forgiveness of the soldiers who were crucifying him,  ‘they do not know what they are doing’.  Similarly, Peter said to a Jewish crowd in Jerusalem, ‘I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.’ Paul added that, if ‘the rulers of this age’ had understood, ‘they would not have crucified the Lord of glory’.  Luke 23:34; Acts 3:17; 1 Cor. 2:8   Yet they knew enough to be culpable, to accept the fact of their guilt and to be condemned for their actions. Were they not claiming full responsibility when they cried out, ‘Let his blood be on us and on our children!’?  Matt. 27:25. Cf. Acts 5:28   Peter was quite outspoken on the Day of Pentecost: ‘Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ Moreover, far from disagreeing with his verdict, his hearers were ‘cut to the heart’ and asked what they should do to make amends  (Acts 2:36–37).  Stephen was even more direct in his speech to the Sanhedrin which led to his martyrdom. Calling the Council ‘stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears’, he accused them of resisting the Holy Spirit just like their ancestors. For their ancestors had persecuted the prophets and killed those who predicted the Messiah’s coming, and now they had betrayed and murdered the Messiah himself  (Acts 7:51–52).  Paul was later to use similar language in writing to the  Thessalonians  about contemporary Jewish opposition to the gospel: they ‘killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out’. Because they were trying to keep the Gentiles from salvation, God’s judgment would fall upon them  (1 Thess. 2:14–16).
     This blaming of the Jewish people for the crucifixion of Jesus is extremely unfashionable today. Indeed, if it is used as a justification for slandering and persecuting the Jews (as it has been in the past), or for anti-Semitism, it is absolutely indefensible. The way to avoid anti-Semitic prejudice, however, is not to pretend that the Jews were innocent, but, having admitted their guilt, to add that others shared in it. This was how the apostles saw it. Herod and Pilate, Gentiles and Jews, they said, had together ‘conspired’ against Jesus  (Acts 4:27) . More important still, we ourselves are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed, we have done it. For whenever we turn away from Christ, we ‘are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’  (Heb. 6:6).  We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ the old negro spiritual asks. And we must answer, ‘Yes, we were there.’ Not as spectators only but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be crucified. We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). Indeed, ‘only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross’, wrote Canon Peter Green, ‘may claim his share in its grace’.
     Peter Green, Watchers by the Cross, p.17  The Cross of Christ

The Death of Jesus

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Jesus Is Buried

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Esther Agrees to Help the Jews

Esther 4:1 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. 2 He went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one was allowed to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. 3 And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.

4 When Esther’s young women and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed. She sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. 6 Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, 7 and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8 Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people. 9 And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

Paul Sails for Rome

Acts 27:1 And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. 2 And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 3 The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. 4 And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. 5 And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

9 Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

The Storm at Sea

13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. 18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”

27 When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28 So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms. 29 And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.

33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.

The Shipwreck

39 Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. 40 So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. 41 But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

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Recovering Traditional Apologetics: A Review of Penner’s “The End of Apologetics”

By Jake Meador / 1/25/2017

     I’m pleased to publish this guest review by Blake Adams.

     The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context, by Myron Bradley Penner, a Canadian philosopher and Anglican priest, calls for the trial and death of apologetics, which he claims “might be the single biggest threat to genuine Christian faith that we face today”[1] (now and hereafter, all emphases in quotes are his). More than a thesis, Penner presents a portrait of the postmodern Christian, and expects this to be the persuasive force of his book.

     Penner’s objective is audacious and impressive in its scope. In fact, “The End of Apologetics” feels at times like a summary of a larger, more thorough work. I found myself alternately agreeing and disagreeing with the contents, at times in the same paragraph, and I suspect the general reader will share the same experience.

     A Reasonable Faith | Penner defines apologetics as “roughly the Enlightenment project of attempting to establish a rational foundation for Christian belief.”[2] Since the Enlightenment, all claims have been pressed to account for themselves in purely objective, universal, neutral, and complex (OUNCE, Penner calls it) terms. Apologetics is Christianity consenting to these standards by articulating orthodoxy in a manner that those in a secular context would find acceptable. Though well-intentioned, the outcome is a version of apologetics that is informed by and perpetuates an Enlightenment modernism.

     A side effect is Christianity inadvertently finds itself defending something other than Christianity. Oftentimes, the change is so subtle that we hardly notice. Penner raises as an example that a number of apologists are duped into arguing for theism. Theism, properly understood, is a concept merely. It describes a number of religions, but it also may be discussed without reference to any particular religion. It is a proposition existing independently of any historical religious context which, of course, no religion is. No person, in a religious sense, practices “theism” or even “monotheism.” A religion follows, say, Yahweh: a divine being with a name who acts in history and has his own people. All deities cannot be discussed without acknowledging their earthly communities, but to do so in a secular age is to stumble into a sphere outside of OUNCE. Subsequently, religions that are more or less incomparable are lumped together against a uniform set of objections.

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     Jake Meador is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy, and son Wendell. Jake's writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.

Apologetics and the Fulfillment of Prophecies

By David Baggett 1/25/17

(Ac 18:24–28) 24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. ESV

     There’s a debate about apologetic methodology between evidentialists and presuppositionalists concerning the role of scripture in arguing for the faith. Although my proclivities run more in the direction of evidentialism, I concede there’s something of an important exception—a case where explicit appeal to scripture is altogether appropriate and not at all problematically circular. Normally the problem with this approach, in trying to convince someone that God exists, is that the person would obviously be skeptical of scripture as authoritative revelation. But the assumption this is always the case is largely because apologetics today is usually thought of in terms of convincing the skeptic, the unbeliever. Early Christians, however, were rarely confronted with that particular challenge. Atheists were rare. In fact, it was common that they themselves were called atheists because, in their exclusivism, they vociferously denied any and all of the state-sanctioned divinities in affirming the one true God. It would have been more than a little ironic if they were additionally tasked with taking on atheists!

     Almost all of the earliest Christians were Jews, and initially their outreach was mainly to Jews. This would change in due course, but their audience early on was most often a Jewish one, and, for quite a while, they were wildly successful. Such outreach typically took the form of appealing to scripture—specifically, the Old Testament. (The New Testament hadn’t yet been written.) And quite often this took the form of early Christian witnesses, evangelists, and apologists trying to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah. The Jews had the expectation of a coming Messiah, and the Old Testament featured quite a number of prophecies about this figure. Steeped in the Old Testament themselves, the early apologists constructed their case for Christ by arguing that Jesus was the promised one, the expected Messiah.

     After Saul’s conversion, for example, we’re told that he “increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ” (Acts 9:22). Luke tells us that after his resurrection Jesus appeared to a few disciples on their way to Emmaus, saying, “’O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken, ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter his glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:26-27). Note in the epigraph that Apollos vigorously “showed from the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:28).

     Those for whom the Old Testament little matters are usually and understandably unpersuaded by appealing to it, but the world contains billions of people from the Abrahamic faiths who claim to take the Old Testament seriously indeed. This may not exactly be an instance of presuppositionalist apologetics, but pointing to fulfillment of prophecies is an entirely legitimate and demonstrably effective apologetic, especially for those who claim to believe the Old Testament.

