Exodus 12Exodus 12 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ ” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
The Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. 31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”
The Exodus33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.
Institution of the Passover43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
50 All the people of Israel did just as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
The Parable of the Lost SheepLuke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Prodigal Son11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
Dr Kenneth Bailey has explained how this interpretation of the parable is common in the Muslim world:
Islam claims that in this story the boy is saved without a saviour. The prodigal returns. The father forgives him. There is no cross, no suffering, and no saviour. If man seeks forgiveness, says Islam, God is merciful and will forgive. The incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection are all quite unnecessary. If God is truly great, he can forgive without these things. The story of the prodigal son is for them proof that Christians have sadly perverted Christ’s own message. (The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants)
So in his book The Cross & the Prodigal Dr Bailey, who has for many years taught New Testament at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, takes a fresh look at Luke 15 ‘through the eyes of Middle Eastern peasants’. He explains that the whole village would know that the returning prodigal was in disgrace, and that punishment of some kind was inevitable, if only to preserve the father’s honour. But the father bears the suffering instead of inflicting it. Although ‘a man of his age and position always walks in a slow, dignified fashion’, and although ‘he has not run anywhere for any purpose for 40 years’, he yet ‘races’ down the road like a teenager to welcome his home-coming son. Thus risking the ridicule of the street urchins, ‘he takes upon himself the shame and humiliation due to the prodigal’. ‘In this parable’, Kenneth Bailey continues, ‘we have a father who leaves the comfort and security of his home and exposes himself in a humiliating fashion in the village street. The coming down and going out to his boy hints at the incarnation. The humiliating spectacle in the village street hints at the meaning of the cross’. Thus ‘the cross and the incarnation are implicitly yet dramatically present in the story’, for ‘the suffering of the cross was not primarily the physical torture but rather the agony of rejected love’. What was essential for the prodigal’s reconciliation was a ‘physical demonstration of self-emptying love in suffering.... Is not this the story of the way of God with man on Golgotha?’.
We conclude, then, that the cross was an unparalleled manifestation of God’s love; that he showed his love in bearing our penalty and therefore our pain, in order to be able to forgive and restore us, and that the Parable of the Prodigal Son, far from contradicting this, implicitly expresses it. I think T. J. Crawford was right to put it in this way, that before we can see in the sufferings of Christ any proof of the Father’s love for us, ‘some good must accrue to us from them, not otherwise to be obtained, or some evil must be averted from us by them, not otherwise to be removed or remedied’. (T. J. Crawford - Doctrine of Holy Scripture) This ‘otherwise unavoidable evil’ is the fearful judgment of God, and this ‘otherwise unattainable good’ is his adoption of us into his family. By securing such great blessings for us at the cost of such great sufferings, God has given us an unequalled demonstration of his love. The Cross of Christ
Job Replies: The Wicked Do ProsperJob 30:1
“But now they laugh at me,
men who are younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to set with the dogs of my flock.
2 What could I gain from the strength of their hands,
men whose vigor is gone?
3 Through want and hard hunger
they gnaw the dry ground by night in waste and desolation;
4 they pick saltwort and the leaves of bushes,
and the roots of the broom tree for their food.
5 They are driven out from human company;
they shout after them as after a thief.
6 In the gullies of the torrents they must dwell,
in holes of the earth and of the rocks.
7 Among the bushes they bray;
under the nettles they huddle together.
8 A senseless, a nameless brood,
they have been whipped out of the land.
9 “And now I have become their song;
I am a byword to them.
10 They abhor me; they keep aloof from me;
they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.
11 Because God has loosed my cord and humbled me,
they have cast off restraint in my presence.
12 On my right hand the rabble rise;
they push away my feet;
they cast up against me their ways of destruction.
13 They break up my path;
they promote my calamity;
they need no one to help them.
14 As through a wide breach they come;
amid the crash they roll on.
15 Terrors are turned upon me;
my honor is pursued as by the wind,
and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.
16 “And now my soul is poured out within me;
days of affliction have taken hold of me.
17 The night racks my bones,
and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.
18 With great force my garment is disfigured;
it binds me about like the collar of my tunic.
19 God has cast me into the mire,
and I have become like dust and ashes.
20 I cry to you for help and you do not answer me;
I stand, and you only look at me.
21 You have turned cruel to me;
with the might of your hand you persecute me.
22 You lift me up on the wind; you make me ride on it,
and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.
23 For I know that you will bring me to death
and to the house appointed for all living.
24 “Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
and in his disaster cry for help?
25 Did not I weep for him whose day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
26 But when I hoped for good, evil came,
and when I waited for light, darkness came.
27 My inward parts are in turmoil and never still;
days of affliction come to meet me.
28 I go about darkened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I am a brother of jackals
and a companion of ostriches.
30 My skin turns black and falls from me,
and my bones burn with heat.
31 My lyre is turned to mourning,
and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.
1 Corinthians 16
The Collection for the Saints1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
Plans for Travel5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
10 When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. 11 So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.
Final Instructions12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. 13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
15 Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— 16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.
Greetings19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. 20 All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The Church and the Jewish Question”
By Victoria Barnett
In an April 1933 essay, “The Church and the Jewish Question,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the first to address the new problems the church faced under the Nazi dictatorship. Despite some astonishing insights, this early essay poses many problems for contemporary readers. Although he called upon the church to defend the victims of state persecution, his defense of the Jews was marked by Christian supersessionism—the Christian belief that Christianity had superseded Judaism, in history and in the eyes of God. “The history of the suffering of this people, loved and punished by God, stands under the sign of the final homecoming of the people of Israel to its God,” wrote Bonhoeffer. “And this homecoming happens in the conversion of Israel to Christ.”
But Bonhoeffer also realized that Nazism posed a very different challenge for the churches, and it was here that he broke new ground. The church was not just being called to clarify its attitudes toward Judaism and the people of Israel, he noted. The real question was how the church would judge and respond to the Nazi state’s actions against the Jews.
On this point, Bonhoeffer was explicit about the church’s obligations to fight political injustice. The church, he wrote, must fight evil in three stages: The first was to question state injustice and call the state to responsibility; the second was to help the victims of injustice, whether they were church members or not. Ultimately, however, the church might find itself called “not only to help the victims who have fallen under the wheel, but to fall into the spokes of the wheel itself” in order to halt the machinery of injustice.
The essay revealed the two levels that would shape Bonhoeffer’s thought and action throughout the Third Reich. On the one level, he saw that the totalitarian doctrine of Nazism demanded a political response from the churches. Completed in the days following the April 1, 1933, boycott of Jewish businesses, "The Church and the Jewish Question" was an explicit ethical commitment to all those persecuted by Nazism. During the same week, he and his brother Klaus met with American theologian Paul Lehmann and drafted a message to US Jewish leader Rabbi Stephen Wise. 3 Bonhoeffer clearly viewed the measures against the Jews as a civil liberties issue (some scholars believe that he was influenced here by his close friendship at Union Seminary with an African American colleague, Frank Fisher, and his direct observation of Fisher’s experiences under racism.)
On a theological level, however, Bonhoeffer still believed that the “Jewish question” would be resolved ultimately through the conversion of the Jews. He never explicitly abandoned this view, which was widespread throughout the Christian church—even in the ecumenical circles that became most active in helping the Jewish refugees of Nazism.
- 1 Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography
- 2 Theologian of Resistance: The Life and Thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- 3 &34;After Ten Years": Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Our Times
- 4 Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity During the Holocaust
- 5 The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Volume 2
- 6 For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler
Why History Matters To The Christian Faith
By Jonathan Morrow
Did the events recorded in the pages of Scripture really happen in history? And does it matter? The short answer is…Yes and Yes! BTW the longer answer is still yes and yes…but this is a blog, not a book
3 Reasons Why History Matters To Faith
Here are 3 reasons why history matters to the Christian faith.
