I Will Recount Your Wonderful DeedsPsalm 9 To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.
1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.
7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.
9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13 Be gracious to me, O LORD!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah
17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O LORD!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
Why Do You Hide Yourself?
1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
3 For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5 His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
6 He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
7 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
8 He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9 he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.
16 The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
The LORD Is in His Holy TemplePsalm 11 To the choirmaster. Of David.
1 In the LORD I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
“Flee like a bird to your mountain,
2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
3 if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
4 The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
5 The LORD tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
6 Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the LORD is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.
The Faithful Have VanishedPsalm 12 To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.
1 Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
7 You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
8 On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
How Long, O Lord?Psalm 13 To the choirmaster. Of David.
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
The Fool Says, There Is No GodPsalm 14 To the choirmaster: Of David.
1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the Lord?
5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is his refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?Psalm 15 A Psalm of David.
1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
You Will Not Abandon My SoulPsalm 16 A Miktam of David.
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
What I'm Reading
Why the Church Needs the Infertile Couple
By Matthew Lee Anderson 4/21/2017
At the center of the remarkable montage near the opening of Pixar’s Up stands the sorrow of infertility.
On one side lie the joys of a budding marriage, and on the other the delights of its twilight. In the hour of crisis, Carl sees Ellie sitting in the garden facing the sun with a forlorn look, feeling the devastation of their joint barrenness. Neither character speaks throughout the montage, but here their silence is particularly apt: the wordlessness of grief weighs heavily upon them, and upon us. Relief begins when Carl, who is by no means immune to their sadness, places Ellie’s “adventure book”—which has many more pages in it for them to fill—in her lap. It is the most beautiful depiction of infertility I know of; it is among the most tender five minutes of film I have ever seen.
But the adventures Carl and Ellie are given in the latter half of their lives are not the grand, exotic drama they had wanted. They hoped to someday live on top of a waterfall. Instead, car tires go flat, the roof needs replacing, and bones are broken. At every turn, the ordinary challenges of living in this world prevent them from pursuing the dreams of their youth. Yet if their adventure book is incomplete when Ellie dies, it is not empty; we glimpse the fullness of their love and feel like it is enough. The sadness at their separation stems not from their inability to live out their dream, but from the reality that they are no longer together.
While the montage is widely regarded as one of the most moving parts of the film, it almost failed make the final cut. Director Pete Docter said the studio was leery of showing their infertility because it was “going too far.” But the filmmakers had no real ...
Matthew Lee Anderson is a doctoral candidate in Christian ethics at Oxford University, and the founder of Mere Orthodoxy. He invites you to follow him on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family Worship: The Voice of Rejoicing in the Christian Home
By Shane Anderson 4/21/2017
“The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous!” (Psalm 118:15)
Our minister, Arie, grew up in a Reformed church tradition where daily family worship is the norm, generations of believers worship together every Lord’s Day morning and evening, and a child who falls away is a rare exception.
About a decade ago, I began arriving at those convictions and practices the hard way: humiliations, repentance, preaching, and the testimony of other Christian families. Slowly but surely, in God’s kind grace, our little tabernacle is now a place where “the voice of rejoicing and salvation” is regularly heard, and our three little girls are now in their teens, serving the Lord–and there is no greater joy! (3 John 4)
Here’s some of our advice about family worship.
Found no info on Shane Anderson
Does Deut 20:16-17 contradict Matthew 5:43-48?
By Billy Dyer 1/5/2016
Does the Bible contain contradictory descriptions of God's own character? This is a very weighty question. What we are really asking is, "Can we trust the Bible to give us an accurate description of God?" I would contend that if the Bible contains just one contradiction (errant) then we cannot trust it at all to tell us about God. For how would we know which parts are accurate and which parts are not. Let us take Deut 20:16-17 and Matthew 5:43-48 for example.
Deut 20:16-17 says, " "Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you"
Matthew 5:43-48 says, ""You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Some argue that these two passages reveal two different theologies that are irreconcilable. But there is truly nothing new under the sun. Marcion (85-160 A.D.) argued the same thing. He contended that the God of the Old Testament was different than the God of the New Testament. You can read my blog about him here. He rejected the Old Testament and much of the New. This led to the church excommunicating him. But today we just call it scholarship and read their books.
The Good News
By R.C. Sproul Jr. 2/1/2009
I’ve got great news — I just saved a bundle on my car insurance. This pop-cultural punchline might just expose a real problem we have in our Christian sub-culture: we don’t know what the good news is.
The confusion, from one perspective, is understandable. God is good. God is gracious. We move from grace to grace, receiving gifts from Him all the time. God is in turn sovereign. He controls all things. When He tells us, therefore, that all things work together for good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28), we can learn that it’s all good news. His coming, that’s good news. His dying, that’s good news. His ascending, that’s good news. His sending the Spirit, that’s good news. The Spirit applying all these things to His people, that’s good news. Even the trials we go through here and now, they are good news as well. We are, after all, to count it all joy.
That everything is good news, however, does not mean that everything is the good news. The authors of their respective gospels were not merely publishing everything they came upon. While each had their own peculiar focus, each of them together, on the other hand, were seeking to make known the good news. These four men, however, were not the first. Two other men before them labored diligently to make known the good news. One of those two was called the greatest man born of a woman by the Lord (Luke 7:28). The other was the Lord of glory Himself. If we would understand the Gospels, we would be wise to understand that the good news they were reporting was the good news proclaimed not just about Jesus, but by Jesus. The good news is that the kingdom has come. This is the message of Jesus: the kingdom of God is here.
On the other hand, the bad news is that the kingdom has come. The life, death, resurrection, ascension and return of Christ is to us who have been called, the very aroma of life. To those who are still outside the kingdom, it is the stench of death. It is the same kingdom either way, but for the seed of the woman (Christians) it is blessing, and for the seed of the serpent it is cursing. That this one kingdom can mean one thing for one group and the opposite for another can help explain how we have come to conflate some terms over time. That is, the difference between seeing the coming of the kingdom as an event of joy or of dread is found in one simple distinction — do we trust in the finished work of Christ alone or not? The seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent began in the same place, as enemies of the kingdom. We are all by nature children of wrath. But it is as we are gifted with repentance and believe that we move from darkness to light, that we are adopted into the very family of God. That’s good news. Better still, the king who has adopted us, He is now king indeed. That’s very good news.
Our gospel is a truncated shell of this great reality if the good news is merely that we don’t have to go to hell. It gets only slightly better if it means that our souls go to heaven. The fullness of the gospel is found in the fullness of the kingdom. Jesus is about the business of remaking all things. He is, after all, the first-born of the new creation. He is remaking all the created order that groans under the burden of our sin. He is remaking all the political order, as all kings everywhere learn to kiss the Son, lest He be angry (Ps. 2). He is remaking the church, His bride, removing from us corporately every blot and blemish. And He is remaking every one of us, reshaping us pots into vessels of grace.
We are a part of this good news precisely because He came and lived a life of perfect obedience in our place. We are a part of this precisely because He suffered the wrath of the Father that is due to us for our sins. We are a part of this because He has given us each a new heart that responds to His calling with repentance and faith. We bring nothing to the table but our need. Jesus has done it all. We are His workmanship, judged innocent by His death, judged righteous by His life.
There is still more good news. We are not merely by the good news of His atonement made citizens of that kingdom we are called to seek. We are not merely judged righteous by His righteousness that we were called to seek. We are by the same Spirit made kings and queens with Him. We are not just subjects but rulers. We are seated even now with Him in the heavenly places. Our calling is to believe these promises. Our calling is to be of good cheer, for He has already overcome the world (John 16:33). We do not wait for His kingdom to come, for it is here. Instead, we strive to make it ever more visible, as we make all things subject to His glorious reign.
R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.
R.C. Sproul Jr. Books | Go to Books Page
The Final Word
By Keith Mathison 3/1/2009
In the early part of the twentieth century, one would have been hard pressed to find a greater theological mind than that of Benjamin B. Warfield (1851–1921). Sadly, both he and his work are virtually unknown today outside of certain circles in the Reformed churches. During his lifetime, however, his scholarship was world-renowned. Although a great theologian, Warfield never wrote a complete systematic theology text. He did, however, write extensively on a wide range of topics, at both the popular and academic levels. His collected works fill ten volumes, and his breadth and depth of knowledge remain something to behold. One subject to which Warfield made a lasting contribution is the doctrine of Scripture. The various essays on this doctrine found in The Inspiration and Authority of Bible are of such quality that they have made this volume a modern-day classic.
