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Jeremiah 35 thru 37
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The Rechabites Commended

Jeremiah 35:1     The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah: 2 Go to the house of the Rechabites, and speak with them, and bring them to the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink. 3 So I took Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah son of Habazziniah, and his brothers, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites. 4 I brought them to the house of the Lord into the chamber of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of Maaseiah son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold. 5 Then I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, “Have some wine.” 6 But they answered, “We will drink no wine, for our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab commanded us, ‘You shall never drink wine, neither you nor your children; 7 nor shall you ever build a house, or sow seed; nor shall you plant a vineyard, or even own one; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you reside.’ 8 We have obeyed the charge of our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, 9 and not to build houses to live in. We have no vineyard or field or seed; 10 but we have lived in tents, and have obeyed and done all that our ancestor Jonadab commanded us. 11 But when King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Arameans.’ That is why we are living in Jerusalem.”

     12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Can you not learn a lesson and obey my words? says the Lord. 14 The command has been carried out that Jonadab son of Rechab gave to his descendants to drink no wine; and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their ancestor’s command. But I myself have spoken to you persistently, and you have not obeyed me. 15 I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, “Turn now everyone of you from your evil way, and amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall live in the land that I gave to you and your ancestors.” But you did not incline your ear or obey me. 16 The descendants of Jonadab son of Rechab have carried out the command that their ancestor gave them, but this people has not obeyed me. 17 Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem every disaster that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered.

     18 But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of your ancestor Jonadab, and kept all his precepts, and done all that he commanded you, 19 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab son of Rechab shall not lack a descendant to stand before me for all time.

The Scroll Read in the Temple

Jeremiah 36:1     In the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. 3 It may be that when the house of Judah hears of all the disasters that I intend to do to them, all of them may turn from their evil ways, so that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.

     4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at Jeremiah’s dictation all the words of the Lord that he had spoken to him. 5 And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, “I am prevented from entering the house of the Lord; 6 so you go yourself, and on a fast day in the hearing of the people in the Lord’s house you shall read the words of the Lord from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the people of Judah who come up from their towns. 7 It may be that their plea will come before the Lord, and that all of them will turn from their evil ways, for great is the anger and wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.” 8 And Baruch son of Neriah did all that the prophet Jeremiah ordered him about reading from the scroll the words of the Lord in the Lord’s house.

     9 In the fifth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the towns of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the Lord. 10 Then, in the hearing of all the people, Baruch read the words of Jeremiah from the scroll, in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah son of Shaphan the secretary, which was in the upper court, at the entry of the New Gate of the Lord’s house.

The Scroll Read in the Palace

     11 When Micaiah son of Gemariah son of Shaphan heard all the words of the Lord from the scroll, 12 he went down to the king’s house, into the secretary’s chamber; and all the officials were sitting there: Elishama the secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the officials. 13 And Micaiah told them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the scroll in the hearing of the people. 14 Then all the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah son of Shelemiah son of Cushi to say to Baruch, “Bring the scroll that you read in the hearing of the people, and come.” So Baruch son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them. 15 And they said to him, “Sit down and read it to us.” So Baruch read it to them. 16 When they heard all the words, they turned to one another in alarm, and said to Baruch, “We certainly must report all these words to the king.” 17 Then they questioned Baruch, ‘Tell us now, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?” 18 Baruch answered them, “He dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink on the scroll.” 19 Then the officials said to Baruch, “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and let no one know where you are.”

Jehoiakim Burns the Scroll

     20 Leaving the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the secretary, they went to the court of the king; and they reported all the words to the king. 21 Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary; and Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. 22 Now the king was sitting in his winter apartment (it was the ninth month), and there was a fire burning in the brazier before him. 23 As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a penknife and throw them into the fire in the brazier, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. 24 Yet neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words, was alarmed, nor did they tear their garments. 25 Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son and Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest the secretary Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah. But the Lord hid them.

Jeremiah Dictates Another

     27 Now, after the king had burned the scroll with the words that Baruch wrote at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 28 Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which King Jehoiakim of Judah has burned. 29 And concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah you shall say: Thus says the Lord, You have dared to burn this scroll, saying, Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cut off from it human beings and animals? 30 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah: He shall have no one to sit upon the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. 31 And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity; I will bring on them, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the people of Judah, all the disasters with which I have threatened them—but they would not listen.

     32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the secretary Baruch son of Neriah, who wrote on it at Jeremiah’s dictation all the words of the scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.

Zedekiah’s Vain Hope (2 Kings 24.17; 2 Chr 36.10)

Jeremiah 37:1     Zedekiah son of Josiah, whom King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon made king in the land of Judah, succeeded Coniah son of Jehoiakim. 2 But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the Lord that he spoke through the prophet Jeremiah.

     3 King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to the prophet Jeremiah saying, “Please pray for us to the Lord our God.” 4 Now Jeremiah was still going in and out among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. 5 Meanwhile, the army of Pharaoh had come out of Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.

