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7/14/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Joshua 20-21     Acts 1     Jeremiah 10     Matthew 24

Joshua 20

The Cities of Refuge

Joshua 20 1 Then the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Say to the people of Israel, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, 3 that the manslayer who strikes any person without intent or unknowingly may flee there. They shall be for you a refuge from the avenger of blood. 4 He shall flee to one of these cities and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and explain his case to the elders of that city. Then they shall take him into the city and give him a place, and he shall remain with them. 5 And if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not give up the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unknowingly, and did not hate him in the past. 6 And he shall remain in that city until he has stood before the congregation for judgment, until the death of him who is high priest at the time. Then the manslayer may return to his own town and his own home, to the town from which he fled.’”

7 So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. 8 And beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they appointed Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland, from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead, from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan, from the tribe of Manasseh. 9 These were the cities designated for all the people of Israel and for the stranger sojourning among them, that anyone who killed a person without intent could flee there, so that he might not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, till he stood before the congregation.

Joshua 21

Cities and Pasturelands Allotted to Levi

Joshua 21 1 Then the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites came to Eleazar the priest and to Joshua the son of Nun and to the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel. 2 And they said to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, “The Lord commanded through Moses that we be given cities to dwell in, along with their pasturelands for our livestock.” 3 So by command of the Lord the people of Israel gave to the Levites the following cities and pasturelands out of their inheritance.

4 The lot came out for the clans of the Kohathites. So those Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest received by lot from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, thirteen cities.

5 And the rest of the Kohathites received by lot from the clans of the tribe of Ephraim, from the tribe of Dan and the half-tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.

6 The Gershonites received by lot from the clans of the tribe of Issachar, from the tribe of Asher, from the tribe of Naphtali, and from the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.

7 The Merarites according to their clans received from the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.

8 These cities and their pasturelands the people of Israel gave by lot to the Levites, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

9 Out of the tribe of the people of Judah and the tribe of the people of Simeon they gave the following cities mentioned by name, 10 which went to the descendants of Aaron, one of the clans of the Kohathites who belonged to the people of Levi; since the lot fell to them first. 11 They gave them Kiriath-arba (Arba being the father of Anak), that is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, along with the pasturelands around it. 12 But the fields of the city and its villages had been given to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his possession.

13 And to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasturelands, Libnah with its pasturelands, 14 Jattir with its pasturelands, Eshtemoa with its pasturelands, 15 Holon with its pasturelands, Debir with its pasturelands, 16 Ain with its pasturelands, Juttah with its pasturelands, Beth-shemesh with its pasturelands—nine cities out of these two tribes; 17 then out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with its pasturelands, Geba with its pasturelands, 18 Anathoth with its pasturelands, and Almon with its pasturelands—four cities. 19 The cities of the descendants of Aaron, the priests, were in all thirteen cities with their pasturelands. 20 As to the rest of the Kohathites belonging to the Kohathite clans of the Levites, the cities allotted to them were out of the tribe of Ephraim. 21 To them were given Shechem, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasturelands in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pasturelands, 22 Kibzaim with its pasturelands, Beth-horon with its pasturelands—four cities; 23 and out of the tribe of Dan, Elteke with its pasturelands, Gibbethon with its pasturelands, 24 Aijalon with its pasturelands, Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands—four cities; 25 and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Taanach with its pasturelands, and Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands—two cities. 26 The cities of the clans of the rest of the Kohathites were ten in all with their pasturelands.

27 And to the Gershonites, one of the clans of the Levites, were given out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Golan in Bashan with its pasturelands, the city of refuge for the manslayer, and Beeshterah with its pasturelands—two cities; 28 and out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishion with its pasturelands, Daberath with its pasturelands, 29 Jarmuth with its pasturelands, En-gannim with its pasturelands—four cities; 30 and out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with its pasturelands, Abdon with its pasturelands, 31 Helkath with its pasturelands, and Rehob with its pasturelands—four cities; 32 and out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with its pasturelands, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Hammoth-dor with its pasturelands, and Kartan with its pasturelands—three cities. 33 The cities of the several clans of the Gershonites were in all thirteen cities with their pasturelands.

34 And to the rest of the Levites, the Merarite clans, were given out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its pasturelands, Kartah with its pasturelands, 35 Dimnah with its pasturelands, Nahalal with its pasturelands—four cities; 36 and out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with its pasturelands, Jahaz with its pasturelands, 37 Kedemoth with its pasturelands, and Mephaath with its pasturelands—four cities; 38 and out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its pasturelands, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Mahanaim with its pasturelands, 39 Heshbon with its pasturelands, Jazer with its pasturelands—four cities in all. 40 As for the cities of the several Merarite clans, that is, the remainder of the clans of the Levites, those allotted to them were in all twelve cities.

41 The cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the people of Israel were in all forty-eight cities with their pasturelands. 42 These cities each had its pasturelands around it. So it was with all these cities.

43 Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.

Acts 1

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Acts 1 1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Ascension

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate,
and let there be no one to dwell in it’;


“‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Jeremiah 10

Idols and the Living God

Jeremiah 10

1 Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord:

“Learn not the way of the nations,
nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
because the nations are dismayed at them,
3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity.
A tree from the forest is cut down
and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
4 They decorate it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.
5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
for they cannot do evil,
neither is it in them to do good.”

6 There is none like you, O Lord;
you are great, and your name is great in might.
7 Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
For this is your due;
for among all the wise ones of the nations
and in all their kingdoms
there is none like you.
8 They are both stupid and foolish;
the instruction of idols is but wood!
9 Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
and gold from Uphaz.
They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith;
their clothing is violet and purple;
they are all the work of skilled men.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
and the nations cannot endure his indignation.

11 Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”

12 It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
13 When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
14 Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols,
for his images are false,
and there is no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, a work of delusion;
at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
16 Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob,
for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the Lord of hosts is his name.

17 Gather up your bundle from the ground,
O you who dwell under siege!
18 For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I am slinging out the inhabitants of the land
at this time,
and I will bring distress on them,
that they may feel it.”

19 Woe is me because of my hurt!
My wound is grievous.
But I said, “Truly this is an affliction,
and I must bear it.”
20 My tent is destroyed,
and all my cords are broken;
my children have gone from me,
and they are not;
there is no one to spread my tent again
and to set up my curtains.
21 For the shepherds are stupid
and do not inquire of the Lord;
therefore they have not prospered,
and all their flock is scattered.

22 A voice, a rumor! Behold, it comes!—
a great commotion out of the north country
to make the cities of Judah a desolation,
a lair of jackals.

23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
24 Correct me, O Lord, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.

25 Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not,
and on the peoples that call not on your name,
for they have devoured Jacob;
they have devoured him and consumed him,
and have laid waste his habitation.

Matthew 24

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

Matthew 24 1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Signs of the End of the Age

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The Abomination of Desolation

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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Your Students Are Willing to Delay Gratification, If You Are

By J. Warner Wallace 7/12/2017

     I’ve been writing this month about my experiences at Summit Worldview Academy and the nature of student training. There are a number of similar worldview programs around the country (including the Impact 360 Institute), and I’m always impressed to see how many students are interested in this kind of intensive preparation. To be sure, there are always some students at these conferences who are present because their parents demanded their attendance, but these young people are always in the vast minority. Most students come (and put themselves through the rigorous material) because they heard about it through a friend who highly recommended the experience. And while there are some fun opportunities to hike, relax and play games along the way, these activities (commonly associated with youth group retreats) are typically few and far between at worldview camps. Students are here to roll up their sleeves and get to work. They’re far more interested in learning than lounging. Youth pastors can glean something from worldview academies.

     I have to confess: When I was a new youth pastor, I was more likely to provide my students with pizza than preparation. I thought the only way to attract students in the first place was to satisfy their desire for entertainment and social interaction. I simply tried to wedge in the important stuff (theological and apologetics training, Spiritual formation and Biblical literacy) along the way. It took me a year or so to find a better approach. I eventually realized my students would willingly delay their desire for fun if I could effectively show them their need for truth. I began to take them to places where their worldview was tested and I did my best to demonstrate their deficiencies. As a result, the Utah and Berkeley tripsbecame a regular offering of my ministry. It wasn’t long before my students were ready to do whatever it took to better defend themselves. They were more than willing to delay their desire for what they used to think of as fun to achieve a greater goal. Along the way, they discovered how satisfying it is to learn the truth, articulate it effectively, and engage the world.

     It turns out that students are willing to raise the bar and do much more than we expect of them in most youth groups across the country. If you’re a youth pastor or are serving in a youth ministry, think about what your students are typically willing to do in order to succeed on their club sports team or to prepare for their next academic AP test. Our students are already working hard to prepare themselves in some area of their young lives; why aren’t we willing to ask them to prepare this rigorously as Christians? It’s time to show students why it’s so important to equip themselves as Christian ambassadors. It’s time to stop teaching and start training.

     Many of the students I spoke with at Summit told me they originally heard about the academy from a friend who was transformed by the experience. Some were attending the training for the second time. These Summit veterans said their second interaction with the material was even more helpful than the first. They admitted they were originally overwhelmed by everything they heard in the first year of training and many wanted to come back to better absorb the information. As a result, they spent two summers engaging difficult but important issues. Interestingly, some of these two year veterans were in that minority of students who were originally required to attend by their parents. While a few young people may arrive here reluctantly, none seem to leave here willingly. It’s amazing how God uses the truth to transform the lives of students, and how willing these students are to delay traditional forms of recreation to become good Christian Case Makers. Let’s learn something from worldview academies and turn every youth group into a Christian worldview training opportunity.