Warfield lived and wrote at a time when liberalism was at the peak of its influence. In the latter years of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, numerous authors were confidently touting the “assured results” of higher criticism and dismissing as outdated and outlandish doctrines such as the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. Warfield put his scholarly training to work by effectively and thoroughly countering the attacks of the liberal churchmen. Although the nineteenth-century form of liberalism has come and gone, the skepticism it encouraged still exists in many guises. Warfield’s work, then, remains amazingly relevant even a century after it was written.
The first chapter in The Inspiration and Authority of Bible explains the biblical doctrine of revelation. Here Warfield examines the distinctive nature of Christianity as a revealed religion and the meaning of “revelation” itself. The second chapter concerns the church’s doctrine of inspiration. Warfield points out that until very recently, the church has always and everywhere confessed her faith in the divine trustworthiness of Scripture. Protestantism in particular has emphasized the divine authority of Scripture. In chapter three, Warfield sets forth the biblical teaching on the doctrine of inspiration. He examines in detail texts such as 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19–21; and John 10:34–35.
In chapter four, “The Real Problem of Inspiration,” Warfield carefully demonstrates that the rejection of the traditional doctrine of inspiration is not merely the rejection of a particular doctrinal theory. It is the doctrine of the Lord and His apostles, and “in abandoning it we are abandoning them as our doctrinal teachers and guides” (p. 180). We do not adopt the doctrine of the plenary inspiration of Scripture on some sentimental grounds. We adopt it because it is taught by Christ and His apostles.
The final four chapters of the book are articles of a somewhat more academic nature. In chapter five, Warfield examines the way the New Testament uses the terms scripture and scriptures. Chapter six is a thoroughly exhaustive study of the Greek word theopneustos, which is found in 2 Timothy 3:16 and is translated “inspired” or “God-breathed.” In contrast with the liberal scholars of his day, Warfield concludes that the word has to do with the origin of Scripture rather than its nature or effects (p. 296). In chapter seven, Warfield looks at the way the authors of Scripture appeal to the written words of the Old Testament as direct utterances of God. He also examines the way in which some passages of Scripture are spoken of as if they were God, and how God is sometimes spoken of as if He were the Scriptures. The final chapter looks at the New Testament use of the term “oracles of God” to see how it contributes to our understanding of Scripture.
Since Warfield’s day, numerous authors have written on the doctrine of Scripture. Few, however, have had as thorough a grasp of all the relevant issues as Warfield. Those who ignore his contributions for whatever reasons do so only at a loss to themselves. Warfield’s work is valuable not only for the defense of biblical authority that it provides, but also for its model of orthodox scholarship. Warfield was a staunch defender of biblical authority and inerrancy, yet unlike some who have attempted to follow in his footsteps, he loathed anti-intellectualism and obscurantism. He modeled believing scholarship. In other words, he demonstrated in his own work that it is possible to be both a faithful believer in biblical inerrancy as well as a thorough scholar. Those of us who count ourselves among his heirs would do well to heed his example.
Per Amazon, Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.
Keith Mathison Books:
- 1 Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope
- 2 The Shape of Sola Scriptura
- 3 Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper
- 4 From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology
- 5 Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?
- 6 A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture
- 7 Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason
- 8 When Shall These Things Be?: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism
By Don Carson 4/5/2018
At the beginning of the American Experiment in democracy, the Founding Fathers adopted several stances, accepted by few today, that were deeply indebted to the Judeo-Christian heritage. This is not to say that the Founding Fathers were all Christians. Many weren’t; they were vague deists. But among these biblical assumptions was the belief that human beings are not naturally good and have potential for enormous evil.
For that reason, when the Fathers constructed their political system, they never appealed to “the wisdom of the American people” or similar slogans common today. Frankly, they were a little nervous about giving too much power to the masses. That is why there was no direct election of the president: there was an intervening “college.” Only (white) men with a stake in the country could vote. Even then, the branches of government were to be limited by a system of checks and balances, because for the Fathers, populist demagoguery was as frightening as absolute monarchy.
Certainly one of the great advantages of almost any system of genuine democracy (genuine in this context presupposes a viable opposition, freedom of the press, and largely uncorrupted voting) is that it provides the masses with the power to turf out leaders who disillusion us. In that sense, democracy still works: government must be by the consent of the governed. Yet the primitive heritage has so dissipated today that politicians from all sides appeal to the wisdom of the people. Manipulated by the media, voting their pocketbooks, supporting sectional interests or monofocal issues, voters in America and other Western democracies do not show very great signs of transcendent wisdom. Worse, we labor under the delusion (indeed, we foster the delusion) that somehow things will be all right provided lots of people vote. Our system of government is our new Tower of Babel: it is supposed to make us impregnable. The Soviet empire totters; other nations crumble into the dust, Balkanized, destroyed by civil war, tribal genocide, grinding poverty, endemic corruption, Marxist or some other ideology. Not us. We belong to a democracy, “rule by the people.”
Not for a moment should we depreciate the relative good of living in a country with a relatively high level of income, a stable government, and some accountability. But such blessings do not guarantee righteousness. “The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice” (Ps. 9:7-8).
Hear the voice of Scripture: “Arise, O LORD, let not man triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence. Strike them with terror, O LORD; let the nations know they are but men” (Ps. 9:19-20).
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 | Go to Books Page
By Don Carson 4/6/2018
Psalm 10 continues the theme of the justice and judgment of God, now slanted away from the more immediate and personal issue of justice for David when he feels betrayed by his enemies and toward a more general treatment. Where is God when evil people triumph? “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (10:1).
In Psalm 10:2-11, the wicked man is described in a composite picture. He arrogantly preys on weaker people (10:2). Far from showing any self-restraint, he boasts of his appetites “and reviles the Lord” (10:3). The sad fact of the matter is that “in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (10:4). Yet it is not difficult to find wicked people who are extraordinarily prosperous, even while they defy all the laws of God (10:5). The wicked man’s explosive arrogance seems to put him above lesser mortals, and he is touted in the papers as the one who gleefully pronounces to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble” (10:6). Nevertheless he curses his opponents, and spreads lies and malice with his tongue (10:8). In the worst cases he stoops to murder, whether directly as in gang warfare, mob violence, and terrorist attack, or indirectly through ruthless schemes that crush the helpless (10:9-10). And what does he think of God? “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees” (10:11).
The psalmist now addresses God directly (10:12-15): “Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless” (10:11). He reminds himself that God does see all the trouble and grief that befall this broken race; he does consider it; in his own time, he does take it in hand (10:14). That is why the victim and the orphan wisely commit themselves “to you” (10:14). So much evil is done in secret and will not be exposed by the ordinary judicial process. The psalmist therefore calls to God for justice: “Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out” (10:15).
The closing verses (10:16-18) find the psalmist reminding himself that God’s scale of timing is less urgent than ours: “The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land” (10:16). The scale that anticipates the dissolution of nations is not meant to dispel confidence that God also concerns himself with the minuscule scale of individual calamity. Rather, it is another way of saying that “the wheels of God’s justice grind exceeding slow, but they grind exceeding fine.”
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 | Go to Books Page
By Don Carson 4/9/2018
Observe the pattern of capital letters: “I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing’” (Ps. 16:2). In other words, addressing Yahweh (“LORD”), David confesses him “Lord,” his Master; then he adds, “Apart from you I have no good thing.”
(1) Looked at one way, these words delimit what is good, and thereby almost define the good. Nothing is ultimately good if it is abstracted from God. It may be good in a relative sense, of course. The Lord made the sun and pronounced it good, and good it is: it provides all of this world’s energy. Yet abstracted from the knowledge of God, it became an object of worship among many ancient peoples (called Ra in Egypt — and the covenant community itself could get caught up in syncretistic sun worship, Ezek. 8:16), and attracts a different kind of sun worshiper today. We may enjoy reasonably good health; surely that is a good thing. But suppose we use our energy to do what is selfish or evil, or deploy the blessings the Lord entrusts to us simply to order our lives as autonomously as possible? Apart from the Lord, we “have no good thing.”
(2) Looked at another way, the text is literally true. Since God is the Creator of all, then no good thing that we enjoy has come to us apart from him. “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” James writes (1:17). Paul asks, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7). So our first order of business ought to be gratitude. Apart from the Lord, we “have no good thing.”
(3) Yet the text is certainly more visceral than that. Its tone is closer to the words of Asaph: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:25-26). In comparison with knowledge of our Maker and Redeemer, nothing else is worth very much, whether in this life or in the life to come. Apart from the Lord, we “have no good thing.”
(4) The text will trigger in some minds other “apart from” passages. Perhaps the best known is John 15:5, where Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. Apart from the vine, we branches bear no fruit; and apart from him we “have no good thing.”
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 | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 64Hide Me from the Wicked
64 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”
6 They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.
7 But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
9 Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.
