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Numbers 24     Psalm 66-67     Isaiah 14     1 Peter 2

Numbers 24

Balaam’s Third Oracle

Numbers 24:1 When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness. 2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, 3 and he took up his discourse and said,

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
4  the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
5  How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
your encampments, O Israel!
6  Like palm groves that stretch afar,
like gardens beside a river,
like aloes that the LORD has planted,
like cedar trees beside the waters.
7  Water shall flow from his buckets,
and his seed shall be in many waters;
his king shall be higher than Agag,
and his kingdom shall be exalted.
8  God brings him out of Egypt
and is for him like the horns of the wild ox;
he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries,
and shall break their bones in pieces
and pierce them through with his arrows.
9  He crouched, he lay down like a lion
and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?
Blessed are those who bless you,
and cursed are those who curse you.”

10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. 11 Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’? 14 And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”

Balaam’s Final Oracle

15 And he took up his discourse and said,

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16  the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17  I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18  Edom shall be dispossessed;
Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
Israel is doing valiantly.
19  And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
and destroy the survivors of cities!”

20 Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said,

“Amalek was the first among the nations,
but its end is utter destruction.”

21 And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said,

“Enduring is your dwelling place,
and your nest is set in the rock.
22  Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned
when Asshur takes you away captive.”

23 And he took up his discourse and said,

“Alas, who shall live when God does this?
24  But ships shall come from Kittim
and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;
and he too shall come to utter destruction.”

25 Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way.

Psalm 66

How Awesome Are Your Deeds

Psalm 66 To The Choirmaster. A Song. A Psalm.

1  Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2  sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3  Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4  All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Selah

5  Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6  He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7  who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

8  Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9  who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10  For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11  You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12  you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

13  I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14  that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15  I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

16  Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17  I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18  If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19  But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20  Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!

Psalm 67

Make Your Face Shine upon Us

Psalm 67 To The Choirmaster. With Stringed Instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

1  May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2  that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3  Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

4  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
5  Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

6  The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7  God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Isaiah 14

The Restoration of Jacob

Isaiah 14:1 For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. 2 And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the LORD’s land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.

Israel’s Remnant Taunts Babylon

3 When the LORD has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:

“How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
5  The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
6  that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
7  The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
8  aThe cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’
9  Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
10  All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
11  Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers.

12  “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13  You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
14  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15  But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16  Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17  who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18  All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
19  but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20  You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.

“May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
21  Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”

22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the LORD. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts.

An Oracle Concerning Assyria

24  The LORD of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
25  that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.”

26  This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
27  For the LORD of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?

An Oracle Concerning Philistia

28 In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle:

29  Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you,
that the rod that struck you is broken,
for from the serpent’s root will come forth an adder,
and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
30  And the firstborn of the poor will graze,
and the needy lie down in safety;
but I will kill your root with famine,
and your remnant it will slay.
31  Wail, O gate; cry out, O city;
melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!
For smoke comes out of the north,
and there is no straggler in his ranks.

32  What will one answer the messengers of the nation?
“The LORD has founded Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.”

1 Peter 2

A Living Stone and a Holy People

1 Peter 2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

8 and

“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Submission to Authority 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

The Reformation Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Corporate Reverence

By Gene Edward Veith 10/1/2007

     The church growth movement mandates “contemporary worship” styles, which means, in practice, replacing hymns with “praise songs.” These consist of simple lyrical phrases, often repeated, set to a simple tune in the style of pop music. The problem with such songs is not that they are “contemporary.” In fact, the songs are often not all that contemporary. Many of them date from the 1970s. That is over three and one-half decades ago. Some go back nearly a half-century.

     These songs belong mainly to their parents’ generation. The specific set of praise songs a particular church-growth pastor chooses is often based on the musical style of his adolescence. But young people often do like praise songs. Not usually because they listen to this style of music at home, but because it is “church music.” This is likely the only kind of church music they have known, the kind they grew up with. For these young people, this kind of music has become “traditional.”

     Baby boomers seem to be the first generation to demand that the music they listen to in worship be in the same style as the music they listen to for entertainment. In the 1940s, it never occurred to anyone to insist that worship services incorporate the big band style of Glen Miller and his orchestra. The hymn styles of earlier eras bear the marks of the century in which they were written, but they are nothing like the eighteenth-century opera scores or nineteenth-century musical theater.

     Again, the issue is not “contemporary music.” New hymns are being written and published every day. Music by hymn writers such as Steven Starke or James Boyce is more contemporary than the praise songs coming out of the Jesus Movement of the 1960s. But these contemporary hymn writers are writing hymns.

     Hymns are written to be sung corporately, with many people with many different kinds of voices joining together. The praise songs that come out of the contemporary Christian music genre were originally written for solo performance. An Amy Grant needs a tune she can color up with vibrato, runs, key changes, and big swelling emotional crescendos. But a congregation of lots of people trying to sing together just cannot sing like that.

     Hymns are written with a regular rhythm, making it easier for groups of people to sing together. They are typically written to accommodate high voices, low voices, and the voices in between. Thus, basses, tenors, baritones, altos, and sopranos can sing the same song, creating not discord but a wonderful and meaningful effect, namely, harmony. Praise songs, in contrast, usually have a single melodic line with lots of performance-based variations and are thus very difficult to sing well in a large group.

     Hymns are also written out, so that anyone who can read music — and this is still taught in school — can sing along even if it is unfamiliar. Praise songs, for some reason, tend to have their lyrics projected onto a screen. If you do not already know the tune, you are out of luck.

     The praise songs often project a level of intimacy with God that “unchurched” people — also known as non-Christians — will have a hard time relating to and that even Christians can find bewildering. They are mostly in the form of secular love-songs to Jesus. They are often from the feminine point of view, singing “Jesus, I am so in love with you” in a way that makes men squirm. Sometimes, “Jesus” is never mentioned, with the song being addressed to a “you” who could just as easily be a human lover.

     These “Jesus-is-my-boyfriend” types of songs can be sacrilegious or profane. While it is true that Scripture portrays the church as the bride of Christ, that imagery is collective, apocalyptic, and creational. It is not romantic, erotic, or sentimental, as such.

     Another test for praise songs is whether or not there is anything distinctly Christian about them. Such songs tend to be full of emotion and directed to a deity, but with little objective doctrinal or biblical content. A friend suggested a good rule of thumb: If a Muslim would have no problem singing this song, it is probably not good to use it in Christian worship.

     The question is not whether or not we should make use of contemporary music in church, but whether we should make use of pop music. By its nature, pop music is catchy, entertaining, and thus “likeable.” It cannot have much content, much less complexity or depth. If it did, it would cease to be pop art. The art of the folk culture, with its traditions and communal experience, has such things, as does the consciously-crafted art of the high culture, with its challenging content.

     The more important issue is whether we should create the impression in our worship that the Christian faith is a “pop religion” — void of depth, complexity, and demands — or whether it is traditional, communal, and challenging.

     I am not saying that praise songs are necessarily all bad, nor am I criticizing the spirituality of those who like them. They can have their place in personal devotion or in singing with a youth group around the camp fire. But I am arguing that they do not work well in church, when they are used for corporate worship. This is because of their innate but objective limitations and is not just a matter of “personal preference.”

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     Dr. Gene Edward Veith is provost emeritus and professor of literature emeritus at Patrick Henry College and director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Gene Edward Veith Books:

God’s Care For You 1 Peter 2:23

By Alistair Begg from The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances

     I don’t know your circumstances. You may feel like you are in a dungeon right now. You may be suffering mistreatment. But the Lord knows. He’s not taken by surprise. And He loves you with an everlasting love.

     In the mid-1960s there was a horribly violent uprising in the newly independent African nation that had been the colony called the Belgian Congo. Many people, including dozens of missionaries, were brutalized and murdered. Right in the eye of that storm was a group of medical missionaries, including Dr. Helen Roseveare.

     She had graduated from Cambridge University and had offered her medical skills to the Lord in His service, saying she wanted to serve Christ no matter where, and no matter what the cost.

     Dr. Roseveare went to serve Christ in the Congo, only to find herself in the midst of unbelievable chaos. Before her eyes, some of her colleagues were shot through the temple and dropped into an open grave. She and other young women were brutalized at the hands of the rebel troops. The story is told in Dr. Roseveare’s tremendous book, Give Me This Mountain.

     I was privileged to have met Dr. Roseveare and to have heard her speak. In a letter I received from her, she said, “The phrase God gave me years ago, during the 1964 rebellion in Congo, in the night of my own greatest need, was this: ‘Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?’ ” Dr. Roseveare was able to say yes to that question.

