Genesis 7:1 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, 3 and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” 5 And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, 9 two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14 they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature. 15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.
17 The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. 20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.
Judging OthersMatthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Ask, and It Will Be Given7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
The Golden Rule12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
A Tree and Its Fruit15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
I Never Knew You21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, ( See Matthew 7:21 below. ) but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Build Your House on the Rock24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The Authority of Jesus28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Ezra Sent to Teach the People (480–440 BCE)Ezra 7:1 Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest— 6 this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.
7 And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants. 8 And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the LORD and his statutes for Israel: 12 “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace. And now 13 I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. 14 For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand, 15 and also to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 with all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God that is in Jerusalem. 17 With this money, then, you shall with all diligence buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and you shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God that is in Jerusalem. 18 Whatever seems good to you and your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do, according to the will of your God. 19 The vessels that have been given you for the service of the house of your God, you shall deliver before the God of Jerusalem. 20 And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king’s treasury.
21 “And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence, 22 up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. 23 Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons. 24 We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll on anyone of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.
25 “And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach. 26 Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed on him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment.”
27 Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem, 28 and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
Stephen’s SpeechActs 7:1 And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2 And Stephen said:
“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. 5 Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. 6 And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. 7 ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
9 “And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. 11 Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. 13 And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14 And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. 15 And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, 16 and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
17 “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt 18 until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. 19 He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. 20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, 21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.
23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’
35 “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
“ ‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43 You took up the tent of Moloch
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’
49 “ ‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
50 Did not my hand make all these things?’
The Stoning of Stephen54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
ESV Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Second Treatise of the Great Seth”?
By J. Warner Wallace 1/5/2018
There are a number of ancient, non-canonical texts used by sect leaders or heretical groups in the early history of Christianity. One of these is a gnostic document called The Second Treatise of the Great Seth. Is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it written by an eyewitness who accurately captured the actions and statements of Jesus? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Second Treatise of the Great Seth was written too late in history to have been written by anyone who could have actually seen the ministry of Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth may have contained small nuggets of truth related to Jesus. Although it is a legendary fabrication altered by an author who wanted to craft a version of the Jesus story that suited the purposes of his religious community, it likely reflected many truths about Jesus:
The Second Treatise of the Great Seth (180-300AD) | The Second Treatise of the Great Seth was also discovered at the Nag Hammadi Library in Egypt in 1945. Its title comes from the final line of the text and it is unknown if there was a First Treatise, as none has ever been discovered. It is yet another example of Sethian Gnosticism; a text used by a group who originally worshipped the biblical Seth as a messianic figure and later treated Jesus as a re-incarnation of Seth. The text is written as though Jesus Himself is the author, but the Coptic language of the text (it was originally written in Greek) is so complex and confusing that scholars have great difficulty understanding its contents and are hesitant to acknowledge the text as a unified work.
Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable? | This text was written in the latter half of the 2nd century (at the earliest) and scholars believe it was written in Alexandria. The time and location of the writing exclude the text from being a true eyewitness account related to the life of Jesus. As part of a collection of Sethian documents, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth contains a crucifixion account similar to that offered by Basilides, a known Alexandrian Gnostic teacher from the 2nd century. The Church Fathers were well acquainted with Basilidian Gnosticism and condemned it as heretical from the moment Basilides appeared on the scene. Agrippa Castor (late 2nd century) wrote against Basilides directly, and his condemnation of Basilidian Gnosticism was affirmed by Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, Epiphamus of Salamis and Theodoret of Cyrus.
How Does It Corroborate the Life of Jesus? | While The Second Treatise of the Great Seth is often difficult to understand, it does acknowledge Jesus as the “Word”, the “Christ”, “Jesus Christ” and the “Son of Man”. Jesus is clearly venerated as the source of divine wisdom. The text also recognizes several elements from the Passion narrative, including the fact that Jesus was beaten with reeds, forced to wear a crown of thorns, nailed to a cross, and appeared to die. Simon (the Cyrene) is described as the man who “bore the cross on his shoulder” and the text describes the fact that the veil of the Temple was torn at the time of Jesus’ death. John the Baptist is also mentioned as part of the text.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria (and Mary, and Mary, and Elizabeth) ?
