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Judges 12     Acts 16     Jeremiah 25     Mark 11

Judges 12

Jephthah's Conflict with Ephraim

Judges 12 1 The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire.” 2 And Jephthah said to them, “I and my people had a great dispute with the Ammonites, and when I called you, you did not save me from their hand. 3 And when I saw that you would not save me, I took my life in my hand and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” 4 Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and Manasseh.” 5 And the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. And when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,” 6 they said to him, “Then say Shibboleth,” and he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and slaughtered him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites fell.

7 Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city in Gilead.

Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon

8 After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. 9 He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

Acts 16

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

Acts 16 1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers[b] at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

The Macedonian Call

6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul[c] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

The Conversion of Lydia

11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

The Philippian Jailer Converted

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.

Jeremiah 25

Seventy Years of Captivity

Jeremiah 25 1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), 2 which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 3 “For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. 4 You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the Lord persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, 5 saying, ‘Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever. 6 Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.’ 7 Yet you have not listened to me, declares the Lord, that you might provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm.

8 “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, 9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. 13 I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14 For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”

The Cup of the Lord's Wrath

15 Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.”

17 So I took the cup from the Lord's hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it: 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people, 20 and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); 21 Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon; 22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair; 24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert; 25 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; 26 all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon[a] shall drink.

27 “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’

28 “And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: You must drink! 29 For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the Lord of hosts.’

30 “You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:

“‘The Lord will roar from on high,
and from his holy habitation utter his voice;
he will roar mightily against his fold,
and shout, like those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31 The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the Lord has an indictment against the nations;
he is entering into judgment with all flesh,
and the wicked he will put to the sword,
declares the Lord.’

32 “Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Behold, disaster is going forth
from nation to nation,
and a great tempest is stirring
from the farthest parts of the earth!

33 “And those pierced by the Lord on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.

34 “Wail, you shepherds, and cry out,
and roll in ashes, you lords of the flock,
for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come,
and you shall fall like a choice vessel.
35 No refuge will remain for the shepherds,
nor escape for the lords of the flock.
36 A voice—the cry of the shepherds,
and the wail of the lords of the flock!
For the Lord is laying waste their pasture,
37 and the peaceful folds are devastated
because of the fierce anger of the Lord.
38 Like a lion he has left his lair,
for their land has become a waste
because of the sword of the oppressor,
and because of his fierce anger.”

Mark 11

The Triumphal Entry

Mark 11 1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus[a] sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they[b] went out of the city.

The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

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Embrace the Race God Gives You

By Jon Bloom 7/28/2017

     You have a race to run. It’s a race you’ve been given, not one you’ve chosen.

     It’s possible you wouldn’t have chosen your race at all, had the choice been yours. Or perhaps you wouldn’t have chosen this particular route. Or perhaps you wouldn’t have chosen your pace. Or perhaps you would have chosen different racing environments, teammates, or coaches. Or perhaps you would have chosen different capacities, strengths, and resources, ones you believe would help you run more effectively. Or perhaps you would have chosen a different distance.

     But here you are: in this race, on this route, at this pace, on this terrain, in this climate, with these people, and your strengths, and your limitations, for this distance. Like it or not, this is your race.

     And the question is this: Will you embrace your race or keep trying to escape it? What mindset will you choose? For though you may not have chosen your race, you do get to choose how you run it.

     You Can’t Escape | Of course, escape is not a real option. However, fantasy provides a seductively compelling illusion of escape. And the world offers you an overwhelming number of fantastic virtual experiences to “relieve” you from the rigorous realities of your race.

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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:

The Deity of Christ & the Church

By Robert Peterson 1/1/2011

     There is no more important biblical truth for the life and health of the church than the deity of Christ. Although this truth exists in seed form in the Old Testament (Pss. 45:6–7; 110:1; Isa. 9:6; Dan. 7:13–14), it comes to full flower in the New Testament. I marshal five arguments for the deity of Christ:

     First, Jesus is identified with God. Recent scholarship has taught us to argue for Christ’s deity based on the way that early Christians identified Jesus unambiguously with the one God of Israel (1 Cor. 8:5–6).

     Second, Jesus receives devotion due to God alone. Amazingly, the New Testament not only continues to affirm Old Testament monotheism, but also affirms another truth: it is proper and necessary to offer religious devotion to Jesus. He is worshiped, honored in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, praised in doxologies, adored in hymns, and is the object of prayers (Matt. 28:19; John 5:22–23; 1 Cor. 11:20; Eph. 5:18–19; Heb. 13:20–21; Rev. 22:20).

     Third, Jesus brings the age to come. David Wells captures this point: “Jesus was the one in whom the ‘age to come’ was realized, through whom it is redemptively present in the church, and by whom it will be made cosmically effective at its consummation” (The Person of Christ: A Biblical and Historical Analysis of the Incarnation (Foundations for faith), p. 172).

     Fourth, Jesus saves us when we are spiritually united to Him. The Father planned salvation before creation, and the Son accomplished it in the first century. But we only experience that salvation when we are spiritually united to Christ by grace through faith. Only union with Him in His death, resurrection, ascension, session, and second coming brings salvation (Col. 3:1–4). This is a role played only by God Himself.

     Fifth, Jesus performs the works of God. Christ performs many works that only God can perform: creation, providence, judgment, and salvation (Col. 1:16–20; Heb. 1).

     It is difficult to overemphasize the significance of Christ’s deity for the church. The church’s lifeblood depends on who Christ is (the Godman) and what He did (died and arose, 1 Cor. 15:3–4).

     Christianity stands if Christ’s deity is true. If Jesus is divine, then His claims are true “and there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). G.C. Berkouwer follows suit, when he argues that Christ’s deity is essential to Christianity:

     The heart of the Christian religion pulsates in the confession that in Jesus Christ, in the incarnation of the Word, God truly came down to us… . The practice of the ancient church, to speak of Christ “as of God,” goes directly back to the New Testament itself where we hear adoring voices addressing Christ as truly God and not as quasi-God (quoted in The Person of Christ, pp. 156–57, 161–62)

     Robert L. Reymond underscores the importance of the deity of Christ when he argues that the affirmation or denial of it affects every other point for Christology and for systematic theology in general (see his Jesus Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness, p. 323). He also points out that one’s estimation of Jesus has consequences beyond this life, as Jesus Himself says: “Unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). In fact, Jesus claims: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (14:6).

(Jn 8:22–24) 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”   ESV

     Wells laments the disastrous effects for those who deny the deity of Christ:

     Their christs might be admired, but they cannot be worshiped. They might inspire religious devotion, but they cannot sustain or explain Christian faith. They tell us very much about their authors and very little about Jesus… . These christs are impotent, and their appeal is superficial. Their appeal is not that of the biblical Christ. (The Person of Christ, p. 172)

     The true Christ of Scripture deserves more than our admiration. That is because He is the eternal Word become incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. He is God and man in one person and deserves worship as the only mediator between God and human beings. Because He is God, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him” (Heb. 7:25). As Wells reminds us, the biblical Christ is “the One who was God with us, the means of forgiveness for our sin, and the agent of our reconciliation. Forgiveness and reconciliation are what we need centrally. We need to know there is someone there to forgive us, someone who can forgive and heal us, and that was why the Word was incarnate” (The Person of Christ, p. 172). Indeed, we need to know that God incarnate forgives and reconciles us. Because of His unique identity and because of the unique work He performed, the church stands in fulfillment of Jesus’ own prediction: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

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     Robert A. Peterson (Ph.D., Drew University) is professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He was formerly professor of New Testament and theology at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous articles, was a contributor to the second edition of the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker) and edits Covenant Seminary's journal, Presbyterion.

Robert Peterson Books:

Os Guinness: The Extraordinary Times We Are Living In and the Need for Christian Courage

By Jason Daye 7/26/2017

     Os Guinness is an author and social critic. Great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer, he was born in China in World War Two where his parents were medical missionaries. A witness to the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to Europe where he was educated in England. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of London and his D.Phil in the social sciences from Oriel College, Oxford. Os is the author of several books, including Impossible People. Os lives with his wife in the Washington, D.C. area.