(1) Biblical faith is not blind faith. Reason and evidence play an important role in the life of faith. God created us as rational beings with the capacity to weigh evidence and draw conclusions about what we are experiencing. We are called to give reasons for faith (cf. 1 Peter 3:15-16).
I for one am so encouraged that when John the Baptist struggled with doubt and sent his disciples to Jesus to inquire if he truly was the long awaited Messiah that Jesus didn’t respond with an austere warning to just have more faith.
No, Jesus reminded John to pay attention to what he had heard and what he had seen–that will give you confidence of my true identity (cf. Matthew 11:2-5). Mere belief for the sake of belief is not true Christianity.
(2) The Central claim of Christianity is that Jesus of Nazareth rose bodily from the dead. If you asked the Apostle Paul, he would agree that faith and history go together. If Jesus “has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). As Nancy Pearcey observes:
Jonathan Morrow Books:
- 1 Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ
- 2 Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
- 3 Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey
- 4 Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible's Authority
- 5 Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Trade Paper
- 6 Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture
- 7 Is the Bible Sexist, Racist, Homophobic, and Genocidal?
- 8 Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey
- 9 Are the Gospels Full of Contradictions?
- 10 Has the Biblical Text Been Corrupted over the Centuries?
- 11 Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey by Jonathan Morrow (2008-02-05)
Does the Earliest Gospel Proclaim the Deity of Jesus?
By Sean McDowell 2/27/2017
Scholars generally agree that Mark was the first written Gospel. As a result, critics often claim that the doctrine of the deity of Christ does not appear clearly in Mark but emerges later in the Gospel of John.
While there are certainly explicit claims to deity in John, such as when Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (8:58), this critical challenge overlooks distinct proclamations of the deity of Christ throughout the Gospel of Mark.
Here is my contention: From the first chapter until the end, the Gospel of Mark proclaims that Jesus understood himself to be God. Consider six brief examples:
1. Mark 1:2-3: Mark begins his Gospel by citing a passage from Isaiah 40:3, which discusses how a messenger would come, like a voice of one crying in the wilderness, and “Prepare the way of the Lord.” In the original context, the messenger would prepare the way “for our God.” But Mark substitutes Jesus as the Lord who is coming and John the Baptist as the messenger. In other words, John the Baptist is preparing the way for God himself to come in the person of Jesus Christ.
2. Mark 2:1-10: In this passage, Jesus heals a paralytic brought to him by four friends. When Jesus first sees him, he says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The scribes instantly object, “He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They believed the man was paralyzed because he had sinned against God, and yet Jesus had the audacity to claim that he could personally forgive these sins. The scribes are right that only God can forgive sins (Exodus 34:6-7; Psalms 103:3). Not even the Messiah could forgive sins. In this instance, however, Jesus bypasses the normal route of how forgiveness was received (Leviticus 4:20) and claims to speak with God’s authority. Why? Because he understood himself to be God.
- 1 Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
- 2 A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
- 3 The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
- 4 Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
- 5 ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
- 6 More Than a Carpenter
- 7 Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Trade Paper
Answering the Galileo Myth
By Tim Barnett 10/18/2016
Last month, I was speaking at the University of Toronto on the topic Has Science Buried God? The event was held in the medical science building, so it attracted a large number of science-minded atheists and skeptics. In fact, two of the former presidents of the Secular Alliance came out to hear what I had to say.
During my talk, I pointed out that modern science was birthed out of a theistic worldview. Therefore, far from being a science stopper, it was belief in an orderly God that was the modern science starter. I like how C. S. Lewis put it. He said, “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a Lawgiver.”
After my talk, we had a time of Q&A. A young woman named Julianna was the first to put up her hand. “We aren’t going to agree on much,” were the first words out of her mouth. She asked, “If theism is a science starter, then why was Galileo persecuted by the church for doing science? This sounds like the exact opposite of what you’ve said.”
As Julianna was speaking, I could see other people in the audience nodding their heads in agreement.
Just the Facts | To answer this question, I had to get all of the facts on the table. There is a very popular view that science and religion are hostile enemies. However, most historians of science regard this as a myth. The idea that religion is at war with science is called the conflict thesis. Galileo’s mistreatment by the Roman Catholic Church is usually given as a case in point, but serious historians of science do not believe that this cultural icon supports the conflict thesis.
Julianna didn’t have all the facts. She knew Galileo did good science. She also knew the Church silenced Galileo because they didn’t like his conclusion. But she was missing important details of the account, which ultimately led to a misunderstanding of the story of Galileo.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 25Teach Me Your Paths
25 Of David.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
Exodus 12:21-51; Luke 15; Job 30; 1 Corinthians 16
By Don Carson 3/1/2018
The Passover was not only the climax of the ten plagues, it was the beginning of the nation. Doubtless Pharaoh had had enough of Moses; God had had enough of Pharaoh. This last plague wiped out the firstborn of the land, the symbol of strength, the nation’s pride and hope. At the same time, by his design it afforded God an opportunity to teach some important lessons, in graphic form, to the Israelites. If the angel of death was to pass through the land, what principle would distinguish the homes that suffered death from those where everyone survived?
God tells the Israelites to gather in houses, each house bringing together enough people to eat one entire year-old lamb. Careful instructions are provided for the preparation of the meal. The strangest of these instructions is that a daub of blood is to be splashed on the top and both sides of the doorframe; “and when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). The point is repeated: “When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down” (12:23). Because of the blood, the Lord would “pass over” them; thus the Passover was born.
The importance of this event cannot be overestimated. It signaled not only the release of the Israelites from slavery, but the dawning of a new covenant with their Redeemer. At the same time, it constituted a picture: guilty people face death, and the only way to escape that sentence is if a lamb dies instead of those who are sentenced to die. The calendar changes to mark the importance of this turning point (12:2-3), and the Israelites are told to commemorate this feast in perpetuity, not the least as a way of instructing children yet unborn as to what God did for this fledgling nation, and how their own firstborn sons were spared on the night that God redeemed them (12:24-27).
A millennium and a half later, Paul would remind believers in Corinth that Christ Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was sacrificed for us, inaugurating a new covenant (1 Cor. 5:7; 11:25). On the night that he was betrayed, Jesus took bread and wine, and instituted a new commemorative rite — and this too took place on the festival of Passover, as if this new rite connects the old with that to which it points: the death of Christ. The calendar changed again; a new and climactic redemption had been achieved. God still passes over those who are secured by the blood.
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:
- 1 An Introduction to the New Testament
- 2 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 3 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 4 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Hardcover: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 5 Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation
- 6 Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- 7 Exegetical Fallacies
- 8 For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Volume 1
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Matthew (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 11 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 12 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 13 How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 14 New Testament Commentary Survey
- 15 For the Love of God, Volume 2: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word
- 16 9: Matthew and Mark (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 17 Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14
- 18 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 19 The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures
- 20 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: John 14-17
- 21 Introducing NT: A Short Guide to Its History and Message
- 22 Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
- 23 Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes
- 24 Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: An Exposition of Matthew 5-10
- 25 The Intolerance of Tolerance
- 26 From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation
- 27 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 28 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension
- 29 The Expositor's Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke Vol. 8
- 30 Christ and Culture Revisited
- 31 NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 32 The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 33 Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day
- 34 Gagging of God, The
- 35 The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices
- 36 The God Who Is There Leader's Guide: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 37 What Is the Gospel?
