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6/29/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Joshua 1     Psalm 120-122     Isaiah 61     Matthew 9


Joshua 1

God Commissions Joshua

Joshua 1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua Assumes Command

10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”

12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”


Psalm 120

Deliver Me, O Lord

Psalm 120 A Song of Ascents.

1 In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
2 Deliver me, O Lord,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.

3 What shall be given to you,
and what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior's sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!

5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war!


Psalm 121

My Help Comes From The Lord

Psalm 121 A Song of Ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.


Psalm 122

Let Us Go to the House of the Lord

Psalm 122 A Song of Ascents. Of David.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
2 Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for[a] Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
5 There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
8 For my brothers and companions' sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.


Isaiah 61

The Year of the Lord's Favor

Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
6 but you shall be called the priests of the Lord;
they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.

8 For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.


Matthew 9

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

Matthew 9 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing[a] their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

Jesus Calls Matthew

9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

A Question About Fasting

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district.

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

Jesus Heals a Man Unable to Speak

32 As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33 And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

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What I'm Reading

Christian Case Making Can Change the Way You Think About Your Purpose

By J. Warner Wallace 6/25/2017

     Everyone has a worldview, and our overarching beliefs ultimately impact the way we evaluate our experiences and interpret claims and objectives, including claims about purpose and meaning. My friend, Teasi (pronounced “Tee See”) Cannon has a deep love for Christian case making (apologetics) and has incorporated that passion in a new book entitled, Lord, Where's My Calling?: When the big question becomes a big distraction. Few books addressing this topic engage the issue with an eye on Christian case making. Teasi’s book is readable, intelligent and enlightening. She writes from the rare perspective of someone who is incredibly well read from an apologetics perspective, while possessing a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty Theological Seminary. in Lord, Where’s My Calling? Teasi tackles the true definition of “calling” while incorporating everything she’s learned as a “one-dollar apologist.” She graciously agreed to an interview about the book

     J. Warner Wallace: | Teasi, I know you have a deep interest in Christian apologetics. What was your purpose in writing this book?

     Teasi Cannon: | My purpose in writing this book is really two-fold: first, as a thank you to God for how faithful He’s been—patiently continuing the work He’s begun between my ears. And second, to help others who feel deflated or even completely depressed because they can’t seem to identify their special calling. Many of us have been led to believe it’s out there…our mountain-moving, kingdom-changing call to action that will one day, most certainly, be hand-delivered by the heavenly host complete with fanfare. But nothing even remotely close to that ever happened for me—hasn’t to this day. And that’s totally fine…at long last. You see, for years (and years), not knowing my big calling held me back. In fact, I didn’t believe my life was truly going to start until I got the answer to that daily (and sometimes hourly) prayer, Lord, where’s my calling? Normal things like having babies, teaching 7th graders in a public school, or helping with various ministries at church, sadly, never felt like enough. They always felt like warm-ups…or training ops for the day when it would finally come. And because of that, I lived as a horizon watcher…missing the flowers blooming right at my feet. But, I’m missing them no more. Not because I finally got what I was asking for, but because I’ve got something far better. In fact, I’ve had it all along, and my prayer is that once readers discover they’ve had it all along too, they’ll feel relieved, encouraged, and even inspired.

     J. Warner Wallace: | In your book, you make a distinction between calling and purpose. How are they different?

     Teasi Cannon: | Yes, I would consider recognizing the significant distinction between these two words one of the most transformative ah-hah moments of my life. Before seeing it, I’d always assumed purpose and calling were synonymous. In fact, I always heard them discussed or taught as if they were the same—not only in definition, but in importance. Which is why I never noticed my priorities were all mixed up. The line was so blurred that I couldn’t see which one should come first in my heart and mind. Until God used the dictionary to set me straight. When I looked up the definitions, what I found for calling was this: the work a person does or should be doing; a vocation or profession. When I looked up purpose, this is what I found: the reason for which something exists or is done, made, or used. Basically, my calling is the work I do, my j-o-b; whereas my purpose is the reason for which I exist. One is about doing, the other about being. Not the same at all. I definitely don’t want the work I do to be the reason I exist, and I’m thankful that it’s not. In the book, I share some analogies involving highly intellectual things such as vacuum cleaners and flying carpets to further illustrate the difference, and then look at what the Bible says about the primary reason for which God made humans. Turns out our purpose is pretty incredible and is never reliant upon a calling (which can come and go and change several times in a lifetime). Ever since I switched from having a calling-focused life to a purpose-focused life, I no longer go to bed at night aching for some important assignment. I can put my head on the pillow every night knowing I’ve successfully lived the reason for which I was created…even if I never left the house.

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

     

What Thoughts Keep You Up at Night?

By Paul Jewell 6/26/2017

     I refer to them as my “3 a.m. moments.” Something stirs me from slumber, and a slew of thoughts compete for space in my mind. The minutes crawl, sleep seems distant, and the light of dawn is heavily cloaked.

     Some nights, I’m assaulted by memories of past sins: careless words, lingering glances, simmering bitterness. Other nights, I worry about the future: the demands of the next day, the uncertainties of the next decade.

     In these moments, my carefully constructed façade crumbles, my soul is laid bare, and my hidden fears are exposed. My mind is overwhelmed by a cacophony of questions that demand answers.

     And it’s in these moments that God is teaching me to sing with the psalmist:

     When I remember God, I moan;
     when I meditate, my spirit faints.
     You hold my eyelids open;
     I am so troubled that I cannot speak. (Psalm 77:3–4)

     A Cry for Help |

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God,
and he will hear me. (Psalm 77:1)

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     Paul Jewell lives outside of Ann Arbor, MI with his wife and four children.

Beauty and the Existence of God

By John Mark N. Reynolds 6/26/2017

     The existence of beauty suggests that God exists and that He is good. Beauty is not a sufficient proof for God’s existence, but it serves as a confirmation for anyone whose belief in God is based on other reasons and experiences.

     The harmonious plan of the cosmos allows for variation and freedom for created beings. There is a fundamental pattern and order to creation, but also room for the unexpected within the design plan. Too much regularity would seem stagnant, so thankfully creation shows variability and the capacity to adapt and change. So delightful is the universe that elegant mathematical and scientific theories work better in explaining what exists than inelegant ones.

     These observations suggest that an engineer or artist lies behind the cosmos as Cause and Designer. But is our recognition of beauty just a useful natural adaptation?

     After all, it would be to our advantage to develop a liking for the ecosystem that contains us. But humans do not just find their local environment pleasing. We also discover that newly explored areas of the cosmos are beautiful. For instance, when my little boy went up in a plane and saw “cloud land,” he turned to me with wonder and said, “It is so beautiful.” It did not surprise him. Even though the scenery from above the clouds was previously unknown to him, he had learned to expect beauty when he came upon new vistas of creation.

     Gratuitous beauty, beauty that has no survival value for humankind, exists!

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     John Mark Reynolds is the president of The Saint Constantine School, a school that aspires to preschool through college education. He is also a philosopher, administrator, and joyous curmudgeon. He is a follower of Jesus and a student of Socrates. He is also an owner of the Green Bay Packers. Opinions here are his own ... even Hope doesn't agree with him always.

