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Exodus 25     John 4     Proverbs 1     2 Corinthians 13


Exodus 25

Contributions for the Sanctuary

Exodus 25:1  The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. 3 And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, 5 tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, 6 oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

The Ark of the Covenant

10 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.

17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

The Table for Bread

23 “You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 24 You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26 And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27 Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29 And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly.

The Golden Lampstand

31 “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. 32 And there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, 35 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand. 36 Their calyxes and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it a single piece of hammered work of pure gold. 37 You shall make seven lamps for it. And the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. 38 Its tongs and their trays shall be of pure gold. 39 It shall be made, with all these utensils, out of a talent of pure gold. 40 And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.


John 4

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

John 4:1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

Jesus Heals an Official’s Son

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.


Proverbs 1

The Beginning of Knowledge

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

2  To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3  to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4  to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5  Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6  to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The Enticement of Sinners

8  Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
9  for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
10  My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11  If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12  like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13  we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14  throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
15  my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
16  for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17  For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
18  but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19  Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.

The Call of Wisdom

20  Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
21  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22  “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23  If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
24  Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25  because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26  I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
27  when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
28  Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29  Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
30  would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
31  therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
32  For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33  but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”



2 Corinthians 13

Final Warnings

2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them— 3 since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. 10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.

Final Greetings

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Finding the Lover of Your Soul in Jesus Christ

By Sylvia Ronnau 3/2/2017

     My heart beat to the sound of a metronome as I played a Chopin waltz. The rushing of the water from the shower sounded like a stream would during snow melt season. My husband, Fred, stepped out of the shower. It was my birthday, but I cared only about Fred and whether Wharton School of Business accepted him.

     I followed him and perched on the couch behind his shoulder and squinted to see if they had made the decision. Once I heard, “Yes!” I knew we had a new adventure on our hands. With a grin on my face, I changed into running gear and pulled my hair into a high ponytail. After giving my husband a huge hug, I began my run and then turned onto a busier lane in Menlo Park. It was wintertime, the birds were chirping songs of joy, and my heart sung to the melody of ecstasy. I ran into Palo Alto and took a right turn on University Avenue. Memories of my undergraduate years at Stanford University flooded my mind, good memories and sad memories of friendship, deceit, and pain. I pushed that aside as I ran towards the university and zipped up Stanford Avenue to the Dish. As I pushed my body uphill, I started to pant and panic at the same time. My heart raced, I could not breathe, and I felt nauseous. I quickly darted around the loop to home.

     No one was home. I just passed the bar exam and started a new job in a week. These new developments would change everything. In six months, we would be traipsing the streets of Philadelphia. Suddenly an intense fear gripped me, a fear that would not let go even once we arrived in Philadelphia. I had hit the new normal—panicky Sylvia.

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Sylvia Ronnau: I blog three to four times a week and would love to keep in touch with you. You can always email me when you struggle anytime at sronnau@rocketmail.com. Please subscribe to my blog at the lower right side of the home page. Visit with me now where I talk about God’s beauty in our trials. http://sylviaronnau.net/a-daily-dose-of-gods-beauty-in-trials/

What is the Meaning of the Cross?

By J. Warner Wallace 5/7/2014

     When I first became interested in examining the Gospels as eyewitness accounts, I really had no interest in Jesus as God. I was willing to survey and consider the wisdom of Jesus as an ancient sage, but nothing more. Once I was convinced these Gospel accounts were reliable, however, I knew I had to reconsider my naturalistic presuppositions. If Jesus truly rose from the grave, He was more than a wise sage. In those early months of my investigation, I eventually embraced “belief that”; I was convinced that the Gospels were telling me the truth about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But I still didn’t have “belief in” Jesus as Savior. In fact, I can remember asking my wife if she knew why Jesus had to die on the cross to as part of God’s plan of Salvation. Although she had grown up as a cultural Catholic, she was unable to provide an answer.

     I then began a second investigation; this time examining both the history and theology of the cross. Although the symbol of the cross appears in much pagan history prior to Jesus, the crucifixion cross described in the Gospels was a real, historical method of execution. As an instrument of death, the cross was detested by the Jews, so it became a stumbling block for them when considering Jesus. How could the Messiah be executed on a cross? The Greek and Roman Empire executed thousands of criminals and captives in this manner (Alexander the Great executed two thousand Tyrian captives on crosses after the fall of Tyre). This form of punishment was usually reserved for criminals guilty of such crimes as treason, desertion, robbery, piracy, and assassination. It continued to be used in the Roman Empire until the era of Constantine, when it was eventually abolished as an insult to Christianity.

     Even though I became convinced the Gospels accurately described Jesus’ death on the cross, I still had many questions. How could God allow this type of horrific death to occur to His only Son? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross in the first place? What did he do deserving this kind of death? The Bible provides a path to the answers as we trace how the authors used the word and described the cross as an instrument of our Salvation:

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

The Pareto Principle for Churches

By David Murray 3/13/2017

     Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule, sometimes called the Pareto principle.

     It was named after it’s “inventor,” Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noticed about 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

     To put it more generally, it says that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. to put it more concretely:

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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

David Murray is a Pastor, Professor and Author. All opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent Puritan Reformed Seminary or the Free Reformed Church.

Samaritan’s Purse Staff Kidnapped as South Sudan Faces Famine

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra 3/13/2017

     Samaritan’s Purse is “hopeful” that eight local staff members kidnapped by rebels will be released soon.

     “Samaritan's Purse confirms that some of our South Sudanese staff in the Mayendit area of South Sudan have been detained by armed personnel,” stated the humanitarian aid organization run by Franklin Graham. “We have been in contact with them, and they have not been harmed. No ransom request has been made, and we are hopeful that they will be released soon and safely.”

     A military spokesperson told Reuters today that humanitarian aid was demanded in exchange for the staff members.

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     Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra is senior writer for The Gospel Coalition and contributing editor at Christianity Today. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

God and the Beginning of the Universe

By William Lane Craig

     The absolute origin of the universe, of all matter and energy, even of physical space and time themselves, in the Big Bang singularity contradicts the perennial naturalistic assumption that the universe has always existed. One after another, models designed to avert the initial cosmological singularity--the Steady State model, the Oscillating model, Vacuum Fluctuation models--have come and gone. Current quantum gravity models, such as the Hartle-Hawking model and the Vilenkin model, must appeal to the physically unintelligible and metaphysically dubious device of "imaginary time" to avoid the universe's beginning. The contingency implied by an absolute beginning ex nihilo points to a transcendent cause of the universe beyond space and time. Philosophical objections to a cause of the universe fail to carry conviction.

     The Fundamental Question

     From time immemorial men have turned their gaze toward the heavens and wondered. Both cosmology and philosophy trace their roots to the wonder felt by the ancient Greeks as they contemplated the cosmos. According to Aristotle,

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Books by William Lane Craig -

On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
On Guard for Students: A Thinker's Guide to the Christian Faith
Five Views on Apologetics
God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism
The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology
Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time
The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Human Freedom
The Son Rises: Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

Is Jesus A Copy Of Pagan Gods?

By Steven Bancarz 3/7/2017

     By Steven Bancarz| Is Jesus a copy of pagan god myths like Zeitgiest and Religulous claim? We often hear that Jesus is just one of many saviour figures of the ancient world, and that dying-and-rising gods populated the Mediterranean for almost 1000 years before Jesus was born.

     It’s suggested that Jesus is just a mishmash and knock-off of gods like Horus, Mithra, and Dionysus, who the early Jews constructed and deified to give themselves a saviour figure of their own. These claims, while popular on the blogosphere, receive no serious consideration from experts.

     In this video, Dr. Gary Habermas, a historian and lecturer who specializes in New Testament studies, faces off with Tim Callahan, an editor for Skeptic Magazine. This debate takes place on Lee Strobel’s former show called “Faith under Fire”, which started airing in 2005.

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RE: John 4

     In trying to understand the great power of words we cannot afford to overlook their spiritual nature. Spirit is unbodied, personal force. It is personal reality that can and often does work independently of physical or bodily forces. It can also work in conjunction with them. We can most clearly see spirit in our own selves as the force that belongs to thought, emotion and intention. In the biblical view, spirit reaches far beyond these—and beyond our limited understanding—and ultimately serves as the foundation of all reality. “God is spirit.” (Jn 4:24).

