Love and Serve the LORDDeuteronomy 11 1 You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. 2 And consider today (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, 3 his signs and his deeds that he did in Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land, 4 and what he did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and to their chariots, how he made the water of the Red Sea flow over them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD has destroyed them to this day, 5 and what he did to you in the wilderness, until you came to this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, son of Reuben, how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, in the midst of all Israel. 7 For your eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that he did.
8 “You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, 9 and that you may live long in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. 11 But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, 12 a land that the LORD your God cares for. The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
13 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. 16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.
18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. 22 For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the LORD your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. 24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours. Your territory shall be from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea. 25 No one shall be able to stand against you. The LORD your God will lay the fear of you and the dread of you on all the land that you shall tread, as he promised you.
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known. 29 And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30 Are they not beyond the Jordan, west of the road, toward the going down of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oak of Moreh? 31 For you are to cross over the Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you. And when you possess it and live in it, 32 you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today.
The LORD’s Chosen Place of WorshipDeuteronomy 12 1 These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. 2 You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. 4 You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way. 5 But you shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, 6 and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. 7 And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
8 “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, 9 for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you. 10 But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, 11 then to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD. 12 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male servants and your female servants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. 13 Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, 14 but at the place that the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.
15 “However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, as much as you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you. The unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the deer. 16 Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. 17 You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, 18 but you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place that the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake. 19 Take care that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.
20 “When the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because you crave meat, you may eat meat whenever you desire. 21 If the place that the LORD your God will choose to put his name there is too far from you, then you may kill any of your herd or your flock, which the LORD has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your towns whenever you desire. 22 Just as the gazelle or the deer is eaten, so you may eat of it. The unclean and the clean alike may eat of it. 23 Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. 24 You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. 25 You shall not eat it, that all may go well with you and with your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD. 26 But the holy things that are due from you, and your vow offerings, you shall take, and you shall go to the place that the LORD will choose, 27 and offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the LORD your God. The blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the LORD your God, but the flesh you may eat. 28 Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.
Warning Against Idolatry29 “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31 You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.
32 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.
Deuteronomy 13Deuteronomy 13 1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
6 “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. 9 But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. 10 You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you. 12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to dwell there, 13 that certain worthless fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, 14 then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. And behold, if it be true and certain that such an abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, devoting it to destruction, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. 16 You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its open square and burn the city and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again. 17 None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger and show you mercy and have compassion on you and multiply you, as he swore to your fathers, 18 if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Orion & the Pleiades Speak Truth
By William T. Pelletier, Ph.D. 11/23/2016
Last week’s article, The Hunter and Seven Sisters, surveyed two groups of stars which are mentioned several times in the Bible: Orion (the Hunter) and the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters).
Several Old Testament books use these two star groups, along with the Bear (Ursa Major, of which the Big Dipper is a part), to seize attention and megaphone truth to mankind (Job 9:8-10; 38:31-32; Amos 5:8).
The book of Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible. It relates the troubles of a man named Job who lived after the Flood, probably around the time of Abraham.
William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
I’m a mathematician who has spent over 45 years researching Bible-Science topics. I have taught many classes on these issues, and have repeatedly debated evolutionist professors in university forums.
I specialize in explaining scientific issues from a Biblical base. I wrote a monthly newspaper column on Bible-Science topics for the The Woodside News for seven years from July 2005 through July 2012.
I have a Ph.D. in mathematics. Major career positions include
• University mathematics professor teaching undergraduate and graduate math courses at several universities.
• Software developer and analyst for a Fortune 100 company. Responsibilities included analyzing computer systems and developing CAD/CAM software to mathematically model automotive parts and design dies.
• VP of Consulting for a technology company
I’m not a great blogger, but I blog about Great Truths. The truths and principles that I explain and espouse in this blog come, not from me, but from a Great Book that tells about a Great God and His Great Work.
Carrying Kepler after he tired on a long hike
The BibleScienceGuy carries Kepler
after he tired on a long hike
The literal truth of Scripture is my bedrock. Genesis 1-11 is the essential foundation for the rest of the Bible. It unambiguously teaches the Creation of the universe in 6 regular days about 6,000 years ago.
Adam’s sin resulted in God’s curse on creation and its subsequent degeneration. Noah’s Flood was God’s judgment on a sin-soaked world 4500 years ago. The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ solved the sin and death problem for those who follow Christ.
In this blog I’ll tackle Biblical and scientific issues like Creation, evolution, chronology, age of the earth, Noah’s Flood, dinosaurs, cave men, fossils, intelligent design, archaeology, and related topics in the news.
Some articles will be mostly Bible-oriented, some will be mostly science-oriented, and some will be a combination. (See the Table of Contents and Newspaper Columns for lists of articles on this site.)
I focus on: Debunking evolutionism. Exalting the Creator. Exploring Creation. I tackle scientific issues from a Biblical perspective and explore Biblical issues from a scientific perspective.
My interests include orienteering, hiking, camping, sports (table tennis, football, basketball, baseball), reading (theology, science, biography, history, mystery, adventure, math), and logic puzzles.
I have been delightfully married to my one and only sweetheart for over 35 years. We have seven children.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Words of Terror: “Dad, I’m in love…”
By Geoff Holsclaw 2/14/2017
Searching for a “get well” card I turn into the gift aisle. Immediately a sea of red and pink cards expressing tender sentiments or stating bold desires overwhelms me. Valentine’s Day is here.
A terrifying thought crosses my mind as I wade through this sea of pre-packaged sentimentality. Someday soon, my newly minted teenage son will come home and say, “Dad, I’m in love with her.”
And my heart will sink.
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Putting Words in God’s Mouth
By Alan Shlemon 9/1/2016
Who taught you how to interpret the Bible? I bet I can guess your answer: no one. Chances are, you were never discipled by a mentor, never took a class on biblical interpretation, and never studied a book on the subject. Like many believers (including myself), you probably adopted your own approach to interpreting the Bible. It’s almost a matter of chance whether or not we develop a good system. When it comes to God’s Word, though, isn’t it critical we strive to correctly understand it?
Let me put it plainly: Every Christian has a system of biblical interpretation, whether we know it or not. The only question is whether that system helps or hinders our ability to understand what God is saying in His Word.
This issue came up last month when I was in Cairo, Egypt. I was training up-and-coming leaders in the Egyptian church in theology and apologetics. As is often the case when I teach on hermeneutics (the study of how to interpret the Bible), I got a lot of pushback. That’s a common response among all Christians, not just Egyptian believers. Christians are generally resistant to accepting new principles of biblical interpretation, especially when those principles affect a prior interpretation of a verse they’ve cherished for years.
I understand why that’s the case. The Bible is deeply personal to us. It can be hard and painful to be told we’re misinterpreting a passage that has been meaningful to us.
That’s exactly what happened while teaching my Egyptian brothers and sisters. I was offering a warning not to claim a promise from God when it’s directed exclusively to someone else. For example, we can’t claim the promise to Abraham and expect God to make us “into a great nation” and “bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:2-3). That’s a promise only for Abraham.
Alan Shlemon is an author and speaker for Stand to Reason and trains Christians to share their convictions in a persuasive, yet gracious manner. Known for teaching on some of the most controversial issues of our time, he tackles topics such as abortion, evolution, homosexuality, bioethics, and Islam. Alan has been a guest on both radio and television, and has spoken to thousands of adults and students across the country at churches, conferences, and college campuses.
Alan Shlemon Books:
The Most Important Pastoral Practice For Our Time
By Seth Richardson 2/3/2017
A few months ago, I started over: a new church community in a new place. I went from familiar to unfamiliar – from years of developing social capital to being the new guy. People are, understandably, graciously suspicious of everything I say and do. Disorientation has been the predominant theme for me these days.
During this season of disorientation, I have been hovering around the question, “What is going on?”
In asking this question, I’m seeking understanding of the histories, experiences, and emotions flowing through the root system of the community – the kinds of things that have shaped and are presently shaping the community’s ethos and self-understanding.
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Seth Richardson and his family live in Fayetteville, Arkansas where Seth is rector of Christ the King Anglican Church (http://www.christthekingfayetteville.com/). He most often thinks and writes about spiritual formation, sacramental theology, and place. He probably drinks too much coffee.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 26I Will Bless The Lord
26 Of David.
6 I wash my hands in innocence
and go around your altar, O LORD,
7 proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.
8 O LORD, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
Gifting the Incarnation of Christ: A Spiritual Discipline for Christmas
By MarkKate Morse 12/21/2016
Christmas is so wonderful, and yet also exhausting and stressful. We primarily shop, decorate, cook, see family and friends, and attend special Christmas services. The celebratory month with lights and presents and good food is meant to create joy in us for the gift of the Christ child. Yet it all seems so far removed from the humbling of God the Son to helpless newborn.
What is lacking in the traditions of Christmas is a spiritual discipline which reminds us of the most important part of the story, the incarnation of Almighty God into human flesh. How do lights and ornaments and presents capture anything of the mystery of Christ, “who although he existed in the form of God…emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7)?
