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1/8/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Genesis 8     Matthew 8     Ezra 8     Acts 8



The Flood Subsides

Genesis 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, 3 and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, 4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.

13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.

God’s Covenant with Noah

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”


Jesus Cleanses a Leper

Matthew 8:1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

The Faith of a Centurion

5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Jesus Heals Many

14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

The Cost of Following Jesus

18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Jesus Calms a Storm

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Jesus Heals Two Men with Demons

28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.


Genealogy of Those Who Returned with Ezra (480–440 BCE)

Ezra 8:1 These are the heads of their fathers’ houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king: 2 Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush. 3 Of the sons of Shecaniah, who was of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, with whom were registered 150 men. 4 Of the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him 200 men. 5 Of the sons of Zattu, Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him 300 men. 6 Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him 50 men. 7 Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him 70 men. 8 Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him 80 men. 9 Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him 218 men. 10 Of the sons of Bani, Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him 160 men. 11 Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah, the son of Bebai, and with him 28 men. 12 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him 110 men. 13 Of the sons of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them 60 men. 14 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur, and with them 70 men.

Ezra Sends for Levites

15 I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi. 16 Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of insight, 17 and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers and the temple servants at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God. 18 And by the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, 18; 19 also Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, 20; 20 besides 220 of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all mentioned by name.

Fasting and Prayer for Protection

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

Priests to Guard Offerings

24 Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them. 25 And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God that the king and his counselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered. 26 I weighed out into their hand 650 talents of silver, and silver vessels worth 200 talents, and 100 talents of gold, 27 20 bowls of gold worth 1,000 darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze as precious as gold. 28 And I said to them, “You are holy to the LORD, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers. 29 Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of the LORD.” 30 So the priests and the Levites took over the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.

31 Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way. 32 We came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days. 33 On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed into the hands of Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui. 34 The whole was counted and weighed, and the weight of everything was recorded.

35 At that time those who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin offering twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the LORD. 36 They also delivered the king’s commissions to the king’s satraps and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and they aided the people and the house of God.


Saul Ravages the Church

Acts 8:1 And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33  In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.



ESV Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

Stranger Things and Abortion: The Upside Down World of Forbidden Grief

By Kevin Burke 1/5/2018

     In the popular Netflix series Stranger Things we learn of a secret government program during the 1980’s in Hawkins, Indiana.

     Here in this government laboratory scientists perform human experiments to develop special mental powers, such as the ability to move objects with the mind and travel to different dimensions

     While some volunteered for the project, others were kidnapped and held as prisoners. Two of the subjects included a pregnant mother named Terry and her daughter.

     This child, known as Eleven (from the number tattooed on her wrist) was taken at birth and separated from her mother. Scientists told Terry that the baby had died.

     The mother suspected otherwise. As she came closer to the truth researchers used strong doses of shock treatment to silence her.

     An Upside Down Doorway to Hell | Using familiar themes found in science fiction and the Bible’s book of Genesis, Stranger Things tells a tale of how mankind’s pride opens the door to evil.

     Eleven (aka El) cultivated strong mental powers as she grew into early adolescence at the government laboratory. Through special experiments, she developed the ability to travel to other dimensions and move large objects with her mind.

     In one experiment, El travels into an altered reality. She wakes up on the other side of the world. There she encounters a Russian spy and gathers intelligence for the government.

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Kevin Burke is a licensed social worker, Co-Founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and a Pastoral Associate of Priests for Life. He is a graduate of The Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work. Kevin’s presentations address the effects of abortion on men, couples and families and effective post abortion ministry for Clergy and Counselors.

The Rachel’s Vineyard ™ support group and retreat models are now offered in 49 states. The international outreach of Rachel’s Vineyard is now in over 70 countries. The Retreat manual has been translated into 22 languages with other translations in progress. We offer over 1000 retreats annually worldwide.

Kevin is the co-author of Redeeming A Father’s Heart-Men Share Powerful Stories of Abortion Loss and Recovery and Sharing The Heart of Christ: Safe and Effective Post Abortion Ministry for Clergy and Counselors, co- authored with Theresa Burke and Fr Frank Pavone. He has contributed and authored articles on the trauma and recovery after abortion. Kevin has been a guest on EWTN’s “At Home with Jim and Joy” and the “Gospel of Life” on Sky Angel Network.

He is a regular guest on national radio shows.

Kevin formerly served as the administrator of Mother’s Home, a crisis pregnancy residence that provides housing, computer job training and programs for women and their children. Kevin also worked as a clinical social work supervisor for Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia.


The Destiny of the Unsaved

By Nate Sala 8/18/2016

     The doctrine of eschatology as it pertains to the afterlife is a hotly contested issue. Christians vary in their particular interpretations of Scripture that split the issue into three camps: Universalism; annihilationism; and eternal punishment.

