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11/11/2017
Jeremiah 51-52
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Judgment on the Ammonites

Jeremiah 51:1     Thus says the LORD:
I am going to stir up a destructive wind
against Babylon
and against the inhabitants of Leb-qamai;
2 and I will send winnowers to Babylon,
and they shall winnow her.
They shall empty her land
when they come against her from every side
on the day of trouble.
3 Let not the archer bend his bow,
and let him not array himself in his coat of mail.
Do not spare her young men;
utterly destroy her entire army.
4 They shall fall down slain in the land of the Chaldeans,
and wounded in her streets.
5 Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the LORD of hosts,
though their land is full of guilt
before the Holy One of Israel.

6 Flee from the midst of Babylon,
save your lives, each of you!
Do not perish because of her guilt,
for this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance;
he is repaying her what is due.
7 Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand,
making all the earth drunken;
the nations drank of her wine,
and so the nations went mad.
8 Suddenly Babylon has fallen and is shattered;
wail for her!
Bring balm for her wound;
perhaps she may be healed.
9 We tried to heal Babylon,
but she could not be healed.
Forsake her, and let each of us go
to our own country;
for her judgment has reached up to heaven
and has been lifted up even to the skies.
10 The LORD has brought forth our vindication;
come, let us declare in Zion
the work of the LORD our God.

11 Sharpen the arrows!
Fill the quivers!


     The LORD has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the LORD, vengeance for his temple.


12 Raise a standard against the walls of Babylon;
make the watch strong;
post sentinels;
prepare the ambushes;
for the LORD has both planned and done
what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.
13 You who live by mighty waters,
rich in treasures,
your end has come,
the thread of your life is cut.
14 The LORD of hosts has sworn by himself:
Surely I will fill you with troops like a swarm of locusts,
and they shall raise a shout of victory over you.

15 It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
16 When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightnings for the rain,
and he brings out the wind from his storehouses.
17 Everyone is stupid and without knowledge;
goldsmiths are all put to shame by their idols;
for their images are false,
and there is no breath in them.
18 They are worthless, a work of delusion;
at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
19 Not like these is the LORD, the portion of Jacob,
for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the LORD of hosts is his name.

Israel the Creator’s Instrument

20 You are my war club, my weapon of battle:
with you I smash nations;
with you I destroy kingdoms;
21 with you I smash the horse and its rider;
with you I smash the chariot and the charioteer;
22 with you I smash man and woman;
with you I smash the old man and the boy;
with you I smash the young man and the girl;
23 with you I smash shepherds and their flocks;
with you I smash farmers and their teams;
with you I smash governors and deputies.

The Doom of Babylon

     24 I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your very eyes for all the wrong that they have done in Zion, says the LORD.

25 I am against you, O destroying mountain,
says the LORD,
that destroys the whole earth;
I will stretch out my hand against you,
and roll you down from the crags,
and make you a burned-out mountain.
26 No stone shall be taken from you for a corner
and no stone for a foundation,
but you shall be a perpetual waste,
says the LORD.

27 Raise a standard in the land,
blow the trumpet among the nations;
prepare the nations for war against her,
summon against her the kingdoms,
Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz;
appoint a marshal against her,
bring up horses like bristling locusts.
28 Prepare the nations for war against her,
the kings of the Medes, with their governors and deputies,
and every land under their dominion.
29 The land trembles and writhes,
for the LORD’s purposes against Babylon stand,
to make the land of Babylon a desolation,
without inhabitant.
30 The warriors of Babylon have given up fighting,
they remain in their strongholds;
their strength has failed,
they have become women;
her buildings are set on fire,
her bars are broken.
31 One runner runs to meet another,
and one messenger to meet another,
to tell the king of Babylon
that his city is taken from end to end:
32 the fords have been seized,
the marshes have been burned with fire,
and the soldiers are in panic.
33 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor
at the time when it is trodden;
yet a little while
and the time of her harvest will come.

34 “King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon has devoured me,
he has crushed me;
he has made me an empty vessel,
he has swallowed me like a monster;
he has filled his belly with my delicacies,
he has spewed me out.
35 May my torn flesh be avenged on Babylon,”
the inhabitants of Zion shall say.
“May my blood be avenged on the inhabitants of Chaldea,”
Jerusalem shall say.
36 Therefore thus says the LORD:
I am going to defend your cause
and take vengeance for you.
I will dry up her sea
and make her fountain dry;
37 and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins,
a den of jackals,
an object of horror and of hissing,
without inhabitant.

38 Like lions they shall roar together;
they shall growl like lions’ whelps.
39 When they are inflamed, I will set out their drink
and make them drunk, until they become merry
and then sleep a perpetual sleep
and never wake, says the LORD.
40 I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter,
like rams and goats.

41 How Sheshach is taken,
the pride of the whole earth seized!
How Babylon has become
an object of horror among the nations!
42 The sea has risen over Babylon;
she has been covered by its tumultuous waves.
43 Her cities have become an object of horror,
a land of drought and a desert,
a land in which no one lives,
and through which no mortal passes.
44 I will punish Bel in Babylon,
and make him disgorge what he has swallowed.
The nations shall no longer stream to him;
the wall of Babylon has fallen.

45 Come out of her, my people!
Save your lives, each of you,
from the fierce anger of the LORD!
46 Do not be fainthearted or fearful
at the rumors heard in the land—
one year one rumor comes,
the next year another,
rumors of violence in the land
and of ruler against ruler.

47 Assuredly, the days are coming
when I will punish the images of Babylon;
her whole land shall be put to shame,
and all her slain shall fall in her midst.
48 Then the heavens and the earth,
and all that is in them,
shall shout for joy over Babylon;
for the destroyers shall come against them out of the north,
says the LORD.
49 Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel,
as the slain of all the earth have fallen because of Babylon.

50 You survivors of the sword,
go, do not linger!
Remember the LORD in a distant land,
and let Jerusalem come into your mind:
51 We are put to shame, for we have heard insults;
dishonor has covered our face,
for aliens have come
into the holy places of the LORD’s house.