Four Steps to Giving the Gift of Incarnation
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MaryKate Morse, PhD, is professor of Leadership and Spiritual Formation in the seminary at George Fox University. Currently she is the Lead Mentor for the Doctor of Ministry in Leadership & Spiritual Formation. Raised in the Air Force, MaryKate lived in various states and overseas. She completed her BS in Secondary Education and English Literature at Longwood University in Virginia. With her husband, Randy, and small children she lived in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia and Peru doing ministry and social projects with the Aymará Indians. Upon return she did a Masters in Biblical Studies and an MDIV at Western Evangelical Seminary (now GFES). She began teaching, studied spiritual formation and direction, and was certified as a spiritual director and recorded as a pastor with the Evangelical Friends. MaryKate completed her doctorate at Gonzaga University where she studied the characteristics of renewal leadership as modeled by Jesus. She continues to explore how spiritual formation and effective leadership result in the transformation of individuals and communities especially for evangelists and front-line leaders in diverse cultural environments. After her doctorate she planted two churches and served in various administrative positions at the university including Seminary Associate Dean, Director of Hybrid programs, and University Director of Strategic Planning. She is a spiritual director and leadership mentor and coach, conference and retreat speaker, and author including Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence and A Guidebook to Prayer. MaryKate is married to Randy and has three adult children and five grandchildren. She enjoys being with family, hiking, reading, exploring new places, and playing with her puppy, Tess. Books by MaryKate Morse:
Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence
A Guidebook to Prayer: 24 Ways to Walk with God
Death is not a Blessing
By Dr. D. Jeffrey Bingham 1/19/2018
Some 20 years ago, Dudley Clendinen wrote an opinion for The New York Times entitled “When Death is a Blessing and Life is Not.” It is a heartbreaking essay about the tragic suffering—illness, loneliness, dementia—experienced by his elderly cousin and aunts before their deaths. Sadly, we could multiply such stories again and again.
Too many of our loved ones bear similar griefs. And many under these clouds of suffering end up feeling that death is a blessing for the relief it brings. At times, these feelings are whispered at funerals; sometimes they are stated plainly. Life, then, ends up being perceived as the curse or, in the word of Clendinen’s poor cousin, “hell.”
I ache for those who are tormented, young or old, emotionally broken or physically shattered. I anguish for those who, in their own darkness, yearn for death. But, death itself brings no peace. Death is no friend of humanity. It is no benefactor, no ally, no comrade. As God says through the apostle Paul, death is the enemy of Christ, a rebel, an insurgent, and a subversive rival to His sovereignty. Thankfully, one day Christ will abolish this tyrant (1 Corinthians 15:25-27a).
But death is not merely the enemy of Christ and His people. It is judgment for sin, a curse, the sentence Adam and Eve must bear for disobeying His command (Genesis 2:16-17; Romans 6:23). God created humanity by His artful crafting of soil and by the breath of His mouth (Genesis 2:7). The prepositions in Genesis 2:7 are important for our understanding of life and death. Adam was configured OF dust FROM the earth. To put it another way: God gave Adam shape by taking soil OUT OF the ground and forming it. However, when God decrees the penalties for disobedience, He portrays death as the utter reversal of His creation of Adam (Genesis 3:19). Death, the dreadful consequence of sin, means decay and burial. Whereas life is God forming humanity OUT OF the dust, death places us back INTO the earth, so that we decay back into dust. Genesis 3:19 erases Genesis 2:7. There is no blessing in death, for it is a curse and a reversal of that which is always the true blessing: life (Deuteronomy 30:19a).
In resurrection, however, the tables are turned, and death itself is reversed. First, God the Father raised Christ bodily so that His body did not succumb to decay (Acts 13:37; cf. Acts 2:31; Psalm 16:10). Then, at His coming, He will deliver the bodies of believers from their graves and decay in the dust. Joyfully, their corpses will rise from dust to inherit eternal life (Daniel 12:2; Isaiah 26:19; John 5:28). Because the Spirit of God the Father who raised His own Son dwells in us, we will be raised to be “like Him” (1 John 3:2), experiencing the redemption (Romans 8:23) and glorification of our bodies at Christ’s second advent. All things, death included, will then be subject to Him (1 Corinthians 15:20-23; Philippians 3:20-21). Subdued, death will die.
Dr. Bingham serves as a Professor of Theology and Dean of the School of Theology. He serves as current Vice President/President-Elect of the North American Patristics Society.Research: • History of the Reception of the Bible • Biblical Interpretation • Patristic Theology • Second-Century Christianity • IrenaeusPublications: • Irenaeus' Use of Matthew's Gospel in Adversus Haereses • Pocket History of the Church • The Routledge Companion to Early Christian Thought (1 Co 15:25–27) 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. ESV
(Ge 2:16–17) 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” ESV
(Ro 6:23) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ESV
(Ge 2:7) 7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. ESV
(Ge 3:19) 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” ESV
(Dt 30:19) I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, ESV
(Ac 13:37) but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. ESV
(Ac 2:31) he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. ESV
(Ps 16:10) For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. ESV
(Da 12:2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. ESV
(Is 26:19) Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. ESV
(Jn 5:28) Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice ESV
(1 Jn 3:2) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. ESV
(Ro 8:23) And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. ESV
(1 Co 15:20–23) 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. ESV
(Php 3:20–21) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ESV
The Unexpected Value of Insignificance
By Mark Moore 4/22/2016
Are you accomplishing something significant? Do you see yourself as significant?
Feeling significant is a major quest for some people. In fact, it is a deep-rooted identity issue. Our society contributes to this issue by attempting to make everyone feel significant–thus our kids play games at school where there are no winners or losers. On one level we could legitimately say that in our culture “feeling significant” is a basic human need.
In Richard Rohr’s outstanding book, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation, he describes the practice of male initiation rites and vision quests that many cultures have practiced throughout the ages. His study reveals that there are five common themes in all male initiation rites, no matter the people or culture. These five themes, which he calls promises, are:
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Mark Moore is a Director of Church Mobilization at International Justice Mission. He equips churches and communities by sharing the biblical call to seek justice, introducing them to IJM’s work, and mobilizing them to engage in both local and global ministry. Prior to joining IJM, Mark spent eleven years as the pastor of Providence Community, a church he planted in Dallas, TX. Mark is also a faculty member at The Leadership Institute in California where he helps train leaders who listen to God, follow Jesus’ rhythms of life, and lead from the overflow. He is currently writing a book called The Unlikely Contemplative (InterVarsity Press), which addresses the challenges of being a driven visionary leader and a contemplative.
By R.C. Sproul
Nadab and Abihu were priests. They were sons of Aaron, the High Priest. God had personally selected Aaron to be the first High Priest. Together with Moses, Aaron had led the people of Israel through the wilderness. If anyone in Israel had a close relationship with God, it was Moses and Aaron. One might expect a little leeway from God in dealing with the sons of Aaron. There was none. For one transgression at the altar God reacted swiftly and violently, wiping them out on the spot. It was not as though they profaned the altar with prostitutes or offered human sacrifices as the Moloch cult. All they did was offer some “strange fire” there. We are not sure exactly what the strange fire was. It sounds as if it was merely a question of young priests doing some creative experimenting with the liturgy. A censurable offense, perhaps. But the death penalty? Without the benefit of a trial? Immediate summary execution? Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.
A scientist friend of Albert Einstein’s shocked the geological world with his theories arguing against a gradual change in the earth’s forms through eons of erosion and the movement of giant glaciers. Immanuel Velikovsky offered a theory that also provided an explanation for the story of Nadab and Abihu.
Velikovsky was of the opinion that changes in the earth’s surface were made suddenly by a catastrophic upheaval caused by a planet or giant comet that came so close to the earth it reversed the magnetic poles and forced the earth to start spinning in the opposite direction. Imagine a top spinning as fast as it can. Then, instantly, it is made to spin in the opposite direction. If there were water inside the top, what would happen to it? It would become a tidal wave in the opposite direction. Part of the theory is that a meteoric shower bombarded the earth that included within its content great volumes of petroleum, filling the fissures on the earth’s surface and causing great deposits of oil to form under the earth. (Consider the oil rich region of the Middle East.) The tail of this huge comet could be seen for years, causing people to view it as a sign in the sky and actually follow its serpentine path as the Jews did for forty years, wandering in a strange direction all over the desert. This was, according to Velikovsky, Israel’s pillar of smoke and pillar of cloud.
Nadab and Abihu found some oil lying around and wondered what it was. They were the prototypes for Jed Clampett. They decided to see how it worked if it were mixed with the burning substances at the altar. When they put it in the fire, whoosh, it ignited and exploded, killing the priests instantly. In a primitive society this would be viewed as a sudden act of judgment by the gods.
Velikovsky offered a natural explanation to account for the story. In his view, the deaths of Nadab and Abihu were accidents, a tragic case of children playing with unknown fire.
The Bible views it differently. It records it as a supernatural judgment of God. It may have been enacted through natural means, but it is clear that the death of Nadab and Abihu was no accident. It must be ascribed to the wrath and judgment of God.
How did Aaron view it? The Bible says, “And Aaron was displeased.” We can be sure of that. Aaron was obviously furious. He had dedicated his entire life to the service of God. His sons were following in his footsteps. He could remember the day of their consecration and the pride he felt when they were set apart for the priesthood. It was a family matter. What thanks did he get from the God he served? God summarily executed his sons for what appeared to be a minor infraction of the rules of the altar.