10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
OF THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH, AND ITS PRINCIPAL USE IN CENSURES AND EXCOMMUNICATION.
This chapter consists of two parts:--I. The first part of ecclesiastical discipline, which respects the people, and is called common, consists of two parts, the former depending on the power of the keys, which is considered, sec. 1-14; the latter consisting in the appointment of times for fasting and prayer, sec. 14-21. II. The second part of ecclesiastical discipline relating to the clergy, sec. 22-28.
1. Of the power of the keys, or the common discipline of the Church. Necessity and very great utility of this discipline.
2. Its various degrees. 1. Private admonition. 2. Rebukes before witnesses. 3. Excommunication.
3. Different degrees of delinquency. Modes of procedure in both kinds of chastisement.
4. Delicts to be distinguished from flagitious wickedness. The last to be more severely punished.
5. Ends of this discipline. 1. That the wicked may not, by being admitted to the Lord's Table, put insult on Christ. 2. That they may not corrupt others. 3. That they themselves may repent.
6. In what way sins public as well as secret are to be corrected. Trivial and grave offences.
7. No person, not even the sovereign, exempted from this discipline. By whom and in what way it ought to be exercised.
8. In what spirit discipline is to be exercised. In what respect some of the ancient Christians exercised it too rigorously. This done more from custom than in accordance with their own sentiments. This shown from Cyprian, Chrysostom, and Augustine.
9. Moderation to be used, not only by the whole Church, but by each individual member.
10. Our Saviour's words concerning binding and loosing wrested if otherwise understood. Difference between anathema and excommunication. Anathema rarely if ever to be used.
11. Excessive rigour to be avoided, as well by private individuals as by pastors.
12. In this respect the Donatists erred most grievously, as do also the Anabaptists in the present day. Portraiture by Augustine.
13. Moderation especially to be used when not a few individuals, but the great body of the people, have gone astray.
14. A second part of common discipline relating to fastings, prayer, and other holy exercises. These used by believers under both dispensations. To what purposes applied. Of Fasting.
15. Three ends of fasting. The first refers more especially to private fasting. Second and third ends.
16. Public fasting and prayer appointed by pastors on any great emergency.
17. Examples of this under the Law.
18. Fasting consists chiefly in three things--viz. time, the quality, and sparing use of food.
19. To prevent superstition, three things to be inculcated. 1. The heart to be rent, not the garments. 2. Fasting not to be regarded as a meritorious work or kind of divine worship. 3. Abstinence must not be immoderately extolled.
20. Owing to an excess of this kind the observance of Lent was established. This superstitious observance refuted by three arguments. It was indeed used by the ancients, but on different grounds.
21. Laws afterwards made to regulate the choice of food. Various abuses even in the time of Jerome. Practically there is no common ecclesiastical discipline in the Papacy.
22. The second part of discipline having reference to the clergy. What its nature, and how strict it formerly was. How miserably neglected in the present day. An example which may suit the Papists.
23. Of the celibacy of priests, in which Papists place the whole force of ecclesiastical discipline. This impious tyranny refuted from Scripture. An objection of the Papists disposed of.
24. An argument for the celibacy of priests answered.
25. Another argument answered.
26. Another argument answered.
27. An argument drawn from the commendation of virginity as superior to marriage. Answer.
28. The subject of celibacy concluded. This error not favoured by all ancient writers.
1. The discipline of the Church, the consideration of which has been deferred till now, must be briefly explained, that we may be able to pass to other matters. Now discipline depends in a very great measure on the power of the keys and on spiritual jurisdiction. That this may be more easily understood, let us divide the Church into two principal classes--viz. clergy and people. The term clergy I use in the common acceptation for those who perform a public ministry in the Church.  We shall speak first of the common discipline to which all ought to be subject, and then proceed to the clergy, who have besides that common discipline one peculiar to themselves. But as some, from hatred of discipline, are averse to the very name, for their sake we observe,--If no society, nay, no house with even a moderate family, can be kept in a right state without discipline, much more necessary is it in the Church, whose state ought to be the best ordered possible. Hence as the saving doctrine of Christ is the life of the Church, so discipline is, as it were, its sinews; for to it it is owing that the members of the body adhere together, each in its own place. Wherefore, all who either wish that discipline were abolished, or who impede the restoration of it, whether they do this of design or through thoughtlessness, certainly aim at the complete devastation of the Church. For what will be the result if every one is allowed to do as he pleases? But this must happen if to the preaching of the gospel are not added private admonition, correction, and similar methods of maintaining doctrine, and not allowing it to become lethargic. Discipline, therefore, is a kind of curb to restrain and tame those who war against the doctrine of Christ, or it is a kind of stimulus by which the indifferent are aroused; sometimes, also, it is a kind of fatherly rod, by which those who have made some more grievous lapse are chastised in mercy with the meekness of the spirit of Christ. Since, then, we already see some beginnings of a fearful devastation in the Church from the total want of care and method in managing the people, necessity itself cries aloud that there is need of a remedy. Now the only remedy is this which Christ enjoins, and the pious have always had in use.
2. The first foundation of discipline is to provide for private admonition; that is, if any one does not do his duty spontaneously, or behaves insolently, or lives not quite honestly, or commits something worthy of blame, he must allow himself to be admonished; and every one must study to admonish his brother when the case requires. Here especially is there occasion for the vigilance of pastors and presbyters, whose duty is not only to preach to the people, but to exhort and admonish from house to house, whenever their hearers have not profited sufficiently by general teaching; as Paul shows, when he relates that he taught "publicly, and from house to house," and testifies that he is "pure from the blood of all men," because he had not shunned to declare "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:20, 26, 27) Then does doctrine obtain force and authority, not only when the minister publicly expounds to all what they owe to Christ, but has the right and means of exacting this from those whom he may observe to be sluggish or disobedient to his doctrine. Should any one either perversely reject such admonitions, or by persisting in his faults, show that he contemns them, the injunction of Christ is, that after he has been a second time admonished before witnesses, he is to be summoned to the bar of the Church, which is the consistory of elders, and there admonished more sharply, as by public authority, that if he reverence the Church he may submit and obey (Mt. 18:15, 17). If even in this way he is not subdued, but persists in his iniquity, he is then, as a despiser of the Church, to be debarred from the society of believers.
3. Put as our Saviour is not there speaking of secret faults merely, we must attend to the distinction that some sins are private, others public or openly manifest. Of the former, Christ says to every private individual, "go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone" (Mt. 18:15). Of open sins Paul says to Timothy, "Those that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" (1 Tim. 5:20). Our Saviour had previously used the words, "If thy brother shall trespass against thee" This clause, unless you would be captious, you cannot understand otherwise than, If this happens in a manner known to yourself, others not being privy to it. The injunction which Paul gave to Timothy to rebuke those openly who sin openly, he himself followed with Peter (Gal. 2:14). For when Peter sinned so as to give public offence, he did not admonish him apart, but brought him forward in face of the Church. The legitimate course, therefore, will be to proceed in correcting secret faults by the steps mentioned by Christ, and in open sins, accompanied with public scandal, to proceed at once to solemn correction by the Church.
4. Another distinction to be attended to is, that some sins are mere delinquencies, others crimes and flagrant iniquities. In correcting the latter, it is necessary to employ not only admonition or rebuke, but a sharper remedy, as Paul shows when he not only verbally rebukes the incestuous Corinthian, but punishes him with excommunication, as soon as he was informed of his crime (1 Cor. 5:4). Now then we begin better to perceive how the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church, which animadverts on sins according to the word of the Lord, is at once the best help to sound doctrine, the best foundation of order, and the best bond of unity. Therefore, when the Church banishes from its fellowship open adulterers, fornicators, thieves, robbers, the seditious, the perjured, false witnesses, and others of that description; likewise the contumacious, who, when duly admonished for lighter faults, hold God and his tribunal in derision, instead of arrogating to itself anything that is unreasonable, it exercises a jurisdiction which it has received from the Lord. Moreover, lest any one should despise the judgment of the Church, or count it a small matter to be condemned by the suffrages of the faithful, the Lord has declared that it is nothing else than the promulgation of his own sentence, and that that which they do on earth is ratified in heaven. For they act by the word of the Lord in condemning the perverse, and by the word of the Lord in taking the penitent back into favour (John 20:23). Those, I say, who trust that churches can long stand without this bond of discipline are mistaken, unless, indeed, we can with impunity dispense with a help which the Lord foresaw would be necessary. And, indeed, the greatness of the necessity will be better perceived by its manifold uses.