     What a tremendous challenge! You see, we have no right to demand of God an explanation. He has every right to ask of us genuine consecration.

     And as it was with Joseph and Helen Roseveare and so many others, so it was with Jesus Himself. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

     May we follow the example of Joseph—and of Jesus—and place ourselves in the caring, loving hand of God.

     Dr. Alistair Begg | (Trent University; London School of Theology; Westminster Seminary) was born in Scotland and spent the first 30 years of life in the United Kingdom. Since September of 1983, he has been the senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on the national radio program Truth For Life which stems from his weekly Bible teaching at Parkside. He and his wife, Susan, have three grown children.

Dr. Alistair Begg Books:

Dr. Alvin Plantinga's Ontological Argument

By Cadre Comments 2/21/2017

     Visualize in your mind a geometric shape: a square. What image comes to mind? If you are actually visualizing a square you will see a two-dimensional shape with four right angles (90 degree angles) and four sides of equal length. If you don't have four right angles but have sides of equal length, you don't have a square - you have a parallelogram. If you don't have sides that are equal in length but have four right angles, again you don't have a square - you have a rectangle. In fact, unless you have a two dimensional shape with the aforementioned properties, you simply don't have a square - you have something else - because the definition of a square requires four sides of equal length and four right angles.

     Now, consider the number three - not the written Roman numeral, but the actual idea of three things - and it doesn't matter the nature of the three things being counted (be they physical, non-physical, ideas, etc.). To go from two things to four things, three of the things has to be crossed to get to four. It is difficult to imagine three not existing. Nothing less than three can fill the role of three.

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     There is a video that goes with this article. See last video on the right.

That They May Be One

By Carl Robbins 10/1/2007

     No Christian would say he is for division in the church. Divisiveness stands condemned (1 Cor. 1:10). Even the newest believer knows that we are given warnings not to tolerate those who would cause division (Rom. 16:17–18; Titus 3:9–11). And any church that has division will certainly not be a healthy, growing church.

     Conversely, we know that the New Testament reveals a strong emphasis on unity and community in the church. As believers we have a declared unity:

     We need to recognize that unity, peace, agreement, community, and cooperation do not come naturally to us. What does come naturally to us is alienation and disunity. In fact, it can be easily demonstrated that our culture is running headlong away from community. In Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community we have a piercing analysis of the breakdown of relational culture. Trends over the last twenty-five years include a 58% decline in those attending club meetings, a 33% decline in family dinners, and a 45% decline in having friends over. Americans belong to fewer organizations that meet face-to-face, we know fewer of our neighbors, and we even bowl alone (not on teams). Indeed, several cultural factors are at work to drive us farther away from community: the transiency of our society, rootlessness, the Internet, the technological transformation of leisure, and many other things.

     Yet regeneration and conversion change our bent toward alienation (Eph. 2:11–20). Instead of viewing ourselves as loners and strangers and individualists hiding from others, we must now view ourselves as part of a “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).

     In our creed (The Westminster Confession of Faith: For Study Classes, 26:1) we are instructed: “All saints…being united to one another in love….have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.” Our confession is not overstating the case when it uses the language of “obligation.” For this is exactly what the New Testament frequently does in its “one-anothering” imperatives. Listen to a smattering of these obligatory mandates: we are commanded to love one another (John 13:34–35; 15:12); we are commanded to welcome one another (Rom. 15:7); we are ordered to encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11); we are mandated to show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9); we are told to be kind to one another (Eph. 4:32); we are commanded to outdo one another in showing honor (Rom. 12:10); we are ordered to pray for one another (James 5:16); we are told to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2); we are mandated not to grumble against one another (James 5:9); we are commanded to serve one another (Gal. 5:13) and to bear with one another (Col. 3:13).

     Unity and community will not “just happen” in your congregation. The body will only grow in unity as we obey these “one-anothering” commands. This is akin to a marriage-loving unity, which doesn’t just appear overnight! It happens as a man and a woman care for one another through hard times, as they serve one another, as they speak gracious words to one another, as they overlook a thousand small slights, as they forgive each other, and as they use all the other “means of unity.” Just so, your church will only grow healthy and strong as they practice


     How can you and your family help the growth of your local congregation in unity? Here’s a plan for this month:

     Week One: plan to show hospitality to another family in the church, call them now and invite them over for Sunday lunch.

     Week Two: plan to encourage three people in your church that you know are discouraged.

     Week Three: strategize on where you can serve. Yes, it will cost you time and energy, but you will be building the unity of the body.

     Week Four: spend time each day praying for different members of your church — the church’s children, the deacons, the senior citizens, the elders, the teachers and Bible study leaders, and finally pray for your pastor and his sermon preparation.

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     Rev. Carl Robbins is senior minister of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 50

God Himself Is Judge
50 A Psalm Of Asaph.

1 The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.

3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah

ESV Study Bible

Numbers 24; Psalms 66-67; Isaiah 14; 1 Peter 2

By Don Carson 5/15/2018

     In an age of many "praise choruses,” people are tempted to think that our generation is especially rich in praise. Surely we know more about praise that our stuffy parents and grandparents in their somber suits and staid services, busily singing their old-fashioned hymns.

     It does not help clarity of thought on these matters to evaluate in stereotypes. Despite the suspicions of some older people, not all contemporary expressions of praise are frivolous and shallow; despite the suspicions of some young people, not all forms of praise from an earlier generation are to be abandoned in favor of the immediate and the contemporary.

     But there are two elements expressed in the praise of Psalm 66 that are almost never heard today, and that badly need to be reincorporated both into our praise and into our thinking.

     The first is found in 66:8-12. There the psalmist begins by inviting the peoples of the world to listen in on the people of God as they praise him because “he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.” Then the psalmist directly addresses God, and mentions the context in which the Lord God preserved them: “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance” (66:10 -12).

     This is stunning. The psalmist thanks God for testing his covenant people, for refining them under the pressure of some extraordinarily difficult circumstances and for sustaining them through that experience. This is the response of perceptive, godly faith. It is not heard on the lips of those who thank God only when they escape trial or are feeling happy.

     The second connects the psalmist’s desperate cry with righteousness: “I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer” (66:17-19, emphasis added). this is not to say that the Lord answers us because we have merited his favor by our righteous endeavor. Rather, because we have entered into a personal and covenantal relationship with God, we owe him our allegiance, our faith, our obedience. If instead we nurture sin in our inmost being, and then turn to God for help, why should he not respond with the judgment and chastisement that we urgently deserve? He may turn away, and sovereignly let sin take its ugly course.

     Our generation desperately needs to connect praise with righteousness, worship with obedience, and the Lord’s response with a clean heart.

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

Don Carson Books:

Why Professors Object to Being Recorded

By Dennis Prager 2/20/2017

     After the election of Donald Trump as president, a professor at Orange Coast College in California, Olga Perez Stable Cox, went into an extended hate rant against the president-elect. Among other things, she described Trump’s election as an “act of terrorism,” labeled him a white supremacist and called Vice President-elect Mike Pence “one of the most anti-gay humans in this country.”

     And this wasn’t even a political science class in which one might expect political talk, no matter how irresponsible. Cox is a professor of human sexuality.

     When a student who recorded the diatribe posted the recording on social media, the professor’s union, the Coast Federation of Educators, AFT local chapter 1911, said on Facebook: “This is an illegal recording without the permission of the instructor. The student will be identified and may be facing legal action.”

     When a student who recorded the diatribe posted the recording on social media, the professor’s union, the Coast Federation of Educators, AFT local chapter 1911, said on Facebook: “This is an illegal recording without the permission of the instructor. The student will be identified and may be facing legal action.”

     As for me, I'm not the brightest. In seminary my mind would often stop to ponder what the prof or another student said in a discussion. The class would continue while I sat there thinking. So I missed a lot. Then I started using my laptop to record my classes for later review. My only regret is I didn't start earlier and I didn't save the recordings after I graduated. I wish more universities would follow Biola and DTS example of posting classes on line. I cannot imagine a better job than being the video editor who gets paid to record and listen.

Click here for entire article

     Stream contributor Dennis Prager, one of America’s most respected radio talk show hosts, has been broadcasting in Los Angeles since 1982. His popular show became nationally syndicated in 1999 and airs live, Monday through Friday, 9am to 12pm (Pacific Time), 12pm to 3pm (Eastern) from his home station, KRLA.