52 Therefore the time is surely coming, says the LORD,
when I will punish her idols,
and through all her land
the wounded shall groan.
53 Though Babylon should mount up to heaven,
and though she should fortify her strong height,
from me destroyers would come upon her,
says the LORD.

54 Listen!—a cry from Babylon!
A great crashing from the land of the Chaldeans!
55 For the LORD is laying Babylon waste,
and stilling her loud clamor.
Their waves roar like mighty waters,
the sound of their clamor resounds;
56 for a destroyer has come against her,
against Babylon;
her warriors are taken,
their bows are broken;
for the LORD is a God of recompense,
he will repay in full.
57 I will make her officials and her sages drunk,
also her governors, her deputies, and her warriors;
they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and never wake,
says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

58 Thus says the LORD of hosts:
The broad wall of Babylon
shall be leveled to the ground,
and her high gates
shall be burned with fire.
The peoples exhaust themselves for nothing,
and the nations weary themselves only for fire.

Jeremiah’s Command to Seraiah

     59 The word that the prophet Jeremiah commanded Seraiah son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, when he went with King Zedekiah of Judah to Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign. Seraiah was the quartermaster. 60 Jeremiah wrote in a scroll all the disasters that would come on Babylon, all these words that are written concerning Babylon.


The Destruction of Jerusalem Reviewed
(2 Kings 24:18–25:26; 2 Chr 36:11–20; Jer 39:1–10)

Jeremiah 52:1     Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 Indeed, Jerusalem and Judah so angered the Lord that he expelled them from his presence.

     Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. 4 And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and they laid siege to it; they built siegeworks against it all around. 5 So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. 6 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine became so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. 7 Then a breach was made in the city wall; and all the soldiers fled and went out from the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city. They went in the direction of the Arabah. 8 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered, deserting him. 9 Then they captured the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him. 10 The king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and also killed all the officers of Judah at Riblah. 11 He put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in fetters, and the king of Babylon took him to Babylon, and put him in prison until the day of his death.

     12 In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard who served the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem. 13 He burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 14 All the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. 15 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest of the people and the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the artisans. 16 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poorest people of the land to be vinedressers and tillers of the soil.

     17 The pillars of bronze that were in the house of the Lord, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried all the bronze to Babylon. 18 They took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the basins, the ladles, and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service. 19 The captain of the guard took away the small bowls also, the firepans, the basins, the pots, the lampstands, the ladles, and the bowls for libation, both those of gold and those of silver. 20 As for the two pillars, the one sea, the twelve bronze bulls that were under the sea, and the stands, which King Solomon had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weighing. 21 As for the pillars, the height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, its circumference was twelve cubits; it was hollow and its thickness was four fingers. 22 Upon it was a capital of bronze; the height of the capital was five cubits; latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, encircled the top of the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with pomegranates. 23 There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates encircling the latticework numbered one hundred.

     24 The captain of the guard took the chief priest Seraiah, the second priest Zephaniah, and the three guardians of the threshold; 25 and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the soldiers, and seven men of the king’s council who were found in the city; the secretary of the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land who were found inside the city. 26 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 And the king of Babylon struck them down, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah went into exile out of its land.

     28 This is the number of the people whom Nebuchadrezzar took into exile: in the seventh year, three thousand twenty-three Judeans; 29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar he took into exile from Jerusalem eight hundred thirty-two persons; 30 in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadrezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took into exile of the Judeans seven hundred forty-five persons; all the persons were four thousand six hundred.

Jehoiachin Favored in Captivity (2 Kings 25:27–30)

     31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, King Evil-merodach of Babylon, in the year he began to reign, showed favor to King Jehoiachin of Judah and brought him out of prison; 32 he spoke kindly to him, and gave him a seat above the seats of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes, and every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table. 34 For his allowance, a regular daily allowance was given him by the king of Babylon, as long as he lived, up to the day of his death.



The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]


What I'm Reading

Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospels Attributed to Matthias?

By J. Warner Wallace 11/8/2017

     The New Testament describes the Apostle Matthias as the man who joined the remaining eleven apostles and replaced Judas after Judas committed suicide. In Acts 1:21-22, Matthias is described as “one of the men who have accompanied (the disciples) during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among (them), beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from (them).” If this is true, Matthias would have been an eyewitness to the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. History records at least one ancient text attributed to Matthias, but is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it really written by Matthias? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The ancient texts attributed to Matthias were written too late in history to have been written by the man we know as Matthias, and like other late non-canonical texts, these errant document were rejected by the leaders in the early Church. In spite of this, the manuscripts we are about to examine still contain small nuggets of truth related to Jesus.  Although they are legendary fabrications written by authors who altered the story of Jesus to suit the purposes of their religious communities, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus from these late texts:

     The Traditions of Matthias (110-160AD) | The Traditions of Matthias is described by Clement of Alexandria in a letter (Miscellanies written in 210AD) and many scholars suspect that it is the same text known as the Gospel of Matthias and mentioned by Origen, Eusebius, Ambrose, and Jerome. While the manuscript is lost, there are still three small quotes from Clement’s letter that are available to us. The text may have contained a narrative of Jesus’ life along with teachings, but it is difficult to know from what little we have today.

     Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable? | Scholars believe that The Traditions of Matthias was written far too late to have been penned by the Matthias mentioned in the Book of Acts. From the few passages available to us in Clement’s letter, it is apparent that it was used by Gnostic believers such as the Basilideans. According to Hippolytus, the leader of the group, Basilides, learned “secret words” from Matthias that had supposedly been passed down to him from Jesus himself. This is consistent with how early Church leaders described The Gospel of Matthias. Eusebius lists The Gospel of Matthias with the Gospels of Thomas and Peter as heretical works known to the early Church. The Gospel of Matthias is also listed as heretical in the Decretum Gelasianum, the Catalogue of the Sixty Canonical Books, and in a list of false books that were used by Nazarene Christians.

