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1/06/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Genesis  19 - 21


Genesis 19

God Rescues Lot

Genesis 19 1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. 19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

God Destroys Sodom

23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.

29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.

Lot and His Daughters

30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

34 The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.


Genesis 20

Abraham and Abimelech

Genesis 20 1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” 11 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”

14 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.” 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. 18 For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.


Genesis 21

The Birth of Isaac

Genesis 21 1 The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

God Protects Hagar and Ishmael

8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

A Treaty with Abimelech

22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” 24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.”

25 When Abraham reproved Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized, 26 Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.” 27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 30 He said, “These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that this may be a witness for me that I dug this well.” 31 Therefore that place was called Beersheba, because there both of them swore an oath. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army rose up and returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines.

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

What Happens to Our Souls When We Die?

By J. Warner Wallace 1/3/2018

     There are many good reasons to believe we, as humans, are more than simply physical bodies. Humans are “soulish” creatures; we are living souls united to physical bodies. Even without the guidance of Scripture, there are good reasons to believe our lives will not end at the point of our physical death. The existence of an afterlife is reasonable, particularly given our dual nature as immaterial souls possessing physical bodies. But what precisely happens to each of us, as living souls, when our physical bodies cease to exist? What will we experience the moment we close our eyes for the last time in this temporal life? The Christian worldview offers an answer to this question, and it can be found by surveying the teaching of the New Testament:

     Those Who Accept God’s Offer of Salvation Will Be United with Him Immediately | There is good reason to believe our afterlife experience begins the minute we close our eyes for the last time here on earth. For those of us who are believers, the instant our earthly bodies die our souls will be united with Jesus in the afterlife:

(2 Co 5:6–8) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. ESV

(Lk 23:39–43) 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ESV

     Those who have accepted God’s offer of Salvation will be with Jesus in what we commonly refer to as “Heaven”. But our experience in Heaven prior to the earthly return of Jesus (and the resurrection of our bodies), while much better than our life here on earth, will not be complete. It will only be part of the experience we will one day have when Jesus returns to earth and resurrects the bodies of those who are already with Him in spirit. While He’s at it, He’ll bring those of us who are still alive home as well:

(1 Th 4:14–18) 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. ESV

     Only then, after the resurrection, will our joy and satisfaction be made complete; only then will we be able to experience the full physical, spiritual and emotional joy we were originally designed for.

     Those Who Reject God’s Offer of Salvation Will Be Separated from Him | Unfortunately our experience of the afterlife is instantaneous upon death even for those of us who have rejected God. While believers will be united with God, unbelievers will not. The New Testament describes two different places where the unrighteous go after death. One such place is called “Hades”. This is described as the place where the unrighteous go immediately upon death to await their final destination. Take a look at this story Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke:

(Lk 16:19–24) 19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ ESV

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

The Struggle Is Real

By Erica Boutwell

     There’s this wood art piece (art may be stretching it) I made years ago, hanging over our front door that was inspired by a song penned by a man named David Parker. David was my boss at 121 Community Church for 12 years, but will forever be one of my dearest friends and inspirations. He wrote this song called You Are God, You Are Good back in September of 2010. I remember the time so clearly because the second verse of that song, he told me, was greatly influenced by a situation going on in our family at the time. The words to that verse are:

There’s a mountain here,
And I know this mountain must be climbed,
What awaits brings fear,
But I know You will provide,
I know You will provide

     David and his wife, Diana (along with other friends and family) were walking with us through a series of evaluations we were having done on Bishop, our oldest son who was 3 years old at the time, to determine if some concerns we had been having were valid. The day had come for Bishop’s screening at the Early Learning Center where the entire trajectory of our family’s life was altered. See, for about a year up to that point, we had been noticing some things that were red flags, but I was trying to find the balance between living in denial and being that alarmist mom who assumes the worst all the time. Nevertheless, here we were at his initial screening for a developmental delay. They took him off to another room to do his screening while I paced the lobby. After about 20 minutes, they brought him back to me, smiling his chubby little head off, completely unaware that the words that were about to come out of his new friend’s mouth would be like a knife to the gut. She proceeded to explain that they did notice a pretty severe language delay (okay, no surprise there, moving on) and that they think he would benefit from their services called P.P.C.D. (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities). Then she said with her sweet, nurturing voice “… and just so you know, we did notice a number of indicators of Autism.” Now what she said immediately after that is a complete blur because the room began to go dark and my head started spinning. My fears had been confirmed. That’s not what was supposed to happen today.