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

Atheist Daniel Dennett Tries to Explain the Mind Away: He Fails

By Mike Robinson 6/15/2017

     While Mr. Dennett touches only briefly in this book on the topic of free will, which greatly occupied him in “Elbow Room” (1984) and “Freedom Evolves” (2003), this knotty topic helps show the fine distinctions he insists on making. It’s true that he believes the traditional understanding of free will—a “personal power somehow isolated from physical causation,” as he puts it—to be an “incoherent and unnecessary” idea. But he does warn against the dangers of assuming that holding a deterministic view of the brain forces you to abandon the idea of free will entirely.

     But Mr. Dennett insists that accepting a materialistic account of the brain does not mean that we should completely rid ourselves of the ideas of personal responsibility or blame. This is seemingly a surprising position for Mr. Dennett: If everything that is going to happen happens because it is determined by the physical brain, why hold someone morally responsible for his actions? This is a common reaction and concern, Mr. Dennett notes, of both cognitive scientists and the layperson. He feels that the simplicity of such a view lies in a deep, unquestioning acceptance of the Cartesian idea that the mind must be separated from the brain.

     For Mr. Dennett, free will is indeed an illusion, but it is a useful and necessary one, like our conscious sense of ourselves. An illusion like this allows us to live and work in a society. As Mr. Dennett says, “We couldn’t live the way we do without it.” He goes on to argue that we should avoid cruel retributive punishment, but we should not give individuals a pass on moral responsibility. “If—because free will is an illusion—no one is ever responsible for what they do, should we abolish yellow and red cards in soccer, the penalty box in ice hockey and all the other penalty systems in sports?” In short, we still must regulate society as if we are choosing our actions, punishing conduct that breaks the rules we have set for ourselves.

     Obviously what Mr. Dennett means by free will may be different from what you thought it meant. One way to tease out the difference is to realize that he leaves room in the human mind for intent—and he points out that other types of minds may lack it....

     “From Bacteria to Bach and Back” plays to all of its author’s strengths. The scope of his canvas, and the power of his explanations to widen our horizons, help us believe that we can think up decent answers to seemingly impenetrable problems. read full WSJ post Here

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     According to Amazon: Mike Robinson has travelled worldwide teaching on the topic of the real self and the illusions which keep a person trapped in their suffering. Mike only ever helps a person to look at the fact of a situation, which is the truth, and truth has no sides, no judgment and no 'right' or 'wrong', it is 'as it is' and therefore it is love in action. There is an ease and grace that flows out of this gentle man who has touched thousands of lives. No-one leaves Mike's presence unaffected by the unshakeable peace and truth that emanates from his being. For more information visit his website: www.mikerobinson.eu.com

Some of Mike Robinson Books:

Good Lovemaking Is About God

By Garrett Kell 7/11/2017

     Years ago a friend named John met with a group of young men. He was the only married man at the time, and the rest were dabbling with pornography. In a moment of brutal honesty, one of them said to John, “I just don’t understand how you can have sex with the same woman all the time. That seems boring.”

     Without hesitation, John said with a straight face, “I don’t have sex with the same woman all the time.”

     Their silent stares begged for explanation.

     John explained that his wife was not the same woman he married. She was always growing and changing as a woman, and he was always growing and changing as a man. They were not the same people they were when they got married, and neither was their sexual intimacy. Like a fine wine, they and their intimacy had matured over time. Sex was not always filled with flames of passion — but that’s not all sex is intended to be.

     Sex Strengthens with Time | God created sex to be a bond between a husband and wife that strengthens over time. Married couples make love on their honeymoon and after a miscarriage. They make love to conceive children and after they bury them. They make love when bodies are healthy and during battles against cancer. As a husband and wife pursue each other through intimate service, sacrifice, and struggle, God blesses them in a way the world can never know.

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     Garrett Kell is married to Carrie, and together they have five children. He serves as pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

Five “Fake News” Stories That People Believe about Early Christianity

By Michael J. Kruger 7/10/2017

     There’s been a lot of chatter about “fake news” in recent months. Some stories, even though they have no basis in fact, are told so often, and with such conviction, that large numbers of people end up believing them anyway.

     And some of these fake news stories even dupe legitimate political figures who repeat the story without realizing it is false. And, of course, once a mainstream political figure repeats a story then it becomes even more entrenched in the national psyche.

     While some of these fake news stories are rather harmless, others have become quite dangerous.  Most famous perhaps is the “Pizza Gate” incident in 2016 where a man shot up a pizza place thinking it was host to a child sex trafficking ring (thankfully, no one was hurt).

     Given this rash of “fake news,” I thought it might be interesting to observe that an analogous phenomenon can be seen in the study of early Christianity. There is quite a bit of “fake news” out there regarding the person of Jesus, the origins of the church, or the development of the Bible . Even though such “news” as no factual basis, it is believed by an uncomfortably large number of people.

     So, here is a sampling of some of the leading stories:

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here.

Michael J. Kruger Books

7 Reasons You Owe Everything to Suffering

By John Piper 7/11/2017

     Now let me draw this to a close with a quick summary of seven statements. They go by real fast, showing you that every grace, every blessing, every good thing you ever dreamed about having now or in eternity comes to you through suffering, and only through suffering; namely, the suffering of Jesus. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was the name of the book before the foundation of the world, and it was the ground of grace before the foundation of the world. I want you to feel, I owe everything I ever dreamed of having to suffering.

     1. Christ absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf and he did it by suffering.

     Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

     Your deliverance from God’s curse came through suffering.

     2. Christ bore our sins and purchased our forgiveness, and he did it by suffering.

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      (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

     John Piper Books:

Lay Aside the Weight of “Not Feeling Like It”

By Jon Bloom 7/12/2013

     What do you not feel like doing today?

     You know what I mean. It’s that thing that’s weighing on you, which you know would honor God because it obeys his law of love (John 15:12), or is a work of faith (2 Thessalonians 1:11), or puts “to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). You know it would be good for your soul or body or family or vocation or neighbor or church.

     But you don’t feel like doing it. You know that God promises you more blessing if you do it than if you don’t. But you’re struggling to believe it because it feels difficult. It’s like you have weights on your ankles. You don’t want to muster the energy, and every distraction glows with attraction.

     The Strange Pattern of Progress | While it’s true that this is our indwelling sin of which we must repent and fight to lay aside (Hebrews 12:1), the experience of “not feeling like it” also can become for us a reminder of a gospel truth and actually give us hope and encouragement in this battle.

     Think about this strange pattern that occurs over and over in just about every area of life: Healthy, nutritious food oft

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     Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.

     Jon Bloom Books:

12 Things Your Professors Won't Tell You About God and Science

By Luke Nix 6/26/2017

     #1- Christianity and science are NOT at odds with each other The mantras in today's university classrooms seem to be that science has proven Christianity false and that Christianity is anti-science. This could not be further from the truth of the situation. Science IS at odds with a worldview, and it may surprise you which worldview it is. Tap the link above to discover which one and how!

     #2- God's existence CAN be tested It is quite common for people to believe that since God is outside this universe that his existence cannot be tested. All the religious views make claims about the universe we live in, and some make the claim that God exists (and that their "holy" books were inspired by that God). Numerous claims are made in the Bible about our universe and can be put to the test. Tap the link to discover the claims and how they can be tested.

     #3- Christianity does not teach the universe is 6,000 years old This is a big one! Too many professors are convinced that Christianity claims the universe is 6,000 years old, and (using the idea in the addressing the previous claim) since the universe has been discovered to be orders of magnitude older, Christianity has been shown to be false. However, the idea that Christianity teaches that the universe is 6,000 years old is false. If this is what you've always believed or been told, tap the link above to discover the truth about the Bible's claims about the age of the universe.

     #4- The record of Genesis does not contradict any scientific discoveries Many more scientifically testable claims of Christianity are found in the book of Genesis. Again, many of those in academia believe these too fail the test of reality. However, the tests fail because they have not read Genesis correctly. Tap the link above to see the proper understanding of Genesis and to see how the claims comport with modern scientific discoveries in uncanny ways.

     #5- The beginning of the universe requires a beginner While some people have a disdain for big bang cosmology because it demonstrates an ancient age of the universe, others (since it was first proposed) prefer to avoid it because it necessitates the need for a beginner. A big bang needs a "big banger." Everything that begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist; therefore, the universe has a cause. This is a powerful argument that the universe was started by something (or Someone) that transcends (is outside- see #2) this universe. Tap the link above to see the details of how such a conclusion can be reached in science.

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     Luke Nix. I live in Oklahoma and have lived here all my life except a couple years in Texas in the late 80’s. I have a wonderful wife, and we have three wonderful children.

     I have a BS in Computer Science, and work as a computer desktop support manager for a local precious metals exchange company.

     My worldview is Christian (as is obvious by this blog) and my political slant is right of center. Doctrinally, I generally adhere to the Southern Baptist Faith and Message, though I do have nuanced positions.

     I spent the majority of my teenage years as a technology geek. My interests have slightly changed from those days. I still love technology and get a “high” from getting a new gadget. Technology is how I make my living, but my passion has gone back to where it was when I was much younger. Now, my main focuses are my family and studying philosophy, theology, and science.

     Enough about me for right now. What is this blog about and why should you read it? The blog is dedicated to the discussion and defense of the true worldview. I believe that Christianity is the true worldview (as opposed to other worldviews/religions), so posts will provide evidence and reasons to believe that. To get a better grasp of the importance of such discussions, please see the page Defending The Faith.