     In 1994-95, Dennis Prager also had his own daily national television show. He has frequently appeared on C-SPAN as well as on shows such as Larry King Live, The Early Show on CBS, The Today Show, The O’Reilly Factor, Hardball, Hannity & Colmes and The Dennis Miller Show.

     Dennis Prager has written four books, the best-selling Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual, Think a Second Time, described by Bill Bennett as “one of those rare books that can change an intelligent mind;” Why the Jews?: The Reason for Antisemitism, and Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, still the most used introduction to Judaism in the world. The latter two books were co-authored with Joseph Telushkin.

     New York’s Jewish Week described Dennis Prager as “one of the three most interesting minds in American Jewish Life.” Since 1992, he has been teaching the Bible verse-by-verse at the University of Judaism.

     Dennis Prager has engaged in interfaith dialogue with Catholics at the Vatican, Muslims in the Persian Gulf, Hindus in India, and Protestants at Christian seminaries throughout America. For ten years, he conducted a weekly interfaith dialogue on radio, with representatives of virtually every religion in the world.

     From 1985 to 1995, Dennis Prager wrote and published the quarterly journal, Ultimate Issue. From 1995 to 2000, he wrote The Prager Perspective. His writings have also appeared in major national and international publications such as Commentary, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times.

     Dennis Prager has made and starred in For Goodness Sake (1991), a video directed by David Zucker (Airplane), shown on public television and purchased by hundreds of major companies, and For Goodness Sake II (1999) directed by Trey Parker (South Park). In 2002, Dennis Prager produced a documentary, Israel in a Time of Terror (2002), a compelling look at how the average Israeli deals with the daily threat of terror. It has been shown at colleges, universities, churches and synagogues across the country.

     Dennis Prager periodically conducts orchestras, and has introduced hundreds of thousands of people to classical music.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     5. As to their charge of heresy and schism, because we preach a different doctrine, and submit not to their laws, and meet apart from them for Prayer, Baptism, the administration of the Supper, and other sacred rites, it is indeed a very serious accusation, but one which needs not a long and laboured defence. The name of heretics and schismatics is applied to those who, by dissenting from the Church, destroy its communion. This communion is held together by two chains--viz. consent in sound doctrine and brotherly charity. Hence the distinction which Augustine makes between heretics and schismatics is, that the former corrupt the purity of the faith by false dogmas, whereas the latter sometimes, even while holding the same faith, break the bond of union (August. Lib. Quæst. in Evang. Mt.). But the thing to be observed is, that this union of charity so depends on unity of faith, as to have in it its beginning, its end, in fine, its only rule. Let us therefore remember, that whenever ecclesiastical unity is commended to us, the thing required is, that while our minds consent in Christ, our wills also be united together by mutual good-will in Christ. Accordingly Paul, when he exhorts us to it, takes for his fundamental principle that there is "one God, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5). Nay, when he tells us to be "of one accord, of one mind," he immediately adds, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:2, 5); intimating, that where the word of the Lord is not, it is not a union of believers, but a faction of the ungodly.

6. Cyprian, also, following Paul, derives the fountain of ecclesiastical concord from the one bishopric of Christ, and afterwards adds, "There is one Church, which by increase from fecundity is more widely extended to a multitude, just as there are many rays of the sun, but one light, and many branches of a tree, but one trunk upheld by the tenacious root. When many streams flow from one fountain, though there seems wide spreading numerosity from the overflowing copiousness of the supply, yet unity remains in the origin. Pluck a ray from the body of the sun, and the unity sustains no division. Break a branch from a tree, and the branch will not germinate. Cut off a stream from a fountain, that which is thus cut off dries up. So the Church, pervaded by the light of the Lord, extends over the whole globe, and yet the light which is everywhere diffused is one" (Cyprian, de Simplicit. Prælat.). Words could not more elegantly express the inseparable connection which all the members of Christ have with each other. We see how he constantly calls us back to the head. Accordingly, he declares that when heresies and schisms arise, it is because men return not to the origin of the truth, because they seek not the head, because they keep not the doctrine of the heavenly Master. Let them now go and clamour against us as heretics for having withdrawn from their Church, since the only cause of our estrangement is, that they cannot tolerate a pure profession of the truth. I say nothing of their having expelled us by anathemas and curses. The fact is more than sufficient to excuse us, unless they would also make schismatics of the apostles, with whom we have a common cause. Christ, I say, forewarned his apostles, "they shall put you out of the synagogues" (John 16:2). The synagogues of which he speaks were then held to be lawful churches. Seeing then it is certain that we were cast out, and we are prepared to show that this was done for the name of Christ, the cause should first be ascertained before any decision is given either for or against us. This, however, if they choose, I am willing to leave to them; to me it is enough that we behoved to withdraw from them in order to draw near to Christ.

7. The place which we ought to assign to all the churches on which the tyranny of the Romish idol has seized will better appear if we compare them with the ancient Israelitish Church, as delineated by the prophets. So long as the Jews and Israelites persisted in the laws of the covenant, a true Church existed among them; in other words, they by the kindness of God obtained the benefits of a Church. True doctrine was contained in the law, and the ministry of it was committed to the prophets and priests. They were initiated in religion by the sign of circumcision, and by the other sacraments trained and confirmed in the faith. There can be no doubt that the titles with which the Lord honoured his Church were applicable to their society. After they forsook the law of the Lord, and degenerated into idolatry and superstition, they partly lost the privilege. For who can presume to deny the title of the Church to those with whom the Lord deposited the preaching of his word and the observance of his mysteries? On the other hand, who may presume to give the name of Church, without reservation, to that assembly by which the word of God is openly and with impunity trampled under foot--where his ministry, its chief support, and the very soul of the Church, is destroyed?

8. What then? (some one will say); was there not a particle of the Church left to the Jews from the date of their revolt to idolatry? The answer is easy. First, I say that in the defection itself there were several gradations; for we cannot hold that the lapses by which both Judah and Israel turned aside from the pure worship of God were the same. Jeroboam, when he fabricated the calves against the express prohibition of God, and dedicated an unlawful place for worship, corrupted religion entirely. The Jews became degenerate in manners and superstitious opinions before they made any improper change in the external form of religion. For although they had adopted many perverse ceremonies under Rehoboam, yet, as the doctrine of the law and the priesthood, and the rites which God had instituted, continued at Jerusalem, the pious still had the Church in a tolerable state. In regard to the Israelites, matters which, up to the time of Ahab, had certainly not been reformed, then became worse. Those who succeeded him, until the overthrow of the kingdom, were partly like him, and partly (when they wished to be somewhat better) followed the example of Jeroboam, while all, without exception, were wicked and idolatrous. In Judea different changes now and then took place, some kings corrupting the worship of God by false and superstitious inventions, and others attempting to reform it, until, at length, the priests themselves polluted the temple of God by profane and abominable rites.

9. Now then let the Papists, in order to extenuate their vices as much as possible, deny, if they can, that the state of religion is as much vitiated and corrupted with them as it was in the kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam. They have a grosser idolatry, and in doctrine are not one whit more pure; rather, perhaps, they are even still more impure. God, nay, even those possessed of a moderate degree of judgment, will bear me witness, and the thing itself is too manifest to require me to enlarge upon it. When they would force us to the communion of their Church, they make two demands upon us--first, that we join in their prayers, their sacrifices, and all their ceremonies; and, secondly, that whatever honour, power, and jurisdiction, Christ has given to his Church, the same we must attribute to theirs. In regard to the first, I admit that all the prophets who were at Jerusalem, when matters there were very corrupt, neither sacrificed apart nor held separate meetings for prayer. For they had the command of God, which enjoined them to meet in the temple of Solomon, and they knew that the Levitical priests, whom the Lord had appointed over sacred matters, and who were not yet discarded, how unworthy soever they might be of that honour, were still entitled to hold it [539] (Exod. 24:9). But the principal point in the whole question is, that they were not compelled to any superstitious worship, nay, they undertook nothing but what had been instituted by God. But in these men, I mean the Papists, where is the resemblance? Scarcely can we hold any meeting with them without polluting ourselves with open idolatry. Their principal bond of communion is undoubtedly in the Mass, which we abominate as the greatest sacrilege. Whether this is justly or rashly done will be elsewhere seen (see chap. 18; see also Book 2, chap. 15, sec. 6). It is now sufficient to show that our case is different from that of the prophets, who, when they were present at the sacred rites of the ungodly, were not obliged to witness or use any ceremonies but those which were instituted by God. But if we would have an example in all respects similar, let us take one from the kingdom of Israel. Under the ordinance of Jeroboam, circumcision remained, sacrifices were offered, the law was deemed holy, and the God whom they had received from their fathers was worshipped; but in consequence of invented and forbidden modes of worship, everything which was done there God disapproved and condemned. Show me one prophet or pious man who once worshipped or offered sacrifice in Bethel. They knew that they could not do it without defiling themselves with some kind of sacrilege. We hold, therefore, that the communion of the Church ought not to be carried so far by the godly as to lay them under a necessity of following it when it has degenerated to profane and polluted rites.