     Enter mountain. Giant… rocky… peak-filled… volcanic… mountain!

     How do we do this? How bad is it going to get? Is he going to ever have a normal life? Will he have friends? I wanted answers and I wanted them right then.

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

Who Really Chose the Books of the New Testament and Why?

By Jonathan Morrow 1/3/17

     Were the books of the New Testament selected by Emperor Constantine for social and political reasons in the 4th century (per the claims of The Da Vinci Code ) or were the books included in the New Testament Canon because they fit with the authoritative teaching that can be traced back to Jesus himself? Was this simply a power play? Another example of history being written by the winners?

     I think the best way to come at this is by asking which of these documents tells us the truth about “the faith” that was preached and received in the earliest communities of Christ-followers (see Jude 3). This is a theological question — what did the earliest eyewitnesses of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth believe and preach from the very beginning?

     The Earliest Indicators of Christianity’s Earliest Beliefs | New Testament scholar Darrell Bock points to three kinds of texts contained in the New Testament writings that show us what the earliest Christians believed (and helpfully provides 3 S’s).

     Schooling — We find doctrinal summaries Christians would memorize and read alongside Old Testament texts (i.e., the Hebrew Scriptures) when they would gather together for worship in house churches (e.g., Rom. 1:2-4; 1 Cor. 8:6; 15:1-5).

     Singing — they would sing their theology in hymns and show their devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., Col. 1:15-20 and Phil. 2:5-11).


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(Jud 3) Greeting
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Judgment on False Teachers

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 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.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

A Call to Persevere

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
ESV

     Jonathan Morrow: I am the author of several books including Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey and Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible's Authority .

     I’ve also contributed articles to the bestselling Apologetics Study Bible for Students and A New Kind of Apologist.

     My passion is helping a new generation of Christ-follower’s understand what they believe, why they believe it, and why it matters.

Converts And The Symphony Of Truth

By George Weigel 1/11/2012

     Why do adults become Catholics?

     There are as many reasons for “converting” as there are converts. Evelyn Waugh became a Catholic with, by his own admission, “little emotion but clear conviction”: this was the truth; one ought to adhere to it. Cardinal Avery Dulles wrote that his journey into the Catholic Church began when, as an unbelieving Harvard undergraduate detached from his family’s staunch Presbyterianism, he noticed a leaf shimmering with raindrops while taking a walk along the Charles River in Cambridge, MA; such beauty could not be accidental, he thought—there must be a Creator. Thomas Merton found Catholicism aesthetically, as well as intellectually, attractive: Once the former Columbia free-thinker and dabbler in communism and Hinduism found his way into a Trappist monastery and became a priest, he explained the Mass to his unconverted friend, poet Robert Lax, by analogy to a ballet. Until his death in 2007, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger insisted that his conversion to Catholicism was not a rejection of, but a fulfillment of, the Judaism into which he was born; the cardinal could often be found at Holocaust memorial services reciting the names of the martyrs, including “Gisèle Lustiger, ma maman ” (“my mother”).

     Two of the great nineteenth-century converts were geniuses of the English language: theologian John Henry Newman and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. This tradition of literary converts continued in the twentieth-century, and included Waugh, Graham Greene, Edith Sitwell, Ronald Knox, and Walker Percy. Their heritage lives today at Our Savior’s Church on Park Avenue in New York, where convert author, wit, raconteur and amateur pugilist George William Rutler presides as pastor.

     In early American Catholicism, the fifth archbishop of Baltimore (and de facto primate of the United States), Samuel Eccleston, was a convert from Anglicanism, as was the first native-born American saint and the precursor of the Catholic school system, Elizabeth Anne Seton. Mother Seton’s portrait in the offices of the archbishop of New York is somewhat incongruous, as the young widow Seton, with her children, was run out of New York by her unforgiving Anglican in-laws when she became a Catholic. On his deathbed, another great nineteenth-century convert, Henry Edward Manning of England, who might have become the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury but became the Catholic archbishop of Westminster instead, took his long-deceased wife’s prayer book from beneath his pillow and gave it to a friend, saying that it had been his spiritual inspiration throughout his life.