     How Does It Corroborate the Life of Jesus? | With so little available to us, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions, but the quotes do seem to affirm that Jesus was a wise teacher known commonly as the “Word”, “Lord” and “Savior”, who selected (found) those who were previously lost from God and taught a moral code of conduct that his disciples sought to embrace.

     Where (and Why) Does It Differ from the Reliable Accounts? | The author of Matthias (presumably the Apostle Matthew), describes a moral ethic that considers the world to be evil, sinful and filled with pleasures of the flesh that are to be rejected. The text also appears to place an extraordinary high value on the acquisition of knowledge as way to “increase the soul”. This is to be expected if, in fact, this text is a late creation of a Gnostic sect. Clement affirms this in describing its use by Marcion, Valentinus and Basilides.

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

Bourne Again Our Relentless Search for Identity

By J.A. Medders 7/28/2016

     What comes to mind when you think about yourself is one of the most important things about you. In particular, what comes to your mind when you think about who you are in Christ is of greater importance.

     As a pastor, I’ve found that most problems are traceable to uncertainty about our identity. We have forgotten who we are in Christ (2 Peter 1:9). When we forget our identity, like Jason Bourne, we should be relentless until we know it again.

     Bourne, one of the great action heroes of our day, is a highly trained agent — to understate it — capable of winning a fight with nothing more than a rolled up magazine or a ballpoint pen. He is armed with unrivaled skill and know-how for every situation he faces.

     In the first Bourne film, he wakes up from a failed mission, not remembering who he is, but quickly realizing all he is capable of doing. Bourne is determined to find out who he is. He doesn’t seem to care that he can do things James Bond only dreams of doing; he wants to know who he is.

     Identity Comes Before Activity | Herein lies the parable for the Christian life: we are often more drawn to what we can do for Jesus, rather than who we are in Jesus.

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     J.A. Medders is the lead pastor of Redeemer Church in Tomball, Texas, where he lives with his wife Natalie and their two kids. He is the author of Gospel Formed: Living a Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life and blogs at jamedders.com.

True Leadership Is Sacrifice, Not Privilege

By David Mathis 11/10/2016

     It is one of the filthiest lies Satan whispers in the ear of our comfortable and entitled generation.

     From before we can even remember, we have been indoctrinated, at nearly every turn, with the idea that being “a leader” means getting the gold star. Leadership is a form of recognition, a kind of accomplishment, the path to privilege. Being declared a leader is like winning an award or being identified among the gifted.

     Leadership is a form of success. And since you can do whatever you dream, and can achieve whatever you set your mind to, you too can be a leader — at home, at work, in the community, in the church. Why would you settle for anything less? Leadership means privilege, and no generation has considered itself more entitled to privilege than ours.

     The Lie About Leadership | The world’s spin on leadership is in the air of our society, felt in the subtext of our adolescence, and reinforced in our public elections. We are swimming in it everywhere we turn. Why follow when you can lead? Why contribute to the glory of another when you can be the chief beneficiary instead?

     As novel and inspiriting as it may seem, it’s a very old deception. From the garden, to the history of Israel, to the Middle Ages, to our innate notions about leadership today, the natural, human, sinful way to think about leadership is to be king of the hill. To view leadership as the ascent to honor and privilege, rather than the descent to attend to the needs of others.

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

4 Unexpected ways to address a suffering marriage

By Professor Khaldoun A. Sweis

     So my wife and I get into it! What a surprise. Early on in our marriage, I did what any insane, first-year married man would do, I took her to marriage counseling to fix her. What happened next, was not what I expected.

     The marriage counselor told me that it was a good thing we were fighting; in fact, it was the couples who did not fight that he was most concerned about. He turned on me to get my act together as the leader and father I should be. And a great deal of what he said was right, even though it was hard to swallow it.

     They say that there are three rings, the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering… | All joking aside, marriage is a gift of God and a reflection of his very image. When your marriage is suffering, what are some simple ways, (and it is never that simple) to deal with it?

     First, we are not created to be alone. | Other people make us who we are and even don’t want to be. The company we keep does make a difference on the life we live. There is no psychologist who would disagree with this theory. We are not made to be alone. In fact, as Jim Rohin said, you are “the average of the five people you most spend most time with!” That does not mean you have to get married. No it is better to remain miserable single than miserable married! 🙂 Again, Im joking. Jesus never married and he was as complete as you can be as a human being. So getting married is not the be all of life. But it is important and a blessing if you take that journey. If you are married or single, being alone is not a good thing, check out Genesis 2:18 where God says this about Adam.

(Ge 2:18) 18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” ESV

     Did you know that even God was never alone? Before he created everything, God, was and is a community in unity in the blessed external Trinity. | So, if your marriage is suffering, and you feel alone in it, stop doing it alone. Find people who are doing it right, get close to them and start to make some changes.

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     Dr. Khaldoun Sweis earned his BA in Philosophy in 1996 at Eastern Illinois University. He completed his MA in Philosophy of Religion at Trinity International University in 2003. In 2007, he completed his PhD in Philosophy of Mind at the University of Hull. After teaching at Oxford University, Dr. Sweis went on to become Chair of the Humanities Department at the City Colleges of Chicago. He has spoken at conferences worldwide, including lectures at Oxford University, Berkeley, Cambridge, Hofstra University, University College London, as well as in Hong Kong, Austrailia, and Romania. In 2012, Dr. Sweis was promoted to Associate Professor of Philosophy. In 2013, he was awarded the Phi Theta Honor Society “Distinguished Faculty” award.

     Khaldoun is the father of two amazing children and the husband of one beautiful wife! In his spare time, he is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Olive-Harvey College and tutor of Philosophy of Religion at Oxford University. Jordanian Arab-Christian philosopher Dr. Khaldoun Sweis is a respected professor, acclaimed author, and lecturer, who has a global perspective on major philosophical issues of our time. Dr. Sweis has made it his mission to spread hope through faith helping his audiences to overcome pain and suffering.