10. With regard to the second point, our objections are still stronger. For when the Church is considered in that particular point of view as the Church, whose judgment we are bound to revere, whose authority acknowledge, whose admonitions obey, whose censures dread, whose communion religiously cultivate in every respect, we cannot concede that they have a Church, without obliging ourselves to subjection and obedience. Still we are willing to concede what the Prophets conceded to the Jews and Israelites of their day, when with them matters were in a similar, or even in a better condition. For we see how they uniformly exclaim against their meetings as profane conventicles, to which it is not more lawful for them to assent than to abjure God (Isa. 1:14). And certainly if those were churches, it follows, that Elijah, Micaiah, and others in Israel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and those of like character in Judah, whom the prophets, priests, and people of their day, hated and execrated more than the uncircumcised, were aliens from the Church of God. If those were churches, then the Church was no longer the pillar of the truth, but the stay of falsehood, not the tabernacle of the living God, but a receptacle of idols. They were, therefore, under the necessity of refusing consent to their meetings, since consent was nothing else than impious conspiracy against God. For this same reason, should any one acknowledge those meetings of the present day, which are contaminated by idolatry, superstition, and impious doctrine, as churches, full communion with which a Christian must maintain so far as to agree with them even in doctrine, he will greatly err. For if they are churches, the power of the keys belongs to them, whereas the keys are inseparably connected with the word which they have put to flight. Again, if they are churches, they can claim the promise of Christ, "Whatsoever ye bind," &c.; whereas, on the contrary, they discard from their communion all who sincerely profess themselves the servants of Christ. Therefore, either the promise of Christ is vain, or in this respect, at least, they are not churches. In fine, instead of the ministry of the word, they have schools of impiety, and sinks of all kinds of error. Therefore, in this point of view, they either are not churches, or no badge will remain by which the lawful meetings of the faithful can be distinguished from the meetings of Turks.

11. Still, as in ancient times, there remained among the Jews certain special privileges of a Church, so in the present day we deny not to the Papists those vestiges of a Church which the Lord has allowed to remain among them amid the dissipation. When the Lord had once made his covenant with the Jews, it was preserved not so much by them as by its own strength, supported by which it withstood their impiety. Such, then, is the certainty and constancy of the divine goodness, that the covenant of the Lord continued there and his faith could not be obliterated by their perfidy; nor could circumcision be so profaned by their impure hands as not still to he a true sign and sacrament of his covenant. Hence the children who were born to them the Lord called his own (Ezek. 16:20), though, unless by special blessing, they in no respect belonged to him. So having deposited his covenant in Gaul, Italy, Germany, Spain, and England, when these countries were oppressed by the tyranny of Antichrist, He, in order that his covenant might remain inviolable, first preserved baptism there as an evidence of the covenant;--baptism, which, consecrated by his lips, retains its power in spite of human depravity; secondly, He provided by his providence that there should be other remains also to prevent the Church from utterly perishing. But as in pulling down buildings the foundations and ruins are often permitted to remain, so he did not suffer Antichrist either to subvert his Church from its foundation, or to level it with the ground (though, to punish the ingratitude of men who had despised his word, he allowed a fearful shaking and dismembering to take place), but was pleased that amid the devastation the edifice should remain, though half in ruins.

12. Therefore, while we are unwilling simply to concede the name of Church to the Papists, we do not deny that there are churches among them. The question we raise only relates to the true and legitimate constitution of the Church, implying communion in sacred rites, which are the signs of profession, and especially in doctrine. [540] Daniel and Paul foretold that Antichrist would sit in the temple of God (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:4); we regard the Roman Pontiff as the leader and standard-bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom. [541] By placing his seat in the temple of God, it is intimated that his kingdom would not be such as to destroy the name either of Christ or of his Church. Hence, then, it is obvious that we do not at all deny that churches remain under his tyranny; churches, however, which by sacrilegious impiety he has profaned, by cruel domination has oppressed, by evil and deadly doctrines like poisoned potions has corrupted and almost slain; churches where Christ lies half-buried, the gospel is suppressed, piety is put to flight, and the worship of God almost abolished; where, in short, all things are in such disorder as to present the appearance of Babylon rather than the holy city of God. In one word, I call them churches, inasmuch as the Lord there wondrously preserves some remains of his people, though miserably torn and scattered, and inasmuch as some symbols of the Church still remain--symbols especially whose efficacy neither the craft of the devil nor human depravity can destroy. But as, on the other hand, those marks to which we ought especially to have respect in this discussion are effaced, I say that the whole body, as well as every single assembly, want the form of a legitimate Church.


[534] French, "Secondement, qu'encore il y ait quelques petites fautes, ou en la doctrine ou aux sacremens qu'icelui no laisse point d'avoir sa vigeur."--Secondly, that though there may be some little faults either in doctrine or in the sacraments, the Church ceases not to be in vigour.

[535] 109 D109 Calvin here answers the question, "How far into error can the (visible) Church go before it ceases to deserve the name?" Minor defects or trivial errors, whether in doctrine or in conduct, do not bring the Church to that point. But if the fundamental articles of religion are injured or suppressed, and the essential elements of the sacraments are destroyed, then the Church dies, and ceases to exist.

[536] See chap. 1 sec. 10; 2 sec. 10; 8 sec. 12.

[537] French, "Je say bien que les flatteurs du Pape magnifient grandement leur Eglise." --I know that the flatterers of the Pope greatly extol their Church.

[538] French, "Or tent s'en faut que cela ait lieu, que mesmes aux gouvernemens terrestres il ne seroit point supportable. Comme il n'y a nul propos de dire que la tyrannie de Caligula, Neron, Heliogabale, et leurs semblables soit le vrai etat de la cité de Rome, pourcequ'ils ont succedé aux bons governeurs qui etoient establis par la peuple."--Now, so far is this from being the case, that even in earthly governments it would not be supportable. As there is no ground for saying that the tyranny of Caligula, Nero, Heliogabalus, and the like, is the true state of the city of Rome, because they succeeded the good governors who were established by the people.

[539] French, "Ils savoient que les pretres Levitiques, combien qu'ils fussent indignes d'un tel office, neantmoins pourcequ'ils avoient eté ordonnez de Dieu, et n'etoient point encore deposés, devoient etre recognus pour ministres legitimes, ayant le degré de pretrise."--They knew that the Levitical priests, although they were unworthy of such an office, nevertheless, because they had been ordained of God, and were not yet deposed, were to be recognised as lawful ministers, having the rank of priesthood.

[540] French, "Mais nous contendons seulement du vrai etat de l'Eglise, qui emporte communion, tant en doctrine, qu'en tout qui appartient à la profession de notre Chretienté;"--but we contend only for the true state of the Church, implying communion, as well as everything which pertains to the profession of our Christianity.

[541] The French adds, "pour le moins en l'Eglise Occidentale;"--at least in the Western Church.


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

  • R.C. Sproul
  • R.C. Sproul
  • R.C. Sproul

#1  A Holy Vision  Ligonier


#2  Worshiping a Holy God  Ligonier


#3  Father, Prophet, Priest ...  Ligonier


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     2/1/2009    The Unchanging Gospel

     I am a Christian, and I am a Protestant. I am a Christian because I trust Jesus Christ alone, believing that salvation is accomplished by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. I am a devout Protestant because I continue to protest against anyone who even suggests that salvation is accomplished in any other way.