     Key Questions: | What is the struggle for the soul of civilization you speak of in your new book, Impossible People?

     How can western Christians move from simply being inspired by our brothers and sisters facing persecution in other parts of the world to living courageously like they do?

     How do we operate in the power of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis?

     Key Quotes: | “Now is not the time for cowards or fence-sitters.”

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     Jason Daye | As Director of Ministry Development for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. Jason lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his beautiful wife and six children, where he enjoys hiking with his family, fighting rainbow trout, summiting 14ers and swapping stories with good friends. Connect with him on Twitter @jasondaye

Time to (Re)Discover Hebrews

By Sinclair Ferguson 1/1/2011

     Of all the New Testament letters, Hebrews seems to be one many Christians find strange and alien. Here we enter the world of Melchizedek and Aaron, angels and Moses, sacrifices and priests. It all seems so Old Testament, so intricate, and even confusing.

     If so, it is time to (re)discover Hebrews. But how?

Seeing the Big Picture

     One of the first things to do when studying a book of the Bible is to try to get “the big picture.” The second easiest (but usually the best) way to do this is to skim through the book, note the natural divisions, isolate the main themes, and write out a brief outline of the argument or plotline.

     The easiest (but actually second best!) way for readers of Tabletalk is (of course) simply to consult their Reformation Study Bible (2015) ESV, Genuine Leather Black. There we find an effort-free outline.

     But a compromise method may be a good place to begin: attempt our own outline, consult our study Bible, and then compare notes.

     In fact, the big picture in Hebrews is fairly straightforward. Put simply, it is “Jesus is the greatest.”

     Jesus is: greater than angels (chaps. 1–2); greater than Moses (3:1–4:12); greater than the priests and high priests (4:13–7:28); and greater than the Old Testament sacrifices (chaps. 8–10).

     Since this is so, like those heroes of the faith who looked forward to the Messiah’s coming, we need to: keep our eyes glued to Him as we persevere in faith (chaps. 11–12) and live together as the new covenant community (chap. 13).

     If we get lost in the details, Hebrews will appear to be a long, maze-like book. But if we grasp the big picture, we will see why the author thought he had “written … only a short letter” (13:22, NIV).

Sparkling Diamonds

     Within this framework there are priceless treasures to be found. Here are five of the jewels:

     First, Hebrews is a Jesus-filled letter and shows us His glory. The more we read the letter, the more we realize that it is not about angels, Moses, Melchizedek, Aaron, or old covenant worship. The truth is that God has so ordered the course of redemptive history that they are all about Jesus.

     Second, Hebrews helps us to see how the relationship between the old and the new covenants is one of unity and diversity. The author tells us this right at the beginning: “Long ago,” at many times and in many ways, God spoke to the fathers, but He did so by the prophets. “In these last days,” God spoke to us, and did so by His Son. In these two statements, the whole of the Bible’s message is summed up: The Old Testament revelation is fragmentary and multiplex; Jesus is full and final. He reveals God perfectly, because He is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (1:3).

     The Old Testament is full of copies and shadows (9:23; 10:1). Jesus is the original and the reality.

     Third, Hebrews movingly describes the reality of Jesus’ humanity. At first — if we get bogged down in the unfamiliarity of the Levitical system — we may not notice this. But read again, and it will become clear.

     The Son of God became like us, shared our human origin, was tempted, experienced suffering, and tasted death (2:10, 11, 14, 18). He became a brother to us (v. 17). That is why He is able to help the tempted (v. 18).

     The Son of God shared our weakness and has taken into heaven the very humanity in which He tasted it. Through Him we can come with confidence to God’s throne, knowing that there is mercy to be found there for our weakness and grace for our sinfulness (4:14–15).

     The Son of God became a man of prayers and tears. His obedience was exercised in suffering. We can trust Him as the source of our salvation (5:7–9).

     Fourth, Hebrews wonderfully expounds Jesus’ glory. Every chapter points to this. It is worth taking the time simply to read the big texts. These include Hebrews 1:3; 2:9; 3:3; 4:14; 5:9; 6:20; 7:22; 8:1; 9:15; 10:12; 11:40–12:2; and 13:8. Jesus is “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” that is, He is the One who was fragmentarily and preliminarily revealed in the old covenant, has been fully revealed in the new, and will finally be revealed in the eschaton (at the end of days).

     Fifth, Hebrews speaks to us with great pastoral sensitivity. It is, after all, a “word of exhortation” or encouragement. It is realistic about suffering, the fear of persecution, the danger of discouragement, the struggles we have against sin, the possibility of backsliding, the spiritual paralysis produced by the condemning voice of conscience, and the possibility that we may lack assurance. Its remedy for every spiritual disease is stated in a theology marked by great simplicity married to rich complexity:

     Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our calling, the Founder and Perfecter of our Faith (3:1; 12:2). See everything in the light of who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He continues to do today. You cannot go wrong there.

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     Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Sinclair Ferguson Books:

If These Reasons Wouldn’t Justify Killing a Kitten, Why Would They Justify Abortion?

By J. Warner Wallace 10/31/2013

     For most of my life, I have been unabashedly and unflinchingly pro-choice. For many years, I saw abortion as little more than another form of birth control. Today, I am pro-life. What changed my mind? It wasn’t my conversion to Christianity. My position changed when I started to think carefully about the nature of fetal humans. Once I established the humanity of the unborn (from nothing more than the science), I realized their lives warranted the same protection we offer others in our society. I am, after all, a homicide detective. I investigate killings to determine whether or not they were properly justified. Over the years, I’ve listened to many murder suspects attempt to defend their actions. Here in California, there are only two forms of justified homicide (self-defense and the protection of innocents). Any other form of killing is a murder.

     So I was particularly interested to read a recent blog (posted on a parenting site) from a pro-choice advocate who cleverly attempted to use photographs of cats to illustrate “10 Reasons to Have An Abortion”. In some ways, the post is so outlandish I suspect it must be a mockery, but it does represent common justifications offered for abortion (although, for some reason, the author can only muster 9 defenses). Here is her list, each illustrated with a photograph of a cat or kitten:

     1. Having A Baby Would Endanger Your Life | Or cause you medical hardship.

     2. Your Birth Control Failed | For whatever reason, your birth control failed. It happens.

     3. You Don’t Want To Have A Child Because Of Your Career | You feel like having a baby, taking maternity leave, and caring for a child would harm your career opportunities.

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

Judges 12; Acts 16; Jeremiah 25; Mark 11

By Don Carson 7/29/2018

     Three Observations on these steps in the ministry of Paul and Silas (Acts 16):

     (1) To understand Paul’s “Macedonian call” (Acts 16:6-10), one must follow his movements on a map. After traveling through the central part of what is now Turkey, the Spirit forbids Paul and Silas from going into Asia (Acts 16:6), i.e., Asia Minor, the Western part of modern Turkey. So they travel north. Now they try to enter Bithynia (Acts 16:7). Had they been enabled to do so, they would have been on the major east/west road that joined the Roman Empire with India — and heading east. But the “Spirit of Jesus” forbids them from taking that step (Acts 16:7), and so they go in the only direction still open to them along the roads of the day: they head toward the port city of Troas. From there, there is only one obvious place to go: across the water to Europe.

     During the night Paul has a vision of a man in Macedonia, the nearest landfall of Europe, begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). This confirms Paul and Silas in their movements; it does not redirect them. The result is ministry on the continent of Europe, and ultimately a path to Rome.

     (2) Paul’s first convert in Europe was a woman, an intercontinental business traveler from Thyatira. Note the description of her conversion, and then the description of the Philippian jailer’s: “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14); “The jailer….had come to believe in God — he and his whole family” (Acts 16:34). Let’s use both locutions today.

