The Call of AbramGenesis 12 1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.
Abram and Sarai in Egypt10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.
17 But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.
Abram and Lot SeparateGenesis 13 1 So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.
2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. 5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.
8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.
14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.
Abram Rescues LotGenesis 14 1 In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way. 13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.
Abram Blessed by Melchizedek17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
God’s Covenant with AbramGenesis 15 1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
7 And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Back to “Populism” with Howard Snyder
By Scot McKnight 1/2/2017
Howard Snyder has an independent mind and is not afraid to stand atop a political soapbox and shout out to the crowds to give him an ear. So here he is:
Words like populist and elites are media shorthand that obscure rather than clarify. Each generation produces a fresh crop of such misleading labels that polarize rather than inform.
Demagogues feast on such labels, turning them into fear-stoking propaganda. Wise and just leaders find ways to cut through the jargon and force people to think, to reconsider, to question themselves and the roots of their fears. This is much more difficult than appealing to anxiety and prejudice. And often quite unpopular.
In U.S. history, no one understood this or practiced wise leadership better than Abraham Lincoln, who resisted bad populism. That’s why today most Americans and historians reckon Lincoln our greatest President. But that is now; at the time Lincoln paid the ultimate price.
My point: the bastardization of the term and concept populism is wrong. If the United States, Western Europe, the Middle East, the Philippines, Korea (North and South), China, Central Africa, and other regions need anything, it is genuine populism!
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Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author or editor of more than fifty books, is the Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. Dr. McKnight has given interviews on radios across the nation, has appeared on television, and is regularly speaks at local churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries in the USA and abroad. Dr. McKnight obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Nottingham (1986) and has been a professor for more than three decades.
Scot McKnight Books:
- 1 Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science
- 2 The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible
- 3 The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited
- 4 A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together
- 5 The Letter of James (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)
- 6 The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
- 7 Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary)
- 8 One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow
- 9 Galatians (The NIV Application Commentary)
- 10 1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary)
- 11 The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus
- 12 The Hum of Angels: Listening for the Messengers of God Around Us
- 13 Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
- 14 Junia Is Not Alone
- 15 A Community Called Atonement: Living Theology
- 16 The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible's Truth About Life to Come
- 17 Fasting (The Ancient Practices)
- 18 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
- 19 Praying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today
- 20 The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research
- 21 Galatians: Living in Freedom and Love (Bringing the Bible to Life)
- 22 Embracing Grace
- 23 Who Was Jesus? (RZIM Critical Questions Discussion Guides)
- 24 Jesus and His Death: Historiography, the Historical Jesus, and Atonement Theory
- 25 A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context (Studying the Historical Jesus)
- 26 Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels
- 27 A Companion Guide to The Jesus Creed
- 28 Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy
- 29 Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy
- 30 The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited by Scot McKnight (2011-09-25)
- 31 Introducing New Testament Interpretation (Guides to New Testament Exegesis)
- 32 The Synoptic Gospels
- 33 Light Among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period
- 34 The Story of the Christ
- 35 1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight (1996-04-01)
- 36 The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible's Truth About Life to Come by Scot McKnight (2015-10-06)
8 Ways To Turn On Your Brain When Reading The News
By Mary C. Tillotson 1/2/2017
Here are questions to ask yourself and frames of mind to be in if you want to sort out what’s fact from what’s propaganda from any side of the political aisle.
I’m in a graduate program studying how to teach English to speakers of other languages, and the nature of the program makes us all sensitive to the difficulties immigrants experience. I was a few minutes late to class the evening of the violent attacks at Ohio State, and I walked in on a conversation about diversity, racism, and fear-mongering.
My classmates shared various perspectives. Some teach at schools with minority students, others are immigrants themselves, and most are well-traveled. I mostly listened. I heard a lot of valid points. Our professor said she was astounded when she found out how many people get their news from Facebook (of all places!) and she wondered how people could learn how to think critically and determine fact from opinion.
I had a hard time believing lack of critical thinking was a big problem until another student said we live in a time when race relations are worse than they ever have been, and everyone just nodded. Having grown up seeing old photographs of drinking fountains labeled “white” and “colored” and learning about the horrors of the antebellum South, I was stunned. There is a huge difference between “needs improvement” and “never been worse.”
With this in mind, I give you eight tips for thinking critically about the news.
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Archaeologista Excited To Unearth Two New Fragments In The Cave Of Skulls
By Core Spirit
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a set of nearly 1,000 manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and ancient Greek, which contain some of the oldest known versions of the Hebrew Bible and are said to be one of the greatest archaeological finds in history.
Now, two more pieces of Dead Sea Scrolls and some textile wrapped around a bundle of beads have been found in the Cave of the Skulls in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea.
The scroll fragments have yet to be deciphered because the writing on them is so faint, but it is possible that they will add new, previously unknown information about the life of Jesus.
Researchers from Hebrew University and the Israel Antiquities Authority say they still are unsure whether the writing is in Hebrew, Aramaic or a completely different dialect altogether.
The pieces of papyrus are about 2 by 2 cm (0.78 by 0.78 of an inch) and others are fragmentary. Some have writing, some do not have discernible writing, says Haartez in an article about the find.
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Trust in God More than Medical Technology
By Robert Cutillo 1/2/2017
The patient, an elderly woman visiting her family for an extended stay from another country, had been experiencing pain in her leg for several months. One night the pain was unbearable, so her family took her to the emergency room. The physician, wanting to investigate if compression of a nerve in her back was causing the pain in her leg, ordered a CAT scan. The powerful images that looked inside her body revealed nothing unusual in her back but saw something in a completely different place. Though the findings, called “incidentalomas,” were small and nonspecific, the word abnormal appeared on the report. In these situations, the fear of something bad may be generated by the doctor, the patient, or both. In this case, the medical system reacted with fear, which ultimately led to three additional studies and a painful biopsy before all were assured this was nothing bad.