     When I entered Rome for the first time not too long ago, I was naturally looking forward to visiting St. Peter’s Basilica within the towering walls of Vatican City. As I stood under the world’s tallest dome, I was simply in awe of its magnificent grandeur. However, as I considered how the entire structure was funded, I was instantly overwhelmed with emotion. Deep sorrow and righteous vexation filled my heart as I began to recall the system of indulgences contrived by particular popes and cardinals of sixteenth-century Rome, who endeavored to build the basilica on the backs of common people throughout the Holy Roman Empire. For the most part, the construction of the basilica was funded by the preaching of a twisted gospel that promised eternal life in Christ with a few qualifications, such as the one John Tetzel allegedly coined: “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

     As I write, dozens of men in hard hats are breaking their backs in order to build a new sanctuary and fellowship hall for Saint Andrew’s Chapel where Dr. Sproul and I serve. When complete, the sanctuary will reflect the style of the great cathedrals throughout Europe. However, as we seek to build this new sanctuary, even amid difficult economic times, we do not twist the gospel of Christ in order to fund this immense undertaking. In fact, it is precisely on account of the historic, unchangeable gospel that we are building a sanctuary wherein, Lord willing, the never-changing gospel will shine forth in this ever-changing world for generations to come. The Lord God Almighty is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, His Word cannot change, the four accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ cannot change, and the simple, unqualified gospel of God cannot change. As Christians, we live, move, and have our being before the face of God, and as Protestants, we must continue to stand for the gospel, even when we find our own proud hearts wanting to add our own works to the finished work of Jesus Christ.

     click here for article source

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

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Army Day, Navy Day and Air Force Day were combined in 1949 to become Armed Forces Day, celebrated the third Saturday of May. This day honors the men and women of all armed forces, now serving under one Department of Defense. Army Day formerly was the date the US entered World War I, Navy Day was on President Theodore Roosevelt's birthday and Air Force Day was on the day the War Department established a division of aeronautics. Secretary of Defense William Perry stated on Armed Forces Day, May 1995: "God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to… defend it."

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Chance is perhaps the pseudonym of God
when he did not want to sign.
--- Anatole France, Le jardin d'Epicure
The garden of Epicurus

When God is involved, anything can happen. Be open. Stay that way. God has a beautiful way of bringing good vibrations out of broken chords.
--- Chuck Swindoll
The garden of Epicurus

Set us afire, Lord, stir us, we pray—
while the world perishes, we go our way
Purposeless, passionless, day after day;
set us afire, Lord, stir us, we pray!
--- Unknown
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Whenever one tries to suppress doubt, there is tyranny.
--- Simone Weil
Lectures on Philosophy

... from here, there and everywhere

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

               Book Four - An Invitation To Holy Communion

     The Seventh Chapter / The Examination Of Conscience And The Resolution To Amend


     ABOVE all, God’s priest should approach the celebration and reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart and suppliant reverence, with complete faith and the pious intention of giving honor to God.

     Carefully examine your conscience, then. Cleanse and purify it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble confession, that you may have no burden, know of no remorse, and thus be free to come near. Let the memory of all your sins grieve you, and especially lament and bewail your daily transgressions. Then if time permits, confess to God in the secret depths of your heart all the miseries your passions have caused.

     Lament and grieve because you are still so worldly, so carnal, so passionate and unmortified, so full of roving lust, so careless in guarding the external senses, so often occupied in many vain fancies, so inclined to exterior things and so heedless of what lies within, so prone to laughter and dissipation and so indisposed to sorrow and tears, so inclined to ease and the pleasures of the flesh and so cool to austerity and zeal, so curious to hear what is new and to see the beautiful and so slow to embrace humiliation and dejection, so covetous of abundance, so niggardly in giving and so tenacious in keeping, so inconsiderate in speech, so reluctant in silence, so undisciplined in character, so disordered in action, so greedy at meals, so deaf to the Word of God, so prompt to rest and so slow to labor, so awake to empty conversation, so sleepy in keeping sacred vigils and so eager to end them, so wandering in your attention, so careless in saying the office, so lukewarm in celebrating, so heartless in receiving, so quickly distracted, so seldom fully recollected, so quickly moved to anger, so apt to take offense at others, so prone to judge, so severe in condemning, so happy in prosperity and so weak in adversity, so often making good resolutions and carrying so few of them into action.

     When you have confessed and deplored these and other faults with sorrow and great displeasure because of your weakness, be firmly determined to amend your life day by day and to advance in goodness. Then, with complete resignation and with your entire will offer yourself upon the altar of your heart as an everlasting sacrifice to the honor of My name, by entrusting with faith both body and soul to My care, that thus you may be considered worthy to draw near and offer sacrifice to God and profitably receive the Sacrament of My Body. For there is no more worthy offering, no greater satisfaction for washing away sin than to offer yourself purely and entirely to God with the offering of the Body of Christ in Mass and Communion.

     If a man does what he can and is truly penitent, however often he comes to Me for grace and pardon, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live”;50 I will no longer remember his sins, but all will be forgiven him.

The Imitation Of Christ

Andrew Murray's Absolute Surrender
     Practical religion. The Christian life

     Oh, if we would wait and wait patiently, I tell you what the result would be. There would spring up a relationship between us and Christ so close and so tender that we should afterward be amazed at how we formerly could have lived with the idea: "I am surrendered to Christ." We should feel how far distant our intercourse with Him had previously been, and that He can, and does indeed, come and take actual possession of us, and gives unbroken fellowship all the day. The branch calls us to absolute surrender.

     I do not speak now so much about the giving up of sins. There are people who need that, people who have got violent tempers, bad habits, and actual sins which they from time to time commit, and which they have never given up into the very bosom of the Lamb of God. I pray you, if you are branches of the living Vine, do not keep one sin back. I know there are a great many difficulties about this question of holiness. I know that all do not think exactly the same with regard to it. That would be to me a matter of comparative indifference if I could see that all are honestly longing to be free from every sin. But I am afraid that unconsciously there are in hearts often compromises with the idea that we cannot be without sin, we must sin a little every day; we cannot help it. Oh, that people would actually cry to God: "Lord, do keep me from sin!" Give yourself utterly to Jesus, and ask Him to do His very utmost for you in keeping you from sin.

     There is a great deal in our work, in our church and our surroundings that we found in the world when we were born into it, and it has grown all around us, and we think that it is all right, it cannot be changed. We do not come to the Lord Jesus and ask Him about it. Oh! I advise you, Christians, bring everything into relationship with Jesus and say:

     "Lord, everything in my life has to be in most complete harmony with my position as a branch of Thee, the blessed Vine."

     Let your surrender to Christ be absolute. I do not understand that word surrender fully; it gets new meanings every now and then; it enlarges immensely from time to time. But I advise you to speak it out: "Absolute surrender to Thee, O Christ, is what I have chosen." And Christ will show you what is not according to His mind, and lead you on to deeper and higher blessedness.

     In conclusion, let me gather up all in one sentence. Christ Jesus said: "I am the Vine, ye are the branches." In other words: "I, the living One who have so completely given myself to you, am the Vine. You cannot trust me too much. I am the Almighty Worker, full of a divine life and power." You are the branches of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is in your heart the consciousness that you are not a strong, healthy, fruit-bearing branch, not closely linked with Jesus, not living in Him as you should be--then listen to Him say: "I am the Vine, I will receive you, I will draw you to myself, I will bless you, I will strengthen you, I will fill you with my Spirit. I, the Vine, have taken you to be my branches, I have given myself utterly to you; children, give yourselves utterly to me. I have surrendered myself as God absolutely to you; I became man and died for you that I might be entirely yours. Come and surrender yourselves entirely to be mine."

     What shall our answer be? Oh, let it be a prayer from the depths of our heart, that the living Christ may take each one of us and link us close to Himself. Let our prayer be that He, the living Vine, shall so link each of us to Himself that we shall go away with our hearts singing:

     "He is my Vine, and I am His branches—
     I want nothing more—
     now I have the everlasting Vine."

     Then, when you get alone with Him, worship and adore Him, praise and trust Him, love Him and wait for His love. "Thou art my Vine, and I am Thy branch. It is enough, my soul is satisfied."

     Glory to His blessed name!

Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)

Proverbs 17:1-2
     by D.H. Stern

1     Better a dry piece of bread with calm
than a house full of food but also full of strife.

2     An intelligent slave will rule a shameful son
and share the inheritance with the brothers.

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

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The habit of rising to the occasion

     That ye may know what is the hope of His calling …
--- Eph. 1:18.

     Remember what you are saved for—that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your powers to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time.

     You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in. Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves? If you are still the same miserable crosspatch, set on your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.

     God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can vault over them properly—“By my God have I leaped over a wall.” God will never shield you from any of the requirements of a son or daughter of His. Peter says—“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh.

     May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. God never has museums. The only aim of the life is that the Son of God may be manifested, and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine to feed and nourish others.

My Utmost for His Highest

     the Poetry of RS Thomas


My father is dead.
I who am look at him
who is not, as once he
went looking for me
in the woman who was.