     (3) Worth pondering are the occasions when Paul stands on his Roman citizenship, and when he does not. Sometimes he is beaten without a word of protest. In Philippi, Paul and Silas are “severely flogged” (Acts 16:23-24), apparently without protesting. Roman citizens were exempt from flogging until they had been found guilty of the crime for which they were charged. Yet when the jailer is told to release the prisoners, Paul protests that he and Silas, both citizens, have been flogged without a trial, and insists that the city’s leaders come and escort them out of jail as a kind of public apology (Acts 16:37-39). Why not simply suffer in silence, not least since that is what they sometimes do?

     It is difficult to prove, but many have argued, believably, that Paul stands on his rights when by doing so he thinks he can establish legal precedents that may help other Christians. Every case on the books where Christians have been shown not to be guilty of public disorder or a threat to the Roman Empire can only be a useful legal precedent. If this is right, it is a mark of strategic thinking — for the sake of others.

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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 79

How Long, O LORD?
79 A Psalm Of Asaph.

1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
2 They have given the bodies of your servants
to the birds of the heavens for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.
3 They have poured out their blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there was no one to bury them.
4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
mocked and derided by those around us.

5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out your anger on the nations
that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
that do not call upon your name!
7 For they have devoured Jacob
and laid waste his habitation.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     30. Herein is the goodness, power, and providence of God wondrously displayed. At one time he raises up manifest avengers from among his own servants, and gives them his command to punish accursed tyranny, and deliver his people from calamity when they are unjustly oppressed; at another time he employs, for this purpose, the fury of men who have other thoughts and other aims. Thus he rescued his people Israel from the tyranny of Pharaoh by Moses; from the violence of Chusa, king of Syria, by Othniel; and from other bondage by other kings or judges. Thus he tamed the pride of Tyre by the Egyptians; the insolence of the Egyptians by the Assyrians; the ferocity of the Assyrians by the Chaldeans; the confidence of Babylon by the Medes and Persians,--Cyrus having previously subdued the Medes, while the ingratitude of the kings of Judah and Israel, and their impious contumacy after all his kindness, he subdued and punished,--at one time by the Assyrians, at another by the Babylonians. All these things, however, were not done in the same way. The former class of deliverers being brought forward by the lawful call of God to perform such deeds, when they took up arms against kings, did not at all violate that majesty with which kings are invested by divine appointment, but armed from heaven, they, by a greater power, curbed a less, just as kings may lawfully punish their own satraps. The latter class, though they were directed by the hand of God, as seemed to him good, and did his work without knowing it, had nought but evil in their thoughts.

31. But whatever may be thought of the acts of the men themselves, [692] the Lord by their means equally executed his own work, when he broke the bloody sceptres of insolent kings, and overthrew their intolerable dominations. Let princes hear and be afraid; but let us at the same time guard most carefully against spurning or violating the venerable and majestic authority of rulers, an authority which God has sanctioned by the surest edicts, although those invested with it should be most unworthy of it, and, as far as in them lies, pollute it by their iniquity. Although the Lord takes vengeance on unbridled domination, let us not therefore suppose that that vengeance is committed to us, to whom no command has been given but to obey and suffer. I speak only of private men. For when popular magistrates have been appointed to curb the tyranny of kings (as the Ephori, who were opposed to kings among the Spartans, or Tribunes of the people to consuls among the Romans, or Demarchs to the senate among the Athenians; and perhaps there is something similar to this in the power exercised in each kingdom by the three orders, when they hold their primary diets). So far am I from forbidding these officially to check the undue license of kings, that if they connive at kings when they tyrannise and insult over the humbler of the people, I affirm that their dissimulation is not free from nefarious perfidy, because they fradulently betray the liberty of the people, while knowing that, by the ordinance of God, they are its appointed guardians.

32. But in that obedience which we hold to be due to the commands of rulers, we must always make the exception, nay, must be particularly careful that it is not incompatible with obedience to Him to whose will the wishes of all kings should be subject, to whose decrees their commands must yield, to whose majesty their sceptres must bow. And, indeed, how preposterous were it, in pleasing men, to incur the offence of Him for whose sake you obey men! The Lord, therefore, is King of kings. When he opens his sacred mouth, he alone is to be heard, instead of all and above all. We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us not pay the least regard to it, nor be moved by all the dignity which they possess as magistrates--a dignity to which no injury is done when it is subordinated to the special and truly supreme power of God. On this ground Daniel denies that he had sinned in any respect against the king when he refused to obey his impious decree (Dan. 6:22), because the king had exceeded his limits, and not only been injurious to men, but, by raising his horn against God, had virtually abrogated his own power. On the other hand, the Israelites are condemned for having too readily obeyed the impious edict of the king. For, when Jeroboam made the golden calf, they forsook the temple of God, and, in submissiveness to him, revolted to new superstitions (1 Kings 12:28). With the same facility posterity had bowed before the decrees of their kings. For this they are severely upbraided by the Prophet (Hosea 5:11). So far is the praise of modesty from being due to that pretence by which flattering courtiers cloak themselves, and deceive the simple, when they deny the lawfulness of declining anything imposed by their kings, as if the Lord had resigned his own rights to mortals by appointing them to rule over their fellows, or as if earthly power were diminished when it is subjected to its author, before whom even the principalities of heaven tremble as suppliants. I know the imminent peril to which subjects expose themselves by this firmness, kings being most indignant when they are contemned. As Solomon says, "The wrath of a king is as messengers of death" (Prov. 16:14). But since Peter, one of heaven's heralds, has published the edict, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29), let us console ourselves with the thought, that we are rendering the obedience which the Lord requires, when we endure anything rather than turn aside from piety. And that our courage may not fail, Paul stimulates us by the additional consideration (1 Cor. 7:23), that we were redeemed by Christ at the great price which our redemption cost him, in order that we might not yield a slavish obedience to the depraved wishes of men, far less do homage to their impiety.


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

  • Ancient Philosophies
  • Plontinus
  • Jesus among the Philosophers

#1 John Cooper  Stanford University


#2 John Cooper   Stanford University


#3 Luke Timothy Johnson   Emory University


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     6/1/2015    Gospel Religion

     I have heard people say that the Bible is just a list of do’s and don’ts. People who say that have not read the Bible. In order to combat this sort of thinking, some Christians will quickly respond by arguing that the Bible is not a list of do’s and don’ts at all. But when they do that, they throw out the baby with the bath water. Those who have read the Bible will know that it is not just a list of do’s and don’ts, nor simply a how-to manual, nor a mere guide for moral living. Nevertheless, the Bible does in fact tell us what to do and what not to do. It tells us how to live moral lives that please God, and it provides us with God’s rules for all of life. The Bible is not just a list of do’s and don’ts, it’s far more than that—it is God’s grand story of His reign and redemption. Nevertheless, it does indeed contain God’s lists of do’s and don’ts that we might know how to love, obey, glorify, and enjoy God.

     Christianity is not a religion of moralism, it is a gospel religion of grace. It is a religion established on a relationship. It’s not either/or, it’s both—a relationship and a religion. They are not mutually exclusive, and we do well not to pit one against the other. Our gospel relationship with Jesus Christ, by grace alone through faith alone, is the foundation for our all-of-life-encompassing gospel religion. Our relationship with Christ naturally leads to pure and undefiled religion (James 1:26-27). Religion is a helpful word we use to describe our Christian faith, which encompasses every aspect of our Christian lives, rooted in and flowing out of our spiritually regenerated new hearts and minds, and founded on the relationship that God has established with us by uniting us to Christ. In the fourth century, Augustine advocated using the Latin word religio by highlighting its etymology religare, which means to join or bind together as in a covenant bond between man and God. The word religion, rightly understood, joins together everything we believe as we live it out in all of life. The Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck writes: “Religion must not just be something in one’s life, but everything. Jesus demands that we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength.”