     If there is a thread running through these diverse personalities, it may be this: that men and women of intellect, culture and accomplishment have found in Catholicism what Blessed John Paul II called the “symphony of truth.” That rich and complex symphony, and the harmonies it offers, is an attractive, compelling and persuasive alternative to the fragmentation of modern and post-modern intellectual and cultural life, where little fits together and much is cacophony. Catholicism, however, is not an accidental assembly of random truth-claims; the Creed is not an arbitrary catalogue of propositions and neither is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It all fits together, and in proposing that symphonic harmony, Catholicism helps fit all the aspects of our lives together, as it orders our loves and loyalties in the right direction.

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George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

George Weigel Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 4

4 Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.
6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
7 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

ESV Study Bible

You Will Touch 80,000 Lives

By Brett Zeck 1/4/2017

     There is something about the truth that causes people to tremble, look in awe, and become overwhelmed all at the same time.

     If you surrender your life over to Jesus and walk with him for your fullest joy, then you might understand this. The truth of Christ means responsibility rests on your shoulders: you see strangers and loved ones trying to quench a deep, internal thirst in a world that — without Jesus — is salt water. With the realization that life is meant to glorify the Lord, you can’t help but weep at the sight of unbelief and fading lives.

     The overwhelming truth is how many don’t know Jesus, how many are living eternally insignificant lives. How can we cope with a reality that bleak?

     An 80,000-Fold Influence | Let’s say that a person meets an average of two to three people a day. Assuming the average life span is roughly eighty years, this means that the average person will encounter somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 people in their life. The football stadium at the University of North Carolina, where I am a student, houses 62,980 people.

     Imagine if you walked into this stadium at the end of your life. One by one the seats are all filled with old and strangely familiar faces, memories flooding back to you until the crowd starts to pour over onto the field. You have met each person here, though many were only for a single moment. Each person represents at least one opportunity you had to influence the trajectory of his life. Your life will impact the world through thousands of people, who will, in turn, impact millions.

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      is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leader with Summit Church’s campus ministry. He writes at brettzeck.com.

The Candy Diet

By Seth Godin 1/4/2017

     The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books.

     Fifteen years ago, cable channels like TLC (the "L" stood for Learning), Bravo and the History Channel (the "History" stood for History) promised to add texture and information to the blighted TV landscape. Now these networks run shows about marrying people based on how well they kiss.

     And of course, newspapers won Pulitzer prizes for telling us things we didn't want to hear. We've responded by not buying newspapers any more.

     The decline of thoughtful media has been discussed for a century. This is not new. What is new: A fundamental shift not just in the profit-seeking gatekeepers, but in the culture as a whole.

     "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." | [Ironically, this isn't what Einstein actually said. It was this, "It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience." Alas, I've been seduced into believing that the shorter one now works better.]


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     Seth Godin is a writer, a speaker and an agent of change.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     12. In support of this view, some make an ignorant and false application of the Apostle's words: "I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me," (1 Cor. 15:10). The meaning they give them is, that as Paul might have seemed to speak somewhat presumptuously in preferring himself to all the other apostles, he corrects the expression so far by referring the praise to the grace of God, but he, at the same time, calls himself a co-operator with grace. It is strange that this should have proved a stumbling-block to so many writers, otherwise respectable. The Apostle says not that the grace of God laboured with him so as to make him a co-partner in the labour. He rather transfers the whole merit of the labour to grace alone, by thus modifying his first expression, "It was not I," says he, "that laboured, but the grace of God that was present with me." Those who have adopted the erroneous interpretation have been misled by an ambiguity in the expression, or rather by a preposterous translation, in which the force of the Greek article is overlooked. For to take the words literally, the Apostle does not say that grace was a fellow-worker with him, but that the grace which was with him was sole worker. And this is taught not obscurely, though briefly, by Augustine when he says, "Good will in man precedes many gifts from God, but not all gifts, seeing that the will which precedes is itself among the number." He adds the reason, "for it is written, the God of my mercy shall prevent me,' (Ps. 59:10), and Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me,' (Ps. 23:6); it prevents him that is unwilling, and makes him willing; it follows him that is willing, that he may not will in vain." To this Bernard assents, introducing the Church as praying thus, "Draw me, who am in some measure unwilling, and make me willing; draw me, who am sluggishly lagging, and make me run," (Serm. 2 in Cantic).