Love Her More and Love Her Less

By John Piper 5/29/1995

     For Karsten Luke Piper At His Wedding to Rochelle Ann Orvis May 29, 1995

The God whom we have loved, and in
Whom we have lived, and who has been
Our Rock these twenty-two good years
With you, now bids us, with sweet tears,
To let you go: "A man shall leave
His father and his mother, cleave
Henceforth unto his wife, and be
One unashaméd flesh and free."
This is the word of God today,
And we are happy to obey.
For God has given you a bride
Who answers every prayer we've cried
For over twenty years, our claim
For you, before we knew her name.

And now you ask that I should write
A poem - a risky thing, in light
Of what you know: that I am more
The preacher than the poet or
The artist. I am honored by
Your bravery, and I comply.
I do not grudge these sweet confines
Of rhyming pairs and metered lines.
They are old friends. They like it when
I bid them help me once again
To gather feelings into form
And keep them durable and warm.

And so we met in recent days,
And made the flood of love and praise
And counsel from a father's heart
To flow within the banks of art.
Here is a portion of the stream,
My son: a sermon poem. It's theme:
A double rule of love that shocks;
A doctrine in a paradox:

If you now aim your wife to bless,
Then love her more and love her less.

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     John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

John Piper Books:

Bible Verses on Solitude and Silence

By Bill Gaultiere 7/23/2011

     Solitude is one of the most important disciplines for the spiritual life, especially for pastors and leaders who need help unhooking from ministry stress to experience God restoring their souls. There are many Bible verses on solitude to guide us in this practice.

     Kristi and I regularly practice solitude and silence and we encourage pastors, pastors’ wives, and other ministry leaders also to do this. Our five-day TLC Retreats and Still Waters day retreats for pastors and leaders feature extended hours for solitude and silence with Jesus.

     Understanding Solitude and Silence | Solitude is for being alone with God. It is completed by silence. There’s much to be said about solitude, but what’s most important is that it is a way to do nothing. Yes, do nothing. Don’t try to be productive — even in Bible study! Solitude and silence is an opportunity to focus on your Intimacy with Jesus, to unhook from your daily responsibilities and the people you interact with, in order to attend to the Lord alone. In solitude we don’t try to make anything happen. We just bring our naked self to the Lord to be with him.

     “Solitude is the creation of an open, empty space in our lives by purposely abstaining from interaction with other human beings, so that, freed from competing loyalties, we can be found by God” (Life with God Bible, p. 531).

     Some Bible Verses on Solitude and Silence | Here are some Bible verses on solitude and silence that we’ve found especially helpful. (All Bible verses are from the NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)

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     Bill’s ministry with Soul Shepherding is full time. He wears a variety of hats: President, Psychologist (Ph.D.; PSY12036 in CA), Spiritual Director/Mentor, Teacher, and Writer. But at heart he’s a pastor to pastors.

     As a former pastor, he’s served in a mega-church and a church plant. He’s also trained over 1,000 lay counselors and taught courses in Christian psychology and spirituality at the graduate level. Currently, he’s training Soul Shepherding Associates to offer “love your neighbor pastor” ministries in their cities.

     He was personally mentored by Ray Ortlund Sr. and Dallas Willard. His book Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke tells the story of his spiritual renewal from anxious living and burnout and introduces the message and way of Soul Shepherding.

Talk to God About Your Anxiety

By Jon Bloom 11/11/2016

     Anxiety is a species of fear. It’s the paralyzing fear of “what if.” It’s the fear that something we dread might possibly come true.

     There’s only one solution to anxiety: the assurance everything is going to be okay.

     But the world gives us no such assurances. We find ourselves surrounded by myriad real dangers resulting in an endless list of “what if.” It’s no wonder human beings are so afflicted with anxiety. And our anxieties only increase our misery by adding countless imagined dangers to the very real ones in front of us.

     Antidote to Anxiety | But God. God the Son stepped into this dangerous, demonic world, where even man’s greatest efforts to ensure safety are ultimately and decidedly defeated by death. And when he did, he made the most audacious claim ever uttered by human lips: for every person who believes in him, everything is going to be ultimately, gloriously, eternally, inexpressibly, wonderfully okay (John 3:16; 11:25–26). Then to demonstrate the reality of his claim, and therefore its trustworthiness, he decidedly defeated death and announced “all authority in heaven and on earth” had been given to him (Matthew 28:18).

(Jn 3:16) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ESV

(Jn 11:25–26) 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” ESV

(Mt 28:18) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ESV

     With this authority, he says to everyone who believes in him, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life” (Luke 12:22). Jesus — and all the promises that are now Yes in him (2 Corinthians 1:20) — is the antidote to anxiety. What he accomplishes for us and promises to us is the ultimate triumph over all that terrifies us. He does not promise us escape from misery in this world. He promises that he will redeem every misery (Romans 8:28), and that in him we will overcome the worst the world can do to us (John 16:33; Romans 8:35–39).

Lk 12:22 22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. ESV

(2 Co 1:20) 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. ESV

(Ro 8:28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ESV

(Jn 16:33) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ESV

(Ro 8:35–39) 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ESV

Click here to go to source

     Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.

Jon Bloom Books:

America Has Received a Reprieve

By Paul A Carter 11/9/2016

     Yesterday’s presidential election result surprised most of us. Conservatives like myself held out little hope that we could avoid another four to eight years of rule by progressives. The last eight years have seen a tremendous amount of change, most of it for the worse. America has become more divided and lawless, led into this predicament by a president who had promised to help unite us. He had campaigned for hope and change, yet left many of us hoping for a change.

     Over 40 years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that abortion should be legal. Just last year, another Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals should be allowed to marry one another. Make no mistake – God is angry with the people of America because of these and other sins.