Besides the thousands of dollars spent to confirm “normal,” one other casualty of “too much” in this case was the patient’s actual concerns. In the pursuit of a normal test, the patient’s ongoing pain was completely neglected. Her final reaction to high-tech medical care revealed her frustration: “I’m going back to my own country, where at least the doctors listen to the patient instead of looking at tests.”
We can only be grateful for the powerful technology we have. Yet because the United States has more of it than any other country, we who have access to it are challenged to restrain our tendency to use it. But it’ll always be difficult to use wisely as long as the world is as bad as we fear.
If only we could depend on something more than the power of our thinking and the tools we possess to stand between us and disaster.
Embracing Contingency | We’re outside the garden now; we’ve eaten of the tree, and there’s no going back. We know too much to return to its innocence and safety. Our world is scary and seemingly random, but the more we attempt to control the chaos, the more we fear what remains outside our control. Unfortunately, at one level the world of Genesis beyond chapter 3 confirms our fears.
Dr. Robert “Bob” Cutillo, M.D., is an associate faculty at Denver Seminary, where he teaches on health and culture, an assistant clinical professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and a physician at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. He has worked for many years in faith-based health care for the uninsured and under-served. His current interest is in the connection between idols in medicine and injustice in health care.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 3Save Me, O My God
3 A Psalm Of David, When He Fled From Absalom His Son.
1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
In Europe and the US, Elites Who Live by Lies Despise the Little People Who Don’t
By John Zmirak 1/2/2017
Kevin Crehan is dead at 35. He perished as an enemy of the British state, the victim of de facto judicial murder. Crehan was in prison for a tasteless prank: offended perhaps by the aggressive demands of immigrant Muslims in Britain for the imposition of sharia law, Crehan left a bacon sandwich on the front steps of a mosque. For that he was sentenced to one year in a prison full of violent Muslim criminals who knew about his prank, with no protective custody. (The cause of his death is still unclear.)
In a bitter twist, Julian Lambert, the judge who sentenced Crehan for his crime, in 2015 gave a sentence of only two years to a member of a pedophile rape gang that preyed on toddlers and a baby. So in 2017, that baby rapist will be a free man, while Kevin Crehan, Englishman, sleeps in the English earth.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn didn’t live to see this travesty, but a close reading of his works would have allowed you to predict it. The Gulag Archipelago, a masterful work of memory, exposed a vast empire of falsehood, injustice, and cruelty — all carefully masked by puffed-up rationalizations and defended by Western intellectuals who lived comfortably far from its labor camps and psychiatric prisons.
Solzhenitsyn’s book with a deft stroke exposed the messianic cult of Marxism, and doomed the Soviet system. Shortly before Solzhenitsyn was expelled from his native country, he begged his fellow citizens to engage in a simple, prophetic act of resistance: to “live not by lies.”
By contrast, the de facto leader of the European Union, Germany’s Angela Merkel, took to the airwaves for New Year’s to deliver the opposite message, to repeat the governing lie which guides EU elites, and demand that Germans live by it. The woman who single-handedly delivered the continent of Europe to the tender mercies of rape mobs, who flooded its cities with unemployable foreigners who flock to extremist mosques and are infiltrated by ISIS, addressed her bewildered citizens. As Breitbart reports:
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John Zmirak Books:
- 1 The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins: A Vital Look at Virtue and Vice, With Quizzes and Activities for Saintly Self-Improvement (Bad Catholic's guides)
- 2 The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism (The Politically Incorrect Guides)
- 3 The Grand Inquisitor (Crossroad Book)
- 4 The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Catechism: A Faithful, Fun-Loving Look at Catholic Dogmas, Doctrines, and Schmoctrines (Bad Catholic's guides)
- 5 The Race to Save Our Century: Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom, and a Culture Of Life
- 6 The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living: A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Catholic Faith, with Recipes for Feasts and Fun
- 7 Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist (Library of Modern Thinkers)
- 8 Choosing the Right College 2014-15: The Inside Scoop on Elite Schools and Outstanding Lesser-Known Institutions
- 9 The World Is On Fire: A Whole Life Reader
- 10 The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration (The Politically Incorrect Guides)
- 11 The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, & Song: A Spirited Look at Catholic Life & Lore from the Apocalypse to Zinfandel (Bad Catholic's guides)
- 12 All-American Colleges: Top Schools for Conservatives, Old-Fashioned Liberals, and People of Faith
- 13 Dollfuss: An Austrian Patriot
- 14 Wilhelm RFopke : Swiss localist, global economist
Who Wrote The Gospels
By Timothy Paul Jones 1/2/2017
Open your Bible to the table of contents and take a look at the list of books in the New Testament. There, you’ll find the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John leading the list.
Your first reply might be, Because their names are on the books!—and you would be correct. These four names have appeared on the manuscripts of these four Gospels for well over a thousand years.
But these names may not have been present on the original manuscripts of the Gospels.