What are Self-Defeating Statements?

By Mark Goodnight 6/26/2017 quoting J.P. Moreland

     There are no moral absolutes, so you ought to stop judging the moral beliefs and behaviors of others!” A crucial flaw in one’s views is when one makes a self-defeating (also called “self-refuting” or “self-referentially incoherent”) statement.

     What exactly is a self-defeating statement? It is a statement with three characteristics. (1) It establishes some requirement of acceptability for an assertion (or sentence, proposition, or theory). (2) It places itself in subjection to this requirement. (3) It fails to satisfy the requirement of acceptability that the assertion itself way, stipulates.

     A statement is about a subject matter. The subject matter for “All dogs are mammals” is dogs. When a statement is included in its own subject matter and fails to satisfy its own standards of acceptability, it is self-defeating.

     Some examples of self-defeating statements are these: “No sentence is longer than three words.” “I cannot utter a word of English” (spoken in English). “I do not exist.” “There is no truth.” “There are no truths that cannot be verified by the five senses or by science.”

     In identifying a self-defeating statement, we must exercise great care in making sure that the statement actually refers to itself, that it is a part of its own subject matter. For example, the claim that one cannot utter a word of English is not self-defeating if asserted in French. More importantly, the statement “There are no moral absolutes,” though false, is not self-defeating. Why? The statement is a philosophical assertion about morality and not a claim of morality.

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     Published by Mark Goodnight, former critic of Christianity now Christian Apologist and Reasonable Faith Chapter Director for Reasonable Faith Tulsa South. Uber Geek, metal head, movie buff, chess lover. I am not perfect but I strive to let God's Word be the foundation of my life in everything I do. Favorite Scriptures: Matt 6:33, Isaiah 43:4, Rom 8:28, Jer 29:11. Look them up and let them change your life as they changed mine. View all posts by Mark Goodnight

J.P. Moreland Books

What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate Part 1

By John Piper 6/24/2017

     And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

     As we come to the end of our series on marriage — this week and next week — it is fitting that we think together about the implications of the meaning of marriage for divorce and remarriage. For many of you who have walked through a divorce and are now single or remarried, or whose parents were divorced, or some other loved one, the mere mention of the word carries a huge weight of sorrow and loss and tragedy and disappointment and anger and regret and guilt. Few things are more painful than divorce. It cuts to the depths of personhood unlike any other relational gash. It is emotionally more heart-wrenching than the death of a spouse. Death is usually clean pain. Divorce is usually dirty pain. In other words, the enormous loss of a spouse in death is compounded in divorce by the ugliness of sin and moral outrage at being so wronged.

     The Devastation of Divorce | It is often long years in coming, and long years in the settlement and in the adjustment. The upheaval of life is immeasurable. The sense of failure and guilt and fear can torture the soul. Like the psalmist, night after night a spouse falls asleep with tears (Psalm 6:6). Work performance is hindered. People don’t know how to relate to you any more and friends start to withdraw. You can feel like you wear a big scarlet D on your chest. The loneliness is not like the loneliness of being a widow or a widower or person who has never been married. It is in class by itself. (Which is one reason why so many divorced people find each other.) A sense of devastated future can be all consuming. Courtroom controversy compounds the personal misery. And then there is often the agonizing place of children. Parents hope against hope that the scars will not cripple the children or ruin their marriages some day. Tensions over custody and financial support deepen the wounds. And then the awkward and artificial visitation rights can lengthen the tragedy over decades. And add to all of this that it happens in America to over four out of every ten married couples.

     Responding to Divorce | There are two ways to respond lovingly and caringly to this situation. One is to come alongside divorced persons and stand by them as they grieve and repent of any sinful part of their own. And then to stay by them through the transitions and help them find a way to enjoy the forgiveness and the strength for new obedience that Christ obtained when he died and rose again.

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

     John Piper Books:

Husbands Who Love Like Christ and the Wives Who Submit to Them

By John Piper 6/11/1989

     Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

     Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behavior. Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are now her children if you do right and let nothing terrify you.

     Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.

     Let’s jump into this text at verse 31. It’s a quote from Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.” In the next verse (verse 32) Paul looks back on this quote and says, “This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

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

     John Piper Books:

Learn How to Be Brought Low

By Scott Hubbard 6/24/2017

     You don’t need to be anyone special to know what it means to be brought low.

     You don’t need to be Job to know that God gives and takes away (Job 1:21). You just need to know the heartsickness of hope deferred (Proverbs 13:12), or the bitterness of solitary pain (Proverbs 14:10), or the ache of God’s seeming silence (Psalm 13:1). In other words, anyone with a pulse knows what it means to be brought low.

     But can we stand up, square our shoulders, and say with the apostle Paul, “I know how to be brought low” (Philippians 4:12)?

     Can we say, “I know how to face financial disaster,” or “I know how to be betrayed,” or “I know how to endure years of chronic pain”? The words stick in my throat.

     School of Faithful Suffering | There was a time when Paul didn’t know how to be brought low. We know that because he says a verse earlier, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

     There was a time when Paul didn’t know how to give thanks from the dirt floor of a prison cell. But God taught him (Philippians 1:3–5). There was a time when he didn’t know how to rejoice when others in ministry stabbed him in the back. But God taught him (Philippians 1:17–18). There was a time when he didn’t know how to gaze at the blade of Caesar’s sword and say, “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” But God taught him (Philippians 1:21).

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     Scott Hubbard is a Master of Divinity student at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis.

Was The Deity Of Christ Invented At The Council Of Nicea?

By George Mitrakos

     Due to Dan Brown’s classic “the da Vinci code” those who fall short on distinguishing between fact and fiction have conjured up in their minds the impression that the divinity of Jesus was completely unheard of prior to the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. These claim that due to Constantine’s pagan origins, he assembled a council for reasons of forging Christian doctrines which would eventually coincide with his own personal theological biases.

     And the reason why this topic is so significant is due to the fact that if this claim stands true, then we would be doing nothing save believing in a Roman forged doctrine proven to be within the realm of non-existence prior to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries. Yet nothing can be further from the truth, and here is why.

     With this post, we will be looking at the following points:

  • The divinity of Jesus was believed in prior to the council.
  • Pre-Nicene Christians who believed that Jesus was God.
     The Divinity of Jesus was believed in prior to the council. | The Council of Nicea took place in AD 325 by order of the Roman Emperor Constantine. At the Council, the Emperor established an assemblage of ecclesiastical bishops with the purpose of defining the nature of God for all of Christianity, along with the purging of Christological bewilderment and disagreement within the early church.

     318 bishops, to be semi exact. Now Constantine called for a theological summit of bishops to sort out some escalating controversies among the early church. The issues being contested included the nature of Jesus Christ. A priest named Arius presented his argument that Jesus Christ was not an eternal being, that he was created at a certain point in time by the Father. Bishops such as Alexander and the deacon Athanasius argued the opposite.