     Judgment Coming? | Seeing the moral decay of America not only continue but pick up speed, many thoughtful Christians had concluded that God was in the process of withdrawing his Spirit from America in judgment. Many were even wondering whether the end times were approaching. Perhaps these things are indeed taking place but many Christians have been praying that God would forgive this nation’s sins and heal our land, as the Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7:14,

(2 Ch 7:14) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ESV

     I believe that God has answered us by stirring up His people to pray, take action, and vote. In this manner, Hillary Clinton was kept from again taking up residence in the White House with her husband, Bill. Those of us who recall Bill’s years as president think first of his sexual misconduct and impeachment, not of anything positive that he may have accomplished. In the years following Bill’s exit from the presidency, he and Hillary have become ever more lawless and corrupt. It is astonishing to me that Hillary was even allowed to run for office, given her blatant disregard for the law.

     A Reprieve | Signing the ConstitutionI believe that the defeat of Hillary Clinton is evidence that we have been granted a temporary reprieve from God’s judgment. We have been rescued from continuing rule by those who care nothing for God, the law, or the Constitution. Let’s first thank God for His mercy, then turn to the task of praying for Donald Trump, as well as all of our country’s newly-elected leadership. We have been given a reprieve – let’s use it well and do all that we can to turn this country around.

Click here to go to source

     Paul A. Carter is, first and foremost, a follower of Christ. A husband and father, Paul cares deeply about his family. He, along with his wife Sandra, started the Norman, Oklahoma chapter of Reasons to Believe in 2014, which he serves as the chapter president. Paul is a career software developer but has recently transitioned into an analysis role. His interests include the relationship between science and the Christian faith, cosmology, astronomy, reading, and playing the flugelhorn. The opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent anyone else, including Reasons to Believe.

Significant

By Ryan Nicholson 11/9/2017

     Guilty as charged! When it started I don’t remember exactly, but it crept in slowly, like the evening shadows that change the day to night. 16 years ago my wife and I started our journey together. Our dreams were small. Find a good job, buy a house, and start a family. We were young and full of hope and gratitude: hope for a brighter future and grateful for what we had.

     The rat race had begun! Our humble beginnings turned quickly into obligation and responsibility. The daily grind of trying to make a name for ourselves began to take its toll. The hope we had just a few years earlier turned into hoping we’d have enough money in the bank to pay the rent, put food on the table, and survive. And our gratitude changed into being grateful I had a day off. I’d seen my father go through it, leave before the sun came up, and come home as it was setting. Now here I was doing the same thing. The torch had been passed, and I was losing site of where I was supposed to go with it.

     I began to feel I was better than the job I was doing, so I was going to do something about it. I was going back to school to get my degree. I was in my late 20’s and about to show the world that I wasn’t going to settle for good enough. I was going to become somebody. I enrolled at a university and was on my way to getting my Bachelor’s degree.

     The day I graduated was met with a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of “now what?” I just graduated with a four-year degree and a mountain of debt. We just bought our first house, and on the outside it looked like we were on our way, but in this show that was supposed to be about me, I was still sensing something missing. I didn’t get it. I was a Christian, put my faith in God, loved my family, and worked hard to provide. Why was I not feeling successful?

     The more I focused on why I wasn’t living up to what my potential was, the more depressed I became. Surely God put me on this earth for a reason. As I mentioned before, I was guilty as charged. I was so focused on what I wanted, I forgot what I had.

     Flash forward a couple years, my wife and I had been married for 13 years, we had an 11 year old daughter, a house, two cars, and good paying jobs. We had reached a somewhat comfortable place in our lives financially, but God had a different plan. My quest for a purpose filled life had led me to being ungrateful. I didn’t appreciate the things God had given me, so He took me back to day one.

     The birth of our twins forced us to relook at a lot of things. My wife all but quit her job, so she could watch them during the week. The financial strain became evident immediately. My job where I felt I gave so much of my time was getting cheap and decided not to give me my annual raise. My beloved car broke down, and I was forced to buy a cheap beater to get me to and from work. Ever take candy from a child? That was my reaction exactly.

     Yes, I loved my children very much, but as the provider of my household, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of failure. Coming home after a 12 hour day to an empty refrigerator and bare cupboards is a humbling place to be. Not to mention the final notices that began to pile up. But that is right where God needed me to be. On my knees and looking up to Him. I started this journey with hope and gratitude. Now all I had was a deep felt prayer for help.

     “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

     God has a way of getting your attention, but it is never how one would expect. Like he did with Elijah, he didn’t gain my attention through an earthquake, although the earth was clearly shaking. He didn’t do it with a fire, albeit my world seemed on fire. He did it through a still small voice.

     I turned on the TV one evening to listen to the tragic news of a young boy who had been abused by his mother’s boyfriend. The details were too graphic to share, but it cost him his life. My heart broke. This beautiful young boy had been abused for years. Here was a little six year old, who never new love, died afraid and alone. And here was I, feeling sorry for myself because my life was financially difficult. Oh! That still small voice pierced like a knife. All I could utter was, “forgive me father for my ungratefulness.” If the biggest problem in my life is I didn’t like my job, and was behind on some bills, then I had a lot to be thankful for.

     I asked forgiveness for confusing success and significance. Success can’t be left behind after you pass, but significance lasts long after your life ends. I am significant to my wife, who has stood by me almost half my life. I am significant to my children who need a father to raise and guide them into what God has called them to be. I am significant to my friends and family, but most importantly, I am significant because God loves me. He didn’t send his Son to die because we were successful. He sent his son to die because we were significant.

     But the message of significance wasn’t over. Hearing such tragic news lingers and burdens the soul. Two days after hearing the tragic news, I stood in line at a convenience store waiting to pay for my drink. Ahead of me, a father stood with his two sons. The oldest was about eight or nine, and the younger one was being held in his father’s arms. I could just see the back of the younger ones head as he rested it on his father’s shoulder. He was probably around two-years old; the same age as my twins. As he picked up his head, I noticed his eyes were sunk deep into his skull. This young boy was blind, yet he was content in his father’s arms. His life would be full of challenges, but as long as he clung to his father, his sight didn’t matter.