In fact, when it comes to who wrote the Gospels, some scholars are quite convinced that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John couldn’t possibly have been the authors of these four books. According to one such scholar,
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My name is Timothy Paul Jones, and I love living with my wife and four daughters in the city of Louisville. Over the past two decades, I’ve had the privilege of leading several congregations as a pastor and in associate ministry roles. Now, I serve as a professor and associate vice president at one of the largest seminaries in the world, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here, I invest my time in mentoring a rising generation of God-called ministers of the gospel. I also serve as a pastor at the Midtown congregation of Sojourn Community Church and write books in the fields of apologetics and family ministry. A few of these books include the award-winning How We Got the Bible and Christian History Made Easy. My past scholarly research has focused on the psychology of faith and on factors that influence faith formation in Christian households. Currently, my focus has turned toward the reliability of the New Testament Gospels. In addition to earning a doctor of philosophy degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature and a master of divinity with an emphasis in church history and New Testament studies.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
4. The objection, however, is not yet solved. For we must either put
Cataline on the same footing with Camillus, or hold Camillus to be an
example that nature, when carefully cultivated, is not wholly void of
goodness. I admit that the specious qualities which Camillus possessed
were divine gifts, and appear entitled to commendation when viewed in
themselves. But in what way will they be proofs of a virtuous nature?
Must we not go back to the mind, and from it begin to reason thus? If a
natural man possesses such integrity of manners, nature is not without
the faculty of studying virtue. But what if his mind was depraved and
perverted, and followed anything rather than rectitude? Such it
undoubtedly was, if you grant that he was only a natural man. How then
will you laud the power of human nature for good, if, even where there
is the highest semblance of integrity, a corrupt bias is always
detected? Therefore, as you would not commend a man for virtue whose
vices impose upon you by a show of virtue, so you will not attribute a
power of choosing rectitude to the human will while rooted in depravity
(see August. lib. 4, Cont. Julian). Still, the surest and easiest
answer to the objection is, that those are not common endowments of
nature, but special gifts of God, which he distributes in divers forms,
and, in a definite measure, to men otherwise profane. For which reason,
we hesitate not, in common language, to say, that one is of a good,
another of a vicious nature; though we cease not to hold that both are
placed under the universal condition of human depravity. All we mean is
that God has conferred on the one a special grace which he has not seen
it meet to confer on the other. When he was pleased to set Saul over
the kingdom, he made him as it were a new man. This is the thing meant
by Plato, when, alluding to a passage in the Iliad, he says, that the
children of kings are distinguished at their birth by some special
qualities--God, in kindness to the human race, often giving a spirit of
heroism to those whom he destines for empire. In this way, the great
leaders celebrated in history were formed. The same judgment must be
given in the case of private individuals. But as those endued with the
greatest talents were always impelled by the greatest ambitions (a
stain which defiles all virtues and makes them lose all favour in the
sight of God), so we cannot set any value on anything that seems
praiseworthy in ungodly men. We may add, that the principal part of
rectitude is wanting, when there is no zeal for the glory of God, and
there is no such zeal in those whom he has not regenerated by his
Spirit. Nor is it without good cause said in Isaiah, that on Christ
should rest "the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord,"
(Isa. 11:2); for by this we are taught that all who are strangers to
Christ are destitute of that fear of God which is the beginning of
wisdom (Ps. 111:10). The virtues which deceive us by an empty show may
have their praise in civil society and the common intercourse of life,
but before the judgment-seat of God they will be of no value to
establish a claim of righteousness.
5. When the will is enchained as the slave of sin, it cannot make a movement towards goodness, far less steadily pursue it. Every such movement is the first step in that conversion to God, which in Scripture is entirely ascribed to divine grace. Thus Jeremiah prays, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned," (Jer. 31:18). Hence, too, in the same chapter, describing the spiritual redemption of believers, the Prophet says, "The Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he," (Jer. 31:11); intimating how close the fetters are with which the sinner is bound, so long as he is abandoned by the Lord, and acts under the yoke of the devil. Nevertheless, there remains a will which both inclines and hastens on with the strongest affection towards sin; man, when placed under this bondage, being deprived not of will, but of soundness of will. Bernard says not improperly, that all of us have a will; but to will well is proficiency, to will ill is defect. Thus simply to will is the part of man, to will ill the part of corrupt nature, to will well the part of grace. Moreover, when I say that the will, deprived of liberty, is led or dragged by necessity to evil, it is strange that any should deem the expression harsh, seeing there is no absurdity in it, and it is not at variance with pious use. It does, however, offend those who know not how to distinguish between necessity and compulsion. Were any one to ask them, Is not God necessarily good, is not the devil necessarily wicked, what answer would they give? The goodness of God is so connected with his Godhead, that it is not more necessary to be God than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged from goodness, that he can do nothing but evil. Should any one give utterance to the profane jeer (see Calvin Adv. Pighium), that little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is it not obvious to every man to reply, It is owing not to violent impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil? Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded, because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of sinning? This necessity is uniformly proclaimed by Augustine, who, even when pressed by the invidious cavil of Celestius, hesitated not to assert it in the following terms: "Man through liberty became a sinner, but corruption, ensuing as the penalty, has converted liberty into necessity," (August. lib. de Perf. Justin). Whenever mention is made of the subject, he hesitates not to speak in this way of the necessary bondage of sin (August. de Nature et Gratia, et alibi). Let this, then, be regarded as the sum of the distinction. Man, since he was corrupted by the fall, sins not forced or unwilling, but voluntarily, by a most forward bias of the mind; not by violent compulsion, or external force, but by the movement of his own passion; and yet such is the depravity of his nature, that he cannot move and act except in the direction of evil. If this is true, the thing not obscurely expressed is, that he is under a necessity of sinning. Bernard, assenting to Augustine, thus writes: "Among animals, man alone is free, and yet sin intervening, he suffers a kind of violence, but a violence proceeding from his will, not from nature, so that it does not even deprive him of innate liberty," (Bernard, Sermo. super Cantica, 81). For that which is voluntary is also free. A little after he adds, "Thus, by some means strange and wicked, the will itself, being deteriorated by sin, makes a necessity; but so that the necessity, in as much as it is voluntary, cannot excuse the will, and the will, in as much as it is enticed, cannot exclude the necessity." For this necessity is in a manner voluntary. He afterwards says that "we are under a yoke, but no other yoke than that of voluntary servitude; therefore, in respect of servitude, we are miserable, and in respect of will, inexcusable; because the will, when it was free, made itself the slave of sin." At length he concludes, "Thus the soul, in some strange and evil way, is held under this kind of voluntary, yet sadly free necessity, both bond and free; bond in respect of necessity, free in respect of will: and what is still more strange, and still more miserable, it is guilty because free, and enslaved because guilty, and therefore enslaved because free." My readers hence perceive that the doctrine which I deliver is not new, but the doctrine which of old Augustine delivered with the consent of all the godly, and which was afterwards shut up in the cloisters of monks for almost a thousand years. Lombard, by not knowing how to distinguish between necessity and compulsion, gave occasion to a pernicious error. 