     Universalism holds to the notion that all will go to Heaven, although there are differing views on when, specifically, this will take place. Some hold to an immediate reconciliation while others require a previous “necessary period of purgation”. [J.R. Root, “Universalism.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Reference Library).] Annihilationism is the belief that the unregenerate will cease to exist after death. As with universalism, Christians perceive different applications for annihilationism. Some think that God grants immortality to believers only and lets the rest “sink into nothingness” while others think that evil itself is the thing that dissolves the soul at death. [R. Nicole, “Annihilationism.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Reference Library) ] Lastly, eternal punishment is the view that consistently holds to all passages of eschatological Scripture. The notion hinges on the usage of the Greek aion (“old age”) and aionion (“eternal”, “everlasting”) in the New Testament (ex. Matt 18:8; 25:46; 2 Thess 1:9) that speaks to the duration of punishment for sins. [L.L. Morris, “Eternal Punishment.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Reference Library) ]

     Christians also differ on where the unregenerate go after death. In the Old Testament, the notion of “sheol”, “an intermediate state in which souls are dealt with according to their lives on earth,” [W.A. Van Gemeron, “Sheol.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Reference Library)] was introduced. In the New Testament sheol was translated into “hades” and was emphasized to be an abode of punishment. While there is no principle difference between sheol and hades, Jesus established another word for a more nuanced concept of the sinner’s destination – “gehenna”. Taken from the Valley of Hinnom where the Israelites burned their children in worship to Molech, gehenna, “came to be used metaphorically for the hell of fire, the place of everlasting punishment for the wicked.” [V. Cruz, “Gehenna.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Reference Library) ] Therefore, the principle difference between all three terms hinges on the final judgment of God. While sheol and hades appear to be a temporary interim before judgment, as V. Cruz points out, gehenna is the final destination after judgment. [V. Cruz, “Gehenna.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Reference Library) ]

     As mentioned earlier, the notion of eternal punishment is the most respectful of the range of eschatological passages and is, therefore, the correct view to hold on this issue. Dan 12:2 says that some of the dead will awaken to “everlasting contempt” while Heb 6:2 speaks of “eternal judgment”. Matt 25:46 clearly showcases the dichotomy of eternalities as those who are righteous go to “eternal life” while the unrighteous to “eternal punishment”. Jesus cannot be any clearer by employing the Greek “aionio” which means “eternal”, “everlasting”, and “forever”. There is no other meaning in view, especially in light of the clear parallel Christ draws between “punishment” and “life”.

     An annihilationist might argue that “punishment” is open to interpretation and that Christ is simply contrasting life to non-life in Matt 25:46. However, the key word in play (“eternal”) is tied to the parallel between both “punishment” and “life” requiring that both concepts last an equal duration. If an annihilationist wishes to get rid of eternal punishment and refer to it as the momentary ceasing of existence, then it stands to reason that Christ’s granting of the righteous individual’s “life” can only last momentarily as well.

(Mt 18:8) Matt 18:8 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. ESV

(Mt 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” ESV

(2 Th 1:9) 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, ESV

(Da 12:2) 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. ESV

(Heb 6:2) 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. ESV

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     English and Forensics Teacher. B.Sc., M.Ed. University of Nevada Las Vegas. Lives in Las Vegas with his wife, two sons, and dogs.

Six Traits That Shape Students in Our Society

By Tim Elmore 1/5/2017

     My children are both young adults, in their twenties. They have grown up in a world almost altogether different than the one I grew up in—fifty years ago. We were talking recently about the “norms” for their peers in society today. My conclusion? We are moving from the “information age” to the “intelligence age” where our appliances and devices may be smarter than we are.

     I wonder if we are ready for it.

     Noting how contemporary society was shaping our young in both positive and negative ways, anthropologist Margaret Mead began to travel to places like Samoa and New Guinea. She visited different cultures on a search: “I have tried to answer the question which sent me to Samoa: Are the disturbances which vex our adolescents due to the nature of adolescence itself or to the civilization? Under different conditions does adolescence present a different picture?

     Interestingly, Mead discovered one significant difference within developing nations.

     “With the exception of a few cases, adolescence represented no period of crisis or stress, but was instead an orderly developing of a set of slowly maturing interests and activities. The girls’ minds were perplexed by no conflicts, troubled by no philosophical queries, beset by no remote ambitions.”

Click here to read all of the article

     Per Amazon, Dr. Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders (www.GrowingLeaders.com), an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization created to develop emerging leaders. Since founding Growing Leaders, Elmore has spoken to more than 500,000 students, faculty, and staff on hundreds of campuses across the country, including the University of Oklahoma, Stanford University, Duke University, Rutgers University, the University of South Carolina, and Louisiana State University. Elmore has also provided leadership training and resources for multiple athletic programs, including the University of Texas, the University of Miami, the University of Alabama, The Ohio State University, and the Kansas City Royals Baseball Club. In addition, a number of government offices in Washington, D.C. have utilized Dr. Elmore's curriculum and training.