     God used a blind child to help me see that day. To see the folly of my ways, and how truly self centered I had become. Society will have you believe you are the master of your destiny, that you need to build your own brand, and you need to be financially independent to be truly successful. But success doesn’t breed joy. Knowing you are significant to the God who made you will breed an unexplainable contentment like a blind child content in his father’s arms, fully trusting his father has his best interest in mind.

     The Bible tells us, ““God chose the lowly things of this world…” God wasn’t in the mighty wind, the earthquake, or the fire. But he was in the whisper. So, don’t seek after life’s big events to be considered successful. Seek the still small voice that made you significant.

(1 Co 1:28–31) 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ESV

     Ryan Nicholson is a follower of Jesus Christ and is married to Crystal. They have three children; Autumn, Connor and Heidi and Aubrey is on the way. Ryan is a District Manager for Pepsico. His other articles can be found on:

Articles



  • 4 Hallmarks of Humility 1 Luke 17:1-4
  • Part 2
  • Part 3


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Overcoming your fears (1)
     (Nov 11)    Bob Gass

     ‘You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.’

(Job 11:18) 18 And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. ESV

     Famous people throughout history have suffered from phobias. Napoleon was crippled by ailurophobia, an irrational fear of cats. Queen Elizabeth I was terrorised by anthophobia, an abnormal fear of flowers (she particularly feared roses). Billionaire Howard Hughes was practically incapacitated by mysophobia, a pathological fear of germs. Edgar Allen Poe and Harry Houdini suffered from claustrophobia. Even the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, grappled with agoraphobia, a fear of crowds and public places. The trouble is that many of us deny dealing with any kind of overwhelming fear, and rarely consider it a serious problem. But the fact remains that our fears hinder us on our journey towards change, and unless we face them we’ll never reach our God-given potential. Maybe you don’t view the thing that’s bothering you as a fear at all. It could be a feeling or situation you habitually avoid, or leave to others to handle. Whatever it is, the only way to overcome it is to call it what it is, confront it, draw on God’s strength, and make a decision to change. And today He offers you His strength to do it. Here’s a promise you can stand on: ‘You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and…rest in safety.’ Where does that promise originate? The Bible – God’s infallible Word! And here’s another ‘fear not’ promise: ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV).

Ezek 22-23
James 1

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in the year 1918, World War I ended. Celebrated as Armistice Day, it was changed to Veterans Day after World War II. In 1921, President Warren Harding had the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France buried in Arlington Cemetery. He requested that: “All… citizens… indulge in a period of silent thanks to God for these… valorous lives and of supplication for His Divine mercy… on our beloved country.” Inscribed on the Tomb are the words: “Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”

American Minute

Letters To Malcolm, Chiefly On Prayer
     by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God


     Even an intimate human friend is ill-used if we talk to him about one thing while our mind is really on another, and even a human friend will soon become aware when we are doing so. You yourself came to see me a few years ago when the great blow had fallen upon me. I tried to talk to you as if nothing were wrong. You saw through it in five minutes. Then I confessed. And you said things which made me ashamed of my attempt at concealment.

     It may well be that the desire can be laid before God only as a sin to be repented; but one of the best ways of learning this is to lay it before God. Your problem, however, was not about sinful desires in that sense; rather, about desires, intrinsically innocent and sinning, if at all, only by being stronger than the triviality of their object warrants. I have no doubt at all that if they are the subject of our thoughts they must be the subject of our prayers-whether in penitence or in petition or in a little of both: penitence for the excess, yet petition for the thing we desire.

     If one forcibly excludes them, don't they wreck all the rest of our prayers? If we lay all the cards on the table, God will help us to moderate the excesses. But the pressure of things we are trying to keep out of our mind is a hopeless distraction. As someone said, "No noise is so emphatic as one you are trying not to listen to."

     The ordinate frame of mind is one of the blessings we must pray for, not a fancy-dress we must put on when we pray.

     And perhaps, as those who do not tum to God in petty trials will have no habit or such resort to help them when the great trials come, so those who have not learned to ask Him for childish things will have less readiness to ask Him for great ones. We must not be too high-minded. I fancy we may sometimes be deterred from small prayers by a sense of our own dignity rather than of God's.


Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


God writes the new name on those places
only in our lives
where He has erased
the pride and self-sufficiency and self-interest.
--- Oswald Chambers


No matter what the circumstances, we Christians should keep our heads. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. It is a dismal thing to see a son of heaven cringe in terror before the sons of earth.
--- A.W. Tozer


Do not go where the path may lead instead go where there is no path and leave a trail.
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson


What could be more repellent than to suffer the limitation of others as a desperat alternative to gazing singly at our own?
-- Alain de Botton


... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 28:17
     by D.H. Stern

17     Let a man weighed down with anyone’s blood
flee to a pit; give him no support.

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 supreme climb

     Take now thy son … --- Genesis 22:2.

     God’s command is—Take now, not presently. It is extraordinary how we debate! We know a thing is right, but we try to find excuses for not doing it at once. To climb to the height God shows can never be done presently, it must be done now. The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually.

     “And Abraham rose up early in the Morning, … and went unto the place of which God had told him” (v. 3). The wonderful simplicity of Abraham! When God spoke, he did not confer with flesh and blood. Beware when you want to confer with flesh and blood, i.e., your own sympathies, your own insight, anything that is not based on your personal relationship to God. These are the things that compete with and hinder obedience to God.

     Abraham did not choose the sacrifice. Always guard against self-chosen service for God; self-sacrifice may be a disease. If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential order of God for you is a hard time of difficulty, go through with it, but never choose the scene of your martyrdom. God chose the crucible for Abraham, and Abraham made no demur; he went steadily through. If you are not living in touch with Him, it is easy to pass a crude verdict on God. You must go through the crucible before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because in the crucible you learn to know God better. God is working for His highest ends until His purpose and man’s purpose become one.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Gone?
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Gone?