     Ultimately, I pray that God will use me via this blog to encourage fellow Christians during times of doubt and provoke reasoned and reflective thought about God. It is my desire that this blog will open intellectual doors for the non-Christian reader to understand their need to accept the objective truths of God's existence, man's sinfulness, Jesus Christ's life, death, and physical resurrection, and man's need to be reconciled to God. I also pray that God will use you, the reader, to strengthen my reasoning and encourage me in this ministry by providing carefully reasoned comments, questions, and challenges.

The ‘Gospel’ That Almost Killed Me

By Sean DeMars 3/31/2014

     I'm in a bathtub. I can't get up. I feel like I'm about to die. Mercury poisoning.

     The water in the tub has grown cold. Maybe that's why I feel so cold. I've been marinating in my own soup stock for the past two hours. I'm floating in and out of consciousness. Whenever I can concentrate I begin to pray.

     Jesus, please, save me. Please, heal me. I repent, I put my whole heart into prayer right now, and I cast out any doubt or fear. I know you can heal me. Please heal me!

     My mom's keys are rattling in the doorknob now, and I hear the door thud shut in the distance. I hear her purse sliding across the counter and her keys landing next to it. I barely recognize her figure as she tries with all of her wiry might to pull me out of the tub. I spend the next two days in the hospital. My mom wants to know why I didn't let her know, why I didn't want to go to the hospital, why I didn't do something.

     “Mom, Jesus is my doctor. I'm blessed, and I know that he would have healed me.” This is me trying to live out what I think is true Christianity.

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     Sean DeMars is husband to Amber, dad to Patience and Isabella, and pastor at 6th Ave Church in Decatur, Alabama.

Joshua 20-21; Acts 1; Jeremiah 10; Matthew 24

By Don Carson 7/14/2018

     Between Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost, the nascent church, about one hundred and twenty strong, met together and prayed. At one such meeting, Peter stood up and initiated the action that appointed Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:15-26).

     (1) Peter’s use of Scripture (Acts 1:16, 20) is apparently what guides him to his conclusion that “it is necessary” (Acts 1:21) to choose one of the other men who had been with Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry as a replacement for the traitor Judas. At the surface level of Acts, the reasoning is straightforward. Psalm 69:25 says, “May [his] place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in [it]”; Peter applies this to Judas. Psalm 109:8 insists, “May another take his place of leadership”; this Peter takes as a divine warrant for securing a replacement.

     In the context of Psalms 69 and 109, David is seeking vindication against enemies — once close friends — who had betrayed him. Peter’s use of these verses belongs to one of two primary patterns. Either: (a) Peter is indulging in indefensible proof-texting. The verses never did apply to Judas, and can be made to do so only by exegetical sleight-of-hand. Or: (b) Peter is already presupposing a fairly sophisticated David-typology. If this sense of betrayal and plea for vindicating justice play such an important role in the experience of great King David, how much more in great David’s greater Son?

     Why should we flinch at such reasoning? During the previous forty days Jesus had often spoken with his disciples (Acts 1:3), explaining in some detail “what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Certainly the David-typology crops up in the Gospels on the lips of Jesus. Why should we not accept that he taught it to his disciples?

     (2) On the criteria raised here — the replacement apostle had to be not only a witness of the resurrected Jesus, but someone who had been with the disciples “the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us” (Acts 1:21-22) — Paul could not have met the conditions. Paul’s apostleship was irregular, as he himself acknowledges (1 Cor. 15:8-9). We should not entertain nonsense about Peter and the church making a mistake here because they did not wait for the appointment of Paul.

     (3) The choosing of one of two by lot (Acts 1:23-26) is not a prescription for local church governance procedures. There is no hint of a similar procedure from then on in the church’s life, as reported in the New Testament. This sounds more like the climax of an Old Testament procedure, with God himself selecting and authorizing the twelve men of the apostolic band.

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

Don Carson Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 74

Arise, O God, Defend Your Cause
74 A Maskil Of Asaph.

18 Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.

20 Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.

22 Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     38. Thirdly, The Lord intended it to be a kind of exhortation, than which no other could urge or animate us more strongly, both to purity and holiness of life, and also to charity, peace, and concord. For the Lord there communicates his body so that he may become altogether one with us, and we with him. Moreover, since he has only one body of which he makes us all to be partakers, we must necessarily, by this participation, all become one body. This unity is represented by the bread which is exhibited in the sacrament. As it is composed of many grains, so mingled together, that one cannot be distinguished from another; so ought our minds to be so cordially united, as not to allow of any dissension or division. This I prefer giving in the words of Paul: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many, are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Cor. 10:15, 16). We shall have profited admirably in the sacrament, if the thought shall have been impressed and engraven on our minds, that none of our brethren is hurt, despised, rejected, injured, or in any way offended, without our, at the same time, hurting, despising, and injuring Christ; that we cannot have dissension with our brethren, without at the same time dissenting from Christ; that we cannot love Christ without loving our brethren; that the same care we take of our own body we ought to take of that of our brethren, who are members of our body; that as no part of our body suffers pain without extending to the other parts, so every evil which our brother suffers ought to excite our compassion. Wherefore Augustine not inappropriately often terms this sacrament the bond of charity. What stronger stimulus could be employed to excite mutual charity, than when Christ, presenting himself to us, not only invites us by his example to give and devote ourselves mutually to each other, but inasmuch as he makes himself common to all, also makes us all to be one in him.

39. This most admirably confirms what I elsewhere said--viz. that there cannot be a right administration of the Supper without the word. Any utility which we derive from the Supper requires the word. Whether we are to be confirmed in faith, or exercised in confession, or aroused to duty, there is need of preaching. Nothing, therefore, can be more preposterous than to convert the Supper into a dumb action. This is done under the tyranny of the Pope, the whole effect of consecration being made to depend on the intention of the priest, as if it in no way concerned the people, to whom especially the mystery ought to have been explained. This error has originated from not observing that those promises by which consecration is effected are intended, not for the elements themselves, but for those who receive them. Christ does not address the bread and tell it to become his body, but bids his disciples eat, and promises them the communion of his body and blood. And, according to the arrangement which Paul makes, the promises are to be offered to believers along with the bread and the cup. Thus, indeed, it is. We are not to imagine some magical incantation, and think it sufficient to mutter the words, as if they were heard by the elements; but we are to regard those words as a living sermon, which is to edify the hearers, penetrate their minds, being impressed and seated in their hearts, and exert its efficacy in the fulfilment of that which it promises. For these reasons, it is clear that the setting apart of the sacrament, as some insist, that an extraordinary distribution of it may be made to the sick, is useless. They will either receive it without hearing the words of the institution read, or the minister will conjoin the true explanation of the mystery with the sign. In the silent dispensation, there is abuse and defect. If the promises are narrated, and the mystery is expounded, that those who are to receive may receive with advantage, it cannot be doubted that this is the true consecration. What then becomes of that other consecration, the effect of which reaches even to the sick? But those who do so have the example of the early Church. I confess it; but in so important a matter, where error is so dangerous, nothing is safer than to follow the truth.

40. Moreover, as we see that this sacred bread of the Lord's Supper is spiritual food, is sweet and savoury, not less than salutary, to the pious worshippers of God, on tasting which they feel that Christ is their life, are disposed to give thanks, and exhorted to mutual love; so, on the other hand, it is converted into the most noxious poison to all whom it does not nourish and confirm in the faith, nor urge to thanksgiving and charity. For, just as corporeal food, when received into a stomach subject to morbid humours, becomes itself vitiated and corrupted, and rather hurts than nourishes, so this spiritual food also, if given to a soul polluted with malice and wickedness, plunges it into greater ruin, not indeed by any defect in the food, but because to the "defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure" (Titus 1:15), however much it may be sanctified by the blessing of the Lord. For, as Paul says, "Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord;" "eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body" (1 Cor. 11:27, 29). For men of this description, who without any spark of faith, without any zeal for charity, rush forward like swine to seize the Lord's Supper, do not at all discern the Lord's body. For, inasmuch as they do not believe that body to be their life, they put every possible affront upon it, stripping it of all its dignity, and profane and contaminate it by so receiving; inasmuch as while alienated and estranged from their brethren, they dare to mingle the sacred symbol of Christ's body with their dissensions. No thanks to them if the body of Christ is not rent and torn to pieces. Wherefore they are justly held guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, which, with sacrilegious impiety, they so vilely pollute. By this unworthy eating, they bring judgment on themselves. For while they have no faith in Christ, yet, by receiving the sacrament, they profess to place their salvation only in him, and abjure all other confidence. Wherefore they themselves are their own accusers; they bear witness against themselves; they seal their own condemnation. Next being divided and separated by hatred and ill-will from their brethren, that is, from the members of Christ, they have no part in Christ, and yet they declare that the only safety is to communicate with Christ, and be united to him. For this reason Paul commands a man to examine himself before he eats of that bread, and drinks of that cup (l Cor. 11:28). By this, as I understand, he means that each individual should descend into himself, and consider, first, whether, with inward confidence of heart, he leans on the salvation obtained by Christ, and with confession of the mouth, acknowledges it; and, secondly, whether with zeal for purity and holiness he aspires to imitate Christ; whether, after his example, he is prepared to give himself to his brethren, and to hold himself in common with those with whom he has Christ in common; whether, as he himself is regarded by Christ, he in his turn regards all his brethren as members of his body, or, like his members, desires to cherish, defend, and assist them, not that the duties of faith and charity can now be perfected in us, but because it behoves us to contend and seek, with all our heart, daily to increase our faith.