Dr. Tim Elmore Books:

How To Know When God Is Talking To You

By Mike Mobley

     I think many people are searching for this answer whether they follow Jesus or not. If there’s a chance we can hear from God Himself on a question we have or something we are going through, don’t you think we would want to hear from Him? Or at least, know how to?

     I struggled with this thought for awhile before following Jesus and after I started to follow Him because I heard many different claims of people “hearing” from God and I had no idea what that meant because I thought I never heard from Him. Something must have been wrong with me, right?

     There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to hearing from God and I think that is part of the problem. With so many stories and experiences out there through books, videos, posts, etc. it’s hard to know if there is a way to really know if we are hearing from God.

     Here’s the good news.

     God is not a God of confusion. He is not a God who would want to confuse people by having them constantly question if they can hear Him or not. The simple fact that He sent His one and only Son to die for us proves the point that He is not a cruel God…and in fact, a loving God. Not only that, He has made it very clear on how we can hear from Him. It’s our choice whether or not we will believe Him with how He says He speaks.

(2 Ti 3:16–17) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ESV

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     Saved by Grace through Faith. In love with Jesus, His Glory, and obviously my beautiful wife Joelle, daughter Peyton, and son Matthew! Seeking Him in everything to glorify Him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Online & Communications Minister at 121 Community Church.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 5

Lead Me in Your Righteousness
5 To The Choirmaster: For The Flutes. A Psalm Of David.

8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.

ESV Reformation Study Bible

The Heart of Christian Husbanding

By David Mathis 9/29/2016

     Husbands in Sri Lanka may not have the same expression, but forty years of marriage have taught Ajith Fernando a similar lesson.

     Living in the impoverished and war-torn island-nation south of India also has taught Fernando that a husband doesn’t need money to make his wife happy. What she wants most isn’t something he can buy, but it is something that’s very costly to give: himself. She doesn’t want his shell, but his attention, his energy, his creativity and awareness and engagement — and especially when it’s most difficult.

     Americans have no corner on the market of marital happiness, and many husbands today would profit greatly to get themselves outside their cultural assumptions, patterns, and blind spots and hear from a veteran Christian husband born, raised, and husbanding in a society and environment very different from our own.

     Learn from the Sri Lankan | Ajith Fernando is an internationally known and loved Christian author and teacher, called “the Asian John Stott” by some. He was born in Sri Lanka, came to the United States for graduate studies, and returned to his native country, which was engulfed in conflict, and served for 35 years as the national director of Youth for Christ. Most of his career he has served in the perils, pains, and relentless frustrations of the Sri Lankan civil war that began in 1983 and lasted more than 25 years, until 2009.

     One thing, among many, Fernando has learned, while living simply in an impoverished and embattled land, is that “date night” doesn’t need to be expensive. Profitable time away with your wife from the rough and tumble of everyday life is not about having money in your pocket, but about having a heart to make your wife happy.

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

The Creche And The Gap

By George Weigel 12/20/2017

     For the past decade or so, I’ve been assembling a mid-sized Judean village of Fontanini crèche figures, including artisans, herders (with sheep), farmers (with chickens and an ahistorical turkey), vintners, blacksmiths, musicians, weavers, and a fisherman or two (one awake, another sleeping). Like the colossal Neapolitan crèche at the basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian in Rome, it’s a reminder that the Lord Jesus was born in the midst of humanity and its messy history: the history that the Child has come to set back on its truest course, which is toward God. The messiness of history is a caution against letting sentimentality take over Christmas; so are some challenging truths about Mary, Joseph, and their place in what theologians call the “economy of salvation.”

     Why challenging? Because Mary and Joseph were called both to form their son in the faith of Israel and to give up, even renounce, their human claims on him, so that he might be what God the Father intended and the world needed.

     When Luke tells us that Mary kept all that had happened to her and to her boy “in her heart” (Luke 2:52), we may imagine that she was pondering what the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar once described as a great detachment: At his birth, Jesus “detached himself from her in order to tread his way back to the Father through the world.” Some will welcome the message he will preach along that messianic pilgrimage; others will be resistant. And that resistance (in which the Evil One will play no small part) will eventually lead to Calvary, where the sword of sorrow promised by ancient Simeon in Luke 2:35 will pierce Mary’s soul. Then, in the tableau at the foot of the Cross, as captured by Michelangelo in the Pietà, Mary will offer the silent affirmation of God’s will to which she once gave vocal assent at the Annunciation: “Be it done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

     The last recorded words of Mary in the New Testament—“Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5)—underscore that the role of Mary, who receives the Incarnate Word of God at the Annunciation and gives birth to him in the Nativity, is always to give her Son away: to point beyond herself to him, and to call others to obedience to him. Thus what Balthasar described as a “detachment” applies to Mary as well as to Jesus: Mary detaches herself from whatever her own life-plans might be, and from whatever her maternal instincts to keep her Son close might be, in order to fulfill the vocation planned for her from the beginning—to be the model of all Christian discipleship, which is the abandonment of my will to God’s will for my life.

