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     Exodus   28 - 29


Exodus 28

The Priests’ Garments

Exodus 28 1 “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 2 And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. 4 These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. 5 They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.

6 “And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. 7 It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. 8 And the skillfully woven band on it shall be made like it and be of one piece with it, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. 9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11 As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. 12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for remembrance. 13 You shall make settings of gold filigree, 14 and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; and you shall attach the corded chains to the settings.

15 “You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work. In the style of the ephod you shall make it—of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen shall you make it. 16 It shall be square and doubled, a span its length and a span its breadth. 17 You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle shall be the first row; 18 and the second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold filigree. 21 There shall be twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel. They shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes. 22 You shall make for the breastpiece twisted chains like cords, of pure gold. 23 And you shall make for the breastpiece two rings of gold, and put the two rings on the two edges of the breastpiece. 24 And you shall put the two cords of gold in the two rings at the edges of the breastpiece. 25 The two ends of the two cords you shall attach to the two settings of filigree, and so attach it in front to the shoulder pieces of the ephod. 26 You shall make two rings of gold, and put them at the two ends of the breastpiece, on its inside edge next to the ephod. 27 And you shall make two rings of gold, and attach them in front to the lower part of the two shoulder pieces of the ephod, at its seam above the skillfully woven band of the ephod. 28 And they shall bind the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, so that it may lie on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, so that the breastpiece shall not come loose from the ephod. 29 So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD. 30 And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the LORD. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.

31 “You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a garment, so that it may not tear. 33 On its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, around its hem, with bells of gold between them, 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, around the hem of the robe. 35 And it shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the LORD, and when he comes out, so that he does not die.

36 “You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the LORD.’ 37 And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.

39 “You shall weave the coat in checker work of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash embroidered with needlework.

40 “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty. 41 And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 42 You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs; 43 and they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they go into the tent of meeting or when they come near the altar to minister in the Holy Place, lest they bear guilt and die. This shall be a statute forever for him and for his offspring after him.

Exodus 29

Consecration of the Priests

Exodus 29:1  “Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. Take one bull of the herd and two rams without blemish, 2 and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. 3 You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, and bring the bull and the two rams. 4 You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 5 Then you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the coat and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. 6 And you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. 7 You shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. 8 Then you shall bring his sons and put coats on them, 9 and you shall gird Aaron and his sons with sashes and bind caps on them. And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.

10 “Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull.
Exodus 29:10 Priests laid their hands on the bull calf to symbolize personal identification and substitution in this sin offering. Blood was smeared on the horns of the altar of burnt offering as for laymen, since Aaron and his sons were still unconsecrated (Lev. 4:25, 30; cf. Lev. 4:7). The remainder of the blood was poured at the bottom of the altar as for a sin offering. Certain parts were to be burned on the altar (v. 13), but the remainder was to be burned outside the camp as unclean (v. 14).  ESV Reformation Study Bible
11 Then you shall kill the bull before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting, 12 and shall take part of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar. 13 And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. 14 But the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.

15 “Then you shall take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, 16 and you shall kill the ram and shall take its blood and throw it against the sides of the altar. 17 Then you shall cut the ram into pieces, and wash its entrails and its legs, and put them with its pieces and its head, 18 and burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD. It is a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD.

19 “You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, 20 and you shall kill the ram and take part of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tips of the right ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the great toes of their right feet, and throw the rest of the blood against the sides of the altar. 21 Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.

22 “You shall also take the fat from the ram and the fat tail and the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and the right thigh (for it is a ram of ordination),  the right thigh. Normally part of the priest’s portion (Lev. 7:32), this was also burned in this sacrifice for the priests.  ESV Reformation Study Bible   23 and one loaf of bread and one cake of bread made with oil, and one wafer out of the basket of unleavened bread that is before the LORD. 24 You shall put all these on the palms of Aaron and on the palms of his sons, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. 25 Then you shall take them from their hands and burn them on the altar on top of the burnt offering, as a pleasing aroma before the LORD. It is a food offering to the LORD.

26 “You shall take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s ordination and wave it for a wave offering before the LORD, and it shall be your portion. 27 And you shall consecrate the breast of the wave offering that is waved and the thigh of the priests’ portion that is contributed from the ram of ordination, from what was Aaron’s and his sons’. 28 It shall be for Aaron and his sons as a perpetual due from the people of Israel, for it is a contribution. It shall be a contribution from the people of Israel from their peace offerings, their contribution to the LORD.  The requirements for the daily priestly offerings are reviewed (vv. 38–46). The author of Hebrews contrasts these daily sacrifices for sin (whose repetition pointed to their insufficiency) with the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:11–14).  ESV Reformation Study Bible  

29 “The holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him; they shall be anointed in them and ordained in them. 30 The son who succeeds him as priest, who comes into the tent of meeting to minister in the Holy Place, shall wear them seven days.