- 38 His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke
- 39 The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the OT
- 40 Love in Hard Places
- 41 Coming Home: Essays on the New Heaven and New Earth
- 42 God's Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World
- 43 Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
- 44 Telling the Truth
- 45 God's Word, Our Story: Learning from the Book of Nehemiah
- 46 Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications
- 47 The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7
- 48 Sunsets: Reflections for Life's Final Journey
- 49 God with Us: Themes from Matthew
- 50 A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13
- 51 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 52 The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry
- 53 Teach Us to Pray: Prayer in the Bible and the World
- 54 Matthew, Vol.2 (Ch. 13-28), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 55 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 56 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 57 Entrusted with the Gospel: Pastoral Expositions of 2 Timothy
- 58 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension
- 59 The Holy Spirit
- 60 The Plan
- 61 Collected Writings on Scripture
- 62 The Inclusive-Language Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 63 Matthew, Vol.1 (Ch. 1-12), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 64 Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Influence of Carl F. H. Henry
- 65 The Restoration of All Things
- 66 Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times
- 67 Christ's Redemption
- 68 Exegetical Fallacies
- 69 Justification
- 70 Greek Accents: A Student's Manual
- 71 Gospel-Centered Ministry
- 72 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 77 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 78 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 79 [(Christ and Culture Revisited)]
- 80 When Jesus Confronts the World: An Exposition of Matthew 8-10
- 81 The Church: God's New People
- 82 Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life
- 83 Love in Hard Places
- 84 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place In God'S Story
- 85 NT Commentary Survey
- 86 The Inclusive Language Debate
- 87 Exegetical Fallacies
- 88 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14-17
- 89 NT Commentary Survey
- 90 How long, O Lord? (2nd edition): Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 91 Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century
- 92 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 93 By D. A. Carson - Gagging of God
- 94 Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed
- 95 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 96 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 97 A Call to Spiritual Reformation
I’m Humbled to be an American
By David Murray 2/24/2017
The letter my family’s been waiting for has just arrived. Nine months after starting the citizenship process, we’ve been asked to attend the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids on 15 March for a “Naturalization Oath Ceremony to complete the naturalization process.” Yes, we’ve been approved for US. citizenship! Why have we taken this massive step?
Calling | When I came here 10 years ago with my family to serve at Puritan Reformed Seminary, I arrived with a deep sense of divine calling. Far from diminishing, the sense of call to serve here has only strengthened over the past decade. As a pastor, I’d never say “Never” about returning to Scotland or moving to another country. If God calls, I must obey. However, at age 51 it’s looking less and less likely that another major life change like that is around the corner.
Children | My oldest son, Allan, is already an American citizen by virtue of joining the Marine Corps last year. My youngest son, Scot, is also an American citizen, having been born here three years ago. All five of my kids are just about completely “Americanized,” with only the bare remnants of their Scottish accent remaining (sigh!). Their lives are going to be lived here. They are also very much at home in the Dutch Reformed churches here in Grand Rapids. It’s a strong and stable Christian culture that they and we are privileged to be part of.
Security | While Green Card status is usually renewed quite easily every 10 years, you just never know what might be down the road. Last year, I was concerned about how a possible Clinton administration might view non-citizens who held biblical views on various issues. Getting citizenship provides extra security regarding our status here.
Loyalty | I want to be able to truly and fully say “our nation” and “our military” when I pray in my congregation. I want my congregation to know that I am 100% committed to them and to this country. I want to be able to vote and take a full part in the electoral process.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
17. But it will be said that this differs widely from the experience of
believers, who, in recognizing the grace of God toward them, not only
feel disquietude (this often happens), but sometimes tremble, overcome
with terror,  so violent are the temptations which assail their
minds. This scarcely seems consistent with certainty of faith. It is
necessary to solve this difficulty, in order to maintain the doctrine
above laid down. When we say that faith must be certain and secure, we
certainly speak not of an assurance which is never affected by doubt,
nor a security which anxiety never assails; we rather maintain that
believers have a perpetual struggle with their own distrust, and are
thus far from thinking that their consciences possess a placid quiet,
uninterrupted by perturbation. On the other hand, whatever be the mode
in which they are assailed, we deny that they fall off and abandon that
sure confidence which they have formed in the mercy of God. Scripture
does not set before us a brighter or more memorable example of faith
than in David, especially if regard be had to the constant tenor of his
life. And yet how far his mind was from being always at peace is
declared by innumerable complaints, of which it will be sufficient to
select a few. When he rebukes the turbulent movements of his soul, what
else is it but a censure of his unbelief? "Why art thou cast down, my
soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God," (Psalm
42:6). His alarm was undoubtedly a manifest sign of distrust, as if he
thought that the Lord had forsaken him. In another passage we have a
fuller confession: "I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine
eyes," (Psalm 31:22). In another passage, in anxious and wretched
perplexity, he debates with himself, nay, raises a question as to the
nature of God: "Has God forgotten to be gracious? has he in anger shut
up his tender mercies?" (Psalm 77:9). What follows is still harsher: "I
said this is my infirmity; but I will remember the years of the right
hand of the Most High."  As if desperate, he adjudges himself to
destruction.  He not only confesses that he is agitated by doubt,
but as if he had fallen in the contest, leaves himself nothing in
reserve,--God having deserted him, and made the hand which was wont to
help him the instrument of his destruction. Wherefore, after having
been tossed among tumultuous waves, it is not without reason he exhorts
his soul to return to her quiet rest (Psalm 116:7). And yet (what is
strange) amid those commotions, faith sustains the believer's heart,
and truly acts the part of the palm tree, which supports any weights
laid upon it, and rises above them; thus David, when he seemed to be
overwhelmed, ceased not by urging himself forward to ascend to God. But
he who anxiously contending with his own infirmity has recourse to
faith, is already in a great measure victorious. This we may infer from
the following passage, and others similar to it: "Wait on the Lord: be
of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on
the Lord," (Psalm 27:14). He accuses himself of timidity, and repeating
the same thing twice, confesses that he is ever and anon exposed to
agitation. Still he is not only dissatisfied with himself for so
feeling, but earnestly labors to correct it. Were we to take a nearer
view of his case, and compare it with that of Ahaz, we should find a
great difference between them. Isaiah is sent to relieve the anxiety of
an impious and hypocritical king, and addresses him in these terms:
"Take heed, and be quiet; fear not," &c. (Isaiah 7:4). How did Ahab
act? As has already been said, his heart was shaken as a tree is shaken
by the wind: though he heard the promise, he ceased not to tremble.
This, therefore, is the proper hire and punishment of unbelief, so to
tremble as in the day of trial to turn away from God, who gives access
to himself only by faith. On the other hand, believers, though weighed
down and almost overwhelmed with the burden of temptation, constantly
rise up, though not without toil and difficulty; hence, feeling
conscious of their own weakness, they pray with the Prophet, "Take not
the word of truth utterly out of my mouths" (Psalm 119:43). By these
words, we are taught that they at times become dumb, as if their faith
were overthrown, and yet that they do not withdraw or turn their backs,
but persevere in the contest, and by prayer stimulate their
sluggishness, so as not to fall into stupor by giving way to it. (See
Calv. in Psalm 88:16).
18. To make this intelligible, we must return to the distinction between flesh and spirit, to which we have already adverted, and which here becomes most apparent. The believer finds within himself two principles: the one filling him with delight in recognizing the divine goodness, the other filling him with bitterness under a sense of his fallen state; the one leading him to recline on the promise of the Gospel, the other alarming him by the conviction of his iniquity; the one making him exult with the anticipation of life, the other making him tremble with the fear of death. This diversity is owing to imperfection of faith, since we are never so well in the course of the present life as to be entirely cured of the disease of distrust, and completely replenished and engrossed by faith. Hence those conflicts: the distrust cleaving to the remains of the flesh rising up to assail the faith enlisting in our hearts. But if in the believer's mind certainty is mingled with doubt, must we not always be carried back to the conclusion, that faith consists not of a sure and clear, but only of an obscure and confused, understanding of the divine will in regard to us? By no means. Though we are distracted by various thoughts, it does not follow that we are immediately divested of faith. Though we are agitated and carried to and fro by distrust, we are not immediately plunged into the abyss; though we are shaken, we are not therefore driven from our place. The invariable issue of the contest is, that faith in the long run surmounts the difficulties by which it was beset and seemed to be endangered.