5. There are three ends to which the Church has respect in thus correcting and excommunicating. The first is, that God may not be insulted by the name of Christians being given to those who lead shameful and flagitious lives, as if his holy Church were a combination of the wicked and abandoned. For seeing that the Church is the body of Christ, she cannot be defiled by such fetid and putrid members, without bringing some disgrace on her Head. Therefore that there may be nothing in the Church to bring disgrace on his sacred name, those whose turpitude might throw infamy on the name must be expelled from his family. And here, also, regard must be had to the Lord's Supper, which might he profaned by a promiscuous admission.  For it is most true, that he who is intrusted with the dispensation of it, if he knowingly and willingly admits any unworthy person whom he ought and is able to repel, is as guilty of sacrilege as if he had cast the Lord's body to dogs. Wherefore, Chrysostom bitterly inveighs against priests, who, from fear of the great, dare not keep any one back. "Blood (says he, Hom. 83, in Mt.) will be required at your hands. If you fear man, he will mock you, but if you fear God, you will be respected also by men. Let us not tremble at fasces, purple, or diadems; our power here is greater. Assuredly I will sooner give up my body to death, and allow my blood to be shed, than be a partaker of that pollution." Therefore, lest this most sacred mystery should be exposed to ignominy, great selection is required in dispensing it, and this cannot be except by the jurisdiction of the Church. A second end of discipline is, that the good may not, as usually happens, be corrupted by constant communication with the wicked. For such is our proneness to go astray, that nothing is easier than to seduce us from the right course by bad example. To this use of discipline the apostle referred when he commanded the Corinthians to discard the incestuous man from their society. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:6) And so much danger did he foresee here, that he prohibited them from keeping company with such persons. "If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one, no not to eat" (1 Cor. 5:11). A third end of discipline is, that the sinner may be ashamed, and begin to repent of his turpitude. Hence it is for their interest also that their iniquity should be chastised, that whereas they would have become more obstinate by indulgence, they may be aroused by the rod. This the apostle intimates when he thus writes --"If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed" (2 Thess. 3:14). Again, when he says that he had delivered the Corinthian to Satan, "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5); that is, as I interpret it, he gave him over to temporal condemnation, that he might be made safe for eternity. And he says that he gave him over to Satan because the devil is without the Church, as Christ is in the Church. Some interpret this of a certain infliction on the flesh, but this interpretation seems to me most improbable. (August. de Verb. Apostol. Serm. 68)
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
10/1/2011 Death, Disease & the Gospel
I was sixteen when my father died. It was a Sunday evening in late September of 1992 when I heard the news of his death. I had just returned from work when my mother came into my room in tears. My father was born in 1924, and his first son was killed in a hunting accident in 1969 at the age of eighteen. In 1986, my youngest sister was diagnosed with a disease that was projected to take her life by age 20. But despite these tragedies, my experiences are not altogether unique. Death and disease come to every family, and all of us have painful stories that daily weigh heavily on our hearts and minds. Our stories all have a similar theme because we are all sons of Adam, in whom we all died because we all sinned in him and fell into a state of sin and misery with him.
As a pastor, and having served now in some sort of ministerial capacity for sixteen years, I have witnessed many deaths and have held the hands of countless men and women and boys and girls who are themselves suffering from some sort of disease or dealing with the death or disease of a loved one. I dare not begin to count the number of teenagers, moms, and dads who have attempted or committed suicide, and I never seem to be able to forget the faces of those who have died as I knelt at their bedsides holding their hands.
Death and disease are a part of life. In one way or another, we are all faced with death and disease every day of our lives. Even though people today are isolated more than ever from real community and more insulated by a façade of creature comforts, we cannot escape the harsh realities of death and disease all around us. Every day we hear reports from other parts of the world about foreigners dealing with death and disease. Every day we hear about friends and colleagues trying desperately to cope with death and disease. Every day we ourselves consider the realities of death and disease that will eventually come to each of us and to each of our loved ones, if our Lord should tarry in His return.
Because of the unrelenting nature of death and disease, we might be tempted to try to run from death and hide from disease while striving with all our might never to think on such matters. But in doing so our striving would not only be vain but sinful. Just as the Puritans spoke of dying well, so we need to be reminded that it is not a question of if and when we will die, but how we will die and how we will cope with the daily realities of death and disease — will we stand and shake our fists at God in bitter anger or will we kneel in prayer and in humble dependence on our Lord and on the promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ by the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit, glorifying God and enjoying Him now and at the hour of our death? For the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away — blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1).
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
The Legend of Robinhood speaks of Richard the Lionhearted. Upon his return to England after crusading in the Holy Land, he took back the throne from his brother John. After his death, though, John again ruled oppressively. The angry barons responded by capturing London and on this date, June 15, 1215, surrounded John on the plains of Runnymeade. There the arbitrary power of the King was forever limited when they force him to sign the Magna Carta. It ends with the words: "for the salvation of our souls, and the souls of all our… heirs, and unto the honor of God."
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
God is a circle whose centre is everywhere
and circumference nowhere.
--- Timaeus of Locris
Tim Burton: The Monster and the Crowd: A Post-Jungian Perspective
If the people of God would diligently keep their hearts, their communion with each other would be unspeakably more inviting and profitable. … It is the fellowship which the people of God have with the Father and with the Son, that kindles the desires of others to have communion with them. I tell you, that if saints would be persuaded to spend more time and take more pains about their hearts, there would soon be such a divine excellence in their conversation, that others would account it no small privilege to be with or near them. It is the pride, passion and earthliness of our hearts, that has spoiled Christian fellowship. … Whence come their uncharitable censures of their brethren, but from their ignorance of themselves? Why are they so rigid and unfeeling towards those who have fallen; but because they do not feel their own weakness and liability to temptation? (Galatians 6:1).Why is their discourse so light and unprofitable when they meet; but because their hearts are earthly and vain? My brethren, these and similar things are what have spoiled Christian fellowship, and made it so dry and disgusting, that even many Christians are weary of it; and therefore they seek in retirement, that happiness, which the society of saints was designed to afford.
--- John Flavel
The Whole Works Of John Flavel: Late Minister Of The Gospel At Dartmouth, Devon, Volume 1...
The biggest thieves of all are the lazy people who could work but won’t, the people who consume what others produce but produce nothing for others to use. The ‘sluggard’ and the ‘slothful man’ are mentioned at least seventeen times in Proverbs, and nothing good is said about them.
--- Warren Wiersbe
Be Skillful (Proverbs): God's Guidebook to Wise Living (The BE Series Commentary)
... from here, there and everywhere
CHAPTER 9 / “Blessed Be the Name of His
Glorious Kingdom Forever and Ever” (1)
(1) The verse permits a number of different translations. The late Dr. Philip Birnbaum, for instance, insists upon “Blessed be the name of His glorious majesty forever and ever” (see his Ha-Siddur ha-Shalem [New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1949], introduction, p. xvi). But because this and other translations do not affect our theme substantively, we shall forego any detailed attempt at a more accurate translation.
This verse is non-biblical in origin. In chapter 3 we mentioned the Talmud’s explanation as to why this verse is recited in an undertone: it was not recited by Moses, but was uttered by Jacob on his deathbed, and therefore we compromise by whispering it.
(a) Praise of the Creator. The Mishnah records that this verse was recited by the congregation after the High Priest, officiating at the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple, uttered the Tetragrammaton “in purity and holiness” (Yoma 35b).
(b) The Eternity of God. Barukh shem kevod is a longer form of the well-known amen, indicating assent or belief, except that it is more inclusive in that it comprehends the element of the eternity of God as well. The Mishnah teaches that on the occasion of a public fast, the congregation responds to the blessings uttered by the reader (ḥazzan) with the word amen. The Gemara limits this practice to a service being conducted outside the Temple; in the Temple itself one must respond with the more elaborate formula, Barukh shem kevod (Taanit 16b). The Talmud offers as the source of this halakha the verse in Nehemiah (9:5): “Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever; and blessed be Your glorious name which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” This verse links God’s eternity with the praise of God’s Name: Barukh shem kevod.
(c) The Liturgical Sanctification of the Divine Name (kiddush Hashem bi’devarim). The Halakha teaches that the divine Name is sanctified not only by an act of martyrdom, and not only by exemplary moral conduct, but also by proclaiming faith in God’s holiness in public prayer. In all such cases of liturgical kiddush Hashem, such as the recitation of the Kaddish, Kedushah, or Barkhu, the mitzvah is performed in the form of a dialogue: the reader issues the summons to perform the sanctification, and the congregation responds. The verse Barukh shem kevod represents such a response to the mention of the divine Name(s) in the Shema. (2)
(2) This may explain why the verse is recited after pronouncing a doubtful blessing, i.e., if one is in doubt whether it is obligatory to recite a berakha. To forego the blessing, if it is indeed required, is to refrain knowingly from blessing God when the Halakha demands it; to recite it when it is not required is to violate the commandment not to take the Lord’s Name in vain. The responsive nature of the liturgical sanctification is first mentioned in Sifre (to Haazinu, 32.), giving other illustrations and offering biblical warrant. See my Halakhot ve’Halikhot, pp. 39–41.