     6 Then the word of the Lord came to the prophet Jeremiah: 7 Thus says the Lord, God of Israel: This is what the two of you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to me to inquire of me; Pharaoh’s army, which set out to help you, is going to return to its own land, to Egypt. 8 And the Chaldeans shall return and fight against this city; they shall take it and burn it with fire. 9 Thus says the Lord: Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely go away from us,” for they will not go away. 10 Even if you defeated the whole army of Chaldeans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men in their tents, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.

Jeremiah Is Imprisoned

     11 Now when the Chaldean army had withdrawn from Jerusalem at the approach of Pharaoh’s army, 12 Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin to receive his share of property among the people there. 13 When he reached the Benjamin Gate, a sentinel there named Irijah son of Shelemiah son of Hananiah arrested the prophet Jeremiah saying, “You are deserting to the Chaldeans.” 14 And Jeremiah said, “That is a lie; I am not deserting to the Chaldeans.” But Irijah would not listen to him, and arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 The officials were enraged at Jeremiah, and they beat him and imprisoned him in the house of the secretary Jonathan, for it had been made a prison. 16 Thus Jeremiah was put in the cistern house, in the cells, and remained there many days.

     17 Then King Zedekiah sent for him, and received him. The king questioned him secretly in his house, and said, “Is there any word from the Lord?” Jeremiah said, “There is!” Then he said, “You shall be handed over to the king of Babylon.” 18 Jeremiah also said to King Zedekiah, “What wrong have I done to you or your servants or this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you and against this land’? 20 Now please hear me, my lord king: be good enough to listen to my plea, and do not send me back to the house of the secretary Jonathan to die there.” 21 So King Zedekiah gave orders, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guard; and a loaf of bread was given him daily from the bakers’ street, until all the bread of the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.

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

What I'm Reading

How Churches in America’s Least Religious Region Talk About Sexuality

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra 11/3/2016

     Four Massachusetts churches filed a lawsuit against the state last month, arguing that public accommodation laws inhibit their religious practices. The Massachusetts legislature had added “gender identity” as a protected class, which the attorney general and state commission on discrimination interpreted to mean that churches must open bathroom facilities to people based on their self-identified gender identity.

     The suit is the latest sally in an area widely acknowledged as the least religious in the country. Five of the six states that make up New England—Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut—sit at the bottom of Pew Research Group’s scale of most religious states. Two of them—New Hampshire and Massachusetts—are tied for dead last.

     In other words, people living in the Northeast scored the lowest on believing in God, attending church, praying, and believing religion is very important. Only 9 percent of adults in Massachusetts belong to an evangelical denomination. Yet there are also signs of growth. The Southern Baptist Convention in particular has planted more than 115 New England churches—that’s one-third of its churches in the area—since 2010.

     Allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify is the newest front in American culture’s conflict over sexuality. Beyond Target, the Obama administration told schools this summer that they can’t discriminate by gender identity; three months later, the order was put on hold by a federal court in Texas and then taken up by the Supreme Court. Last week, a lawsuit by an Iowa church was dropped after a judge clarified that churches were exempt from the state’s public bathroom anti-discrimination policy.

     In New England, Does Anyone Care Anymore?

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

Killing the Canaanites: A Response to the New Atheism’s “Divine Genocide” Claims

By Clay Jones

     The “new atheists” call God’s commands to kill the Canaanites “genocide,” but a closer look at the horror of the Canaanites’ sinfulness, exhibited in rampant idolatry, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality, reveals that God’s reason for commanding their death was not genocide but capital punishment. After all, the Old Testament unequivocally commands that those who do any one of these things deserves to die. Also, God made it clear in His conversation with Abraham regarding the Canaanite cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that He knows who would or would not repent, and in the case of those cities, not one person would heed the warning and even Lot’s family had to be forcibly pulled away from the coming destruction. In Leviticus 18 God then warns Israel that if they commit similar sins that the land would similarly “vomit” them out. Later when Israel disobeys God and allows the Canaanites to continue to live among them, the corruptive and seductive power of Canaanite sin results in the Canaanization of Israel. Subsequently, God sent prophets to warn Israel of their coming destruction, but they didn’t repent and God said that they became “like Sodom to me” and He visited destruction on Israel for committing the same sins. This again reveals that God’s motive isn’t genocide, but capital punishment. That we commit similar sins today renders us incapable of appropriate moral outrage against these sins and thus we accuse God of “genocide” to justify our own sinfulness.

     Richard Dawkins and other new atheists herald God’s ordering of the destruction of Canaanite cities to be divine “ethnic cleansing” and “genocides.”1 With righteous indignation, Dawkins opines that the God of the Old Testament is “the most unpleasant character in all of fiction.”2 But was the killing of the Canaanites an example of divine genocide? If you think the Canaanites deserved to die because of their own wickedness, Dawkins will zealously compare you to acting like the Taliban.3 A closer look at several key facts will help explain God’s reason for the destruction of the Canaanites and reveal how our own sinfulness demonstrates our incapacity to judge rightly.

     That atheists are incapable of judging spiritual matters leads some Christians to wonder why we even need to answer them at all, especially if they lack any objective, moral, or epistemological foundation for their claims. Moreover, most atheists do not customarily condemn the very practices that God condemns, for example, idolatry, adultery, and homosexuality. Predictably so, their values conflict with what God hates.