     Then there is Joseph, another model of self-gift and self-renunciation. Hans Urs von Balthasar again:

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

George Weigel Books:

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     3. Ancient writers sometimes manifest a superstitious dread of making a simple confession of the truth in this matter, from a fear of furnishing impiety with a handle for speaking irreverently of the works of God. While I embrace such soberness with all my heart, I cannot see the least danger in simply holding what Scripture delivers. when Augustine was not always free from this superstition, as when he says, that blinding and hardening have respect not to the operation of God, but to prescience (Lib. de Predestina. et Gratia). But this subtilty is repudiated by many passages of Scriptures which clearly show that the divine interference amounts to something more than prescience. And Augustine himself, in his book against Julian, [173] contends at length that sins are manifestations not merely of divine permission or patience, but also of divine power, that thus former sins may be punished. In like manner, what is said of permission is too weak to stand. God is very often said to blind and harden the reprobate, to turn their hearts, to incline and impel them, as I have elsewhere fully explained (Book 1 c. 18). The extent of this agency can never be explained by having recourse to prescience or permission. We, therefore, hold that there are two methods in which God may so act. When his light is taken away, nothing remains but blindness and darkness: when his Spirit is taken away, our hearts become hard as stones: when his guidance is withdrawn, we immediately turn from the right path: and hence he is properly said to incline, harden, and blind those whom he deprives of the faculty of seeing, obeying, and rightly executing. The second method, which comes much nearer to the exact meaning of the words, is when executing his judgments by Satan as the minister of his anger, God both directs men's counsels, and excites their wills, and regulates their efforts as he pleases. Thus when Moses relates that Simon, king of the Amorites, did not give the Israelites a passage, because the Lord "had hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate," he immediately adds the purpose which God had in view--viz. that he might deliver him into their hand (Deut. 2:30). As God had resolved to destroy him, the hardening of his heart was the divine preparation for his ruin.

4. In accordance with the former methods it seems to be said, [174] "The law shall perish from the priests and counsel from the ancients." "He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way." Again "O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear?" These passages rather indicate what men become when God deserts them, than what the nature of his agency is when he works in them. But there are other passages which go farther, such as those concerning the hardening of Pharaoh: "I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go." The same thing is afterwards repeated in stronger terms. Did he harden his heart by not softening it? This is, indeed, true; but he did something more: he gave it in charge to Satan to confirm him in his obstinacy. Hence he had previously said, "I am sure he will not let you go." The people come out of Egypt, and the inhabitants of a hostile region come forth against them. How were they instigated? Moses certainly declares of Sihon, that it was the Lord who "had hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate," (Deut. 2:30). The Psalmists relating the same history says, "He turned their hearts to hate his people," (Psalm 105:25). You cannot now say that they stumbled merely because they were deprived of divine counsel. For if they are hardened and turned, they are purposely bent to the very end in view. Moreover, whenever God saw it meet to punish the people for their transgression, in what way did he accomplish his purpose by the reprobate? In such a way as shows that the efficacy of the action was in him, and that they were only ministers. At one time he declares, "that he will lift an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth;" at another, that he will take a net to ensnare them; and at another, that he will be like a hammer to strike them. But he specially declared that he was not inactive among theme when he called Sennacherib an axe, which was formed and destined to be wielded by his own hand. [175] Augustine is not far from the mark when he states the matter thus, That men sin, is attributable to themselves: that in sinning they produce this or that result, is owing to the mighty power of God, who divides the darkness as he pleases (August. de Prædest. Sanct).

5. Moreover, that the ministry of Satan is employed to instigate the reprobate, whenever the Lord, in the course of his providence, has any purpose to accomplish in them, will sufficiently appear from a single passage. It is repeatedly said in the First Book of Samuel, that an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, and troubled him (1 Sam. 16:14; 18:10; 19:9). It were impious to apply this to the Holy Spirit. An impure spirit must therefore be called a spirit from the Lord, because completely subservient to his purpose, being more an instrument in acting than a proper agent. We should also add what Paul says, "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth," (2 Thess. 2:11, 12). But in the same transaction there is always a wide difference between what the Lord does, and what Satan and the ungodly design to do. The wicked instruments which he has under his hand and can turn as he pleases, he makes subservient to his own justice. They, as they are wicked, give effect to the iniquity conceived in their wicked minds. Every thing necessary to vindicate the majesty of God from calumny, and cut off any subterfuge on the part of the ungodly, has already been expounded in the Chapters on Providence (Book 1 Chapter 16-18). Here I only meant to show, in a few words, how Satan reigns in the reprobate, and how God works in both.