31 “You shall take the ram of ordination and boil its flesh in a holy place. 32 And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket in the entrance of the tent of meeting. 33 They shall eat those things with which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration, but an outsider shall not eat of them, because they are holy. 34 And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy.

35 “Thus you shall do to Aaron and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. Through seven days shall you ordain them, 36 and every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement. Also you shall purify the altar, when you make atonement for it, and shall anoint it to consecrate it. 37 Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy.

38 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. 39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. 40 And with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. 41 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. 42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

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.

THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

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.

THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.

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

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream

By John Bunyan 1678

THE SECOND STAGE

     INTER. Nay, you may add another, to wit, the glory of the next world will never wear out; but these are suddenly gone. Therefore Passion had not so much reason to laugh at Patience because he had his good things first, as Patience will have to laugh at Passion because he had his best things last; for first must give place to last, because last must have his time to come: but last gives place to nothing, for there is not another to succeed. He, therefore, that hath his portion first, must needs have a time to spend it; but he that hath his portion last, must have it lastingly: therefore it is said of Dives, “In thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”

Luke 16:25 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.   ESV

     CHR. Then I perceive it is not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.

     INTER. You say truth: for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.

2 Cor. 4:18 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.   ESV

     But though this be so, yet since things present and our fleshly appetite are such near neighbors one to another; and again, because things to come and carnal sense are such strangers one to another; therefore it is, that the first of these so suddenly fall into amity, and that distance is so continued between the second.

     Then I saw in my dream, that the Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the fire burn higher and hotter.

     Then said Christian, What means this?

     The Interpreter answered, This fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the devil: but in that thou seest the fire, notwithstanding, burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the back side of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of the which he did also continually cast (but secretly) into the fire.

     Then said Christian, What means this?

     The Interpreter answered, This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart; by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still.

2 Cor. 12:9 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.   ESV

     And in that thou sawest that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire; this is to teach thee, that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul.

     I saw also, that the Interpreter took him again by the hand, and led him into a pleasant place, where was built a stately palace, beautiful to behold; at the sight of which Christian was greatly delighted. He saw also upon the top thereof certain persons walking, who were clothed all in gold.

     Then said Christian may we go in thither?

     Then the Interpreter took him, and led him up towards the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but durst not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a table-side, with a book and his inkhorn before him, to take the names of them that should enter therein; he saw also that in the doorway stood many men in armor to keep it, being resolved to do to the men that would enter, what hurt and mischief they could. Now was Christian somewhat in amaze. At last, when every man started back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of a very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, “Set down my name, sir;” the which when he had done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet on his head, and rush towards the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely. So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out,

Matt. 11:12 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.   ESV

Acts 14:22 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.   ESV

he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace; at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying,

“Come in, come in,
Eternal glory thou shalt win.”

     So he went in, and was clothed with such garments as they. Then Christian smiled, and said, I think verily I know the meaning of this.

     Now, said Christian, let me go hence. Nay, stay, said the Interpreter, till I have showed thee a little more, and after that thou shalt go on thy way. So he took him by the hand again, and led him into a very dark room, where there sat a man in an iron cage.

     Now the man, to look on, seemed very sad; he sat with his eyes looking down to the ground, his hands folded together, and he sighed as if he would break his heart. Then said Christian, What means this? At which the Interpreter bid him talk with the man.

     Then said Christian to the man, What art thou? The man answered, I am what I was not once.

     CHR. What wast thou once?

     MAN. The man said, I was once a fair and flourishing professor,

Luke 8:13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.   ESV

both in mine own eyes, and also in the eyes of others: I once was, as I thought, fair for the celestial city, and had then even joy at the thoughts that I should get thither.

     CHR. Well, but what art thou now?

     MAN. I am now a man of despair, and am shut up in it, as in this iron cage. I cannot get out; Oh now I cannot!

     CHR. But how camest thou into this condition?

     MAN. I left off to watch and be sober: I laid the reins upon the neck of my lusts; I sinned against the light of the word, and the goodness of God; I have grieved the Spirit, and he is gone; I tempted the devil, and he is come to me; I have provoked God to anger, and he has left me: I have so hardened my heart, that I cannot repent.