19. The whole, then, comes to this: As soon as the minutest particle of faith is instilled into our minds, we begin to behold the face of God placid, serene, and propitious; far off, indeed, but still so distinctly as to assure us that there is no delusion in it. In proportion to the progress we afterwards make (and the progress ought to be uninterrupted), we obtain a nearer and surer view, the very continuance making it more familiar to us. Thus we see that a mind illumined with the knowledge of God is at first involved in much ignorance,--ignorance, however, which is gradually removed. Still this partial ignorance or obscure discernment does not prevent that clear knowledge of the divine favor which holds the first and principal part in faith. For as one shut up in a prison, where from a narrow opening he receives the rays of the sun indirectly and in a manner divided, though deprived of a full view of the sun, has no doubt of the source from which the light comes, and is benefited by it; so believers, while bound with the fetters of an earthly body, though surrounded on all sides with much obscurity, are so far illumined by any slender light which beams upon them and displays the divine mercy as to feel secure.
20. The Apostle elegantly adverts to both in different passages. When he says, "We know in part, and we prophesy in part;" and "Now we see through a glass darkly," (1 Cor. 13:9, 12), he intimates how very minute a portion of divine wisdom is given to us in the present life. For although those expressions do not simply indicate that faith is imperfect so long as we groan under a height of flesh, but that the necessity of being constantly engaged in learning is owing to our imperfection, he at the same time reminds us, that a subject which is of boundless extent cannot be comprehended by our feeble and narrow capacities. This Paul affirms of the whole Church, each individual being retarded and impeded by his own ignorance from making so near an approach as were to be wished. But that the foretaste which we obtain from any minute portion of faith is certain, and by no means fallacious, he elsewhere shows, when he affirms that "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord," (2 Cor. 3:18). In such degrees of ignorance much doubt and trembling is necessarily implied, especially seeing that our heart is by its own natural bias prone to unbelief. To this we must add the temptations which, various in kind and infinite in number, are ever and anon violently assailing us. In particular, conscience itself, burdened with an incumbent load of sins, at one time complains and groans, at another accuses itself; at one time murmurs in secret, at another openly rebels. Therefore, whether adverse circumstances betoken the wrath of God, or conscience finds the subject and matter within itself, unbelief thence draws weapons and engines to put faith to flight, the aim of all its efforts being to make us think that God is adverse and hostile to us, and thus, instead of hoping for any assistance from him, to make us dread him as a deadly foe.
21. To withstand these assaults, faith arms and fortifies itself with the word of God. When the temptation suggested is, that God is an enemy because he afflicts, faith replies, that while he afflicts he is merciful, his chastening proceeding more from love than anger. To the thought that God is the avenger of wickedness, it opposes the pardon ready to be bestowed on all offences whenever the sinner retakes himself to the divine mercy. Thus the pious mind, how much soever it may be agitated and torn, at length rises superior to all difficulties, and allows not its confidence in the divine mercy to be destroyed. Nay, rather, the disputes which exercise and disturb it tend to establish this confidence. A proof of this is, that the saints, when the hand of God lies heaviest upon them, still lodge their complaints with him, and continue to invoke him, when to all appearance he is least disposed to hear. But of what use were it to lament before him if they had no hope of solace? They never would invoke him did they not believe that he is ready to assist them. Thus the disciples, while reprimanded by their Master for the weakness of their faith in crying out that they were perishing, still implored his aid (Mt. 8:25). And he, in rebuking them for their want of faith, does not disown them or class them with unbelievers, but urges them to shake off the vice. Therefore, as we have already said, we again maintain, that faith remaining fixed in the believer's breast never can be eradicated from it. However it may seem shaken and bent in this direction or in that, its flame is never so completely quenched as not at least to lurk under the embers. In this way, it appears that the word, which is an incorruptible seed, produces fruit similar to itself. Its germ never withers away utterly and perishes. The saints cannot have a stronger ground for despair than to feel, that, according to present appearances, the hand of God is armed for their destruction; and yet Job thus declares the strength of his confidence: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." The truth is, that unbelief reigns not in the hearts of believers, but only assails them from without; does not wound them mortally with its darts, but annoys them, or, at the utmost, gives them a wound which can be healed. Faith, as Paul (declares (Eph. 6:16), is our shield, which receiving these darts, either wards them off entirely, or at least breaks their force, and prevents them from reaching the vitals. Hence when faith is shaken, it is just as when, by the violent blow of a javelin, a soldier standing firm is forced to step back and yield a little; and again when faith is wounded, it is as if the shield were pierced, but not perforated by the blow. The pious mind will always rise, and be able to say with David, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me," (Psalm 23:4). Doubtless it is a terrific thing to walk in the darkness of death, and it is impossible for believers, however great their strength may be, not to shudder at it; but since the prevailing thought is that God is present and providing for their safety, the feeling of security overcomes that of fear. As Augustine says,--whatever be the engines which the devil erects against us, as he cannot gain the heart where faith dwells, he is cast out. Thus, if we may judge by the event, not only do believers come off safe from every contest so as to be ready, after a short repose, to descend again into the arena, but the saying of John, in his Epistle, is fulfilled, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith," (1 John 5:4). It is not said that it will be victorious in a single fight, or a few, or some one assault, but that it will be victorious over the whole world, though it should be a thousand times assailed.
22. There is another species of fear and trembling, which, so far from impairing the security of faith, tends rather to establish it; namely, when believers, reflecting that the examples of the divine vengeance on the ungodly are a kind of beacons warning them not to provoke the wrath of God by similar wickedness keep anxious watch, or, taking a view of their own inherent wretchedness, learn their entire dependence on God, without whom they feel themselves to be fleeting and evanescent as the wind. For when the Apostle sets before the Corinthians the scourges which the Lord in ancient times inflicted on the people of Israel, that they might be afraid of subjecting themselves to similar calamities, he does not in any degree destroy the ground of their confidence; he only shakes off their carnal torpor which suppresses faith, but does not strengthen it. Nor when he takes occasion from the case of the Israelites to exhort, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," (1 Cor. 10:12), he does not bid us waver, as if we had no security for our steadfastness: he only removes arrogance and rash confidence in our strength, telling the Gentiles not to presume because the Jews had been cast off, and they had been admitted to their place (Rom. 11:20). In that passage, indeed, he is not addressing believers only, but also comprehends hypocrites, who gloried merely in external appearance; nor is he addressing individuals, but contrasting the Jews and Gentiles, he first shows that the rejection of the former was a just punishment of their ingratitude and unbelief, and then exhorts the latter to beware lest pride and presumption deprive them of the grace of adoption which had lately been transferred to them. For as in that rejection of the Jews there still remained some who were not excluded from the covenant of adoptions so there might be some among the Gentiles who, possessing no true faith, were only puffed up with vain carnal confidence, and so abused the goodness of God to their own destruction. But though you should hold that the words were addressed to elect believers, no inconsistency will follow. It is one thing, in order to prevent believers from indulging vain confidence, to repress the temerity which, from the remains of the flesh, sometimes gains upon them, and it is another thing to strike terror into their consciences, and prevent them from feeling secure in the mercy of God.