6. On the other hand, it may be proper to consider what the remedy is which divine grace provides for the correction and cure of natural corruption. Since the Lord, in bringing assistance, supplies us with what is lacking, the nature of that assistance will immediately make manifest its converse--viz. our penury. When the Apostle says to the Philippians, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," (Phil. 1:6), there cannot be a doubt, that by the good work thus begun, he means the very commencement of conversion in the will. God, therefore, begins the good work in us by exciting in our hearts a desire, a love, and a study of righteousness, or (to speak more correctly) by turning, training, and guiding our hearts unto righteousness; and he completes this good work by confirming us unto perseverance. But lest any one should cavil that the good work thus begun by the Lord consists in aiding the will, which is in itself weak, the Spirit elsewhere declares what the will, when left to itself, is able to do. His words are, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them," (Ezek. 36:26, 27). How can it be said that the weakness of the human will is aided so as to enable it to aspire effectually to the choice of good, when the fact is, that it must be wholly transformed and renovated? If there is any softness in a stone; if you can make it tender, and flexible into any shape, then it may be said, that the human heart may be shaped for rectitude, provided that which is imperfect in it is supplemented by divine grace. But if the Spirit, by the above similitude, meant to show that no good can ever be extracted from our heart until it is made altogether new, let us not attempt to share with Him what He claims for himself alone. If it is like turning a stone into flesh when God turns us to the study of rectitude, everything proper to our own will is abolished, and that which succeeds in its place is wholly of God. I say the will is abolished, but not in so far as it is will, for in conversion everything essential to our original nature remains: I also say, that it is created anew, not because the will then begins to exist, but because it is turned from evil to good. This, I maintains is wholly the work of God, because, as the Apostle testifies, we are not "sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves," (2 Cor. 3:5). Accordingly, he elsewhere says, not merely that God assists the weak or corrects the depraved will, but that he worketh in us to will (Phil. 2:13). From this it is easily inferred, as I have said, that everything good in the will is entirely the result of grace. In the same sense, the Apostle elsewhere says, "It is the same God which worketh all in all," (I Cor. 12:6). For he is not there treating of universal government, but declaring that all the good qualities which believers possess are due to God. In using the term "all," he certainly makes God the author of spiritual life from its beginning to its end. This he had previously taught in different terms, when he said that there is "one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him," (1 Cor. 8:6); thus plainly extolling the new creation, by which everything of our common nature is destroyed. There is here a tacit antithesis between Adam and Christ, which he elsewhere explains more clearly when he says, "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them," (Eph. 2:10). His meaning is to show in this way that our salvation is gratuitous because the beginning of goodness is from the second creation which is obtained in Christ. If any, even the minutest, ability were in ourselves, there would also be some merit. But to show our utter destitution, he argues that we merit nothing, because we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has prepared; again intimating by these words, that all the fruits of good works are originally and immediately from God. Hence the Psalmist, after saying that the Lord "has made us," to deprive us of all share in the work, immediately adds, "not we ourselves." That he is speaking of regeneration, which is the commencement of the spiritual life, is obvious from the context, in which the next words are, "we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture," (Psalm 100:3). Not contented with simply giving God the praise of our salvation, he distinctly excludes us from all share in it, just as if he had said that not one particle remains to man as a ground of boasting. The whole is of God.
7. But perhaps there will be some who, while they admit that the will is in its own nature averse to righteousness, and is converted solely by the power of God, will yet hold that, when once it is prepared, it performs a part in acting. This they found upon the words of Augustine, that grace precedes every good work; the will accompanying, not leading; a handmaid, and not a guide (August. ad Bonifac. Ep. 106). The words thus not improperly used by this holy writer, Lombard preposterously wrests to the above effect (Lombard, lib. 2, Dist. 25). But I maintain, that as well in the words of the Psalmist which I have quoted, as in other passages of Scripture, two things are clearly taught--viz. that the Lord both corrects, or rather destroys, our depraved will, and also substitutes a good will from himself. In as much as it is prevented by grace, I have no objection to your calling it a handmaid; but in as much as when formed again, it is the work of the Lord, it is erroneous to say, that it accompanies preventing grace as a voluntary attendant. Therefore, Chrysostom is inaccurate in saying, that grace cannot do any thing without will, nor will any thing without grace (Serm. de Invent. Sanct. Crucis); as if grace did not, in terms of the passage lately quoted from Paul, produce the very will itself. The intention of Augustine, in calling the human will the handmaid of grace, was not to assign it a kind of second place to grace in the performance of good works. His object merely was to refute the pestilential dogma of Pelagius, who made human merit the first cause of salvation. As was sufficient for his purpose at the time, he contends that grace is prior to all merit, while, in the meantime, he says nothing of the other question as to the perpetual effect of grace, which, however, he handles admirably in other places. For in saying, as he often does, that the Lord prevents the unwilling in order to make him willing, and follows after the willing that he may not will in vain, he makes Him the sole author of good works. Indeed, his sentiments on this subject are too clear to need any lengthened illustration. "Men," says he, "labour to find in our will something that is our own, and not God's; how they can find it, I wot not," (August. de Remiss. Peccat., lib. 2 c. 18). In his First Book against Pelagius and Celestius, expounding the saying of Christ, "Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, cometh unto me," (John 6:45), he says, "The will is aided not only so as to know what is to be done, but also to do what it knows." And thus, when God teaches not by the letter of the Law, but by the grace of the Spirit, he so teaches, that every one who has learned, not only knowing, sees, but also willing, desires, and acting, performs.