     Constantine then prompted the archbishops in council to make a decision by majority vote, defining who Jesus actually was. Now, notice that the council of Nicea was one of DEBATE. Hence the assembly consisted of people who’s notions resided on both sides of the spectrum:

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     George Mitrakos

Joshua 1; Psalms 120-122; Isaiah 61; Matthew 9

By Don Carson 6/29/2018

     The fifteen short Psalms (Pss. 120-134) immediately succeeding Psalm 119 are grouped together as songs of ascent: that is, each carries this heading. The most likely explanation is that these Psalms were sung by pilgrims on their way up to Jerusalem and its temple for the great feasts: people “ascended” to Jerusalem from every point of the compass, just as in England one “goes up” to London from every point of the compass. This is not to say that each of the fifteen Psalms was necessarily composed for this purpose. Some may have been written in some other context, and then judged appropriate for inclusion in this collection. Thus Psalm 120 seems to reflect personal experience, but could easily be sung with great empathy by pilgrims who felt their alienation as they lived in a land surrounded by pagan neighbors — an important theme as the pilgrims approached Jerusalem and felt they were coming “home.” Indeed, the series of fifteen Psalms more or less moves from a distant land to Jerusalem itself (Ps. 122) and finally, in the last of these Psalms, to the ark of the covenant, the priests, and the temple “servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD” (Ps. 134:1).

     It is into this matrix that Psalm 121 falls. The first line, “I lift up my eyes to the hills,” is often stripped out of its context to justify some form of nature mysticism, or at very least an interpretation that suggests hills and mountains serve to remind us of God’s grandeur and therefore draw us to him and set our hearts at rest. In fact, the hills are enigmatic. Do they function symbolically like the mountain in Psalm 11:1, a place of refuge for those who are threatened and afraid? Are they havens for marauding thugs, so that the first line of verse 1 raises the problem that the rest of the psalm addresses? Or — perhaps more likely, since this is a song of ascents — does the pilgrim lift his eyes upward to the hills of Jerusalem, the hills evoking not nature mysticism but the place of the Davidic king, the place of the temple? If this is the right interpretation, then it is as if the psalmist finds these particular hills a call to meditate on the God who made them (“the Maker of heaven and earth,” Ps. 121:2), the God who “watches over Israel” (Ps. 121:4) as the covenant Redeemer.

     The last verses of the Psalm exult in the sheer comprehensiveness of God’s care over “you” (in the singular, as if the individual pilgrim is addressed by other pilgrims). “The LORD watches over you” (Ps. 121:5) — day and night (Ps. 121:6), your whole life (Ps. 121:7), in all you do (“your coming and going,” Ps. 121:8), “both now and forevermore” (Ps. 121:8).

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

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Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 69

Save Me, O God
69 To The Choirmaster: According To Lilies. Of David.

16 Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17 Hide not your face from your servant,
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
18 Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies!

19 You know my reproach,
and my shame and my dishonor;
my foes are all known to you.
20 Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
and for comforters, but I found none.
21 They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     5. Another benefit of baptism is, that it shows us our mortification in Christ and new life in him. "Know ye not," says the apostle, "that as many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death," that we "should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3, 4). By these words, he not only exhorts us to imitation of Christ, as if he had said, that we are admonished by baptism, in like manner as Christ died, to die to our lusts, and as he rose, to rise to righteousness; but he traces the matter much higher, that Christ by baptism has made us partakers of his death, ingrafting us into it. And as the twig derives substance and nourishment from the root to which it is attached, so those who receive baptism with true faith truly feel the efficacy of Christ's death in the mortification of their flesh, and the efficacy of his resurrection in the quickening of the Spirit. On this he founds his exhortation, that if we are Christians we should be dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness. He elsewhere uses the same argument--viz. that we are circumcised, and put off the old man, after we are buried in Christ by baptism (Col. 2:12). And in this sense, in the passage which we formerly quoted, he calls it "the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Tit. 3:5). We are promised, first, the free pardon of sins and imputation of righteousness; and, secondly, the grace of the Holy Spirit, to form us again to newness of life.

6. The last advantage which our faith receives from baptism is its assuring us not only that we are ingrafted into the death and life of Christ, but so united to Christ himself as to be partakers of all his blessings. For he consecrated and sanctified baptism in his own body, that he might have it in common with us as the firmest bond of union and fellowship which he deigned to form with us; and hence Paul proves us to be the sons of God, from the fact that we put on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27). Thus we see the fulfilment of our baptism in Christ, whom for this reason we call the proper object of baptism. Hence it is not strange that the apostles are said to have baptised in the name of Christ, though they were enjoined to baptise in the name of the Father and Spirit also (Acts 8:16; 19:5; Mt. 28:19). For all the divine gifts held forth in baptism are found in Christ alone. And yet he who baptises into Christ cannot but at the same time invoke the name of the Father and the Spirit. For we are cleansed by his blood, just because our gracious Father, of his incomparable mercy, willing to receive us into favour, appointed him Mediator to effect our reconciliation with himself. Regeneration we obtain from his death and resurrection only, when sanctified by his Spirit we are imbued with a new and spiritual nature. Wherefore we obtain, and in a manner distinctly perceive, in the Father the cause, in the Son the matter, and in the Spirit the effect of our purification and regeneration. Thus first John baptised, and thus afterwards the apostles by the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, understanding by the term repentance, regeneration, and by the remission of sins, ablution.

7. This makes it perfectly certain that the ministry of John was the very same as that which was afterwards delegated to the apostles. For the different hands by which baptism is administered do not make it a different baptism, but sameness of doctrine proves it to be the same. John and the apostles agreed in one doctrine. Both baptised unto repentance, both for remission of sins, both in the name of Christ, from whom repentance and remission of sins proceed. John pointed to him as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29), thus describing him as the victim accepted of the Father, the propitiation of righteousness, and the author of salvation. What could the apostles add to this confession? Wherefore, let no one be perplexed because ancient writers labour to distinguish the one from the other. Their views ought not to be in such esteem with us as to shake the certainty of Scripture. For who would listen to Chrysostom denying that remission of sins was included in the baptism of John (Hom. in Mt. 1:14), rather than to Luke asserting, on the contrary, that John preached "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins?" (Luke 3:3). Nor can we admit Augustine's subtlety, that by the baptism of John sins were forgiven in hope, but by the baptism of Christ are forgiven in reality. For seeing the Evangelist clearly declares that John in his baptism promised the remission of sins, why detract from this eulogium when no necessity compels it? Should any one ask what difference the word of God makes, he will find it to be nothing more than that John baptised in the name of him who was to come, the apostles in the name of him who was already manifested (Luke 3:16; Acts 19:4).