     Concerning the destruction of the Canaanites, atheists especially like to exploit the Christian condemnation of genocide. They reason something along these lines: (1) Christians condemn genocide. (2) Yahweh’s command to kill the Canaanites was an act of divine genocide. (3) Therefore, Christians should condemn Yahweh for commanding genocide.

     The second premise is false, however. Part of the goal of this essay is to offer evidence to show that God had good reason to command Israel to kill the Canaanites. In Leviticus 18 and elsewhere, for example, the Bible reveals that God punished the Canaanites for specific grievous evils. Also, this wasn’t the entire destruction of a race as God didn’t order that every Canaanite be killed but only those who lived within specific geographical boundaries (Josh. 1:4). Canaanite tribes (especially the Hittites) greatly exceeded the boundaries that Israel was told to conquer. And since, as we will see, He punished Israel when they committed the same sins, what happened to the Canaanites was not genocide, but capital punishment.

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

An Argument for God's Existence Based on Morality

By Chad

     In philosopher Stephen T. Davis's new book ISBN-13: 978-0830844746, he offers an argument for God's existence based on morality.  He calls it "the genocide 1 argument for the existence of God."  He writes:

     "We can define genocide as the crime of intentionally destroying or trying to destroy an entire group of people, usually a racial, ethic, national or religious group.  My argument presupposes moral objectivism-that is, the theory that certain things are morally right (things like compassion, truth telling and promise keeping) and that certain other things (things like lying, cruelty and murder) are morally wrong.  It also assumes that genocide is one of the things that is morally wrong."2

     The argument is as follows:

  1. Genocide is a departure from the way that things ought to be.
  2. If genocide is a departure from the way that things ought to be, then there is a way that things ought to be.
  3. If there is a way that things ought to be, then there is a design plan for things.
  4. If there is a design plan for things, then there is an author of the plan, a designer.
  5. This designer we can call God.3

     Davis goes on to explain:

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8 Myths About China Today

By Joann Pittman 3/6/2012

     In order to understand China today, it's helpful to understand this simple rule: nothing is as it seems. In fact, I would say this rule applies when observing and analyzing nearly all segments of life in China: politics, economy, social relationships, and even religion. To put it another way, whatever China seems to be at any given moment, it is in fact the opposite. This can be difficult for Westerners, because we tend to be dichotomist in our thinking, wanting something to be either this or that. We don't do well with this and that. Rob Gifford, in his book China Road, expresses well the confusion and bewilderment that await those engaged with China when he writes:

     China messes with my head on a daily basis. One day I think that it is really going to take over the world and that the Chinese government is doing the most extraordinary thing the planet has ever witnessed. . . . The next day it will all seem built on sand and I expect it to all come tumbling down around us.

     To illustrate this principle, I would like to highlight eight myths or misconceptions that abound regarding China today.

     Myth #1: China is a communist country. | What I mean here by communism is a Communist or Marxist belief system. Although the Communist Party of China (CCP), with its 72 million members, remains firmly in power, the reality is that communism is no longer a unifying ideology. China today is essentially a consumer society. Every human being is hard-wired to want more stuff; the Chinese are no different. The economic reforms of the past 30 years have significantly raised the standard of living of most Chinese, and China's participation in the global economy means that anything can be purchased for a price. Most Chinese today are concerned with bettering their economic condition and/or accumulating wealth.

     Myth #2: China is a capitalist country. | Capitalism here refers to a particular economic system where the means of production are in private hands. While private enterprise flourishes in China, many sectors remain under state control. These include key sectors such as education, media, resources, and transportation systems. The official line the Chinese use to describe their system is “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” When queried about this Chinese friends usually say, “It means capitalism, but we're still uncomfortable with the word.” What it really describes is a system where the economy is increasingly ordered along free market principles, but the political system remains authoritarian.

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     Joann Pittman is a senior associate at ChinaSource, a resource ministry dedicated to providing the global Christian community with objective information about the church in China. In addition, she does consulting and training to help people prepare for and navigate the challenges of cross-cultural living. She lived in China for more than 20 years, working as a teacher, Chinese language program director, English language program director, and cross-cultural trainer. She has done extensive study and research in Chinese language, history, and contemporary society, and is a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese. She is the author of Survival Chinese Lessons. You can read Joann’s blog Outside-In at joannpittman.com. You can also follow her on Twitter.

What It’s Really Like for China’s Urban Christians

By Brent Fulton 11/2/2016

     By the end of the 1970s, many predicted Christianity in China was over. Mao Zedong’s decade-long Cultural Revolution, they insisted, had effectively wiped out Chinese Christianity.

     They were wrong.

     Today, the most conservative estimates place the number of Christians in China around 70 million, with other estimates claiming tens of millions more. And, as Brent Fulton notes in his book China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden, the 500 million who have flocked to China’s cities over the last three decades are partly responsible for the astounding growth of Christianity in the country’s cultural and political centers.

     Fulton—president of ChinaSource, an organization dedicated to offering the Christian community knowledge for collaborating with and serving the Chinese church; and editor of ChinaSource Quarterly—traces the effect of rapid urbanization combined with Christianity’s surprising growth. Such massive change presents many challenges and opportunities for China’s urban Christians, and Fulton ably explores their response. His more than 30 years of experience watching the Chinese church corrects misunderstandings and gives a holistic picture of Christianity in the country.