There are pictures
of the two of them, no
need of a third, hand
in hand, hearts willing
to be one but not three.

What does it mean
life? I am here I am
there. Look! Suddenly
the young tool in their hands
for hurting one another.

And the camera says:
Smile; there is no wound
time gives that is not bandaged
by time. And so they do the
three of them at me who weep.


Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Bava Batra 60b


     What ultimately motivates people to change? Rava and Rav Dimi have two different conceptions. To Rava, the catalyst for change is internal: People change because they want to improve, and external comparisons only serve to heighten their sense of inadequacy. We do best, in Rava's eyes, when we are judged against our personal standard rather than against external paradigms.

     Rav Dimi conceives of motivation as something quite different, involving a kind of "creative tension." When we see how someone else is doing, we are pushed to improve ourselves, trying to reach that ideal and standard that the other has presented.

     Each approach has its positives, as seen in the tenure system for university faculty. Some say that tenure gives faculty the sense of security they need to excel in their academic work. A professor with tenure will not have to worry about the "publish or perish" of university life, a system that heightens nervousness more than it heightens scholarship. Others hold that faculty should never be beyond review, that constant pressure is a positive force, generating creativity and learning. Without this tension, professors would tend to be laid-back and complacent.

     We see a corollary of Rav Dimi's approach in the push for legislative term limits. Proponents of this position believe that only by holding legislators constantly accountable can we see any positive results. Incumbents who seem to have a permanent appointment eventually slouch off and do not do their jobs well. Opponents say that it takes years to learn the legislative system. Veteran representatives not only know the ropes but also can call in favors and in other ways use their seniority to the benefit of their constituents.

     Just as the Talmud brings in different approaches to the topic, we too can often benefit from both viewpoints. Some people who work with us or for us will be motivated by competition. The friction of working against others causes them to work harder. Others do better in a cooperative setting. Often, these people find rivalry between colleagues detrimental and even threatening. At times, we ourselves will be motivated by an internal urge to excel, while at other times, it will be competition with a friend or colleague: "She's not going to outperform me!"

     There is no absolute right or wrong for personal motivation with every person or in every situation. We need to know what motivates others—and ourselves—so that a suitable atmosphere can be set and appropriate methods utilized.

     Text / Our Rabbis taught: When the second Temple was destroyed, the number of ascetics in Israel who would not eat meat or drink wine increased. Rabbi Yehoshua met with them. He said to them: "My children, why are you not eating meat or drinking wine?" They said to him: "Shall we eat meat that used to be offered on the altar that is no longer functioning? Shall we drink wine that used to be poured on the altar that is no longer in use?"

     He said to them: "If that is so, we should not eat bread, because the Meal Offerings have ceased. What about fruit? We should not eat fruit, because the First Fruit offerings have ceased.… We should not drink water because the Water Libations have ceased." They were silent. He said to them: "My children, come and I will speak to you. Not to mourn at all is impossible, because the decree has already been set down. But to mourn too much is impossible, for a decree should not be imposed upon the community unless the majority of the community can follow it, as it is written: 'You are suffering under a curse, yet you go on defrauding Me—the whole nation of you' [Malachi 3:9]. Rather, this is what the Sages said: 'When a person plasters his home, he leaves a small section undone.' (How much? Rav Yosef said: 'A square cubit.' Rav Ḥisda said: 'It should be by the door.') When a person prepares a meal, let him leave something out. (What? Rav Papa said: 'A dish of hors d'oeuvres.') When a woman is putting on her jewelry, she should leave something off. (What? Rav said: 'She should not remove the hair from her temples.')"

     Context / The Talmud goes on to praise those who mourn (in an appropriate way) for the destruction of the Temple: All those who grieve over Jerusalem will merit to see her rejoicing, as it says: "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her! Join in her jubilation, all you who mourned over her …" (Isaiah 66:10). The Rabbis read the beginning and the end of the verse not as two separate clauses, but rather as one interdependent unit: Only those who have mourned will one day rejoice.

     The first Temple built by Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 586 B.C.E. The second Temple was built about a century after that and was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 C.E. The Temple was not only the center of Jewish religious life, it was the symbol of Jewish nationhood and independence. Its destruction led to severe mourning by Jews. Some individuals became ascetics, believing that life could not go on as it had before the tragedies. These Jews, called perushim, or "those who set themselves apart," began refraining from pleasurable activities that would have reminded them of the Temple. Eating meat brought to their minds the animal sacrifices where a portion of the offering was given to the worshipper to eat in the city of Jerusalem. Drinking wine caused them to recall the nisukh ha-yayin, the libation of wine accompanying some sacrifices that was poured out at the base of the altar.

     Rabbi Yehoshua challenged these restrictive practices by taking the arguments of the perushim to their logical conclusion: Bread should also not be eaten, because bread and meal offerings were brought in the Temple. Fruits should not be eaten, because they were offered to the kohanim during the harvest season. Even water should be avoided, because the pouring out of water was central to the Temple ritual during the festival of Sukkot.

     Rabbi Yehoshua argued that the restrictions of the perushim were more than the people could bear. He derived the principle "A decree should not be imposed upon the community unless the majority of the community can follow it" from his reading of the verse in Malachi: The entire nation has made a vow to bring the ma'aser—a tenth of the harvest—to God. Failure to do so would have resulted in a self-imposed curse falling upon the people. According to Rabbi Yehoshua, such a vow with its harsh accompanying curse was valid only because "the whole nation" had accepted it upon themselves. Instead of the harsh restrictions of the perushim, the Talmud suggests three other alternative expressions of mourning that the majority of the people would have been able to follow.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

Lessons from the Life of Saul
     Teacher's Commentary

     Saul should have taught Israel the danger of relying on a human king. Every human being is flawed. Only God can be relied on fully.

     Yet stories of Israel's first, flawed king continue to teach us important spiritual lessons.

     Keys to success (1 Samuel 9, 1 Samuel 11). Saul began his reign with notable success. What were the qualities that made his success possible? These chapters point up several.

     * Humility. Saul was initially free from a sense of self-importance. When told that God had chosen him as king, Saul protested. He pointed out that he was a member of the "smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?" (1 Samuel 9:21)

     The same trait may have led Saul to hide himself among the baggage as Samuel later led the people through a process of divination—possibly using the Urim and Thummin by which God guided Israel. When he was brought out, the people were excited because he looked like a king, being a head taller than anyone in Israel. How good when we can remain humble, as Saul was, when others are impressed by some superficial trait.

     * Restraint. When Saul was proclaimed king a few "troublemakers" objected. In those times a monarch might have been expected to be angry, and act quickly to punish the affront. Saul however showed restraint and kept silent. It is a great personal strength when you and I can overlook criticism and even affronts.

     * Godly concern. The city of Jabesh Gilead, lying across the River Jordan, was besieged by the Ammonites. The purpose was to terrorize Israel, and humble this people who had just anointed a king. God's Spirit filled Saul with fury, and he commanded that all the men of Israel appear to fight the Ammonites. Saul responded in a godly way, for as king he was responsible to protect his people. How good when we too have a godly concern for others, and are willing to be responsible to help meet their needs.

     * Wisdom. Saul's army was large, but poorly armed. Only Saul and Jonathan had iron weapons when they faced the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:22). The people of Israel were armed only with clubs, axes, and sickles!

     So Saul had the people of Jabesh tell the Ammonites they would surrender the next day. That night he attacked the Ammonite camp from three sides. The surprise was complete, and the enemy force so completely shattered that "no two of them were left together" (1 Samuel 11:11).

     * Magnanimity. After this victory the people remembered those who had slandered Saul earlier. They were eager to kill them to honor Saul, whom they credited with their stunning victory.

     But Saul was magnanimous in victory. He refused to put them to death on the day that God had won such a victory for his people. What a lesson for us to learn. We need not rebuke others, for as we walk with God His evident blessings in events will rebuke them. We need not defend ourselves, for as we walk with God others sense God's blessing and they will speak up on our behalf.

     * Praise. Saul was not proud in his victory. Instead he led his people to give credit and praise to God. It was not Saul, the king said, but "the Lord [who] has rescued Israel" (1 Samuel 11:13). What an important lesson for you and me, for our victories too are won by the Lord, and are to issue in praise and celebration.

     God's choice of Saul was a wise one. Saul was a man of many good qualities, and many of the traits we see in this 30-year-old are endearing.

     Saul's flaws (1 Sam. 13–15). Saul was relatively young when he began to rule. Events early in his 40-year reign revealed flaws that had been hidden by the young king's many positive qualities. Several events demonstrate the nature of these flaws.