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



  • Laughter In Spirituality
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     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Dippers and dwellers
     1/8/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you.’

(Jn 15:4) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. ESV

     There’s an art to making good tea. You can dip your teabag up and down in the hot water and then pull it out. Or you can let it dwell there so that you can experience the tea’s full strength and flavour. Jesus said: ‘Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing’ (vv. 4-5 AMPC). The secret of victorious Christian living is not ‘dipping’ in God’s presence once a week in church, but ‘dwelling’ in it every day. That’s why this devotional is a helpful tool for your spiritual growth; it causes you to get into God’s Word each day, meditate on it, and ask, ‘Lord, what are You saying to me?’ When you’re a dipper, you’ve got to ‘make things happen’ by your own effort. You’ve got to move the bag up and down, wrap the string around the spoon, then pull, etc. That’s a lot of effort – and that’s not how God wants you to live the Christian life. No, He wants you to be a ‘dweller’. It’s the depth and duration of your dwelling that determines the strength and richness of your spiritual life. So the word for you today is: don’t be a dipper, be a dweller.

(Jn 15:1–17) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
ESV

Gen 18-19
Matt 6:1-15

UCB The Word For Today

IMHO
     January 8, 2016

     I remember sitting with a young pastor a few years ago who asked me about my prayer life. I told him I always started with the Lord’s Prayer and sometimes that is all I say, over and over. He suggested I was spiritually lazy. I asked him if he felt he needed to always come up with his own prayers and if so, did he ever consider this might be a spirit of pride. Pride is a harsh word to pastors and he abruptly ended the session. I probably would not have seen him again except he had to meet with me five times to fulfill his semester requirements.

     Jesus told us to pray this prayer. Look it up. He told us to pray it often. It covers all the bases. My best prayer attempt falls far short of this prayer. After praying it I pray for my bride, my family, friends, people who come to mind, and sometimes other things, but the Lord’s Prayer is where I always start. Read the Lord’s Prayer and let it seep into your spirit. Does it not cover what you so long to express?


     Jesus declares that the Holy Spirit will not be denied to those who ask (Luke 11:13). One of the characteristic signs of the Spirit’s work is precisely that sense of the intimate presence of God.

     So here it is 2017 and I still pray the Lord's prayer, even more then before. I like to dwell on sections in a lectio devina style. I have made revisions. In the Greek there is a redundancy (two different Greek words) at "Give us this day, our daily bread." I now say, "Give us this day our daily bread; the Paschal Lamb, heavenly manna, the Bread of Presence, the Bread of Life, the Lamb of God, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ... "

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Though the War of 1812 had ended two weeks earlier, news had not yet reach New Orleans and on this day, January 8, 1815, five thousand British soldiers charged in a frontal assault against General Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee and Kentucky sharpshooters. French pirate Jean Lafitte and his men aided the Americans. In just a half-hour, over two thousand British were killed and only 8 Americans. General Jackson wrote: “It appears that the unerring hand of Providence shielded my men from the shower of balls, bombs, and rockets, when every ball and bomb from our guns carried with them a mission of death.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     At Wilmington College Thomas Kelly was incidentally absorbed in work to contribute to his own support and in activities that helped to feed the religious hunger in his life, but centrally he was seized there by a major loyalty. It was a loyalty to the physical sciences and especially to chemistry. If one was to know the whole of life, here was a science that had a precise method, that dared to accept what that method turned up in spite of its rejection of previous opinion, and whose magnificent achievements won by the fearless use of such a method were evidence of its greatness. As the laboratory assistant, he virtually lived in the chemistry laboratory in his senior year 1912-13 at Wilmington College. He came on to Haverford College for a year of further study, as was often done by graduates of the Western Quaker Colleges, and entered the senior class in 1913 continuing to do his major work in chemistry. At Haverford he came under the spell of Rufus Jones. In his classroom he sensed the lure of philosophy and of a search for truth in which his religious hunger and his passion for science might both be given their due. It was a glimpse ahead, but not yet realized for himself.

     The avid hunger for life in this eager, intense, impetuous Quaker boy flared out on the first day of his arrival at Haverford from Ohio. Rufus Jones recalls his visit on that day, “When he was at Haverford as a student twenty-eight years ago, he came to my house deeply moved by his first day’s stirring events. He sat down in front of me, his face lighted up with radiance and he said suddenly, “I am just going to make my life a miracle.”

     The attachment to the sciences went on as he taught some science at Pickering College, a Quaker preparatory school in Canada during the two years from 1914-16 which he spent there. But hunger for life, the adequate life, made him open to the fascination of the kind of absolute commitment that was associated in the religious mind of that period with volunteering for service as a missionary. Canadian Friends had taken a particular interest in the Quaker Mission in Japan and Thomas Kelly decided to give himself to religious work in the Far East and entered Hartford Theological Seminary in the autumn of 1916 to prepare for it.