     To this end, here’s just a smattering of examples for those who’d like to become better equipped to do just this.

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     With his co-author, Jerry Walls, Dr. Baggett authored Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality. The book won Christianity Today’s 2012 apologetics book of the year of the award. He is working on a sequel with Walls that critiques naturalistic ethics, a book to be called God and Cosmos: Moral Truth and Human Meaning. They are under contract with Oxford University Press for a third book in the series, a book that will chronicle the history of moral arguments for God’s existence. Dr. Baggett has also co-edited a collection of essays exploring the philosophy of C.S. Lewis, and edited the third debate between Gary Habermas and Antony Flew on the resurrection of Jesus. Dr. Baggett currently is a professor at the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, VA.

The Three Parts of an Effective Apology

By Christine Carter 11/12/2015

     People make mistakes all the time. Not just bad people, or weak people. All people. Our mistakes are what make us human. And even when we don’t think that we’ve made a mistake, other people will often find errors in our ways. We human beings are walking offenders.

     Here’s the real question: If we’ve done something that offends someone else—whether or not we feel we are to blame—should we apologize?

     I believe that it almost always serves our highest good to apologize if we’ve hurt or offended someone else—even if we think the offended person’s anger is unjustified, or if we have a perfectly good excuse for what happened. Or if our intentions were all good.

     Often, the impact of our action is not what we intended. But here’s the thing: Impact matters much more than intention. Our happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of our social connections—our relationships with friends, family, partners, spouses, neighbors, colleagues—and so broken or fraying connections are usually worth repairing.

     We don’t repair a fissure in one of our relationships by ignoring it. (We have a saying in our family: You can sweep sh*t under the rug, but it is still going to smell.) And we don’t repair it by blaming someone else, or defending our actions. We initiate a repair by apologizing.

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     Christine Carter, Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center. Amazon says, "A sought-after keynote speaker, Dr. Carter also writes an award-winning blog, which is frequently syndicated on the HuffingtonPost, PsychologyToday.com, PositivelyPositive.com, Medium.com, and several other websites.

     Dr. Carter has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, as well as Good Housekeeping, Parenting, Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, Fitness, Redbook, and dozens of other publications. She has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the “Dr. Oz Show”, the “TODAY” show, the “Rachael Ray Show,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer”, PBS, as well as NPR and BBC Radio.

Christine Carter Books:

"The Madonnas of Leningrad"

By Professor Pryor 1/26/17

     Thanks to our book club I'm reading more novels at any time since I was a teen/young adult. The Madonnas of Leningrad was the most recent. Set in the present and during the Nazi siege of Leningrad, The Madonna's tells the story of the elderly Marina Buriakov, who now suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. As a teen in the pre-invasion days of 1941, Marina had served as a docent in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. After spending months helping pack and dispatch some of the world's greatest works of art, Marina remains in the museum with her aunt and uncle as air raid warden and and all-around helper.

     To occupy her mind, Marina works her way through different parts of the museum each day to memorize every work of art. Author Dean's ability to describe some of the museum's missing masterpieces in non-technical language is superb. As the siege continues and Leningrad experiences the record-setting cold of a winter without heating, Marina spends time with one the museum's cleaners who had worked there since it was the czars' palace. Anya prays to the many missing Madonnas for deliverance in which the unbelieving Marina eventually joins. And building on the Madonna-theme, Marina find herself pregnant from her fiance who is serving in the Soviet army.

     Meanwhile in the present, Dean describes Marina's Alzheimer's from both Marina's disjointed internal perspective as well as from the points of view of her family. Dean's contrast of a once-extraordinary memory with ever-deepening forgetfulness is effective and powerful. I found it especially moving having lost a father and a mother-in-law to this disease.

     At 227 pages, The Madonnas of Leningrad is relatively short. It is easy to read and will cause its readers to think more deeply about the importance of memory to personhood and to reflect with greater empathy the reality of those whose memories are disappearing as well as their families. While I don't think that Dean's The Madonnas of Leningrad was quite as moving as Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, both novels were excellent and I can heartily recommend it.

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     About Professor Pryor: Professor of law, teacher of contracts and subjects commercial, follower of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in the Reformed tradition, and curious about why things are the way they seem to be. Graduate of various schools, husband of one, and father of three.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 14

The Fool Says, There Is No God
14 To The Choirmaster. Of David.

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.

7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

The Holy Bible: ESV Study Bible. (2016). (ESV). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Physician-Assisted Dying Threatens Doctors and Gospel Witness in Canada

By Paul Carter 1/26/2017

     Physician-assisted dying, or assisted suicide, has been a much-debated topic in North America over the past few years. Collin Hansen recently dubbed it one of 2016’s most important theological stories. With legislation working its way through the courts on both sides of the border, this issue is likely to continue to dominate the headlines for several years to come.

     On June 17, 2016, the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-14 into law, effectively amending the Criminal Code in order to permit certain forms of physician-assisted dying. According to the amendment a person may receive medical assistance in dying if they meet all of the following criteria:

     (a) they are eligible—or, but for any applicable minimum period of residence or waiting period, would be eligible—for health services funded by a government in Canada;

     (b) they are at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health;

     (c) they have a grievous and irremediable medical condition;

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     Paul Carter attended Moody Bible Institute and is a graduate of York University (B.A.) and McMaster Divinity College (MDiv). He has been in pastoral ministry since 1994, serving in both Fellowship and Canadian Baptist churches in Oakville, Mississauga and Orillia, Ontario Canada. He presently serves as the Lead Pastor of First Baptist Church, Orillia, a large multi-staff church with a passion for biblical preaching and local mission. Along with his friend Marc Bertrand he is the co-founder of the Covenant Life Renewal Association (CLRA) seeking Biblical and Spiritual revival within Canadian Baptist Churches. He also serves on the TGC Canada board. Paul has written two books and is a frequent blogger on issues of Christian faith and living. You can find his devotional podcast at www.intotheword.ca. Paul is the happy husband of Shauna Lee and the proud papa of 5 beautiful children, Madison, Max, Mikayla, Peyton and Noa. You can find him at :www.intotheword.cawww.adfontes.ca, and www.firstbaptistorillia.org.

John Owen: Prayer as Politics By Other Means

By Daniel Hyde 1/25/2017

     Carl von Clausewitz, the 19th century Prussian military theorist, famously described war as “the continuation of politics by other means.” Widely appropriated, the aphorism continues to pop up in pop culture and political analysis alike; I believe I ran across it first in the classic 1995 political thriller Red Dawn. In studying the liturgical theology of John Owen, I can’t help but tweak this trope for my own use: for Owen, prayer was politics by other means.

     Prayer in Owen’s Theology | Too often in academic as well as popular approaches to John Owen, he is only read theologically. In his liturgical theology worship is summed up as communion with the Triune God in heaven. In particular, his view was that public prayer was the gift of the Triune God by means of the ascended Christ through the Holy Spirit in and through ministers. It was concerning that pneumatological work that he wrote his 1682 A Discourse of the Work of the Holy Spirit in Prayer (1682).