     * Disobedience (1 Samuel 13:1–15). Saul established a small standing army, posting his men at Gibeah and Micmash to defend against Philistine attacks. These cities, which lie just a little to the east of Jerusalem, show how deeply the Philistines had penetrated into Israel's territory.

     When Saul's son Jonathan attacked a Philistine outpost, this enemy assembled an overwhelming army that cut through Palestine to assemble near Gilgal, almost on the banks of the Jordan River! This invasion terrorized the Israelites, who forgot their recent victory. Saul called out his people to fight, but instead the men of Israel scattered, to hide in rocks and caves.

     Earlier Samuel had predicted this situation, and had told Saul to wait at Gilgal seven days for Samuel to come and offer sacrifice. Saul had been told, "You must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do" (1 Samuel 10:8). So now Saul waited.

     And he watched as members of his army slipped away! Saul did not know what he could do. But as the seventh day slowly passed, Saul felt he could not wait any longer.

     Disobeying the word of God's spokesman Saul ordered a fire laid, and he himself, though not of priestly lineage, offered a burnt sacrifice to the Lord!

     Saul had been effective in action. But he was unable to stand the pressure of waiting!

     How like so many of us. As long as there is something to do, we're all right. But when there are pressures, when we don't know what to do and we have to wait, we too are tempted to act foolishly.

     The smoke from Saul's sacrifice was no sooner drifting up into the skies than Samuel appeared. Shocked, the old prophet confronted the disobedient king. "You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you," Samuel told him. "Now your kingdom will not endure" (1 Samuel 10:13–14).

     The biblical passage makes one striking addition. It reports that when Samuel left Gilgal, and Saul counted the men who were with him, they numbered about 600. Is this number significant?

     Some years before Gideon had been called to deliver Israel from an enemy even more numerous. God gradually reduced his army, until only 300 remained. With the 300 God won total victory, and the enemy was routed.

     I wonder. Did Saul, when the count was finally taken, remember Gideon? Did he wonder then, if he had only had the courage to wait, if God might not have given him a victory twice as great as Gideon's?

     We will never know Saul's thoughts as he learned the number of the men who had remained with him. But we do know now the nature of Saul's flaw. Under pressure Saul would be unable to trust God. Under pressure Saul would be unable to wait. Under pressure, Saul would refuse to obey.

     Saul's hypocrisy (1 Sam. 14). A sense of sin is intended to lead us to confession of our faults to God, and is to help us develop a compassionate sensitivity to others who may also fall.

     A little later Jonathan again initiated an attack on a Philistine detachment that was deep in Israelite territory. Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some 20 of the enemy in a half-acre area. The Philistines panicked, and the panic spread! As the Philistines ran, Saul and his men attacked!

     As Saul sent out his men he commanded that no one taste food until Evening. But as the running battle continued, Saul's men became weak from their exertion. Only Jonathan, who had not heard his father's command, snatched up a little honey as he pursued the enemy through a forest area.

     That night, after the men had eaten, Saul wanted to continue his assault. But when he asked God for guidance, the Lord did not respond. Saul took this as a sign that someone had sinned. Again using the means God had provided for special guidance, Saul demanded to know who was at fault. The blame was fixed on Jonathan!

     When Jonathan confessed that he had unknowingly violated his father's command, Saul was actually willing to put him to death.

     Then the men of the army interceded. Should Jonathan die, who with God's help had routed the enemy? Never!

     What an insight into the king. He was ready to kill a son he loved for violating his command. But the king had knowingly violated the command of God! Rather than making Saul sensitive to the weakness of others, he was harsh with those whose fault was less than his own!

     Saul fought valiantly against Israel's enemies (1 Samuel 14:47–48). He won many victories. But Saul was never able to win the most important victory of all: a victory over his own inner weaknesses and flaws.

The Teacher's Commentary

     Judaism in the Land of Israel

     Several works give an account of revelatory experiences given to exemplary leaders; the revelations to them disclose information about the future and the heavenly world. Among the apocalypses, perhaps the oldest is the Enochic Apocalypse of Weeks (1 Enoch 93:1–10; 91:11–17), which divides all of history and the future judgments into ten “weeks” (long units of time). Other early instances are the various revelations in Daniel 7–12, which “predict” the attacks on Jews and Judaism by Antiochus IV as the climax of evil and distress before the deliverance of the people of God. The Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 83–90) may come from nearly the same time. It surveys scriptural history, symbolizing almost all characters as various kinds of animals, and pictures a new age after the final woes caused by the nations that rule Israel and the judgment on the sinners. A number of other works fit in this category: the Similitudes of Enoch (1 Enoch 37–71), the Testament of Moses, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch. The first two of these may have been written around the turn of the eras, while the latter two offer apocalyptic reflection upon the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. In some of the apocalypses a messianic leader plays a role in the final drama (e.g., Animal Apocalypse, Similitudes of Enoch, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch).

     It is generally agreed that there was no canon of Scripture until perhaps the very end of the Second Temple period, but it is evident that there were ancient writings that exercised considerable influence and were acknowledged to contain God’s words. Those books would have included Genesis through Deuteronomy and the prophetic works and Psalms and probably more, but it is not possible, given the evidence at hand, to decide exactly which books were considered authoritative and by whom.

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

Take Heart
     May 15

     Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” --- John 20:28–29.

     Not only is imagination an aid to love. ( The Return of the Angels : Sunday evenings in a Glasgow Pulpit ) It is also an aid to faith in the unseen. In imagination unseen realities draw very near. Like a breath of wind it plays on the mists till they scatter and show the everlasting hills. And so imagination, which is an aid to love, is also an aid to faith in the invisible, for it draws into something of visionary clearness the objects on which faith must always rest. Imagination is not faith, any more than it is love. But imagination may be their foster mother. Faith is the whole being turning Godward and coming to rest in the eternal certainties. The imagination is only a particular faculty or power of that being. No one is saved by imagination. It is a question if anyone is saved without it. Without its vivifying and realizing help, the task of faith is simply overwhelming. And therefore, because it wakes the sleeping past, because it helps to [compassion], because it helps to God, I want you to realize that the imagination is a religious power of the highest order.

      Friends, among all the services of Christ to a world that he has redeemed and is redeeming, there are not many more notable and blessed than his quickening of the imagination. It would be much had he taught us perfect truth, but he has done more: he has shown us perfect beauty. He has given us a vision of such grace that it haunts the heart and will not let it go. It is that figure, so tender and so loving, so brave and patient, so silent, so unselfish, that has cast a spell on the imagination and through the imagination reached the heart. No worse curse can fall on a person than to have a corrupt imagination. There is no greater purifying power than an imagination that is pure. And the person who dwells in the communion of Christ has such a vision of what is fair and lovely that things unclean and bestial and base steal away into the forests of the night.
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day
     The Prodigal  May 15

     “The Law of the LORD is perfect,” says Psalm 19:7. “It gives us new life”—and sometimes in unexpected ways.

     One of the most powerful personal evangelists of the nineteenth century was “Uncle” John Vassar, who grew up in his family’s brewery in Poughkeepsie, New York. Following his conversion to Christ, he abandoned beer-making for soul-winning, and on May 15, 1850 he was commissioned as an agent for the American Tract Society of New York. Vassar took off across the country, never resting in his mission of selling Christian literature and asking everyone he met about their relationship with Christ.

     On one occasion, traveling in the West, he visited the home of a praying wife whose husband was an infidel. She begged for a Bible, and Vassar gave her one and went his way. He had no sooner left when the husband, coming home, saw the book and was enraged. Seizing the Bible with one hand and the ax with the other, he hurried to the woodpile where he placed it on the chopping block and hacked it crosswise in two. Returning to the house, he threw half of the destroyed Bible at his wife, saying, “As you claim a part of all the property around here, there is your share of this.”

     The other half he tossed into his tool shed.

     Months later on a wet winter’s day, the man, wanting to get away from his Christian wife, retreated to his shed. The time passed slowly, and in boredom he looked around for something to read. Thumbing through the mutilated Bible, his attention was caught by the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. He became absorbed in the parable only to discover that its ending belonged to his wife’s section. He crept into the house and secretly searched for the bottom half of the book, but was unable to find where his wife had hidden it.

     Finally he broke down, asked her for it, and read the story again and again. In the process he came to the heavenly Father like a penitent prodigal returning home.

     The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.” But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. … This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.
--- Luke 15:21,22,24.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - May 15

     “All that believe are justified.” --- Acts 13:39.