8. This fact, that the gifts of the Spirit were more liberally poured out after the resurrection of Christ, does not go to establish a diversity of baptisms. For baptism, administered by the apostles while he was still on the earth, was called his baptism, and yet the Spirit was not poured out in larger abundance on it than on the baptism of John. Nay, not even after the ascension did the Samaritans receive the Spirit above the ordinary measure of former believers, till Peter and John were sent to lay hands on them (Acts 8:14-17). I imagine that the thing which imposed on ancient writers, and made them say that the one baptism was only a preparative to the other, was, because they read that those who had received the baptism of John were again baptised by Paul (Acts 19:3-5; Mt. 3:11). How greatly they are mistaken in this will be most clearly explained in its own place. Why, then, did John say that he baptised with water, but there was one coming who would baptise with the Holy Ghost and with fire? This may be explained in a few words. He did not mean to distinguish the one baptism from the other, but he contrasted his own person with the person of Christ, saying, that while he was a minister of water, Christ was the giver of the Holy Spirit, and would declare this virtue by a visible miracle on the day on which he would send the Holy Spirit on the apostles, under the form of tongues of fire. What greater boast could the apostles make, and what greater those who baptise in the present day? For they are only ministers of the external sign, whereas Christ is the Author of internal grace, as those same ancient writers uniformly teach, and, in particular, Augustine, who, in his refutation of the Donatists, founds chiefly on this axiom, Whoever it is that baptises, Christ alone presides.

9. The things which we have said, both of mortification and ablution, were adumbrated among the people of Israel, who, for that reason, are described by the apostle as having been baptised in the cloud and in the sea (1 Cor. 10:2). Mortification was figured when the Lord, vindicating them from the hand of Pharaoh and from cruel bondage, paved a way for them through the Red Sea, and drowned Pharaoh himself and their Egyptian foes, who were pressing close behind, and threatening them with destruction. For in this way also he promises us in baptism, and shows by a given sign that we are led by his might, and delivered from the captivity of Egypt, that is, from the bondage of sin, that our Pharaoh is drowned; in other words, the devil, although he ceases not to try and harass us. But as that Egyptian was not plunged into the depth of the sea, but cast out upon the shore, still alarmed the Israelites by the terror of his look, though he could not hurt them, so our enemy still threatens, shows his arms and is felt, but cannot conquer. The cloud was a symbol of purification (Num. 9:18). For as the Lord then covered them by an opposite cloud, and kept them cool, that they might not faint or pine away under the burning rays of the sun; so in baptism we perceive that we are covered and protected by the blood of Christ, lest the wrath of God, which is truly an intolerable flame, should lie upon us. Although the mystery was then obscure, and known to few, yet as there is no other method of obtaining salvation than in those two graces, God was pleased that the ancient fathers, whom he had adopted as heirs, should be furnished with both badges.

10. It is now clear how false the doctrine is which some long ago taught, and others still persist in, that by baptism we are exempted and set free from original sin, and from the corruption which was propagated by Adam to all his posterity, and that we are restored to the same righteousness and purity of nature which Adam would have had if he had maintained the integrity in which he was created. This class of teachers never understand what is meant by original sin, original righteousness, or the grace of baptism. Now, it has been previously shown (Book 2 chap. 1 sec. 8), that original sin is the depravity and corruption of our nature, which first makes us liable to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which Scripture terms the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19). The two things, therefore, must be distinctly observed--viz. that we are vitiated and perverted in all parts of our nature, and then, on account of this corruption, are justly held to be condemned and convicted before God, to whom nothing is acceptable but purity, innocence, and righteousness. And hence, even infants bring their condemnation with them from their mother's womb; for although they have not yet brought forth the fruits of their unrighteousness, they have its seed included in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed of sin, and, therefore, cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Believers become assured by baptism, that this condemnation is entirely withdrawn from them, since (as has been said) the Lord by this sign promises that a full and entire remission has been made, both of the guilt which was imputed to us, and the penalty incurred by the guilt. They also apprehend righteousness, but such righteousness as the people of God can obtain in this life--viz. by imputation only, God, in his mercy, regarding them as righteous and innocent.

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


  • Jealousy & Envy
  • Same-Sex Marriage
  • Burden of Time

#1 Lin McLaughlin  Dallas Theological Seminary

 

#2 Discussion   Dallas Theological Seminary

 

#3 Mark Heinemann   Dallas Theological Seminary

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     12/1/2012    Hope for Prodigal Children

     As a pastor, I am often faced with the difficulty of counseling deeply saddened fathers and mothers with prodigal sons and daughters. Parents who enter my study for counsel and prayer are usually trying to come to grips with the harsh reality about a prodigal (lavishly wasteful) son or daughter. The child they have loved, prayed for, educated, nurtured, protected, and discipled has left everything to chase after the fleeting pleasures of the world, forsaking not only their father’s home but their father’s faith. There are likely many parents and grandparents reading this who have prodigal children or grandchildren, and they are greatly burdened for their souls, praying they would come to the end of themselves, trust Christ, and come home.

     My greatest concern, however, is for those parents who are not burdened for the souls of their prodigal children. Because their children were raised in good families with good Christian principles, having been taught the way they should go in life, many parents have concluded that they are just fine despite their prodigal lifestyles and unbelief. They may rightly believe that God is sovereign and that He is the only one who can save their children, yet they have forgotten that God has ordained the ends as well as the means to those ends. As such, He calls parents of prodigal children of every age not to presume their salvation and pretend everything is spiritually fine, but to pray for their salvation, preach the gospel to them, and plead with them to repent and believe. When Christian parents don’t face up to the difficult reality that they have prodigal children who are wasting their lives by chasing after the temporal pleasures of the world, they likely won’t face their children with the truth of the gospel, and, what’s more, their children won’t face the difficult reality that they are facing eternal condemnation.

     In His sovereignty, God uses parents to speak God’s truth and God’s gospel to the hearts and minds of their children. If parents, who are primarily responsible for training up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, choose not to admonish for fear of driving their faithless children farther away from home, their fear might ultimately reveal their own faithlessness as well. Parents must not give in to the temptation to presume their prodigal children are bound for glory, and neither should they ever give up praying for, preaching to, and pleading with their children to come to the end of themselves, trust Christ, and come home—where they will be overwhelmingly welcomed by the heavenly Father and by their earthly father, who will run to them with open arms and a prodigal (lavishly wasteful) celebration as they both rejoice coram Deo, before the face of God.

     click here for article source

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

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “I would rather be right than President,” was the famous phrase uttered by Henry Clay, who died this day, June 29, 1852. Elected Speaker of the House six times, he served in Congress over 40 years with Daniel Webster and John Calhoun. Struggling to hold the Union together prior to the Civil War, Henry Clay stated: “Eighteen hundred years have rolled away since the Son of God… offered Himself… for the salvation of our species…. When we shall… be translated from this into another form of existence… we shall behold the common Father of the whites and blacks, the great Ruler of the Universe.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

God is the tangential point
between zero and infinity.
--- Alfred Jarry
Gestes et opinions du docteur Faustroll pataphysicien

...If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
--- Mark Twain
The Complete Essays of Mark Twain

God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.
--- A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God (The Definitive Classic)

To the psychotherapist an old man who cannot bid farewell to life appears as feeble and sickly as a young man who is unable to embrace it.
--- C.G. Jung
Modern Man in Search of a Soul

... from here, there and everywhere


The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
     CHAPTER 15 / Does God Need Our Love?


     Even after monotheism triumphed over polytheism, there remained a spiritually indigestible aspect of divine oneness: God’s utter aloneness. (7) And this lingering leeriness of loneliness must somehow find its expression. This expression, paradoxically, is a solution or at least a palliative for human loneliness. For when we discover the painful reality of our own isolation in the world, we are comforted by our Creator, whose aloneness is of an infinitely higher order.