     Prayer in Owen’s Politics | Owen cannot, however, be read purely theologically. We need to break out of viewing him as if he were, as one recent journal article describes him,  Owen the “super theologian, leaping quodlibetal questions in a single bound.” Why Owen said what he said about prayer was deeply influenced by the political realities of his day. A Non-Conformist (which at the time meant an Anglican who ignored some of the rubrics of Anglican practice, regarding them as tinged with Romanism) and later Dissenter outside the re-established Anglican church, Owen accentuated the individual minister’s spiritual gifting for public prayer; this emphasis was in deliberate contrast to conforming Anglicanism’s focus on the Book of Common Prayer.  His position was born from a particular politico-eschatological outlook; it was not simply the result of biblical exegesis.

     Owen’s Early Eschatological Outlook

     While in his first parish ministry in 1643, Owen described his early eschatological vision:

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     Daniel R. Hyde is the Pastor of Oceanside United Reformed Church (Carlsbad/Oceanside, California), Adjunct Instructor of Ministerial Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and Adjunct Instructor of Systematic Theology and Missions at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is currently writing his PhD on John Owen’s liturgical theology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     Sixth Commandment.


39. The purport of this commandment is that since the Lord has bound the whole human race by a kind of unity, the safety of all ought to be considered as entrusted to each. In general, therefore, all violence and injustice, and every kind of harm from which our neighbour's body suffers, is prohibited. Accordingly, we are required faithfully to do what in us lies to defend the life of our neighbour; to promote whatever tends to his tranquillity, to be vigilant in warding off harm, and, when danger comes, to assist in removing it. Remembering that the Divine Lawgiver thus speaks, consider, moreover, that he requires you to apply the same rule in regulating your mind. It were ridiculous, that he, who sees the thoughts of the heart, and has special regard to them, should train the body only to rectitude. This commandment, therefore, prohibits the murder of the heart, and requires a sincere desire to preserve our brother's life. The hand, indeed, commits the murder, but the mind, under the influence of wrath and hatred, conceives it. How can you be angry with your brother, without passionately longing to do him harm? If you must not be angry with him, neither must you hate him, hatred being nothing but inveterate anger. However you may disguise the fact, or endeavour to escape from it by vain pretexts. Where either wrath or hatred is, there is an inclination to do mischief. If you still persist in tergiversation, the mouth of the Spirit has declared, that "whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer," (1 John 3:15); and the mouth of our Saviour has declared, that "whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire," (Mt. 5:22).

40. Scripture notes a twofold equity on which this commandment is founded. Man is both the image of God and our flesh. Wherefore, if we would not violate the image of God, we must hold the person of man sacred--if we would not divest ourselves of humanity we must cherish our own flesh. The practical inference to be drawn from the redemption and gift of Christ will be elsewhere considered. [215] The Lord has been pleased to direct our attention to these two natural considerations as inducements to watch over our neighbour's preservation--viz. to revere the divine image impressed upon him, and embrace our own flesh. To be clear of the crime of murder, it is not enough to refrain from shedding man's blood. If in act you perpetrate, if in endeavour you plot, if in wish and design you conceive what is adverse to another's safety, you have the guilt of murder. On the other hand, if you do not according to your means and opportunity study to defend his safety, by that inhumanity you violate the law. But if the safety of the body is so carefully provided for, we may hence infer how much care and exertion is due to the safety of the soul, which is of immeasurably higher value in the sight of God.

Seventh Commandment.


41. The purport of this commandment is, that as God loves chastity and purity, we ought to guard against all uncleanness. The substance of the commandment therefore is, that we must not defile ourselves with any impurity or libidinous excess. To this corresponds the affirmative, that we must regulate every part of our conduct chastely and continently. The thing expressly forbidden is adultery, to which lust naturally tends, that its filthiness (being of a grosser and more palpable form, in as much as it casts a stain even on the body) may dispose us to abominate every form of lust. As the law under which man was created was not to lead a life of solitude, but enjoy a help meet for him, and ever since he fell under the curse the necessity for this mode of life is increased; the Lord made the requisite provision for us in this respect by the institution of marriage, which, entered into under his authority, he has also sanctified with his blessing. Hence, it is evident, that any mode of cohabitation different from marriage is cursed in his sight, and that the conjugal relation was ordained as a necessary means of preventing us from giving way to unbridled lust. Let us beware, therefore, of yielding to indulgence, seeing we are assured that the curse of God lies on every man and woman cohabiting without marriage.

42. Now, since natural feeling and the passions unnamed by the fall make the marriage tie doubly necessary, save in the case of those whom God has by special grace exempted, let every individual consider how the case stands with himself. Virginity, I admit, is a virtue not to be despised; but since it is denied to some, and to others granted only for a season, those who are assailed by incontinence, and unable successfully to war against it, should retake themselves to the remedy of marriage, and thus cultivate chastity in the way of their calling. Those incapable of self-restraint, if they apply not to the remedy allowed and provided for intemperance, war with God and resist his ordinance. And let no man tell me (as many in the present day do) that he can do all things, God helping! The help of God is present with those only who walk in his ways (Ps. 91:14), that is, in his callings from which all withdraw themselves who, omitting the remedies provided by God, vainly and presumptuously strive to struggle with and surmount their natural feelings. That continence is a special gift from God, and of the class of those which are not bestowed indiscriminately on the whole body of the Church, but only on a few of its members, our Lord affirms (Mt. 19:12). He first describes a certain class of individuals who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heavenly sake; that is, in order that they may be able to devote themselves with more liberty and less restraint to the things of heaven. But lest any one should suppose that such a sacrifice was in every man's power, he had shown a little before that all are not capable, but those only to whom it is specially given from above. Hence he concludes, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." Paul asserts the same thing still more plainly when he says, "Every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that," (1 Cor. 7:7).

43. Since we are reminded by an express declaration, that it is not in every man's power to live chaste in celibacy although it may be his most strenuous study and aim to do so--that it is a special grace which the Lord bestows only on certain individuals, in order that they may be less encumbered in his service, do we not oppose God, and nature as constituted by him, if we do not accommodate our mode of life to the measure of our ability? The Lord prohibits fornication, therefore he requires purity and chastity. The only method which each has of preserving it is to measure himself by his capacity. Let no man rashly despise matrimony as a thing useless or superfluous to him; let no man long for celibacy unless he is able to dispense with the married state. Nor even here let him consult the tranquillity or convenience of the flesh, save only that, freed from this tie, he may be the readier and more prepared for all the offices of piety. And since there are many on whom this blessing is conferred only for a time, let every one, in abstaining from marriage, do it so long as he is fit to endure celibacy. If he has not the power of subduing his passion, let him understand that the Lord has made it obligatory on him to marry. The Apostle shows this when he enjoins: "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband." "If they cannot contain, let them marry." He first intimates that the greater part of men are liable to incontinence; and then of those so liable, he orders all, without exception, to have recourse to the only remedy by which unchastity may be obviated. The incontinent, therefore, neglecting to cure their infirmity by this means, sin by the very circumstance of disobeying the Apostle's command. And let not a man flatter himself, that because he abstains from the outward act he cannot be accused of unchastity. His mind may in the meantime be inwardly inflamed with lust. For Paul's definition of chastity is purity of mind, combined with purity of body. "The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit," (1 Cor. 7:34). Therefore when he gives a reason for the former precept, he not only says that it is better to marry than to live in fornication, but that it is better to marry than to burn.