     The believer in Christ receives a present justification. Faith does not produce this fruit by-and-by, but now. So far as justification is the result of faith, it is given to the soul in the moment when it closes with Christ, and accepts him as its all in all. Are they who stand before the throne of God justified now?—so are we, as truly and as clearly justified as they who walk in white and sing melodious praises to celestial harps. The thief upon the cross was justified the moment that he turned the eye of faith to Jesus; and Paul, the aged, after years of service, was not more justified than was the thief with no service at all. We are to-day accepted in the Beloved, to-day absolved from sin, to-day acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! soul-transporting thought! There are some clusters of Eshcol’s vine which we shall not be able to gather till we enter heaven; but this is a bough which runneth over the wall. This is not as the corn of the land, which we can never eat till we cross the Jordan; but this is part of the manna in the wilderness, a portion of our daily nutriment with which God supplies us in our journeying to and fro. We are now—even now pardoned; even now are our sins put away; even now we stand in the sight of God accepted, as though we had never been guilty. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” There is not a sin in the Book of God, even now, against one of his people. Who dareth to lay anything to their charge? There is neither speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing remaining upon any one believer in the matter of justification in the sight of the Judge of all the earth. Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus.

          Evening - May 15

     “Made perfect.” --- Hebrews 12:23.

     Recollect that there are two kinds of perfection which the Christian needs—the perfection of justification in the person of Jesus, and the perfection of sanctification wrought in him by the Holy Spirit. At present, corruption yet remains even in the breasts of the regenerate—experience soon teaches us this. Within us are still lusts and evil imaginations. But I rejoice to know that the day is coming when God shall finish the work which he has begun; and he shall present my soul, not only perfect in Christ, but perfect through the Spirit, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. Can it be true that this poor sinful heart of mine is to become holy even as God is holy? Can it be that this spirit, which often cries, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this sin and death?” shall get rid of sin and death—that I shall have no evil things to vex my ears, and no unholy thoughts to disturb my peace? Oh, happy hour! may it be hastened! When I cross the Jordan, the work of sanctification will be finished; but not till that moment shall I even claim perfection in myself. Then my spirit shall have its last baptism in the Holy Spirit’s fire. Methinks I long to die to receive that last and final purification which shall usher me into heaven. Not an angel more pure than I shall be, for I shall be able to say, in a double sense, “I am clean,” through Jesus’ blood, and through the Spirit’s work. Oh, how should we extol the power of the Holy Ghost in thus making us fit to stand before our Father in heaven! Yet let not the hope of perfection hereafter make us content with imperfection now. If it does this, our hope cannot be genuine; for a good hope is a purifying thing, even now. The work of grace must be abiding in us now or it cannot be perfected then. Let us pray to “be filled with the Spirit,” that we may bring forth increasingly the fruits of righteousness.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     May 15


     Edmond L. Budry, 1854–1932
     Translated by Richard B. Hoyle, 1875–1939

     But thanks be to God! He gives the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

     In the ancient world, no celebration was considered more glorious than the march of triumphant returning warriors through their capital city. Many visual depictions have been made of the victorious Roman soldiers in the early centuries marching proudly through the streets and arches of Rome, leading captive slaves and hearing the boisterous approval of cheering admirers.

     Christ our Savior fought the greatest battle of all time against the prince of this world and all of his legions. Our Lord returned triumphant to His Father, having conquered not only sin, death, and the grave, but Satan and hell also. Now He sits on the Father’s right hand as the ruler of His kingdom and our personal advocate before God.

     But the day of our celebration is just ahead. One can picture with imagination the procession that will occur in heaven when the Captain of Our Faith, Christ Himself, leads His Bride, the Church, through the heavenly portals amidst the shouts and songs of praise and glory to the “risen, conqu’ring Son.”

     “Thine Is the Glory” was originally written in 1884 in French—“A Toi la Gloire,” by Edmond Budry, a pastor in Vevey, Switzerland. Nearly 40 years later, it was translated into English by Richard Hoyle and appeared in the Cantate Domino Hymnal used by the Student Christian Federation.

     Thine is the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son; endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won. Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away, kept the folded grave clothes where Thy body lay.
     Lo! Jesus meets us, risen, from the tomb; lovingly He greets us, scatters fear and gloom; let His church with gladness hymns of triumph sing, for her Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.
     No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of Life! Life is naught without Thee; aid us in our strife; make us more than conqu’rors, through Thy deathless love; bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above.

     Refrain: Thine is the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son; endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won.

     For Today: Romans 5:6, 10, 11; 1 Corinthians 15:50–58; Revelation 1:5, 6.

     Live in the triumphant promise of the joy that you will one day experience with all fullness when you share in the heavenly celebration with the saints of the ages. But for now, raise your voice in praise to our victorious Lord.Copyright (c) World Student Christian Federation. Used by permission.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

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

     Sect XXV. — AS to the other paradox you mention, — that, ‘whatever is done by us, is not done by Free-will, but from mere necessity’ — . Let us briefly consider this, lest we should suffer any thing most perniciously spoken, to pass by unnoticed. Here then, I observe, that if it be proved that our salvation is apart from our own strength and counsel, and depends on the working of God alone, (which I hope I shall clearly prove hereafter, in the course of this discussion,) does it not evidently follow, that when God is not present with us to work in us, every thing that we do is evil, and that we of necessity do those things which are of no avail unto salvation? For if it is not we ourselves, but God only, that works salvation in us, it must follow, whether or no, that we do nothing unto salvation before the working of God in us. But, by necessity, I do not mean compulsion; but (as they term it) the necessity of immutability, not of compulsion; that is, a man void of the Spirit of God, does not evil against his will as by violence, or as if he were taken by the neck and forced to it, in the same way as a thief or cut-throat is dragged to punishment against his will; but he does it spontaneously, and with a desirous willingness. And this willingness and desire of doing evil he cannot, by his own power, leave off, restrain, or change; but it goes on still desiring and craving. And even if he should be compelled by force to do any thing outwardly to the contrary, yet the craving will within remains averse to, and rises in indignation against that which forces or resists it. But it would not rise in indignation, if it were changed, and made willing to yield to a constraining power. This is what we mean by the necessity of immutability: — that the will cannot change itself, nor give itself another bent; but rather the more it is resisted, the more it is irritated to crave; as is manifest from its indignation. This would not be the case if it were free, or had a “Free-will.” Ask experience, how hardened against all persuasion they are, whose inclinations are fixed upon any one thing. For if they yield at all, they yield through force, or through something attended with greater advantage; they never yield willingly. And if their inclinations be not thus fixed, they let all things pass and go on just as they will. But again, on the other hand, when God works in us, the will, being changed and sweetly breathed on by the Spirit of God, desires and acts, not from compulsion, but responsively, from pure willingness, inclination, and accord; so that it cannot be turned another way by any thing contrary, nor be compelled or overcome even by the gates of hell; but it still goes on to desire, crave after, and love that which is good; even as before, it desired, craved after, and loved that which was evil. This, again, experience proves. How invincible and unshaken are holy men, when, by violence and other oppressions, they are only compelled and irritated the more to crave after good! Even as fire, is rather fanned into flames than extinguished, by the wind. So that neither is there here any willingness, or “Free-will,” to turn itself into another direction, or to desire any thing else, while the influence of the Spirit and grace of God remain in the man. In a word, if we be under the god of this world, without the operation and Spirit of God, we are led captives by him at his will, as Paul saith. (2 Tim. ii. 26.) So that, we cannot will any thing but that which he wills. For he is that “strong man armed,” who so keepeth his palace, that those whom he holds captive are kept in peace, that they might not cause any motion or feeling against him; otherwise, the kingdom of Satan, being divided against itself, could not stand; whereas, Christ affirms it does stand. And all this we do willingly and desiringly, according to the nature of will: for if it were forced, it would be no longer will. For compulsion is (so to speak) unwillingness. But if the “stronger than he” come and overcome him, and take us as His spoils, then, through the Spirit, we are His servants and captives (which is the royal liberty) that we may desire and do, willingly, what He wills. Thus the human will is, as it were, a beast between the two. If God sit thereon, it wills and goes where God will: as the Psalm saith, “I am become as it were a beast before thee, and I am continually with thee.” (Ps. lxxiii. 22-23.) If Satan sit thereon, it wills and goes as Satan will. Nor is it in the power of its own will to choose, to which rider it will run, nor which it will seek; but the riders themselves contend, which shall have and hold it.

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