8. Since we are now occupied with the chief point on which the controversy turns, let us give the reader the sum of the matter in a few, and those most unambiguous, passages of Scripture; thereafter, lest any one should charge us with distorting Scripture, let us show that the truth, which we maintain to be derived from Scripture, is not unsupported by the testimony of this holy man (I mean Augustine). I deem it unnecessary to bring forward every separate passage of Scripture in confirmation of my doctrine. A selection of the most choice passages will pave the way for the understanding of all those which lie scattered up and down in the sacred volume. On the other hand, I thought it not out of place to show my accordance with a man whose authority is justly of so much weight in the Christian world. It is certainly easy to prove that the commencement of good is only with God, and that none but the elect have a will inclined to good. But the cause of election must be sought out of man; and hence it follows that a right will is derived not from man himself, but from the same good pleasure by which we were chosen before the creation of the world. Another argument much akin to this may be added. The beginning of right will and action being of faith, we must see whence faith itself is. But since Scripture proclaims throughout that it is the free gift of God, it follows, that when men, who are with their whole soul naturally prone to evil, begin to have a good will, it is owing to mere grace. Therefore, when the Lord, in the conversion of his people, sets down these two things as requisite to be done--viz. to take away the heart of stone, and give a heart of flesh, he openly declares, that, in order to our conversion to righteousness, what is ours must be taken away, and that what is substituted in its place is of himself. Nor does he declare this in one passage only. For he says in Jeremiah "I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever;" and a little after he says, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me," (Jer. 32:39, 40). Again, in Ezekiel, "I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh," (Ezek. 11:19). He could not more clearly claim to himself, and deny to us, everything good and right in our will, than by declaring, that in our conversion there is the creation of a new spirit and a new heart. It always follows, both that nothing good can proceed from our will until it be formed again, and that after it is formed again in so far as it is good, it is of God, and not of us.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Guy with the Mic Doesn’t Speak for the Room
By Glen Scrivener 1/3/2018
I love preaching to students, and I get dozens of opportunities each year on university campuses across the UK. Usually I’m invited as a guest of the university’s Christian Union, their strategy to reach fellow students based on four cornerstones: deep friendships, personal invitations, free lunches, and, when it comes to talk titles, unashamed “trolling.” I absolutely love Christian Unions, and I heartily endorse three of these four foundations.
The trolling part involves talk titles that, in the interests of “engaging the difficult questions” end up delivering the hapless speaker—occasionally me—before an audience of undergraduates to address the issue of why God is such a genocidal maniac/homophobic bigot/hell-loving kill-joy, and so on. As I’m about to address the assembled students, it always occurs to me that 90 percent of the audience would have shown up just for the sandwich. Nonetheless, I step up to the plate and speak to the topic because I’m polite enough to do what the Christian Union tells me and contrarian enough to enjoy the argument.
Guy With The Mic | During one outreach the Christian Union organized a lunch around the topic: “Does God Hate Women?” The students had the wisdom to bench me for this talk and invited a woman who spoke to the subject brilliantly. So there I was in the audience, doing what every evangelist does in such circumstances (mentally stealing every one of her illustrations), and after 20 minutes of winsome gospeling, the floor was thrown open to questions.
At this point the president of the Atheists and Secular Humanists Society stood up, grabbed the microphone, and began an interrogation that lasted the allotted 15 minutes. The speaker did excellently, answering with Scriptures, wisdom, grace, and humor. The subjects veered from women, to slaves, to homosexuality, to hell, to Old Testament war, to transphobia. She kept smiling, kept answering with grace, but all the while the shoulders of everyone in the room rose steadily until no one had any neck left. At last a poor student had to get up, cut off the atheist, and close the meeting, sheepishly inviting inquirers to a meeting that night.
As the music played and we began to let our shoulders descend from around our ears, I turned to my neighbor Mark, a 19-year-old economics student. “What did you make of that?” I asked. He was quiet for a bit. Then he said, “Oh I wasn’t listening to that guy. It’s just . . . my grandfather died last month, and I’ve just been wondering what it’s all about. What do you reckon?” And we were off.
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3 2 1: The Story of God, the World and You
Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community: Statistics for 1996 to 2006 England
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Keys to Bible study (1)
1/4/2018 Bob Gass
‘Your commands are boundless.’