44. Moreover, when spouses are made aware that their union is blessed by the Lord, they are thereby reminded that they must not give way to intemperate and unrestrained indulgence. For though honourable wedlock veils the turpitude of incontinence, it does not follow that it ought forthwith to become a stimulus to it. Wherefore, let spouses consider that all things are not lawful for them. Let there be sobriety in the behaviour of the husband toward the wife, and of the wife in her turn toward the husband; each so acting as not to do any thing unbecoming the dignity and temperance of married life. Marriage contracted in the Lord ought to exhibit measure and modesty--not run to the extreme of wantonness. This excess Ambrose censured gravely, but not undeservedly, when he described the man who shows no modesty or comeliness in conjugal intercourse, as committing adultery with his wife. [216] Lastly let us consider who the Lawgiver is that thus condemns fornication: even He who, as he is entitled to possess us entirely, requires integrity of body, soul, and spirit. Therefore, while he forbids fornication, he at the same time forbids us to lay snares for our neighbour's chastity by lascivious attire, obscene gestures, and impure conversation. There was reason in the remark made by Archelaus to a youth clothed effeminately and over-luxuriously, that it mattered not in what part his wantonness appeared. We must have respect to God, who abhors all contaminations whatever be the part of soul or body in which it appears. And that there may be no doubt about it, let us remember, that what the Lord here commends is chastity. If he requires chastity, he condemns every thing which is opposed to it. Therefore, if you aspire to obedience, let not your mind burn within with evil concupiscence, your eyes wanton after corrupting objects, nor your body be decked for allurement; let neither your tongue by filthy speeches, nor your appetite by intemperance, entice the mind to corresponding thoughts. All vices of this description are a kind of stains which despoil chastity of its purity.

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

The Death Of The Lord Jesus Christ

A.W. Pink from The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross

     The Death Of The Lord Jesus Christ is a subject of never-failing interest to all who study prayerfully the scripture of truth. This is so, not only because the believer’s all both for time and eternity depends upon it, but also, because of its transcendent uniqueness. Four words appear to sum up the salient features of this mystery of mysteries: the death of Christ was natural, unnatural, preternatural, and supernatural. A few comments seem called for by way of definition and amplification.

     First: the death of Christ was natural. By this we mean that it was a real death. It is because we are so familiar with the fact of it that the above statement appears simple and commonplace, yet, what we here touch upon is to the spiritual mind one of the main elements of wonderment. The one who was "taken, and by wicked hands" crucified and slain was none other than Jehovah’s "Fellow". The blood that was shed on the accursed tree was divine - "The church of God which he purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). As says the apostle, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Cor. 5:19).

     But how could Jehovah’s "Fellow" suffer? How could the eternal one die? Ah, he who in the beginning was the Word, who was with God, and who was God, "became flesh" . He who was in the form of God took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men; "and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8). Thus having become incarnate the Lord of glory was capable of suffering death, and so it was that he "tasted" death itself. In his words, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit", we see how natural his death was, and the reality of it became still more apparent when he was laid in the tomb, where he remained for three days.

     Second: the death of Christ was un-natural. By this we mean that it was abnormal. Above we have said that in becoming incarnate the Son of God became capable of suffering death, yet it must not be inferred from this that death therefore had a claim upon him; far from this being the case, the very reverse was the truth. Death is the wages of sin, and he had none. Before his birth it was said to Mary "that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Not only did the Lord Jesus enter this world without contracting the defilement attaching to fallen human nature, but he "did no sin" (1 Pet. 2:22), had "no sin" (1 John 3:5), "knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21). In his person and in his conduct he was the Holy One of God "without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet. 1:19). As such death had no claim upon him. Even Pilate had to acknowledge that he could find in him "no fault". Hence we say, for the Holy One of God to die was un-natural.

     Third: the death of Christ was preter-natural. By this we mean that it was marked out and determined for him beforehand. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Before Adam was created the Fall was anticipated. Before sin entered the world, salvation from it had been planned by God. In the eternal counsels of Deity, it was fore-ordained that there should be a Saviour for sinners, a Saviour who should suffer the just for the unjust, a Saviour who should die in order that we might live. And "because there was none other good enough to pay the price of sin" the only-Begotten of the Father offered himself as the ransom.

     The preternatural character of the death of Christ has been well termed the "undergirding of the Cross". It was in view of that approaching death that God "justly passed over the sins done aforetime" (Rom. 3:25 RV). Had not Christ been, in the reckoning of God, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, every sinning person in Old Testament times would have gone down to the pit the moment he sinned!

     Fourth: the death of Christ was super-natural. By this we mean that it was different from every other death. In all things he has the pre-eminence. His birth was different from all other births. His life was different from all other lives. And his death was different from all other deaths. This was clearly intimated in his own utterance upon the subject: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to take it again" (John 10:17, 18). A careful study of the gospel narratives which describe his death furnish a sevenfold proof and verification of his assertion.

     (1) That our Lord "laid down his life", that he was not powerless in the hands of his enemies comes out clearly in John 18 where we have the record of his arrest. A band of officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, headed by Judas, sought him in Gethsemane. Coming forward to meet them, the Lord Jesus asks, "Whom seek ye?" The reply was, "Jesus of Nazareth" and then our Lord uttered the ineffable title of deity, that by which Jehovah had revealed himself of old to Moses at the burning bush - "I am". The effect was startling. These officers were awestruck. They were in the presence of incarnate deity, and were overpowered by a brief consciousness of divine majesty. How plain it is then that had he so pleased our blessed Saviour could have walked quietly away, leaving those who had come to arrest him prostrate on the ground! Instead, he delivers himself up into their hands and is led (not driven) as a lamb to the slaughter.

     (2) Let us now turn to Matthew 27:46 - the most solemn verse in all the Bible - "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The words which we would ask the reader to observe carefully are here placed in italics. Why is it that the Holy Spirit tells us that the Saviour uttered that terrible cry "with aloud voice"? Most certainly there is a reason for it. This becomes even more apparent when we note that he has repeated them four verses lower down in the same chapter - "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit" (Matthew 27:50). What then do these words indicate? Do they not corroborate what has been said in the above paragraphs? Do they not tell us that the Saviour was not exhausted by what he had passed through? Do they not intimate that his strength had not failed him? That he was still master of himself, that instead of being conquered by death, he was but yielding himself to it? Do they not show us that God had "laid help upon one that was mighty" (Ps. 89:19)!

     (3) We call attention next to his fourth utterance on the Cross - "I thirst". This word, in the light of its setting, furnishes a wonderful evidence of our Lord’s complete self-possession. The whole verse reads as follows: "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst" (John 19:28). Of old, it had been predicted that they should give the Saviour to drink, vinegar mingled with gall. And in order that this prophecy might be fulfilled, he cried, "I thirst". How this evidences the fact that he was in full possession of his mental faculties, that his mind was unclouded, that his terrible sufferings had neither deranged nor disturbed it. As he hung on the cross, at the close of the six hours, his mind reviewed the entire scope of the prophetic word, and checked off one by one those predictions which had reference to his passion. Excepting the prophecies which were to be fulfilled after his death, but one remained un-fulfilled, namely, "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Ps. 69:21), and this was not overlooked by the blessed sufferer. "Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture (not "scriptures", the reference being to Psalm 69:2 1) might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst." Again, we say, what proof is here furnished that he laid down his life of himself!