13. Let us now hear Augustine in his own words, lest the Pelagians of our age, I mean the sophists of the Sorbonne, charge us after their wont with being opposed to all antiquity. In this indeed they imitate their father Pelagius, by whom of old a similar charge was brought against Augustine. In the second chapter of his Treatise De Correptione et Gratis, addressed to Valentinus, Augustine explains at length what I will state briefly, but in his own words, that to Adam was given the grace of persevering in goodness if he had the will; to us it is given to will, and by will overcome concupiscence: that Adam, therefore, had the power if he had the will, but did not will to have the power, whereas to us is given both the will and the power; that the original freedom of man was to be able not to sin, but that we have a much greater freedom--viz. not to be able to sin. And lest it should be supposed, as Lombard erroneously does (lib. 2 Dist. 25), that he is speaking of the perfection of the future state, he shortly after removes all doubt when he says, "For so much is the will of the saints inflamed by the Holy Spirit, that they are able, because they are willing; and willing, because God worketh in them so to will." For if, in such weakness (in which, however, to suppress pride, "strength" must be made "perfect,") their own will is left to them, in such sense that, by the help of God, they are able, if they will, while at the same time God does not work in them so as to make them will; among so many temptations and infirmities the will itself would give way, and, consequently, they would not be able to persevere. Therefore, to meet the infirmity of the human will, and prevent it from failing, how weak soever it might be, divine grace was made to act on it inseparably and uninterruptedly. Augustine (ibid. cap. 14). next entering fully into the question, how our hearts follow the movement when God affects them, necessarily says, indeed, that the Lord draws men by their own wills; wills, however, which he himself has produced. We have now an attestation by Augustine to the truth which we are specially desirous to maintain--viz. that the grace offered by the Lord is not merely one which every individual has full liberty of choosing to receive or reject, but a grace which produces in the heart both choice and will: so that all the good works which follow after are its fruit and effect; the only will which yields obedience being the will which grace itself has made. In another place, Augustine uses these words, "Every good work in us is performed only by grace," (August. Ep. 105).

14. In saying elsewhere that the will is not taken away by grace, but out of bad is changed into good, and after it is good is assisted,--he only means, that man is not drawn as if by an extraneous impulse [170] without the movement of the heart, but is inwardly affected so as to obey from the heart. Declaring that grace is given specially and gratuitously to the elect, he writes in this way to Boniface: "We know that Divine grace is not given to all men, and that to those to whom it is given, it is not given either according to the merit of works, or according to the merit of the will, but by free grace: in regard to those to whom it is not given, we know that the not giving of it is a just judgment from God," (August. ad Bonifac. Ep. 106). In the same epistle, he argues strongly against the opinion of those who hold that subsequent grace is given to human merit as a reward for not rejecting the first grace. For he presses Pelagius to confess that gratuitous grace is necessary to us for every action, and that merely from the fact of its being truly grace, it cannot be the recompense of works. But the matter cannot be more briefly summed up than in the eighth chapter of his Treatise De Correptione et Gratia, where he shows, First, that human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace obtains liberty. Secondly, that by means of the same grace, the heart being impressed with a feeling of delight, is trained to persevere, and strengthened with invincible fortitude. Thirdly, that while grace governs the will, it never falls; but when grace abandons it, it falls forthwith. Fourthly, that by the free mercy of God, the will is turned to good, and when turned, perseveres. Fifthly, that the direction of the will to good, and its constancy after being so directed, depend entirely on the will of God, and not on any human merit. Thus the will (free will, if you choose to call it so), which is left to man, is, as he in another place (Ep. 46) describes it, a will which can neither be turned to God, nor continue in God, unless by grace; a will which, whatever its ability may be, derives all that ability from grace.

__________________________________________________________________

[167] The French adds, "Qui a esté une peste mortelle ? l'Eglise, d'estimer que l'homme pouvoit eviter le peché pource qu'il peche franchement;" Which has been a deadly pest to the Church--viz. that man could avoid sin, because he sins frankly.

[168] French, "La premiere partie des bonnes oeuvres est la volonté; l'autre est de s'efforcer a l'executer et le pouvoir faire."--The first part of good works is the will; the second is the attempt to execute it, and the power to do so.