23. Then, when he bids us work out our salvation with fear and trembling, all he requires is, that we accustom ourselves to think very meanly of our own strength, and confide in the strength of the Lord. For nothing stimulates us so strongly to place all our confidence and assurance on the Lord as self diffidence, and the anxiety produced by a consciousness of our calamitous condition. In this sense are we to understand the words of the Psalmist: "I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temples" (Ps. 5:7). Here he appropriately unites confident faith leaning on the divine mercy with religious fear, which of necessity we must feel whenever coming into the presence of the divine majesty we are made aware by its splendor of the extent of our own impurity. Truly also does Solomon declare: "Happy is the man that feareth alway; but he that hardeneth his heart falleth into mischief," (Prov. 28:14). The fear he speaks of is that which renders us more cautious, not that which produces despondency, the fear which is felt when the mind confounded in itself resumes its equanimity in God, downcast in itself, takes courage in God, distrusting itself, breathes confidence in God. Hence there is nothing inconsistent in believers being afraid, and at the same time possessing secure consolation as they alternately behold their own vanity, and direct their thoughts to the truth of God. How, it will be asked, can fear and faith dwell in the same mind? Just in the same way as sluggishness and anxiety can so dwell. The ungodly court a state of lethargy that the fear of God may not annoy them; and yet the judgment of God so urges that they cannot gain their desire. In the same way God can train his people to humility, and curb them by the bridle of modesty, while yet fighting bravely. And it is plain, from the context, that this was the Apostle's meaning, since he states, as the ground of fear and trembling, that it is God who worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure. In the same sense must we understand the words of the Prophet, "The children of Israel" "shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days," (Hos. 3:5). For not only does piety beget reverence to God, but the sweet attractiveness of grace inspires a man, though desponding of himself, at once with fear and admiration, making him feel his dependence on God, and submit humbly to his power.
24. Here, however, we give no countenance to that most pestilential philosophy which some semi-papists are at present beginning to broach in corners. Unable to defend the gross doubt inculcated by the Schoolmen, they have recourse to another fiction, that they may compound a mixture of faith and unbelief. They admit, that whenever we look to Christ we are furnished with full ground for hope; but as we are ever unworthy of all the blessings which are offered us in Christ, they will have us to fluctuate and hesitate in the view of our unworthiness. In short, they give conscience a position between hope and fear, making it alternate, by successive turns, to the one and the other. Hope and fear, again, they place in complete contrast,--the one falling as the other rises, and rising as the other falls. Thus Satan, finding the devices by which he was wont to destroy the certainty of faith too manifest to be now of any avail, is endeavoring, by indirect methods, to undermine it.  But what kind of confidence is that which is ever and anon supplanted by despair? They tell you, if you look to Christ salvation is certain; if you return to yourself damnation is certain. Therefore, your mind must be alternately ruled by diffidence and hope; as if we were to imagine Christ standing at a distance, and not rather dwelling in us. We expect salvation from him--not because he stands aloof from us, but because ingrafting us into his body he not only makes us partakers of all his benefits, but also of himself. Therefore, I thus retort the argument, If you look to yourself damnation is certain: but since Christ has been communicated to you with all his benefits, so that all which is his is made yours, you become a member of him, and hence one with him. His righteousness covers your sins--his salvation extinguishes your condemnation; he interposes with his worthiness, and so prevents your unworthiness from coming into the view of God. Thus it truly is. It will never do to separate Christ from us, nor us from him; but we must, with both hands, keep firm hold of that alliance by which he has riveted us to himself. This the Apostle teaches us: "The body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness," (Rom. 8:10). According to the frivolous trifling of these objectors, he ought to have said, Christ indeed has life in himself, but you, as you are sinners, remain liable to death and condemnation. Very different is his language. He tells us that the condemnation which we of ourselves deserve is annihilated by the salvation of Christ; and to confirm this he employs the argument to which I have referred--viz. that Christ is not external to us, but dwells in us; and not only unites us to himself by an undivided bond of fellowship, but by a wondrous communion brings us daily into closer connection, until he becomes altogether one with us. And yet I deny not, as I lately said, that faith occasionally suffers certain interruptions when, by violent assault, its weakness is made to bend in this direction or in that; and its light is buried in the thick darkness of temptation. Still happen what may, faith ceases not to long after God.
25. The same doctrine is taught by Bernard when he treats professedly on this subject in his Fifth Homily on the Dedication of the Temple: "By the blessing of God, sometimes meditating on the soul, methinks, I find in it as it were two contraries. When I look at it as it is in itself and of itself, the truest thing I can say of it is, that it has been reduced to nothing. What need is there to enumerate each of its miseries? how burdened with sin, obscured with darkness, ensnared by allurements, teeming with lusts, ruled by passion, filled with delusions, ever prone to evil, inclined to every vice; lastly, full of ignominy and confusion. If all its righteousnesses, when examined by the light of truth, are but as filthy rags (Is. 64:6), what must we suppose its unrighteousness to be? If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?' (Mt. 6:23). What then? man doubtless has been made subject to vanity--man here been reduced to nothing--man is nothing. And yet how is he whom God exalts utterly nothing? How is he nothing to whom a divine heart has been given? Let us breathe again, brethren. Although we are nothing in our hearts, perhaps something of us may lurk in the heart of God. O Father of mercies! O Father of the miserable! how plantest thou thy heart in us? Where thy heart is, there is thy treasure also. But how are we thy treasure if we are nothing? All nations before thee are as nothing. Observe, before thee; not within thee. Such are they in the judgment of thy truth, but not such in regard to thy affection. Thou callest the things which be not as though they were; and they are not, because thou callest them things that be not:' and yet they are because thou callest them. For though they are not as to themselves, yet they are with thee according to the declaration of Paul: Not of works, but of him that calleth,' " (Rom. 9:11). He then goes on to say that the connection is wonderful in both points of view. Certainly things which are connected together do not mutually destroy each other. This he explains more clearly in his conclusion in the following terms: "If, in both views, we diligently consider what we are,--in the one view our nothingness, in the other our greatness,--I presume our glorying will seem restrained; but perhaps it is rather increased and confirmed, because we glory not in ourselves, but in the Lord. Our thought is, if he determined to save us we shall be delivered; and here we begin again to breathe. But, ascending to a loftier height, let us seek the city of God, let us seek the temple, let us seek our home, let us seek our spouse. I have not forgotten myself when, with fear and reverence, I say, We are,--are in the heart of God. We are, by his dignifying, not by our own dignity."
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
A Tale of Two Brothers
By Sinclair Ferguson
The antinomian prodigal when awakened was tempted to legalism: “I will go and be a slave in my father’s house and thus perhaps gain grace in his eyes.” But he was bathed in his father’s grace and set free to live as an obedient son. Come, everyone who thirsts,
The legalistic older brother never tasted his father’s grace. Because of his legalism he had never been able to enjoy the privileges of the father’s house.
Between them stood the father offering free grace to both, without prior qualifications in either. Had the older brother embraced his father, he would have found grace that would make every duty a delight and dissolve the hardness of his servile heart. Had that been the case, his once antinomian brother would surely have felt free to come out to him as his father had done, and say: “Isn’t the grace we have been shown and given simply amazing? Let us forevermore live in obedience to every wish of our gracious father!” And arm in arm they could have gone in to dance at the party, sons and brothers together, a glorious testimony to the father’s love.
But it was not so.
It is still, alas, not so.