     Our religion is established on Jesus Christ, who did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). Christ fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law in His life so that His death would be a perfect atonement for our sins. Indeed, we are justified by works—His works, not ours. Christ perfectly kept His Father’s list of do’s and don’ts for us. And He did so not so that we might ignore God’s commands, but so that we might no longer be slaves of sin but slaves of righteousness. Christ frees us by faith that we might bear fruit. To be sure, we are saved by faith, not fruit, but we won’t be saved by fruitless faith. God’s grace enables us and His Spirit sustains us, helping us in our weakness to pursue holiness as we rest in the holiness of Jesus Christ. For, as Martin Luther said, “Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing.”

     click here for article source

     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)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Alexis de Tocqueville was born this day, July 29, 1805. He was a French social philosopher who traveled the United States in 1831. His work, Democracy in America, has been described as “the most comprehensive … analysis … between character and society in America that has ever been written.” In it, de Tocqueville wrote: “There is no country in the whole world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility … than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

I am not moved by what I see or hear;
I am moved by what I believe.
--- Smith Wigglesworth

An implicit confession
is almost as bad as an implicit faith;
wicked men commonly confess their sins by wholesale,
We are all sinners;
but the true penitent confesses his sins by retail.
--- Thomas Brooks

Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.
--- William Penn

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     5. Besides this murder at Scythopolis, the other cities rose up against the Jews that were among them; those of Askelon slew two thousand five hundred, and those of Ptolemais two thousand, and put not a few into bonds; those of Tyre also put a great number to death, but kept a greater number in prison; moreover, those of Hippos, and those of Gadara, did the like while they put to death the boldest of the Jews, but kept those of whom they were afraid in custody; as did the rest of the cities of Syria, according as they every one either hated them or were afraid of them; only the Antiochtans the Sidontans, and Apamians spared those that dwelt with them, and would not endure either to kill any of the Jews, or to put them in bonds. And perhaps they spared them, because their own number was so great that they despised their attempts. But I think the greatest part of this favor was owing to their commiseration of those whom they saw to make no innovations. As for the Gerasans, they did no harm to those that abode with them; and for those who had a mind to go away, they conducted them as far as their borders reached.

     6. There was also a plot laid against the Jews in Agrippa's kingdom; for he was himself gone to Cestius Gallus, to Antioch, but had left one of his companions, whose name was Noarus, to take care of the public affairs; which Noarus was of kin to king Sohemus. 26 Now there came certain men seventy in number, out of Batanea, who were the most considerable for their families and prudence of the rest of the people; these desired to have an army put into their hands, that if any tumult should happen, they might have about them a guard sufficient to restrain such as might rise up against them. This Noarus sent out some of the king's armed men by night, and slew all those [seventy] men; which bold action he ventured upon without the consent of Agrippa, and was such a lover of money, that he chose to be so wicked to his own countrymen, though he brought ruin on the kingdom thereby; and thus cruelly did he treat that nation, and this contrary to the laws also, until Agrippa was informed of it, who did not indeed dare to put him to death, out of regard to Sohemus; but still he put an end to his procuratorship immediately. But as to the seditious, they took the citadel which was called Cypros, and was above Jericho, and cut the throats of the garrison, and utterly demolished the fortifications. This was about the same time that the multitude of the Jews that were at Machaerus persuaded the Romans who were in garrison to leave the place, and deliver it up to them. These Romans being in great fear, lest the place should be taken by force, made an agreement with them to depart upon certain conditions; and when they had obtained the security they desired, they delivered up the citadel, into which the people of Machaerus put a garrison for their own security, and held it in their own power.

     7. But for Alexandria, the sedition of the people of the place against the Jews was perpetual, and this from that very time when Alexander [the Great], upon finding the readiness of the Jews in assisting him against the Egyptians, and as a reward for such their assistance, gave them equal privileges in this city with the Grecians themselves; which honorary reward Continued among them under his successors, who also set apart for them a particular place, that they might live without being polluted [by the Gentiles], and were thereby not so much intermixed with foreigners as before; they also gave them this further privilege, that they should be called Macedonians. Nay, when the Romans got possession of Egypt, neither the first Caesar, nor any one that came after him, thought of diminishing the honors which Alexander had bestowed on the Jews. But still conflicts perpetually arose with the Grecians; and although the governors did every day punish many of them, yet did the sedition grow worse; but at this time especially, when there were tumults in other places also, the disorders among them were put into a greater flame; for when the Alexandrians had once a public assembly, to deliberate about an embassage they were sending to Nero, a great number of Jews came flocking to the theater; but when their adversaries saw them, they immediately cried out, and called them their enemies, and said they came as spies upon them; upon which they rushed out, and laid violent hands upon them; and as for the rest, they were slain as they ran away; but there were three men whom they caught, and hauled them along, in order to have them burnt alive; but all the Jews came in a body to defend them, who at first threw stones at the Grecians, but after that they took lamps, and rushed with violence into the theater, and threatened that they would burn the people to a man; and this they had soon done, unless Tiberius Alexander, the governor of the city, had restrained their passions. However, this man did not begin to teach them wisdom by arms, but sent among them privately some of the principal men, and thereby entreated them to be quiet, and not provoke the Roman army against them; but the seditious made a jest of the entreaties of Tiberius, and reproached him for so doing.

     8. Now when he perceived that those who were for innovations would not be pacified till some great calamity should overtake them, he sent out upon them those two Roman legions that were in the city, and together with them five thousand other soldiers, who, by chance, were come together out of Libya, to the ruin of the Jews. They were also permitted not only to kill them, but to plunder them of what they had, and to set fire to their houses. These soldiers rushed violently into that part of the city that was called Delta, where the Jewish people lived together, and did as they were bidden, though not without bloodshed on their own side also; for the Jews got together, and set those that were the best armed among them in the forefront, and made a resistance for a great while; but when once they gave back, they were destroyed unmercifully; and this their destruction was complete, some being caught in the open field, and others forced into their houses, which houses were first plundered of what was in them, and then set on fire by the Romans; wherein no mercy was shown to the infants, and no regard had to the aged; but they went on in the slaughter of persons of every age, till all the place was overflowed with blood, and fifty thousand of them lay dead upon heaps; nor had the remainder been preserved, had they not be-taken themselves to supplication. So Alexander commiserated their condition, and gave orders to the Romans to retire; accordingly, these being accustomed to obey orders, left off killing at the first intimation; but the populace of Alexandria bare so very great hatred to the Jews, that it was difficult to recall them, and it was a hard thing to make them leave their dead bodies.

     9. And this was the miserable calamity which at this time befell the Jews at Alexandria. Hereupon Cestius thought fit no longer to lie still, while the Jews were everywhere up in arms; so he took out of Antioch the twelfth legion entire, and out of each of the rest he selected two thousand, with six cohorts of footmen, and four troops of horsemen, besides those auxiliaries which were sent by the kings; of which Antiochus sent two thousand horsemen, and three thousand footmen, with as many archers; and Agrippa sent the same number of footmen, and one thousand horsemen; Sohemus also followed with four thousand, a third part whereof were horsemen, but most part were archers, and thus did he march to Ptolemais. There were also great numbers of auxiliaries gathered together from the [free] cities, who indeed had not the same skill in martial affairs, but made up in their alacrity and in their hatred to the Jews what they wanted in skill. There came also along with Cestius Agrippa himself, both as a guide in his march over the country, and a director what was fit to be done; so Cestius took part of his forces, and marched hastily to Zabulon, a strong city of Galilee, which was called the City of Men, and divides the country of Ptolemais from our nation; this he found deserted by its men, the multitude having fled to the mountains, but full of all sorts of good things; those he gave leave to the soldiers to plunder, and set fire to the city, although it was of admirable beauty, and had its houses built like those in Tyre, and Sidon, and Berytus. After this he overran all the country, and seized upon whatsoever came in his way, and set fire to the villages that were round about them, and then returned to Ptolemais. But when the Syrians, and especially those of Berytus, were busy in plundering, the Jews pulled up their courage again, for they knew that Cestius was retired, and fell upon those that were left behind unexpectedly, and destroyed about two thousand of them.

     10. And now Cestius himself marched from Ptolemais, and came to Cesarea; but he sent part of his army before him to Joppa, and gave order, that if they could take that city [by surprise] they should keep it; but that in case the citizens should perceive they were coming to attack them, that they then should stay for him, and for the rest of the army. So some of them made a brisk march by the sea-side, and some by land, and so coming upon them on both sides, they took the city with ease; and as the inhabitants had made no provision beforehand for a flight, nor had gotten any thing ready for fighting, the soldiers fell upon them, and slew them all, with their families, and then plundered and burnt the city. The number of the slain was eight thousand four hundred. In like manner, Cestius sent also a considerable body of horsemen to the toparchy of Narbatene, that adjoined to Cesarea, who destroyed the country, and slew a great multitude of its people; they also plundered what they had, and burnt their villages.