By Sean Morris 11/30/2016
For many, the name “John Knox” probably evokes some association with authoritarianism, misogyny, or at least an overbearing, severe personality.
Indeed, when I was in Edinburgh this past summer standing outside of St. Giles’ Cathedral near the site where Knox’s grave had been (quite unceremoniously) paved over to make way for a parking lot, I overheard a nearby leader of a walking-tour describe the Scottish minister as a “fanatic given to sentiments of treason and anarchy, known for his bigoted, antiquated, and chauvinistic views, his antagonism and disdain toward Mary Queen of Scots, and his strict religious control over the city of Edinburgh.”
Now to be fair, when one considers that the Father of Presbyterianism’s best-known work is titled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women…well, his detractors might be forgiven for having an unsavory impression of the man.
Knox was certainly “a man of his times,” but that cliché hardly does justice to the content of his theology or the contours of his politics and or his concern for justice and religious liberty in a land where Protestants were being persecuted and slaughtered by the thousands–never mind the fact that this man was an outspoken advocate for education and care for the poor. As students of history well know, the truth of an historical matter is usually far more complicated, muddled, disorienting, confusing, and fascinating than a first glance would suggest.
So when Pastor Knox refers to Mary, Queen of Scots (or Maria Regina Scotorum, if you like) as “…that idolatress Jezebel, mischievous Mary, of the Spaniard’s blood, cruel persecutrix of the church,” we cannot be satisfied with a run-of-the-mill charge that he is a “religious bigot and hater of women” like that from my tour-guide friend. A provocative line like that from Knox must drive us to dig further.
Sean Morris is a Presbyterian minister serving at Westminster Presbyterian Church of Roanoke, Virginia. He also serves as the Provost of the Roanoke Valley Center for Theological Studies. He received his B.A. from Grove City College (2010), his M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary (2014), and is currently enrolled as an MTh candidate at the University of Glasgow, with a view toward a Ph.D in Scottish theology and church history. He and his wife, Sarah, have one son, Benjamin, and an adorably useless beagle, Max.
How Jesus Confronted And Corrected Others
By Nick Batzig 6/25/2015
A fellow minister in our Presbytery recently preached a sermon series called, “Things Jesus Should Not Have (I Wish He Hadn’t) Said!” The crux of the series was that Jesus said many hard sayings that–if we are honest–we would have to admit we find uncomfortable. The fact of the matter is that so much of what Jesus said makes people uncomfortable. In a day when the “cult of nicenesss” has permeated the church, and politeness and tolerance has taken a front seat to truth and the fear of God, we need to be reminded that the Savior of the world often corrected the errors of his enemies in a less than winsome manner. Many times He also corrected His disciples in shocking and uncomfortable ways. As we study the life of Jesus in the Gospels we see very clearly the way in which the Savior of the world corrected people when they said or did things that needed correction. Consider the following:
How Jesus Corrected And Confronted His Opponents And Hypocrites
1. Jesus Corrected and Confronted Publicly: Jesus corrected the false teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees by teaching His disciples to be on constant guard against it. He corrected their misinterpretations by appealing to His own authority. He repeatedly said, “You have heard it was said…but I say to you…” Jesus would often speak with His disciples, and the crowds around Him, about the dangers of false teachers’ doctrine. It is not, as many suppose, godly not to talk about the problems with false teachers and teaching.
2. Jesus Corrected and Confronted Directly: Jesus directly confronted false teachers in the church with the repetitious, “Woe to you…hypocrites.” When they came to trick Him, Jesus frequently silenced the Chief Priests, Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees by putting them in their place with Scripture. On one occasion. He came right out and said, “You’re wrong, not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God.” Jesus was not afraid to tell people–in the most confrontational way–“You’re wrong.”
3. Jesus Resorted to Metaphorical “Animal” Name Calling: Jesus often exposed the true nature of the wickedness of false teachers by using animal names to metaphorically describe them. He called the Pharisees the “offspring of serpents,” Herod “a fox,” false teachers “wolves,” and unregenerate Gentiles “dogs.”
Resources For Spending Time With Jesus
By Mike Mobley
Whether it’s the beginning of a new year or a new season in your life, one thing is for sure…spending time with Jesus must be crucial for you. Really, spending time with Jesus is crucial for all of us because He is everything.