41. In seeking to prepare for eating worthily, men have often dreadfully harassed and tortured miserable consciences, and yet have in no degree attained the end. They have said that those eat worthily who are in a state of grace. Being in a state of grace, they have interpreted to be pure and free from all sin. By this definition, all the men that ever have been, and are upon the earth, were debarred from the use of this sacrament. For if we are to seek our worthiness from ourselves, it is all over with us; only despair and fatal ruin await us. Though we struggle to the utmost, we will not only make no progress, but then be most unworthy after we have laboured most to make ourselves worthy. To cure this ulcer, they have devised a mode of procuring worthiness--viz. after having, as far as we can, made an examination, and taken an account of all our actions, to expiate our unworthiness by contrition, confession, and satisfaction. Of the nature of this expiation we have spoken at the proper place (Book 3 chap. 4 sec. 2, 17, 27). As far as regards our present object, I say that such things give poor and evanescent comfort to alarmed and downcast consciences, struck with terror at their sins. For if the Lord, by his prohibition, admits none to partake of his Supper but the righteous and innocent, every man would require to be cautious before feeling secure of that righteousness of his own which he is told that God requires. But how are we to be assured that those who have done what in them lay have discharged their duty to God? Even were we assured of this, who would venture to assure himself that he had done what in him lay? Thus there being no certain security for our worthiness, access to the Supper would always be excluded by the fearful interdict, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."

42. It is now easy to judge what is the nature, and who is the author, of that doctrine which prevails in the Papacy, and which, by its inhuman austerity, deprives and robs wretched sinners, oppressed with sorrow and trembling, of the consolation of this sacrament, a sacrament in which all that is delightful in the gospel was set before them. Certainly the devil could have no shorter method of destroying men than by thus infatuating them, and so excluding them from the taste and savour of this food with which their most merciful Father in heaven had been pleased to feed them. Therefore, lest we should rush over such a precipice, let us remember that this sacred feast is medicine to the sick, comfort to the sinner, and bounty to the poor; while to the healthy, the righteous, and the rich, if any such could be found, it would be of no value. For while Christ is therein given us for food, we perceive that without him we fail, pine, and waste away, just as hunger destroys the vigour of the body. Next, as he is given for life, we perceive that without him we are certainly dead. Wherefore, the best and only worthiness which we can bring to God, is to offer him our own vileness, and, if I may so speak, unworthiness, that his mercy may make us worthy; to despond in ourselves, that we may be consoled in him; to humble ourselves, that we may be elevated by him; to accuse ourselves, that we may be justified by him; to aspire, moreover, to the unity which he recommends in the Supper; and, as he makes us all one in himself, to desire to have all one soul, one heart, one tongue. If we ponder and meditate on these things, we may be shaken, but will never be overwhelmed by such considerations as these, how shall we, who are devoid of all good, polluted by the defilements of sin, and half dead, worthily eat the body of the Lord? We shall rather consider that we, who are poor, are coming to a benevolent giver, sick to a physician, sinful to the author of righteousness, in fine, dead to him who gives life; that worthiness which is commanded by God, consists especially in faith, which places all things in Christ, nothing in ourselves, and in charity, charity which, though imperfect, it may be sufficient to offer to God, that he may increase it, since it cannot be fully rendered. Some, concurring with us in holding that worthiness consists in faith and charity, have widely erred in regard to the measure of worthiness, demanding a perfection of faith to which nothing can be added, and a charity equivalent to that which Christ manifested towards us. And in this way, just as the other class, they debar all men from access to this sacred feast. For, were their view well founded, every one who receives must receive unworthily, since all, without exception, are guilty, and chargeable with imperfection. And certainly it were too stupid, not to say idiotical, to require to the receiving of the sacrament a perfection which would render the sacrament vain and superfluous, because it was not instituted for the perfect, but for the infirm and weak, to stir up, excite, stimulate, exercise the feeling of faith and charity, and at the same time correct the deficiency of both.

43. In regard to the external form of the ordinance, whether or not believers are to take into their hands and divide among themselves, or each is to eat what is given to him: whether they are to return the cup to the deacon or hand it to their neighbour; whether the bread is to be leavened or unleavened, and the wine to be red or white, is of no consequence. These things are indifferent, and left free to the Church, though it is certain that it was the custom of the ancient Church for all to receive into their hand. And Christ said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves" (Luke 22:17). History relates that leavened and ordinary bread was used before the time of Alexander the Bishop of Rome, who was the first that was delighted with unleavened bread: for what reason I see not, unless it was to draw the wondering eyes of the populace by the novelty of the spectacle, more than to train them in sound religion. I appeal to all who have the least zeal for piety, whether they do not evidently perceive both how much more brightly the glory of God is here displayed, and how much more abundant spiritual consolation is felt by believers than in these rigid and histrionic follies, which have no other use than to impose on the gazing populace. They call it restraining the people by religion, when, stupid and infatuated, they are drawn hither and thither by superstition. Should any one choose to defend such inventions by antiquity, I am not unaware how ancient is the use of chrism and exorcism in baptism, and how, not long after the age of the apostles, the Supper was tainted with adulteration; such, indeed, is the forwardness of human confidence, which cannot restrain itself, but is always sporting and wantoning in the mysteries of God. But let us remember that God sets so much value on obedience to his word, that, by it, he would have us to judge his angels and the whole world. All this mass of ceremonies being abandoned, the sacrament might be celebrated in the most becoming manner, if it were dispensed to the Church very frequently, at least once a-week. The commencement should be with public prayer; next, a sermon should be delivered: then the minister, having placed bread and wine on the table, should read the institution of the Supper. He should next explain the promises which are therein given; and, at the same time, keep back from communion all those who are debarred by the prohibition of the Lord. He should afterwards pray that the Lord, with the kindness with which he has bestowed this sacred food upon us, would also form and instruct us to receive it with faith and gratitude; and, as we are of ourselves unworthy, would make us worthy of the feast by his mercy. Here, either a psalm should be sung, or something read, while the faithful, in order, communicate at the sacred feast, the minister breaking the bread, and giving it to the people. The Supper being ended, an exhortation should be given to sincere faith, and confession of faith, to charity, and lives becoming Christians. Lastly, thanks should be offered, and the praises of God should be sung. This being done, the Church should be dismissed in peace.

44. What we have hitherto said of the sacrament, abundantly shows that it was not instituted to be received once a-year and that perfunctorily (as is now commonly the custom); but that all Christians might have it in frequent use, and frequently call to mind the sufferings of Christ, thereby sustaining and confirming their faith: stirring themselves up to sing the praises of God, and proclaim his goodness; cherishing and testifying towards each other that mutual charity, the bond of which they see in the unity of the body of Christ. As often as we communicate in the symbol of our Saviour's body, as if a pledge were given and received, we mutually bind ourselves to all the offices of love, that none of us may do anything to offend his brother, or omit anything by which he can assist him when necessity demands, and opportunity occurs. That such was the practice of the Apostolic Church, we are informed by Luke in the Acts, when he says, that "they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). Thus we ought always to provide that no meeting of the Church is held without the word, prayer, the dispensation of the Supper, and alms. We may gather from Paul that this was the order observed by the Corinthians, and it is certain that this was the practice many ages after. Hence, by the ancient canons, which are attributed to Anacletus and Calixtus, after the consecration was made, all were to communicate who did not wish to be without the pale of the Church. And in those ancient canons, which bear the name of Apostolical, it is said that those who continue not to the end, and partake not of the sacred communion, are to be corrected, as causing disquiet to the Church. In the Council of Antioch it was decreed, that those who enter the Church, hear the Scriptures, and abstain from communion, are to be removed from the Church until they amend their fault. And although, in the first Council of Tholouse, this was mitigated, or at least stated in milder terms, yet there also it was decreed, that those who after hearing the sermon, never communicated, were to be admonished, and if they still abstained after admonition, were to be excluded.

45. By these enactments, holy men wished to retain and ensure the use of frequent communion, as handed down by the apostles themselves; and which, while it was most salutary to believers, they saw gradually falling into desuetude by the negligence of the people. Of his own age, Augustine testifies: "The sacrament of the unity of our Lord's body is, in some places, provided daily, and in others at certain intervals, at the Lord's table; and at that table some partake to life, and others to destruction" (August. Tract. 26, in Joann. 6). And in the first Epistle to Januarius he says: "Some communicate daily in the body and blood of the Lord; others receive it on certain days: in some places, not a day intervenes on which it is not offered: in others, it is offered only on the Sabbath and the Lord's day: in others, on the Lord's day only." But since, as we have said, the people were sometimes remiss, holy men urged them with severe rebukes, that they might not seem to connive at their sluggishness. Of this we have an example in Chrysostom, on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Hom. 26). "It was not said to him who dishonoured the feast, Why have you not taken your seat? But how camest thou in?' (Mt. 22:12). Whoever partakes not of the sacred rites is wicked and impudent in being present: should any one who was invited to a feast come in, wash his hands, take his seat, and seem to prepare to eat, and thereafter taste nothing, would he not, I ask, insult both the feast and the entertainer? So you, standing among those who prepare themselves by prayer to take the sacred food, profess to be one of the number by the mere fact of your not going away, and yet you do not partake,--would it not have been better not to have made your appearance? I am unworthy, you say. Then neither were you worthy of the communion of prayer, which is the preparation for taking the sacred mystery."

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

  • 4 OT History Transmission
  • 5 Gen 1:1 1:2
  • 6 Image of God

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     3/1/2014    “Give Me Scotland, or I Die”

     Perhaps more than anything else, John Knox is known for his prayer “Give me Scotland, or I die.” Knox’s prayer was not an arrogant demand, but the passionate plea of a man willing to die for the sake of the pure preaching of the gospel and the salvation of his countrymen. Knox’s greatness lay in his humble dependence on our sovereign God to save His people, revive a nation, and reform His church. As is evident from his preaching and prayer, Knox believed neither in the power of his preaching nor in the power of his prayer, but in the power of the gospel and the power of God, who sovereignly ordains preaching and prayer as secondary means in the salvation of His people.