     The view of words as spiritual forces is common to both Scripture and pagan philosophers. Once, when his followers were struggling to understand him and were overemphasizing the material realm, Jesus said to them, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6:63). This meant that through his words Jesus imparted himself and in some measure conferred on those who received his words the powers of God’s sovereign rule. Through him they “have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Heb 6:5). This imparted power is referred to in Jesus’ later explanation that “if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn 15:7).

     Plato, the great philosopher of ancient Greece, also spiritualized words by treating our thinking as an inner “conversation” that the soul holds with itself.[ Plato, Theaetetus ] In treating thought as a kind of language—as words, but as words hidden away in the nonphysical realm—he set a pattern that many thinkers have followed up to the present day.

     St. Augustine carried that tradition on, joining it to Christian thought, in saying that “he who thinks speaks in his heart.” He explicitly founded his view,[ Augustine: On the Trinity Books 8-15 (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) ] in part, on Gospel passages such as Matthew 9:2-4, where “some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming’ ” (see also Lk 12:17).

     The word as a person’s speaking is therefore to be understood as a spiritual power—whether of ourselves, of God or of some other personal agency and whether for evil or for good. It is the power of the one who is speaking. It is precisely in this realm that God seeks for those who would worship him “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23). He desires truth in the “inward being” and will “teach me wisdom in my secret heart” (Ps 51:6).

     William Penn says, with a characteristically Quaker emphasis, For the more mental our worship, the more adequate to the nature of God; the more silent, the more suitable to the language of the spirit. Words are for others, not for ourselves: nor for God who hears not as bodies do; but as spirits should. If we would know this dialect we must learn of the divine principle in us. As we hear the dictates of that, so does God hear us. The Peace of Europe: The Fruits of Solitude and Other Writings (Classic Reprint)

     The word of God, when no further qualification is added, is his speaking, his communicating. When God speaks, he expresses his mind, his character and his purposes. Thus God is always present with his word.

     All expressions of God’s mind are “words” of God. This is true whether the specific means are external to the human mind (as in natural phenomena [Ps 19:1-4], other human beings, the incarnate Christ [the Logos] or the Bible) or internal to the human mind (in our own thoughts, intentions and feelings). God’s rule over all things, including the affairs of humankind, is carried out through his word, understood in this way.


Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God 

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     36. Daniel, in exhorting Nebuchadnezzar to break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor (Dan. 4:27), meant not to intimate, that righteousness and mercy are able to propitiate God and redeem from punishment (far be it from us to suppose that there ever was any other apolu'trosis (ransom) than the blood of Christ); but the breaking off referred to in that passage has reference to man rather than to God: as if he had said, O king, you have exercised an unjust and violent domination, you have oppressed the humble, spoiled the poor, treated your people harshly and unjustly; instead of unjust exaction, instead of violence and oppression, now practice mercy and justice. In like manner, Solomon says, that love covers a multitude of sins; not, however, with God, but among men. For the whole verse stands thus, "Hatred stirreth up strifes; but love covereth all sins," (Prov. 10:12). Here, after his manner, he contrasts the evils produced by hatred with the fruits of charity, in this sense, Those who hate are incessantly biting, carping at, upbraiding, lacerating each other, making every thing a fault; but those who love mutually conceal each other's faults, wink at many, forgive many: not that the one approves the vices of the other, but tolerates and cures by admonishing, rather than exasperates by assailing. That the passage is quoted by Peter (1 Pet. 4:8) in the same sense we cannot doubt, unless we would charge him with corrupting or craftily wresting Scripture. When it is said, that "by mercy and truth iniquity is purged," (Prov. 16:6), the meaning is, not that by them compensation is made to the Lord, so that he being thus satisfied remits the punishment which he would otherwise have exacted; but intimation is made after the familiar manner of Scripture, that those who, forsaking their vices and iniquities turn to the Lord in truth and piety, will find him propitious: as if he had said, that the wrath of God is calmed, and his judgment is at rest, whenever we rest from our wickedness. But, indeed, it is not the cause of pardon that is described, but rather the mode of true conversion; just as the Prophets frequently declare, that it is in vain for hypocrites to offer God fictitious rites instead of repentance, seeing his delight is in integrity and the duties of charity. [373] In like manner, also, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, commending kindness and humanity, reminds us, that "with such sacrifices God is well pleased," (Heb. 13:16). And indeed when Christ, rebuking the Pharisees because, intent merely on the outside of the cup and platter, they neglected purity of heart, enjoins them, in order that they may be clean in all respects, to give alms, does he exhort them to give satisfaction thereby? He only tells them what the kind of purity is which God requires. Of this mode of expression we have treated elsewhere (Mt. 23:25; Luke 11:39-41; see Calv. In Harm. Evang).

37. In regard to the passage in Luke (Luke 7:36, sq). no man of sober judgment, who reads the parable there employed by our Lord, will raise any controversy with us. The Pharisee thought that the Lord did not know the character of the woman whom he had so easily admitted to his presence. For he presumed that he would not have admitted her if he had known what kind of a sinner she was; and from this he inferred, that one who could be deceived in this way was not a prophet. Our Lord, to show that she was not a sinner, inasmuch as she had already been forgiven, spake this parable: "There was a certain creditor which had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most?" The Pharisee answers: "I suppose that he to whom he forgave most." Then our Savior rejoins: "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much." By these words it is plain he does not make love the cause of forgiveness, but the proof of it. The similitude is borrowed from the case of a debtor, to whom a debt of five hundred pence had been forgiven. It is not said that the debt is forgiven because he loved much, but that he loved much because it was forgiven. The similitude ought to be applied in this way: You think this woman is a sinner; but you ought to have acknowledged her as not a sinner, in respect that her sins have been forgiven her. Her love ought to have been to you a proof of her having obtained forgiveness, that love being an expression of gratitude for the benefit received. It is an argument a posteriori, by which something is demonstrated by the results produced by it. Our Lord plainly attests the ground on which she had obtained forgiveness, when he says, "Thy faith has saved thee." By faith, therefore, we obtain forgiveness: by love we give thanks, and bear testimony to the loving-kindness of the Lord.

38. I am little moved by the numerous passages in the writings of the Fathers relating to satisfaction. I see indeed that some (I will frankly say almost all whose books are extant) have either erred in this matter, or spoken too roughly and harshly; but I cannot admit that they were so rude and unskillful as to write these passages in the sense in which they are read by our new satisfactionaries. Chrysostom somewhere says, "When mercy is implored interrogation ceases; when mercy is asked, judgment rages not; when mercy is sought, there is no room for punishment; where there is mercy, no question is asked; where there is mercy, the answer gives pardon," (Chrysos. Hom. 2 in Psal. 50). How much soever these words may be twisted, they can never be reconciled with the dogmas of the Schoolmen. In the book De Dogmatibus Ecclesiasticis, which is attributed to Augustine, you read (cap. 54), "The satisfaction of repentance is to cut off the causes of sins, and not to indulge an entrance to their suggestions." From this it appears that the doctrine of satisfaction, said to be paid for sins committed, was every where derided in those ages; for here the only satisfaction referred to is caution, abstinence from sin for the future. I am unwilling to quote what Chrysostom says (Hom. 10 in Genes) that God requires nothing more of us than to confess our faults before him with tears, as similar sentiments abound both in his writings and those of others. Augustine indeed calls works of mercy remedies for obtaining forgiveness of sins (Enchir. ad Laur.); but lest any one should stumble at the expression, he himself, in another passage, obviates the difficulty. "The flesh of Christ," says he, "is the true and only sacrifice for sins--not only for those which are all effaced in baptism, but those into which we are afterwards betrayed through infirmity, and because of which the whole Church daily cries, Forgive us our debts,' (Mt. 6:12). And they are forgiven by that special sacrifice."