I’m convinced that’s where the real battle is for all of us and for good reason. If it’s such a battle to spend time with Jesus on a daily basis, don’t you think there’s a reason for this? There’s a reason that we get so easily distracted every single day and oftentimes forget to spend time with God. I know that happens to me over and over again.
For followers of Jesus, everything is centered around our time with Him. It’s time with Him that will remind us we are forgiven, forever. It’s time with Him that will remind us what our purpose is. It’s time with Him that will comfort us, give us strength, show us truth, and more.
Regardless of wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, you can just start today. Make a commitment today before God to spend time with him on a daily basis. Here are some great resources and what I’m using for spending time with Jesus:
I’ve written about this app before when it first came out and they just keep making it better and better. The video introductions to all books of the Bible are the best I’ve ever seen and I’ve learned a lot just from those videos alone.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 5Lead Me in Your Righteousness
5 To The Choirmaster: For The Flutes. A Psalm Of David.
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
Three Blunders Atheists make arguing against God
By Noah Myers 1/5/2017
I’ve recently been watching a debate between Atheist Christopher Hitchens and Frank Turek. It is a reasonably good debate, but I was surprised to see that even Hitchens, who was one of the most prolific atheists of our time, makes some surprisingly amateurish blunders through the debate. Here are a few that stood out to me. In reality these are all the same blunder, but I think looking at it from different angles helps solidify the point.
You cannot prove God because you, yourself, reject other Gods | One blunder I heard Hitchens make was bringing up that everyone is an Atheist about some Gods. Christians are Atheists about Zeus and Thor and other gods. Muslims are Atheists about other gods as well, so are Jews, so are Buddhists and so are Hindus. Everyone rejects some Gods so in the end, so why not just reject all Gods? Or perhaps better said ‘you reject some Gods, so therefor all Gods must be rejected.’
But how would this argument work elsewhere? What if we applied it to math? We all reject 2+2=6. We also reject that 2+2=12, or 14, or 17, or 3. If we apply Hitchens logic here we should also reject that 2+2=4, since we have rejected all the other options. That of course is absurd. Granted I understand that Hitchens rejects the Christian God, for other reasons than this, but the mere fact he brings up this argument I think should make us question his bias.
Not Staying with the task at hand | The problem overall in Hitchens argument is that he tries to argue against one point of Christian apologetic by rejecting another. If we look at arguing for Christianity as a four step process we could outline it as such:
My name is Noah Myers, I am from Fort Collins Colorado, probably the best city in the good ole US of A. Despite my love and pride for of Fort Collins I can’t seem to avoid a desire to travel the world. I went to a one year bible college in England called Capernwray straight out of high school. It was an amazing year and I learned so much. Afterword I returned home to attend Colorado State University and graduated with a Religious Philosophy Degree and an English minor.
God gave me the opportunity after CSU to take part in an amazing trip called World Race. The trip had an amazing impact on my life and I will be posting a lot of blogs from that time on this site eventually. For now I will just say it was an 11 month journey to 11 countries that truly changed my life.
I have been back now for three years that have flown by. I am now attending Southern Evangelical Seminary online to earn a Master of Arts in Apologetics. I have recently been hired by Ratio Christi, a college apologetics ministry, to start a chapter at Colorado State. I hope to serve the Lord by writing this blog and sharing both what I am learning at school and what God is teaching me in lifes little lessons. I hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think.
If you would like email updates about everything happining with Ratio Christi at CSU Click Here.
By Dr. Sinclair Ferguson
Is assurance possible? How is it to be obtained? And of what exactly, are we assured? Since this topic is so germane to our actual enjoyment of salvation, it has often touched raw nerves in the church for more than one reason. (Is 50:10) Who among you fears the LORD (Ps 31:22) I had said in my alarm, (Ps 77:2) In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
For one thing, it is possible to have false assurance. After all, the Sermon on the Mount virtually ends with Jesus saying:
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven. . . . On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not . . . cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to hem, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
Later, writing to the multi-gifted Corinthians, Paul would issue a similar warning: someone may be willing to be martyred (“deliver up my body to be burned”) yet lack the central evidence of being genuinely a Christian. ( 1 Cor. 13:1–3 )
(1 Co 13:1–3) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. ESV
It is also possible for a true believer to be harassed with doubts; to be, in words much loved in the days when the Marrow was being penned, “A child of light walking in the darkness.” ( See Isa. 50:10 ) The Psalms also bear especially eloquent testimony to this kind of experience: “I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight’”; ( Ps. 31:22 ) “In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord,” says Asaph; “in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.” ( Ps. 77:2 )
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness and has no light
trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. ESV
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help. ESV
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted. ESV
If that is true, then indeed William Perkins wisely entitled his famous work A Case of Conscience. The Greatest that Ever Was: How a man may know whether he be the childe of God, or no. Resolved by the Word of God.