     Although Knox had been imprisoned and enslaved, and though he was often infirm and under threat of persecution, he consistently lived out his theology, believing that “one man with God is always in the majority.” As such, the prayers of one man heard at the throne of God were a threat to the throne of Scotland. During the time of the sixteenth-century Scottish Reformation, Knox’s ministry of preaching and prayer were so well known that the Roman Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, is reputed to have said, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.”

     Above all, Knox was a committed pastor and churchman whose ministry served as a compass to numerous pastors throughout Scotland. Knox’s unwavering commitment to the pure preaching of the gospel was a bright and shining light amid the darkness in a nation steeped in doctrinal and ecclesiastical compromise. He reinvigorated God’s shepherds throughout the nation; this, in turn, reformed the church and, thus, in God’s providence, revived the country. Most notably, what inspired the pastors perhaps more than any other characteristic in Knox was that he did not fear men, because he feared God—he was a man willing to offend men, because he was unwilling to offend God.

     John Knox preached and prayed to the end that God would rescue Scotland precisely because he was clinging to Jesus’ promise and prayer to save His people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. It should be no surprise to us then that when Knox was near death, he asked his wife to read to him the High Priestly Prayer in John 17 that our Lord Jesus prayed the night before He went to the cross. Knox called this passage “my first anchor.” For indeed, Christ is the captain of our souls and Christ’s prayer is the anchor and only hope of the nations. Therefore, in light of so great an example of God’s power working through one man, let each one of us pray with the same passion for our nation—and all nations—as Knox prayed for Scotland.

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     Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

For Tom | 7/14/2016
     Genesis & Revelation

     Tom, despite some people saying the world is getting better, the evening news has gotten to the point your Mom and I often skip it. I use to wonder why we have thirty-nine weather reports in twenty minutes, especially since Portland doesn’t really have weather. Maybe it is to give the viewer a break from all the heart break.

     I suspect our world's ever growing crisis in compassion and mercy has caused you to dive into the prophetic books of the Bible, particularly Revelation.

     Reading the Bible for yourself is always a good thing, but 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” In other words, you can’t read the Bible like you would any other book, but the Holy Spirit will help us understand what we need to know if we ask the Lord to help us. Asking God to help us is a big deal with faith and theological implications.

     The Bible is self-authenticating, which means despite its many authors, writing for different audiences, at different times and with different agendas, (yeah, learned that in seminary) the message of reconciliation, redemption and salvation is consistent. God does not contradict God.

Psalm 89:35 Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David.

Proverbs 14:5 A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.

Titus 1:2 … in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

     God does not change, grow, or develop into something else. Certainly our attitude and understanding change, but the Bible does not. New age prophets talk about listening to the living voice. We do well to look back to the apostolic voice which the Holy Spirit will make alive to us … if we ask in humbleness and sincerity.

     So with regards to Revelation I think Revelation should be read with Genesis. Why? As I said, the Bible is self-authenticating. It is best understood as a whole, not a fragment. It can and does interpret itself and these two book ends are a great example of why the Bible is one story, with a beginning and an ending. Consider the following:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth

     Toward the end of Revelation:

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

     Genesis begins with the garden and paradise

2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Revelation ends with the paradise of heaven

21:4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.

     Genesis begins with the theme of marriage

2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.

     Revelation ends with the great wedding of the Lamb

21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

     Genesis begins with a focus on the serpent’s deception

3:1ff. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

     Revelation ends with the serpent’s destruction

20:10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

     Genesis begins with the curse being put upon the world

3:14ff. The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

     Revelation ends with the curse being lifted

22:3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him;

     Genesis begins by describing the creation of day, night, and the oceans

1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas.

1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,

     Revelation ends with no more need for day (sun), or night, or oceans

21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

22:5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

     Genesis begins with the “tree of life” among the people of God

2:9 Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

     Revelation ends with the “tree of life” among the people of God

22:2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

     Genesis begins with God dwelling with his people

2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

3:8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

     Revelation ends with God finally dwelling with his people again

21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;

     As we’ve discussed on the phone, I believe the Bible makes it perfectly clear the number one priority with God is relationship … and that is why Paul can say in Romans 1:20 that we are all without excuse. The person who has never heard a missionary or seen the Bible understands relationship.

Matthew 22:37 He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”


Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox 1/2009 to 7/2018.

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The 38th President was born this day, July 14, 1913. His given name was Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but he his stepfather renamed him. The only Eagle Scout to become President, he attended the University of Michigan on a football scholarship, graduated from Yale Law School, served in the Navy during World War II. He was House Minority Leader and when Richard Nixon resigned, he became the only person become President without being elected. His name, Gerald Rudolph Ford, who said: “I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

     Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence
of a Christian mother in the molding
of character in her children.
--- Billy Graham

Intolerance lies at the core of evil.
Not the intolerance that results
from any threat or danger.
But intolerance of another being who dares to exist.
Intolerance without cause. It is so deep within us,
because every human being secretly desires
the entire universe to himself.
Our only way out is to learn
compassion without cause. To care for each other
simply because that ‘other’ exists.
--- Rabbi Menachem Mendle

This glorious hope revives our courage for the way,
When each in expectation lives and longs to see the day
When from sorrow, toil, pain and sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and joy shall reign throughout all eternity.
--- John Fawcett

... from here, there and everywhere

The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
     CHAPTER 17 / The Torah, the Heart,
     and Education

     “And You Shall Bind Them for a Sign upon Your Hand and They Shall Be as Frontlets Between Your Eyes”

     The first paragraph of the Shema concludes with two “practical” or ritual mitzvot, those of tefillin and mezuzah. The above verse refers to the first of these mitzvot, the tefillin of hand and head.

     Contained in the cubic boxes of the tefillin are four biblical passages in which the mitzvah of tefillin is mentioned. The tefillin were originally meant to be worn all day as “signs” that we dedicate heart and hand, principle and practice, to the Creator. However, because the Halakha requires exemplary purity of mind and body during the time one wears the tefillin, a practice that proved exceedingly difficult for the average Jew, the mitzvah was eventually restricted to the time of the daily Morning service (since tefillin are not to be worn at night), especially during the recitation of the Shema and the Amidah, particularly the former.

     The laws relating to tefillin are far too numerous and too detailed to be elaborated here. Nor does the scope of this volume allow for a discussion of the considerable literature concerning the larger meaning of this mitzvah. Let it suffice to cite the eloquent if hortatory passage from the nineteenth-century rabbi and thinker, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch:

     The mind which you dedicate to God through the tefillin cannot become the abode of lies, deceit, cunning, and malice. The heart which you sanctify to God through the tefillin cannot shrivel into self-seeking or become debased with pleasure-seeking. It must open up to an all-embracing love and dedicate itself in purity to the temple of the All-holy. And, finally, the hand which you have sanctified through the tefillin as an instrument for serving God in your actions—can you stretch it out in treachery to the happiness and peace of a brother? (33)

(33)     Horeb, trans. Dayan I. Grunfled (London: 1962), vol. I, p. 179.

     In this passage, Hirsch emphasizes the “all-embracing love” of God. The tefillin are a “sign” of that love; they are at one and the same time a reflection of our love for God and a reminder to nourish that love ever more. Hand and head, body and soul, are both dedicated to the love of the One Creator.

     This element of love is further emphasized by a distinguished grandson of Rabbi Hirsch. Rabbi Isaac Breuer writes that the tefillin renew daily the “covenant of love” between God and Israel. Indeed, the verse that is recited from the prophet
Hosea (2:21–22) as the leather strap of the hand-tefillin is wrapped about the fingers gives elegant expression to that love:

     And I will betroth you unto Me forever; and I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness and in judgment and in loving-kindness and in mercy; and I will betroth you unto Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.

     It is this “betrothal,” this “covenant of love” dedicated to the noblest values and highest ideals known to humankind, that finds expression in the tefillin that we bind to our limb of action and organ of contemplation. (34)

(34)     Naḥaliel (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1982), p. 125.

  The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 9.

     The Death Of Salome. The Cities Which Herod And Philip Built. Pilate Occasions Disturbances. Tiberius Puts Agrippa Into Bonds But Caius Frees Him From Them, And Makes Him King. Herod Antipas Is Banished.

     1. And now as the ethnarchy of Archelaus was fallen into a Roman province, the other sons of Herod, Philip, and that Herod who was called Antipas, each of them took upon them the administration of their own tetrarchies; for when Salome died, she bequeathed to Julia, the wife of Augustus, both her toparchy, and Jamriga, as also her plantation of palm trees that were in Phasaelis. But when the Roman empire was translated to Tiberius, the son of Julia, upon the death of Augustus, who had reigned fifty-seven years, six months, and two days, both Herod and Philip continued in their tetrarchies; and the latter of them built the city Cesarea, at the fountains of Jordan, and in the region of Paneas; as also the city Julias, in the lower Gaulonitis. Herod also built the city Tiberius in Galilee, and in Perea [beyond Jordan] another that was also called Julias.1. And now as the ethnarchy of Archelaus was fallen into a Roman province, the other sons of Herod, Philip, and that Herod who was called Antipas, each of them took upon them the administration of their own tetrarchies; for when Salome died, she bequeathed to Julia, the wife of Augustus, both her toparchy, and Jamriga, as also her plantation of palm trees that were in Phasaelis. But when the Roman empire was translated to Tiberius, the son of Julia, upon the death of Augustus, who had reigned fifty-seven years, six months, and two days, both Herod and Philip continued in their tetrarchies; and the latter of them built the city Cesarea, at the fountains of Jordan, and in the region of Paneas; as also the city Julias, in the lower Gaulonitis. Herod also built the city Tiberius in Galilee, and in Perea [beyond Jordan] another that was also called Julias.