39. By satisfaction, however, they, for the most part, meant not compensation to be paid to God, but the public testimony, by which those who had been punished with excommunication, and wished again to be received into communion, assured the Church of their repentance. For those penitents were enjoined certain fasts and other things, by which they might prove that they were truly, and from the heart, weary of their former life, or rather might obliterate the remembrance of their past deeds: in this way they were said to give satisfaction, not to God, but to the Church. The same thing is expressed by Augustine in a passage in his Enchiridion ad Laurentium, cap. 65. [374] From that ancient custom the satisfactions and confessions now in use took their rise. It is indeed a viperish progeny, not even a vestige of the better form now remaining. I know that ancient writers sometimes speak harshly; nor do I deny, as I lately said, that they have perhaps erred; but dogmas, which were tainted with a few blemishes now that they have fallen into the unwashed hands of those men, are altogether defiled. And if we were to decide the contest by authority of the Fathers, what kind of Fathers are those whom they obtrude upon us? A great part of those, from whom Lombard their Coryphaeus framed his centos, are extracted from the absurd dreams of certain monks passing under the names of Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Chrysostom. On the present subject almost all his extracts are from the book of Augustine De Paenitentia, a book absurdly compiled by some rhapsodist, alike from good and bad authors--a book which indeed bears the name of Augustine, but which no person of the least learning would deign to acknowledge as his. Wishing to save my readers trouble, they will pardon me for not searching minutely into all their absurdities. For myself it were not very laborious, and might gain some applause, to give a complete exposure of dogmas which have hitherto been vaunted as mysteries; but as my object is to give useful instruction, I desist.

__________________________________________________________________

[326] The first definition is that of Gregory, and is contained Sentent. Lib. 4 Dist. 14, c. 1. The second, which is that of Ambrose, is given same place, and also Decret. Dist. 3, de Poenitentia C. Poenit. Prior. The third is Augustine's, as stated in the same place, and C. Poenit Poster. The fourth is from Ambrose, and is given Dist. 1, de Poenit C. Vera Poeitentia.

[327] French "Ces bons glosateurs;"--these worthy glossers.

[328] Latin, "Immensis voluminibus."--French, "Leur gros bobulaire de livres;"--their large lumbering books.

[329] Latin, "Mirum silentium."--French, "Il n'en est nulles nouuelles en leur quartier;"--there are no news in their quarter.

[330] Sent. Lib. 4 Dist. 16, cap. 1; De poenit. Dist. 1; C. Perfecta Poenit.

[331] French, "Combien qu'ils n'estudient autre chose en toute leur vie que la Dialectique, que est l'art de definir et partir;"--although they study nought else during their whole life but Dialectics, which is the art of defining and dividing.

[332] Latin, "Secundam tabulam post naufragium."--French, "Une seconde planche, sur laquelle celui que estoit pour perir en lar mer, nage pour venir au port;"--a second plank on which he who was on the point of perishing in the sea swims to gain the harbour.

[333] Latin, "De saini umbra rixam."--French, "En un combat frivole;"--engaged in a frivolous combat.

[334] Luther (adv. Bullam Antichristi, Art. 6) shows that those who set down these three parts of repentance, speak neither according to Scripture nor the ancient Fathers.

[335] French, "Nous tournerons toujours en un même circuit"--we shall always revolve in the same circle.

[336] Mt. 11:28; Is. 59:1; Luke 4:18.

[337] Erasmus, in a letter to the Augustine Steuchus in 1531, while flattering, at the same time laughs at him, for thinking that the fifth chapter of Numbers sufficiently proves, in opposition to Luther, that auricular confession is of God.

[338] French, "N'est ce pas bien se jouer des Escritures, de les tourner en ceste facon?"--is it not indeed to make game of Scripture, to turn it in this fashion?

[339] The French is, "Car ce que Jesus Christ laisse aux Prestres de la loy, n'appartient en rien à ses vrais ministres;"--for that which Jesus Christ leaves to the Priests, belongs not in any respect to his true ministers.

[340] French, "Qu'ils voisent maintenant, et facent un bouclier de leur allegories;"--let them go now and make a buckler of their allegories,

[341] Augustin. Epist. 54.

[342] French, "Quoy que tous les advocats et procureurs du Pape, et tous les caphars qu'il a à louage gazouillent:"--whatever all the advocates and procurators of the Pope, and all the caphars whom he has in his pay may gabble.

[343] The French adds, "l'un des auteurs de l'Histoire Ecclesiastique;"--one of the authors of the Ecclesiastical History.

[344] Eccles Hist. Lib. 7 cap. 17, et Trepont. Hist. Lib. ix.

[345] Chrysost. Hom. 2 in Psal. 1.Serm. de poenit. et Confess. Hom. 5 De Incomprehensibili Dei. Nat. cont. Anomeos. Item, Hom. 4 de Lazaro.

[346] Latin, "Vetus interpres."--French, "Le translateur tant Grec qui Latin;"--the Greek as well as Latin translator.

[347] As to the form of repentance enjoined by the primitive Church for more flagrant offences, see Book 4 Chap 1 sec. 29.

[348] The French is, "Et que le Pasteur addressant sa parole à lui, l'asseure comme lui appliquant en particulier la doctrine generale;"--and when the Pastor, addressing his discourse to him, assures him as applying the general doctrine to him in particular.

[349] "C Omnis utriusque sexus;"--every one of both sexes. Innocent's decree is in the Lateran Council, De Summa Trinitate et Fide Cathol. It is also given Sent. Lib. 4 Dist. 14, cap. 2, et Dist. 18. cap 2.

[350] The French is, "Mais comme les nautonniers fichans l'anchre au milieu de la mer, se reposent du trauail de leur navigation; ou comme un perlin lassé ou defaillant se sied au milieu de la voye pour reposer: en telle maniere ils prenoyent ce repos, combien qu'il ne leur fust suffisant;"--but as mariners casting anchor in the midst of the sea, repose from the toil of navigation; or as a pilgrim, weary or faint, sits down in the middle of the way to rest himself: in this way they took this rest, though it was not sufficient for them.

[351] "Tous ceux que nous lisons avoir obtenu de Christ la remission de leurs pechez, ne sont pas dits s'etre confessés à l'aureille de quelque Messire Jean;"--None of whom we read as having obtained the forgiveness of their sins from Christ, are said to have confessed in the ear of some Mess John.

[352] Latin simply, "ceremoniam." French, "la ceremonie de faire une croix sur le dos;"--the ceremony of making a cross upon the back

[353] French, "Car cela vaut autant comme si les prestres se faisoyent conterolleurs de Dieu;"--for that is as much as if the priests made themselves controllers of God.

[354] See on the subject of this section, Calv. ad Concil. Trident. Also Vera Ecclesiæ Reformandæ Ratio, Epist. ad Sadoletum. Epist. adversus Theologos Parisienses. De Scandalis. De Necessitate Reformandæ Ecclesiæ, Lib. 4.

[355] French, "une barbarie si vileine que rien plus;"--a barbarism so vile that nothing could be more so.

[356] See Lombard, Sent. Lib. 4 Dist 10, c. 4. C. Non suffcit. de Poenit. C. (middle of same Dist.) C. Nullus (same Dist). See also on the subject of satisfaction, infra, s. 29, and chap. 16 sec. 4.

[357] The French adds, "aumosnes;"--alms.

[358] Isa. 3:3; Rom. 5:8; Col. 2:14; Tit. 3:5.

[359] The French is, "Et ne faut pas qu'ils disent, que combien que les satisfactions en soyent moyens, neantmoins ce n'est pas en leur nom, mais au nom de Jesus Christ;"--and they must not say that though satisfactions are the means, nevertheless it is not in their name, but in the name of Jesus Christ.

[360] Latin, "Catechumenos."--French, "Ceux qui ne sont point encore baptisez;"--those who are not yet baptised.

[361] See on this Section, Book 2 chap 8 s 58, 59.

[362] The French adds, "Qui est le plus horrible peché devant Dieu;"--which is the most heinous sin in the sight of God.

[363] French, "Et quand ils voudront satisfaire pour plusieurs, ils en commettront encore davantage jusques à venir à un abysme sans fin. Je traite encore des plus justes;"--And when they would satisfy for several sins, they will commit still more, until they come at last to a bottomless abyss. I'm still speaking of the best.