Will they say on some future
  occasion, looking over the flogged acres
  of ploughland: This was Prytherch country?
  Nothing to show for it now: hedges
  uprooted, walls gone, a mobile people
  hurrying to and fro on their fast
  tractors ; a forest of aerials
  as though an invading fleet invisibly
  had come to anchor among these
  financed hills. They copy the image
  of themselves projected on their smooth
  screens to the accompaniment of inane
  music. They give grins and smiles
  back in return for the money that is
  spent on them. But where is the face
  with the crazed eyes that through the unseen
  drizzle of its tears looked out
  on this land and found no beauty
  in it, but accepted it, as a man
  will who has needs in him that only
  bare ground, black thorns and the sky's
  emptiness can fulfil?


Frequencies

4 / THE PHILOSOPHIC RELIGIOUS SENSIBILITY
     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     Even the universal acceptance of Judaism by the nations of the world is not described by Maimonides as being the result of a miraculous act of God. From the perspective of the medieval world, the universal triumph of Judaism was not so inconceivable an occurrence as it would be today. Christianity and Islam had spread the teachings of the Bible, so that all that was necessary was the correction of the false claim that Judaism had been superseded by the Christian and Islamic revelations. For a thinker, living in a political reality permeated by biblical categories, it was not inconceivable to expect an ideological change among all believers. Once they witnessed the national rebirth of Israel, the claim that Israel was the rejected people of God would be proven false.

     The foregoing examples from the Mishneh Torah illustrate Maimonides’ attempt to provide a method of translating the religious passion of immediacy (which is nurtured by belief in the power of the divine will to affect history), in a way which could be understood within the horizontal framework of being. Prophetic descriptions of God’s direct relationship with history can be understood, according to Maimonides, within the context of causality:

     It is very clear that everything that is produced in time must necessarily have a proximate cause which has produced it. In its turn, that cause has a cause and so forth till finally one comes to the First Cause of all things, I mean God’s will and free choice. For this reason all those intermediate causes are sometimes omitted in the dicta of the Prophets, and an individual act produced in time is ascribed to God, it being said that He, may He be exalted, has done it. All this is known. We and other men from among those who study true reality have spoken about it, and this is the opinion of all the people adhering to our Law.

     Maimonides’ understanding of divine action presupposes one’s ability to recognize how the horizontal world of cause and effect, within the structure of both human and natural history, points ultimately to God. To retain religious immediacy from the perspective of philosophy, one must go beyond proximate causal explanations of phenomena to discover the ultimate causal source in God.

     If human behavior is explained in terms of human reason, and we ignore the fact that the human intellect has its source in the active intellect which, in turn, has its ultimate source in God, then God is not recognized as the guide when man reflects:

     In the same way the remaining portion of this verse, “In Your light do we see light,” has the selfsame meaning—namely, that through the overflow of the intellect that has overflowed from You, we intellectually cognize, and consequently we receive correct guidance, we draw inferences, and we apprehend the intellect. Understand this.


Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     November 11



     Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. --- Hebrews 10:32.

     It may be we have been groping in the darkness, not seeing clearly what our duty was.    The Weaving of Glory    And choice was difficult, so much depended on it—there was so much to win, so much to lose. And then it may be in one radiant hour, never to be forgotten throughout the years, we heard, as it were, a voice behind us saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Perhaps by some word from friendly lips or by some providence or disappointment, clear as the sun shining in midheavens we saw what for us must be the path of duty. Such hours of high and resolute decision are among the greatest hours of human life. There is not a power or faculty we have that is not illuminated by the glory of them. And yet the struggle and torment that preceded them, when we were stumbling and groping toward decision, may not be half so terrible and searching as the struggle and the strain that follow after. Never do things renounced appeal to us so sweetly and so subtly and so secretly as in the season when we have turned our backs on them and set our faces bravely to the morn. The most difficult task in life is not to win. The most difficult task is to keep what we have won—never to falter, when the shadows deepen, from the verdict of our high and radiant hours; never to go back on our decisions; never to listen again to any voices that in our worthiest and purest moments we knew to be the voices of the Enemy. That is the reason why great decisions ought to be reinforced by prayer. There is no weapon on earth like prayer for helping us to keep what we have won. For prayer unites us to the living Christ and touches the vilest of us with the touch of heaven and brings to our aid that power of perfect living which was witnessed long ago in Galilee. In the gloomiest day you may lift your heart up and draw for your need out of the grace of Jesus. And so the highest comes back to us once more, and we see it and love it again, for all our faltering.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day   November 11
     Imitating Christ


     Thomas Hemerken, better known as Thomas of Kempen (Kempen being a German village 40 miles from Cologne), or Thomas à Kempis, wrote the most famous devotional book in Christian history.

     He was born about 1380, and his parents, though poor, managed to send him to Holland to be educated by the Brethren of the Common Life. The Brethren emphasized spiritual conversion, practical holiness, and meditation on Christ. These teachings hit a chord with the young student, and he became a deeply pondering disciple of the Lord Jesus. In 1399 Thomas, about 20, entered the Augustinian convent of Mount Saint Agues, near Zwolle, Holland, and this became his home the rest of his life. There he preached, copied manuscripts, dispensed spiritual counsel, and wrote books until his death at age 90. A monument was dedicated to his memory at St. Michael’s Church in Zwolle on November 11, 1897.

     Though Thomas’s life was a quiet one, its echoes reverberate through history. His best-known work is The Imitation of Christ, originally a series of four books published anonymously (causing years of speculation about its author). The Imitation was widely popular, embraced by both Protestants and Catholics, and it reached its ninety-ninth printing by the end of the fifteenth century. Today, it is known as one of the greatest devotional classics of all time. In terms of circulation, it has reportedly been more widely distributed than any book in church history besides the Bible. Readers are challenged to deny themselves, embrace humility, and love God. Here is a sample:

     Strive to turn your heart from loving things that are seen, and to set it upon things that are not seen. … How much better is a lowly peasant who serves God than a proud philosopher who watches the stars and neglects knowing himself. … We must not trust every word of others or feeling within ourselves, but cautiously and patiently try the matter, whether it be of God. The more humble a man is in himself, and the more obedient toward God, the wiser will he be in all things, and the more shall his soul be at peace.