If we are to set these issues in their proper perspective, then we need in fact to begin long before the 1720s and indeed prior to the Reformation.
From Jerusalem to Rome
The Scriptures underscore the reality of both false assurance and lack of assurance. It is also clear that the New Testament church was baptized into a deep and pervasive sense of assurance. Jesus encourages his disciples by telling them that although they may suffer persecution, they are blessed because their “reward is great in heaven”; Paul is sure that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ; Peter reassures us that there is an imperishable inheritance that is guarded in heaven for those whom God is guarding. ( Matt. 5:12; Rom. 8:38–39; 1 Pet. 1:4–5 )
(Is 50:10) Who among you fears the LORD
(Ps 31:22) I had said in my alarm,
(Ps 77:2) In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
(Mt 5:12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ESV
(Ro 8:38–39) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ESV
(1 Pe 1:4–5) to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ESV
Excerpt from The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance
Sinclair Ferguson Books:
- 1 Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification
- 2 The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance
- 3 The Christian LIfe: A Doctrinal Introduction
- 4 In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life
- 5 Church History 101: The Highlights of Twenty Centuries
- 6 The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology)
- 7 Sermon on the Mount
- 8 By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me
- 9 From the Mouth of God
- 10 The Grace of Repentance (Redesign) (Today's Issues)
- 11 The Pundit's Folly: Chronicles of an Empty Life
- 12 Let's Study Philippians (Let's Study Series)
- 13 Discovering God's Will
- 14 Heart for God
- 15 Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth
- 16 Children of the Living God
- 17 Name above All Names
- 18 Big Book of Questions & Answers: A Family Devotional Guide
- 19 Living for God's Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism
- 20 John Owen on the Christian Life
- 21 Man Overboard!: The Story of Jonah
- 22 Child in the Manger
- 23 The Preacher's Commentary - Vol. 21- Daniel
- 24 Ephesians (Let's Study)
- 25 Let's Study Mark (Let's Study Series)
- 26 Irenaeus of Lyons (Heroes of the Faith)
- 27 Ichthus: Jesus Christ, God's Son, the Saviour
- 28 The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction
- 29 Polycarp of Smyrna (Heroes of the Faith)
- 30 Grow in Grace
- 31 The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance
- 32 Ignatius of Antioch (Heroes of the Faith)
- 33 Deserted by God?
- 34 Big Book of Bible Truths 1
- 35 In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
HOW GOD WORKS IN THE HEARTS OF MEN.
The leading points discussed in this chapter are, I. Whether in bad actions anything is to be attributed to God; if anything, how much. Also, what is to be attributed to the devil and to man, sec. 1-5. II. In indifferent matters, how much is to be attributed to God, and how much is left to man, sec. 6. III. Two objections refuted, sec. 7, 8.
1. Connection of this chapter with the preceding. Augustine's similitude of a good and bad rider. Question answered in respect to the devil.
2. Question answered in respect to God and man. Example from the history of Job. The works of God distinguished from the works of Satan and wicked men. 1. By the design or end of acting. How Satan acts in the reprobate. 2. How God acts in them.
3. Old Objection, that the agency of God in such cases is referable to prescience or permission, not actual operation. Answer, showing that God blinds and hardens the reprobate, and this in two ways; 1. By deserting them; 2. By delivering them over to Satan.
4. Striking passages of Scripture, proving that God acts in both ways, and disposing of the objection with regard to prescience. Confirmation from Augustine.
5. A modification of the former answer, proving that God employs Satan to instigate the reprobate, but, at the same time, is free from all taint.
6. How God works in the hearts of men in indifferent matters. Our will in such matters not so free as to be exempt from the overruling providence of God. This confirmed by various examples.