     (4) The next verification the Holy Spirit has supplied of our Lord’s words in John 10:18 is found in John 19:30, "When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the spirit." What are we intended to learn from these words? What is here signified by this act of the Saviour? Surely the answer is not far to seek. The implication is clear. Previous to this our Lord’s head had been held erect. It was no impotent sufferer that hung there in a swoon. Had that been the case his head had lolled helplessly on his chest, and it would have been impossible for him to "bow" it. And mark attentively the verb used here: it is not his head "fell", but he, consciously, calmly, reverently, bowed his head. How sublime was his carriage even on the tree! What superb composure did he evidence. Was it not his majestic bearing on the cross that, among other things, caused the centurion to cry, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54)!

     (5) Look now at his last act of all: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the spirit" (Luke 23:46). None else ever did this or died thus. How accurately these words agree with his own statement, so often quoted by us, "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself (John 10:17, 18). The uniqueness of our Lord’s action may be seen by comparing his words on the cross with those of dying Stephen. As the first Christian martyr came to the brink of the river, he cried, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59). But in contrast with this Christ said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Stephen’s spirit was being taken from him. Not so with the Saviour. None could take from him his life. He "gave up" his spirit.

     (6) The action of the soldiers in regard to the legs of those on the three crosses gives further evidence of the uniqueness of Christ’s death. We read, "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs" (John 19:31-33). The Lord Jesus and the two thieves had been crucified together. They had been on their respective crosses the same length of time. And now at the close of the day the two thieves were still alive, for as it is well known death by crucifixion though exceedingly painful was usually a slow death. No vital member of the body was directly affected and often the sufferer lingered on for two or three days before being completely overcome by exhaustion. It was not natural, therefore, that Christ should be dead after but six hours on the cross. The Jews recognized this, and requested Pilate that the legs of all three be broken and death be thus hastened. In the fact, then, that the Saviour was "dead already" when the soldiers came to him, though the two thieves yet lived, we have additional proof that he had voluntarily "laid down his life of himself", that it was not "taken from him".

     (7) For the final demonstration of the super-natural character of Christ’s death, we turn to note the wonderful phenomena that accompanied it. "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent: and the graves were opened" (Matthew 27:51,52). That was no ordinary death that had been witnessed on the summit of Golgotha’s rugged heights, and it was followed by no ordinary attendants. First, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, to show that a hand from heaven had torn asunder that curtain which shut out the temple-worshipper from the earthly throne of God - thus signifying that the way into the holiest was now made plain and that access to God himself had been opened up through the broken body of his Son. Next, the earth did quake. Not, I believe, that there was an earthquake, nor even a "great earthquake", but the earth itself, the entire earth was shaken to its very foundation, and rocked on its axis, as though to show it was horrified at the most awful deed that had ever been perpetrated on its surface. "And the rocks rent" - the very strength of nature gave way before the greater power of that death. Finally, we are told, "the graves were opened", showing that the power of Satan, which is death, was there shivered and shattered - all the outward attestations of the value of that atoning death.

     Putting these together: the manifest yielding up of himself into the hands of those who arrested him; the crying with a "loud voice", denoting his retained vigor; the fact that he was in full and unimpaired possession of his mentality, evidenced by the "knowing that all things were now accomplished"; the "bowing" of the erect head; the deliberate "committing" of his spirit into the hands of the Father; the fact that he was "dead already" when the soldiers came to break his legs; all furnished proof that his life was not "taken from him", but that he laid it down of himself and this, together with the tearing of the temple veil, the quaking of the earth, the rending of the rocks, and the opening of the graves, all bore unmistakable witness to the supernatural character of his death; in view of which we may well say with the wondering centurion, "Truly this was the Son of God".

     The death of Christ, then, was unique, miraculous, supernatural. In the chapters which follow we shall hearken to the words which fell from his lips while he hung upon the cross - words which make known to us some of the attendant circumstances of the great tragedy; words which reveal the excellencies of the one who suffered there; words in which is wrapped up the gospel of our salvation; and words which inform us of the purpose, the meaning, the sufferings, and the sufficiency of the death divine.

The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross

  • What If It's All True
  • Your Faithfulness Endures
  • Fresh Start

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Blessed in ‘every’ area of life
     1/27/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘God…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.’

(Eph 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, ESV

     Farmer Brown lived during the Great Depression, and he was having trouble keeping up the mortgage payments on his farm. Eventually the bank gave him thirty days to catch up on his back payments or face foreclosure. Then something wonderful happened. A man from an oil company showed up on his doorstep, asking for a lease to drill for oil on his land. Since he was going to lose the farm anyway, Farmer Brown decided that it couldn’t hurt. Well, that oil company drilled and hit a gusher – 82,000 barrels of oil a day. Immediately Farmer Brown became a millionaire many times over. Now, here’s the question – when did he become a millionaire? Was it when oil was discovered on his farm, or when he first bought the land? He was a millionaire the moment he purchased the farm, but he lived in poverty because he didn’t know what was under his feet and within his reach. The Bible says God ‘has blessed us with every spiritual blessing’. Some people think the only thing God will do for you is bless you with salvation, then He lets you struggle through the rest of life until you get to heaven. As long as you believe that, you’re living in your own spiritual version of the Great Depression. You’re living spiritually poor, spiritually weak, and spiritually deprived because you don’t know what’s available to you in Christ or how to access it and appropriate it in your life. Refuse to live that way. Instead, read your Bible and begin to claim God’s promises in every area of your life.

     I am not a scholar, but I don't think we can link finding oil and becoming a millionaire to every spiritual blessing. Consider the following and make up your own mind.

(Ro 5:2–4) 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, ESV

(Ro 8:18)18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ESV

(Ps 34:19) Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. ESV

(2 Co 4:17) For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, ESV

(1 Pe 4:1) Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, ESV

(Php 1:29) For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, ESV

(Php 3:10) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, ESV

(Mt 10:38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. ESV

(1 Pe 2:20–21) For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. ESV

     I want to suggest reading this article. Click here.

Exodus 9-11
Matthew 15:21-39

UCB The Word For Today

     Richard S. Adams

     Despite frequently asking God to guide our footsteps and direct our path I often question where I’m at, why I’m where I am, and am I going anywhere at all. It makes me feel better that many of the chaplains and pastors I meet with occasionally feel the same. It is interesting to me, however, that most of the Psychology PhD candidates I meet with seem more confident of their spiritual footing.

     So you’re trudging through the woods and all of the sudden you seem to have gotten off the well-worn hiker’s path. You’re not sure where it happened. You thought you were paying attention, but now it is clear you’re lost. If you live in Oregon you’ve probably experienced this. It doesn’t help that you’ve seen scores of stories on the local News about hikers getting lost. How is it that this seems to happen to so many so often, experienced hikers as well as the rest of us?