Yet this is still true:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:1–4)
And the invitation still stands:
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food. (Isa. 55:1–2)
Come, everyone who thirsts,
Sinclair Ferguson | Wikipedia
Sinclair Ferguson Books:
- 1 Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification
- 2 The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance
- 3 The Christian LIfe: A Doctrinal Introduction
- 4 In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life
- 5 Church History 101: The Highlights of Twenty Centuries
- 6 The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology)
- 7 Sermon on the Mount
- 8 By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me
- 9 From the Mouth of God
- 10 The Grace of Repentance (Redesign) (Today's Issues)
- 11 The Pundit's Folly: Chronicles of an Empty Life
- 12 Let's Study Philippians (Let's Study Series)
- 13 Discovering God's Will
- 14 Heart for God
- 15 Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth
- 16 Children of the Living God
- 17 Name above All Names
- 18 Big Book of Questions & Answers: A Family Devotional Guide
- 19 Living for God's Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism
- 20 John Owen on the Christian Life
- 21 Man Overboard!: The Story of Jonah
- 22 Child in the Manger
- 23 The Preacher's Commentary - Vol. 21- Daniel
- 24 Ephesians (Let's Study)
- 25 Let's Study Mark (Let's Study Series)
- 26 Irenaeus of Lyons (Heroes of the Faith)
- 27 Ichthus: Jesus Christ, God's Son, the Saviour
- 28 The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction
- 29 Polycarp of Smyrna (Heroes of the Faith)
- 30 Grow in Grace
- 31 The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance
- 32 Ignatius of Antioch (Heroes of the Faith)
- 33 Deserted by God?
- 34 Big Book of Bible Truths 1
- 35 In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Secrets of self-control (2)
3/1/2018 Bob Gass
‘With the Lord’s help, [you] will stand.’
(Ro 14:4) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. ESV
Put your past behind you. ‘[This] one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal’ (Philippians 3:13-14 NIVUK 2011 Edition). This Scripture exposes a misconception that will keep you from gaining self-control: once a failure, always a failure! You may say, ‘Oh, I tried to quit my bad habit. In fact, I have tried over and over. I guess I’ll never be able to get control of this.’ That is a misconception. Paul says, ‘We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going’ (2 Corinthians 4:9 TLB). Have you watched a baby learning to walk? They fall down a lot, but they don’t stay down. They keep on trying, and ultimately they succeed. How far do you think they’d get if they just gave up and said, ‘Some people were meant to be walkers, and some were not’? Failure in the past does not mean that you will never be able to change. But focusing on past failures, however, does guarantee their repetition. It is like driving a car while looking in the rear-view mirror. You’re going to collide with what’s ahead of you. You have to put your past behind you. No one had more failures than Thomas Edison. Most of us would have given up, but not him. He once said, ‘Don’t call it a failure, call it an education! Now I know what doesn’t work!’ When you realise sin doesn’t work, it’s a defining moment and your springboard to victory. A winner is simply someone who gets back up one more time than they fall down. So, the word for you today is: ‘With the Lord’s help, [you] will stand.’
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Before the U.S. Constitution was written, what was the government in the United States? It was the Articles of Confederation, ratified this day, March 1st, 1781. Signed by such statesmen as Ben Franklin and Roger Sherman, it was an attempt to loosely knit the thirteen States together. The Articles of Confederation declared: “The… states hereby… enter into a… league of friendship… to assist each other, against… attacks made upon them… on account of religion, sovereignty, [and] trade… It has pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the Legislatures… to ratify the said Articles.”
Thomas R. Kelly
An invariable element in the experience of Now is that of unspeakable and exquisite joy, peace, serene release. A new song is put into our mouths. No old song ever has caught the glory and the gladness of this Now; no former Now can be drawn upon to give perfect voice to this Now. The well-springs of Life are bubbling up anew each moment. When the angel is troubling the waters, it is no time to stand on the bank and recite past wonders. But the main point is not that a new song is put into our mouths; the point is that a new song is put into our mouths. We sing, yet not we, but the Eternal sings in us. It seems to me, in the experience of plateau living in the Divine Presence, that the Everlasting is the singer, and not we ourselves, that the joy we know in the Presence is not our little private subjective joy, pocketed away from other men, a private gift from a benevolent and gracious God. It is the joy and peace and serenity which is in the Divine Life itself, and we are given to share in that joy which is eternally within all Nows. The song is put into our mouths, for the Singer of all songs is singing within us. It is not we that sing; it is the Eternal Song of the Other, who sings in us, who sings unto us, and through us into the world.
For the holy Now is not something which we, by our activity, by our dynamic energy, overtake or come upon. It is a now which itself is dynamic, which lays hold actively upon us, which breaks in actively upon us and re-energizes us from within a new center. We can count upon this as the only secure dynamic, an all-potent factor in world-events. For the Eternal is urgently, actively breaking into time, working through those who are willing to be laid hold upon, to surrender self-confidence and self-centered effort, that is, self-originated effort, and let the Eternal be the dynamic guide in recreating, through us, our time-world.
This is the first fruit of the Spirit-a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace stands in stark contrast to this: it ... is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
If the Spirit of God has given you a vision
of what you are apart from the grace of God
(and He only does it when His Spirit is at work),
you know there is no criminal
who is half so bad in actuality
as you know yourself to be in possibility.
--- Oswald Chambers
When a man pants after God, it is a secret life within which makes him do it: he would not long after God by nature. No man thirsts for God while he is left in his carnal [that is, unconverted] state. The unrenewed man pants after anything sooner than God: … It proves a renewed nature when you long after God; it is a work of grace in your soul, and you may be thankful for it.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
Ninth of eight month, 1757. -- Orders came at night to the military officers in our county (Burlington), directing them to draft the militia, and prepare a number of men to go off as soldiers, to the relief of the English at Fort William Henry, in New York government; a few days after which, there was a general review of the militia at Mount Holly, and a number of men were chosen and sent off under some officers. Shortly after, there came orders to draft three times as many, who were to hold themselves in readiness to march when fresh orders came. On the 17th there was a meeting of the military officers at Mount Holly, who agreed on draft; orders were sent to the men so chosen to meet their respective captains at set times and places, those in our township to meet at Mount Holly, amongst whom were a considerable number of our Society. My mind being affected herewith, I had fresh opportunity to see and consider the advantage of living in the real substance of religion, where practice doth harmonize with principle. Amongst the officers are men of understanding, who have some regard to sincerity where they see it; and when such in the execution of their office have men to deal with whom they believe to be upright-hearted, it is a painful task to put them to trouble on account of scruples of conscience, and they will be likely to avoid it as much as easily may be. But where men profess to be so meek and heavenly-minded, and to have their trust so firmly settled in God that they cannot join in wars, and yet by their spirit and conduct in common life manifest a contrary disposition, their difficulties are great at such a time.
When officers who are anxiously endeavoring to get troops to answer the demands of their superiors see men who are insincere pretend scruple of conscience in hopes of being excused from a dangerous employment, it is likely they will be roughly handled. In this time of commotion some of our young men left these parts and tarried abroad till it was over; some came, and proposed to go as soldiers; others appeared to have a real tender scruple in their minds against joining in wars, and were much humbled under the apprehension of a trial so near. I had conversation with several of them to my satisfaction. When the captain came to town, some of the last-mentioned went and told him in substance as follows: That they could not bear arms for conscience' sake; nor could they hire any to go in their places, being resigned as to the event. At length the captain acquainted them all that they might return home for the present, but he required them to provide themselves as soldiers, and be in readiness to march when called upon. This was such a time as I had not seen before; and yet I may say, with thankfulness to the Lord, that I believed the trial was intended for our good; and I was favored with resignation to him. The French army having taken the fort they were besieging, destroyed it and went away; the company of men who were first drafted, after some days' march, had orders to return home, and those on the second draft were no more called upon on that occasion.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
but those who sow righteousness gain a true reward.
19 Genuine righteousness leads to life,
but the pursuer of evil goes to his own death.
20 The crooked-hearted are an abomination to ADONAI,
but those sincere in their ways are his delight.
21 Depend on it: the evil will not go unpunished;
but the offspring of the righteous will escape.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Lovest thou Me? --- John 21:17.