     To better understand some of these dynamics, I asked Fulton about life for Christians in China, what Western Christians can learn from their family there, and more.

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     Matt Tyler lives in Asia with his wife, Emily. He works as a pastoral assistant in an international church. You can follow him on Twitter.

Expository preaching and the recovery of Christian worship

By R. Albert Mohler Jr.

     Evangelical Christians have been especially attentive to worship in recent years sparking a renaissance of thought and conversation about what worship really is and how it should be done. Even if this renewed interest has resulted in what some have called the “worship wars” in some churches, it seems that what A.W. Tozer once called the “missing jewel” of evangelical worship is being recovered.

     Nevertheless, if most evangelicals would quickly agree that worship is central to the life of the church, there would be no consensus to an unavoidable question: “What is central to Christian worship?”

     Though most evangelicals mention preaching of the Word as a necessary or customary part of worship, the prevailing model of worship in evangelical churches is increasingly defined by music — along with innovations such as drama and video presentations.

     Christians often shop congregations in order to find the church that offers the worship style and experience that fits their expectation. In most communities, churches are known for their worship styles and musical programs. Those dissatisfied with what they find at one church can quickly move to another, sometimes using the language of self-expression to explain that the new church “meets our needs” or “allows us to worship.”

     A concern for true biblical worship was at the very heart of the Protestant Reformation. But even Martin Luther, who wrote hymns and required his preachers to be trained in song, would not recognize this modern preoccupation with music as legitimate or healthy. Why? Because the Reformers were convinced that the heart of true biblical worship was the preaching of the Word of God.

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Albert Mohler Books:

A Prelude to Joy: A Thanksgiving Meditation

By Nathan Rittenhouse 11/23/2016

     I recently attended the birthday party of a little girl who was too young to read the notes written on her presents. She did not know which gifts came from which guests. I watched as she conferred with the adult beside her to determine who had given her each package. She then searched for the giver to thank them before opening the present. She seemed to have an inherent trust in the givers, assuming that the gifts were good and worthy of gratitude before knowing the contents.

     This childish gratitude inspired me to consider the orientation of my heart and mind as I approach Thanksgiving. The simple truth is that in order to be grateful we must first acknowledge that we have been given a gift.

     Our inability to see a giver behind our gifts leaves us with a temperament that gravitates toward complaint. Some complaints are legitimate, and others tempt us to complain about complainers. Complaint derives from not getting what we feel we deserve. The opposite of complaining is gratitude: acknowledging that we received something good that we did not deserve. There are ample reasons for sorrow, but we can quickly convince ourselves to despair if we consistently fail to see the good gifts scattered among the wreckage of our world.

     One morning several months ago, I was feeling emotionally and spiritually sluggish. My suspicion was that I had a vitamin deficiency of gratitude, so I took my wife on a tour of our home and pointed out everything that we had been given. The gifts ranged from artwork, to kitchenware, to our favorite books and sporting equipment. The value was not just in the items, but in the fact that they reminded us of people who had invested in our lives. The gifts simply reminded us of the givers. Physical objects were not the only things that we had been given. There were also things that we were able to buy because we had been given the opportunity to work. We also own things that we have made because, for this moment, we have been given the good health to work with our hands. When you see everything you have as a gift, your perspective begins to change, and a strange sensation emerges. I call it joy.

     It is a tragic situation when a gift has been given out of love, but the receiver does not know who gave it, or worst yet, does not care. In the case of a little girl at a birthday party, the search for the giver is easy. However, there are those in this world with a sense of thanksgiving without knowing whom to be thankful to. Millions of people this week will be thanks-givers, without slowing to ponder the identity of the Thanks-Receiver. We are temporarily thankful for the turkey on Thursday that will fuel our shopping sprees on Friday. We will buy more things at the suggestion of a consumer culture that tells us we actually do not have enough. We have thus commercialized the antithesis of the meaning of the holiday and distracted ourselves from asking the big questions of life that derive from being thankful. I am not suggesting that we should not shop. What I am saying is that we should keep in mind the old doxology “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” and delight not only in the gifts we have been given, but also in the knowledge that the Giver has made Himself known. Take a moment to be still and thank God.

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     Nathan Rittenhouse is an Itinerant Speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He was graduated from Bridgewater College in Virginia with a double major in Physics and Philosophy and Religion, and a minor in Mathematics before attending the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He holds an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

     Nathan has interests in topics of science and religion, church history, and systematic theology. He grew up in an active church and Christian family and developed an enthusiasm for Christ that has intensified with his academic studies. As a student, Nathan refreshed his mind by running track and cross-country and continues to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities with his wife and kids.

     Nathan spent the last three years traveling and speaking in universities throughout New England, and is currently focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region.

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     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Be a Shamgar (1)
     (Nov 2)    Bob Gass

     ‘Shamgar…struck down six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad.’