     I hate this feeling. It isn’t quite nauseous, but it’s close. It’s uncomfortable, everything just seems off. This happens to me spiritually. It comes from many sources, but often it is because I am paying too much attention to myself. Methodically counting my blessings helps me backtrack to a safer, more familiar place where sometimes, only sometimes I can identify what went wrong.

     So here it is two years later and what I wrote in 2016 fits me perfectly. The only thing that has changed is I have fewer and fewer things I want to do. My desire for the Lord has increased, but the sandcastles I tried so carefully to build are being washed out of my consciousness. I'm always giving my directees books since my children have no interest in Theology. It is funny how the things once so important have little value for me today. They just get in the way of my longing to know the Lord better.


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.

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     President Woodrow Wilson issued a Proclamation on this day, stating: “Whereas in the various countries now engaged in war there are nine millions of Jews, the great majority of whom are destitute of food, shelter, and clothing; driven from their homes without warning… causing starvation, disease and untold suffering; and Whereas the people of the United States of America have learned… of this terrible plight… I, Woodrow Wilson, do proclaim January 27, 1916, as a day upon which [to]… make contributions… for the aid of the stricken Jewish people. Contributions may be addressed to the American Red Cross.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     What is here urged are internal practices and habits of the mind. What is here urged are secret habits of unceasing orientation of the deeps of our being about the Inward Light; ways of conducting our inward life so that we are perpetually bowed in worship, while we are also very busy in the world of daily affairs. What is here urged are inward practices of the mind at deepest levels, letting it swing like the needle, to the polestar of the soul. And like the needle, the Inward Light becomes the truest guide of life, showing us new and unsuspected defects in our­ selves and our fellows, showing us new and unsuspected possibilities in the power and life of good­ will among men. But, more deeply, He who is within us urges, by secret persuasion, to such an amazing Inward Life with Him, so that, firmly cleaving to Him, we always look out upon all the world through the sheen of the Inward Light, and react toward men spontaneously and joyously from this Inward Center. Yield yourself to Him who is a far better teacher than these outward words, and you will have found the Instructor Himself, of whom these words are a faint and broken echo.

     Such practice of inward orientation, of inward worship and listening, is no mere counsel for special religious groups, for small religious orders, for special "interior souls," for monks retired in cloisters. This practice is the heart of religion. It is the secret, I am persuaded, of the inner life of the Master of Galilee. He expected this secret to be freshly discovered in everyone who would be his follower. It creates an amazing fellowship, the church catholic and invisible, and institutes group living at a new level, a society grounded in reverence, history rooted in eternity, colonies of heaven.

     It is the special property of no group or sect, but is a universal obligation and privilege. Roman Catholics have treasured this practice, but have overlaid the authority of the Light Within by a heavy weight of external ecclesiastical authority. Protestant emphasis, beginning so nobly in the early Luther, has grown externally rationalistic, humanistic, and service-minded. Dogmas and creed and the closed revelation of a completed canon have replaced the emphasis upon keeping close to the fresh upspringings of the Inner Life. The dearth of rich Protestant literature on the interior aspect of Christian living, except as it bears on the opening experience of conversion, bears testimony to its emphasis being elsewhere.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

When we put our cares in His hands,
He puts His peace in our hearts.
--- Author Unknown

An ounce of practice
is worth more than tons of preaching.
--- Mohandas Gandhi

The critics of Jesus in his day never questioned that he could heal the sick. They did deny his claim to forgive sins. The church today, the evangelical church takes it for granted that people’s sins can be forgiven but stumbles over the fact that people can be healed. Which is harder? To forgive sins or to heal sickness? Which is the greater miracle? That our sins can be forgiven. There’s no miracle that transcends that.
--- Derek Prince

Those who yearn for God and take the spiritual life most seriously always experience periods of spiritual darkness and loneliness; it is part of the spiritual quest for Christians.
--- Mark R. McMinn

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 6:6-11
     by D.H. Stern

6     Go to the ant, you lazybones!
Consider its ways, and be wise.
7     It has no chief, overseer or ruler;
8     yet it provides its food in summer
and gathers its supplies at harvest-time.
9     Lazybones! How long will you lie there in bed?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10     “I’ll just lie here a bit, rest a little longer,
just fold my hands for a little more sleep”—
11     and poverty comes marching in on you,
scarcity hits you like an invading soldier.

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

                Look again and think

     Take no thought for your life. --- Matthew 6:25.

     A warning which needs to be reiterated is that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things entering in, will choke all that God puts in. We are never free from the recurring tides of this encroachment. If it does not come on the line of clothes and food, it will come on the line of money or lack of money; of friends or lack of friends; or on the line of difficult circumstances. It is one steady encroachment all the time, and unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the standard against it, these things will come in like a flood.

     “Take no thought for your life.” ‘Be careful about one thing only,’ says our Lord—‘your relationship to Me.’ Common sense shouts loud and says—‘That is absurd, I must consider how I am going to live, I must consider what I am going to eat and drink.’ Jesus says you must not. Beware of allowing the thought that this statement is made by One Who does not understand our particular circumstances. Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things so as to make them the one concern of our life. Whenever there is competition, be sure that you put your relationship to God first.

     “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” How much evil has begun to threaten you to-day? What kind of mean little imps have been looking in and saying—‘Now what are you going to do next month—this summer?’ ‘Be anxious for nothing,’ Jesus says. Look again and think. Keep your mind on the ‘much more’ of your Heavenly Father.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Bush
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The Bush

I know that bush,
  Moses; there are many of them
  in Wales in the autumn, braziers
  where the imagination
  warms itself. I have put off
  pride and, knowing the ground
  holy, lingered to wonder
  how it is that I do not burn
  and yet am consumed.

  And in this country
  of failure, the rain
  falling out of a black
  cloud in gold pieces there
  are none to gather,
  I have thought often
  of the fountain of my people
  that played beautifully here
  once in the sun's light
  like a tree undressing.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Teacher's Commentary

     These chapters are almost a rest, or a pause, in the dramatic stories told in Genesis. They report the lives of the son and the grandson of Abraham, men to whom the covenant promises were confirmed, and through whom the line is traced. But their lives mark a pause in the development of the divine purpose. No great and single message shines through these chapters, as it did through early Genesis. In Abraham God introduced the covenant theme which dominates the Old Testament. And in the man Abraham God illustrates the nature of faith, and the role faith will always play in man’s relationship with God.

     But Isaac and Jacob are lesser men, and consequently play less significant roles. Yet, like all “less significant” people, they are easy for you and me to identify with. In God’s dealings with them, we can find much to enrich our own lives.

     Studying the Old Testament. There are many approaches to take in studying Scripture. Each has its role and function. Each is appropriate; each gives us insight into the meaning and the message of the sacred text.

     Among the ways we might study Genesis 25–36 are these: the archeological, the theological, and the devotional, and what we might call the comparative; looking at the rest of Scripture to see what God seeks to emphasize.

     The archeological. This approach involves examining the customs and folkways of Bible times to help us understand actions reported in the Bible.

     This method is helpful on two counts. First, we’re kept from reading motives and causes into the actions of Bible characters which really are not there. For instance, in Genesis 31 we read that Rachel, Jacob’s wife, stole her father’s household gods (idols). The immediate reaction might be, “Ah ha! The family is involved in pagan worship, and Rachel wants to hold on to her religion. The family may go back to Palestine, but Rachel will keep on being pagan.” I’m sure sermons must even have been preached on this text, on the danger of bringing along our old “gods” when we turn to Jesus and journey toward our own “promised land.”