Aaron rushed to see Moses and tell him about it. It was as if Aaron were saying, “OK God. I’m going to tell on you. I’m going straight to Moses. You’re going to have to deal with us both on this one.” So Aaron went to Moses and pled his case: (Lev 10:3)
Moses gave Aaron the answer of the LORD. He reminded him of the original consecration of the priests. They had been set apart for a sacred task and solemnly charged with the precise requirements of their office. They had the privilege of ministering before a holy God. Each vessel in the tabernacle was made to precise specifications and each item was sanctified by elaborate measures commanded by God. There was no ambiguity to be found in these commands. With respect to the altar of incense, Aaron and his sons were specifically instructed in the proper procedures. God had spoken: Exodus 30:9-10
The instructions had been clear. The altar of incense was declared by God to be most holy. When Nadab and Abihu offered strange or unauthorized fire upon it, they were acting in clear defiance of God. Theirs was an act of blatant rebellion, an inexcusable profaning of the holy place. They committed a sin of arrogance, an act of treason against God: They profaned a most holy place.
God’s judgment was swift. His explanation to Moses was clear: “I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” These were not words of future prophecy or prediction. When God said, “I will …” He meant it as a divine command, a command no man dare countermand.
The capstone of this episode is found in the last clause of Leviticus 10:3: “Aaron remained silent.”
What else could Aaron do? The debate was over. The evidence was in and God had rendered His verdict. The sons of Aaron had been explicitly forbidden from offering such fire. They committed an act of disobedience and God lowered the gavel of His justice on them. So Aaron was silent. He held his peace. He could think of no excuse to offer, no protest to make. Like sinners at the Last Judgment, his mouth was stopped.
Here is an example of God’s punitive justice, the justice by which He punishes the guilty. Is this punishment cruel and unusual? Does it in fact go beyond the limits of justice and cross the border into injustice?
Built into our concept of justice is the idea that the punishment must fit the crime. If the punishment is more severe than the crime, then an injustice has been committed. The Bible makes it clear that Nadab and Abihu could not plead ignorance as an excuse for their sin. God had made his instructions clear to them. They knew that they were not allowed to offer unauthorized fire on the altar. That they sinned is easy for us to see. But they never dreamed their sin was so serious that it would prompt God to execute them on the spot. Here we meet an example that screams of harshness from the hand of God, of a punishment that is far too cruel and unusual for the crime. Such a measure of punishment not only puzzles us, it staggers us.
How do we square this narrative with what Genesis teaches earlier about the character of God’s justice? Genesis declares, “The judge of heaven and earth must do right.” The basic assumption of Israel is that God’s judgments are always according to righteousness. His justice is never unfair, never whimsical, nor tyrannical. It is impossible for God to be unjust because his justice is holy.
... There is a reason why we are offended, indeed angered, by the story of Uzzah and the story of Nadab and Abihu. We find these things difficult to stomach because we do not understand four vitally important biblical concepts: holiness, justice, sin, and grace. We do not understand what it means to be holy. We do not understand what justice is. We do not understand what sin is. We do not understand what grace is.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
34.  But as Paul argues, "What man knoweth the things of a man,
save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God
knoweth no man but the Spirit of God," (1 Cor. 2:11). If in regard to
divine truth we hesitate even as to those things which we see with the
bodily eye, how can we be firm and steadfast in regard to those divine
promises which neither the eye sees nor the mind comprehends? Here
human discernment is so defective and lost, that the first step of
advancement in the school of Christ is to renounce it (Mt. 11:25; Luke
10:21). Like a veil interposed, it prevents us from beholding divine
masteries, which are revealed only to babes. "Flesh and blood" does not
reveal them (Mt. 16:17). "The natural man receiveth not the things of
the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he
know them, for they are spiritually discerned," (I Cor. 2:14). The
supplies of the Holy Spirit are therefore necessary, or rather his
agency is here the only strength. "For who has known the mind of the
Lord? or who has been his counselor?" (Rom. 11:34); but "The Spirit
searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God," (1 Cor. 2:10). Thus
it is that we attain to the mind of Christ: "No man can come to me,
except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up
at the last day." "Every man therefore that has heard, and learned of
the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man has seen the Father, save
he which is of God, he has seen the Father," (John 6:44, 45, 46).
Therefore, as we cannot possibly come to Christ unless drawn by the
Spirit, so when we are drawn we are both in mind and spirit exalted far
above our own understanding. For the soul, when illumined by him,
receives as it were a new eye, enabling it to contemplate heavenly
mysteries, by the splendor of which it was previously dazzled. And
thus, indeed, it is only when the human intellect is irradiated by the
light of the Holy Spirit that it begins to have a taste of those things
which pertain to the kingdom of God; previously it was too stupid and
senseless to have any relish for them. Hence our Savior, when clearly
declaring the mysteries of the kingdom to the two disciples, makes no
impression till he opens their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke
24:27, 45). Hence also, though he had taught the Apostles with his own
divine lips, it was still necessary to send the Spirit of truth to
instill into their minds the same doctrine which they had heard with
their ears. The word is, in regard to those to whom it is preached,
like the sun which shines upon all, but is of no use to the blind. In
this matter we are all naturally blind; and hence the word cannot
penetrate our mind unless the Spirit, that internal teacher, by his
enlightening power make an entrance for it.
35. Having elsewhere shown more fully, when treating of the corruption of our nature, how little able men are to believe (Book 2, c. 2, 3), I will not fatigue the reader by again repeating it. Let it suffice to observe, that the spirit of faith is used by Paul as synonymous with the very faith which we receive from the Spirit, but which we have not naturally (2 Cor. 4:13). Accordingly, he prays for the Thessalonians, "that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power," (2 Thess. 1:2). Here, by designating faith the work of God, and distinguishing it by way of epithet, appropriately calling it his good pleasure, he declares that it is not of man's own nature; and not contented with this, he adds, that it is an illustration of divine power. In addressing the Corinthians, when he tells them that faith stands not "in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God," (1 Cor. 2:4), he is no doubt speaking of external miracles; but as the reprobate are blinded when they behold them, he also includes that internal seal of which he elsewhere makes mention. And the better to display his liberality in this most excellent gift, God does not bestow it upon all promiscuously, but, by special privilege, imparts it to whom he will. To this effect we have already quoted passages of Scripture, as to which Augustine, their faithful expositor, exclaims (De Verbo Apost. Serm. 2) "Our Savior, to teach that faith in him is a gift, not a merit, says, No man can come to me, except the Father, which has sent me, draw him,' (John 6:44). It is strange when two persons hear, the one despises, the other ascends. Let him who despises impute it to himself; let him who ascends not arrogate it to himself" In another passage he asks, "Wherefore is it given to the one, and not to the other? I am not ashamed to say, This is one of the deep things of the cross. From some unknown depth of the judgments of God, which we cannot scrutinize, all our ability proceeds. I see that I am able; but how I am able I see not:--this far only I see, that it is of God. But why the one, and not the other? This is too great for me: it is an abyss a depth of the cross. I can cry out with wonder; not discuss and demonstrate." The whole comes to this, that Christ, when he produces faith in us by the agency of his Spirit, at the same time ingrafts us into his body, that we may become partakers of all blessings.
36. The next thing necessary is, that what the mind has imbibed be transferred into the heart. The word is not received in faith when it merely flutters in the brain, but when it has taken deep root in the heart, and become an invincible bulwark to withstand and repel all the assaults of temptation. But if the illumination of the Spirit is the true source of understanding in the intellect, much more manifest is his agency in the confirmation of the heart; inasmuch as there is more distrust in the heart than blindness in the mind; and it is more difficult to inspire the soul with security than to imbue it with knowledge. Hence the Spirit performs the part of a seal, sealing upon our hearts the very promises, the certainty of which was previously impressed upon our minds. It also serves as an earnest in establishing and confirming these promises. Thus the Apostle says, "In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance," (Eph. 1:13, 14). You see how he teaches that the hearts of believers are stamped with the Spirit as with a seal, and calls it the Spirit of promise, because it ratifies the gospel to us. In like manner he says to the Corinthians, "God has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts," (2 Cor. 1:22). And again, when speaking of a full and confident hope, he founds it on the "earnest of the Spirit," (2 Cor. 5:5).
37. I am not forgetting what I formerly said, and experience brings daily to remembrance--viz. that faith is subject to various doubts,  so that the minds of believers are seldom at rest, or at least are not always tranquil. Still, whatever be the engines by which they are shaken, they either escape from the whirlpool of temptation, or remain steadfast in their place. Faith finds security and protection in the words of the Psalm, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea," (Ps. 46:1, 2). This delightful tranquillity is elsewhere described: "I laid me down and slept; I awaked, for the Lord sustained me," (Ps. 3:5). Not that David was uniformly in this joyful frame; but in so far as the measure of his faith made him sensible of the divine favor, he glories in intrepidly despising every thing that could disturb his peace of mind. Hence the Scripture, when it exhorts us to faith, bids us be at peace. In Isaiah it is said, "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength," (Is. 30:15); and in the psalm, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." Corresponding to this is the passage in the Hebrews, "Ye have need of patience," &c. (Heb. 10:36).