[364] Isa 38:17; Isa44:22; Micah 7:19; PS 32:1>Ps. 32:1

[365] Job 14:17; Hos. 13:12; Jer. 22:1

[366] Rom 3:24; 1Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Tim 2:6

[367] The French adds, "Que nous appellons Rancon en Francois;"--which we call Ransom in French.

[368] See Calvin, ad Concil. Tridentini, Sess. cap. 1. ad 15

[369] For a full expositon of these passages, see infra, sec. 35-37.

[370] Job 5:17; Prov. 3:11; Heb. 12:5

[371] French, "Car l'alliance qu'il a une fois faite avec Jesus Christ et ses membres;"--For the covenant which he once made with Jesus Christ and his members.

[372] French, "Car combien les reprouvés souspirent ou grincent les dents sous les coups;"--For though the reprobate sigh or gnash their teeth under the strokes.

[373] French, "Integrité, pitié, droiture, et choses semblables;"--intregrity, pity, uprightness, and the like.

[374] It is quoted in the Decret. c. in Art. de Poenit. Dist. 1.

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

How Do We Know We Are Believers? | 2 Cor 13:5

By Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

     The issue that is being placed under the microscope of pastoral analysis here is then not how we become believers, but how do we know we are believers? This is a matter of self-awareness. It is a reflex act of faith, not its direct act. So any discussion of the topic must take place within the context of faith, never apart from it. There is no alternative route to the assurance of salvation, as if it were legitimate to ask, “Apart from route A (faith), will you take me along route B without faith?”

     This proper self-conscious awareness of genuine faith (i.e., that the individual is a true and not a false believer) develops within three dimensions.

     Grace and Faith

     Faith seeks understanding and is nourished through it. It is possible, of course, to have little knowledge and yet real assurance because faith has nourished itself richly on the knowledge it possesses. Correspondingly, it is possible to have much knowledge and little assurance if an individual responds disproportionately to the knowledge he or she possesses.

     In particular, assurance is nourished on a clear understanding of grace and especially of union with Christ and the justification, adoption, and regeneration that are ours freely in him.   ( Human Nature in Its Fourfold State )

     The chief enemies of the Christian’s assurance at this point are probably three.

     The first is our native tendency to drift from the fact that our salvation is all of grace, and even our active participation in its reception is both the fruit of grace and, although active, noncontributory to the salvation itself. It is all too possible to make some progress in growth and sanctification but then ever so subtly slip into thinking that “of course it was appropriate that God was gracious to me—he knew that I would become the growing Christian that I now am.”

     The second is a phenomenon we have met before in these pages: the difficulty some Christians have in believing that they are freely justified by the Father, who in his love sent his Son for them. They may have been nurtured in a womb of preaching that has portrayed Christ as one who by his sacrifice persuades a wrathful Father to pardon us, in view of what he (Christ) has done. When grace no longer reaches back into the very fountainhead, then deep and suspicious thoughts of God the Father develop, and assurance is not possible. To quote John Owen again:

     Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds. All here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch they know not. This is the will of God, that he may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. This is that which Christ came to reveal.   ( The Works of John Owen (16 Volume Set) )

     To fail here is, sadly, to lose hold of the harmony of the Trinity and to lose sight of the sheer grace of God in the gospel. God the Father is absolutely, completely, and totally to us what he reveals himself to be to us in Christ. ( See John 14:7 ) Understand this and sense the light it brings to the mind and affections, and faith strengthens while assurance is nourished.

     A third problem here that militates against the enjoyment of assurance is a failure to recognize that justification is both final and complete. It is final because it is the eschatological justification of the last day brought forward into the present day. It is complete because in justification we are counted as righteous before the Father as Christ himself, since the only righteousness with which we are righteous is Jesus Christ’s righteousness. When faith thus grasps the reality of this inheritance, then Christ himself looms large. This is the key to the enjoyment of assurance precisely because assurance is our assurance that he is a great Savior and that he is ours.

     Thus in gospel assurance Christ is central; indeed Christ is everything. Yet contrary to an entire trend in historical theological scholarship, this does not mean there is no place for the practical syllogism.

     Excerpt from The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance

Sinclair Ferguson Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 31

Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit
31 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

3 For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

ESV Reformation Study

Exodus 25; John 4; Proverbs 1; 2 Corinthians 13

By Don Carson 3/14/2018

     Exodus 25 and John 4 are canonically tied together.

     The former begins the instructions for the construction of the tabernacle and its accoutrements (Ex. 25 — 30). The tabernacle is the forerunner of the temple, built in Solomon’ s day. Repeatedly in these chapters God says, “See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain,” (25:40) or “Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain” (26:30) or the like. The epistle to the Hebrews picks up on this point. The tabernacle and temple were not arbitrary designs; they reflected a heavenly reality. “This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’”(Heb. 8:5).

     John 4 finds Jesus in discussion with a Samaritan woman. Samaritans believed that the proper place to worship God was not Jerusalem, home of the temple, but on Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, since these were the last places stipulated for such worship when the people entered the land (Deut. 11:29; Josh. 8:33). They did not accept as Scripture the texts concerning the monarchy. The woman wants to know what Jesus thinks: Is the appropriate place for worship these mountains, near where they are standing, or Jerusalem (John 4:20)?

     Jesus insists that the time is dawning when neither place will suffice (4:21). This does not mean that Jesus views the Samaritan alternative as enjoying credentials equal to those of Jerusalem. Far from it: he sides with the Jews in this debate, since they are the ones that follow the full sweep of Old Testament Scripture, including the move from the tabernacle to the temple in Jerusalem (4:22). “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (4:23).

     This means: (1) With the coming of Christ Jesus and the dawning of the new covenant, appropriate worship will no longer be tied to a specific geographic location. Implicitly, this announces the obsolescence of the temple. Worship will be as geographically extensive as the Spirit, as God himself who is spirit (4:24). (2) Worship will not only be “in spirit” but “in truth.” In the context of this gospel, this does not mean that worship must be sincere (“true” in that sense); rather, it must be in line with what is ultimately true, the very manifestation of truth, Jesus Christ himself. He is the “true light” (1:9), the true temple (2:19 — 22), the true bread from heaven (6:25ff.), and more. True worshipers worship in spirit and in truth.

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

Don Carson Books:



  • Boyfriend’s Porn
  • Sexual Identity My Choice?
  • Nostalgia Danger

#1 John Piper   Desiring God

 

#2 John Piper   Desiring God

 

#3 John Piper   Desiring God

 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Break your alabaster jar (3)
     1/14/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘She has done a beautiful thing to me.’

(Mk 14:6) But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. ESV


     Most of us are good actors, but it’s difficult to fake a reaction. And when the woman broke the alabaster jar, the reaction of the disciples is telling. ‘Why this waste?’ They thought she was pouring her perfume down the drain by pouring it at Jesus’ feet. They called it a waste, but He called it ‘a beautiful thing’. Then He went on to say, ‘Wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her’ (v. 9 NIV 2011 Edition). Can you imagine what this one statement did for her self-image? It had probably been years since she’d heard a kind word or a compliment. Those words could be paraphrased, ‘You may not believe in yourself, but I believe in you.’ No one can spot potential like Jesus. That’s because He’s the One who gave it to us in the first place. And that’s why God will never give up on you. It’s not in His nature (see Philippians 1:6). His ‘goodness and mercy shall follow [you] all the days of [your] life’ (Psalm 23:6 KJV). All you have to do is turn around. This woman was desperate enough to crash the party, and Jesus responds to desperate people. How desperate are you? Desperate enough to make a move, make a change, make a sacrifice? Desperate enough to pray through the night? Read through the Bible? Reconcile the conflict? Plead with a friend who is a lost cause? Give your life savings to a kingdom cause? The path of least resistance won’t get you to where you need to be. But if you go out of your way for God, God will go out of His way for you.