     You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God’s right side. Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth. You died, which means that your life is hidden with Christ, who sits beside God.
--- Colossians 3:1-3.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - November 11

     “Underneath are the everlasting arms.” --- Deuteronomy 33:27.

     God—the eternal God—is himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet “underneath” thee “are everlasting arms.” Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ’s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as “the uttermost”; and to the uttermost he saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.” He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”—they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan’s efforts to harm him avail nothing.

     This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the “everlasting arms”—arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for “the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary.”


          Evening - November 11

     “He shall choose our inheritance for us.” --- Psalm 47:4.

     Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

     “Trials must and will befall—
     But with humble faith to see
     Love inscribed upon them all;
     This is happiness to me.”


Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

Amazing Grace
     November 11

          SING PRAISE TO GOD WHO REIGNS ABOVE

     Johann J. Schutz, 1640–1690
     Translated by Frances E. Cox, 1812–1897

     The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. (Psalm 97:1)

     Following the Protestant Reformation, which was climaxed by Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses at the Cathedral of Wittenberg in 1517, Lutheranism became the dominant religious force in Germany and throughout much of Europe. In the 17th century, there was an important renewal movement within the Lutheran Church known as Pietism. The leader of this spiritual movement was a Lutheran pastor in Frankfort, Germany, Philip J. Spener (1635–1705). Mainly through small cell prayer and Bible study groups, he sought to influence nominal church people who had become accustomed to the dead orthodoxy that had overtaken the church. Spener taught them the meaning of inner personal faith in Christ and the demands that such faith makes upon the believer for holy Christian living.

     One of the important characteristics of the 17th century Pietistic Movement was the involvement of laymen in the church. Many of the hymn writers and important voices in the church at this time were the lay people from all walks of life. Such was the case with Johann J. Schutz, an authority in civil and canon law, living in Frankfort, Germany. He was closely allied with Philip Spener and the practice of the Pietists in establishing small cell groups within the church. Schutz wrote a number of religious publications as well as five hymns. This is his only hymn still in use.

     As is true with any spiritual renewal, the Pietist Movement give birth to a great revival of hymnody throughout Germany.

     Sing praise to God who reigns above, the God of all creation, the God of pow’r, the God of love, the God of our salvation; with healing balm my soul He fills, and ev’ry faithless murmur stills: To God all praise and glory!
     The Lord is never far away, but, thru all grief distressing, an ever present help and stay, our peace and joy and blessing; as with a mother’s tender hand He leads His own, His chosen band: To God all praise and glory!
     Thus all my toilsome way along I sing aloud Thy praises, that men may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises; be joyful in the Lord, my heart! Both soul and body bear your part: To God all praise and glory!


     For Today: 1 Chronicles 16:25–36; Psalm 97:1, 6; 139:7; Isaiah 12:2–5; Hebrews 13:15

     Raise your voice in praise to the omnipotent God of all creation; yet He is the One who has promised never to be far away and to be your “ever present help and stay.” Allow this musical expression to help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, November 11, 2017 | After Pentecost


Proper 26, Saturday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 75, 76
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 23, 27
Old Testament     Ezra 9:1–15
New Testament     Revelation 17:1–14
Gospel     Matthew 14:22–36

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 75, 76

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

1 We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks; your name is near.
People tell of your wondrous deeds.

2 At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
3 When the earth totters, with all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep its pillars steady.     Selah
4 I say to the boastful, “Do not boast,”
and to the wicked, “Do not lift up your horn;
5 do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with insolent neck.”

6 For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up;
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
8 For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed;
he will pour a draught from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.
9 But I will rejoice forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

To the leader: with stringed instruments.
A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

1 In Judah God is known,
his name is great in Israel.
2 His abode has been established in Salem,
his dwelling place in Zion.
3 There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.     Selah

4 Glorious are you, more majestic
than the everlasting mountains.
5 The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil;
they sank into sleep;
none of the troops
was able to lift a hand.
6 At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
both rider and horse lay stunned.

7 But you indeed are awesome!
Who can stand before you
when once your anger is roused?
8 From the heavens you uttered judgment;
the earth feared and was still
9 when God rose up to establish judgment,
to save all the oppressed of the earth.     Selah

10 Human wrath serves only to praise you,
when you bind the last bit of your wrath around you.
11 Make vows to the LORD your God, and perform them;
let all who are around him bring gifts
to the one who is awesome,
12 who cuts off the spirit of princes,
who inspires fear in the kings of the earth.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 23, 27

A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.

Of David.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.

4 One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD,
and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.

6 Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, do I seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 If my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Old Testament
Ezra 9:1–15

9 After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands, and in this faithlessness the officials and leaders have led the way.” 3 When I heard this, I tore my garment and my mantle, and pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat appalled. 4 Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice.

5 At the evening sacrifice I got up from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle torn, and fell on my knees, spread out my hands to the LORD my God, 6 and said,

“O my God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors to this day we have been deep in guilt, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been handed over to the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as is now the case. 8 But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, who has left us a remnant, and given us a stake in his holy place, in order that he may brighten our eyes and grant us a little sustenance in our slavery. 9 For we are slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to give us new life to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judea and Jerusalem.

10 “And now, our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11 which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering to possess is a land unclean with the pollutions of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations. They have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, so that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 After all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, 14 shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you destroy us without remnant or survivor? 15 O LORD, God of Israel, you are just, but we have escaped as a remnant, as is now the case. Here we are before you in our guilt, though no one can face you because of this.”

New Testament
Revelation 17:1–14

17 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great whore who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the inhabitants of the earth have become drunk.” 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; 5 and on her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.” 6 And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.

When I saw her, I was greatly amazed. 7 But the angel said to me, “Why are you so amazed? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the inhabitants of the earth, whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will be amazed when they see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

9 “This calls for a mind that has wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; also, they are seven kings, 10 of whom five have fallen, one is living, and the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are united in yielding their power and authority to the beast; 14 they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

Gospel
Matthew 14:22–36

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, 36 and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.


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