(Jdg 3:31) 31 After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel. ESV

     Shamgar is mentioned only twice in Scripture, and his story takes up three lines and two verses. But his impact was amazing. And it’s a challenge to all those who think, ‘God would never use someone like me.’ He may have been the least qualified person to deliver Israel from the Philistines. For starters, he likely wasn’t even an Israelite. His name is Hurrian in the original. He could have rationalised inaction in a dozen different ways. ‘I don’t have the right weapon. I can’t do this by myself. These aren’t even my people.’ If you look for an excuse you will always find one. If you don’t, you won’t. When it comes to making excuses, we are infinitely creative. What if we channelled that creativity into finding solutions instead of finding excuses? If we did, God could use us as an instrument to fulfil His purposes just as He used Shamgar. When God stirs your spirit or moves your heart, you cannot sit back, you’ve got to step up and step in. And when you do, it can become a defining moment in your life. Don’t worry about the results. If it’s the right thing, the results are God’s responsibility. Focus on doing right things for the right reason, and don’t buy into the lie that it can’t be done! Yes, it will take all-out effort, but you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (see Philippians 4:13). A failed attempt is not failing. Failing is not trying. If you are trying, in God’s eyes you are succeeding. So grab your ox-goad – and go for it.

Ezek 3-4
Heb 6

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     After defeating the British, General George Washington resigned and returned to farming at Mount Vernon. On this day, November 2, 1783, he issued his Farewell Orders to his troops. “Before the Comdr in Chief takes his final leave,” he wrote, “he wishes… a slight review of the past…. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the… perseverance of the Armies of the U. States, through almost every possible suffering… for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.”

American Minute

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

     Chapter 2

     I can’t understand why you say that my view of church services is "man-centered” and too concerned with "mere edification." How does this follow from anything I said? Actually my ideas about the sacrament would probably be called "magical" by a good many modern theologians. Surely, the more fully one believes that a strictly supernatural event takes place, the less one can attach any great importance to the dress, gestures, and position of the priest? I agree with you that he is there not only to edify the people but to glorify God. But how can a man glorify God by placing obstacles in the way of the people? Especially if the slightest element of "clerical one-upmanship"-I owe the phrase to a cleric­ underlies some of his eccentricities? How right is that passage in the Imitation where the celebrant is told, "Consult not your own devotion but the edification of your flock." I've forgotten how the Latin runs.

     Now, about the Rose Macaulay Letters. Like you, I was staggered by this continual search for more and more prayers. If she were merely collecting them as objets d'art I could understand it; she was a born collector. But I get the impression that she collected them in order to use them; that her whole prayer-life depended on what we may call "ready-made" prayers-prayers written by other people.

     But though, like you, staggered, I was not, like you, repelled. One reason is that I had-and you hadn't-the luck to meet her. Make no mistake. She was the right sort; one of the most fully civilized people I ever knew. The other reason, as I have so often told you, is that you are a bigot. Broaden your mind, Malcolm, broaden your mind! It takes all sorts to make a world; or a church. This may be even truer of a church. If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell. "One fold" doesn't mean "one pool." Cultivated roses and daffodils are no more alike than wild roses and daffodils. What pleased me most about a Greek Orthodox mass I once attended was that there seemed to be no prescribed behavior for the congregation. Some stood, some knelt, some sat, some walked; one crawled about the floor like a caterpillar. And the beauty of it was that nobody took the slightest notice of what anyone else was doing. I wish we Anglicans would follow their example. One meets people who are perturbed. because someone in the next pew does, or does not, cross himself. They oughtn't even to have seen, let alone censured. "Who art thou that judgest Another's servant?"

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
to a known God.
--- Corrie Ten Boom

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark,
you don't throw away the ticket and jump off.
You sit still and trust the engineer.
--- Corrie Ten Boom

My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated,
but not signed.
--- Christopher Morley