Numbers 26-28
Mark 8:31-38

UCB The Word For Today
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Born in Germany this day, March 14, 1879, he began teaching himself calculus at the age of fourteen. He developed the theory of relativity, which was the basis for the application of atomic energy and won the Nobel Prize in 1921. His name was Albert Einstein. While on a lecture tour in America, the Nazi’s confiscated his home. Einstein then became a U.S. citizen. In 1952 he was offered the position of President of Israel, but declined. Albert Einstein’s statement inscribed in Fine Hall at Princeton University reads: “God is clever, but not dishonest.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


The most dangerous sin of all is the presumption of righteousness.
--- Martin Luther

It is important to draw a distinction between attempting to observe the principles embodied in the law and legalism. Scripture does not give us any basis for disregarding God’s revealed commands. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14: 15), and “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). We are not at liberty to reject such commands; to do so would be an abuse of Christian freedom. Therefore, we must seek to guide our lives by these precepts. Such behavior is not legalism. Legalism is a slavish following of the law in the belief that one thereby earns merit; it also entails a refusal to go beyond the formal or literal requirements of the law. It is ineffectual because it ignores the facts that we never outgrow the need for divine grace and that the essence of the law is love.
--- Millard J. Erickson   Christian Theology

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
--- George Mueller 1805-1898   Streams in the Desert

Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up, does rejoice. I guess I just miss my friend.
--- Shawshank Redemption   The Shawshank Redemption (BFI Film Classics)

... from here, there and everywhere


Journal of John Woolman 3/14
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     We attended the Quarterly Meeting at Sandwich, in company with Ann Gaunt and Mercy Redman, which was preceded by a Monthly Meeting, and in the whole held three days. We were in various ways exercised amongst them, in gospel love, according to the several gifts bestowed on us, and were at times overshadowed with the virtue of truth, to the comfort of the sincere and stirring up of the negligent. Here we parted with Ann and Mercy, and went to Rhode Island, taking one meeting in our way, which was a satisfactory time. Reaching Newport the evening before their Quarterly Meeting, we attended it, and after that had a meeting with our young people, separated from those of other societies. We went through much labor in this town; and now, in taking leave of it, though I felt close inward exercise to the last, I found inward peace, and was in some degree comforted in a belief that a good number remain in that place who retain a sense of truth, and that there are some young people attentive to the voice of the Heavenly Shepherd. The last meeting, in which Friends from the several parts of the quarter came together, was a select meeting, and through the renewed manifestation of the Father's love the hearts of the sincere were united together.

     The poverty of spirit and inward weakness, with which I was much tried the fore part of this journey, has of late appeared to me a dispensation of kindness. Appointing meetings never appeared more weighty to me, and I was led into a deep search, whether in all things my mind was resigned to the will of God; often querying with myself what should be the cause of such inward poverty, and greatly desiring that no secret reserve in my heart might hinder my access to the Divine fountain. In these humbling times I was made watchful, and excited to attend to the secret movings of the heavenly principle in my mind, which prepared the way to some duties that in more easy and prosperous times as to the outward, I believe I should have been in danger of omitting.

     From Newport we went to Greenwich, Shanticut, and Warwick, and were helped to labor amongst Friends in the love of our gracious Redeemer. Afterwards, accompanied by our friend John Casey from Newport, we rode through Connecticut to Oblong, visited the meetings in those parts, and thence proceeded to the Quarterly Meeting at Ryewoods. Through the gracious extendings of Divine help, we had some seasoning opportunities in those places. We also visited Friends at New York and Flushing, and thence to Rahway. Here our roads parting, I took leave of my beloved companion and true yokemate Samuel Eastburn, and reached home the 10th of eighth month, where I found my family well. For the favors and protection of the Lord, both inward and outward, extended to me in this journey, my heart is humbled in grateful acknowledgments, and I find renewed desires to dwell and walk in resignedness before him.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 12:18-19
     by D.H. Stern

18     Idle talk can pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise can heal.
19     Truthful words will stand forever,
lying speech but a moment.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Great Divorce - A Dream
     C.S. Lewis

          3

     A cliff had loomed up ahead. It sank vertically beneath us so far that I could not see the bottom, and it was dark and smooth. We were mounting all the time. At last the top of the cliff became visible like a thin line of emerald green stretched tight as a fiddle-string. Presently we glided over that top: we were flying above a level, grassy country through which there ran a wide river. We were losing height now: some of the tallest tree tops were only twenty feet below us. Then, suddenly we were at rest. Everyone had jumped up. Curses, taunts, blows, a filth of vituperation, came to my ears as my fellow-passengers struggled to get out. A moment later, and they had all succeeded. I was alone in the bus, and through the open door there came to me in the fresh stillness the singing of a lark.

     I got out. The light and coolness that drenched me were like those of summer morning, early morning a minute or two before the sunrise, only that there was a certain difference. I had the sense of being in a larger space, perhaps even a larger sort of space, than I had ever known before: as if the sky were further off and the extent of the green plain wider that they could be on this little ball of earth. I had got ‘out’ in some sense which made the Solar System itself seem an indoor affair. It gave me a feeling of freedom, but also of exposure, possibly of danger, which continued to accompany me through all that followed. It is the impossibility of communicating that feeling, or even of inducing you to remember it as I proceed, which makes me despair of conveying the real quality of what I saw and heard.

     At first, of course, my attention was caught by my fellow-passengers, who were still grouped about in the neighbourhood of the omnibus, though beginning, some of them, to walk forward into the landscape with hesitating steps. I gasped when I saw them. Now that they were in the light, they were transparent—fully transparent when they stood between me and it, smudgy and imperfectly opaque when they stood in the shadow of some tree. They were in fact ghosts: man-shaped stains on the brightness of that air. One could attend to them or ignore them at will as you do with the dirt on a window pane. I noticed that the grass did not bend under their feet: even the dew drops were not disturbed.

     Then some re-adjustment of the mind or some focussing of my eyes took place, and I saw the whole phenomenon the other way round. The men were as they had always been; as all the men I had known had been perhaps. It was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison. Moved by a sudden thought, I bent down and tried to pluck a daisy which was growing at my feet. The stalk wouldn’t break. I tried to twist it, but it wouldn’t twist. I tugged till the sweat stood out on my forehead and I had lost most of the skin off my hands. The little flower was hard, not like wood or even like iron, but like diamond. There was a leaf—a young tender beech-leaf, lying in the grass beside it. I tried to pick the leaf up: my heart almost cracked with the effort, and I believe I did just raise it. But I had to let it go at once; it was heavier than a sack of coal. As I stood, recovering my breath with great gasps and looking down at the daisy, I noticed that I could see the grass not only between my feet but through them. I also was a phantom. Who will give me words to express the terror of that discovery? ‘Golly!’ thought I, ‘I’m in for it this time.’

     ‘I don’t like it! I don’t like it,’ screamed a voice. ‘It gives me the pip!’ One of the ghosts had darted past me, back into the bus. She never came out of it again as far as I know.

     The others remained, uncertain.

     ‘Hi, Mister,’ said the Big Man, addressing the Driver, ‘when have we got to be back?’

     ‘You need never come back unless you want to,’ he replied. ‘Stay as long as you please.’ There was an awkward pause.

     ‘‘This is simply ridiculous,’ said a voice in my ear. One of the quieter and more respectable ghosts had sidled up to me. ‘There must be some mismanagement,’ he continued. ‘What’s the sense of allowing all that riff-raff to float about here all day? Look at them. They’re not enjoying it. They’d be far happier at home. They don’t even know what to do.’

     ‘I don’t know very well myself,’ said I. ‘What does one do?’

     ‘Oh me? I shall be met in a moment or two. I’m expected. I’m not bothering about that. But it’s rather unpleasant on one’s first day to have the whole place crowded out with trippers. Damn it, one’s chief object in coming here at all was to avoid them!’

     He drifted away from me. And I began to look about. In spite of his reference to a ‘crowd’, the solitude was so vast that I could hardly notice the knot of phantoms in the foreground. Greenness and light had almost swallowed them up. But very far away I could see what might be either a great bank of cloud or a range of mountains. Sometimes I could make out in it steep forests, far-withdrawing valleys, and even mountain cities perched on inaccessible summits. At other times it became indistinct. The height was so enormous that my waking sight could not have taken in such an object at all. Light brooded on the top of it: slanting down thence it made long shadows behind every tree on the plain. There was no change and no progression as the hours passed. The promise—or the threat—of sunrise rested immovably up there.