     There’s only one thing wrong with such an application. The interpretation of Rachel’s action is in error. In those days the household gods were a symbol of family headship. The heir was the one to possess the household gods. When Jacob fled with his family, Rachel’s theft was her way of laying claim for her husband and children to all her father had. It’s possible this theft and the claim it implies were major factors leading Laban and his sons to pursue Jacob so far.

     Archeology also gives us insight into Jacob’s “gift” to Esau when he sent herds of animals on ahead to his brother (Gen. 32–33). When the two brothers met, Esau at first politely protested that he had plenty and did not need the gifts. Jacob urged him to accept. This urging was not from mere politeness, nor even a salve to a guilty conscience. In Jacob’s time, to refuse such a gift would have meant that Esau was declaring himself to still be an enemy. Acceptance of the gift bound Esau to friendship. It was a visible sign to all that the rift between the two brothers was healed.

The Teacher's Commentary

Take Heart
     January 27

     One thing I do. --- Philippians 3:13.

     The first element [in the secret of Paul’s incomparable life] is the element of wholehearted concentration. (Classic Sermons/Apostle Paul (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)) “One thing I do”—not a dozen things, not even two things, but this one thing I do. No life can be very great or very happy or very useful without this element of concentration. Decision is energy, and energy is power, and power is confidence, and confidence to a remarkable degree contributes to success. Turn to any realm that you will, and the vital meaning of concentration stands out in all human life in the most striking fashion.

     Take the business world. [Its] very watchwords magnify this element of concentration—specialization and consolidation and incorporation. The day for the jack-of-all-trades has passed. An individual must do one thing and do it with all his or her might. The day of the specialist has come.

     When we look at the notable scientists, that truth of concentration seems to be written in their lives as with letters of living fire. Edison concentrated his energies in the realm of electricity and was constantly surprising the world by his marvelous discoveries.

     When we come to the realm religious—this element of concentration there holds sway just as in these other realms. No one can serve two masters. Jesus stands above all humanity and says, “If you would be my disciple, I must come before father or mother or the dearest loved one of your life. I must come before your own business or your own property. I must come before your own life.”

     Many a Christian follows Christ afar off and limps and grovels in the Christian life, seeking to adjust in life to giving Christ some secondary place, and Christ will not have it. Concentration is a prime requisite in the victorious life anywhere.
--- George W. Truett

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

On This Day   January 27
     Hush, My Soul

     Lifespans were shorter in earlier days, and the Lord’s workers were not unaffected. Medical science was young, hospitals were scarce, disease was rampant, and every home had its deathbed scenes. But Christians, it was noticed, “died well.” Here’s an example. Vermont pastor Daniel Jackson prepared this newspaper obituary of his wife who passed away on January 27, 1852:

     It becomes my painful duty to record the death of Mary Jackson, my beloved consort in life. She expired on Tuesday, the 27th of January, at half-past ten in the evening. Her disease was consumption, which refused to relinquish its hold until the vital powers of life sunk beneath its final grasp. It is not in the power of my pen to depict the agonies of that memorable deathbed scene. I will therefore hasten to present the reader a more inviting phase of this matter.

     The triumphant state of her mind softened every agony, hushed every murmur, and completely disarmed the king of terrors. For awhile, she had a sharp conflict with the power of attachment which bound her to family and friends, but by the grace of God she obtained a glorious victory and longed to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

     I will here notice some of her dying words uttered during the last week of her life. Speaking of the happy state into which she was about to enter, she exclaimed, “O glorious day, O blessed hope, my heart leaps forward at the thought.” When distressed for breath, she would say, “Blessed Jesus, receive my spirit.” When I spake to her about her thirst, she said, “When I have been thirsty I have thought of that river whose streams make glad the city of God.”

     I am left as a lonely pilgrim with no one to count my sighs nor wipe away the falling tear. But hush, my soul, what means this repining? Couldst thou look beyond the spheres of material worlds, and see the glories of thy departed one, thou wouldst say, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

     As long as we are in these bodies, we are away from the Lord. But we live by faith, not by what we see. We should be cheerful, because we would rather leave these bodies and be at home with the Lord. But whether we are at home with the Lord or away from him, we still try our best to please him.
--- 2 Corinthians 5:6b-9.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 27

     “And of his fulness have all we received.”
--- John 1:16.

     These words tell us that there is a fulness in Christ. There is a fulness of essential Deity, for “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead.” There is a fulness of perfect manhood, for in him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. There is a fulness of atoning efficacy in his blood, for “the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” There is a fulness of justifying righteousness in his life, for “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” There is a fulness of divine prevalence in his plea, for “He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” There is a fulness of victory in his death, for through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil. There is a fulness of efficacy in his resurrection from the dead, for by it “we are begotten again unto a lively hope.” There is a fulness of triumph in his ascension, for “when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men.” There is a fulness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fulness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is a fulness at all times; a fulness of comfort in affliction; a fulness of guidance in prosperity. A fulness of every divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fulness which it were impossible to survey, much less to explore. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” Oh, what a fulness must this be of which all receive! Fulness, indeed, must there be when the stream is always flowing, and yet the well springs up as free, as rich, as full as ever. Come, believer, and get all thy need supplied; ask largely, and thou shalt receive largely, for this “fulness” is inexhaustible, and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it, even in Jesus, Immanuel—God with us.

          Evening - January 27

     “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” --- Luke 2:19.

     There was an exercise, on the part of this blessed woman, of three powers of her being: her memory—she kept all these things; her affections—she kept them in her heart; her intellect—she pondered them; so that memory, affection, and understanding, were all exercised about the things which she had heard. Beloved, remember what you have heard of your Lord Jesus, and what he has done for you; make your heart the golden pot of manna to preserve the memorial of the heavenly bread whereon you have fed in days gone by. Let your memory treasure up everything about Christ which you have either felt, or known, or believed, and then let your fond affections hold him fast for evermore. Love the person of your Lord! Bring forth the alabaster box of your heart, even though it be broken, and let all the precious ointment of your affection come streaming on his pierced feet. Let your intellect be exercised concerning the Lord Jesus. Meditate upon what you read: stop not at the surface; dive into the depths. Be not as the swallow which toucheth the brook with her wing, but as the fish which penetrates the lowest wave. Abide with your Lord: let him not be to you as a wayfaring man, that tarrieth for a night, but constrain him, saying, “Abide with us, for the day is far spent.” Hold him, and do not let him go. The word “ponder,” means to weigh. Make ready the balances of judgment. Oh, but where are the scales that can weigh the Lord Christ? “He taketh up the isles as a very little thing:”—who shall take him up? “He weigheth the mountains in scales”—in what scales shall we weigh him? Be it so, if your understanding cannot comprehend, let your affections apprehend; and if your spirit cannot compass the Lord Jesus in the grasp of understanding, let it embrace him in the arms of affection.

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

Amazing Grace
     January 27


     Words and Music by H. Ernest Nichol, 1862–1928

     All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15:4)

     “A story to tell. A song to be sung. A message to give. A Savior to show.” Here is a concise summary of the task of worldwide evangelization—a gospel that must be demonstrated as well as proclaimed.