(Ps 119:96) 96 I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad. ESV
The psalmist wrote, ‘To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.’ What does that mean? It means each time you read a Scripture you’ll see something different in it. It’s like shining light on a diamond. Each time you turn it slightly, you see another facet of its beauty. That’s why the Bible is different from any other book you’ll ever read. You’ll learn things about God from personal experience and from listening to the thoughts and experiences of others, but you’ll get to know Him better through the reading of His Word than any other way. You can study the same Scripture over and over again, dig into it, leave it for three or four months|, and when you come back to it there is much more to find. The key is this: stick with it! There’s no limit to the number of questions you can ask, no limit to the observations you can make, and no limit to the applications you can make. So don’t give up! The best attitude to have in Bible study is the one Jacob had when he wrestled with the angel of the Lord: ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’ (Genesis 32:26 NKJV). As a result God gave him a new name, a new nature, a new walk, and a new future. Bible study has no shortcuts; it takes effort. But if you’re diligent and patient you’ll reap great rewards. Once you’ve felt the joy and satisfaction that comes from finding a great spiritual truth on your own, and applying it to your life, you’ll never approach Bible study the same way again.
UCB The Word For Today
January 4, 2016
We’re up on Parrett Mountain Road waiting for the ice to melt.
I love scripture, not like a scholar, not like a doctor who knows all the functions of the human body, but simply as a man who feels closer to the Lord when I’m reading scripture. Scripture helps me center when I’m being pulled one way or another, tossed from one emotion to another. I am, after all, a double minded man. I tell God I love Him, but look too much at darkness, darkness in the world, darkness in me. I know I cannot think about two things at once so I make it a point to read or think about scripture even more when shadows begin to gather and dogs begin to howl.
Is there any magic protection in scripture? Well, Joab fled to the Tent of the Lord and grasped the horns of the altar, but it did not keep Benaiah from carrying out Solomon’s (David’s) command to kill him. (1 Kings 2:28) David's death command to Solomon reminds me of the movie Godfather. Vito instructs his son Michael what to do when Vito dies. During the baptism of his sister’s newest child Michael orders the simultaneous murders of the leaders of the New York Mafia's other Dons.
Life is ugly because we do not live it God's way. Scripture is knowledge, but it is not wisdom without the Holy Spirit. Those who belong to the Lord are no better than those who do not believe. We all sin. Only God can keep us from ourselves.
by Bill Federer
Called the “Father of American Medicine,” he signed the Declaration of Independence, was Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and was a staff member of the Pennsylvania Hospital, where he opened the first free medical clinic. His name was Benjamin Rush, and he was born this day, January 4, 1745. Rush also founded a Bible Society, a Sunday School Union and a Society for the Abolition of Slavery. Dr. Benjamin Rush stated: “The only foundation for… education in a republic is… religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object… of all republican governments.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?
May we not be of one heart,
though we are not of one opinion?
Without all doubt, we may.
Herein all the children of God may unite,
notwithstanding these smaller differences.
--- from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley
Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?
--- Joseph Story (James Madison appointed him the youngest Justice on the Supreme Court)
The Bible characters never fell on their weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness (The Place of Help).
--- Gordon MacDonald
For in the cross of Christ, as in a splendid theatre, the incomparable goodness of God is set before the whole world. The glory of God shines, indeed, in all creatures on high and below, but never more brightly than in the cross ....
If it be objected that nothing could be less glorious than Christ’s death..., I reply that in that death we see a boundless glory which is concealed from the ungodly. --- John Calvin Calvin’s St John
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
and raises her voice in the public places;
21 she calls out at streetcorners
and speaks out at entrances to city gates:
22 “How long, you whose lives have no purpose,
will you love thoughtless living?
How long will scorners find pleasure in mocking?
How long will fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent when I reprove—
I will pour out my spirit to you,
I will make my words known to you.
24 Because you refused when I called,
and no one paid attention when I put out my hand,
25 but instead you neglected my counsel
and would not accept my reproof;
26 I, in turn, will laugh at your distress,
and mock when terror comes over you—
27 yes, when terror overtakes you like a storm
and your disaster approaches like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble assail you.
28 Then they will call me, but I won’t answer;
they will seek me earnestly, but they won’t find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of ADONAI,
30 they refused my counsel
and despised my reproof.
31 So they will bear the consequences of their own way
and be overfilled with their own schemes.
32 For the aimless wandering of the thoughtless will kill them,
and the smug overconfidence of fools will destroy them;
33 but those who pay attention to me will live securely,
untroubled by fear of misfortune.”
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Why cannot I follow thee now?
Peter said unto Him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? --- John 13:37.
There are times when you cannot understand why you cannot do what you want to do. When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait. The blank space may come in order to teach you what sanctification means; or it may come after sanctification to teach you what service means. Never run before God’s guidance. If there is the slightest doubt, then He is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt—don’t.
In the beginning you may see clearly what God’s will is—the severance of a friendship, the breaking off of a business relationship, something you feel distinctly before God is His will for you to do, never do it on the impulse of that feeling. If you do, you will end in making difficulties that will take years of time to put right. Wait for God’s time to bring it round and He will do it without any heartbreak or disappointment. When it is a question of the providential will of God, wait for God to move.
Peter did not wait on God, he forecast in his mind where the test would come, and the test came where he did not expect it. “I will lay down my life for Thy sake.” Peter’s declaration was honest but ignorant. “Jesus answered him … The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied Me thrice.” This was said with a deeper knowledge of Peter than Peter had of himself. He could not follow Jesus because he did not know himself, or of what he was capable. Natural devotion may be all very well to attract us to Jesus, to make us feel His fascination, but it will never make us disciples. Natural devotion will always deny Jesus somewhere or other.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
One person, he thinks,
in every century or so
came within hail.