     Long after that I saw people coming to meet us. Because they were bright I saw them while they were still very distant, and at first I did not know that they were people at all. Mile after mile they drew nearer. The earth shook under their tread as their strong feet sank into the wet turf. A tiny haze and a sweet smell went up where they had crushed the grass and scattered the dew. Some were naked, some robed. But the naked ones did not seem less adorned, and the robes did not disguise in those who wore them the massive grandeur of muscle and the radiant smoothness of flesh. Some were bearded but no one in that company struck me as being of any particular age. One gets glimpses, even in our country, of that which is ageless—heavy thought in the face of an infant, and frolic childhood in that of a very old man. Here it was all like that. They came on steadily. I did not entirely like it. Two of the ghosts screamed and ran for the bus. The rest of us huddled closer to one another.

The Great Divorce   or   The Great Divorce

Teacher's Commentary
     Exodus 25–31

     God knows the need of believers for continual cleansing and enablement. Israel had not yet seen herself as a still-needy people. Yet God began to meet the need before it was understood. His provision was in the tabernacle—a tent of worship which became the only place where Israelites might approach God. (Later it was replaced by a temple, erected in the Promised Land.)

     Looking back, the writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews focuses on Exodus 25:9. The tabernacle was to be made “exactly like the pattern I will show you.” The New Testament points to this as evidence that the tabernacle is a kind of mirror of reality. Its design reflects truth about our relationship with God and the special provision God has made for us. In the New Testament the tabernacle is called “a copy and shadow of what is in heaven” (Heb. 8:5). Looking at it, we can discover much about the reality you and I experience in Christ.

     The tabernacle plan. The tabernacle is a “type” (an Old Testament character, event, or institution which has a place and purpose in Bible history, but which also, by divine design, foreshadows something future). In every aspect the tabernacle pictures the relationship between God and a redeemed people. In every aspect the tabernacle shows how God’s presence with us not only sets us apart from all others, but meets our need for daily deliverance from sin’s power.

     What, then, was the tabernacle like—and what does it tell us about our own need to experience freedom?

     The tabernacle was a large tent, surrounded by an outer court—a long, rectangular enclosure 150 by 75 feet. It was portable, the walls of the court and the tent itself being made of curtains. The tabernacle was a sanctuary, a dwelling place for God. It consisted of an outer “holy place” and an inner “most holy place” into which the high priest alone could enter, and then only once a year.

     During the time in the wilderness, God’s presence was a visible thing, marked by a cloudy, fiery pillar which always stood over the tabernacle. When erected, the tabernacle always stood in the middle of the camp, with the people ranged around it on every side.

     God chooses to dwell in the center of His people. He is to be the center of our lives. Never just on the periphery.

The Teacher's Commentary

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Obedience

His servants ye are to whom ye obey. --- Romans 6:16.

     The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the unwelcome fact that I am responsible for being thus dominated because I have yielded. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame for it because at a point away back I yielded myself to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because I have yielded myself to Him.

     Yield in childhood to selfishness, and you will find it the most enchaining tyranny on earth. There is no power in the human soul of itself to break the bondage of a disposition formed by yielding. Yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust (remember what lust is: ‘I must have it at once,’ whether it be the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind), once yield and though you may hate yourself for having yielded, you are a bond-slave to that thing. There is no release in human power at all, but only in the Redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One Who can break the dominating power, viz., the Lord Jesus Christ. “He hath anointed Me … to preach deliverance to the captives.”

     We find this out in the most ridiculously small ways—‘Oh, I can give that habit up when I like.’ You cannot, you will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you yielded to it willingly. It is easy to sing—“He will break every fetter,” and at the same time be living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. Yielding to Jesus will break every form of slavery in any human life.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Sailors' Hospital
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

           Sailors' Hospital

It was warm
  Inside, but there was
  Pain there. I came out
  Into the cold wind
  Of April. There were birds
  In the brambles' old,
  Jagged iron, with one striking
  Its small song. To the west,
  Rising from the grey
  Water, leaning one
  On another were the town's
  Houses. Who first began
  That refuse: time's waste
  Growing at the edge
  Of the clean sea? Some sailor
  Fetching up on the
  Shingle before wind
  Or current, made it his
  Harbour, hung up his clothes

In the sunlight; found women
  To breed from - those sick men
  His descendants. Every day
  Regularly the tide
  Visits them with its salt
  Comfort; their wounds are shrill
  In the rigging of the
  Tall ships.
  With clenched thoughts,
  That not even the sky's
  Daffodil could persuade
  To open, I turned back
  To the nurses in their tugging
  At him, as he drifted
  Away on the current
  Of his breath, further and further,
  Out of hail of our love.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Teacher's Commentary
     Commentary

     I remember Laura as she sobbed in my office. She’d just become a Christian, and life was hard. As a teen she was fighting against the pull of her past and her conflicts with her parents. And she felt a good deal of guilt as well as frustration.

     It was good to remind her that God had forgiven her, so she could forgive herself too. And to point out that everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of growing. The exciting thing is that God promises we will grow in Him, grow beyond ourselves and our limitations.

     But for the pain of her present, Laura didn’t really need either sympathy or pity. She needed only help to face the problems that her circumstances created. In the face of her difficulties, in the conflict with her family, the help she needed was help to make responsible choices.

     Responsible / This was the issue confronting Israel at the beginning of the Book of Numbers. This people had been redeemed from slavery by God’s great power. The people had been taught God’s will in a Law that revealed much of His character. And provision had been made to cleanse the Israelites from the sins that would inevitably come. The door to God was held open, guaranteed by the tabernacle, sacrifice, and the priesthood. The forgiven people had been instructed how to live in fellowship with their God.

         The message that came then to Israel was simply this: “You have been provided with everything you need to live a holy life. Now you are responsible.”

         The people of Israel were about to face difficult and challenging circumstances. But there could be no excuses for failing to respond to God. In each situation Israel was now responsible for the choices the people made—and also responsible for the results of those choices. What happened now would inevitably be a direct consequence of Israel’s decision to follow—or to reject—the leading of God.

     My friend Laura was young, both as a person and as a Christian. Learning to be responsible was hard for her. It’s hard at any age. Some of us learn the lesson of responsibility only after a great deal of pain, as wrong choices work out their results in our lives. Some of us learn quickly, from others.

         In this section of Scripture we have lessons on responsibility that we can learn from others, and thus avoid the pain of learning the hard way. 1 Cor 10:11–12 tells us that “these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.… So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

         It’s comforting to understand our position in Christ as forgiven people. But it is important to realize that, however exalted our position, as we live our daily lives we must accept responsibility for all our choices and act as redeemed people—lest we fall.

The Teacher's Commentary

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Berakhot 54a, 60b

     D’RASH

     Two scenes from a marriage: The first—the couple on their wedding day. The bride is absolutely breathtaking, the groom incredibly handsome. They are surrounded and attended by loving family and dearest friends. At the end of the ceremony, when the groom breaks the glass, they kiss with such passion and feeling that some of the guests actually cry. The orchestra plays romantic music while the caterer serves the most delicious feast. The photographer mentions that he has rarely seen two young people so much in love: They cannot take their eyes off each other. When they dance, they hold each other tightly and gaze into each other’s eyes.

     The second scene—same couple, seven years later, an ordinary day. The living room is cluttered with baby toys strewn all over the floor. The sink is filled with dirty dishes. The wife is wearing a T-shirt covered with an infant’s spit-up. The baby is crying, chewing on a teething ring. The husband is sitting at the dining room table, desperately trying to finish the report that is due on the boss’s desk at 9 A.M. the next day. He is also trying to figure out how he is going to pay this month’s mortgage, the electric bill, the oil bill, the car loan, and fix the leaky roof. Amid the stress, the tumult, and the chaos, the wife comes over and puts her hand on her husband’s shoulder; he kisses her hand. They look into one another’s eyes and smile.

     There are those, like Bet Shammai, who hold that “we live for the moments,” that what is most important are the infrequent, special occasions which mark our lives—the birth of a baby, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a college graduation, a wedding, a fiftieth anniversary. We look forward to them and when they come, we celebrate with all our heart and soul. The same is true of holidays that come along once a year, or even of Shabbat, which stands out as the unique day in seven. When these special times come, we put aside all else because they are so very important and meaningful to us.