7. Objection, that these examples do not form the rule. An answer, fortified by the testimony of universal experience, by Scripture, and a passage of Augustine.
8. Some, in arguing against the error of free will, draw an argument from the event. How this is to be understood.
1. That man is so enslaved by the yoke of sin, that he cannot of his own nature aim at good either in wish or actual pursuit, has, I think, been sufficiently proved. Moreover, a distinction has been drawn between compulsion and necessity, making it clear that man, though he sins necessarily, nevertheless sins voluntarily. But since, from his being brought into bondage to the devil, it would seem that he is actuated more by the devil's will than his own, it is necessary, first, to explain what the agency of each is, and then solve the question,  Whether in bad actions anything is to be attributed to God, Scripture intimating that there is some way in which he interferes? Augustine (in Psalm 31 and 33) compares the human will to a horse preparing to start, and God and the devil to riders. "If God mounts, he, like a temperate and skilful rider, guides it calmly, urges it when too slow, reins it in when too fast, curbs its forwardness and over-action, checks its bad temper, and keeps it on the proper course; but if the devil has seized the saddle, like an ignorant and rash rider, he hurries it over broken ground, drives it into ditches, dashes it over precipices, spurs it into obstinacy or fury." With this simile, since a better does not occur, we shall for the present be contented. When it is said, then, that the will of the natural man is subject to the power of the devil, and is actuated by him, the meaning is not that the wills while reluctant and resisting, is forced to submit (as masters oblige unwilling slaves to execute their orders), but that, fascinated by the impostures of Satan, it necessarily yields to his guidance, and does him homage. Those whom the Lord favours not with the direction of his Spirit, he, by a righteous judgment, consigns to the agency of Satan. Wherefore, the Apostle says, that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them." And, in another passage, he describes the devil as "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," (Eph. 2:2). The blinding of the wicked, and all the iniquities consequent upon it, are called the works of Satan; works the cause of which is not to be Sought in anything external to the will of man, in which the root of the evil lies, and in which the foundation of Satan's kingdom, in other words, sin, is fixed.
2. The nature of the divine agency in such cases is very different. For the purpose of illustration, let us refer to the calamities brought upon holy Job by the Chaldeans. They having slain his shepherds, carry off his flocks. The wickedness of their deed is manifest,  as is also the hand of Satan, who, as the history informs us, was the instigator of the whole. Job, however, recognises it as the work of God, saying, that what the Chaldeans had plundered, "the Lord" had "taken away." How can we attribute the same work to God, to Satan, and to man, without either excusing Satan by the interference of God, or making God the author of the crime? This is easily done, if we look first to the end, and then to the mode of acting. The Lord designs to exercise the patience of his servant by adversity; Satan's plan is to drive him to despair; while the Chaldeans are bent on making unlawful gain by plunder. Such diversity of purpose makes a wide distinction in the act. In the mode there is not less difference. The Lord permits Satan to afflict his servant; and the Chaldeans, who had been chosen as the ministers to execute the deed, he hands over to the impulses of Satan, who, pricking on the already depraved Chaldeans with his poisoned darts, instigates them to commit the crime. They rush furiously on to the unrighteous deed, and become its guilty perpetrators. Here Satan is properly said to act in the reprobate, over whom he exercises his sway, which is that of wickedness. God also is said to act in his own way; because even Satan when he is the instrument of divine wrath, is completely under the command of God, who turns him as he will in the execution of his just judgments. I say nothing here of the universal agency of God, which, as it sustains all the creatures, also gives them all their power of acting. I am now speaking only of that special agency which is apparent in every act. We thus see that there is no inconsistency in attributing the same act to God, to Satan, and to man, while, from the difference in the end and mode of action, the spotless righteousness of God shines forth at the same time that the iniquity of Satan and of man is manifested in all its deformity.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Get closer to God
1/7/2017 Bob Gass
‘Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world.’