     2. Now Pilate, who was sent as procurator into Judea by Tiberius, sent by night those images of Caesar that are called ensigns into Jerusalem. This excited a very among great tumult among the Jews when it was day; for those that were near them were astonished at the sight of them, as indications that their laws were trodden under foot; for those laws do not permit any sort of image to be brought into the city. Nay, besides the indignation which the citizens had themselves at this procedure, a vast number of people came running out of the country. These came zealously to Pilate to Cesarea, and besought him to carry those ensigns out of Jerusalem, and to preserve them their ancient laws inviolable; but upon Pilate's denial of their request, they fell 9 down prostrate upon the ground, and continued immovable in that posture for five days and as many nights.

     3. On the next day Pilate sat upon his tribunal, in the open market-place, and called to him the multitude, as desirous to give them an answer; and then gave a signal to the soldiers, that they should all by agreement at once encompass the Jews with their weapons; so the band of soldiers stood round about the Jews in three ranks. The Jews were under the utmost consternation at that unexpected sight. Pilate also said to them that they should be cut in pieces, unless they would admit of Caesar's images, and gave intimation to the soldiers to draw their naked swords. Hereupon the Jews, as it were at one signal, fell down in vast numbers together, and exposed their necks bare, and cried out that they were sooner ready to be slain, than that their law should be transgressed. Hereupon Pilate was greatly surprised at their prodigious superstition, and gave order that the ensigns should be presently carried out of Jerusalem.

     4. After this he raised another disturbance, by expending that sacred treasure which is called Corban 10 upon aqueducts, whereby he brought water from the distance of four hundred furlongs. At this the multitude had indignation; and when Pilate was come to Jerusalem, they came about his tribunal, and made a clamor at it. Now when he was apprized aforehand of this disturbance, he mixed his own soldiers in their armor with the multitude, and ordered them to conceal themselves under the habits of private men, and not indeed to use their swords, but with their staves to beat those that made the clamor. He then gave the signal from his tribunal [to do as he had bidden them]. Now the Jews were so sadly beaten, that many of them perished by the stripes they received, and many of them perished as trodden to death by themselves; by which means the multitude was astonished at the calamity of those that were slain, and held their peace.

     5. In the mean time Agrippa, the son of that Aristobulus who had been slain by his father Herod, came to Tiberius, to accuse Herod the tetrarch; who not admitting of his accusation, he staid at Rome, and cultivated a friendship with others of the men of note, but principally with Caius the son of Germanicus, who was then but a private person. Now this Agrippa, at a certain time, feasted Caius; and as he was very complaisant to him on several other accounts, he at length stretched out his hands, and openly wished that Tiberius might die, and that he might quickly see him emperor of the world. This was told to Tiberius by one of Agrippa's domestics, who thereupon was very angry, and ordered Agrippa to be bound, and had him very ill-treated in the prison for six months, until Tiberius died, after he had reigned twenty-two years, six months, and three days.

     6. But when Caius was made Caesar, he released Agrippa from his bonds, and made him king of Philip's tetrarchy, who was now dead; but when Agrippa had arrived at that degree of dignity, he inflamed the ambitious desires of Herod the tetrarch, who was chiefly induced to hope for the royal authority by his wife Herodias, who reproached him for his sloth, and told him that it was only because he would not sail to Caesar that he was destitute of that great dignity; for since Caesar had made Agrippa a king, from a private person, much mole would he advance him from a tetrarch to that dignity. These arguments prevailed with Herod, so that he came to Caius, by whom he was punished for his ambition, by being banished into Spain; for Agrippa followed him, in order to accuse him; to whom also Caius gave his tetrarchy, by way of addition. So Herod died in Spain, whither his wife had followed him.

          The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 21:7-8
     by D.H. Stern

7     The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to act justly.

8     A criminal’s conduct is crooked,
but the work of the pure is right.

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

                The account with persecution

     But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. --- Matthew 5:39, etc.

     These verses reveal the humiliation of being a Christian. Naturally, if a man does not hit back, it is because he is a coward; but spiritually if a man does not hit back, it is a manifestation of the Son of God in him. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but make it an occasion to exhibit the Son of God. You cannot imitate the disposition of Jesus; it is either there or it is not. To the saint personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

     The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not—Do your duty, but—Do what is not your duty. It is not your duty to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek, but Jesus says if we are His disciples, we shall always do these things. There will be no spirit of—‘Oh well, I cannot do any more, I have been so misrepresented and misunderstood.’ Every time I insist upon my rights, I hurt the Son of God; whereas I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I take the blow myself. That is the meaning of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. The disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honour that is at stake in his life, not his own honour.

     Never look for right in the other man, but never cease to be right yourself. We are always looking for justice; the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is—Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Poetry of RS Thomas
     The Mill

                The Mill

I am going back now
  Twenty years at least:
  Hardly his wife's place
  In bed was cold, than
  Grew stern as he talked
  Of the old exploits
  With the plough and scythe.
  I read him the Psalms,
  Said prayers and was still.
  In the long silence
  I heard in the drawers
  The mice that rustled;
  In the shallow grate
  The small fire's petals
  Withered and fell.

Nine years in that bed
  From season to season
  The great frame rotted.
  While the past's slow stream,
  Flowing through his head,
  Kept the rusty mill
  Of the mind turning--
  It was I it ground.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Malachi 1:1–5
     Doubting God’s Love
     W. W. Wiersbe

     Like Nahum (1:1) and Habakkuk (1:1), Malachi called his message a “burden.” The prophets were men who personally felt “the burden of the Lord” as God gave them insight into the hearts of the people and the problems of society. It wasn’t easy for Malachi to strip the veneer off the piety of the priests and expose their hypocrisy, or to repeat to the people the complaints they were secretly voicing against the Lord, but that’s what God called him to do. “The task of a prophet,” writes Eugene Peterson, “is not to smooth things over but to make things right.” (Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best )

     The first sin Malachi named was the people’s lack of love for God. That was the first sin Jesus mentioned when He wrote to the seven churches of Asia Minor (
Rev. 2:4), and perhaps it’s listed first because lack of love for God is the source of all other sin. For centuries, the Jews have recited “The Shema” (The word shema is Hebrew for “hear,” the first word in the prayer.) as their daily prayer: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4–5, NKJV). But the people Malachi preached to doubted that God even loved them, so why should they love Him?

     The prophet presented several evidences of God’s love for Israel, the first of which is God’s clear statement of His love (
Mal. 1:2a). Malachi was probably referring to what the Lord said through Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy, particularly 7:6–11. When God gave the Law at Sinai, the emphasis was, “Obey My Law because I am a holy God.” But when Moses reviewed the Law for the new generation, the emphasis was, “Obey the Lord because He loves you and you love Him.” Both motives are valid today.

     The second evidence of God’s love that Malachi presented was God’s electing grace (
Mal. 2b–3). As the firstborn in the family, Esau should have inherited both the blessing and the birthright, but the Lord gave them to his younger brother Jacob (Gen. 25:21–23). (In His sovereign grace, God often rearranged the birth order of children. Abel was older than Seth, but God chose Seth (Gen. 4:25–26). Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn son, but God bypassed him for Isaac (17:15–22). Manasseh was Joseph’s firstborn, but God gave the blessing to Ephraim (48:13–22). This may be a reminder to us that in our first birth we are undone and without blessing, but because of the new birth, the second birth, we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings” in Christ (Eph. 1:3).) The descendants of Esau had their land assigned to them, but God gave the Edomites no covenants of blessing as He did to Jacob’s descendants.

     The statement that God loved Jacob but hated Esau has troubled some people. Paul quoted it in
Romans 9:10–13 to prove God’s electing grace for both Israel and all who trust Jesus Christ for salvation. But the verb “hate” must not be defined as a positive expression of the wrath of God. God’s love for Jacob was so great that, in comparison, His actions toward Esau looked like hatred. As an illustration, Jacob loved Rachel so much that his relationship to Leah seemed like hatred (Gen. 29:20, 30–31; see also Deut. 21:15–17). When Jesus called His disciples to “hate” their own family (Luke 14:26), He was using the word “hate” in a similar way. Our love for Christ may occasionally move us to do things that appear like hatred to those whom we love (see Matt. 12:46–50).

     Someone said to Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein, the gifted Hebrew Christian leader of a generation ago, “I have a serious problem with
Malachi 1:3, where God says, ‘Esau I have hated.’ ” Dr. Gaebelein replied, “I have a greater problem with Malachi 1:2, where God says, ‘Jacob, I have loved.’ ” We certainly can’t explain the love and grace of God, nor do we have to, but we can experience God’s grace and love as trust Christ and walk with Him. The Lord is even willing to be “the God of Jacob.”

     Malachi’s third evidence for God’s love is God’s evident blessing on the people of Israel (
v. 4). Like other nations in that area, Edom suffered during the Babylonian invasion of Israel, but the Lord didn’t promise to restore their land as He promised the Jews. The proud Edomites boasted that they would quickly have their land in good shape, but God had other plans. He called Edom “The Wicked Land” (v. 4, NIV), but Israel He called “the holy land” (Zech. 2:12).
Zechariah 2:12 is the only place in Scripture where Palestine is called “the holy land.” Malachi 3:12 calls it “a delightful land” (NIV); and it is also called a “beautiful land”
Dan. 11:41, NIV; “glorious”), “the Lord’s land” (Hosea 9:3), and “the pleasant land” (Zech. 7:14).) Keep in mind that the Edomites were indeed an evil people (see Obad. 8–14) who deserved every judgment God sent their way. To the Jews, the Babylonian invasion was a chastening, but to Edom, it was a judgment.