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


That the Divine Being should…
be known, not as a distant Providence…
but as God present in the flesh…
amid the deep sorrows…
protracted during centuries…
carried peace into the bosom of humanity.
--- George Bancroft, Secretary of the Navy under President James Polk

Cast all your cares on God;
that anchor holds.
--- Alfred Lord Tennyson

The liturgy, like the feast, exists not to educate but to seduce people into participating in common activity of the highest order, where one is freed to learn things which cannot be taught.
--- Aidan Kavanaugh

…the more strictly and faithfully every man and woman lives up to the guidance and teaching of this Inward Anointing – and never turns aside to the right hand or left for the precepts and traditions of men – the more instruction and help they afford one another.
--- Elias Hicks

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 2:16-22
     by D.H. Stern

16     They will save you from a woman who is a stranger,
from a loose woman with smooth talk,
17     who abandons the ruler she had in her youth
and forgets the covenant of her God.
18     Her house is sinking toward death,
her paths lead to the dead.
19     None who go to her return;
they never regain the path to life.
20     Thus you will walk on the way of good people
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21     For the upright will live in the land,
the pure-hearted will remain there;
22     but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
the unfaithful rooted out of it.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                Does my sacrifice live?

     And Abraham built an altar … and bound Isaac his son. ---
Genesis 22:9.

     This incident is a picture of the blunder we make in thinking that the final thing God wants of us is the sacrifice of death. What God wants is the sacrifice through death which enables us to do what Jesus did, viz., sacrifice our lives. Not ‘I am willing to go to death with Thee,’ but, ‘I am willing to be identified with Thy death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.’ We seem to think that God wants us to give up things! God purified Abraham from this blunder, and the same discipline goes on in our lives. God nowhere tells us to give up things for the sake of giving them up. He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, viz., life with Himself. It is a question of loosening the bands that hinder the life, and immediately those bands are loosened by identification with the death of Jesus, we enter into a relationship with God whereby we can sacrifice our lives to Him.

      It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a “living sacrifice,” to let Him have all your powers that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus. This is the thing that is acceptable to God.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Plas Difancoll
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Plas Difancoll

1
  Trees, of course, silent attendants,
  though no more silent than footmen
  at the great table, ministering shadows
  waiting only to be ignored.

  Leaves of glass, full of the year's
  wine, broken repeatedly and
  as repeatedly replaced.
  A garden ventilated by cool

  fountains. Two huge lions
  of stone, rampant at the drive
  gates, intimidating no-one
  but those lately arrived

  and wondering whether they are too early.
  Between hillsides the large house,
  classical and out of place
  in the landscape, as Welsh as

  it is unpronounceable. He
  and she, magnificent both, not least
  in the confidence of their ignorance
  of the insubordination of the future.

2
  Down to two servants now and those
  grown cheeky; unvisited any more

  by the county. The rust of autumn
  outside on the landscape
          and inside in the joints

  of these hangers-on. Time running out
  for them here in the broken hour-glass

  that they live in with its cracked
  windows mirroring a consumptive moon.

  The fish starve in their waters or
  are pilfered from them by
the unpunished trespassers

  from far away. The place leans on itself,
  sags. There is a conspiracy of the ivy

  to bring it down, with no prayers
  going up from the meeting-house
          for its salvation.

3
  The owls' home and the starlings',
  with moss bandaging its deep wounds
  to no purpose, for the wind festers in
  them and the light diagnoses
  impartially the hopelessness
  of its condition. Colonialism
  is a lost cause. Yet the Welsh
  are here, picknicking among the ruins
  on their Corona and potato
  crisps, speaking their language without pride,
  but with no backward look over their shoulder.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Take Heart
     January 8



     Give thanks in all circumstances. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

     Consider the value of thankfulness. (Sermons and Addresses)

     It quells brooding. We are all prone, in certain moods, to complain of our lot. Everyone has at some time or other imagined that he or she has a particularly hard time in this world. It is to be hoped that in other moods we are ashamed of ourselves for such brooding. But how to prevent its recurrence? A valuable help will be the habit of thankfulness to God. Then if a brooding spirit arises, in the middle of some complaining sentence we will suddenly express thankfulness and perhaps laugh at ourselves for the folly of such brooding.

     Thankfulness soothes distress. Those who are greatly afflicted—and not accustomed to be thankful—sometimes find the memory of past joys only an aggravation of present sorrow. It is otherwise with those who have learned to be habitually thankful. For these, the recollection of happier hours is still a comfort.

     Thankfulness helps to allay anxiety. Notice what the apostle says to the Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God… will guard your hearts and your minds” (Phil. 4:6–7). Notice that we are to prevent anxiety by prayer as to the future with thanksgiving for the past.