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     4. Now when Bassus had taken a full view of this place, he resolved to besiege it, by filling up the valley that lay on the east side; so he fell hard to work, and took great pains to raise his banks as soon as possible, and by that means to render the siege easy. As for the Jews that were caught in this place, they separated themselves from the strangers that were with them, and they forced those strangers, as an otherwise useless multitude, to stay in the lower part of the city, and undergo the principal dangers, while they themselves seized on the upper citadel, and held it, and this both on account of its strength, and to provide for their own safety. They also supposed they might obtain their pardon, in case they should [at last] surrender the citadel. However, they were willing to make trial, in the first place, whether the hopes they had of avoiding a siege would come to any thing; with which intention they made sallies every day, and fought with those that met them; in which conflicts they were many of them slain, as they therein slew many of the Romans. But still it was the opportunities that presented themselves which chiefly gained both sides their victories; these were gained by the Jews, when they fell upon the Romans as they were off their guard; but by the Romans, when, upon the others' sallies against their banks, they foresaw their coming, and were upon their guard when they received them. But the conclusion of this siege did not depend upon these bickerings; but a certain surprising accident, relating to what was done in this siege, forced the Jews to surrender the citadel. There was a certain young man among the besieged, of great boldness, and very active of his hand, his name was Eleazar; he greatly signalized himself in those sallies, and encouraged the Jews to go out in great numbers, in order to hinder the raising of the banks, and did the Romans a vast deal of mischief when they came to fighting; he so managed matters, that those who sallied out made their attacks easily, and returned back without danger, and this by still bringing up the rear himself. Now it happened that, on a certain time, when the fight was over, and both sides were parted, and retired home, he, in way of contempt of the enemy, and thinking that none of them would begin the fight again at that time, staid without the gates, and talked with those that were upon the wall, and his mind was wholly intent upon what they said. Now a certain person belonging to the Roman camp, whose name was Rufus, by birth an Egyptian, ran upon him suddenly, when nobody expected such a thing, and carried him off, with his armor itself; while, in the mean time, those that saw it from the wall were under such an amazement, that Rufus prevented their assistance, and carried Eleazar to the Roman camp. So the general of the Romans ordered that he should be taken up naked, set before the city to be seen, and sorely whipped before their eyes. Upon this sad accident that befell the young man, the Jews were terribly confounded, and the city, with one voice, sorely lamented him, and the mourning proved greater than could well be supposed upon the calamity of a single person. When Bassus perceived that, he began to think of using a stratagem against the enemy, and was desirous to aggravate their grief, in order to prevail with them to surrender the city for the preservation of that man. Nor did he fail of his hope; for he commanded them to set up a cross, as if he were just going to hang Eleazar upon it immediately; the sight of this occasioned a sore grief among those that were in the citadel, and they groaned vehemently, and cried out that they could not bear to see him thus destroyed. Whereupon Eleazar besought them not to disregard him, now he was going to suffer a most miserable death, and exhorted them to save themselves, by yielding to the Roman power and good fortune, since all other people were now conquered by them. These men were greatly moved with what he said, there being also many within the city that interceded for him, because he was of an eminent and very numerous family; so they now yielded to their passion of commiseration, contrary to their usual custom. Accordingly, they sent out immediately certain messengers, and treated with the Romans, in order to a surrender of the citadel to them, and desired that they might be permitted to go away, and take Eleazar along with them. Then did the Romans and their general accept of these terms; while the multitude of strangers that were in the lower part of the city, hearing of the agreement that was made by the Jews for themselves alone, were resolved to fly away privately in the night time; but as soon as they had opened their gates, those that had come to terms with Bassus told him of it; whether it were that they envied the others' deliverance, or whether it were done out of fear, lest an occasion should be taken against them upon their escape, is uncertain. The most courageous, therefore, of those men that went out prevented the enemy, and got away, and fled for it; but for those men that were caught within they were slain to the number of one thousand seven hundred, as were the women and children made slaves. But as Bassus thought he must perform the covenant he had made with those that surrendered the citadel, he let them go, and restored Eleazar to them.

     5. When Bassus had settled these affairs, he marched hastily to the forest of Jarden, as it is called; for he had heard that a great many of those that had fled from Jerusalem and Machaerus formerly were there gotten together. When he was therefore come to the place, and understood that the former news was no mistake, he, in the first place, surrounded the whole place with his horsemen, that such of the Jews as had boldness enough to try to break through might have no way possible for escaping, by reason of the situation of these horsemen; and for the footmen, he ordered them to cut down the trees that were in the wood whither they were fled. So the Jews were under a necessity of performing some glorious exploit, and of greatly exposing themselves in a battle, since they might perhaps thereby escape. So they made a general attack, and with a great shout fell upon those that surrounded them, who received them with great courage; and so while the one side fought desperately, and the others would not yield, the fight was prolonged on that account. But the event of the battle did not answer the expectation of the assailants; for so it happened, that no more than twelve fell on the Roman side, with a few that were wounded; but not one of the Jews escaped out of this battle, but they were all killed, being in the whole not fewer in number than three thousand, together with Judas, the son of Jairus, their general, concerning whom we have before spoken, that he had been a captain of a certain band at the siege of Jerusalem, and by going down into a certain vault under ground, had privately made his escape.

     6. About the same time it was that Caesar sent a letter to Bassus, and to Liberius Maximus, who was the procurator [of Judea], and gave order that all Judea should be exposed to sale 12 for he did not found any city there, but reserved the country for himself. However, he assigned a place for eight hundred men only, whom he had dismissed from his army, which he gave them for their habitation; it is called Emmaus, 13 and is distant from Jerusalem threescore furlongs. He also laid a tribute upon the Jews wheresoever they were, and enjoined every one of them to bring two drachmae every year into the Capitol, as they used to pay the same to the temple at Jerusalem. And this was the state of the Jewish affairs at this time.

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 28:3-4
     by D.H. Stern

3     A poor man who oppresses the weak
is like a downpour that sweeps away all the food.

4     Those who abandon Torah praise the wicked,
     but those who keep Torah fight them.

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

                Authority and independence

     If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments.
--- John 14:15 (R.V.).

     Our Lord never insists upon obedience; He tells us very emphatically what we ought to do, but He never takes means to make us do it. We have to obey Him out of oneness of spirit. That is why when Our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an IF—you do not need to unless you like. “If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself”; let him give up his right to himself to Me. Our Lord is not talking of eternal positions, but of being of value to Himself in this order of things, that is why He sounds so stern (cf.
Luke 14:26). Never interpret these words apart from the One who uttered them.