(Jas 1:7–8) For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. ESV
The planet Mercury is hot, whereas Pluto is cold. That’s because Mercury is close to the sun and Pluto is a long way off. A planet’s temperature and climate are determined by its proximity to the sun. There’s an important spiritual principle here. As a redeemed child of God, your spiritual temperature is determined by how close you are to Jesus. You say, ‘I wish I were closer to the Lord.’ The truth is that you are as close to Him as you desire to be, decide to be, and discipline yourself to be. Your pursuit of God reveals your passion for God – or the lack of it. To experience true intimacy with someone, you must be willing to sacrifice other things and give yourself fully to that person. The psalmist wrote: ‘You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity]’ (Psalm 27:8 AMPC). You’ll notice that the psalmist didn’t say you were to seek God’s gifts, but His face! Not the gifts, but the Giver of the gifts! And a wonderful thing happens when you do that: ‘Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll…each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass’ (Psalm 37:4-5 AMPC).
UCB The Word For Today
January 7, 2016
Not as chilly, icy as yesterday. I’ve been trying to think what I can do for a couple of my daughters-in-laws who have birthdays coming up. I usually like to make them family videos from the pictures they send me, but I don’t have many right now. The last couple of weeks I have been looking through old pictures, which I like to do, trying to get ideas. I often revisit old videos, despite the poor quality and worse, my amateuristic over use of effects, sigh.
I hope I have grown beyond the idea that thoughts spontaneously dropped into my consciousness are somehow more authentic than ideas that emerge from memories, Lily, other people, etc. After all, many of my spontaneous thoughts don’t appear as though from heaven, but rather, seem to bubble up from the cauldron of hell. Guarding my thoughts, choosing what I will think about, helps me stay the course, remain on track, instead of finding myself on a dead end street where all the street lights have not worked in years. It is too easy for me to dwell on what I think is not right, instead of counting my blessings, which I can never finish doing.
Without God’s Spirit, there is nothing we can do that will count for God’s kingdom. Without God’s Spirit, the church simply can’t be the church.
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
by Bill Federer
He became the 13th President when President Zachary Taylor died unexpectedly. He sent Commodore Perry to Japan and admitted California, which had just begun the Gold Rush, into the Union. His name was Millard Fillmore and he was born this day, January 7, 1800. When the Library of Congress caught fire, he and his Cabinet formed a bucket brigade to extinguish the flames. Millard Fillmore stated: “On commencing my Presidential career, I found the Sabbath had frequently been employed… for private interviews with the President…. To… end to this [I] ordered my doorkeeper to meet all Sunday visitors with an indiscriminate refusal.”
Thomas R. Kelly
An adequate life, like Spinoza’s definition of an adequate idea, might be described as a life which has grasped intuitively the whole nature of things, and has seen and felt and refocused itself to this whole. An inadequate life is one that lacks this adjustment to the whole nature of things – hence its twisted perspective, its partiality, its confusion. The story of Thomas Kelly’s life is the story of a passionate and determined quest for adequacy. In the three years of his life that preceded his sudden death in January 1941, this search culminated in a rare degree of adequacy. The adequate life that he had known, he described with unusual simplicity and grace in the collection of his writings that are gathered in this slender volume.
Thomas Raymond Kelly was born on June 4, 1893 on a farm in southwestern Ohio near Chillicothe. His parents were ardent enough Quakers to have reopened an old Quaker meeting-house and to have revived a meeting for worship during their young married life. Thomas Kelly’s father died when he was four, and in order to support him and his sister Mary, his mother worked the farm and delivered butter and eggs in the village for the next six years. Then she moved to Wilmington, Ohio, in order that the children might have the advantage of a good school and later of a Quaker College. She learned stenography and bookkeeping and started work in the office of the Irwin Auger Bit Company at five dollars a week to support her little family.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
In reference to the Bible,
That book, Sir, is the Rock
upon which our republic rests.
--- President Andrew Jackson
Praise is the best diet for us, after all.
--- Sydney Smith (19th century English author and Anglican clergyman
We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount…. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.
--- Five Star General Omar Bradley
There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.
--- Ayn Rand
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
and from those who speak deceitfully,
13 who leave the paths of honesty
to walk the ways of darkness,
14 who delight in doing evil
and take joy in being stubbornly deceitful,
15 from those whose tracks are twisted
and whose paths are perverse.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Intimate with Jesus
Have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known Me? --- John 14:9.