     Thankfulness cannot fail to deepen penitence. “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Rom. 2:4). When we are in the habit of thankfully recalling the kindnesses and mercies of our heavenly Father, we perceive more clearly and lament more earnestly the evil of sin against him, and what is more, this will strengthen us to turn from our sins to his blessed service.

     Thankfulness brightens hope. “I love to think on mercies past, And future good implore.” If we have been accustomed to set up milestones of God’s mercy on the path of life, then every glance backward will help us to look forward with more of humble hope.

     Thankfulness strengthens for endurance and exertion. We all know how much more easily and effectively those work who work cheerfully, and the very nutriment of cheerfulness is found in thankfulness as to the past and hope as to the future.
--- John A. Broadus


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

On This Day   January 8
     Tough As Nails

     Women are tough as nails when it comes to working for Christ, as George Fox realized when he began the Quaker movement in the 1600s. From the beginning, he welcomed women preachers. His first convert was a well-to-do, middle-aged mother named Elizabeth Hooton from Nottingham, England. She soon became the Quakers’ first woman preacher. Her new beliefs landed her in jail, and she was sent to a grim succession of English prisons before being released at age 60. She booked passage to Boston, but when authorities there wouldn’t admit her, she sailed to Virginia and started for New England by foot.

     She was stepping from pan to fire.

     Governor John Endicott demanded the reason for her coming to America. She answered, “To do the will of Him that sent me.” She found herself behind bars again, and over the next several years she was in and out of Boston, and in and out of jail. Even worse, her grandmotherly age didn’t keep her from the whipping post. At Cambridge, she was given ten stripes with a three-stringed whip, knotted at the ends. At Watertown, she was whipped again. At Dedham, she again felt the lash.

     She remained undaunted, and when nearly 70, she said, “The love I bear to the souls of men makes me willing to undergo whatsoever can be inflicted to me.” At length she returned to England and wrote King Charles II saying: Oh that thou would give up thy kingdom to ye Lord, God of heaven and earth, whose it is, and thy strength and power to Jesus Christ, who is King of kings, and then thou wilt be more honorable than ever thou wast.

     The message was not well-received, and in 1671 she boarded ship for the West Indies to do missionary work and to escape further abuse. The ship reached the islands the first week of 1672, but Elizabeth Hooton, the Quakers’ first convert and first woman preacher, had fallen ill. She died on January 8 and was buried in the Jamaican sands like a soldier falling in the line of duty.

     Three times the Romans beat me with a big stick, and once my enemies stoned me. I have been shipwrecked three times, and I even had to spend a night and a day in the sea. During my many travels, I have been in danger from rivers, robbers, my own people, and foreigners. My life has been in danger in cities, in deserts, at sea, and with people who only pretended to be the Lord’s followers.
---
2 Corinthians 11:24-26.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 8

     “The iniquity of the holy things.” --- Exodus 28:38.

     What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight. The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart and forgetfulness of God, what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief, what a mass of defilement is there! Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity, what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight. Dr. Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the melioration of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? It may be that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride. Or, it may be that my neighbours may look over the wall and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.” So that even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them. How cheering is the thought, that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD:” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, he presents before his Father’s face not our unholiness, but his own holiness. O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!

          Evening - January 8

     “Thy love is better than wine.” --- Song of Solomon 1:2.

     Nothing gives the believer so much joy as fellowship with Christ. He has enjoyment as others have in the common mercies of life, he can be glad both in God’s gifts and God’s works; but in all these separately, yea, and in all of them added together, he doth not find such substantial delight as in the matchless person of his Lord Jesus. He has wine which no vineyard on earth ever yielded; he has bread which all the corn-fields of Egypt could never bring forth. Where can such sweetness be found as we have tasted in communion with our Beloved? In our esteem, the joys of earth are little better than husks for swine compared with Jesus, the heavenly manna. We would rather have one mouthful of Christ’s love, and a sip of his fellowship, than a whole world full of carnal delights. What is the chaff to the wheat? What is the sparkling paste to the true diamond? What is a dream to the glorious reality? What is time’s mirth, in its best trim, compared to our Lord Jesus in his most despised estate? If you know anything of the inner life, you will confess that our highest, purest, and most enduring joys must be the fruit of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. No spring yields such sweet water as that well of God which was digged with the soldier’s spear. All earthly bliss is of the earth earthy, but the comforts of Christ’s presence are like himself, heavenly. We can review our communion with Jesus, and find no regrets of emptiness therein; there are no dregs in this wine, no dead flies in this ointment. The joy of the Lord is solid and enduring. Vanity hath not looked upon it, but discretion and prudence testify that it abideth the test of years, and is in time and in eternity worthy to be called “the only true delight.” For nourishment, consolation, exhilaration, and refreshment, no wine can rival the love of Jesus. Let us drink to the full this Evening.