     The Lord does not give me rules, He makes His standard very clear, and if my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without any hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone else in competition with Him, viz., myself. Jesus Christ will not help me to obey Him, I must obey Him; and when I do obey Him, I fulfil my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small petty incidents, altogether unnoticeable and mean, but if I obey Jesus Christ in the haphazard circumstances, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God, and when I stand face to face with God I shall discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. When once God’s Redemption comes to the point of obedience in a human soul, it always creates. If I obey Jesus Christ, the Redemption of God will rush through me to other lives, because behind the deed of obedience is the Reality of Almighty God.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


  Here I think of the centuries,
six million of them, they say.
Yesterday a fine rain fell;
today the warmth has brought out the crowds.
After Christ, what? The molecules
are without redemption. My shadow
sunning itself on this stone
remembers the lava. Zeus looked down
on a brave world, but there was
no love there; the architecture
of their temples was less permanent
than these waves. Plato, Aristotle,
all those who furrowed the calmness
of their foreheads are responsible
for the bomb. I am charmed here
by the serenity of the reflections
in the sea's mirror. It is a window
as well. What I need
now is a faith to enable me to out-stare
the grinning faces of the inmates of its asylum,
the failed experiments God put away.


     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     The religious significance of the study of logic as a means of integrating an independent spiritual aspiration with a commitment to community is evident from Maimonides’ treatment of the difference between Akiva and Aḥer. It is also possible to respond to the perplexity which philosophical study creates for the halakhic Jew by rejecting the way of Athens rather than of Jerusalem. Maimonides does not educate toward an unquestioning acceptance of Aggadah. He therefore outlines his epistemological map for the general community of halakhic Jews. In “The Letter on Astrology” to the rabbis of Marseilles, Maimonides presents a clear demarcation between the domains of reason and traditional authority:

     Know, my masters, that it is not proper for a man to accept as trustworthy anything other than one of these three things. The first is a thing for which there is a clear proof deriving from man’s reasoning—such as arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. The second is a thing that a man perceives through one of the five senses—such as when he knows with certainty that this is red and this is black and the like through the sight of his eye; or as when he tastes that this is bitter and this is sweet; or as when he feels that this is hot and this is cold; or as when he hears that this sound is clear and this sound is indistinct; or as when he smells that this is a pleasing smell and this is a displeasing smell and the like. The third is a thing that a man receives from the Prophets or from the righteous. Every reasonable man ought to distinguish in his mind and thought all the things that he accepts as trustworthy, and say: “This I accept as trustworthy because of tradition, and this because of sense perception, and this on the grounds of reason.” ( Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook (Agora Editions) )

     After the rabbis are made to understand these three distinct criteria of knowledge, they are then introduced to an understanding of rabbinic Aggadah:

     I know that you may search and find sayings of some individual Sages in the Talmud and midrashot whose words appear to maintain that at the moment of man’s birth the stars will cause such and such to happen to him. Do not regard this as a difficulty, for it is not fitting for a man to abandon the prevailing law and raise once again the counterarguments and replies [that preceded its enactment]. Similarly it is not proper to abandon matters of reason that have already been verified by proofs, shake loose of them, and depend on the words of a single one of the Sages from whom possibly the matter was hidden.… A man should never cast his reason behind him, for the eyes are set in front, not in back. “Now I have told you all my heart” on this subject.

     Maimonides explains to the rabbis of Marseilles that talmudic authorities cannot make a spurious science, i.e., astrology, into a genuine science. The criteria of what is to count as legitimate, scientific truth is established by the canons of reason:

     The position of the astrologers is given the lie by reason, for correct reasoning has already refuted, by means of lucid proofs, all those follies that they have maintained.

     The rabbis are told to rely on the philosophers when they evaluate the claims of their rabbinic authorities. Throughout this important letter, which is addressed to students of the law, Maimonides does not hide his love for philosophy. He goes so far as to identify “the remnant … whom the Lord shall call” (
Joel 3:5) with those philosophers who are able to provide criteria for distinguishing between the genuine science of astronomy and the spurious science of astrology.

     The rabbis of Marseilles are shown how to use philosophic reason to support or supplement the teachings of Judaism. They are taught to recognize which principles of Judaism rest upon agreement with philosophic reason and which principles in Judaism rest upon the authority of tradition. Astrology is not only proven to be false on the basis of philosophy, but, as Maimonides writes:

     It also is regarded as a falsehood by us because of the religious tradition, for if the matter stood thus, of what utility would the Torah and the commandment and the Talmud be to a particular individual? For in that event, every single individual would lack the power to do anything he set his mind to, since something else draws him on—against his will—to be this and not to be that; of what use then is the command or the Talmud? The roots of the religion of Moses, our Master, we find, refute the position of these stupid ones—in addition to reason’s doing so with all those proofs that the philosophers maintain to refute the position of the Chasdeans and the Chaldeans and their associates.

     However when Maimonides deals with belief in individual providence which is based solely on the authority of the Torah and not on demonstrative reason, he writes:

     The position of the philosophers who maintain that these things are due to chance is also regarded as a falsehood by us because of the religious tradition.