     11. But Cestius sent Gallus, the commander of the twelfth legion, into Galilee, and delivered to him as many of his forces as he supposed sufficient to subdue that nation. He was received by the strongest city of Galilee, which was Sepphoris, with acclamations of joy; which wise conduct of that city occasioned the rest of the cities to be in quiet; while the seditious part and the robbers ran away to that mountain which lies in the very middle of Galilee, and is situated over against Sepphoris; it is called Asamon. So Gallus brought his forces against them; but while those men were in the superior parts above the Romans, they easily threw their darts upon the Romans, as they made their approaches, and slew about two hundred of them. But when the Romans had gone round the mountains, and were gotten into the parts above their enemies, the others were soon beaten; nor could they who had only light armor on sustain the force of them that fought them armed all over; nor when they were beaten could they escape the enemies' horsemen; insomuch that only some few concealed themselves in certain places hard to be come at, among the mountains, while the rest, above two thousand in number, were slain.

          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 22:3-4
     by D.H. Stern

3     The clever see trouble coming and hide;
the simple go on and pay the penalty.

4     The reward for humility is fear of ADONAI,
along with wealth, honor and life.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Mushrooms On The Moor
     by Frank W. Boreham


     Dick Sunshine was not his real name; at least so they said. But the thing that they called his real name did not describe him a scrap; it seemed to abandon all attempt at description as hopelessly impossible; but when you called him Dick Sunshine it fitted him like a glove. That is the immense advantage that nicknames possess over real names. Of all real things, real names are the most unreal. There is no life in them. They stand for nothing; they express nothing; they reveal nothing. They bear no kind of relationship to the unfortunate individuals who are sentenced to wear them, like meaningless badges, for the term of their natural lives. But nicknames, on the other hand, sparkle and flash; they bring the man himself vividly and palpitatingly before you; and without more introduction or ado, you know him at once for what he is. That is the reason why we prefer to be called by our real names. We know in our secret souls that our nicknames are our true names, and that our real names are mere tags and badges; but we prefer the meaningless tag to the too candid truth. There are obvious disadvantages in being constantly spoken of as Mr. Grump, Mrs. Crosspatch, or Miss Spitfire; whereas Mr. Smith, Mrs. Robinson, or Miss Jones are much safer and more non-committal. But, for all that, the nicknames, depend upon it, are the true names. Nicknames reveal the man; real names conceal the man. And since, in the case of my present hero, I desire to reveal everything and to conceal nothing, it is obviously desirable to speak of him by his nickname, which is his true name, rather than by his real name, which is a mere affectation and artificiality. He was always Dick Sunshine to me, and I noticed that the children always called him Dick Sunshine, and children are not easily deceived. Besides, he was Dick Sunshine, so what is the use of beating about the bush?

     Who was Dick Sunshine? It is difficult to say. He was partly a grocer and party a consumptive. He spent half his time laughing, and half his time coughing. He only stopped laughing in order to cough; and he only stopped coughing in order to laugh. You could always tell which he was doing at any particular time by taking a glance at the shop. If the shop was open, you knew that Dick was behind the counter laughing. If it was closed, you knew that he was in bed coughing. A fine-looking fellow was Dick, or would have been if only his health had given him a chance. Fine wavy golden hair tossed in naïve disorder about his lofty forehead; and a small pointed golden beard set off a frank, cheery, open face. Somehow or other, there was a certain touch of chivalry about Dick, although it is not easy to say exactly how it made itself felt. It was a certain knightly bearing, perhaps, a haughty contempt for his own suffering, a rollicking but resolute refusal of anything in the shape of pity. Coughing or laughing, there was always a roguish little twinkle in the corner of his eye, a kind of danger signal that kept you on constant guard lest his next sally should take you by surprise.

     The church at North-East Valley has had its ups and downs, like most churches, but as long as Dick was its secretary it never had a gloomy church meeting. However grave or unexpected might be the crisis, he came up smiling, and greeted the unseen with a cheer. When things were going well, he always made the most of it, and drew attention to the encouraging features in the church's outlook. If things were so-so, he pointed out that they might have been a great deal worse, and that the church was putting up a brave fight against heavy odds. If anybody criticized the minister, Dick was on his feet in a minute. Could the minister do everything? Dick wanted to know. Was he solely responsible for the unsatisfactory conditions? Why, anybody who watches the minister can see that the poor man is doing his best, which, Dick slyly added, is more than can be said for some of us! And the ministers of North-East Valley used to tell me that when they themselves got down in the dumps, Dick treated their collapse as a glorious joke. He would come down to the Manse and laugh until he coughed, and cough until he could laugh again, and, by the time that he stopped laughing and coughing, the masses of his golden hair were tumbled about his high forehead like shocks of corn blown from the stocks by playful winds in harvest-time; and when he went home to finish his coughing, the Manse was flooded with the laughter and the sunshine that he had left behind him.

     I was sitting one morning in my study at Mosgiel, when there came a ring at the front door bell. On answering it, I found myself standing face to face with Dick. He was laughing so violently that he could at first scarcely salute me. He followed me into the study, and assured me as he sank into a chair that it was the fun of the world. I asked him to explain the cause of his boisterous merriment.

     'Had to give it up!' he gasped. 'The doctors told me that I should die in a week if I remained in the shop any longer. So I've left it to look after itself, and come away. No fun in dying in a week, you know!'

     I admitted that there was something in that, and inquired what he was going to do now.

     'That's the joke!' he roared, between laughter and coughing. 'I've come to stay with you.'

     There was nothing for it but to let him take his time, so I patiently awaited further explanation. At length it came.

     'Just as I was locking up the shop,' he said, presently, 'I heard that the temperance people wanted a lecturer and organizer to work this district. Except the lecturing, it will be all open-air work, so I applied for it, and got it!'

     'But, my dear fellow,' I remonstrated, 'I never knew that you could lecture. Why, outside the church meeting, you never made a speech in your life!'

     'That's part of the joke!' he cried, going off again into a paroxysm of laughter. 'But I told them that you would help me at the first, and they appointed me on that condition. So this is to be my head quarters!'

     His duties were to commence the following week, and we arranged that he should make his debut as a lecturer at a place called Outram, about eight miles across country from Mosgiel. I promised to accompany him, and to fill up such time as he found it impossible or inconvenient to occupy. In the meantime he got to work with his visiting and organizing. The open air suited him, his health improved amazingly, and the Mosgiel Manse simply rocked under the storms of his boisterous gaiety. Sometimes the shadow of the coming ordeal spread itself heavily over his spirit, and he came to the study with unwonted gravity to ask how this or that point in his maiden effort had better be approached. To prevent his anxiety under this head from becoming too much for his fragile frame, I lent him a book, and sent him out on to the sunlit verandah to read it. It chanced to be The Old Curiosity Shop. He had never read anything of Dickens, and it opened a new world to him. I have never seen anybody fall more completely under the spell of the magician. From the study I would hear him suddenly yell with laughter, and come rushing through the hall to read me some passage that had just captivated his fancy. Whenever he came stealing along like a thief, I knew it was to talk about the lecture; when he came like an incarnate thunderstorm, I knew it was about the book.

     One passage in the famous story especially appealed to him. It was the part about Codlin and Short, the Punch and Judy men. In the middle of dinner, without the slightest provocation or warning, he would suddenly drop his knife and fork, throw himself back in his chair, slap his leg a sounding blow with his hand, and shriek out, 'Codlin's your friend, not Short,' and then go off into ecstasies of glee as he told the tale all over again.