     Think of how God showed His love to the Jewish people. First, He spared the Jews who were in exile in Babylon (see
Jer. 29). Then, He moved Cyrus to issue the decree that enabled the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the temple. He provided the leadership of Joshua the high priest, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and Ezra, as well as the prophetic ministry of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Had His people obeyed the terms of the covenant, the Lord would have blessed them even more. Yes, they were a weak remnant, but the Lord was with them and promised to bless them.

     Note that the name God uses in Malachi 1:4 is “Lord of hosts” (“Lord Almighty” in the NIV), that is, “the Lord of the armies,” a name used 24 times in Malachi and nearly 300 times in the Old Testament. This is the “military” name of God, for “hosts” comes from a Hebrew word which means “to wage war.” The Lord is the Commander of the hosts and heaven: the stars (
Isa. 40:26; Gen. 2:1), the angels
(Ps. 103:20–21), the armies of Israel (Ex. 12:41), and all who trust in Him (Ps. 46:7, 11).

     Finally, Malachi reminded the Jews of the great privilege God gave them to witness to the Gentiles (
Mal. 1:5). During the reigns of David and Solomon, God manifested His glory through the nation of Israel so that the Gentiles came from distant lands to see what was happening in Israel. To a lesser degree, this also happened during the times of Josiah and Hezekiah. But the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple gave the Gentiles opportunity to ridicule Israel and laugh at their religion and their God (Pss. 74; 137; Jer. 18:13–17; Lam. 2:15–16).

     When God brought His remnant back to the land, He wanted to bless them and once again manifest His glory through them, but they failed to trust Him and obey His law. Though they had been chastened by God and ruined by Babylon, and though they had lost the esteem of the Gentile nations around them, the Jews could have made a new beginning and witnessed to the Gentiles of the grace and mercy of God. Instead, they lapsed into the sins that Malachi attacks in his book, and they gave but a weak witness to the other nations. They missed their opportunity to glorify God.

     But we need to remind ourselves that the trials we experience as individuals or congregations are also opportunities to glorify God before a watching world. That’s how Paul viewed his imprisonment and possible death in Rome (Phil. 1:12–26), and that’s the way we must look at the testings God sends our way. Every difficulty is an opportunity to demonstrate to others what the Lord can do for those who put their trust in Him.

Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship (The BE Series Commentary)

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Genesis 32:4–6

     Two fighting birds can’t rest on one perch.

     BIBLE TEXT / Genesis 32:4–6 / Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, and instructed them as follows, “Thus shall you say, ‘To my lord Esau, thus says your servant Jacob: I stayed with Laban and remained until now; I have acquired cattle, asses, sheep, and male and female slaves; and I send this message to my lord in the hope of gaining your favor.’

     MIDRASH TEXT / Genesis Rabbah 75, 4 / Messengers. These were human beings. But the Rabbis say: Actual angels. Rabbi Ḥama bar Ḥanina said, “Hagar was the handmaid of Sarai, yet five angels appeared to her. The one who was the beloved of his house, how much more so! And Eliezer who was the household servant; angels appeared to him. The one who was the beloved of his house, how much more so!” Rabbi Yosé said, “Joseph was the smallest of the tribes yet three angels appeared to him, as it is written ‘a man came upon him’ (Genesis 37:15), ‘the man asked him’ (ibid.), ‘the man said’ (Genesis 37:17). Then the one who is father of them all, how much more so!”

     Ahead. To the one who would have sovereignty ahead of him. Rabbi Yehoshua said, “He sent his purple coat and threw it before him, saying to him, ‘Two fighting birds can’t rest on one perch.’

     CONTEXT / The Hebrew word מַלְאָךְ/malakh can mean both “angel” and “messenger,” perhaps because an angel was simply a messenger from God. Thus, we are often unsure as to how to translate the words מַלְאָכִים/מַלְאָךְ/malakh/malakhim: “angel/angels” or “messenger/ messengers.” (The same question was raised in the story of Lot and the malakhim in Genesis 19:1.) When the biblical text says that Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau, we assume, from a contextual reading, that these malakhim were simply human messengers or emissaries, carrying gifts to appease his brother Esau. This is the opinion of the anonymous first source in this Midrash: Messengers. These were human beings. However, the Rabbis, that collective voice of the scholars of the time, say that we should understand malakhim not as messengers but as angels: But the Rabbis say: Actual angels.

     The Rabbis likely had two reasons for reading the text this way. First, in the verses preceding Jacob’s sending gifts to Esau, Jacob has just had an experience with malakhei Elohim, which is usually understood as “angels [and not human messengers] of God.”

     Early in the Morning, Laban kissed his sons and daughters and bade them good-by; then Laban left on his journey homeward. Jacob went on his way, and angels of God [malakhei Elohim] encountered him. When he saw them, Jacob said, “This is God’s camp.” So he named the place Mahanaim. (
Genesis 32:1–3)

     If these were angels of God and not human messengers, then it is logical to assume that the next reference to malakhim, only two verses later, also means angels and not mere human messengers.

     Second, the Rabbis were making a statement about their ancestor Jacob. They saw Jacob as a powerful man, comfortable with God and able to use a relationship with God to his own benefit. Jacob did not simply send any agent to Esau: Jacob sent angels to greet his brother. Rather than being the powerless one in the story, Jacob is strong, for he has the power to summon God’s angels.

     Furthermore, the Rabbis assert, if angels of God appeared to other, less deserving biblical figures in Genesis, surely they would appear to Jacob as well! Hagar was the handmaid of Sarai, yet five angels appeared to her. The one who was the beloved of his house, how much more so! Five angels of God spoke to Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah. And Eliezer who was the household servant of Abraham; angels appeared to him. And three angels appeared to Joseph—at least according to the Rabbinic interpretation of “man” in the account of Joseph looking for his brothers (Genesis 37), based on the mysterious “man” mentioned in the story. When Jacob sent Joseph to see how his sons were faring with their flocks, Joseph got lost. On the way, a man came upon him … the man asked him … and the man said something to Joseph. The Rabbis assume that Joseph didn’t just bump into a man on the way. Rather, the “man” was an angel from God to direct Joseph to his brothers. It is easy to see how—according to the Rabbis—Hagar the handmaid and Eliezer the servant are less deserving than Jacob the patriarch. But how is Joseph less deserving? Either they are referring to the fact that, in later biblical times, Joseph was the smallest of the tribes, or that he was among the last to be born to Jacob.

     Ahead. To the one who would have sovereignty ahead of him. Some midrashim are as much a comment on the events of the times of the Rabbis as they are on the biblical text itself. This would appear to be the case in this Midrash. In the period after the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans ruled over the land of Israel. The Talmud of the land of Israel and the Midrash could not speak openly about the political impotence of the Jews. Instead, they resorted to subtle references; “Edom” or “Esau,” two names for the wicked brother of Jacob, would be understood by the listener as “Rome.” “Esau” rules temporarily but is doomed to fall under the ultimate control of Israel in the future, perhaps as a prelude to or as the beginning of the messianic era. Thus, they intuit that Jacob sent not only the listed items as a gift. “He [Jacob] sent his purple coat [in antiquity, purple was the color of the emperor or king] and threw it before him [Esau], saying to him, ‘Two fighting birds can’t rest on one perch.’ ” By sending his royal coat to Esau, Jacob was saying to his brother: “I admit that you rule over me … for now.” The maxim about the two birds means “Two kings cannot rule at once,” similar to the talmudic adage “Is it possible for two kings to share one crown?” (Ḥullin 60b). However, the Rabbis felt that Jacob (the Jews) would ultimately rule. Jacob may have sent the coat as a sign of submission, but he threw it to the ground, not willing to admit Esau’s permanent rule. In the future, the Rabbis reason, Jacob will rule over Esau (Rome). God will bring the day when the other flock of birds will come home to roost. Israel will be triumphant and Rome humbled.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     July 14

     Yet he saved them for his name’s sake.
--- Psalm 106:8.

     By way of exhortation to believers, O admire his goodness, admire his name. (Ralph Erskine, “God’s Great Name, the Ground and Reason of Saving Great Sinners,” preached at Carnock, July 18, 1730, before the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, downloaded from Fire and Ice, Puritan and Reformed Writings, at www.puritanRS Thomas.com, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.)He knows all your sins against him and against his name, yet he shows mercy. Let sin against so good a God be abhorred; let his goodness lead you to repentance more and more. Praise him for his mercy, truth, faithfulness. Credit all mercy you meet with to his name, and do your best to meet reasons for God’s name to be more and more glorified, on his using his name for your help. For though sinners have a ground of hope that he may do for his name’s sake, yet saints have a ground of hope that he will do for his name’s sake. His name is pledged.