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

Amazing Grace
     January 8

          SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER

     William W. Walford, 1772–1850

     And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

     No one is poor who can by prayer open the storehouse of God. --- Louis Paul Lehman

     Through the ages, devout believers in Christ have recognized the necessity of maintaining an intimate relationship with God through His ordained channel of prayer. It has often been said that prayer is as basic to spiritual life as breathing is to our natural lives. It is not merely an occasional impulse to which we respond when we are in trouble; prayer is a way of life.

     Nevertheless, we need to set aside a special time for prayer. We need that daily “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” This song is thought to have been written in 1842 by William Walford, an obscure and blind lay preacher who was the owner of a small trinket shop in the little village of Coleshill, England.

     The first two stanzas of today’s hymn remind us of the blessings of prayer—relief for our troubled lives and the assurance of a God who is concerned about our every need. The final stanza anticipates the day when we will no longer need to pray, for we’ll be at home in heaven with our Lord.

     There is also an interesting reference in this verse to a Mount Pisgah—the place where God instructed Moses in Deuteronomy 3:27 to go and merely view the promised land since, because of disobedience, he would never be permitted to enter it.

     Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, that calls me from a world of care and bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known! In seasons of distress and grief my soul has often found relief, and oft escaped the tempter’s snare by thy return, sweet hour of prayer.
     Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, thy wings shall my petition bear to Him whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless; and since He bids me seek His face, believe His Word and trust His grace, I’ll cast on Him my ev’ry care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.
     Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, may I thy consolation share, till from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height I view my home and take my flight: This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise to seize the everlasting prize, and shout, while passing thru the air, “Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer.”
     Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, that calls me from a world of care and bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known! In seasons of distress and grief my soul has often found relief, and oft escaped the tempter’s snare by thy return, sweet hour of prayer.
     Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, thy wings shall my petition bear to Him whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless; and since He bids me seek His face, believe His Word and trust His grace, I’ll cast on Him my ev’ry care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.
     Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, may I thy consolation share, till from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height I view my home and take my flight: This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise to seize the everlasting prize, and shout, while passing thru the air, “Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer.”


     For Today: Matthew 6:5, 6; 7:11; 18:19; 21:22; Luke 18:1–8.

     Earnestly purpose to spend additional time throughout this new year in prayer and communion with God. Allow this musical message to help you in the ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Monday, January 8, 2018 | Epiphany


Monday Of The First Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 1, 2, 3
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 4, 7
Old Testament     Genesis 2:4–9 (10–15) 16–25
New Testament     Hebrews 1:1–14
Gospel     John 1:1–18

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 1, 2, 3

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

2 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

3 A Psalm Of David, When He Fled From Absalom His Son.

1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah

3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

7 Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people! Selah

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 4, 7

4 To The Choirmaster: With Stringed Instruments. A Psalm Of David.

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

2 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

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.

7 A Shiggaion Of David, Which He Sang To The Lord Concerning The Words Of Cush, A Benjaminite.

1 O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.

3 O LORD my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust. Selah

6 Arise, O LORD, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.

8 The LORD judges the peoples;
judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God!
10 My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.

12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.

17 I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.

Old Testament
Genesis 2:4–9 (10–15) 16–25

4 These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

[     10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.     ]

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

     “This at last is bone of my bones
     and flesh of my flesh;
     she shall be called Woman,
     because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

New Testament
Hebrews 1:1–14

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

     “You are my Son,
     today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

     “I will be to him a father,
     and he shall be to me a son”?

6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

     “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

7 Of the angels he says,

     “He makes his angels winds,
     and his ministers a flame of fire.”

8 But of the Son he says,

     “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
     the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
     9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
     therefore God, your God, has anointed you
     with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

10 And,

     “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
     and the heavens are the work of your hands;
     11 they will perish, but you remain;
     they will all wear out like a garment,
     12 like a robe you will roll them up,
     like a garment they will be changed.
     But you are the same,
     and your years will have no end.”

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,

     “Sit at my right hand
     until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Gospel
John 1:1–18

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

The Book of Common Prayer



Principles Concerning Budgeting & Debt
Rick Bee   Biola University





Using Your Money in a Godly Way
Rick Bee   Biola University






Investing & Ethics
Guy Baker   Biola University





Giving & Stewardship
Rick Bee   Biola University






Application: Share the Wealth
David Keehn   Biola University





How to Construct a Bible Study
David Keehn   Biola University






Origins of Evil 1
Clay Jones   Biola University





Origins of Evil 2
Clay Jones   Biola University






Your Final Occupation 1
Clay Jones   Biola University





Your Final Occupation 2
Clay Jones   Biola University






Community of Grace
Steven Morrow   Biola University





The Dwelling
Miller, Pickett   Biola University






Bible Fluency
Ken Berding   Biola University





Story Arc & Transformation, Psalm 51
Chad Miller   Biola University