Peter declares nothing now (cf. Matthew 26:33–35 ). Natural individuality professes and declares; the love of the personality is only discovered by the hurt of the question of Jesus Christ. Peter loved Jesus in the way in which any natural man loves a good man. That is temperamental love; it may go deep into the individuality, but it does not touch the centre of the person. True love never professes anything. Jesus said—“Whosoever shall confess Me before men,” i.e., confess his love not merely by his words, but by everything he does.
Unless we get hurt right out of every deception about ourselves, the word of God is not having its way with us. The word of God hurts as no sin can ever hurt, because sin blunts feeling. The question of the Lord intensifies feeling, until to be hurt by Jesus is the most exquisite hurt conceivable. It hurts not only in the natural way but in the profound personal way. The word of the Lord pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, there is no deception left. There is no possibility of being sentimental with the Lord’s question; you cannot say nice things when the Lord speaks directly to you, the hurt is too terrific. It is such a hurt that it stings every other concern out of account. There never can be any mistake about the hurt of the Lord’s word when it comes to his child; but the point of the hurt is the great point of revelation.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
The Hearth In front of the fire
With you, the folk song
Of the wind in the chimney and the sparks'
Emboidery of the soot--eternity
Is here in this smakk room,
In intervals that our love
Widens; and outside
Of time, travellars
To a new Bethlehem, statesmen
And scientists with their hands full
Of the gifts that destroy,
Song at the year's turning: Poems 1942-1954
In front of the fire
The Book of Leviticus is often viewed as God’s instruction to Israel on holy living. Earlier God spoke from the mountaintop; now, with the tabernacle erected, God’s presence was among the people. The people were in unique fellowship with God, and it was His “going with” them that set Israel apart from all others (Ex. 33:16).
But how might they live so close to the holy God? Only by continual cleansing and commitment to a holy lifestyle. J. Sidlow Baxter ( Baxter's Explore the Book ) notes this dual need and divides Leviticus into two parts:
I. Sacrifice: Ground of Fellowship
A. Offerings — absolution 1–7
B. Priesthood — mediation 8–10
C. People — purification 11–16
D. Altar — reconciliation 17
II. Separation: Way of Fellowship
A. Rules for people 18–20
B. Rules for priests 21–22
C. Rules concerning feasts 23–24
D. Rules concerning Canaan 25–27
The Teacher's Commentary
A young girl is reading a book and comes across a big word she has never seen before. She runs over to her father and asks, “What does this mean?” Her dad looks at the word and smiles, but instead of giving her the answer, he pulls a dictionary off the shelf and tells her, “Go look it up!” “Come on, Dad, I know you know it. Just tell me what it means!” He sticks to his guns and insists that she look up the word herself. After she finds the definition, the father tells his daughter: “I want you to get into the habit of learning things for yourself. When you do that, you’ll really remember. If I always gave you the answers so easily, they just wouldn’t stay with you. And besides, I won’t always be here to give you the answer. You’ve got to learn to rely on yourself.”
Hillel taught much the same lesson to the non-Jew: I can give you the short answer, but if you really want to understand the Torah, you have to go out and learn it yourself.
The same holds true for those who want to learn Talmud. This book will give the short answer—a brief introduction. The real path to “swimming in the sea of Talmud” comes when the reader takes to heart Hillel’s key words: “The rest is commentary.” Once you have learned the maxim and the text, you must make your own commentary, connecting Talmud texts to your own life.
In the Context section, we endeavor to explain what the Gemara meant to the Rabbis who are mentioned in our texts. In the D’rash section, we try to apply the Gemara to our own world and the issues that confront us today. We believe very much in taking a conceptual approach to the Talmud: Even though it appears that the Rabbis were dealing with arcane ritual matters, in truth their debates were really about issues that are relevant to all people at all times.
In trying to have the Rabbis of the Talmud speak to us, we often use stories and questions that resonate to the modern ear. We give our own interpretations to the words of the Rabbis as we try to apply their wisdom to our lives. We recognize that these applications are subjective understandings; they are by no means the only interpretations. The reader may come up with his or her own ways of connecting the teachings of the Rabbis to the contemporary world. This is exactly what should happen. The study of Talmud has been one of the most authentically Jewish activities precisely because it demands that we connect the past to the present. When we make this connection, we all become students of Hillel.
Go and learn!
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book Two / The Interior Life
The Fourth Chapter / Purity Of Mind And Unity Of Purpose
A MAN is raised up from the earth by two wings—simplicity and purity. There must be simplicity in his intention and purity in his desires. Simplicity leads to God, purity embraces and enjoys Him.
If your heart is free from ill-ordered affection, no good deed will be difficult for you. If you aim at and seek after nothing but the pleasure of God and the welfare of your neighbor, you will enjoy freedom within.
If your heart were right, then every created thing would be a mirror of life for you and a book of holy teaching, for there is no creature so small and worthless that it does not show forth the goodness of God. If inwardly you were good and pure, you would see all things clearly and understand them rightly, for a pure heart penetrates to heaven and hell, and as a man is within, so he judges what is without. If there be joy in the world, the pure of heart certainly possess it; and if there be anguish and affliction anywhere, an evil conscience knows it too well.
As iron cast into fire loses its rust and becomes glowing white, so he who turns completely to God is stripped of his sluggishness and changed into a new man. When a man begins to grow lax, he fears a little toil and welcomes external comfort, but when he begins perfectly to conquer himself and to walk bravely in the ways of God, then he thinks those things less difficult which he thought so hard before.
The Imitation Of Christ
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
--- Psalm 103:13.
Look at the text, believing in its meaning and not saying, “That is in a human way.” ( Spurgeon's Sermons, 5 Volumes ) For there is no other manner in which we can speak and no other manner in which God himself can speak if he means us to understand.
Hear it first for your encouragement, and hear it next for your imitation. Hear it, that you may be encouraged; God is not unfeelingly afflicting you, but he feels compassion for you. Hear it that you may go into the world with a like compassionate eye. If you ever have to say a rough word in fidelity or are required to utter a rebuke, do it in the way your heavenly Father does, having compassion even if you have to blame and gently delivering the expostulation that it grieves you to have to deliver at all.
Observe that the pity of the Lord extends to all those who fear him. There are none who are not fit objects of his compassion—the very best and brightest of his saints, the brave heroes, the well-instructed fathers, the diligent workers; God has compassion for you. Take that home to yourselves, because there is a beautiful lesson of humility in so accounting ourselves as pitiable creatures in the eyes of the Lord, even when we are at our best estate. I have seen some brothers and sisters who really did not seem at all fit for pity, because they imagined that the very roots of sin had been eradicated out of their hearts. Their characters and their conduct were akin to perfection in their own estimation. They had lived many weeks without a sin, except some wandering thought, but they could hardly refer to that as a fault. I pity people who talk so; if they are God’s children, all that God does with them is he has compassion for them, and well he may; for he says to himself, “Poor dear creatures; how little they know of themselves, and how different their estimate of perfection is from mine.” He still feels compassion for them.
The biggest children he has, the children who are most like their Father and have learned most of Jesus, may come to this text and see themselves depicted in it—“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Passing the Flame
“How long, O God, shall darkness cover this kingdom?”
Patrick Hamilton’s dying words haunted George Wishart, only son of distinguished James Wishart of Pitarrow, Scotland. George was tall, dark-haired, good-looking, pleasant, and eager to both learn and teach. He believed that God’s way of salvation was through the finished work of Christ alone. Those Reformation beliefs put him at risk. In 1544 he began preaching in Dundee from the book of Romans. Among his listeners was a young man named John Knox. Knox was struck with Wishart and began serving as his bodyguard, carrying a two-handed sword.