I answered by standing
aside, watching him
as he passed. I
am the eternal quarry,
moving at thought's
the hunger, arriving
before him. They
put down their prayers'
bait, and swallow it
between word and deed
are the equations
I step over. Why
do they stare out
with appalled minds
at the appetite
of their lenses?
It is where I feed,
too, waiting for them
to catch up, bounded
only by an inability
to be overtaken.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
The Hebrew calendar (ha'luach ha'ivri), or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits (dates to commemorate the death of a relative), and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses. In Israel, it is an official calendar for civil purposes and provides a time frame for agriculture.
Originally the Hebrew calendar was used by Jews for all daily purposes, but following the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey in 63 BCE (see also Iudaea province), Jews began additionally following the imperial civil calendar, which was decreed in 45 BCE, for civic matters such as the payment of taxes and dealings with government officials.
The Hebrew calendar has evolved over time. For example, until the Tannaitic period, the months were set by observation of a new crescent moon, with an additional month added every two or three years to keep Passover in the spring, again based on observation of natural events, namely the ripening of barley to reach the stage of "aviv" (nearly ripened crop). Through the Amoraic period and into the Geonic period, this system was displaced by mathematical rules. The principles and rules appear to have been settled by the time Maimonides compiled the Mishneh Torah.
Because of the roughly eleven-day difference between twelve lunar months and one solar year, the length of the Hebrew calendar year varies in a repeating 19-year Metonic cycle of 235 lunar months, with an intercalary lunar month added according to defined rules every two or three years, for a total of 7 times per 19 years. Seasonal references in the Hebrew calendar reflect its development in the region east of the Mediterranean and the times and climate of the Northern Hemisphere. The Hebrew calendar year is longer by about 6 minutes and 25+25/57 seconds than the present-day mean solar year, so that every 224 years, the Hebrew calendar will fall a full day behind the modern solar year, and about every 231 years it will fall a full day behind the Gregorian calendar year.
The present counting method for years use the Anno Mundi epoch (Latin for "in the year of the world", abbreviated AM or A.M. and also referred to as the Hebrew era. Hebrew year 5770 began on 19 September 2009 and ended on 8 September 2010. Hebrew year 5771 (a leap year) began on 9 September 2010 and ends on 28 September 2011.
The God of all grace… make you perfect.
--- 1 Peter 5:10. KJV
The word that Peter uses for “make you perfect” is the same word [that] is used for mending the nets. ( The Weaving of Glory (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) It is as if Peter had said, “The God of grace, whatever else he may do, will mend your nets for you.”
Nets are often broken through encountering some jagged obstacle—caught by some obstruction in the deep and, clearing themselves free of it, are torn. It may be a piece of wreckage in the sea. It may be the sharp edge of some familiar reef that has been swept clear of its seaweed by the storm. But whatever it is, the net drags over it, is caught and torn, and, tearing itself free, it gapes disfigured like some wounded thing.
Are there no human lives like that? Maybe a hidden and surprising sin does it, maybe a sudden and overwhelming sorrow; it may be the ruin of a cherished friendship or the wreckage of a love that meant the world or some swift insight into another’s baseness where we dreamed there was sincerity. In such an hour as that the net is torn. There is a tearing of the very heartstrings. Faith is shattered, and God is but a name, and life seems the shallowest of delusions. For always, when we lose our faith in people, there falls a shadow on our faith in God, so that the very stars seem to have no master, and goodness seems only the mockery of a dream.
The torn net entails missing the riches that are at hand on every side. And that was the pity of the useless net—all that was precious was so near at hand and yet might have been a thousand miles away.
We have sinned, and we have sinned greatly. We have done our very best to spoil our lives. We have wasted time and squandered opportunity and been unloving and utterly unworthy. Thanks be to God, in spite of all that—and of things that may be darker than that—the broken net is going to be mended. He forgives us completely, he is pledged to save us completely. Deeper than our deepest need are the infinite depths of his compassion. It is in such a faith that we give him our lives, which are so torn and ragged, assured that his grace will be sufficient for us and his power made perfect in our weakness. God’s hands are powerful and can grasp tremendously when the wind is high and the waves are raging. But [his hands], too, with a delicacy infinite and with tenderness, can mend the broken net on life’s shore.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Tongue Screw
Travel brochures of the Netherlands tell of windmills, dikes, and boys named Hans with their silver skates. But the years 1531 to 1578 were not so peaceful. Hundreds of Protestants were slaughtered, including a young man named Hans.
Hans Bret supported his widowed mother by working in a bakery in Antwerp. The two belonged to a Protestant group there, and in his spare time Hans studied the Bible and taught new converts in the church, preparing them for baptism. One Evening a knock sounded on the bakery door. Hans opened it to find a delegation of officers. The house was surrounded and Hans was arrested. For the next several months, authorities alternately questioned and tortured him. From his dark isolation hole, Hans managed to smuggle letters to his mother.
From him alone we expect our strength to withstand these cruel wolves, so that they have no power over our souls. They are really more cruel than wolves—they are not satisfied with our bodies, tearing at them; but they seek to devour and kill our souls.
Hans’s treatment worsened, and when intense torture failed to break his spirit, he was sentenced to the stake. Early on Saturday, January 4, 1577, the executioner came to Hans’s cell and ordered him to stick out his tongue. Over it he clamped an iron tongue screw, twisting it tightly with a vise grip. Then he seared the end of Hans’s tongue with a red-hot iron so that the tongue would swell and couldn’t slip out of the clamp. The officials didn’t want Hans preaching at his execution. The young man was taken by wagon to the marketplace, secured to a post with winding chains, and burned alive.