     Then said Christian to the Interpreter, But is there no hope for such a man as this? Ask him, said the Interpreter.

     CHR. Then said Christian, Is there no hope, but you must be kept in the iron cage of despair?

     MAN. No, none at all.

     CHR. Why, the Son of the Blessed is very pitiful.

     MAN. I have crucified him to myself afresh, Heb. 6:6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.   ESV

     I have despised his person, Luke 19:14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’   ESV

     I have despised his righteousness; I have counted his blood an unholy thing; I have done despite to the spirit of grace,

Heb. 10:29 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?   ESV

therefore I have shut myself out of all the promises and there now remains to me nothing but threatenings, dreadful threatenings, faithful threatenings of certain judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour me as an adversary.

     CHR. For what did you bring yourself into this condition?

     MAN. For the lusts, pleasures, and profits of this world; in the enjoyment of which I did then promise myself much delight: but now every one of those things also bite me, and gnaw me like a burning worm.

     CHR. But canst thou not now repent and turn?

     MAN. God hath denied me repentance. His word gives me no encouragement to believe; yea, himself hath shut me up in this iron cage: nor can all the men in the world let me out. Oh eternity! eternity! how shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet with in eternity?

     INTER. Then said the Interpreter to Christian, Let this man’s misery be remembered by thee, and be an everlasting caution to thee.

     CHR. Well, said Christian, this is fearful! God help me to watch and to be sober, and to pray that I may shun the cause of this man’s misery. Sir, is it not time for me to go on my way now?

     INTER. Tarry till I shall show thee one thing more, and then thou shalt go on thy way.

     So he took Christian by the hand again and led him into a chamber where there was one rising out of bed; and as he put on his raiment, he shook and trembled. Then said Christian, Why doth this man thus tremble? The Interpreter then bid him tell to Christian the reason of his so doing.

     So he began, and said, “This night, as I was in my sleep, I dreamed, and behold the heavens grew exceeding black; also it thundered and lightened in most fearful wise, that it put me into an agony. So I looked up in my dream, and saw the clouds rack at an unusual rate; upon which I heard a great sound of a trumpet, and saw also a man sitting upon a cloud, attended with the thousands of heaven: they were all in flaming fire; also the heavens were in a burning flame. I heard then a voice, saying, ‘Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment.’ And with that the rocks rent, the graves opened, and the dead that were therein came forth: some of them were exceeding glad, and looked upward; and some sought to hide themselves under the mountains. Then I saw the man that sat upon the cloud open the book, and bid the world draw near. Yet there was, by reason of a fierce flame that issued out and came from before him, a convenient distance between him and them, as between the judge and the prisoners at the bar.

1 Cor. 15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.


The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.


The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.


Mystery and Victory

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55  “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
  ESV
1 Thess. 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.   ESV

Jude 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”   ESV

John 5:28-29 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.   ESV

2 Thess. 1:8–10 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.   ESV

Rev. 20:11–14 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.   ESV

Isa. 26:21  For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.
  ESV

Micah 7:16-17 16  The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
they shall lay their hands on their mouths;
their ears shall be deaf;
17  they shall lick the dust like a serpent,
like the crawling things of the earth;
they shall come trembling out of their strongholds;
they shall turn in dread to the LORD our God,
and they shall be in fear of you.
  ESV

Psa. 5:  For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
  ESV

Psa 50:1–3 1  The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2  Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.

3  Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
  ESV

Mal. 3:2-3 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.   ESV

Dan. 7:9-10 9 “As I looked,

thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10  A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
  ESV

     I heard it also proclaimed to them that attended on the man that sat on the cloud, ‘Gather together the tares, the chaff, and stubble, and cast them into the burning lake.’

Matt 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”   ESV

Matt 18:30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.   ESV

Matt 24:30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.   ESV

Mal. 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.   ESV

     And with that the bottomless pit opened, just whereabout I stood; out of the mouth of which there came, in an abundant manner, smoke, and coals of fire, with hideous noises. It was also said to the same persons, ‘Gather my wheat into the garner.’

Luke 3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”   ESV

     And with that I saw many catched up and carried away into the clouds, but I was left behind.

1 Thess. 4:16-17 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.   ESV

     I also sought to hide myself, but I could not, for the man that sat upon the cloud still kept his eye upon me; my sins also came into my mind, and my conscience did accuse me on every side.

Rom. 2:14-15 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them   ESV

     Upon this I awakened from my sleep.”

     CHR. But what was it that made you so afraid of this sight?