[169] The French is, "Nous voyons que ce mouvement sans vertu, lequel imaginent les sophistes, est exclus; J'entend ce qu'ils disent, qu Dieu offre seulement sa grace, a telle condition que chacun la refuse ou accepte selon que bon lui semble. Telle reverie di-je, qui n'est ne chair ne poisson, est exclue, quand il est dit que Dieu nous fait tellement perseverer que nous sommes hors de danger de decliver."--We see that this movement without virtue, which the sophists imagine, is excluded, I mean their dogma, that God only offers his grace on such conditions that each may refuse or accept it as seems to him good. Such a reverie, I say, which is neither fish nor flesh, is excluded, when it is said that God makes us so persevere that we are in no danger of declining.

[170] French, "Come une pierre;"--like a stone.

__________________________________________________________________

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



  • Universe Origin
  • Pluralistic Age
  • Friendship in Community

#1 Sean Carroll   Biola University

 

#2 Paul Baumann    Villanova University

 

#3 Matt Jenson & Kurt Simonson   Biola University

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Keys to Bible study (3)
     1/6/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine.’

(Mt 7:24) 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. ESV

     Certain products carry a label that says: ‘Warning! This can be hazardous to your health.’ Instead of helping you, certain kinds of Bible study can actually hurt you. The Bible says, ‘Knowledge puffs up’ (1 Corinthians 8:1 NIV 2011 Edition). The Greek word for ‘puffs’ contains the idea of being inflated, like a hot air balloon. By the time a Pharisee was ordained, he could quote hours and hours of Old Testament law. Yet Jesus said the Pharisees were like beautifully painted gravestones: filled with dead men’s bones. Satan knows the Scriptures so well that he was able to quote them to Jesus in the wilderness temptation. And what is Satan’s chief quality? Pride. It’s the sin that got him thrown out of heaven. The whole point in studying the Scriptures is to make you more dependent on God and give you the right approach to life. People mainly read the Scriptures for three reasons: 1) To find proof texts that support their views. 2) To find promises that apply to their particular needs. 3) To discover principles to live by. If you’re wise you’ll be a member of this third group. Jesus said, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.’ When the storms of life came, the wise man’s house stood firm while the foolish man’s – the one who didn’t practise what he knew – came crashing down. Added knowledge brings added responsibility. So if you’re not planning on applying the knowledge you’ve received from your Bible study, you’d be better not to study it at all.

(1 Co 8:1) Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. ESV

Gen 16-17
Matt 5:27-48

UCB The Word For Today

IMHO
     January 6, 2016

     Have you ever heard anyone say we should never be so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good? That is a theologically empty statement. Jesus is where this earthly dimension intersects with the heavenly dimension. We become more like what we focus on, what we worship. If we focus on Jesus we become more like Jesus, more tender hearted, more compassionate, more human in the sense of how God wants us to be human.

     The closer we draw to Jesus the more Jesus can do through us. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We cannot draw too close to Jesus. The closer we move to Jesus the closer we move to our neighbor. Jesus told us not to judge others and to forgive if we want to be forgiven. This is a good prescription for drawing closer to our neighbor.

     I have four sons. Every night I pray that God will help them to draw closer to the Lord, to become more compassionate, more tender-hearted, more responsive and less reactive. I pray that for their wives and their children too. The more we are transformed by the mind and love of Christ the more God’s future is present now.


     The Spirit is given to begin the work of making God’s future real in the present.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     In 567 AD, at the Council of Tours, the church tried to reconcile a dispute between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. The West celebrated the feast of Christ’s birth on Christmas day, December 25th as it’s major holiday, and the East celebrated this day, January 6th as Epiphany, remembering the visit of the Wise Men and Jesus’ baptism. Since no agreement could be reached on a specific date, the decision was made to have all 12 days between December 25th and January 6th designated “holy days” or as it was later pronounced “holidays.” These became known as the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     It is with the generous permission of the Friends Book Committee of 304 Arch Street, Philadelphia, that the lecture Holy Obedience has been made available for inclusion here. The editors of The Friend of the same address have given their consent for the reprinting of essays originally printed there. The friends of Thomas Kelly and especially E. Merrill Root, Rufus M. Jones, Mrs. A.L. Gillett, and John Cadbury have been most generous in supplying letters and material that furnished the substance for the biographical memoir. T. Canby Jones, T. Lloyd Cadbury and Albert L. Bailey, Jr., have assisted with the reading of the proof. And finally, the publishers have taken more than a professional interest in the preparation of this little book for publication. I should like to express my thanks to each of those who have given such valuable assistance.