38. Hence we may judge how pernicious is the scholastic dogma,  that we can have no stronger evidence of the divine favor toward us than moral conjecture, according as each individual deems himself not unworthy of it. Doubtless, if we are to determine by our works in what way the Lord stands affected towards us, I admit that we cannot even get the length of a feeble conjecture: but since faith should accord with the free and simple promise, there is no room left for ambiguity. With what kind of confidence, pray, shall we be armed if we reason in this way--God is propitious to us, provided we deserve it by the purity of our lives? But since we have reserved this subject for discussion in its proper place, we shall not prosecute it farther at present, especially seeing it is already plain that nothing is more adverse to faith than conjecture, or any other feeling akin to doubt. Nothing can be worse than their perversion of the passage of Ecclesiastes, which is ever in their mouths: "No man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them," (Eccl. 9:1).  For without insisting that the passage is erroneously rendered in the common version--even a child cannot fail to perceive what Solomon's meaning is--viz. that any one who would ascertain, from the present state of things, who are in the favor or under the displeasure of God, labors in vain, and torments himself to no useful purpose, since "All things come alike to all;" "to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not:" and hence God does not always declare his love to those on whom he bestows uninterrupted prosperity, nor his hatred against those whom he afflicts. And it tends to prove the vanity of the human intellect, that it is so completely in the dark as to matters which it is of the highest importance to know. Thus Solomon had said a little before, "That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other," (Eccl. 3:19). Were any one thence to infer that we hold the immortality of the soul by conjecture merely, would he not justly be deemed insane? Are those then sane who cannot obtain any certainty of the divine favor, because the carnal eye is now unable to discern it from the present appearance of the world?
39. But, they say, it is rash and presumptuous to pretend to an undoubted knowledge of the divine will. I would grant this, did we hold that we were able to subject the incomprehensible counsel of God to our feeble intellect. But when we simply say with Paul, "We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God," (1 Cor. 2:12), what can they oppose to this, without offering insult to the Spirit of God? But if it is Sacrilege to charge the revelation which he has given us with falsehood, or uncertainty, or ambiguity, how can we be wrong in maintaining its certainty? But they still exclaim, that there is great temerity in our presuming to glory in possessing the Spirit of God.  Who could believe that these men, who desire to be thought the masters of the world, could be so stupid as to err thus grossly in the very first principles of religion? To me, indeed, it would be incredible, did not their own writings make it manifest. Paul declares that those only are the sons of God who are led by his Spirit (Rom. 8:14); these men would have those who are the sons of God to be led by their own, and void of the divine Spirit. He tells us that we call God our Father in terms dictated by the Spirit, who alone bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God (Rom. 8:16); they, though they forbid us not to invoke God, withdraw the Spirit, by whose guidance he is duly invoked. He declares that those only are the servants of Christ who are led by the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9); they imagine a Christianity which has no need of the Spirit of Christ. He holds out the hope of a blessed resurrection to those only who feel His Spirit dwelling in them (Rom. 8:11); they imagine hope when there is no such feeling. But perhaps they will say, that they deny not the necessity of being endued with the Spirit, but only hold it to be the part of modesty and humility not to recognize it. What, then, does Paul mean, when he says to the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith: prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Cor. 13:5). John, moreover, says, "Hereby we know that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he has given us," (1 John 3:24). And what else is it than to bring the promises of Christ into doubt, when we would be deemed servants of Christ without having his Spirit, whom he declared that he would pour out on all his people? (Isa. 44:3). What! do we not insult the Holy Spirit, when we separate faith, which is his peculiar work, from himself? These being the first rudiments of religion, it is the most wretched blindness to charge Christians with arrogance, for presuming to glory in the presence of the Holy Spirit; a glorying without which Christianity itself does not exist. The example of these men illustrates the truth of our Savior's declaration, that his Spirit "the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you," (John 14:17).
40. That they may not attempt to undermine the certainty of faith in one direction only, they attack it in another--viz. that though it be lawful for the believer, from his actual state of righteousness, to form a judgment as to the favor of God, the knowledge of final perseverance still remains in suspense. An admirable security, indeed, is left us, if, for the present moment only, we can judge from moral conjecture that we are in grace, but know not how we are to be to-morrow! Very different is the language of the Apostle, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Rom. 8:38). They endeavor to evade the force of this by frivolously pretending that the Apostle had this assurance by special revelation. They are too well caught thus to escape; for in that passage he is treating not of his individual experience, but of the blessings which all believers in common derive from faith. But then Paul in another passage alarms us by the mention of our weakness and inconstancy, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," (1 Cor. 10:12). True; but this he says not to inspire us with terror, but that we may learn to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, as Peter explains (1 Pet. 5:6). Then how preposterous is it to limit the certainty of faith to a point of time; seeing it is the property of faith to pass beyond the whole course of this life, and stretch forward to a future immortality? Therefore since believers owe it to the favor of God, that, enlightened by his Spirit, they, through faith, enjoy the prospect of heavenly life; there is so far from an approach to arrogance in each glorying, that any one ashamed to confess it, instead of testifying modesty or submission, rather betrays extreme ingratitude, by maliciously suppressing the divine goodness.
41. Since the nature of faith could not be better or more clearly evinced than by the substance of the promise on which it leans as its proper foundation, and without which it immediately falls or rather vanishes away, we have derived our definition from it--a definition, however, not at all at variance with that definition, or rather description, which the Apostle accommodates to his discourse, when he says that faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," (Heb. 11:1). For by the term substance (upo'stasis), he means a kind of prop on which the pious mind rests and leans. As if he had said, that faith is a kind of certain and secure possession of those things which are promised to us by God; unless we prefer taking upo'stasis for confidence. I have no objection to this, though I am more inclined to adopt the other interpretation, which is more generally received. Again, to intimate that until the last day, when the books will be opened (Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12), the things pertaining to our salvation are too lofty to be perceived by our sense, seen by our eyes, or handled by our hands, and that in the meantime there is no possible way in which these can be possessed by us, unless we can transcend the reach of our own intellect, and raise our eye above all worldly objects; in short, surpass ourselves, he adds that this certainty of possession relates to things which are only hoped for, and therefore not seen. For as Paul says (Rom. 8:24), "A hope that is seen is not hope," that we "hope for that we see not." When he calls it the evidence or proof, or, as Augustine repeatedly renders it (see Hom. in Joann. 79 and 95), the conviction of things not present, the Greek term being e'lennchos, it is the same as if he had called it the appearance of things not apparent, the sight of things not seen, the clearness of things obscure, the presence of things absent, the manifestation of things hid. For the mysteries of God (and to this class belong the things which pertain to our salvation) cannot be discerned in themselves, or, as it is expressed, in their own nature; but we behold them only in his word, of the truth of which we ought to be as firmly persuaded as if we held that every thing which it says were done and completed. But how can the mind rise to such a perception and foretaste of the divine goodness, without being at the same time wholly inflamed with love to God? The abundance of joy which God has treasured up for those who fear him cannot be truly known without making a most powerful impression. He who is thus once affected is raised and carried entirely towards him. Hence it is not strange that no sinister perverse heart ever experiences this feeling, by which, transported to heaven itself, we are admitted to the most hidden treasures of God, and the holiest recesses of his kingdom, which must not be profaned by the entrance of a heart that is impure. For what the Schoolmen say as to the priority of love to faith and hope is a mere dream (see Sent. Lib. 3 Dist. 25, &c.) since it is faith alone that first engenders love. How much better is Bernard, "The testimony of conscience, which Paul calls the rejoicing' of believers, I believe to consist in three things. It is necessary, first of all, to believe that you cannot have remission of sins except by the indulgence of God; secondly, that you cannot have any good work at all unless he also give it; lastly, that you cannot by any works merit eternal life unless it also be freely given," (Bernard, Serm. 1 in Annuntiatione). Shortly after he adds, "These things are not sufficient, but are a kind of commencement of faith; for while believing that your sins can only be forgiven by God, you must also hold that they are not forgiven until persuaded by the testimony of the Holy Spirit that salvation is treasured up for us; that as God pardons sins, and gives merits, and after merits rewards, you cannot halt at that beginning." But these and other topics will be considered in their own place; let it suffice at present to understand what faith is.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)
By John Bunyan 1678
THE FOURTH STAGEThen they had her to a place, and showed her Jacob’s ladder.
Gen. 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! ESV
Now at that time there were some angels ascending upon it. So Christiana looked and looked to see the angels go up: so did the rest of the company. Then they were going into another place, to show them something else; but James said to his mother, Pray, bid them stay here a little longer, for this is a curious sight. So they turned again, and stood feeding their eyes with this so pleasant a prospect.
After this, they had them into a place where did hang up a golden anchor. So they bid Christiana take it down; for said they, You shall have it with you, for it is of absolute necessity that you should, that you may lay hold of that within the veil,
Heb. 6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. ESV
and stand stedfast in case you should meet with turbulent weather,
Joel 3:The LORD roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth quake.
But the LORD is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the people of Israel. ESV
so they were glad thereof.
Then they took them, and had them to the mount upon which Abraham our father offered up Isaac his son, and showed them the altar, the wood, the fire, and the knife, for they remain to be seen to this very day.