In the crowd, another Hans watched in horror—Hans de Ries, Bret’s pastor and friend. After the ashes cooled, he sifted through them and retrieved a keepsake—the tongue screw that had fallen from Bret’s consumed body. Shortly after, Hans de Ries married Hans Bret’s mother, and the tongue screw became a symbol of faithfulness that has passed from generation to generation.
Each generation will announce to the next your wonderful and powerful deeds. I will keep thinking about your marvelous glory and your mighty miracles. Everyone will talk about your fearsome deeds, and I will tell all nations how great you are. --- Psalm 145:4-6.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 4
“Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” --- 2 Peter 3:18.
“Grow in grace”—not in one grace only, but in all grace. Grow in that root-grace, faith. Believe the promises more firmly than you have done. Let faith increase in fulness, constancy, simplicity. Grow also in love. Ask that your love may become extended, more intense, more practical, influencing every thought, word, and deed. Grow likewise in humility. Seek to lie very low, and know more of your own nothingness. As you grow downward in humility, seek also to grow upward —having nearer approaches to God in prayer and more intimate fellowship with Jesus. May God the Holy Spirit enable you to “grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.” He who grows not in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know him is “life eternal,” and to advance in the knowledge of him is to increase in happiness. He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet. Whoever hath sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction, that the appetite is not cloyed, but whetted. If you know the love of Jesus—as the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so will you pant after deeper draughts of his love. If you do not desire to know him better, then you love him not, for love always cries, “Nearer, nearer.” Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven. Rest not then content without an increasing acquaintance with Jesus. Seek to know more of him in his divine nature, in his human relationship, in his finished work, in his death, in his resurrection, in his present glorious intercession, and in his future royal advent. Abide hard by the Cross, and search the mystery of his wounds. An increase of love to Jesus, and a more perfect apprehension of his love to us is one of the best tests of growth in grace.
Evening - January 4
“And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.” --- Genesis 42:8.
This Morning our desires went forth for growth in our acquaintance with the Lord Jesus; it may be well to-night to consider a kindred topic, namely, our heavenly Joseph’s knowledge of us. This was most blessedly perfect long before we had the slightest knowledge of him. “His eyes beheld our substance, yet being imperfect, and in his book all our members were written, when as yet there was none of them.” Before we had a being in the world we had a being in his heart. When we were enemies to him, he knew us, our misery, our madness, and our wickedness. When we wept bitterly in despairing repentance, and viewed him only as a judge and a ruler, he viewed us as his brethren well beloved, and his bowels yearned towards us. He never mistook his chosen, but always beheld them as objects of his infinite affection. “The Lord knoweth them that are his,” is as true of the prodigals who are feeding swine as of the children who sit at the table.
But, alas! we knew not our royal Brother, and out of this ignorance grew a host of sins. We withheld our hearts from him, and allowed him no entrance to our love. We mistrusted him, and gave no credit to his words. We rebelled against him, and paid him no loving homage. The Sun of Righteousness shone forth, and we could not see him. Heaven came down to earth, and earth perceived it not. Let God be praised, those days are over with us; yet even now it is but little that we know of Jesus compared with what he knows of us. We have but begun to study him, but he knoweth us altogether. It is a blessed circumstance that the ignorance is not on his side, for then it would be a hopeless case for us. He will not say to us, “I never knew you,” but he will confess our names in the day of his appearing, and meanwhile will manifest himself to us as he doth not unto the world.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
GUIDE ME, O THOU GREAT JEHOVAH
William Williams, 1717–1791
Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your name lead and guide me. (Psalm 31:3)
The need for daily guidance is one of the believer’s greatest concerns. How easily our lives can go astray without the assurance of divine leadership. Today’s featured text is one of the great hymns of the church on this subject. It is a product of the revival movement that swept through Wales during the 18th century. This revival was led by a 24-year-old Welsh preacher, Howell Harris, who stirred the land with his fervent evangelistic preaching and his use of congregational singing.
One of the lives touched by Harris’ ministry was 20-year-old William Williams. Young Williams, the son of a wealthy Welsh farmer, was preparing to become a medical doctor. But, upon hearing the stirring challenge by evangelist Howell Harris, Williams dedicated his life to God and the Christian ministry. William Williams, like Harris, decided to take all of Wales as his parish and for the next 43 years traveled 100,000 miles on horseback, preaching and singing the Gospel in his native tongue. He became known as the “sweet singer of Wales.”
The symbolic imagery of this hymn is drawn wholly from the Bible. The general setting is the march of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan. Although the Israelites’ sin and unbelief kept them from their destination for 40 years, God provided for their physical needs with a new supply of manna each day.
Twice during the Hebrews’ years of wandering, they became faint because of lack of water. At the command of God, Moses struck a large rock with his wooden staff. Out of it flowed-a pure, crystalline stream that preserved their lives. God also continued to guide them with a pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, pilgrim thru this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty—Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand:
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through;
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer, be Thou still my strength and shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside;
Bear me thru the swelling current; land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee.
For Today: Psalm 16:11; Psalm 32:8; Isaiah 58:11; Romans 8:14
Claim God’s promises for your life in even the small decisions you will be called upon to make this day. Then, begin to praise Him.
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Joe Wright 1/23/1996
The original prayer was delivered January 23, 1996 by the Rev. Joe Wright to
the Kansas House of Reprentatives in Topeka.January 4
We come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance.
We know your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we've done.
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state.
Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will.
I ask it in the name of your son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I heard my pastor ( Brett Meador ) read this prayer so I used Google when I got home. You can find the prayer and the story in many places on the internet.