     D.V.S.


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


God wants to be King
not because he is Creator,
but because he is Father.
--- J. D. Jones

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing,
but to turn it into glory.
--- William Barclay

Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man
as impure attachment to created things.
--- Thomas A Kempis

For the heart of the religious life is in commitment and worship, not in reflection and theory.
--- Thomas Kelly

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 2:6-11
     by D.H. Stern

6     For ADONAI gives wisdom;
from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.
7     He stores up common sense for the upright,
is a shield to those whose conduct is blameless,
8     in order to guard the courses of justice
and preserve the way of those faithful to him.
9     Then you will understand righteousness, justice,
fairness and every good path.
10     For wisdom will enter your heart,
knowledge will be enjoyable for you,
11     discretion will watch over you,
and discernment will guard you.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Scot McKnight
     On The Lord's Prayer

     In reply Jesus said to them (and I translate Jesus' words literally for effect): " Whenever you pray, recite this prayer ..."; then he gives the shorter form of the Lord's Prayer (see Luke 11:1-4). The TNIV, emerging as it does from a world that does not believe in recited prayers translates these words this way: "When you pray, say..." I have translated "when" with "whenever" as a more literal rendering of the Greek expression. And instead of "say," a more accurate rendering would be "recite." I do so because Luke uses a present imperative; Jesus expects this very prayer to be repeated over and over- whenever they pray. The best way to translate something that is said over and over is "recite."

TNIV          When you pray, say ...
Literal          Whenever you pray, recite this...

     Here is a fact from church history: to the best of our knowledge, the followers of Jesus have always recited the Lord's Prayer whenever they have gathered for worship and prayer. The evidence for this is universal --- every major denomination in the world prior to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries recited the Lord's Prayer every Sunday. Why? Because Luke 11:2 taught them to do this. But most evangelical churches I have worshiped in and preached in do not recite the Lords Prayer whenever they pray together. We have "applied" the words of Luke 11:2 differently, so differently that our translations reflect our own nonrecital of the Lord's Prayer. Why? Because there is an unwritten, contrary-to-what Jesus-taught principle at work among us that reciting set prayers leads to vain repetitions.

The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                Worship

     And he pitched his tent having Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he builded an altar. --- Genesis 12:8.

     Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded. God will never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself; it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.

     Bethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two. The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him. Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God. Quiet days with God may be a snare. We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be. There are not three stages in spiritual life—worship, waiting and work. Some of us go in jumps like spiritual frogs, we jump from worship to waiting, and from waiting to work. God’s idea is that the three should go together. They were always together in the life of Our Lord. He was unhasting and unresting. It is a discipline, we cannot get into it all at once.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Presence
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

     I pray and incur
silence. Some take that silence
for refusal.
     I feel the power
that, invisible, catches me
by the sleeve, nudging
     towards the long shelf
that has the book on it I will take down
     and read and find the antidote
to an ailment.
     I know its ways with me;
how it enters my life,
     is present rather
before I perceive it, sunlight quivering
on a bare wall.
     Is it consciousness trying
to get through?
     Am I under
regard?
     It takes me seconds
to focus, by which time
     it has shifted its gaze,
looking a little to one
     side, as though I were not here.
It has the universe
     to be abroad in.
There is nothing I can do
but fill myself with my own
     silence, hoping it will approach
     like a wild creature to drink
there, or perhaps like Narcissus
to linger a moment over its transparent face.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Job 1:1–2:13
     The prose prologue

     The Book of Job begins and concludes with a prose narrative relating the experiences of the righteous sufferer Job. In the prologue, the two fundamental data indispensable for the book as a whole are presented. First, Job is a righteous man; second, he is suffering undeservedly, and that at God’s hand, or at least with God’s permission. From these data the whole issue of the book arises. But that issue appears differently to Job and to the readers of the book. To Job the issue is how to reconcile his experience of suffering with his knowledge of his innocence; to the readers the issue is rather how a righteous person is to behave when afflicted by undeserved suffering. The difference between Job and the readers of the book is that the readers are offered the twin fundamental data of the book as its unexaminable premise; whereas for Job the twin data are the object of unrelenting examination, for though he believes both implicitly, they spell out to him only a gigantic contradiction that imperils either his faith in God or his faith in himself—or both.

Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 17: Job 1-20

Ruthless Trust
     Brennan Manning

     “When the shadow of Jesus’ cross darkens our space, when pain and suffering intrude and our secure, well-regulated lives are blown apart, when tragedy makes its unwelcome appearance and we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own heartache, when courage flies out the window and the world around us suddenly seems dark and menacing, self-pity is the first, normal, unavoidable, and probably right reaction; and we only exhaust ourselves further if we attempt to suppress it. Human experience has taught me that there is no effective way to fight self-pity. Sure, we can spiritualize heartbreak, camouflage our emotions, and tap dance into religiosity. But such bravado is a denial of our humanity, and furthermore it does not work. We are not spiritual robots but sensitive persons.

Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God

Take Heart
     January 6



     Some time later the brook dried up. --- 1 Kings 17:7.

     Elijah was taught by this event that in certain matters God makes no exceptions. (The Weaving of Glory (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The)) God has his chosen ones, but whatever they are chosen for, it is not to escape the heritage of tears. Now to be a prophet was a lofty calling. Therefore it was reasonable to expect that [Elijah] would have a little special care and would be guarded, as the favorite of God, from some of the ills that flesh is heir to. I have no doubt that Elijah had such thoughts. I believe indeed that they never wholly left him. God, when he dried up the waters of the Cherith, was teaching him how false it was to count on any exception as his right. Elijah had to learn that though he was God’s messenger, he was not going to escape the common lot. Called with a heavenly calling in Christ Jesus, he had to suffer some things like the vilest reprobate.

     Now that is a lesson we do well to learn, that in certain matters there are no exceptions. I had a visit from a friend the other day who was brokenhearted in unexpected grief. A little rivulet of life had made his meadow beautiful, when suddenly its music was no more. And “Oh,” he said to me, “if I had been wicked—if I had been a rebel against God, I might have understood it, but it is hard to be dealt with thus when I have striven to serve him and tried to be true to him in home and business.”

     At the heart of his so bitter grief there was a thought that is common to us all. My friend was like Elijah at his stream, saying, “I am a prophet and it can never dry.” And one of the hardest lessons we must learn is that the name and nature of our God is love, yet for the person who trusts and serves him best, there is to be no exception from the scourge.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day   January 6
     No Small Churches

     Discouragement is the occupational hazard of ministry, and many of God’s workers are disheartened by small crowds and meager results. Charles Spurgeon could teach them a lesson.

     It isn’t that Spurgeon ever struggled with small crowds. Almost from the beginning, multitudes flocked to his feet. When he assumed his London pastorate in 1854, the church had 232 members. Soon so many were crowding his auditoriums that he sometimes asked his members to stay away the next Sunday to accommodate newcomers. He seldom preached to fewer than 6,000, and on one occasion his audience numbered almost 24,000—all this before the day of microphones. During his lifetime Spurgeon preached to approximately 10,000,000 people.

     He also became history’s most widely-read preacher. Today there is more material written by Spurgeon than by any other Christian author of any generation. The collection of his Sunday sermons stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of the church. He is called the “Prince of Preachers.”

     But ironically Spurgeon himself is a testimony to the power of a small church. On Sunday, January 6, 1850, a blizzard hit England, and 15-year-old Charles was unable to reach the church he usually attended. He turned down Artillery Street and ducked into a Primitive Methodist Church, finding only a few people standing around the stove. Not even the preacher arrived.

     A thin-looking man stood and read Isaiah 45:22— Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth (KJV). The speaker, groping for something to say, kept repeating his text. Finally, he spied young Charles in the back. Pointing his bony finger at the boy, he cried, “Look, young man! Look! Look to Christ!”

     The young man did look, and Spurgeon later said, “As the snow fell on my road home from the little house of prayer, I thought every snowflake talked with me and told of the pardon I had found.” Arriving home, his mother saw his expression and exclaimed, “Something wonderful has happened to you.” It had, proving that smaller ponds often yield the biggest fish.

     Does anyone remember how glorious this temple used to be? Now it looks like nothing. But cheer up! Because I, the LORD All-Powerful, will be here to help you with the work just as I promised. … My Spirit is right here with you.
--- Haggai 2:3-5.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 6

     “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” --- 1 Peter 5:7.

     It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel—“HE careth for me.” Christian! do not dishonour religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance. Nothing is so sweet as to

   “Lie passive in God’s hands,
   And know no will but his.”