     Other people, like Bet Hillel, acknowledge the importance of unique occasions, but they hold that what counts more in life is not the special, but the everyday. You can tell more about a couple’s marriage from how they are doing on that mundane, ordinary day seven years after that romantic wedding day. Life is made up mostly of the regular, frequent moments and what we make of them. Special occasions come and go. Bet Hillel, by placing the blessing over the wine first, is teaching us that what remains primary is the blessing over the wine that was probably said every single day. We should anticipate the blessings that come to us in the special, infrequent moments, but we must also look forward to the blessings that are found every single day, all around us.

     A person must bless God for the bad just as one must bless God for the good.

     Text / Mishnah (9:5): A person must bless God for the bad just as one must bless God for the good, as it says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” [
Deuteronomy 6:5]. “With all your heart”—with both inclinations, with the good inclination and with the evil inclination. “With all your soul”—even if He takes your soul. “And with all your might”—with all your money. Another interpretation: “With all your might” (me’odekha)—with such and every measure (midah) that He gives (moded) you, you are to acknowledge (modeh) Him.

Gemara: What is meant by “A person must bless God for the bad just as one must bless God for the good”? If you say that just as we recite the blessing “[Blessed are You, Lord,] Who is good and Who does good” for good things, so too we recite the blessing “Who is good and Who does good” for bad things. Has it not been taught: “Over good news, one says ‘Who is good and Who does good’; over bad news, one says ‘Blessed are You the Judge of truth’?” Rava said: “We require this to teach us to accept it with joy.”

     Context / To “bless” does not mean the same thing as “to thank.” Despite Rava’s comment at the end of the Gemara, it is too much to expect most people to actually thank God for the bad things that happen to them. Barukh, the Hebrew word for “bless,” comes from the same root as the word for knee, berekh. Many scholars see a connection: To bless God is to kneel or bow before the Divine (either literally or symbolically), acknowledging God as greater and more powerful, and the Source of all—both good and bad—that happens.

     The Mishnah teaches that we must recite a berakhah, or blessing, for the bad things that occur, just as we are obligated to recite one for the good things. The biblical source for this notion is found in the Sh’ma. The Rabbis first note the unusual spelling of the expression “your heart” (l’vavvkha, with a double vet, instead of the less poetic word lib’kha). They interpret this spelling to allude to our dual impulses, one toward good, one toward bad. The yetzer hara or “the evil inclination” is the rabbinic name for the selfish, darker side of human nature. The Rabbis often counsel that we should channel these impulses for good. Sexuality, for instance, is not repressed or denied but is channeled positively within marriage.

     The second phrase (“with all your soul”) teaches that we are to love God even to the point of sacrificing our lives. Finally, the third phrase (“with all your might”) is interpreted by means of a word play (me’od, midah, modeh) that makes the point that we are to acknowledge God for all that God gives us. The Gemara asks the specific halakhic question: Which berakhah is actually to be in response to misfortune or bad news? The answer is the formula barukh Dayan ha-emet, “Blessed are You the Judge of truth.” This is, by the way, the same blessing that is recited by a mourner when he or she tears clothing (or a ribbon pinned onto the clothing) just prior to the funeral or burial of an immediate relative.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The Fifth Chapter / The Wonderful Effect Of Divine Love

          The Disciple

     I BLESS You, O heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, for having condescended to remember me, a poor creature. Thanks to You, O Father of mercies, God of all consolation, Who with Your comfort sometimes refresh me, who am not worthy of it. I bless You always and glorify You with Your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, forever and ever.

          Ah, Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all that is within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the exultation of my heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation. But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue imperfect, I must be strengthened and comforted by You. Visit me often, therefore, and teach me Your holy discipline. Free me from evil passions and cleanse my heart of all disorderly affection so that, healed and purified within, I may be fit to love, strong to suffer, and firm to persevere.

     Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing, indeed. It makes every difficulty easy, and bears all wrongs with equanimity. For it bears a burden without being weighted and renders sweet all that is bitter. The noble love of Jesus spurs to great deeds and excites longing for that which is more perfect. Love tends upward; it will not be held down by anything low. Love wishes to be free and estranged from all worldly affections, lest its inward sight be obstructed, lest it be entangled in any temporal interest and overcome by adversity.

          Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or wider; nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing better in heaven or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God, Who is above all created things.

     One who is in love flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free, not bound. He gives all for all and possesses all in all, because he rests in the one sovereign Good, Who is above all things, and from Whom every good flows and proceeds. He does not look to the gift but turns himself above all gifts to the Giver.

     Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of troubles, attempts more than it is able, and does not plead impossibility, because it believes that it may and can do all things. For this reason, it is able to do all, performing and effecting much where he who does not love fails and falls.

     Love is watchful. Sleeping, it does not slumber. Wearied, it is not tired. Pressed, it is not straitened. Alarmed, it is not confused, but like a living flame, a burning torch, it forces its way upward and passes unharmed through every obstacle.

     If a man loves, he will know the sound of this voice. For this warm affection of soul is a loud voice crying in the ears of God, and it says: “My God, my love, You are all mine and I am all Yours. Give me an increase of love, that I may learn to taste with the inward lips of my heart how sweet it is to love, how sweet to be dissolved in love and bathe in it. Let me be rapt in love. Let me rise above self in great fervor and wonder. Let me sing the hymn of love, and let me follow You, my Love, to the heights. Let my soul exhaust itself in praising You, rejoicing out of love. Let me love You more than myself, and let me not love myself except for Your sake. In You let me love all those who truly love You, as the law of love, which shines forth from You, commands.”

     Love is swift, sincere, kind, pleasant, and delightful. Love is strong, patient and faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and manly. Love is never self-seeking, for in whatever a person seeks himself there he falls from love. Love is circumspect, humble, and upright. It is neither soft nor light, nor intent upon vain things. It is sober and chaste, firm and quiet, guarded in all the senses. Love is subject and obedient to superiors. It is mean and contemptible in its own eyes, devoted and thankful to God; always trusting and hoping in Him even when He is distasteful to it, for there is no living in love without sorrow. He who is not ready to suffer all things and to stand resigned to the will of the Beloved is not worthy to be called a lover. A lover must embrace willingly all that is difficult and bitter for the sake of the Beloved, and he should not turn away from Him because of adversities.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     March 14

     O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
---
Psalm 96:9. KJV

     The word translated “beauty” here is somewhat rare. (G. Campbell Morgan, “Worship, Beauty, Holiness,” downloaded from Tom Garner’s Web page; previously published in The Westminster Pulpit, vol. 2 (Westwood,) It suggests honor or glory or beauty, an inherent quality, not something put on from without, but something revealed to the eye and appealing to the emotion and the mind as glorious and beautiful in itself, yet belonging essentially to the item with which we are brought into contact.

     The psalmist is appealing to people to praise God, calling them to recognize his greatness, his glory, calling them to think of his power and majesty, urging them to answer the things their eyes see and their hearts feel by offering praise to him. In this call so poetic and full of beauty is revealed the meaning of worship, its condition and glory. “O worship the LORD.” The supreme thing is worship. But how is worship to be rendered? “In the beauty of holiness.” Wherever you find beauty, it is the outcome of holiness. Wherever you find beauty as the outcome of holiness, that beauty itself is incense, is worship. To live the life of holiness is to live the life of beauty, and that is to worship.

     When Charles Kingsley lay dying, he said, “How beautiful God is!” We are almost startled by the word. We speak of his majesty. We speak of his might. We speak of his mercy, his holiness, his love. Yet there is nothing of God that he has made more conspicuous to us than his beauty. Every manifestation of God is full of beauty.

     The beauty of God, blossoming in the daisy, blazing in the starry heavens—brings you back to my text, “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” All the beauty of flowers, in form and color and perfume, are of God. All the beauty of the seasons—spring and summer and autumn and winter; all that is beautiful in human beings physically, mentally, spiritually, and all that is beautiful in the interrelation between people is of God.

     God is a God of glory. God is a God of love. But he is also the God of beauty.