These three major themes found in Barukh shem kevod aptly reflect the first verse of the Shema, which explains why this traditional verse is paired with the biblical verse, the Shema itself. The Shema obviously expresses “praise of the Creator.” It also implies God’s eternity: the three mentions of divine Names in the Shema refer to God’s sovereignty before creation, during the existence of the universe, and after the destruction of all creation. (3) And the Shema and Barukh shem kevod are paired as responsive affirmations of the holiness of God, both sanctifying the divine Name. (4)
(3) R. Eliezer of Worms, quoted by the biblical exegete R. Baḥya in his commentary to Deut. 6:4; and see Jerusalem Talmud, cited in Yalkut Shimoni to Va-et’ḥanan, 836.
(4) Interestingly, confirmation of these three central points that Shema and Barukh shem kevod have in common comes from an analysis of the Atta hu paragraph recited after the very first reading of the Shema at the beginning of the Morning service (the keriat shema de’korbanot). See too in lyyun Tefillah in Siddur Otzar ha-Tefillot, who noticed the relationship of this passage to Barukh shem kevod without explicating it. It can be argued that this seems to be in accord with the Ziditchover as opposed to the R. Shneur Zalman—R. Ḥayyim interpretation. This is supported especially by the last four words of the passage, which are in the form of a supplication, thus bearing out the view of the Ziditchover that Barukh shem kevod is essentially a prayer rather than an affirmation or proclamation of a tenet of faith.
Given all the above conflicting or at least divergent interpretations, what kavvanah ought one entertain while reciting the Shema? From the retort to R. Jeremiah in Berakhot 13a (see chapter 6), we learn that the recitation of the Shema should be neither rushed nor dragged out too long so that others are disturbed. In those synagogues where the entire congregation recites the Shema (or at least the first verse) in unison, this problem is exacerbated because the time for the intense mental concentration of kavvanah is strictly limited. Does this mean that one should change this custom or avoid such synagogues that may seem too “modern” in their overemphasis on decorousness? While there is much to be said for individual variation even during communal prayer, there are countervailing values that must be considered. Singing—not only reciting—the Shema by the entire congregation in unison is recommended by the Midrash in no uncertain terms: (5)
(5) However, the Gemara obviously did not know or approve of it, otherwise the dialogue between R. Jeremiah and R. Aḥa b. Jacob hardly makes sense.
“You who dwells in the gardens, the companions hearken to your voice; cause me to hear it. Make haste, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” (Song of Songs 8:13, 14)
When Jews gather in the synagogues and read the Shema with focused attention, with one voice … and with one melody, so that they all conclude [the recitation] together, the Holy One says to them, “You who dwell in the gardens,” when you are companions (because you read the Shema in unison), I and My [angelic] retinue “hearken to your voice.” But when Jews read the Shema in disorder, one earlier and one later, thus not focusing their kavvanah in [reciting] the Shema, the Holy Spirit cries out, saying, “Make haste, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart”—referring to the supernal hosts who emulate My glory with one voice and with one melody, “upon the mountains of spices”—in the highest of the high heavens.
Any of the various meditations already mentioned is acceptable as an appropriate kavvanah. One can, in light of the midrash mentioned earlier, intend to address our Father Jacob and proclaim, to him as it were, that we still do and always will worship the One God who covenanted with him and his children. Indeed, one can even reflect on this while saying the word “Hear O Israel” and then refocus one’s thoughts on the usual interpretation, namely, that we are repeating Moses’ address to his people Israel.
The simplest kavvanah is to meditate, when we say “the Lord is our God,” on unifying the various dichotomies that cluster about these two Names. This thought should immediately be followed by the eschatological meditation, that is, that this unification is something we Jews now accept wholeheartedly and that the rest of the world will yet accept—at the time of the final redemption.
After these initial meditations, one has a variety of options. One can think of the Talmud’s minimalist or comprehensive meditation—that God is omnipresent in space and, perhaps (following Rav Kook), in time as well—even though the Talmud recommended this kavvanah only when time is limited. Or, one may focus on the exclusivist interpretation advocated by a number of the Rishonim.
After these meditations have been practiced so that they can be fit into a reasonable time span such as mandated by R. Ḥiyya b. Abba to R. Jeremiah in the Talmud, one can proceed to the complex level of kabbalistic interpretations. Here one can focus one’s intention either on R. Shneur Zalman and R. Ḥayyim’s acosmic view or on the directional interpretation of the Ziditchover. If one chooses the former, one need not bear in mind the Talmud’s meditation, because the acosmic notion transcends that of omnipresence. If the Ziditchover’s, it is sufficient in its own right, even though it does not comprehend the Talmud’s interpretation. (That, however, should not prove disturbing because, as has been said, the Talmud was concerned only with time constraints, not with the content of the kavvanah.)
Obviously, it is not possible to practice all these meditations at one and the same recitation, especially if one is just beginning to prepare for more complex kavvanot. It is better to divide the various meditations among the four daily recitations of the Shema. (10) Thus, in the course of the day, one can “cover all bases,” thereby guiding one’s prayer via the most cogent interpretations of the holiest verse in all of the Torah.
(10) The four times are as follows: the two times mandated halakhically, namely, the Shema as part of the Morning (Shaḥarit) service and the Evening (Maariv) service; the Shema recited before the reading of the sacrificial order (korbanot) as part of the preliminaries to Shaḥarit; and the Shema recited before retiring at night (keriat shema she’al ha-mittah).
The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
Thanks to Meir Yona
Herod Is Confirmed In His Kingdom By Caesar, And Cultivates A Friendship With The Emperor By Magnificent Presents; While Caesar Returns His Kindness By Bestowing On Him That Part Of His Kingdom Which Had Been Taken Away From It By Cleopatra With The Addition Of Zenodoruss Country Also.
1. But now Herod was under immediate concern about a most important affair, on account of his friendship with Antony, who was already overcome at Actium by Caesar; yet he was more afraid than hurt; for Caesar did not think he had quite undone Antony, while Herod continued his assistance to him. However, the king resolved to expose himself to dangers: accordingly he sailed to Rhodes, where Caesar then abode, and came to him without his diadem, and in the habit and appearance of a private person, but in his behavior as a king. So he concealed nothing of the truth, but spoke thus before his face: "O Caesar, as I was made king of the Jews by Antony, so do I profess that I have used my royal authority in the best manner, and entirely for his advantage; nor will I conceal this further, that thou hadst certainly found me in arms, and an inseparable companion of his, had not the Arabians hindered me. However, I sent him as many auxiliaries as I was able, and many ten thousand [cori] of corn. Nay, indeed, I did not desert my benefactor after the bow that was given him at Actium; but I gave him the best advice I was able, when I was no longer able to assist him in the war; and I told him that there was but one way of recovering his affairs, and that was to kill Cleopatra; and I promised him that, if she were once dead, I would afford him money and walls for his security, with an army and myself to assist him in his war against thee: but his affections for Cleopatra stopped his ears, as did God himself also who hath bestowed the government on thee. I own myself also to be overcome together with him; and with his last fortune I have laid aside my diadem, and am come hither to thee, having my hopes of safety in thy virtue; and I desire that thou wilt first consider how faithful a friend, and not whose friend, I have been."
2. Caesar replied to him thus: "Nay, thou shalt not only be in safety, but thou shalt be a king; and that more firmly than thou wast before; for thou art worthy to reign over a great many subjects, by reason of the fastness of thy friendship; and do thou endeavor to be equally constant in thy friendship to me, upon my good success, which is what I depend upon from the generosity of thy disposition. However, Antony hath done well in preferring Cleopatra to thee; for by this means we have gained thee by her madness, and thus thou hast begun to be my friend before I began to be thine; on which account Quintus Didius hath written to me that thou sentest him assistance against the gladiators. I do therefore assure thee that I will confirm the kingdom to thee by decree: I shall also endeavor to do thee some further kindness hereafter, that thou mayst find no loss in the want of Antony."