Gen. 22:9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. ESV
When they had seen it, they held up their hands, and blessed themselves, and said, Oh, what a man for love to his Master, and for denial to himself, was Abraham!
After they had showed them all these things, Prudence took them into a dining room, where stood a pair of excellent virginals; so she played upon them, and turned what she had showed them into this excellent song, saying,
“Eve’s apple we have showed you;
Of that be you aware:
You have seen Jacob’s ladder too,
Upon which angels are.
An anchor you received have;
But let not these suffice,
Until with Abra’m you have gave
Your best, a sacrifice.”
Then said Mr. Great-Heart to Christiana and to Mercy, My Lord has sent each of you a bottle of wine, and also some parched corn, together with a couple of pomegranates; he has also sent the boys some figs and raisins; to refresh you in your way.
Then they addressed themselves to their journey, and Prudence and Piety went along with them. When they came to the gate, Christiana asked the Porter if any of late went by. He said, No; only one, some time since, who also told me, that of late there had been a great robbery committed on the King’s highway as you go. But, said he, the thieves are taken, and will shortly be tried for their lives. Then Christiana and Mercy were afraid; but Matthew said, Mother, fear nothing, as long as Mr. Great-Heart is to go with us, and to be our conductor.
Then said Christiana to the Porter, Sir, I am much obliged to you for all the kindnesses that you have showed to me since I came hither; and also for that you have been so loving and kind to my children. I know not how to gratify your kindness; wherefore, pray, as a token of my respect to you, accept of this small mite. So she put a gold angel in his hand; and he made her a low obeisance, and said, “Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head want no ointment.”
Eccles. 9:8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. ESV
Let Mercy live and not die, and let not her works be few.
Deut. 33:6 “Let Reuben live, and not die,
but let his men be few.” ESV
And to the boys he said, Do you fly youthful lusts, and follow after godliness with them that are grave and wise,
2 Tim. 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. ESV
so shall you put gladness into your mother’s heart, and obtain praise of all that are sober-minded. So they thanked the Porter, and departed.
THE FIFTH STAGENow I saw in my dream, that they went forward until they were come to the brow of the Hill; where Piety, bethinking herself, cried out, Alas, I have forgot what I intended to bestow upon Christiana and her companions: I will go back and fetch it. So she ran and fetched it. While she was gone, Christiana thought she heard, in a grove a little way off on the right hand, a most curious melodious note, with words much like these:
“Through all my life thy favor is
So frankly showed to me,
That in thy House for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.”
And listening still, she thought she heard another answer it, saying,
“For why? The Lord our God is good;
His mercy is forever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.”
Song 2:11-12 for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land. ESV
They are, answered she, our country birds: they sing these notes but seldom, except it be at the spring, when the flowers appear, and the sun shines warm, and then you may hear them all day long. I often, said she, go out to hear them; we also oft-times keep them tame in our house. They are very fine company for us when we are melancholy: also they make the woods, and groves, and solitary places, places desirable to be in.
By this time Piety was come again. So she said to Christiana, Look here, I have brought thee a scheme of all those things that thou hast seen at our house, upon which thou mayest look when thou findest thyself forgetful, and call those things again to remembrance for thy edification and comfort.
Now they began to go down the hill into the Valley of Humiliation. It was a steep hill, and the way was slippery; but they were very careful; so they got down pretty well. When they were down in the valley, Piety said to Christiana, This is the place where Christian your husband met, with the foul fiend Apollyon, and where they had that dreadful fight that they had: I know you cannot but have heard thereof. But be of good courage; as long as you have here Mr. Great-Heart to be your guide and conductor, we hope you will fare the better. So when these two had committed the pilgrims unto the conduct of their guide, he went forward, and they went after.
GREAT. Then said Mr. Great-Heart, We need not be so afraid of this valley, for here is nothing to hurt us, unless we procure it to ourselves. It is true, Christian did here meet with Apollyon, with whom he had also a sore combat: but that fray was the fruit of those slips that he got in his going down the hill: for they that get slips there, must look for combats here. And hence it is, that this valley has got so hard a name. For the common people, when they hear that some frightful thing has befallen such an one in such a place, are of opinion that that place is haunted with some foul fiend, or evil spirit; when, alas! it is for the fruit of their doing, that such things do befal them there. This Valley of Humiliation is of itself as fruitful a place as any the crow flies over; and I am persuaded, if we could hit upon it, we might find somewhere hereabouts something that might give us an account why Christian was so hardly beset in this place.
Then said James to his mother, Lo, yonder stands a pillar, and it looks as if something was written thereon; let us go and see what it is. So they went and found there written, “Let Christian’s slips, before he came hither, and the battles that he met with in this place, be a warning to those that come after.” Lo, said their guide, did not I tell you that there was something hereabouts that would give intimation of the reason why Christian was so hard beset in this place? Then turning to Christiana, he said, No disparagement to Christian more than to any others whose hap and lot it was. For it is easier going up than down this hill, and that can be said but of few hills in all these parts of the world. But we will leave the good man; he is at rest: he also had a brave victory over his enemy. Let Him grant, that dwelleth above, that we fare no worse, when we come be tried, than he.
But we will come again to this Valley of Humiliation. It is the best and most fruitful piece of ground in all those parts. It is fat ground, and as you see, consisteth much in meadows; and if a man was to come here in the summer-time, as we do now, if he knew not any thing before thereof, and if he also delighted himself in the sight of his eyes, he might see that which would be delightful to him. Behold how green this valley is; also how beautified with lillies.
Song 2:I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys. ESV
I have known many laboring men that have got good estates in this Valley of Humiliation; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” ESV
1 Pet. 5: 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” ESV
Indeed it is a very fruitful soil, and doth bring forth by handfuls. Some also have wished that the next way to their Father’s house were here, that they might be troubled no more with either hills or mountains to go over; but the way is the way, and there is an end.
Now, as they were going along, and talking, they espied a boy feeding his father’s sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a very fresh and well-favored countenance; and as he sat by himself, he sung. Hark, said Mr. Great-Heart, to what the shepherd’s boy saith. So they hearkened and he said,
“He that is down, needs fear no fall;
He that is low, no pride:
He that is humble, ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because thou savest such.
Fulness to such, a burden is,
That go on pilgrimage;
Here little, and hereafter bliss,
Is best from Age to Age.”
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Secrets of self-control (4)
3/3/2018 Bob Gass
‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’
(Php 4:13) I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ESV
Start believing you can change. Your beliefs control your behaviour. The way you think determines the way you feel. And when your feelings become strong enough, they determine the way you act. The person who says, ‘I can’t do it,’ and the person who says, ‘I can do it,’ are both right. Much of the time you set yourself up to be defeated by what you’re saying. Your words reinforce either your right or wrong belief system. Three times in First Peter, God reminds us to be clear-minded and self-controlled. Why? Because a clear mind is essential to self-control. God gave us the power to change our habits when He gave us the power to choose our thoughts. Does Romans 12:2 tell us to be transformed by working hard or by sheer willpower? No. What are we transformed by? The renewing of the mind. When your self-control is being tested, you need to fill your mind with the promises of God. Here’s one: ‘When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it’ (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV 1984 Edition). You must believe God when He says there’s ‘a way out’ for you. Paul writes, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ That means you can change, and you can be different. Stop setting yourself up for failure by constantly criticising yourself: ‘I’m no good. I simply have no control over my life.’ Nagging doesn’t work – on yourself or on anyone else! Instead say, ‘Everything is possible for him who believes’ (Mark 9:23 NIV 1984 Edition). ‘And I believe.’
Numbers 5-6, Mark 4:1-20
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
How did the phrase “In God We Trust” get on our coins? It was on this day, March 3, 1865, that Congress approved inscribing the motto on all our national coins. Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law. Less that two months later Lincoln was assassinated. At a Memorial Address for Lincoln, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax noted: “Nor should I forget to mention here that the last act of Congress ever signed by [President Lincoln] was one requiring that the motto, in which he sincerely believed, ‘In God We Trust,’ should hereafter be inscribed upon all our national coin.”
Thomas R. Kelly
The third element in the experience of Presence" after love and joy, is peace. And I make bold to speak of this, even if at this very hour the tragedies of China and of Spain and of German concentration camps are heavy upon us.
The amazing way that anxieties pass away, when enfolded and quickened by the Presence! The old life of one dimension, lived merely in the ribbon of time, was always a strained life. Had we calculated the past correctly? What unforeseen happening in the future can arise and overthrow all our efforts? Strain! Strain! Out of such attitudes are built those lives which get written up in the success-stories of the American Magazine. And religious people think they must work hard and please God and make a good record and bring in the kingdom! Has the Nietzschean ideal of the superman, with heroic, world-striding power, hypnotized the church into an over-activistic attitude?
And then comes the sense of Presence. The Eternal Now breaks through the time-news and all is secure. A sense of absolute security and assurance of being linked with an overcoming Power replaces the old anxieties about the Kingdom. It is a security regarding the individual and regarding the group and regarding the race of men. Then we say, "How could we have been so blind?" For surely all things of value are most certainly made secure through Him! Faith, serene, unbroken, unhurried world-conquest by the power of Love is a part of peace.