(7)     God as eḥad (one) is frequently referred to in the Jerusalem Talmud (Megillah 10a) and midrashic literature (Genesis Rabbah, 1:12, 98:13, and elsewhere) as yaḥid (individual, singular) or yeḥido shel olam (He who is singular in the world). This quality of aloneness is akin to, and implies, loneliness; hence the verse in
Ps. 25:16, “Turn unto me and be gracious unto me; ki yaḥid ve-‘ani ani, for I am solitary and afflicted.” The connection between yaḥid and ‘ani, afflicted, surely points to a painful loneliness of the Psalmist. By extension, the singularity and aloneness of God suggest loneliness.

     In the following lines uttered by a deeply religious man on his deathbed in Los Angeles, we find expressed the profound pathos of human loneliness:

     I am dying alone, as nobody can accompany me where I am going. I am “on my own” as never before in my life. But just in this alone-ness which I am facing now, I am closer to God’s identity and His alone-ness than ever before. In this true alone-ness I experience and recognize my very own divinity from within in the image of God. (8)

(8)     The words of Erwin Altman (1908–1989), dictated to his brother Manfred, as cited by Levi Meier in his Jewish Values in Psychotherapy: Essays on Vital Issues on the Search for Meaning (Lanham/New York /London: University Press of America, 1988), p. 161.

     Divine solitude evokes from us our own sense of loneliness in the universe, and not only when we face death. As we meet God, loneliness encounters loneliness; and as each of us offers his loneliness as a gift to the other, we experience relief, as it were, from cosmic loneliness. It is not, of course, that God truly experiences loneliness as we do; we are, certainly, beyond such crude anthropopathisms. Rather, in our religious imagination we project our own loneliness upon God, conceiving of Him too as suffering from this vast and incredible loneliness, and thus allowing man and God to sympathize with each other. As the Sages of Israel put it, in the tefillin of Israel it is written, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”; and in the tefillin of God, as it were, are inscribed the words, “Who is like unto Your people Israel, one nation upon the earth?” The communion of the lonely is an antidote to loneliness. (9)

(9)     This sharing of solitude illustrates the mutual sympathy between God and humanity. Other such instances of solicitude for divine solitude may be cited from the world of literature. As an example, one of the greatest of contemporary Hebrew poets, the late Uri Zvi Greenberg, is the author of an intriguing poem entitled “The Great Sadness” (or: “The Great Sad One”), which at first appears intended solely as pixyish or even as biting, mocking humor but really conveys as well a sense of sympathy for God, who, in His oneness, suffers loneliness. The divine sadness issues from His solitude, having no close, intimate friend. A human can at least exchange body warmth with another, can smoke a cigar and drink a cup of coffee or glass of wine, can sleep and dream until dawn; but that is unavailable to Him—for He is God.… See too Sherry H. Blumberg, “Eḥad: God’s Unity” in Eḥad: The Many Meanings of God Is One, ed. Eugene Borowitz (n.p.: Sh’ma, 1988), p. 9.


  The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 31.

     Antipater Is Convicted By Bathyllus; But He Still Returns From Rome Without Knowing It. Herod Brings Him To His Trial.

     1. After these things were over, Bathyllus came under examination, in order to convict Antipater, who proved the concluding attestation to Antipater's designs; for indeed he was no other than his freed-man. This man came, and brought another deadly potion, the poison of asps, and the juices of other serpents, that if the first potion did not do the business, Pheroras and his wife might be armed with this also to destroy the king. He brought also an addition to Antipater's insolent attempt against his father, which was the letters which he wrote against his brethren, Archelaus and Philip, which were the king's sons, and educated at Rome, being yet youths, but of generous dispositions. Antipater set himself to get rid of these as soon as he could, that they might not be prejudicial to his hopes; and to that end he forged letters against them in the name of his friends at Rome. Some of these he corrupted by bribes to write how they grossly reproached their father, and did openly bewail Alexander and Aristobulus, and were uneasy at their being recalled; for their father had already sent for them, which was the very thing that troubled Antipater.

     2. Nay, indeed, while Antipater was in Judea, and before he was upon his journey to Rome, he gave money to have the like letters against them sent from Rome, and then came to his father, who as yet had no suspicion of him, and apologized for his brethren, and alleged on their behalf that some of the things contained in those letters were false, and others of them were only youthful errors. Yet at the same time that he expended a great deal of his money, by making presents to such as wrote against his brethren, did he aim to bring his accounts into confusion, by buying costly garments, and carpets of various contextures, with silver and gold cups, and a great many more curious things, that so, among the view great expenses laid out upon such furniture, he might conceal the money he had used in hiring men [to write the letters]; for he brought in an account of his expenses, amounting to two hundred talents, his main pretense for which was file law-suit he had been in with Sylleus. So while all his rogueries, even those of a lesser sort also, were covered by his greater villainy, while all the examinations by torture proclaimed his attempt to murder his father, and the letters proclaimed his second attempt to murder his brethren; yet did no one of those that came to Rome inform him of his misfortunes in Judea, although seven months had intervened between his conviction and his return, so great was the hatred which they all bore to him. And perhaps they were the ghosts of those brethren of his that had been murdered that stopped the mouths of those that intended to have told him. He then wrote from Rome, and informed his [friends] that he would soon come to them, and how he was dismissed with honor by Caesar.

     3. Now the king, being desirous to get this plotter against him into his hands, and being also afraid lest he should some way come to the knowledge how his affairs stood, and be upon his guard, he dissembled his anger in his epistle to him, as in other points he wrote kindly to him, and desired him to make haste, because if he came quickly, he would then lay aside the complaints he had against his mother; for Antipater was not ignorant that his mother had been expelled out of the palace. However, he had before received a letter, which contained an account of the death of Pheroras, at Tarentum, 46 and made great lamentations at it; for which some commended him, as being for his own uncle; though probably this confusion arose on account of his having thereby failed in his plot [on his father's life]; and his tears were more for the loss of him that was to have been subservient therein, than for [an uncle] Pheroras: moreover, a sort of fear came upon him as to his designs, lest the poison should have been discovered. However, when he was in Cilicia, he received the forementioned epistle from his father, and made great haste accordingly. But when he had sailed to Celenderis, a suspicion came into his mind relating to his mother's misfortunes; as if his soul foreboded some mischief to itself. Those therefore of his friends which were the most considerate advised him not rashly to go to his father, till he had learned what were the occasions why his mother had been ejected, because they were afraid that he might be involved in the calumnies that had been cast upon his mother: but those that were less considerate, and had more regard to their own desires of seeing their native country, than to Antipater's safety, persuaded him to make haste home, and not, by delaying his journey, afford his father ground for an ill suspicion, and give a handle to those that raised stories against him; for that in case any thing had been moved to his disadvantage, it was owing to his absence, which durst not have been done had he been present. And they said it was absurd to deprive himself of certain happiness, for the sake of an uncertain suspicion, and not rather to return to his father, and take the royal authority upon him, which was in a state of fluctuation on his account only. Antipater complied with this last advice, for Providence hurried him on [to his destruction]. So he passed over the sea, and landed at Sebastus, the haven of Cesarea.