3. When Caesar had spoken such obliging things to the king, and had put the diadem again about his head, he proclaimed what he had bestowed on him by a decree, in which he enlarged in the commendation of the man after a magnificent manner. Whereupon Herod obliged him to be kind to him by the presents he gave him, and he desired him to forgive Alexander, one of Antony's friends, who was become a supplicant to him. But Caesar's anger against him prevailed, and he complained of the many and very great offenses the man whom he petitioned for had been guilty of; and by that means he rejected his petition. After this Caesar went for Egypt through Syria, when Herod received him with royal and rich entertainments; and then did he first of all ride along with Caesar, as he was reviewing his army about Ptolemais, and feasted him with all his friends, and then distributed among the rest of the army what was necessary to feast them withal. He also made a plentiful provision of water for them, when they were to march as far as Pelusium, through a dry country, which he did also in like manner at their return thence; nor were there any necessaries wanting to that army. It was therefore the opinion, both of Caesar and of his soldiers, that Herod's kingdom was too small for those generous presents he made them; for which reason, when Caesar was come into Egypt, and Cleopatra and Antony were dead, he did not only bestow other marks of honor upon him, but made an addition to his kingdom, by giving him not only the country which had been taken from him by Cleopatra, but besides that, Gadara, and Hippos, and Samaria; and moreover, of the maritime cities, Gaza 31 and Anthedon, and Joppa, and Strato's Tower. He also made him a present of four hundred Galls [Galatians] as a guard for his body, which they had been to Cleopatra before. Nor did any thing so strongly induce Caesar to make these presents as the generosity of him that received them.
4. Moreover, after the first games at Actium, he added to his kingdom both the region called Trachonitis, and what lay in its neighborhood, Batanea, and the country of Auranitis; and that on the following occasion: Zenodorus, who had hired the house of Lysanias, had all along sent robbers out of Trachonitis among the Damascenes; who thereupon had recourse to Varro, the president of Syria, and desired of him that he would represent the calamity they were in to Caesar. When Caesar was acquainted with it, he sent back orders that this nest of robbers should be destroyed. Varro therefore made an expedition against them, and cleared the land of those men, and took it away from Zenodorus. Caesar did also afterward bestow it on Herod, that it might not again become a receptacle for those robbers that had come against Damascus. He also made him a procurator of all Syria, and this on the tenth year afterward, when he came again into that province; and this was so established, that the other procurators could not do any thing in the administration without his advice: but when Zenodorus was dead, Caesar bestowed on him all that land which lay between Trachonitis and Galilee. Yet, what was still of more consequence to Herod, he was beloved by Caesar next after Agrippa, and by Agrippa next after Caesar; whence he arrived at a very great degree of felicity. Yet did the greatness of his soul exceed it, and the main part of his magnanimity was extended to the promotion of piety.
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)
by D.H. Stern
but a sensible wife is from ADONAI.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Get a move on
In the Matter of Drudgery. And beside this, … add. --- 2 Peter 1:5.
You have inherited the Divine nature, says Peter (v. 4), now screw your attention down and form habits, give diligence, concentrate. “Add” means all that character means. No man is born either naturally or supernaturally with character; he has to make character. Nor are we born with habits; we have to form habits on the basis of the new life God has put into us. We are not meant to be illuminated versions, but the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. Drudgery is the touchstone of character. The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. “Jesus took a towel …, and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”
There are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, but just the daily round, the common task. Routine is God’s way of saving us between our times of inspiration. Do not expect God always to give you His thrilling minutes, but learn to live in the domain of drudgery by the power of God.
It is the ‘adding’ that is difficult. We say we do not expect God to carry us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, and yet we act as if we did! The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I do my duty, not for duty’s sake, but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience the whole superb grace of God is mine through the Atonement.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Have I had to wait
all this time to discover
its meaning-that rectory,
mahogany of a piano
the light played on? What
it was saying to the unasked
question was: 'The answer
is here.' The woman was right;
she knew it: the truth china
can tell in a cool pantry;
the web happiness can weave
that catches nothing but the dew's
tears. The one flight over
that valley was that
of the wild geese. The river's
teeth chattered but not
with the cold. The woman tended
a wood fire against my return
from my wanderings, a silent entreaty
to me to cease my bullying
of the horizon. There was a dream
she kept under her pillow
that has become my nightmare.
It was the unrecognized conflict
between two nations; the one happy
in the territory it had gained,
determined to keep it; the other
with the thought he could kiss the feet
of the Welsh rainbow. I was shown
the fact: a people with a language
and an inheritance for sale;
their skies noisy with armed aircraft;
their highways sluices for their neighbours'
discharge. If I wet my feet
it was in seas radiant but not with well being.
I retire at night beneath stars
that have gone out. I stand
with my friends at a cross-road
where there is no choice. No matter;
that nightmare is a steed I am
content to ride so it return
with me here among countrywomen
whose welcome is warm at the grave's edge.
It is a different truth, a different
love I have come to, but one
I share with that afflicted remnant
as we go down, inalienable to our defeat.
A youngster spray paints his name in graffiti on the side of a school building. When he's caught, he appears in court with his parents and his attorney. "My client is extremely remorseful," says the lawyer. "This is the first time he has been in trouble with the law, and he is truly sorry for what he did." And the parents add, "Your honor, we're willing to pay the costs of removing the graffiti from the school." The judge listens, nods, and then responds. "Your son's remorse is a good first step. But he should learn from his mistake. Your paying the costs of the repair won't accomplish this. Even his working off these costs is not enough. The best way for this young man to learn a lesson from this unfortunate incident is for him to undo what he has done."
And then he addresses the accused: "In some cases, young man, that's impossible. When a car is stolen and wrecked, or when a friend's reputation has been hurt, Humpty Dumpty just can't be put back together again. But in the case before this court, the damage can and should be repaired by the accused. This court finds you guilty and orders you to remove the graffiti from the school building. You may use tools and cleaning agents but no human agents. This is something you should do with your own two hands."
"Wait just a minute, Rabbi Yitzḥak! A pair of pants made out of fig leaves? You've got to be kidding! How long do you think those would have lasted?
"It doesn't take a genius to figure out that fig-leaf clothing isn't very durable. But you just have to turn the page in the Bible to see that God eventually had to make more long-lasting clothing for Adam and Eve:
"And the Lord God made garments of skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
"It's all well and good for God to tell Adam and Eve: "You broke it, now you fix it!" But the childlike first couple didn't do such a great repair job with those fig leaves. God had to step in anyway after the damage was done to make things right.
"Imagine if our penal system was based on the maxim "You have ruined things! Take a thread and sew it up!" Rabbi Yitzḥak might tell us: "What's the point of just incarcerating criminals? They will only learn how to be better criminals. Society should demand that they make amends to those they have wronged. That way, the victims would be compensated. And the perpetrators would get the chance to do real teshuvah, and in doing so would become at last positive members of society."
"Such a criminal justice system looks good on paper, but could it really work? Crimes against property might be easily compensated, but how does one make amends for crimes against persons? Telling a murderer or a rapist to "take a thread and sew it up" is not only foolish, but cruel to the victims. Ultimately, it is society, not the sinner, that has to make things right.
"A little boy makes a mess in his room. A parent can order the child to clean it up, but it's likely that an even bigger mess may result. Or the parent can clean it up by herself, and the child will have learned nothing. Or the parent can take the child by the hand, showing him, directing him how to clean up his own mess. And maybe then the lesson would be learned.
"You can't expect someone to take needle and thread and fix a tear if they don't know how to sew.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
W. W. Wiersbe
"Each prophet had his own unique approach to his own special message. Hosea's message was an application of his sad domestic trials, emphasizing God's jealous love; but Joel's message was an interpretation of a national calamity—a plague of locusts and a drought—and emphasized God's glorious kingdom.
Joel may well have been the first of the writing prophets; he probably ministered in Judah during the reign of King Joash (835–796 B.C.). You find the record in 2 Kings 11–12 and 2 Chronicles 22–24. Joash came to the throne at the age of seven, and Jehoiada the priest was his mentor. This may explain why Joel says nothing about the king, since Joash was learning the job.
Joel's major theme is the "day of the Lord" and the need for God's people to be prepared. "day of the Lord" is used in Scripture to refer to different periods when God sent judgment to His people, (The term "Day of the Lord" is used to describe the fall of Israel in 722 B.C. (Amos 5), the fall of Judah in 586 B.C. (Ezek. 13:5), and the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. (Jer. 46:10). Each of these local calamities was a precursor of the worldwide judgment that is promised by the prophets and also by our Lord (Matt. 24; Mark 13).) but the main emphasis is on the future "day of the Lord" when the nations will be judged and Christ shall return to set up His glorious kingdom.
Joel refers to three important events, each of which he calls a "day of the Lord." He sees the plague of locusts as an immediate day of the Lord (Joel 1:1–20, the invasion of Judah by Assyria as an imminent day of the Lord (21:27), and the final judgment of the world as the ultimate day of the Lord (2:27–3:21). In the first, the locusts are a metaphorical army; in the second, the locusts symbolize a real army; in the third, the locusts aren't seen at all and the armies are very real and very dangerous.