For the experience of Presence is the experience of peace, and the experience of peace is the experience not of inaction but of power, and the experience of power is the experience of a pursuing Love that loves its way untiringly to victory. He who knows the Presence knows peace, and he who knows peace knows power and walks in complete faith that that objective Power and Love which has overtaken him will overcome the world.
And an immediate corollary to this is the weakening of the merely calculated, rationally planned decisions. When we lived in the one-dimensional time-ribbon we had to think life out all by ourselves. The past had to be read cautiously, the future had to be planned with care. Nothing was to be undertaken unless the calculations showed that success was to be expected. No blind living, no marching boldly into the dark, no noble but ungrounded ventures of faith. We must- be rational, sensible, intelligent, shrewd. But then comes the reality of the Presence, and the Now-Eternal is found to underlie and generate all time-temporals. And a life of amazing, victorious faith-living sets in. Not with rattle and clatter of hammers, not with strained eyebrows and tense muscles but in peace and power and confidence we work upon such apparently hopeless tasks as the elimination of war from society, and set out toward worldbrotherhood and interracial fraternity in a world where all the calculated chances of success are very meagre.
I said that the rational element in the conduct of life is weakened. But the checking and co-ordinating considerations of reason are not eliminated from life guided by the Presence, replaced by the promptings of the moment. Between the atomistic, unintegrated chaos of the time-news and the coherent, integrated unity of a rational system, wherein time has lost its meaning-between these two factors reflective men have always sought to effect a marriage. Surrender to the promptings of the Eternal Now may involve the absurd courage of faith in the face of insuperable obstacles. But it does not release us from all intelligent and rational and co-ordinated behavior, all reasoning and consistency. Speaking of his openings Fox said he found that "they answered one another and answered the scriptures." There is a unity and coherence and rational continuity in the out-cropping guidances of Spirit-led men. Penn, at the time of the Wilkinson-Story separation, wrote concerning the antinomian claims of the separatists: "As if the Light were inconsistent with itself, or admitted of unity under not only different but contrary practices in the one family and flock of God." This matter needs very careful and much fuller sifting. But I am sure that the outcome must be such that reason and intelligence are not eliminated from those lives who live within the Presence, nor on the other hand are reasoning and intellectual calculations to replace or paralyze the vigor and imperiousness of the Eternal Now.
But in the sense of Presence some of the past nows of our time-now change their character entirely. Our old failures are so apt to paralyze us. The Eternal Now may counsel: "Undertake this." Our time-now says: "See what a weakling you proved yourself to be in an earlier case. Better not try it now." But the assurance of the Eternal Now is enough, as it should have been for Moses: "Surely I shall be with thee." Submit yourself to the Eternal Now and in peace serene, in the boldness of perfect faith, you can advance into miraculous living. Or, in the opposite direction, our time-now may say: "Do this. You are well prepared for it. Your education and training fit you, perhaps to teach, to preach, to counsel, to guide an enterprise. And if you don't, nobody will." But the Eternal Now in us may say: "Stay. Wait. Don't rely upon yourself. Don't think you can reason yourself into your obligation. Know you not that I can raise up of these stones men better able than you to do this?" Thus in, faith we go forward, with breath-taking boldness, and in faith we stand still, unshaken, with amazing confidence. For the time-nows are rooted in the Eternal Now, which is a steadfast Presence, an infinite ocean of light and love which is flowing over the ocean of darkness and death.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Right actions in the future
are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.
--- Tryon Edwards
The first reaction to truth is hatred.
God is at home.
It is we who have gone for a walk.
--- Meister Eckhart
It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.
--- Arthur C. Clarke
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Library 1994
Near the beginning of the year 1758, I went one evening, in company with a friend, to visit a sick person; and before our return we were told of a woman living near, who had for several days been disconsolate, occasioned by a dream, wherein death, and the judgments of the Almighty after death, were represented to her mind in a moving manner. Her sadness on that account being worn off, the friend with whom I was in company went to see her, and had some religious conversation with her and her husband. With this visit they were somewhat affected, and the man, with many tears, expressed his satisfaction. In a short time after the poor man, being on the river in a storm of wind, was with one more drowned.
Eighth month, 1758. -- Having had drawings in my mind to be at the Quarterly Meeting in Chester County, and at some meetings in the county of Philadelphia, I went first to said Quarterly Meeting, which was large. Several weighty matters came under consideration and debate, and the Lord was pleased to qualify some of his servants with strength and firmness to bear the burden of the day. Though I said but little, my mind was deeply exercised; and, under a sense of God's love, in the anointing and fitting of some young men for his work, I was comforted, and my heart was tendered before him. From hence I went to the Youth's Meeting at Darby, where my beloved friend and brother Benjamin Jones met me by appointment before I left home, to join in the visit. We were at Radnor, Merion, Richland, North Wales, Plymouth, and Abington meetings, and had cause to bow in reverence before the Lord, our gracious God, by whose help way was opened for us from day to day. I was out about two weeks, and rode about two hundred miles.
The Monthly Meeting of Philadelphia having been under a concern on account of some Friends who this summer (1758) had bought negro slaves, proposed to their Quarterly Meeting to have the minute reconsidered in the Yearly Meeting, which was made last on that subject, and the said Quarterly Meeting appointed a committee to consider it, and to report to their next. This committee having met once and adjourned, and I, going to Philadelphia to meet a committee of the Yearly Meeting, was in town the evening on which the Quarterly Meeting's committee met the second time, and finding an inclination to sit with them, I, with some others, was admitted, and Friends had a weighty conference on the subject. Soon after their next Quarterly meeting I heard that the case was coming to our Yearly Meeting. This brought a weighty exercise upon me, and under a sense of my own infirmities, and the great danger I felt of turning aside from perfect purity, my mind was often drawn to retire alone, and put up my prayers to the Lord that he would be graciously pleased to strengthen me; that setting aside all views of self-interest and the friendship of this world, I might stand fully resigned to his holy will.
In this Yearly Meeting several weighty matters were considered, and toward the last that in relation to dealing with persons who purchase slaves. During the several sittings of the said meeting, my mind was frequently covered with inward prayer, and I could say with David, "that tears were my meat day and night." The case of slave-keeping lay heavy upon me, nor did I find any engagement to speak directly to any other matter before the meeting. Now when this case was opened several faithful Friends spake weightily thereto, with which I was comforted; and feeling a concern to cast in my mite, I said in substance as follows: --
"In the difficulties attending us in this life nothing is more precious than the mind of truth inwardly manifested; and it is my earnest desire that in this weighty matter we may be so truly humbled as to be favored with a clear understanding of the mind of truth, and follow it; this would be of more advantage to the Society than any medium not in the clearness of Divine wisdom. The case is difficult to some who have slaves, but if such set aside all self-interest, and come to be weaned from the desire of getting estates, or even from holding them together, when truth requires the contrary, I believe way will so open that they will know how to steer through those difficulties."
Many Friends appeared to be deeply bowed under the weight of the work, and manifested much firmness in their love to the cause of truth and universal righteousness on the earth. And though none did openly justify the practice of slave-keeping in general, yet some appeared concerned lest the meeting should go into such measures as might give uneasiness to many brethren, alleging that if Friends patiently continued under the exercise the Lord in his time might open a way for the deliverance of these people. Finding an engagement to speak, I said, "My mind is often led to consider the purity of the Divine Being, and the justice of his judgments; and herein my soul is covered with awfulness. I cannot omit to hint of some cases where people have not been treated with the purity of justice, and the event hath been lamentable. Many slaves on this continent are oppressed, and their cries have reached the ears of the Most High. Such are the purity and certainty of his judgments, that he cannot be partial in our favor. In infinite love and goodness he hath opened our understanding from one time to another concerning our duty towards this people, and it is not a time for delay. Should we now be sensible of what he requires of us, and through a respect to the private interest of some persons, or through a regard to some friend ships which do not stand on an immutable foundation, neglect to do our duty in firmness and constancy, still waiting for some extraordinary means to bring about their deliverance, God may by terrible things in righteousness answer us in this matter."
Many faithful brethren labored with great firmness, and the love of truth in a good degree prevailed. Several who had negroes expressed their desire that a rule might be made to deal with such Friends as offenders who bought slaves in future. To this it was answered that the root of this evil would never be effectually struck at until a thorough search was made in the circumstances of such Friends as kept negroes, with respect to the righteousness of their motives in keeping them, that impartial justice might be administered throughout. Several Friends expressed their desire that a visit might be made to such Friends as kept slaves, and many others said that they believed liberty was the negro's right; to which, at length, no opposition was publicly made. A minute was made more full on that subject than any heretofore; and the names of several Friends entered who were free to join in a visit to such as kept slaves.
John Woolman's Journal
by D.H. Stern
while others are stingy but grow still poorer.
25 The person who blesses others will prosper;
he who satisfies others will be satisfied himself.
26 The people will curse him who withholds grain;
but if he sells it, blessings will be on his head.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The unrelieved quest
Feed My sheep. --- John 21:17.