     Well, Monday—the day of his opening lecture—came at last. During the day he was unusually quiet and taciturn, although, even in face of the grim test that awaited him, the Punch and Judy men haunted his memory and led to occasional subdued outbursts of fun. After tea we set out. It was a delicious evening. Few things are sweeter than the early evenings of early summer. The sunset is throwing long shadows across the fresh green grass, and the birds are busy in the boughs. Everything about us was clad in its softest and loveliest garb. We drove on between massive hedges of fragrant hawthorn, and up huge avenues of stately blue gum trees, scattering the rabbits before us. Then we caught sight of the river, and drove over the bridge into the quiet little town in which such unsuspected adventures awaited us. Dick was pale and quiet; his sunshine was veiled in banks of cloud, and I found it difficult to rouse him. On arrival at the hall we found it crowded. I was naturally delighted; his pleasure was more restrained. Indeed, he confided to me, with a look that, for him, was positively lugubrious, that he would have been more gratified if the horrid place had been empty. However, there was nothing for it. Not a soul, except myself, knew that Dick was lecturing for the first time in his life; the chairman led us to the platform; and, after a brief introduction relative to the renown of the speakers, he called upon Dick to address the townsfolk. As a maiden effort it was a triumph; his native good humour combined with careful preparation to produce a really excellent effect; and he sat down amidst a thunder of applause. I filled in an odd half-hour, and then the chairman nearly killed Dick at one blow.

     'Would anybody in the audience care to ask either of the speakers a question?' he gravely inquired.

     Poor Dick was the picture of abject dismay. This was a flank attack for which he was totally unprepared. An elderly gentleman, in the body of the hall, rose slowly, adjusted his spectacles, and, with grave deliberation, announced that he wished to submit a question to the first speaker. Dick looked like a man whose death-warrant was about to be signed. The problem was duly enunciated, and it turned out to be a carefully planned and decidedly awkward one. I wondered how on earth poor Dick would face the music. He paused, as though considering his reply. Then a sudden light mantled his face. A wicked twinkle sparkled in his eye. He rose smartly, looked straight into the face of his questioner, and exclaimed confidently:

     'Codlin's your friend, not Short!'

     The audience was completely mystified. The answer had no more to do with the question than Dutch cheese has to do with the rings of Saturn. For a fraction of a second you could have heard a pin drop. I saw that the only way of saving the situation was by commencing to applaud, and I smote my hands together with a will, and laughed as I have rarely allowed myself to laugh in public. The sympathetic section of the audience followed suit. A general impression seemed to exist that, somehow, Dick had made a particularly clever point. The old gentleman who had asked the question was manifestly bewildered; he gazed helplessly round on his cheering fellow citizens, and evidently regarded the answer as some recondite allusion of which it would never do to display his ignorance. He resumed his seat, discomfited and ashamed. When the applause and laughter had somewhat subsided, I rose and moved a vote of thanks to the chairman, which Dick seconded, though, I fancied, without much show of enthusiasm. Thus the meeting, which Dick never forgot, came to an eminently satisfactory end, although I heard privately long afterwards that, as the people took their homeward way along those country roads, many who had applauded vigorously inquired confidentially of their neighbours the exact bearing of the cryptic reply on the particular matter in hand.

     If Dick lacked laughter on the way across the plains to the meeting, he amply atoned for the deficiency on the way home. How he roared, and yelled, and screamed in his glee!

     'I had to say something,' he exclaimed. 'I hadn't the slightest idea what the old gentleman was talking about; and the only thing I could think of was the Punch and Judy!'

     He laughed and coughed his way through that campaign. Everybody grew wonderfully fond of him, and looked eagerly for his coming. He did a world of good, and shamed scores of us out of the gloom in which we bore our slighter maladies. My mail from New Zealand tells me that, at last, his cough has proved too much for him, so he has given it up. But I like to fancy that, in the land where coughing is no more heard, Dick Sunshine is laughing still.

Mushrooms on the Moor (Dodo Press)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                What do you see in your clouds?

     Behold, He cometh with clouds. --- Rev. 1:7.

     In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of God. It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith. ‘The clouds are but the dust of our Father’s feet.’ The clouds are a sign that He is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near without clouds, He does not come in clear shining.

     It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials; through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something. God’s purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child—God and my own soul, other people are shadows. Until other people become shadows, clouds and darkness will be mine every now and again. Is the relationship between myself and God getting simpler than ever it has been?

     There is a connection between the strange providences of God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God’s character, we do not yet know Him.

     “They feared as they entered the cloud.…” Is there anyone “save Jesus only” in your cloud? If so, it will get darker; you must get to the place where there is “no one any more save Jesus only.”

My Utmost for His Highest

Meet the Family
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Meet the Family

John One takes his place at the table,
He is the first part of the fable;
His eyes are dry as a dead leaf.
Look on him and learn grief.
John Two stands in the door
Dumb; you have seen that face before
Leaning out of the dark past,
Tortured in thought's bitter blast.
John Three is still outside
Drooling where the daylight died
On the wet stones; his hands are crossed
In mourning for a playmate lost.
John All and his lean wife,
Whose forced complicity gave life
To each loathed foetus, stare from the wall,
Dead not absent. The night falls.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

When You Are Old
     By William Butler Yeats

                When You Are Old

     When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
     And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
     And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
     Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

     How many loved your moments of glad grace,
     And loved your beauty with love false or true,
     But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
     And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

     And bending down beside the glowing bars,
     Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
     And paced upon the mountains overhead
     And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats)
Searching For Meaning In Midrash

     How busy we are! We have so much to do that we have to put things on the back burner. Rabbi Yoshiah reminds us that things put on the back burner may still cook, though very slowly. Dough put on the back burner will ultimately ferment or sour; because of the slow rate, it will become unfit for use. And the same is true of our obligations.

     We say: “I’ll get to this really soon, but I have to back-burner it for now.” And “soon,” the opportunity sours. Our sweet dreams turn into bitter reality. Just as the matzah dough eventually rises, whether we want it to or not, and is spoiled, so too opportunities slip by, like it or not, and are lost. Not every chance turns sour with time, but it happens often enough that Rabbi Yoshiah’s words ring true. If we have a chance to do a mitzvah, we should grab it, for that opportunity may not present itself again.

     Whether it’s caring for friends, spending time with our children, or being a good spouse, we have to do it now. If not, we may cause the various meanings of the Hebrew root חָמֵץ/ḥametz to happen to us: Our relationships may sour. We may find ourselves in a pickle with those we care about most. We may no longer be able to get a rise out of those whose love and opinions matter so much to us.

     What’s at stake when we hesitate is much more than just a piece of matzah. The Talmud (Ta’anit 21a) tells the story of Naḥum of Gamzu, who lived in Israel at the beginning of the second century. Naḥum was blind, and his arms and legs had been lost. His students could not understand how such terrible afflictions had been visited upon their teacher, whom they believed to be entirely righteous. Naḥum explained that what had happened to him was not a result of God punishing him; Naḥum himself had prayed for the loss of his sight and limbs. The students couldn’t comprehend this; Naḥum told them his tale:

     Once I was journeying to the house of my father-in-law, and I brought with me three donkeys, one carrying food, the second carrying drinks, and the third carrying various delicacies. A poor man stopped me on the road and said, “Master, give me something to sustain me.” I told him to wait until I unloaded the donkeys. When I returned to him, he had died of hunger.

     Naḥum, realizing that his hesitation had cost a man his life, was filled with remorse. Of what use are eyes, he cried, if they do not see the suffering of another? Of what use are legs if they do not run to another’s aid? Of what use are hands if they do not reach out and offer help to those in need? According to the story, Naḥum’s punishment was the “answer to his prayer.”

     When it comes to tzedakah or to saving a life, we must do the mitzvah right away. When a human life is at stake, we must not delay. Immediate action is imperative.

     But what about the hundreds of other mitzvot that are ritual in nature: lighting Shabbat candles, not mixing milk and meat, reciting the Sh’ma, blowing the shofar, waving the lulav and etrog, circumcising an eight-day-old boy, sitting shivah? Why is it so important that we do these at the very first opportunity? A simple answer is that if we get into the habit of putting things off, we might soon come to neglect them entirely. We live incredibly busy lives. We have more to do than there are hours in the day. What’s at the top of our “to do” list becomes a priority and gets done. What’s put at the bottom of the list often is forgotten. If Judaism is preserved by the observance of mitzvot, then our procrastinations can lead to its end.