     Evangelism began well. The early Christians, though often fiercely persecuted by the Romans, were successful. By A.D. 380, Christianity was recognized as the official religion throughout the empire. Yet for the next 1,000 years and more, the flame of evangelism burned low. The 16th century Protestant Reformation movement saw a brief revival of evangelical fervor, but not until the 18th century did Protestants make their first serious attempt to organize missionary work. The expansion of missions in the 18th and 19th centuries was clearly connected with the waves of revival that were sweeping across Europe and North America.

     Since the close of World War II, the cause of world missions has grown markedly. It is estimated that presently more than 250,000 missionaries are sent out every year, with many of these workers coming from Third World countries.

     But the task is far from finished. More than two-thirds of the world’s population is yet unreached with the good news of Christ. The Wycliffe Bible translators report that there are still 723 tribes without a Bible translation. Nearly every mission board desperately needs more workers.

     “We’ve a Story to Tell” was written and composed by an English musician, H. Ernest Nichol, in 1896. These words are still widely sung by young and old alike and represent the missionary zeal that should always burn in our hearts:

     We’ve a story to tell to the nations that shall turn their hearts to the right, a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.
     We’ve a song to be sung to the nations that shall lift their hearts to the Lord; a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword, and shatter the spear and sword.
     We’ve a message to give to the nations—that the Lord who reigneth above hath sent us His Son to save us and show us that God is love, and show us that God is love.
     We’ve a Savior to show to the nations who the path of sorrow hath trod, that all of the world’s great peoples might come to the truth of God, might come to the truth of God.
     Chorus: For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noon-day bright, and Christ’s great kingdom shall come to earth, the kingdom of love and light.

     For Today: Psalm 67:2; Matthew 22:14; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 12:46.

     Take time to write a letter of appreciation to a missionary from your church. Let this musical message be an encouragement, both to you and to them ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

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

     If we are serious at all about our Christian commitment, we will want to learn and grow in prayer. When we kneel down, or settle in the quiet chair that serves as our personal place of prayer; when we’re walking along, or riding in the train to work; whenever we pray, this is what we are coming to do: to pursue the mystery, to listen and respond to the voice we thought we just heard, to follow the light which beckons round the next corner, to lay hold of the love of God which has somehow already laid hold of us.

     We want all this, at our best, not because we selfishly want, as it were, to maximize our own spiritual potential. To think that way would be to import into our Christianity a very modern, materialist, self-centred ideology. No. We want it because we know, in our heart of hearts, that we want the living God. We want to know him; we want to love him. We want to be able truly to call him Father.

     In a sense, therefore, the first words of the Lord’s Prayer, which we examine in this first chapter, represent the goal towards which we are working, rather than the starting point from which we set out. It is no doubt true, here as elsewhere, that the end of all our striving will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. But that means, I think, that, although we are given the Lord’s Prayer in our baptism to be our own prayer, a special personal gift for each one of us, this prayer is not just the spiritual version of the baby’s mug and spoon set, though it is surely that as well. It is the suit of clothes designed for us to wear in our full maturity. And most of us, putting the suit on week by week, have to acknowledge that it’s still a bit big for us, that we still have some growing to do before it’ll fit. It is true, then, that as soon as someone becomes a Christian, he or she can and must say ‘Our Father’; that is one of the marks of grace, one of the first signs of faith. But it will take full Christian maturity to understand, and resonate with, what those words really mean.

     In many ancient liturgies, and some modern ones, when the Lord’s Prayer is said at the Eucharist, it is introduced with solemn words which recognise that to say this prayer properly, and to mean it from the heart, would imply that we had become fully, one hundred per cent, converted, Christian; that the Holy Spirit had completed the good work that God had begun in us. And, since we know that’s not true, the priest says words such as these: ‘As our Saviour Christ has commanded and taught us, we are bold to say …’. In other words, we don’t yet have the right to say this prayer, but it’s part of the holy boldness, the almost cheeky celebration of the sheer grace and goodness of the living God, that we can actually say these words as though we really meant them through and through. It’s a bit like a child dressing up in his grown-up brother’s suit, and having the cheek to impersonate him for a whole morning, and just about getting away with it; and learning to his surprise, as he does so, what it must be like to be that older brother.

     And that, of course, is exactly what the Lord’s Prayer invites us to do. The Lord’s Prayer grows directly out of the life and work of the Lord himself, whom both St Paul and the author of the letter to the Hebrews describe precisely as our elder brother. We call Jesus ‘the Son of God’, in our hymns and creeds and prayers, and we are right to do so; but we don’t often stop to think what that meant for Jesus himself. What was going on in Jesus’ life when he called God ‘Father’, and taught his followers to do so too?

     People used to say that nobody before Jesus had called God ‘Father’. They also used to say that the word Abba, which Jesus used in the Garden of Gethsemane and quite possibly on other occasions, was the little child’s word, ‘Daddy’, in the Hebrew or Aramaic of his day. People therefore used to say that Jesus thus introduced, and offered to the world, a new level of personal intimacy with God. This conclusion may, in some sense, be true; but the two pillars on which it stood are shaky. Plenty of people called God ‘Father’, in Judaism and elsewhere. And Abba is in fact a word with much wider use than simply on the lips of little children. So what did it mean for Jesus himself that he called God ‘Father’?

     The most important thing, which is really the starting-point for grasping who Jesus was and is, is that this word drew into one point the vocation of Israel, and particularly the salvation of Israel. The first occurrence in the Hebrew Bible of the idea of God as the Father comes when Moses marches in boldly to stand before Pharaoh, and says: Thus says YHWH: Israel is my son, my firstborn; let my people go, that they may serve me (Exodus 4:22–3). For Israel to call God ‘Father’, then, was to hold on to the hope of liberty. The slaves were called to be sons.

     When Jesus tells his disciples to call God ‘Father’, then, those with ears to hear will understand. He wants us to get ready for the new Exodus. We are going to be free at last. This is the Advent hope, the hope of the coming of the Kingdom of God. The tyrant’s grip is going to be broken, and we shall be free:

     I see my light come shining,
     From the west down to the east.
     Any day now—any day now—
     I shall be released.

The Lord and His Prayer

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, January 27, 2018 | Epiphany

Saturday Of The Third Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 55
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 138, 139:1–18 (19–24)
Old Testament     Genesis 18:1–16
New Testament     Hebrews 10:26–39
Gospel     John 6:16–27

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 55
55 To The Choirmaster: With Stringed Instruments. A Maskil Of David.

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2 Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
3 because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.

4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6 And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7 yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
8 I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.”

9 Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around it
on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11 ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
do not depart from its marketplace.

12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.
15 Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

16 But I call to God,
and the LORD will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
and do not fear God.

20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

23 But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 138, 139:1–18 (19–24)
138 Of David.

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

[ 19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! ]

Old Testament
Genesis 18:1–16

And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth 3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6 And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. 8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate. 9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way.

New Testament
Hebrews 10:26–39

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,

“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

John 6:16–27

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church

World History 15    Richard Bulliet   
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World History 20    Richard Bulliet   
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