     O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the Morning. He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.

          Evening - January 6

     “Now the hand of the Lord was upon me in the Evening.” --- Ezekiel 33:22.

     In the way of judgment this may be the case, and, if so, be it mine to consider the reason of such a visitation, and bear the rod and him that hath appointed it. I am not the only one who is chastened in the night season; let me cheerfully submit to the affliction, and carefully endeavour to be profited thereby. But the hand of the Lord may also be felt in another manner, strengthening the soul and lifting the spirit upward towards eternal things. O that I may in this sense feel the Lord dealing with me! A sense of the divine presence and indwelling bears the soul towards heaven as upon the wings of eagles. At such times we are full to the brim with spiritual joy, and forget the cares and sorrows of earth; the invisible is near, and the visible loses its power over us; servant-body waits at the foot of the hill, and the master-spirit worships upon the summit in the presence of the Lord. O that a hallowed season of divine communion may be vouchsafed to me this Evening! The Lord knows that I need it very greatly. My graces languish, my corruptions rage, my faith is weak, my devotion is cold; all these are reasons why his healing hand should be laid upon me. His hand can cool the heat of my burning brow, and stay the tumult of my palpitating heart. That glorious right hand which moulded the world can new-create my mind; the unwearied hand which bears the earth’s huge pillars up can sustain my spirit; the loving hand which incloses all the saints can cherish me; and the mighty hand which breaketh in pieces the enemy can subdue my sins. Why should I not feel that hand touching me this Evening? Come, my soul, address thy God with the potent plea, that Jesus’ hands were pierced for thy redemption, and thou shalt surely feel that same hand upon thee which once touched Daniel and set him upon his knees that he might see visions of God.


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

Amazing Grace
     January 6

          AS WITH GLADNESS MEN OF OLD

     William C. Dix, 1837–1898

     After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi (Wise Men) from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1, 2).

     The period in the church year that begins with January 6 and extends to Ash Wednesday is known as Epiphany.

     Epiphany marks the time that the Christ Child was revealed to the wise men in His first manifestation to the Gentiles as the Light of the whole world. It is generally believed by Bible scholars that these wise men from the East arrived approximately 2 years after the birth of Christ. The earnestness of their search, their worship and gifts, and their desire to return home to share their spiritual experience with others have much to teach us. In many churches, Epiphany is ushered in with a special week of prayer, a renewed commitment to evangelism, and a worldwide concern for missions.

     Epiphany should be a strong reminder to all Christians that God wants not only our worship but also our willingness to share His message with others both at home and abroad. The Gospel of good news must be heard beyond the walls of our church buildings. May we be challenged to share God’s love both by word and deed with those He brings into our lives each day.

   As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold—as with joy they hailed its light, leading onward, beaming bright—so, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to Thee.
   As with joyful steps they sped to that lowly manger bed, there to bend the knee before Him whom heav’n and earth adore. So may we with willing feet ever seek Thy mercy seat.
   As they offered gifts most rare at that manger rude and bare, so may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin’s alloy, all our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to Thee, our heav’nly King.
   Holy Jesus, every day keep us in the narrow way; and, when earthly things are past, bring our ransomed souls at last where they need no star to guide, where no clouds Thy glory hide.


     For Today: Ezekiel 3:18; Matthew 2:1–12; John 4:35; Ephesians 1:3–8; James 5:19, 20.

     Reflect once again on the importance of the wise men—their difficult journey to Bethlehem, their worship and gifts, and the return to their homelands to share what they had learned. Then begin this Epiphany season with the prayer ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions


Every Thought Captive
Roberta Hestenes   Biola University





The Character of Job&
John Hutchinson   Biola University






The Prophet Habakkuk
David Talley   Biola University





The Prophet Zephaniah
David Talley   Biola University






Grace in the Minor Prophets
David Talley   Biola University





The Prophet Haggai
David Talley   Biola University






A Christian Perspective of Wealth
Richard Salyer   Biola University





A Renewed Theology of Work
Rick Bee   Biola University






The List of Your Future Life
JD Hornburger   Biola University





Foolish & Wise Council
Rick Bee   Biola University






Being Disciples
Bill Hull   Biola University





Passing On The Truth
Alistair Begg






Treachery and Majesty
Alistair Begg