     There may be a deeper reason. Lurianic Kabbalah, the most well-known form of Jewish mysticism, holds that at the time of Creation, a cosmic accident occurred. The vessels that were to hold the divine light shattered, leaving the world broken and imperfect. Even God was affected by this great mishap. God’s feminine aspect, the Shekhinah, was torn apart and exiled from God’s masculine side. The world was left in a state of chaos, one that even God could not fix. But we can. According to Lurianic doctrine, human beings have the mission of performing tikun olam, “repair of the world.”

     This is accomplished by our doing mitzvot. Every time we perform a mitzvah, be it ritual or ethical, we are taking a step toward fixing the cosmos. It was the practice of the Jewish mystics to recite a kavanah, a brief meditation, prior to doing a mitzvah. The formula includes the words “I am about to perform the mitzvah … in order to bring about the union of the Holy One, praised is He, and the Shekhinah.…” Our acts here on earth not only “put God back together,” they also help to repair and fix the world.

     It is no wonder then, that we are taught that mitzvot must not be put off. Delay can be catastrophic.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     July 29

     Delight yourself in the LORD.
--- Psalm 37:4.

     [This delight springs] from a holy and frequent familiarity with God. Works of Stephen Charnock (5 Volume Set) Where there is a great familiarity there is a great delight. There is more swiftness in going to a God with whom we are acquainted than to a God to whom we are strangers. I go to a God whose goodness I have tasted, with whom I have often met in prayer.

     [Delight in the Lord springs] from hopes of receiving. There cannot be motion where there is paralysis of doubts. How full of delight must that soul be who can plead a promise and can show God his own bond—when it can be pleaded not only as a favor to appeal to his mercy, but in some sense a debt to appeal to his truth and righteousness! We carry a covenant of grace with us for ourselves and a promise of security and perpetuity for the church. On this account we have more cause of motion to God than the ancient believers had. Fear motivated them under the law; love motivates us under the Gospel. Those who have arguments of God’s own framing to plead with him cannot but delight in prayer—God cannot deny his own arguments and reasonings. Little comfort can be sucked from a perhaps. But when we seek promised mercies, God’s faithfulness to his promise puts the mercy past a perhaps. We go to a God who desires our presence more than we desire his assistance.

     [Delight in the Lord springs] from a recognition of former mercies. If manna is rained down, it not only takes our thoughts off Egyptian garlic but quickens our desires for a second shower. A sense of God’s majesty will make us lose our showy self-satisfaction. A sense of God’s love will make us lose our lumpishness. We may return with merry hearts when God accepts our prayers. The doves will readily fly to the windows where they have formerly found shelter and the beggar to the door where he has often received alms. “Because he turned his ear to hear me, I will call on him as long as I live” (Ps. 116:2). I have found refuge with God before; I have found my wants supplied, my soul raised, my temptations checked, my doubts answered, and my prayers accepted; therefore I will repeat my appeals with cheerfulness.
--- Stephen Charnock

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

On This Day
     Stokeley’s Slave  July 29

     Richard Allen grew up in slavery, toiling alongside parents and siblings on Stokeley Sturgis’s Delaware farm. The family was broken up before Richard became an adult. Mr. Sturgis sold Richard’s mother and three of his siblings, and Richard never saw them again. Heavyhearted, he followed a crowd into the fields one day to hear a Methodist preacher. “I was brought to see myself, poor, wretched, and undone,” he wrote. “Shortly after, I obtained mercy through the blood of Christ.”

     Allen soon purchased his freedom and commenced as an itinerant Methodist evangelist. In 1786 he joined the staff of Philadelphia’s St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church, the mother church of American Methodism. He conducted the five A.M. Sunday services. When his powerful preaching brought many blacks to St. George’s, white parishioners felt uneasy, and African-American worshipers were gradually denied seating, being forced to stand along the walls during services.

     Still the church grew, and a building expansion became necessary. On the first Morning in the refurbished auditorium, Allen took his seat in the new balcony. As the congregation knelt for prayer, he heard a scuffle. A church trustee was pulling blacks to their feet, trying to force them from the gallery. “Wait until the prayer is over,” whispered a disturbed worshiper, “and we’ll trouble you no more.” But the trustee only increased his efforts. Allen and his friends left, vowing never to return to St. George’s.

     They were without a church, and Allen had no job. He hired out as a chimney sweep, then opened a shoemaker’s shop. But his spare time was devoted to preaching the Gospel and serving the black community. His heroic efforts during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 so impressed the Philadelphians that tensions eased with St. George’s. With the church’s blessing, Allen assembled a group of black Christians on July 29, 1794, in a converted blacksmith’s shop. The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed, the mother church of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, now known throughout the world. Allen became the first consecrated bishop in the growing movement which today is among the largest Methodist groups on earth.

     Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought.
--- Philippians 2:2b-5.

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

William Wilberforce
     Died July 29, 1833

     3 Crucial Lessons from William Wilberforce by Jayson Bradley

     William Wilberforce, British politician and prominent abolitionist, died July 29, 1833. Here are three lessons from the man whose faith helped end slavery in England and inspire America’s abolitionist movement.

     1. Experience life through the lens of faith.

     Prior to his conversion, William was not known as an industrious individual. As a student at St. John’s College, he invested most of his time in social activities and idleness. William committed himself to frivolity, even after being elected into Parliament at 21. As he said himself, “the first years in Parliament I did nothing—nothing to any purpose.”

     After a sudden conversion experience, William began to see his work (and world) in a whole new light.

     “The Gospel freely admitted makes a man happy. It gives him peace with God, and makes him happy in God. It gives to industry a noble, contented look which selfish drudgery never wore; and from the moment that a man begins to do his work for his Saviour’s sake, he feels that the most ordinary employments are full of sweetness and dignity, and that the most difficult are not impossible. And if any of you, my friends, is weary with his work, if dissatisfaction with yourself or sorrow of any kind disheartens you, if at any time you feel the dull paralysis of conscious sin, or the depressing influence of vexing thoughts, look to Jesus, and be happy. Be happy, and your joyful work will prosper well.”

     2. Bloom where you are planted.

     William struggled with his Parliament position in light of his new faith. Religious enthusiasm was not socially accepted in high society, and he worried about finding himself at odds with his peers. For advice, he reached out to Anglican clergyman John Newton (writer of “Amazing Grace”). Newton responded by telling William, “It is hoped and believed that the Lord has raised you up for the good of his church and for the good of the nation.” This gave William the encouragement he needed.

     As he later wrote in his diary, “My walk I am sensible is a public one; my business is in the world; and I must mix in assemblies of men, or quit the post which Providence seems to have assigned me.”

     His decision to stay in Parliament would help change the nation and end the slave trade.

     3. Have the stamina to pursue your God-given passions until the end.

     In William’s time, more than 11 million people had been captured in Africa and forced into labor in the West Indies, with Britain controlling the majority of that slave trade. Putting an end to Britain’s role in this unacceptable practice became William’s driving passion, no matter the cost to himself.

     “As soon as ever I had arrived thus far in my investigation of the slave trade, I confess to you sir, so enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition. A trade founded in iniquity, and carried on as this was, must be abolished, let the policy be what it might,—let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest till I had effected its abolition.”

     Slavery, a booming business, contributed much to the British economy. Though few were directly involved in the slave trade, most wealthy families benefited from it somehow. The resistance to abolishing slavery was fierce, but William was resolute.

     For 20 years, William worked as an abolitionist, often without seeing positive results. But on July 26, 1833, the House of Commons voted to abolish the slave trade. Upon hearing the news, William said, “Thank God that I have lived to witness [this] day.” He died three days later.

Jayson Bradley

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - July 29

     “Nevertheless I am continually with thee.” --- Psalm 73:23.