     He has a name suiting every need. Do you need wonders to be wrought for you? His name is Wonderful; look to him so to do, for his name’s sake. Do you need counsel and direction? His name is the Counselor. Do you have mighty enemies to debate? His name is the mighty God; ask him to exert his power for his name’s sake. Do you need his fatherly pity? His name is the everlasting Father. Plead his pity, for his name’s sake. Do you need peace external, internal, or eternal? His name is the Prince of Peace; seek, for his name’s sake, that he may create peace. Do you need healing? His name is Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord the healer and physician. Do you need pardon? His name is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness. Do you need defense and protection? His name is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord your banner. Seek, for his name’s sake, that his banner of love and grace may be spread over you. Do you need provision in extreme want? His name is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide. Do you need his presence? His name is Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is there; Immanuel, God with us. Do you need audience of prayer? His name is the Hearer of prayer. Do you need strength? His name is the Strength of Israel. Do you need comfort? His name is the Consolation of Israel. Do you need shelter? His name is the City of Refuge. Have you nothing and need all? His name is All in All. He has a name suitable for your supply; he has wisdom to guide you and power to keep you, mercy to pity you, truth to shield you, holiness to sanctify you, righteousness to justify you, grace to adorn you, and glory to crown you. Trust in his name, who saves for his name’s sake.
--- Ralph Erskine

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

On This Day
     The Gambler  July 14

     Gambling can take a man’s shirt off his back, but Christ can clothe him with hope. Camillus de Lellis learned both lessons. He was an Italian, born in 1550 to a mother nearly 60. By 17 he stood six-and-a-half feet, big-boned, well-muscled, quick-tempered, and unchaste. He enlisted in the army, was sent to war, but on the battlefield contracted a leg disease that afflicted him the rest of his life.

     The hospital for incurables in Rome, San Giacomo, admitted him, but he was soon ejected for quarreling. That wasn’t his worst fault. Camillus relished betting, and by 1574 his addiction had taken his last penny. That autumn in the streets of Naples he gambled with his last possession, the shirt on his back. Losing the wager, he stripped it off and limped away both broke and broken.

     Camillus secured a construction job, and one day a friar came along preaching. The message hit home, and Camillus fell to his knees, crying to God for mercy. He was 25 when he became a Christian. He returned to San Giacomo and offered himself as a volunteer. He ministered intently to the suffering, and in time he was promoted, then promoted again. He eventually became hospital superintendent.

     With a friend’s endowment, he organized a small army of male nurses to serve the sick in Christ’s name. He also mobilized volunteers to travel with troops in Hungary and Croatia, thus forming the first “military field ambulance.” He sent nurses aboard galley ships to attend slaves suffering from pestilence. In all, Camillus organized eight hospitals, pioneered medical hygiene and diet, and successfully opposed the prevailing practice of burying patients alive.

     All the while, Camillus’s leg was worsening, and he began suffering ruptures elsewhere on his body. Sometimes on his rounds, he crawled from sickbed to sickbed. On July 14, 1614, after a final tour of his works, Camillus de Lellis died at age 64. He was canonized in 1746 and declared patron saint of the sick by Pope Leo XIII, and of nurses and nursing by Pope Pius XI. In Catholic tradition he is remembered every year on this day.

     If you don’t confess your sins, you will be a failure. But God will be merciful If you confess your sins and give them up. The LORD blesses everyone who is afraid to do evil, But if you are cruel, you will end up in trouble.
--- Proverbs 28:13,14.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - July 14

     “If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” --- Exodus 20:25.

     God’s altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labour might be seen upon it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the Gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another Gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions. The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonour it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured. There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in His dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with thy tools, and fall upon thy knees in humble supplication; and accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of thine atonement, and rest in him alone.

     Many professors may take warning from this Morning’s text as to the doctrines which they believe. There is among Christians far too much inclination to square and reconcile the truths of revelation; this is a form of irreverence and unbelief, let us strive against it, and receive truth as we find it; rejoicing that the doctrines of the Word are unhewn stones, and so are all the more fit to build an altar for the Lord.

          Evening - July 14

     "As it began to dawn, came Magdalene, to see the sepulchre." --- Matthew 28:1.

     Let us learn from Mary Magdalene how to obtain fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Notice how she sought. She sought the Saviour very early in the Morning. If thou canst wait for Christ, and be patient in the hope of having fellowship with him at some distant season, thou wilt never have fellowship at all; for the heart that is fitted for communion is a hungering and a thirsting heart. She sought him also with very great boldness. Other disciples fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed; but Mary, it is said, “stood” at the sepulchre. If you would have Christ with you, seek him boldly. Let nothing hold you back. Defy the world. Press on where others flee. She sought Christ faithfully—she stood at the sepulchre. Some find it hard to stand by a living Saviour, but she stood by a dead one. Let us seek Christ after this mode, cleaving to the very least thing that has to do with him, remaining faithful though all others should forsake him. Note further, she sought Jesus earnestly—she stood “weeping”. Those tear-droppings were as spells that led the Saviour captive, and made him come forth and show himself to her. If you desire Jesus’ presence, weep after it! If you cannot be happy unless he come and say to you, “Thou art my beloved,” you will soon hear his voice. Lastly, she sought the Saviour only. What cared she for angels, she turned herself back from them; her search was only for her Lord. If Christ be your one and only love, if your heart has cast out all rivals, you will not long lack the comfort of his presence. Mary Magdalene sought thus because she loved much. Let us arouse ourselves to the same intensity of affection; let our heart, like Mary’s, be full of Christ, and our love, like hers, will be satisfied with nothing short of himself. O Lord, reveal thyself to us this Evening!

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     July 14


     Hugh Stowell, 1799–1865

     When you pass through the waters, I will be with you … (Isaiah 43:2)

     God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in,
     That He may speak, perchance through grief or pain;
     And softly, heart to heart, above the din
     May teach some precious truth to us again.
--- Unknown

     In Old Testament worship, the mercy seat was the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, which housed the Mosaic tables of stone, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded. The mercy seat was a most sacred, holy place. It symbolized the place of God’s eternal presence with His people.

     When the storms of life blow our way, we can either cringe in despair or flee to the heavenly Mercy Seat—the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4).There we can find the help and strength to be overcomers. Trials can sometimes embitter and harden our spirits. However, if we use the trial to lean more fully on Christ and to learn the lesson He desires to teach us, we become stronger in our faith.

     Hugh Stowell, the author, was a minister in the Anglican church and was known as one of the truly evangelical leaders in the church during his time. His ministry was also characterized by a love for children and an active Sunday school in his church. This hymn text was originally titled “Peace at the Mercy Seat” and was first published in 1828 in a collection of poems by the author.

     How different life would be “had suff’ring saints no mercy seat.” How important it is for God’s people to avail themselves of this “calm, sure retreat” by using prayer to commune with Him there on a consistent basis.

     From ev’ry stormy wind that blows, from ev’ry swelling tide of woes, there is a calm, a sure retreat—’Tis found beneath the mercy seat.
     There is a place where Jesus sheds the oil of gladness on our heads, a place than all besides more sweet—It is the blood-bought mercy seat.
     There is a scene where spirits blend, where friend holds fellowship with friend; tho sundered far, by faith they meet around one common mercy seat.
     Ah! Whither could we flee for aid when tempted, desolate, dismayed, or how the hosts of hell defeat, had suff’ring saints no mercy seat?
     Ah! there on eagle wings we soar, and sin and sense molest no more; and heav’n comes down our souls to greet, while glory crowns the mercy seat.

     For Today: Psalm 61:2; Isaiah 25:4; Matthew 11:28; 1 Corinthians 1:3-5; Hebrews 4:16.

     Always remember—for the child of God, life’s storms are opportunities to learn more about Him. Thank God even now for His Heavenly Mercy Seat. Reflect on these words as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)

     Sect. LXXXV. — BUT now follows the act itself of hardening, which is thus: — The wicked man (as we have said) like his prince Satan, is turned totally the way of selfishness, and his own; he seeks not God, nor cares for the things of God; he seeks his own riches, his own glory, his own doings, his own wisdom, his own power, and, in a word, his own kingdom; and wills only to enjoy them in peace. And if any one oppose him or wish to diminish any of these things, with the same aversion to God under which he seeks these, with the same is he moved, enraged, and roused to indignation against his adversary. And he is as much unable to overcome this rage, as he is to overcome his desire of self-seeking; and he can no more avoid this seeking, than he can avoid his own existence; and this he cannot do, as being the creature of God, though a corrupt one.

     The same is that fury of the world against the Gospel of God. For, by the Gospel, comes that “stronger than he,” who overcomes the quiet possessor of the palace, and condemns those desires of glory, of riches, of wisdom, of self-righteousness, and of all things in which he trusts. This very irritation of the wicked, when God speaks and acts contrary to what they willed, is their hardening and their galling weight. For as they are in this state of aversion from the very corruption of nature, so they become more and more averse, and worse and worse, as this aversion is opposed or turned out of its way. And thus, when God threatened to take away from the wicked Pharaoh his power, he irritated and aggravated him, and hardened his heart the more, the more He came to him with His word by Moses, making known His intention to take away his kingdom and to deliver His own people from his power: because He did not give him His Spirit within, but permitted his wicked corruption, under the dominion of Satan, to grow angry, to swell with pride, to burn with rage, and to go on still in a certain secure contempt.

The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library

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Joshua 21-22
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15 | Jer 11-20, Confessions of the Prophet
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16 | Confessions: Pathos of the People
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17 | Prophetic Sign Acts
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18 | Jer 23 False Prophets
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19 | Jer. 26-45 Structural Overview
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20 | Jer. 26-36 Jehoiakim Disobedience
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Lect 21 | Jer. 34-35 Death to a nation
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22 | Jer. 27-29 Prophetic Conflict
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23 | Jer. 38-39 Zedekiah Fall of Jerusalem
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24 | Jer. 30-33 Book of Consolation
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25 | Jer. 30-33 Book of Consolation 2
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26 | Jer. 30-33 New Covenant
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27 | Jer. 30-33 Restoration
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28 | Jer. 30-33 Restoration
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29 | Jer. 46-49 Oracles Against the Nations
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30 | Jer. 50-51 Babylon
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1 | OT History Intro Theistic Proofs
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2 | OT History Inspiration and Canonicity
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3 | OT History Scribal Copying
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Matthew 24-25
2-14-1990 / W496 | Jon Courson