     4. And here he found a perfect and unexpected solitude, while ever body avoided him, and nobody durst come at him; for he was equally hated by all men; and now that hatred had liberty to show itself, and the dread men were in at the king's anger made men keep from him; for the whole city [of Jerusalem] was filled with the rumors about Antipater, and Antipater himself was the only person who was ignorant of them; for as no man was dismissed more magnificently when he began his voyage to Rome so was no man now received back with greater ignominy. And indeed he began already to suspect what misfortunes there were in Herod's family; yet did he cunningly conceal his suspicion; and while he was inwardly ready to die for fear, he put on a forced boldness of countenance. Nor could he now fly any whither, nor had he any way of emerging out of the difficulties which encompassed him; nor indeed had he even there any certain intelligence of the affairs of the royal family, by reason of the threats the king had given out: yet had he some small hopes of better tidings; for perhaps nothing had been discovered; or if any discovery had been made, perhaps he should be able to clear himself by impudence and artful tricks, which were the only things he relied upon for his deliverance.

     5. And with these hopes did he screen himself, till he came to the palace, without any friends with him; for these were affronted, and shut out at the first gate. Now Varus, the president of Syria, happened to be in the palace [at this juncture]; so Antipater went in to his father, and, putting on a bold face, he came near to salute him. But Herod Stretched out his hands, and turned his head away from him, and cried out, "Even this is an indication of a parricide, to be desirous to get me into his arms, when he is under such heinous accusations. God confound thee, thou vile wretch; do not thou touch me, till thou hast cleared thyself of these crimes that are charged upon thee. I appoint thee a court where thou art to be judged, and this Varus, who is very seasonably here, to be thy judge; and get thou thy defense ready against tomorrow, for I give thee so much time to prepare suitable excuses for thyself." And as Antipater was so confounded, that he was able to make no answer to this charge, he went away; but his mother and wife came to him, and told him of all the evidence they had gotten against him. Hereupon he recollected himself, and considered what defense he should make against the accusations.

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

Proverbs 20:9-10
     by D.H. Stern

9     Who can say, “I have made my heart clean,
I am cleansed from my sin”?

10     False weights and false measures—
ADONAI detests them both.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Direction of discipline

     And if thy right hand offend thee cut it off and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. --- Matthew 5:30.

     Jesus did not say that everyone must cut off the right hand, but—‘If your right hand offends you in your walk with Me, cut it off.’ There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says if it hinders you in following His precepts, cut it off. This line of discipline is the sternest one that ever struck mankind.

     When God alters a man by regeneration, the characteristic of the life to begin with is that it is maimed. There are a hundred and one things you dare not do, things that to you and in the eyes of the world that knows you are as your right hand and your eye, and the unspiritual person says—‘Whatever is wrong in that? How absurd you are!’ There never has been a saint yet who did not have to live a maimed life to start with. But it is better to enter into life maimed and lovely in God’s sight than to be lovely in man’s sight and lame in God’s. In the beginning Jesus Christ by His Spirit has to check you from doing a great many things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for you. See that you do not use your limitations to criticize someone else.

     It is a maimed life to begin with, but in v. 48 Jesus gives the picture of a perfectly full-orbed life—“Ye shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


My Utmost for His Highest

Rousseau- The Snake Charmer
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Rousseau- The Snake Charmer

A bird not of this
  planet;serpents earlier
  than their venom;plants
  reduplicating the moon's

paleness. An anonymous
  minstrel, threatening us
  from under macabre
  boughs with the innocence

of his music. The dark
  listens to him and withholds
  till to-morrow the boneless
  progeny to be brought to birth

R. S. Thomas: Serial Obsessive

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     D’RASH


     “Dear God, we love our daughter so. Don’t let her die. Please find us a kidney transplant to replace her diseased organ.” This sincere prayer is offered by the parents of a teenager who is dying of kidney disease. Their daughter can and will live if—and this is a big if—she receives a kidney transplant soon. What more heartfelt supplication can there be than a parent’s for a child? If this scenario is to transpire, if their daughter is to receive a donor kidney, a person must die elsewhere. Are these people aware of this fact? Sensitive to this reality? One would hope so. One would hope that these parents are not saying, “Dear God, please let a teenage girl be killed in a car accident, but Lord, make sure that her kidneys stay intact.” Yet they know, as do we, that the only way for their daughter to gain life is for another to lose life. In this case, it’s really the converse of: “You don’t have trouble for one person that doesn’t bring gain for others”—“You don’t have a boon for one person without a misfortune for another.”

     Is it wrong for this girl’s parents to pray for their daughter? As parents, we give life to our children, and our most fervent desire is that our children live. A prayer on behalf of our child is understandable. What would be wrong is to offer a prayer against another’s child.

     If and when a kidney becomes available, the parents could offer another equally sincere prayer: “Dear God, we know that what has been misfortune for another family has brought good fortune to ours. Send comfort to the bereaved family; grant them strength and courage in the days ahead. Just as this kidney will cleanse the impurities in our daughter’s body, so may the gift of this organ cleanse all selfishness from our hearts.”

     /ANOTHER D’RASH

     One of Mark Twain’s lesser-known gems is a short piece called “The War Prayer.” It tells the tale of a country wrapped up in a patriotic war. On the Sunday before the troops marched off to battle, the people of a small town gathered in a church. The preacher gave an emotional sermon and prayed to God for a great victory for flag and country.

     Suddenly, an aged stranger with the look of a biblical prophet arose from the congregation and ascended to the pulpit. Claiming to have been sent by God Almighty, the stranger told the stunned congregation that the Lord had heard their prayer for victory and was prepared to grant their request—once they understood exactly what it was that they had asked for.

     “If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time. If you pray for a blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain, and can be injured by it.”

     The stranger then told the congregation that what they prayed was “Make us victorious,” but what they had really asked for was much more explicit: kill their soldiers, make their wives widows, and their children orphans; burn their people out of house and home, make them flee their ravaged land, wandering barefoot and in rags; let them die miserable deaths of hunger and disease. The prophet then asked the worshipers if this indeed was what they wanted God to do. God, he told them, would be waiting for their answer.

     The story ends on a stunning note: “It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.”

     Life can be cruel when the only way to save one child is with an organ that has to come from the body of another child, who has died in a car crash. People can be cruel when, like the congregation in “The War Prayer,” they cavalierly ask for things for themselves, without giving a thought to the suffering that they would bring upon others.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Nahum in His Time
     W. W. Wiersbe

     "Little is known about Nahum except that he came from the town of Elkosh (whose location we can’t identify with certainty) and that he was a prophet of God who announced the fall of Nineveh, capital city of the Assyrian empire. He mentions the capture of the Egyptian city of Thebes, which occurred in 663 B.C., and he predicted the fall of Nineveh, which took place in 612 B.C.; so these dates place him in Judah during the reigns of Manasseh (695–642) and Josiah (640–609). His contemporaries would have been Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Habakkuk.