A Suggested Outline of the Book of Joel
Key theme: "the Day of the Lord" (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14)
Key verse: Joel 2:12–13
I. The Immediate Day of the Lord — 1:1–20
1. Hear! (elders, citizens) — 1:2–4
2. Wake up! (drunkards — 1:5–7
3. Mourn! (farmers) — 1:8–12
4. Call a fast! (priests) — 1:13–20
II. The Imminent Day of the Lord — 2:1–27
(The "imminent" Day of the Lord refers to the future invasion of Judah by the Assyrians, when the land would be devastated and Jerusalem surrounded by armies. (See Isa. 36–37; 2 Kings 18–19; and 2 Chron. 32.) This occurred during the reign of King Hezekiah (715–686 B.C.). Jerusalem was miraculously delivered from Assyria by the Angel of the Lord who killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. However, not every Old Testament student sees a distinction between I and II. Some see II as an amplification of I. Regardless of how you outline the book, the message remains the same: each national calamity reminds us that the "Day of the Lord" is coming and we must be prepared.)
1. The invading army, like locusts — 2:1–11
2. The call to repent — 2:12–17
3. The promise of restoration — 2:18–27
III. The Ultimate Day of the Lord — 2:28–3:21
1. Before that day – Spirit poured out — 2:28–32
2. During that day – judgment poured out — 3:1–16
3. After that day – blessing poured out — 3:17–21
Dictionary Of Jesus And The Gospels
The breadth of material included among the Dead Sea Scrolls is demonstrated by a group of documents which might be categorized as magical. One zodiac from Cave 4 is known to exist (4QZodiac / Magical text (unpublished) from Qumran Cave 4) but has not been published. It may be identical with an unpublished brontologion (predicting events using thunder), which comprises two fragmentary columns. Somewhat more can be said about the document known as 4Q Cryptic. This is an encoded series of horoscopes in which the author used a mixture of alphabets and wrote from left to right, the opposite of the usual direction for Hebrew. The text describes three people in reference to their astrological birth signs; this in turn is related to their physical and spiritual qualities. There are terminological parallels with the Manual of Discipline. Such texts indicate that astrological ideas had been assimilated very early and quite deeply by the Jews, in spite of the clear connection they apparently had with idolatry for the authors of the Hebrew Bible (for example, Is 47:13–14; Jer 10:1–3). This type of interest was more typical of popular Jewish religion in this period than has often been realized.
Another zodiacal document, known as 4QMess ar, (Aramaic “Messianic” text from Qumran Cave 4) has been called a messianic horoscope. This very poorly preserved text contains the Aramaic phrase bḥyr ˒lh˒, the equivalent of the Greek phrase ho eklektos tou theou (the elect of God) witnessed by some manuscripts of John 1:34. It is not certain, however, that this phrase is intended in a messianic sense. It occurs as part of a description of an unborn child, who is ascribed wisdom and precocious intellect. He is also to have a long life, and the success of his plans is assured by his position as the “elect of God.” The description of the child is clearly influenced by biblical descriptions of Solomon, and the text has no clear astronomical terminology. It might therefore better be considered an example of physiognomic literature, of which there are many Greco-Roman examples. It may actually describe the birth of Noah (compare 1 Enoch 106).
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (IVP Bible Dictionary)
Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism
For much of Western history, there were relatively few sources for Judaism between the Bible and the Mishnah. The Apocrypha, or deuterocanonical books, were traditionally (and still are) part of the Bible of the Catholic Church. This is a very small selection of Jewish literature from the period 200 B.C.E. to 100 C.E. It includes the books of Maccabees, major wisdom books (Ben Sira and Wisdom of Solomon) and pious tales (Tobit, Judith), but apocalyptic writings are conspicuous by their absence. (2 Esdras, which includes the apocalypse of 4 Ezra, is included in the Apocrypha but not in the deuterocanonical books that are part of the Catholic Bible.) The history of the period was well known because of the books of Maccabees and the writings of Josephus. In recent years these sources have been supplemented by archaeology, but few additional literary sources have come to light. Also, the great corpus of Philo of Alexandria’s works was transmitted by Christians, because of its similarity to the writings of the church fathers. The Hellenistic Jewish literature was of marginal interest for orthodox Jewish scholarship in the nineteenth century, but it was the subject of some important studies, notably in the work of Jacob Freudenthal (1874–1875; see Niehoff in Oppenheimer, ed. 1999: 9–28).
There exists, however, an extensive class of writings attributed to Old Testament figures that is not included in the Apocrypha. These writings are called “pseudepigrapha” (falsely attributed writings). There is also a small number of pseudepigraphic writings attributed to figures of pagan antiquity, most prominently the Sibyl. Most of the Greek and Latin writings relating to the Old Testament, such as the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, were collected by J. A. Fabricius in his Codex Pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti in 1713. But many important works were preserved only in less widely known languages, such as Ethiopic, Syriac, and Old Church Slavonic. The translations from Ethiopic of the Ascension of Isaiah (1819) and 1 Enoch (1821) by Richard Laurence inaugurated a new era in the study of ancient Judaism. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, several more important pseudepigrapha came to light—Jubilees, 2 and 3 Baruch, 2 Enoch, the Apocalypse of Abraham, and the Testament of Abraham. These discoveries greatly enlarged the corpus of apocalyptic works from around the turn of the era and potentially provided resources for a new view of ancient Judaism. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were landmark editions of the collected Pseudepigrapha in German (Kautzsch 1900; Riessler 1928) and English (Charles 1913), but editions of the individual books had been available from the late nineteenth century.
In all these things we are more than conquerors. --- Romans 8:37.
Why should a Roman gallows, and the strange Man who hung there, haunt the imagination and the conscience of our race? (Classic Sermons on Suffering (Kregel Classic Sermons Series))
It is because humankind, in the depths of the spirit, has always been conscious that in that Cross, God has spoken, and eternity has intersected history. We know that, past all our attempts to answer the problem of evil and suffering, here is God’s answer. Here, if anywhere, is the clue to solve the riddle [of life and the mystery of sorrow].
It is not the fact of suffering that baffles us, for we can see that we need it; it is the frightful excess of the thing that seems so cruel and senseless. If God intends human sanctification, why couldn’t he have thought out some kindlier way?
There is still another difficulty. We talk about suffering producing character. But it does not always have that effect. The beneficent influence of pain does not work automatically! In different lives, suffering produces different effects. One man loses his wife, and the loss makes him more tender and gentle. Another faces the same loss, and it makes him hard and sullen. One woman has a great sorrow, and it turns her to God. Another [has] a similar experience, and she is never seen inside a church again.
Trouble, in itself, is neither positive nor negative. It is neutral; whether it is going to become positive or negative depends on the human reaction. Some have the grace to use it creatively, forcing trouble to yield up its hidden blessing. But we do not always rise to that. How often our negative reaction balks even his will to bless!
This fact emerges—that our main concern with suffering is not to find an explanation; it is to find a victory. It is to lay hold on a power. Even if you possessed the answer to the riddle, had it written down to the last detail and could say, “There is the full and final explanation of the problem of pain,” that would not be enough, would it? For the pain itself would still have to be borne. That is the real demand of the human spirit—not the explaining of this thing, but grace and help to bear it. And that is why God gave us Christ.
On every page of your New Testament the living God comes toward you, and he holds in his hands not the answer to the questions of the mind but something better and diviner: a liberating, reinforcing power for the soul!
--- James S. Stewart
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
A Mob and a Boy June 14
England’s John Wycliffe embodied Protestantism long before Luther, and the Reformation could have broken out in England 130 years before it began in Germany. It was aborted, however, by a mob and a boy.
During Wycliffe’s day, England was an unhealthy place. Few reached age 40. There was little public sanitation, and the stench of latrines, tanneries, and livestock sullied the air. The plague struck with frightening regularity—in 1361, 1368, 1375, 1382, 1390—taking one in three and nearly half the clergy. The population grew angry and social order deteriorated. A poll tax in 1380 sparked violence, and Wycliffe, finding himself quoted by rebel leaders, tried to distance himself from the revolt. But many felt his reformer’s message had contributed to the uprising.
On June 10, 1381 mobs swarmed through Canterbury, sacking the palace of Archbishop Sudbury. On June 11 revolutionaries rolled like a flood toward London. “Now,” they said, “the reign of Christian democracy will begin and every man will be a king.”