Archbishop David Beaton brutally sought to repress Protestants, and as Wishart’s arrest grew more certain, Knox asked to remain at his side. “No” said Wishart, embracing the younger man. “One is sufficient for a sacrifice at this time.” On the morning of March 1, 1546, Wishart was led to the stake, where he told the crowds, “I exhort you, love the Word of God and suffer patiently. I know surely that my soul shall sup with my Savior this night.” He was then strangled and his body burned to ashes.
His death enraged Knox and all of Scotland, and within two months Archbishop Beaton was assassinated. Knox wasn’t among the murderers, but he vowed not to rest till Scotland was Protestant. It proved a costly vow, for Knox was soon imprisoned on a galley ship, chained to the oars with a whip to his back. He labored to exhaustion with no hope of release.
He was eventually released, and in years to come Knox took Scotland by storm, provoking rulers, inciting riots, demanding change. He prayed down the wrath of heaven on his nemesis, Mary, Queen of Scots. He was called the “Thundering Scot,” and as he aged his visage darkened. The years took their toll on both his health and his patience. He died exhausted, perhaps embittered, in 1572.
But his efforts inspired Scots for years to come, and the Reformation triumphed in their land at last.
Elijah prayed: Our LORD, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Now, prove that you are the God of this nation,… Please answer me, so these people will know that you are the LORD God, and that you will turn their hearts back to you.
--- 1 Kings 18:36,37.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - March 1
“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” --- Song of Solomon 4:16.
Anything is better than the dead calm of indifference. Our souls may wisely desire the north wind of trouble if that alone can be sanctified to the drawing forth of the perfume of our graces. So long as it cannot be said, “The Lord was not in the wind,” we will not shrink from the most wintry blast that ever blew upon plants of grace. Did not the spouse in this verse humbly submit herself to the reproofs of her Beloved; only entreating him to send forth his grace in some form, and making no stipulation as to the peculiar manner in which it should come? Did she not, like ourselves, become so utterly weary of deadness and unholy calm that she sighed for any visitation which would brace her to action? Yet she desires the warm south wind of comfort, too, the smiles of divine love, the joy of the Redeemer’s presence; these are often mightily effectual to arouse our sluggish life. She desires either one or the other, or both; so that she may but be able to delight her Beloved with the spices of her garden. She cannot endure to be unprofitable, nor can we. How cheering a thought that Jesus can find comfort in our poor feeble graces. Can it be? It seems far too good to be true. Well may we court trial or even death itself if we shall thereby be aided to make glad Immanuel’s heart. O that our heart were crushed to atoms if only by such bruising our sweet Lord Jesus could be glorified. Graces unexercised are as sweet perfumes slumbering in the cups of the flowers: the wisdom of the great Husbandman overrules diverse and opposite causes to produce the one desired result, and makes both affliction and consolation draw forth the grateful odours of faith, love, patience, hope, resignation, joy, and the other fair flowers of the garden. May we know by sweet experience, what this means.
Evening - March 1
“He is precious.” --- 1 Peter 2:7.
As all the rivers run into the sea, so all delights centre in our Beloved. The glances of his eyes outshine the sun: the beauties of his face are fairer than the choicest flowers: no fragrance is like the breath of his mouth. Gems of the mine, and pearls from the sea, are worthless things when measured by his preciousness. Peter tells us that Jesus is precious, but he did not and could not tell us how precious, nor could any of us compute the value of God’s unspeakable gift. Words cannot set forth the preciousness of the Lord Jesus to his people, nor fully tell how essential he is to their satisfaction and happiness. Believer, have you not found in the midst of plenty a sore famine if your Lord has been absent? The sun was shining, but Christ had hidden himself, and all the world was black to you; or it was night, and since the bright and morning star was gone, no other star could yield you so much as a ray of light. What a howling wilderness is this world without our Lord! If once he hideth himself from us, withered are the flowers of our garden; our pleasant fruits decay; the birds suspend their songs, and a tempest overturns our hopes. All earth’s candles cannot make daylight if the Sun of Righteousness be eclipsed. He is the soul of our soul, the light of our light, the life of our life. Dear reader, what wouldst thou do in the world without him, when thou wakest up and lookest forward to the day’s battle? What wouldst thou do at night, when thou comest home jaded and weary, if there were no door of fellowship between thee and Christ? Blessed be his name, he will not suffer us to try our lot without him, for Jesus never forsakes his own. Yet, let the thought of what life would be without him enhance his preciousness.
Morning and Evening
BRING THEM IN
Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16)
During this month our attention is often focused on the ministry of our Sunday schools. The Sunday school has been the church’s chief agency for reaching and teaching children for the past two centuries. It would be impossible to measure the extent of its spiritual influence during that time.
The Sunday school movement began in England during the lifetime of Robert Raikes (1736–1811), who was often called the “founder of the modern Sunday school.” Raikes became intensely concerned with the spiritual and social conditions of the great masses of poor illiterate children. Since education was reserved for the wealthy, four out of five poor children had no schooling. Child labor was shamefully exploited. In the midst of these conditions Raikes began taking children off the streets and teaching them biblical truths as well as the ability to read and write.
Later the followers of John and Charles Wesley, the Methodists, began establishing Sunday schools, first in England and then in America following the Revolutionary War. Still later the Sunday school movement was encouraged further by the founding of the American Sunday School Union in 1824. As this concern for children developed, it became apparent to Christian leaders that music is a natural means for working with children, since most children respond readily to musical activities. This desire to reach and teach children for Christ through appropriate songs was one of the important factors that led to the rise of the gospel song movement during the latter half of the 19th century.
“Bring Them In” has been widely used since being published in 1885 by its composer William Ogden, who was known for his work with children’s music.
Hark! ’tis the Shepherd’s voice I hear, out in the desert dark and drear, calling the sheep who’ve gone astray far from the Shepherd’s fold away.
Who’ll go and help this Shepherd kind, help Him the wand’ring one to find? Who’ll bring the lost ones to the fold where they’ll be sheltered from the cold?
Out in the desert hear their cry, out on the mountains wild and high. Hark! ’tis the Master speaks to thee, “Go find my sheep where’er they be.”
Chorus: Bring them in, bring them in, bring them in from the fields of sin; bring them in, bring them in, bring the wand’ring ones to Jesus.
For Today: Psalm 96:2, 3; Proverbs 11:30; Matthew 13:39; Matthew 18:12.
Spend time in prayer for your church Sunday school—the leaders and teachers who have assumed the important responsibility of ministering the Christian faith to children and youth. At your first opportunity let them know of your prayerful concern and appreciation for their work.
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Thursday, March 1, 2018 | Lent
Thursday Of The Second Week In Lent
Psalms (Morning) (Psalm 70) 71
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 74
Old Testament Genesis 42:29–38
New Testament 1 Corinthians 6:12–20
Gospel Mark 4:21–34
Index of Readings
(Psalm 70) 71
[ 70 To The Choirmaster. Of David, For The Memorial Offering.
1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
2 Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
3 Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, “Aha, Aha!”
4 May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
5 But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay! ]
71 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame!
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me, and save me!
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
7 I have been as a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all the day.
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent.
10 For my enemies speak concerning me;
those who watch for my life consult together
11 and say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue and seize him,
for there is none to deliver him.”
12 O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
13 May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
19 Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.
22 I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy,
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
who sought to do me hurt.
74 A Maskil Of Asaph.
1 O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
5 They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
6 And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
7 They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
8 They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
9 We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
and there is none among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!
12 Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15 You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.
18 Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.
20 Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!
29 When they came to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us and took us to be spies of the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we have never been spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of our father. One is no more, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. 34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I shall know that you are not spies but honest men, and I will deliver your brother to you, and you shall trade in the land.’ ”
35 As they emptied their sacks, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. And when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. 36 And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” 37 Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” 38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”
1 Corinthians 6:12–20
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” 26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
The Book of Common Prayer