     MAN. Why, I thought that the day of judgment was come, and that I was not ready for it: but this frightened me most, that the angels gathered up several, and left me behind; also the pit of hell opened her mouth just where I stood. My conscience too afflicted me; and, as I thought, the Judge had always his eye upon me, showing indignation in his countenance.

     Then said the Interpreter to Christian, “Hast thou considered all these things?”

     CHR. Yes, and they put me in hope and fear.

     INTER. Well, keep all things so in thy mind, that they may be as a goad in thy sides, to prick thee forward in the way thou must go. Then Christian began to gird up his loins, and to address himself to his journey. Then said the Interpreter, “The Comforter be always with thee, good Christian, to guide thee in the way that leads to the city.” So Christian went on his way, saying,


“Here I have seen things rare and profitable,
Things pleasant, dreadful, things to make me stable
In what I have begun to take in hand:
Then let me think on them, and understand
Wherefore they showed me were, and let me be
Thankful, O good Interpreter, to thee.”


     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.

Exodus 28

By Don Carson 3/17/2018

     The priestly garments God prescribes (Ex. 28) are strange and colorful. Perhaps some of the details were not meant to carry symbolic weight, but were part of the purpose of the ensemble as a whole: to give Aaron and his sons “dignity and honor” as they discharge their priestly duties (28:2, 40).

     Some of the symbolism is transparent. The breastpiece of the high priest’s garment was to carry twelve precious or semi-precious stones, set out in four rows of three, “one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes” (28:21).

     The breastpiece is also called “the breastpiece of decision” (28:29). This is probably because it carries the Urim and Thummim. Perhaps they were two stones, one white and one black. They were used in making decisions, but just how they operated no one is quite sure. On important matters, the priest would seek the presence and blessing of God in the temple, and operate the Urim and Thummim, which would come out one way or the other and thus, under God’ s sovereign care, provide direction. Thus over his heart the priest simultaneously carries the names of the twelve tribes “as a continuing memorial before the LORD,” and the Urim and Thummim, “whenever he enters the presence of the LORD,” thus always bearing “the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD” (28:29-30).

     On the front of his turban, Aaron is to affix a plate of pure gold. On it will be engraved the words, “HOLY TO THE LORD” (28:36). “It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’ s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the LORD” (28:38). This assumes that the” sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate” were primarily sin offerings of various sorts, offered to atone for guilt. The priest, even by the symbolism embodied in his garments, conveys this guilt into the presence of the holy God, who alone can deal with it. The text implies that if the priest does not exercise this role, the sacrifices the Israelites offer will not be acceptable to the Lord. The priestly/sacrificial/temple structure hangs together as a complete system.

     In due course these meditations will reflect on passages that announce the impending obsolescence of this system, which thereby becomes a prophetic announcement of the ultimate priest, the ultimate covenant community, the ultimate authority for giving direction, the ultimate offering, the ultimate temple. There is no limit to his “dignity and honor” (cf. Rev. 1:12-18).

Click here to go to source

Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page



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     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

Lost
     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, however, that most of the Psychology PhD candidates I meet with appear 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.


     (2019) A year after my 2018 entry things are much better spiritually. A pastor and a church that continue to stress God's Word has breathed new life into both Lily and myself. She starts every day accross the room from me reading her Bible. She read it through three times last year. Revelation 4:11 helps me shrug off the pity party garbage because God tells us that we are made for his pleasure, not ours.

     

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 2009 - 2018.

Articles

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
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.
  Wait.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Teacher's Commentary
     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
Amazing Grace
     January 27

          WE’VE A STORY TO TELL

     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

World History 15 - 23
     Richard Bulliet | Columbia University


Pt 15






Pt 16





Pt 17






Pt 18





Pt 19






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Pt 21






Pt 22





Pt 23




We Do Not Lose Heart
     Alistair Begg


Pt One






Pt Two




Exodus 28 - 29
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


The Urin And The Thummim Exodus 28:30
s2-056 | 12-14-2014






Exodus 28:1-39
m2-053 | 12-17-2014





Welcome To The Ministry Exodus 29
s2-057 | 1-04-2015






Exodus 28:39-43, 29:1-46
m2-054 | 1-07-2015




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Exodus 28 - 29
Lean-into-GOD






The Way We Were
Alistair Begg





A Baptismal Sermon
Alistair Begg






But God...
Alistair Begg





Saved by Grace
Alistair Begg






Ascension Sunday Address
Alistair Begg





A Verse for the Year
Alistair Begg






An Old Love Poem For The New Year
1/06/19 | Kevin DeYoung





Wrestling in Prayer
1/13/19 | Kevin DeYoung