King Richard II hid in the Tower of London as the horde stormed the capital. The next Morning he agreed to meet with the insurgents in North London. Rebel leaders, unsatisfied with his answers, rushed back to the tower, seized Archbishop Sudbury while he was singing Mass in the chapel, forced his neck on a log, and hacked off his head (which required eight strokes to do the job). Mobs pillaged and murdered at will. The shaken king retired to his mother’s apartments near St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The next Morning, June 15, 1381, Richard took the sacrament and rode out to face the rebels. When a skirmish erupted, he rode bravely toward the masses, shouting, “Sirs, will you shoot your king? I will be your captain; you shall have from me that which you seek.” The rebels hesitated, and the people sided with Richard. The tide turned. The king, his state, and the official Church of England were preserved; the revolt was crushed; William Courtnay, who hated Wycliffe, was named archbishop; and the Reformation was deferred until another day.
King Richard II, incredibly, was only 14 years old.
Who makes these things happen? Who controls human events? I do! I am the LORD. I was there at the beginning; I will be there at the end. Islands and foreign nations saw what I did And trembled as they came near.
--- Isaiah 41:4,5.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - June 15
“And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.” --- Genesis 21:6.
It was far above the power of nature, and even contrary to its laws, that the aged Sarah should be honoured with a son; and even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, for my nature was as dry, and withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness, even I have been made to bring forth fruit unto holiness. Well may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the singular, surprising grace which I have received of the Lord, for I have found Jesus, the promised seed, and he is mine for ever. This day will I lift up Psalms of triumph unto the Lord who has remembered my low estate, for “my heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies, because I rejoice in thy salvation.”
I would have all those that hear of my great deliverance from hell, and my most blessed visitation from on high, laugh for joy with me. I would surprise my family with my abundant peace; I would delight my friends with my ever-increasing happiness; I would edify the Church with my grateful confessions; and even impress the world with the cheerfulness of my daily conversation. Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of his society. Sarah looked on her Isaac, and laughed with excess of rapture, and all her friends laughed with her; and thou, my soul, look on thy Jesus, and bid heaven and earth unite in thy joy unspeakable.
Evening - June 15
“He openeth, and no man shutteth.” --- Revelation 3:7.
Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise and before every believing soul he setteth an open door, which no man or devil shall be able to close against it. What joy it will be to find that faith in him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, dost thou carry this key in thy bosom, or art thou trusting to some deceitful pick-lock, which will fail thee at last? Hear this parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and he has proclaimed to all the world that none shall enter but those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and they bring each one the flower which he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence, and enter not into the festive halls. Some bear in their hand the deadly nightshade of superstition, or the flaunting poppies of Rome, or the hemlock of self- righteousness, but these are not dear to the King, the bearers are shut out of the pearly gates. My soul, hast thou gathered the rose of Sharon? Dost thou wear the lily of the valley in thy bosom constantly? If so, when thou comest up to the gates of heaven thou wilt know its value, for thou hast only to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open: not for a moment will he deny thee admission, for to that rose the Porter openeth ever. Thou shalt find thy way with the rose of Sharon in thy hand up to the throne of God himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise there is none that can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary’s blood-red rose into thy hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it thine all in all, and thou shalt be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine for ever, my God, my heaven, my all.
Morning and Evening
IN TIMES LIKE THESE
Words and Music by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902–1972
Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
Wars, earthquakes, famines, violence, drugs, child abuse, humanism, the occult, New Age …
When world events and ideologies like these seem ominous and unsettling to us or when personal sorrows or tragedies confront us, where can we go but to the Lord? How comforting it is to know that we can always flee to Him and rest securely on our “Solid Rock.” During the fearful days at the height of World War II, when the stress and strain of daily living seemed almost overwhelming, the comforting hymn “In Times Like These” was written. In the midst of a busy day as a housewife, Ruth Caye Jones felt a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit. She stopped her work to quickly put down both words and music just as they were given to her by God.
Since that day the hymn has been a blessing to countless Christians at special times of need. It has brought comfort during illness, has been used widely at funerals, has encouraged and challenged Christian workers, and has drawn many to salvation. Mrs. Jones experienced for herself the consolation the words of the song could bring as she spent time recovering form serious surgery a few years after it was written.
The Scriptures warn that world conditions will continue to get worse as we approach the end of this age and the return of Christ. In addition, we must prepare ourselves for the difficult times that come to everyone as life progresses. We can only remain firm when we know with conviction that our God is in control and that all things are working out for our ultimate good. In the meantime, we simply grip the “Solid Rock!”
In times likes these you need a Savior; in times like these you need an anchor; be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
In times like these you need the Bible; in times like these O be not idle; be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
In times like these I have a Savior; in times like these I have an anchor; I’m very sure, I’m very sure my anchor hold and grips the Solid Rock!
Refrain: This Rock is Jesus, yes, He’s the One; this Rock is Jesus, the only One! Be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
For Today: Job 13:13, 15; 19:25, 27; Psalm 56:11; Isaiah 26:3, 4.
Whatever difficulties might surround you just now, be certain that you can sing with conviction this musical testimony ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. LVI. – THE third passage is from Moses, (Deut. xxx. 19.) “I have set before thy face life and death, choose what is good, &c.” — “What words (says the Diatribe) can be more plain? It leaves to man the liberty of choosing.” —
I answer: What is more plain, than, that you are blind? How, I pray, does it leave the liberty of choosing? Is it by the expression ‘choose’? — Therefore, as Moses saith ‘choose,’ does it immediately come to pass that they do choose? Then, there is no need of the Spirit. And as you so often repeat and inculcate the same things, I shall be justified in repeating the same things also. — If there be a liberty of choosing, why has the ‘probable opinion’ said that “Freewill” cannot will good? Can it choose not willing or against its will? But let us listen to the similitude, —
— “It would be ridiculous to say to a man standing in a place where two ways met, Thou seest two roads, go by which thou wilt, when one only was open.” —
This, as I have before observed, is from the arguments of human reason, which thinks, that a man is mocked by a command impossible: whereas I say, that the man, by this means, is admonished and roused to see his own impotency. True it is, that we are in a place where two ways meet, and that one of them only is open, yea rather neither of them is open. But by the law it is shewn how impossible the one is, that is, to good, unless God freely give His Spirit; and how wide and easy the other is, if God leave us to ourselves. Therefore, it would not be said ridiculously, but with a necessary seriousness, to the man thus standing in a place where two ways meet, ‘go by which thou wilt,’ if he, being in reality impotent, wished to seem to himself strong, or contended that neither way was hedged up.
Wherefore, the words of the law are spoken, not that they might assert the power of the will, but that they might illuminate the blindness of reason, that it might see that its own light is nothing, and that the power of the will is nothing. “By the law (saith Paul) is the knowledge of sin,” (Rom. iii. 20.): he does not say — is the abolition of, or the escape from sin. The whole nature and design of the law is to give knowledge only, and that of nothing else save of sin, but not to discover or communicate any power whatever. For knowledge is not power, nor does it communicate power, but it teaches and shows how great the impotency must there be, where there is no power. And what else can the knowledge of sin be, but the knowledge of our evil and infirmity? For he does not say — by the law comes the knowledge of strength or of good. The whole that the law does, according to the testimony of Paul, is to make known sin.
And this is the place, where I take occasion to enforce this my general reply: — that man, by the words of the law, is admonished and taught what he ought to do, not what he can do: that is, that he is brought to know his sin, but not to believe that he has any strength in himself. Wherefore, friend Erasmus, as often as you throw in my teeth the Words of the law, so often I throw in yours that of Paul, “By the law is the knowledge of sin,” — not of the power of the will. Heap together, therefore, out of the large Concordances all the imperative words into one chaos, provided that, they be not words of the promise but of the requirement of the law only, and I will immediately declare, that by them is always shewn what men ought to do, not what they can do, or do do. And even common grammarians and every little school-boy in the street knows, that by verbs of the imperative mood, nothing else is signified than that which ought to be done, and that, what is done or can be done, is expressed by verbs of the indicative mood.
Thus, therefore, it comes to pass, that you theologians, are so senseless and so many degrees below even school-boys, that when you have caught hold of one imperative verb you infer an indicative sense, as though what was commanded were immediately and even necessarily done, or possible to be done. But how many slips are there between the cup and the lip! So that, what you command to be done, and is therefore quite possible to be done, is yet never done at all. Such a difference is there, between verbs imperative and verbs indicative, even in the most common and easy things. Whereas you, in these things which are as far above those, as the heavens are above the earth, so quickly make indicatives out of imperatives, that the moment you hear the voice of him commanding, saying, “do,” “keep,” “choose,” you will have, that it is immediately kept, done, chosen, or fulfilled, or, that our powers are able so to do.
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library