     I stayed with a friend in Devonshire who brought from his greenhouse a spray of roses and put them under the microscope. And the more closely I looked, the more perfect they were. The beauty of God is revealed in the tiniest cell of the flower. God is very beautiful, and everything that is of God is essentially beautiful.

--- G. Campbell Morgan


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

On This Day   March 14
     Dr. Livingstone, I Presume

     As missionary David Livingstone plunged ever more deeply into the African interior, all the world followed him. He was a hero, an explorer whose every foray was widely discussed. But in the early 1870s word from him ceased. The world held its breath and waited and wondered. Five years passed. Finally the New York Herald sent reporter Henry Stanley to find him, dead or alive. Stanley was an untamed adventure-seeker and journalist. He was also an infidel who viewed Christianity with considerable cynicism. “Spare no expense,” his newspaper said. Stanley organized 200 persons in five caravans and plunged into the jungle.

     Stanley finally located Livingstone near Lake Tanganyika. He bowed and uttered his famous words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” He arrived just in time, for the old missionary was sick, lonely, and desperate for medicine, supplies, and news from home. Stanley stayed with Livingstone four months, and the two men grew very attached. Stanley later reported, I went to Africa as prejudiced against religion as the worst infidel in London. But I saw this solitary old man there, and I asked myself, “What is it that inspires him?” For months I found myself listening to him, wondering at the old man carrying out the words, “leave all and follow me.” Little by little, seeing his piety, gentleness, zeal, and how he went quietly about his business, I was converted by him.

     On their last day together, March 14, 1872, the two said little. Stanley lingered as long as he dared, then he said, “Now, my dear doctor, the best friends must part.…” Livingstone, heart throbbing, replied, “God guide you safe home and bless you, my friend.” Stanley went a way then turned for a last look. Livingstone had also turned. Stanley waved his handkerchief, and Livingstone lifted his hat. They would not see each other on earth again. When Stanley heard of Livingstone’s death the following year he determined to follow his footsteps.

     Paul … knelt down with all of them and prayed. Everyone cried and hugged and kissed him. They were especially sad because Paul had told them, “You will never see me again.”
--- Acts 20:36-38.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - March 14

     “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
--- 1 Corinthians 10:12.

     It is a curious fact, that there is such a thing as being proud of grace. A man says, “I have great faith, I shall not fall; poor little faith may, but I never shall.” “I have fervent love,” says another, “I can stand, there is no danger of my going astray.” He who boasts of grace has little grace to boast of. Some who do this imagine that their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, or else the brook will soon be dry. If a continuous stream of oil comes not to the lamp, though it burn brightly to-day, it will smoke to-morrow, and noxious will be its scent. Take heed that thou gloriest not in thy graces, but let all thy glorying and confidence be in Christ and his strength, for only so canst thou be kept from falling. Be much more in prayer. Spend longer time in holy adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your lives more carefully. Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men’s souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come, when he whom you love shall say, “Come up higher,” may it be your happiness to hear him say, “Thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away.” On, Christian, with care and caution! On, with holy fear and trembling! On, with faith and confidence in Jesus alone, and let your constant petition be, “Uphold me according to thy word.” He is able, and he alone, “To keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”


          Evening - March 14

     “I will take heed to my ways." Psalm 39:1.

     Fellow-pilgrim, say not in your heart, “I will go hither and thither, and I shall not sin;” for you are never so out of danger of sinning as to boast of security. The road is very miry, it will be hard to pick your path so as not to soil your garments. This is a world of pitch; you will need to watch often, if in handling it you are to keep your hands clean. There is a robber at every turn of the road to rob you of your jewels; there is a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy; and if you ever reach heaven, it will be a miracle of divine grace to be ascribed entirely to your Father’s power. Be on your guard. When a man carries a bomb-shell in his hand, he should mind that he does not go near a candle; and you too must take care that you enter not into temptation. Even your common actions are edged tools; you must mind how you handle them. There is nothing in this world to foster a Christian’s piety, but everything to destroy it. How anxious should you be to look up to God, that he may keep you! Your prayer should be, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” Having prayed, you must also watch; guarding every thought, word, and action, with holy jealousy. Do not expose yourselves unnecessarily; but if called to exposure, if you are bidden to go where the darts are flying, never venture forth without your shield; for if once the devil finds you without your buckler, he will rejoice that his hour of triumph is come, and will soon make you fall down wounded by his arrows. Though slain you cannot be; wounded you may be. “Be sober; be vigilant, danger may be in an hour when all seemeth securest to thee.” Therefore, take heed to thy ways, and watch unto prayer. No man ever fell into error through being too watchful. May the Holy Spirit guide us in all our ways, so shall they always please the Lord.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     March 14

          STANDING ON THE PROMISES

     Words and Music by R. Kelso Carter, 1849–1928

     For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2 Corinthians 1:20 KJV)

     All of us have times in life when a crisis or problem seems larger than we can possibly bear, and we become very fearful. Often, however, the Lord has to get our attention through such an adversity to cause us once more to rely solely on His promises.

     Bible scholars have pointed our that the phrase “fear not” appears in the Bible 365 times—a reassuring promise for each day of the year. A daily dependence upon the divine promises is the only real remedy for our human fears. Often even well-intentioned parents make hasty promises to their children, promises they are unable to fulfill. How different are the promises of God! They are “yea and amen,” the only assurances on which we can securely stand.

     The author and composer, Russell Kelso Carter, was an unusually talented and versatile person. At various times in his 79 year lifetime he was an athlete, an active Methodist minister, a sheep rancher, a professor and publisher of various textbooks, and in his later years a practicing physician in Baltimore. In addition to “Standing on the Promises,” Carter wrote a number of other hymn texts and tunes as well as assisting in compiling the 1891 hymnal Hymns for the Christian Life for the Christian Missionary Alliance denomination. Mr. Carter’s fruitful life reflects the truth of this hymn—that only as we stand on God’s promises are we enabled to live with purpose for God’s glory.

     Standing on the promises of Christ my King, thru eternal ages let His praises ring; glory in the highest I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God.
     Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.
     Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord, overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword, standing on the promises of God.
     Standing on the promises I now can see perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me; standing in the liberty where Christ makes free, standing on the promises of God,
     Standing on the promises I cannot fall, list’ning ev’ry moment to the Spirit’s call, resting in my Savior as my all in all, standing on the promises of God.
     Chorus: Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior. Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God.


     For Today: Psalm 34:18; Psalm 55:22; 2 Peter 1:4.

     Claim a scriptural promise as especially for you this day. Live confidently in its truth. Carry this tune as a reminder ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Wednesday, March 14 2018 | Lent

Wednesday Of The Fourth Week In Lent
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 101, 109:1–5 (6–20) 21–31
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 119:121–144
Old Testament     Genesis 50:15–26
New Testament     1 Corinthians 12:1–11
Gospel     Mark 8:11–26

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 101, 109:1–5 (6–20) 21–31
101 A Psalm Of David.

1 I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will make music.
2 I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
3 I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
4 A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.

6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.

7 No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.

8 Morning by morning I will destroy
all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers
from the city of the LORD.

1 Be not silent, O God of my praise!
2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
3 They encircle me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
4 In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.
5 So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.

[     6 Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
8 May his days be few;
may another take his office!
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13 May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
15 Let them be before the LORD continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!

16 For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
17 He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones!
19 May it be like a garment that he wraps around him,
like a belt that he puts on every day!
20 May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD,
of those who speak evil against my life!     ]

21 But you, O GOD my Lord,
deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;
because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
22 For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
23 I am gone like a shadow at evening;
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak through fasting;
my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they wag their heads.

26 Help me, O LORD my God!
Save me according to your steadfast love!
27 Let them know that this is your hand;
you, O LORD, have done it!
28 Let them curse, but you will bless!
They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!
29 May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!

30 With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 119:121–144

121 I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Give your servant a pledge of good;
let not the insolent oppress me.
123 My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies!
126 It is time for the LORD to act,
for your law has been broken.
127 Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.

137 Righteous are you, O LORD,
and right are your rules.
138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
139 My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget your words.
140 Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.

Old Testament
Genesis 50:15–26

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

22 So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph’s own. 24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 12:1–11

12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Gospel
Mark 8:11–26

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”2 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”


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