These words are not spoken as a rebuke, nor even with surprise; Jesus is leading Philip on. The last One with whom we get intimate is Jesus. Before Pentecost the disciples knew Jesus as the One Who gave them power to conquer demons and to bring about a revival (see Luke 10:18–20). It was a wonderful intimacy, but there was a much closer intimacy to come—“I have called you friends.” Friendship is rare on earth. It means identity in thought and heart and spirit. The whole discipline of life is to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His word, but do we know Him?
Jesus said—“It is expedient for you that I go away”—in that relationship, so that He might lead them on. It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to step more intimately with Him. Fruitbearing is always mentioned as the manifestation of an intimate union with Jesus Christ (John 15:1–4).
When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic. The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Him. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Taking the next train
to the city, yet always returning
to his place on a bridge
over a river, throbbing
with trout, whose widening
circles are the mandala
for contentment. So will a poet
return to the work laid
on one side and abandoned
for the voices summoning hint
to the wrong tasks. Art
is not life. It is not the river
carrying us away, but the motionless
image of itself on a fast-
¬running surface with which life
tries constantly to keep up.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Some time later the brook dried up. --- 1 Kings 17:7.
The deepest lesson of the story is that the ceasing of the prophet’s brook was the beginning of larger views of God. (The Weaving of Glory (The Morrison Classic Sermon Series))
There is a faith that runs through the green fields of childhood, making everything it laps on fresh and beautiful. Yet while some never lose that faith, living in its gladness until the end, for most of us, some time later the brook dries up. There may be moral causes at the back of that. A vast deal of doubt runs down to moral grounds. But if we are earnest and truthful and if we trust and pray, there is nothing to sigh for in the failing brook. For the God whom we find again through many a struggle and the faith that we make ours by many a battle and the things that we wrestle for until break of day—although we may go limping ever after—these are our own for time and for eternity, and neither life nor death can take them from us.
And then there are the blessings we enjoy—our health, our prosperity, the love of those who love us. There are many people who never lose these blessings, moving beside still waters to the end. But there are others with whom it is not so. They have suffered terribly or had sharp and sore reverses. There was a day when they had everything they wanted, but it came to pass some time later that the brook dried up. I will not comfort them by any platitudes. I will only ask them, Has not God been nearer—has not religion been more to them since then? And if it has taken the failing of the stream to cast them utterly on the arm of God, if they have risen from an empty brook to drink of an ocean that is ever full—perhaps it was not in anger but in love that the waters ceased to be musical at Cherith.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
… Whose Will Be Done
Faithfulness eclipses fame as the mark of greatness. Not everyone is named Augustine, Luther, or Graham. The names of some are obscured by time, but they have done the Father’s will. Take John Hooper, for example — born in Sommersetshire, England, in 1495. While studying at Oxford, he discovered the book of Romans which “seriously affected the salvation of my soul,” he wrote, “and my everlasting welfare. Therefore with an earnest study, I employed myself therein both night and day.” Hooper found the death of Christ sufficient for salvation without additional work or merit. He confessed, “I had blasphemed God by wicked worship and an almost idolatrous heart until I became rightly acquainted with the Lord.”
His Reformation beliefs put him at risk, and he escaped to the coast on a borrowed horse, then to France and later to Zurich where he studied Greek, theology, and the writings of Zwingli. Returning to England during King Edward’s reign, he preached to packed houses and before the king himself. His wife watched with alarm as he wore himself out in ministry. But his labors ceased when Bloody Queen Mary ascended the throne and unleashed a storm against Protestants. Hooper was thrown into Fleet prison where his clammy bed of rotten straw lay beside the city sewer. Hooper described conditions in a letter on January 7, 1554: “On the one side is the stink and filth of the house, and on the other side the town ditch, so that the stench hath infected me with sundry diseases—during which time I have been sick; and the doors, bars, and chains being closed, and made fast upon me, I have mourned and cried for help … neither is there suffered any to come at me whereby I might have relief. But I commit my cause to God, whose will be done, whether it be by life or death.”
Hooper soon fulfilled that commitment. While being burned at the stake, his voice joined those of the assembled crowd praying, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. …” (KJV).
Here is a true message: If we died with Christ, we will live with him. If we don’t give up, we will rule with him. If we deny that we know him, he will deny that he knows us. If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful. Christ cannot deny who he is.
--- 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 7
“For me to live is Christ.” --- Philippians 1:21.