This is love in the making. The love of God is un-made, it is God’s nature. When we receive the Holy Spirit He unites us with God so that His love is manifested in us. When the soul is united to God by the indwelling Holy Spirit, that is not the end; the end is that we may be one with the Father as Jesus was. What kind of oneness had Jesus Christ with the Father? Such a oneness that the Father sent him down here to be spent for us, and He says—“As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”
Peter realizes now with the revelation of the Lord’s hurting question that he does love Him; then comes the point—Spend it out. Don’t testify how much you love Me, don’t profess about the marvellous revelation you have had, but—“Feed My sheep.” And Jesus has some extraordinarily funny sheep, some bedraggled, dirty sheep, some awkward butting sheep, some sheep that have gone astray! It is impossible to weary God’s love, and it is impossible to weary that love in me if it springs from the one centre. The love of God pays no attention to the distinctions made by natural individuality. If I love my Lord I have no business to be guided by natural temperament; I have to feed His sheep. There is no relief and no release from this commission. Beware of counterfeiting the love of God by working along the line of natural human sympathy, because that will end in blaspheming the love of God.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
It is a matter of a black cat
On a bare cliff top in March
Whose eyes anticipate
The gorse petals;
The formal equation of
A domestic purr
With the cold interiors
Of the sea's mirror.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
SEDER ZERAIM / Introduction to Seder Zeraim
The first Order of the Mishnah is called Zeraim, or “Seeds.” It deals with agricultural laws, especially those that applied to the land of Israel. For this reason, the Rabbis in Babylonia did not spend a large amount of time discussing these laws, and to ten of the eleven tractates in this Order in the Babylonian Talmud there is no Gemara. However, the Order begins with a tractate called Berakhot (“Blessings”) that discusses prayer. This tractate does not technically belong to a discussion of agricultural laws; the Rabbis placed it here because blessings were required before eating the fruits and produce grown from the land. Berakhot is one of the favorite talmudic tractates for study specifically because it deals with familiar, practical issues like the order of the daily prayers and the proper time and order of blessings.
A handful cannot satisfy the lion.
TEXT / Berakhot 3b
Rav Aḥa bar Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida: “A harp was hung over the bed of David. At mid-night, a north wind came and blew upon it, making it play music all by itself. David immediately stood up and engaged in the study of Torah until dawn. At dawn, the wise men of Israel entered and said to him: ‘Our lord the king—your people Israel require sustenance!’ He said to them: ‘Go, and let them support one another!’ They said to him: ‘A handful cannot satisfy the lion, and a pit cannot be filled up with its own earth.’ He said to them: ‘Send out the troops to fight.’ ”
The Talmud continues its story: Rav Yitzḥak bar Ada, and some say Rav Yitzḥak, son of Rav Idi, said: “What is the verse [that shows that a harp was hanging over his bed to wake him up]? ‘Awake, O my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will wake the dawn’ [Psalms 57:9].” Rashi explains: “With other kings, the dawn awakens them; I [David], on the other hand, awaken the dawn.”
In this section of the Gemara, the Rabbis tell a story about David, one that is not found in the Bible itself. When the advisors of King David inform him that the Israelites are suffering food shortages, he tells them to take from those who have and to give to those who need. The wise men respond with two proverbs: The meaning of the first—“A handful cannot satisfy the lion”—is that the needs of the people are greater than the meager resources available. The second piece of wisdom is a little more obscure. Two different interpretations are offered for “A pit cannot be filled up with its own earth.” Rashi explains that when you dig a pit and then shovel the dirt back into the hole, the pit seems to remain unfilled, probably because of the shifting ground. While in mathematics, the whole is always equal to the sum of its parts, in life, sometimes the hole is greater than the sum of its parts. The sages are thus telling the king that it is impossible for the people to be self-sufficient; they need to find some outside resource in order to “fill up the pit.” The Tosafot, on the other hand, take a different tack, holding that Rashi’s metaphor does not precisely fit the circumstances. The king, after all, did not expect that the poor should help to feed the poor. He wanted the resources taken from the rich and then given to the needy. (Thus the pit was not to be filled with its own earth.) Rabbenu Tam explains that a well will never be filled simply by collecting the rain that falls into it; pipes and canals are required to bring more water from another, outside source.
David accepts the advice of the wise men and orders that the people should be organized into troops and sent into battle. The king proposes that the spoils of war will serve as the outside resource that the people so desperately need.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book Two / The Interior Life
The Sixth Chapter / The Joy Of A Good Conscience
THE glory of a good man is the testimony of a good conscience. Therefore, keep your conscience good and you will always enjoy happiness, for a good conscience can bear a great deal and can bring joy even in the midst of adversity. But an evil conscience is ever restive and fearful.
Sweet shall be your rest if your heart does not reproach you.
Do not rejoice unless you have done well. Sinners never experience true interior joy or peace, for “there is no peace to the wicked,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 48:22) 10 Even if they say: “We are at peace, no evil shall befall us and no one dares to hurt us,” do not believe them; for the wrath of God will arise quickly, and their deeds will be brought to naught and their thoughts will perish.
To glory in adversity is not hard for the man who loves, for this is to glory in the cross of the Lord. But the glory given or received of men is short lived, and the glory of the world is ever companioned by sorrow. The glory of the good, however, is in their conscience and not in the lips of men, for the joy of the just is from God and in God, and their gladness is founded on truth.
The man who longs for the true, eternal glory does not care for that of time; and he who seeks passing fame or does not in his heart despise it, undoubtedly cares little for the glory of heaven.
He who minds neither praise nor blame possesses great peace of heart and, if his conscience is good, he will easily be contented and at peace.
Praise adds nothing to your holiness, nor does blame take anything from it. You are what you are, and you cannot be said to be better than you are in God’s sight. If you consider well what you are within, you will not care what men say about you. They look to appearances but God looks to the heart. They consider the deed but God weighs the motive.
It is characteristic of a humble soul always to do good and to think little of itself. It is a mark of great purity and deep faith to look for no consolation in created things. The man who desires no justification from without has clearly entrusted himself to God: “For not he who commendeth himself is approved,” says St. Paul, “but he whom God commendeth.” (2 Cor 10:18)
To walk with God interiorly, to be free from any external affection—this is the state of the inward man.
“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
--- Isaiah 48:22.
For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends.
--- 2 Corinthians 10:18.
The Imitation Of Christ
The Priesthood: Leviticus 8–10
There are three reasons why we need to pay particular attention to the priesthood which is introduced in these Leviticus chapters.
First, the priesthood is a basic Old Testament institution. We cannot really understand the Old Testament without some grasp of its nature and function.
Second, Christ is called our High Priest in the New Testament. An understanding of the Old Testament priesthood helps us to grasp more of His present ministry for us today.
Third, we believers today are “being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Since we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), we need to see the meaning of priesthood if we are to understand our own calling as Christians.
We hear little of priesthood today. In fact, the priestly system is foreign to Protestantism, and to our culture. But if we are to learn to live as ministers of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6), and break out of the tragically passive role laymen have in our society, we need to rediscover our identities as believer-priests, called to minister for and before God.
Mediators. We begin a survey of the priest’s role by noting that priests served as mediators between God and man. The priest “is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb. 5:1).
The individual in Israel who wished to approach God brought his offering to the priest. That offering may have been an offering of obligation (one which had to be made because of guilt for sin), or a freewill offering of thanks or praise.
But either kind of offering had to be brought to God through the priest. The priest, who served the altar, was the doorkeeper. His ministry kept the approach to God open.
At the same time, the priest taught and interpreted God’s revelation. “You must distinguish between the holy and the profane, between the unclean and the clean,” Aaron and his sons were told. “And you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses” (Lev. 10:10–11).
Thus the mediating priest was not only a person through whom an individual might approach God—he was a person who understood and interpreted God’s words to the people.
Communication between God and man in early Israel was focused in the person of the priest.
Aaron and his descendants were set aside for this doorkeeping ministry. In the land, the priests and the Levites (the other descendants of Levi) were not given territory with the other families of Israel. They were instead dedicated to care for the things of God. Special cities were set aside for them to live in throughout the territories of the other tribes. But there was no land this tribe could call its own. God was to be their portion, and they were supported by an offering of a tenth of all that was produced by the other tribes. Their ministry was so important that it required total dedication.
What do other basic Old Testament passages tell us about this class of mediators whose ministry foreshadows both the work of Christ, and our own?
Exodus 28–29. With the tabernacle pattern revealed, God instructed Moses to set Aaron and his sons aside from the people of Israel to serve Him as priests. They, and especially Aaron the high priest, were given holy garments “for dignity and honor” (Exodus 28:2). One striking feature: the names of the 12 tribes were engraved on precious stones and attached to the shoulder clasps of Aaron’s garment, and on the breastplate. Thus whenever he entered the holy place, Aaron was to “bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord” (Exodus 28:29).
In the breastpiece too were the Urim and Thummim, which some believe were three polished stones, on which yes and no and nothing were engraved. When Israel sought God’s will, God guided the hand of the high priest to select His answer as the priest reached blindly inside the breastpiece pocket. Thus the judgment of the people of Israel was also borne “over his heart before the Lord” (Exodus 28:30). The priest carried the people by name before the Lord, and God’s will was carried on his heart back to them.