     His name means “comfort” or “compassion,” and his message of Assyrian’s doom would certainly have comforted the people of Judah, who had suffered because of Assyria. The Assyrians had taken the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 and dispersed the people, and then they tried to take Judah in the days of Hezekiah (701), but they were defeated by the angel of the Lord (
Isa. 37). Assyria was always looming over the tiny kingdom of Judah, and having these ruthless people out of the way would have greatly bettered Judah’s situation.

     Jonah had annouced Nineveh’s doom over a century before, but God had relented because the people had repented. The Lord was certainly long-suffering to spare the city that long, especially since the Assyrians had returned to their evil ways. While Nahum’s message was directed especially to the Assyrians, he was careful to encourage the people of Judah as well.

     A Suggested Outline of the Book of Nahum

     Key theme: The vengeance of God on His enemies
Key verses:
Nahum 1:2, 7

  I. God is jealous: Nineveh will fall—1:1–15

     1. God declares His anger —
1:1–8
     2. God speaks to Nineveh —
1:9–11, 14
     3. God encourages Judah —
1:12–13, 15

  II. God is judge: How Nineveh will fall—2:1–13

     1. The invaders appear and advance —
2:1–4
     2. The city is captured —
2:5–10
     3. The conquerors taunt their captives —
2:11–13

  III. God is just: Why Nineveh will fall—3:1–19

     1. Her ruthless bloodshed —
3:1–3
     2. Her idolatry —
3:4–7
     3. Her pride and self-confidence —
3:8–19

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

Take Heart
     June 29

     In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.
---
Galatians 5:11.

     Paul lovingly yearned over the Jews. (George H. Morrison, “The Offense of the Cross,” from G. H. Morrison’s page provided by Tom Garner, www.txdirect.net/~tgarner/ghmor2.htm, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) When we remember that deep longing we realize what the Cross meant for Paul. For the great stumbling block for the Jews—the offense that made the Gospel of Christ smell rank to them—was the Cross. That was the one theme Paul would not ignore.

     There is a great lesson there for all who are trying to advance Christ’s kingdom. The more eager they are to have people saved, the more willing they are to go all lengths to meet them. And that is right, but remember, there are a few facts we cannot yield, though they run counter to the whole spirit of the age. It were better to empty a church and preach the Cross than to fill it by keeping silent like a coward. It were better to fail as Paul failed with the Jews than to succeed by being a traitor to the Cross.

     The Cross was offensive to the Jews just because it shattered every dream they ever dreamed. They had prayed for and had dreamed of their Messiah, and he was to come in power as a conqueror. Then—in the place of the triumph—there comes Calvary. In place of the Christ victorious comes Christ crucified. And was this the Messiah who was to trample Rome, pierced in hands and feet by Roman nails? To the Jews a stumbling block—you cannot wonder at it, when every hope they had formed was contradicted.

     [The] offense of Calvary is just as powerful now as it was then. If I know anything about the ideals people cherish now and about the hopes that reign in ten thousand hearts, they are as antagonistic to the Cross as was the Jewish ideal of Messiah. Written across Calvary is sacrifice; written across this age of ours is pleasure. On the lips of Christ are the stern words, I must die. On the lips of this age of ours, I must enjoy. When I think of the passion to be rich and the judgment of everything by money standards, of the desire at all costs to be happy, of the frivolity, of the worship of success—and then contrast it with the scene on the hill, I know that the offense of Calvary has not ceased. A stumbling block to Jews—to far more than the Jews—to a pleasure-loving world and a dead church. Therefore say nothing about it. Let it be. Make everything interesting, pleasant, easy. Then the offence of the Cross has been abolished—and with it the power of the Gospel.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day
     The Fluttering Heart  June 29

     David Hackston was a “Scottish Worthy”—one of those stalwart Calvinists who suffered terribly for his beliefs between the restoration of Charles II and the reign of William III.

     Hackston was a well-off gentlemen who, wandering among the Scottish hills one day, heard some of the outlawed Presbyterian preachers. He returned home a new man in Christ. His life was immediately in jeopardy, and he became a fugitive, running from house and home, taking up arms against the crown. At length, he was captured, stripped (“not even having shoes on his feet”), and set backwards on a barebacked horse. His hands were tied behind him, and his feet were fastened under the horse’s belly. Arriving in Edinburgh, he stood trial and gave this defense: Now I stand here before you as a prisoner of Jesus Christ for adhering to his cause and interest, which has been sealed with the blood of many worthies who have suffered in these lands. I do own all the testimonies given by them, and desire to put in my mite among theirs, and am not only willing to seal it with my blood, but also to seal it with the sharpest tortures you can imagine.

     They took him at his word. He was condemned on June 29, 1662, and the next day taken to an execution site. His right hand was stretched out and hacked off. The executioner took so long to do it that Hackston asked if the left hand could be severed at the joint. This was done. He was then pulled to the top of the gallows, allowed to choke awhile, then dropped with his whole weight. This was repeated twice. Then the hangman with a sharp knife sliced open his chest and pulled out his heart, still beating. It fell on the scaffold, and the hangman picked it up on the point of his knife and said, “Here is the heart of a traitor.” Witnesses claim that it fluttered on the knife. Hackston’s body was disemboweled, drawn, quartered, and burned. His head and hands were nailed to the top of a nearby bridge.

     Give a kind and respectful answer and keep your conscience clear. This way you will make people ashamed for saying bad things about your good conduct as a follower of Christ. You are better off to obey God and suffer for doing right than to suffer for doing wrong.
--- 1 Peter 3:16,17.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - June 29

     “Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” --- 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

     Let us not imagine that the soul sleeps in insensibility. “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise,” is the whisper of Christ to every dying saint. They “sleep in Jesus,” but their souls are before the throne of God, praising him day and night in his temple, singing hallelujahs to him who washed them from their sins in his blood. The body sleeps in its lonely bed of earth, beneath the coverlet of grass. But what is this sleep? The idea connected with sleep is “rest,” and that is the thought which the Spirit of God would convey to us. Sleep makes each night a Sabbath for the day. Sleep shuts fast the door of the soul, and bids all intruders tarry for a while, that the life within may enter its summer garden of ease. The toil-worn believer quietly sleeps, as does the weary child when it slumbers on its mother’s breast. Oh! happy they who die in the Lord; they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them. Their quiet repose shall never be broken until God shall rouse them to give them their full reward. Guarded by angel watchers, curtained by eternal mysteries, they sleep on, the inheritors of glory, till the fulness of time shall bring the fulness of redemption. What an awaking shall be theirs! They were laid in their last resting place, weary and worn, but such they shall not rise. They went to their rest with the furrowed brow, and the wasted features, but they wake up in beauty and glory. The shrivelled seed, so destitute of form and comeliness, rises from the dust a beauteous flower. The winter of the grave gives way to the spring of redemption and the summer of glory. Blessed is death, since it, through the divine power, disrobes us of this work-day garment, to clothe us with the wedding garment of incorruption. Blessed are those who “sleep in Jesus.”


          Evening - June 29

     "Howbeit, in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart." --- 2 Chronicles 32:31.