     “Nevertheless,”—As if, notwithstanding all the foolishness and ignorance which David had just been confessing to God, not one atom the less was it true and certain that David was saved and accepted, and that the blessing of being constantly in God’s presence was undoubtedly his. Fully conscious of his own lost estate, and of the deceitfulness and vileness of his nature, yet, by a glorious outburst of faith, he sings “nevertheless I am continually with thee.” Believer, you are forced to enter into Asaph’s confession and acknowledgment, endeavour in like spirit to say “nevertheless, since I belong to Christ I am continually with God!” By this is meant continually upon his mind, he is always thinking of me for my good. Continually before his eye;—the eye of the Lord never sleepeth, but is perpetually watching over my welfare. Continually in his hand, so that none shall be able to pluck me thence. Continually on his heart, worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart for ever. Thou always thinkest of me, O God. The bowels of thy love continually yearn towards me. Thou art always making providence work for my good. Thou hast set me as a signet upon thine arm; thy love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. Surprising grace! Thou seest me in Christ, and though in myself abhorred, thou beholdest me as wearing Christ’s garments, and washed in his blood, and thus I stand accepted in thy presence. I am thus continually in thy favour—“continually with thee.” Here is comfort for the tried and afflicted soul; vexed with the tempest within—look at the calm without. “Nevertheless”—O say it in thy heart, and take the peace it gives. “Nevertheless I am continually with thee.”

          Evening - July 29

     “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” --- John 6:37.

     This declaration involves the doctrine of election: there are some whom the Father gave to Christ. It involves the doctrine of effectual calling: these who are given must and shall come; however stoutly they may set themselves against it, yet they shall be brought out of darkness into God’s marvellous light. It teaches us the indispensable necessity of faith; for even those who are given to Christ are not saved except they come to Jesus. Even they must come, for there is no other way to heaven but by the door, Christ Jesus. All that the Father gives to our Redeemer must come to him, therefore none can come to heaven except they come to Christ.

     Oh! the power and majesty which rest in the words “shall come.” He does not say they have power to come, nor they may come if they will, but they “shall come.” The Lord Jesus doth by his messengers, his word, and his Spirit, sweetly and graciously compel men to come in that they may eat of his marriage supper; and this he does, not by any violation of the free agency of man, but by the power of his grace. I may exercise power over another man’s will, and yet that other man’s will may be perfectly free, because the constraint is exercised in a manner accordant with the laws of the human mind. Jehovah Jesus knows how, by irresistible arguments addressed to the understanding, by mighty reasons appealing to the affections, and by the mysterious influence of his Holy Spirit operating upon all the powers and passions of the soul, so to subdue the whole man, that whereas he was once rebellious, he yields cheerfully to his government, subdued by sovereign love. But how shall those be known whom God hath chosen? By this result: that they do willingly and joyfully accept Christ, and come to him with simple and unfeigned faith, resting upon him as all their salvation and all their desire. Reader, have you thus come to Jesus?

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     July 29


     Virgil P. Brock, 1887–1978

     Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

     The ability to see “beyond the sunset”—to anticipate the glories of God’s tomorrow—enables a Christian to live joyfully and victoriously in any of life’s circumstances. It is difficult for us to imagine heavenly scenes or to describe them with earthly symbols. The Bible does promise us, however, that there will be “eternal joy” in the “glorious presence” of our Savior “on that fair shore.”

     Virgil P. Brock told how he wrote this favorite hymn about heaven:

     This song was born during a conversation at the dinner table, one Evening in 1936, after watching a very unusual sunset at Winona Lake, Indiana, with a blind guest, my cousin Horace Burr, and his wife, Grace. A large area of the water appeared ablaze with the glory of God, yet there were threatening storm clouds gathering overhead. Our blind guest excitedly remarked that he had never seen a more beautiful sunset.
     “People are always amazed when you talk about seeing,” I told him, “I can see,” Horace replied. “I see through other people’s eyes, and I think I often see more; I see beyond the sunset.”
     The phrase “beyond the sunset” and the striking inflection of his voice struck me so forcibly, I began singing the first few measures. “That’s beautiful!” his wife interrupted. “Please go to the piano and sing it.”
     We went to the piano nearby and completed the first verse. Before the Evening meal was finished, all four stanzas had been written and we sang the entire song together.

     Virgil P. Brock’s cheerful and lively manner continued to inspire others as he wrote more than 500 Gospel songs and led congregations in vibrant singing until the end of his 9l years. His fruitful life reflected a constant, keen awareness of that land “beyond the sunset.”

     Beyond the sunset, O blissful Morning, when with our Savior heav’n is begun. Earth’s toiling ended, O glorious dawning—beyond the sunset when day is done.
     Beyond the sunset no clouds will gather; no storms will threaten, no fears annoy; O day of gladness, O day unending—beyond the sunset, eternal joy!
     Beyond the sunset a hand will guide me to God the Father, whom I adore; His glorious presence, His words of welcome, will be my portion on that fair shore.
     Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion with our dear loved ones who’ve gone before. In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting—beyond the sunset forevermore!

     For Today: John 14:2, 3; Philippians 3:20, 21; Revelation 21:4

     Practice frequent thoughts about the promises and glories of heaven when you feel yourself giving an undue amount of importance to the trivial events of daily living. Now sing ---

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. CI. — AND with respect to that of Malachi which Paul annexes, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated;” (Mal. i. 2-3). that, the Diatribe perverts by a threefold contrivance. The first is – “If (it says) you stick to the letter, God does not love as we love, nor does He hate any one: because, passions of this kind do not pertain unto God.” —

     What do I hear! Are we now inquiring whether or not God loves and hates, and not rather why He loves and hates? Our inquiry is, from what merit it is in us that He loves or hates. We know well enough, that God does not love or hate as we do; because, we love and hate mutably, but He loves and hates from an eternal and immutable nature; and hence it is, that accidents and passions do not pertain unto Him.

     And it is this very state of the truth, that of necessity proves “Free-will” to be nothing at all; seeing that, the love and hatred of God towards men is immutable and eternal; existing, not only before there was any merit or work of “Free-will,” but before the worlds were made; and that, all things take place in us from necessity, accordingly as He loved or loved not from all eternity. So that, not the love of God only, but even the manner of His love imposes on us necessity. Here then it may be seen, how much its invented ways of escape profit the Diatribe; for the more it attempts to get away from the truth, the more it runs upon it; with so little success does it fight against it!

     But be it so, that your trope stands good — that the love of God is the effect of love, and the hatred of God the effect of hatred. Does, then, that effect take place without, and independent of, the will of God? Will you here say also, that God does not will as we do, and that the passion of willing does not pertain to Him? If then those effects take place, they do not take place but according to the will of God. Hence, therefore, what God wills, that He loves and hates. Now then, tell me, for what merit did God love Jacob or hate Esau, before they wrought, or were born? Wherefore it stands manifest, that Paul most rightly adduces Malachi in support of the passage from Moses: that is, that God therefore called Jacob before he was born, because He loved him; but that He was not first loved by Jacob, nor moved to love him from any merit in him. So that, in the cases of Jacob and Esau, it is shewn — what ability there is in our “Free-will”!

The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Judges 12-15
m2-119 6-15-2016 | Brett Meador

J.P. Moreland   Biola University

J.P. Moreland   Biola University

Center for Christian Thought
J.P. Moreland   Biola University

Neuroscience and the Soul 1
J.P. Moreland   Biola University

Neuroscience and the Soul 2
J.P. Moreland   Biola University

Moses: Reluctant Leader 2
Tom Steffen   Biola University

Billy Graham-Modern America
    Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

Timeliness of Speaking of God
Cardinal Kasper   Emory University

Jefferson-Humanism-Classical Education
Tracy Lee Simmons   Emory University

Aristotle's Good Life
Robert Bartlett   Emory University

Aristotle's Ethics I.5
Ronna Burger   Emory University

Good News Regarding Environment
Stephen Fitch   Biola University

The Joy of The Master
Kenneth Berding   Biola University

Love Your Place
Robert Campbell   Biola University

Encourage the Discouraged
Barry Corey and Stan Jantz   Biola University