The Exodus passage also speaks of the priests’ ordination, and points out that, for Aaron and his sons, sacrifice must also be made. All associated with their ministry was set aside for service by the sprinkling of sacrificial blood. To maintain the blood-won point of contact with God, a continual burnt offering was made daily “at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord,” where God said, “I will meet you, and speak to you. There also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by My glory” (Exodus 29:42–43).
Leviticus 10. Following ordination of the priests (reported in chaps. 8–9) an incident occurred which emphasized the critical role the priest was to play. Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons, broke the ordained pattern of ministry to offer “unauthorized fire before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1). God acted immediately; the pair died there before the Lord.
Verses 8–10 of this chapter explain one possible reason for their deaths. No priest was to drink alcoholic beverages when ministering: a priest must be fully aware. The priest was called to “distinguish between the holy and the profane” and to “teach the Israelites all the decrees” which the Lord had spoken. One who taught holiness must himself be holy.
Leviticus 13–14. The ministry of the priest in evaluating and judging is seen in a task assigned here. The priest was to examine diseased individuals and places. Leprosy, one of many skin conditions that separated the diseased person from society as unclean, was diagnosed by the priest on the basis of clear descriptions in Scripture.
When a person recovered, the priest also was to examine him and pronounce him cleansed, and to officially restore him to fellowship.
The priest did not cure. But the priest did make a distinction between the clean and unclean, the sick and the well.
Leviticus 21–22. This passage emphasizes the holiness that was to characterize the priests. “They must be holy to their God.… Because they present the offerings by fire to the Lord.” Thus the priest was under special restrictions. Priests were restricted as to whom they could marry, and in other ways. Baxter (Baxter's Explore the Book ) comments:
All the sons of Aaron, whether young or old, defective or normal, were priests to Yahweh, by virtue of their birth and life-relationship with Aaron; and nothing could break that relationship. Yet those among them who were physically defective were not allowed to officiate at the altar or enter within the veil of the sanctuary (Leviticus 21:21–23). And those who were in any way defiled were not allowed even to eat of the priests’ portion (Leviticus 22:6–7). Even so, every true believer is a priest by virtue of life-giving union with the Lord Jesus, and nothing can break that union. But all Christians do not enjoy the same intimacy of fellowship, or exercise the same ministry within the veil! Union is one thing; communion is another.
The Teacher's Commentary
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
--- Psalm 103:13.
Our heavenly Father shows himself compassionate to us is in our weakness. ( Spurgeon's Sermons, 5 Volumes ) Children cannot do much, they have little strength, especially little children, too helpless to run alone. The mother does not despise, she rather dotes on the babe she has to carry because it cannot walk. Her heart is not hardened against her infant because the wee one is unable to help itself.
Our heavenly Father knows our weakness. Some of you know something of your own lack of strength; you are bowed down under a sense of your infirmity tonight. Do not let your weakness lead you into unbelief or mistrust of God. He knows our frame; he remembers that we are only dust. An infant’s incapacity never excites a parent’s ire. You, being evil, know how to be tender with your offspring. How much more will the Father of our spirits sympathize with our weakness?
If you have guided your class in their studies but cannot find anything instructive to teach them, or if you are a minister and the words fall frozen when you hoped they would fire volleys from your lips, there may be some solution for your weariness. If it is pure weakness—whether from the body or from the mind that you are weary, disorganized, depressed, and bowed down—do not think of self-reproach, but hear the text say, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
Some seem to think we are made of cast iron; they would have us preach all day and all night. They make use of bitter language when some servant of Christ cannot, through physical or mental weakness, do all they want. A person in perfect health and strength may joyfully accomplish what another cannot even think of undertaking. So are God’s servants misjudged by the sterner sort, but they are not misjudged by God, for he has compassion on the weakness of his people and blames them not. God sees the efforts of his servants. They would drive the church before them and pull the world behind them, if they could. And if they seem unable to do it, does he blame them? No, truly he has compassion on the weakness of those who fear him.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Churches and denominations, like houses and hearts, need periodic cleaning and occasional renovation. Luther’s response to the deterioration of the 16th-century church sparked not only the Protestant Reformation, but the Catholic Counter-Reformation, efforts within the Roman church to repair itself. On December 13, 1545 Pope Paul III convened a council in the northern Italian city of Trent, attended at first by only 34 leaders. The several sessions lasted from 1545 to 1563. Participants included Jesuits and scholars, political leaders desiring reunification with Protestants, and clergymen, some desiring reform, others wanting none of it.
The widespread sale of indulgences (which had inflamed Luther) was modified, and many measures were passed to correct and protect the morality of clergymen and church leaders. The doctrines of the church were also reexamined in light of emerging Protestant theology. In most cases, the council reaffirmed traditional medieval doctrines. Protestant views of the Lord’s Supper were dismissed, and transubstantiation upheld (the belief that the wine and bread of the Lord’s Supper become the very body of Christ). The council affirmed Latin as the proper language for the Mass, and it disagreed with Luther on making the Bible available in the common languages. It also rejected the Reformer’s cry of Scripture Alone. Church tradition, said the council, joins Scripture as a source of divine authority for believers.
On this day in Christian history, March 3, 1547, the council began affirming the seven sacraments of the church, all of them, it said, necessary for salvation: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders, and Matrimony. The Protestant view of two divine ordinances—baptism and the Lord’s Supper—was rejected.
The Council of Trent is one of the most important events in Reformation history, establishing the tone and doctrine of the Catholic Church for the next 400 years, and providing a basis for reformation within the Roman church. Not until the 1960s at Vatican II did another major reexamination take place.
Look deep into my heart, God,
And find out everything I am thinking.
Don’t let me follow evil ways,
But lead me in the way that time has proven true.
--- Psalm 139:23,24.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - March 3
“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” --- Isaiah 48:10.
Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come—God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready—God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.” Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say ---
“Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,
I’ll follow where he goes.”
Evening - March 3
“He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove.” --- Matthew 3:16.
As the Spirit of God descended upon the Lord Jesus, the head, so he also, in measure, descends upon the members of the mystical body. His descent is to us after the same fashion as that in which it fell upon our Lord. There is often a singular rapidity about it; or ever we are aware, we are impelled onward and heavenward beyond all expectation. Yet is there none of the hurry of earthly haste, for the wings of the dove are as soft as they are swift. Quietness seems essential to many spiritual operations; the Lord is in the still small voice, and like the dew, his grace is distilled in silence. The dove has ever been the chosen type of purity, and the Holy Spirit is holiness itself. Where he cometh, everything that is pure and lovely, and of good report, is made to abound, and sin and uncleanness depart. Peace reigns also where the Holy Dove comes with power; he bears the olive branch which shows that the waters of divine wrath are assuaged. Gentleness is a sure result of the Sacred Dove’s transforming power: hearts touched by his benign influence are meek and lowly henceforth and for ever. Harmlessness follows, as a matter of course; eagles and ravens may hunt their prey—the turtledove can endure wrong, but cannot inflict it. We must be harmless as doves. The dove is an apt picture of love, the voice of the turtle is full of affection; and so, the soul visited by the blessed Spirit, abounds in love to God, in love to the brethren, and in love to sinners; and above all, in love to Jesus. The brooding of the Spirit of God upon the face of the deep, first produced order and life, and in our hearts, he causes and fosters new life and light. Blessed Spirit, as thou didst rest upon our dear Redeemer, even so rest upon us from this time forward and for ever.
Morning and Evening
O HOW I LOVE JESUS
Frederick Whitfield, 1829–1904
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
This simply stated, lilting musical testimony has been another of the Sunday school favorites since it was first published in leaflet form in 1855. It has since been translated into various languages and has been included in numerous evangelical hymnals.
The words express so well the response of believers of any age as we reflect on all that Christ has done and continues to do for us daily. Indirectly, the hymn also exalts the written Word, for it is only through the study of the revealed written Word that we gain a true knowledge of the Living Word.
The text originally included eight stanzas. Several interesting verses not found in present hymnals include these words:
It tells me of a Father’s smile that beams upon His child.
It cheers me through this little while, through deserts waste and wild.
It bids my trembling soul rejoice, and dries each rising tear.
It tells me in a still small voice, to trust and not to fear.
The author, Frederick Whitfield, was an Anglican church clergyman. He is credited with more than 30 books of religious verse. The anonymous tune is a typical 19th century American folk song used in the campground meetings of that time.
Even a century after they were written, these ageless words are still appropriate for expressing our love and devotion for Christ:
There is a name I love to hear; I love to sing its worth; it sounds like music in mine ear, the sweetest name on earth.
It tells me of a Savior’s love, who died to set me free; it tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea.
It tells me what my Father hath in store for ev’ry day, and, tho I tread a darksome path, yields sunshine all the way.
It tells of One whose loving heart can feel my deepest woe, who in each sorrow bears a part that none can bear below.
Chorus: O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus—because He first loved me!
For Today: John 14:23; Philippians 2:9–11; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 4:7–21; Jude 21.
Breathe a prayer expressing your love to Christ for all that He means to you. Thank Him for initiating His love on your behalf. Thank Him also for the daily sunshine He gives. Carry this little musical nugget with you throughout the day ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
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Brett explains Islam and Mormonism in the video below and shows how to recognize a cult. This is an excellent teaching.
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