The believer did not always live to Christ. He began to do so when God the Holy Spirit convinced him of sin, and when by grace he was brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt. From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his Gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul’s words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ—nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Your business—are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self- aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, “Is that a mean reason?” For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian—its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word—Christ Jesus. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in thee and to thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, “Ready for either.”
Evening - January 7
“My sister, my spouse.” --- Song of Solomon 4:12.
Observe the sweet titles with which the heavenly Solomon with intense affection addresses his bride the church. “My sister, one near to me by ties of nature, partaker of the same sympathies. My spouse, nearest and dearest, united to me by the tenderest bands of love; my sweet companion, part of my own self. My sister, by my Incarnation, which makes me bone of thy bone and flesh of thy flesh; my spouse, by heavenly betrothal, in which I have espoused thee unto myself in righteousness. My sister, whom I knew of old, and over whom I watched from her earliest infancy; my spouse, taken from among the daughters, embraced by arms of love, and affianced unto me for ever. See how true it is that our royal Kinsman is not ashamed of us, for he dwells with manifest delight upon this two-fold relationship. We have the word “my” twice in our version; as if Christ dwelt with rapture on his possession of his Church. “His delights were with the sons of men,” because those sons of men were his own chosen ones. He, the Shepherd, sought the sheep, because they were his sheep; he has gone about “to seek and to save that which was lost,” because that which was lost was his long before it was lost to itself or lost to him. The church is the exclusive portion of her Lord; none else may claim a partnership, or pretend to share her love. Jesus, thy church delights to have it so! Let every believing soul drink solace out of these wells. Soul! Christ is near to thee in ties of relationship; Christ is dear to thee in bonds of marriage union, and thou art dear to him; behold he grasps both of thy hands with both his own, saying, “My sister, my spouse.” Mark the two sacred holdfasts by which thy Lord gets such a double hold of thee that he neither can nor will ever let thee go. Be not, O beloved, slow to return the hallowed flame of his love.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
TEACH ME TO PRAY
Words and Music by Albert S. Reitz, 1879–1966
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
One of the most important emphases during this season of Epiphany is that of prayer, both for our own daily guidance and as the undergirding power needed for the spiritual journey of our local church.
What is prayer? To many, prayer is regarded as a foolish repetition of words, a refuge for weaklings, or a childish petition for material needs. How sadly this reservoir of spiritual power is undervalued when perceived in these terms, just as we would underestimate electricity if we talked of it only in terms of a 40-watt bulb.
For the child of God, prayer is far more than the mere gratification of our human whims. It is the practice of the presence of Almighty God in every activity of our daily lives.
Prayer is so simple. It is like quietly opening a door and slipping into the very presence of God. --- Unknown
Rev. Albert S. Reitz left this account:
When I was pastor of the Rosehill Baptist Church, we had a heart-warming Day of Prayer under the leadership of the Evangelical Prayer Union of Los Angeles. The next Morning in my study the Lord gave the words and the music then followed.
As you read these words, may they challenge you to recognize the importance of an earnest prayer life.
Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray; this is my heart cry day unto day; I long to know Thy will and Thy way; teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.
Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer, here ’mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care; men lost and dying, souls in despair—O give me power, power in prayer!
My weakened will, Lord, Thou canst renew; my sinful nature Thou canst subdue; fill me just now with power anew, power to pray and power to do!
Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray; Thou art my Pattern day unto day; Thou art my surety now and for aye; teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.
Chorus: Living in Thee, Lord, and Thou in me; constant abiding, this is my plea; grant me Thy power boundless and free: Power with men and power with Thee.
For Today: Matthew 5:44; 21:22; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:1.
Practice God’s presence even amidst the noise and clamor of your busy day. Don’t forget to pray for the ongoing ministry of your church. Carry this tuneful message to help ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Sunday, January 7, 2018 | Epiphany
First Sunday After Epiphany
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 146, 147
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 111, 112, 113
Old Testament Genesis 1:1–2:3
New Testament Ephesians 1:3–14
Gospel John 1:29–34
Index of Readings
Psalm 146, 147
146 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
147 Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 111, 112, 113
111 Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
112 Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
2 His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
5 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
6 For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
7 He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor.
10 The wicked man sees it and is angry;
he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
the desire of the wicked will perish!
113 Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!
4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The Book of Common Prayer