     Hezekiah was growing so inwardly great, and priding himself so much upon the favour of God, that self-righteousness crept in, and through his carnal security, the grace of God was for a time, in its more active operations, withdrawn. Here is quite enough to account with the Babylonians; for if the grace of God should leave the best Christian, there is enough of sin in his heart to make him the worst of transgressors. If left to yourselves, you who are warmest for Christ would cool down like Laodicea into sickening lukewarmness: you who are sound in the faith would be white with the leprosy of false doctrine; you who now walk before the Lord in excellency and integrity would reel to and fro, and stagger with a drunkenness of evil passion. Like the moon, we borrow our light; bright as we are when grace shines on us, we are darkness itself when the Sun of Righteousness withdraws himself. Therefore let us cry to God never to leave us. “Lord, take not thy Holy Spirit from us! Withdraw not from us thine indwelling grace! Hast thou not said, ‘I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day’? Lord, keep us everywhere. Keep us when in the valley, that we murmur not against thy humbling hand; keep us when on the mountain, that we wax not giddy through being lifted up; keep us in youth, when our passions are strong; keep us in old age, when becoming conceited of our wisdom, we may therefore prove greater fools than the young and giddy; keep us when we come to die, lest, at the very last, we should deny thee! Keep us living, keep us dying, keep us labouring, keep us suffering, keep us fighting, keep us resting, keep us everywhere, for everywhere we need thee, O our God!”

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     June 29

          CHRIST LIVETH IN ME

     Daniel W. Whittle, 1840–1901

     I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me. (Galatians 2:20)

     “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). One can almost hear the apostle Paul exhorting the carnal Christians at Corinth with these strong words. How important it is that believers realize with conviction that their earthly bodies are the residence of the living God! Such an awareness should cause us to have an earnest concern for the proper care of our bodies. It is also the motivation we need for Christ-like living—to allow His perfection to be demonstrated in our mortal flesh.

     Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord, Oh, to be lost in Thee;
     Oh, that it may be no more I, but Christ that lives in me.
--- C. H. Forrest


     The evidence of true conversion is the growing awareness of Christ within us as the Holy Spirit confirms this fact with our human spirit (Romans 8:16). As we mature in the Christian faith, we appreciate increasingly the biblical truth of the glorious identification and security that are ours: God is in Christ, Christ is in us, and we are in Christ. Nothing can ever defeat or destroy such a divine union.

     The author, Daniel W. Whittle, was a most interesting individual. He joined the Illinois Infantry during the Civil War and rose to the rank of major. For the remainder of his life he was known by this title. Following the war he returned to Chicago and became treasurer of the Elgin Watch Company. In 1873, however, he resigned this high position and under D. L. Moody’s influence entered the evangelistic ministry. He was unusually successful as an evangelist as well as the author of a number of favorite Gospel hymns, most of which he wrote with the pseudonym “El Nathan.” “Christ Liveth in Me” first appeared in Gospel Hymns #6, which was published in 1891.

     Once far from God and dead in sin, no light my heart could see; but in God’s Word the light I found. Now Christ liveth in me.

     As lives the flower within the seed, as in the cone the tree; so, praise the God of truth and grace; His Spirit dwelleth in me.
     With longing all my heart is filled, that like Him I may be, as on the wond’rous thought I dwell that Christ dwelleth in me.
     Refrain: Christ liveth in me. O what a salvation this, that Christ liveth in me!


     For Today: John 17:22, 23; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 2:19–21; Ephesians 3:16, 17; Colossians 1:27.

     Live with the confidence of an indwelling Christ who promises to help you do all things through His strength (Philippians 4:13). Sing this musical truth ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

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


     Sect. LXX. — AS to merit, or a proposed reward, what is it else but a certain promise? But that promise does not prove that we can do any thing; it proves nothing more than this: — if any one shall do this thing or that, he shall then have a reward. Whereas, our subject inquiry is, not what reward is to be given, or how it is to be given, but, whether or not we can do those things, for the doing of which the reward is to be given. This is the point to be settled and proved. Would not these be ridiculous conclusions? — The prize is set before all that run in the race: therefore, all can so run as to obtain. — If Cæsar shall conquer the Turks, he shall gain the kingdom of Syria: therefore, Cæsar can conquer, and does conquer the Turks. — If “Free-will” shall gain dominion over sin, it shall be holy before the Lord: therefore “Free-will’ is holy before the Lord.

     But away with things so stupid and openly absurd: (except that, “Free-will’ deserves to be proved what it is by arguments so excellent) let us rather speak to this point: — ‘that necessity, has neither merit nor reward.’ If we speak of the necessity of compulsion, it is true: if we speak of the necessity of immutability, it is false. For who would bestow a reward upon, or ascribe merit to, an unwilling workman? But with respect to those who do good or evil willingly, even though they cannot alter that necessity by their own power, the reward or punishment follows naturally and necessarily: as it is written “thou shalt render unto every man according to his works.” (Pro. xxiv. 12.) It naturally follows — if thou remain under water, thou wilt be suffocated; if thou swim out, thou wilt be saved.

     To be brief: As it respects merit or reward, you must speak, either of the worthiness or of the consequence. If you speak of the worthiness, there is no merit, no reward. For if “Free-will” cannot of itself will good, but wills good by grace alone, (for we are speaking of “Free-will” apart from grace and inquiring into the power which properly belongs to each) who does not see, that that good-will, merit, and reward, belong to grace alone. Here then, again, the Diatribe dissents from itself, while it argues from merit the freedom of the will; and with me, against whom it fights, it stands in the same condemnation as ever; that is, its asserting that there is merit, reward, and liberty, makes the same as ever directly against itself; seeing that, it asserted above, that it could will nothing good, and undertook to prove that assertion.

     If you speak of the consequence, there is nothing either good or evil which has not its reward. And here arises an error, that, in speaking of merits and rewards, we agitate opinions and questions concerning worthiness, which has not existence, when we ought to be disputing concerning consequences. For there remains, as a necessary consequence the judgment of God and a hell for the wicked, even though they themselves neither conceive nor think of such a reward for their sins, nay, they utterly detest it; and, as Peter saith, execrate it. (2 Pet. ii. 10-14.).

     In the same manner, there remains a kingdom for the just, even though they themselves neither seek it nor think of it; seeing that, it was prepared for them by their Father, not only before they themselves existed, but before the foundation of the world. Nay, if they should work good in order to obtain the Kingdom, they never would obtain it, but would be numbered rather with the wicked, who, with an evil and mercenary eye, seek the things of self even in God. Whereas, the sons of God, do good with a free-will, seeking no reward, but the glory and will of God only; ready to do good, even if (which is impossible) there were neither a Kingdom nor a hell.

     These things are, I believe, sufficiently confirmed even from that saying of Christ only, which I have just cited, Matt. xxv. 34, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom which was prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” — How can they merit that, which is theirs, and prepared for them before they had existence? So that we might much more rightly say, the kingdom of God merits us its possessors; and thus, place the merit where these place the reward, and the reward where these place the merit. For the kingdom is not merited, but before prepared: and the sons of the kingdom are before prepared for the kingdom, but do not merit the kingdom for themselves: that is, the kingdom merits the sons, not the sons the kingdom. So also hell more properly merits and prepares its sons, seeing that, Christ saith, “Depart, ye cursed, into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. xxv. 41.)


The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library


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