     In contrast to astrology, which is rejected both by the claims of reason and of tradition, individual providence is accepted solely on the basis of tradition.

     We have discussed “The Letter on Astrology” to indicate that Maimonides exposed his legal students and associates to the same epistemological principles which he established in the Guide. All of Maimonides’ students are encouraged to develop their rational faculties without fear of being contradicted by traditional authorities. Because Maimonides carefully and clearly differentiates the three types of criteria upon which one can base one’s knowledge, the student of Torah knows when he must demonstrate allegiance to his tradition and when he is free to follow independent reason. The integrity of man’s intellect will never be violated by the tradition since, according to Maimonides, the tradition distinguishes knowledge based upon sense, upon reason, and upon authority.

     A factor in Maimonides’ anger with the Mutakallimun is that he viewed their method as a violation of the integrity of reason:

     Now when I considered this method of thought, my soul felt a very strong aversion to it and had every right to do so. For every argument deemed to be a demonstration of the temporal creation of the world is accompanied by doubts and is not a cogent demonstration except among those who do not know the difference between demonstration, dialectics, and sophistic argument.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     November 2

     None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
--- 1 Corinthians 2:8

     It is easy to say that if the man was innocent, then let the heavens fall, but let justice be done.    The Galilean Accent - Being Some Studies in the Christian Life   Yet not so long ago, in our own empire, a mob gathered where they had been forbidden, a shot was fired, several shots, and a thrill of horror swept us. But when those in authority stated that not to have fired meant an uprising and ugly massacres over a widespread area, we settled down again, reflecting that it was a dreadful position in which they were placed, and no doubt they did what was best where nothing could be good—and said no more about it. They must judge, there on the spot. Pilate, too, had to judge on the spot. And, looking long at Jesus, slowly he brought himself to vote for peace.

     And we had better think of that. For today we are all agog for peace—must have it. And it is little wonder, for those who have once seen war have no desire to see it again. The thing is an insanity. For, quite obviously, to hurl chunks of metal at each other can prove nothing regarding the original dispute. And we do well to labor zealously to make it a bad dream and a forgotten horror. For no one can imagine what another war, with all the devilments of science thrown in, would be.

     Yet we can go too far in our pursuit of peace. Is our zeal for it altogether pure or that of a tired world that is not going to make any further sacrifices? Peace! Peace! we cry. Yet what about righteousness? Was Pilate right? And are we not beginning to slip into his mood? Two little nations snarl at each other. And we are very bold. Be off, we say, and they slink away, making faces at each other. But a great power bullies a little one and announces it will brook no interference, that this touches its national honor. And we all gaze the other way. We must have peace. What about righteousness? Was Pilate right? Ekken, a great Japanese philosopher, remarks that “if a man will not give his life for righteousness he does not know the relative values of righteousness and life.”

     Pilate, too, tried to dodge trouble. But you can’t. Are we, too, trying that? Are we, too, sinking to that level? What if a day comes when you can’t have peace and righteousness? What if the gutters must just run with blood and our homes again be broken—and our hearts—or Christ be led to Calvary? What then?
--- Arthur John Gossip

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

On This Day   November 2
     City Aflame

     Citywide conflagrations seldom happen today, having gone the way of the plague. But Christians of earlier eras often ministered and suffered amid such holocausts. Believers in Nero’s day were unjustly blamed for Rome’s fiery destruction. Eighty-nine churches perished in London’s 1666 fire. D. L. Moody lost virtually all his property in the great Chicago fire of 1871. But none of them exceeded the fire and fear that engulfed Canton during the days of Protestants’ first missionary to China.

     Robert Morrison ministered in Canton despite the misgivings of the East India Company and the antagonism of the Chinese themselves. Yet he plodded on, finally baptizing his first convert after seven years of labor.

     On Friday night, November 1, 1822, Morrison became aware of panic in the city. A fire, starting in a baker’s shop and driven by strong winds, was roaring like a furnace through acres of crowded, wooden houses. Multitudes fled in hysteria. The East India Company’s fire equipment was of little use, for the streets were clogged with fleeing humanity, and the water supply was poor.

     Morrison, transfixed by the sea of flames, hurriedly penned a letter in Chinese before dawn on November 2, 1822 begging officials to pull down buildings in front of the fire to stop the inferno’s advance. But the Chinese refused to even read his letter, though he took it to the governor in person. By 8 A.M., the flames consumed the city’s manufacturing sectors. Shifting winds drove the fire along the riverfront, westward for a mile and a half. Multitudes were killed, burned, or left homeless. Thousands of shops and houses were destroyed. It was the end of the world in miniature.

     Looters tried to beat the flames to abandoned valuables, and Morrison recorded that 28 people were trampled while scrambling for money after a robber cut open a man’s cash-stuffed backpack. The missionary himself was relatively fortunate. He lost nothing of great value beyond a hundred pounds of paper intended for a new edition of his translation of the New Testament.

     The earth came out of water and was made from water. Later it was destroyed by the waters of a mighty flood. But God has commanded the present heavens and earth to remain until the day of judgment. Then they will be set on fire, and ungodly people will be destroyed.
--- 2 Peter 3:5b-7.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - November 2

     “I am the Lord, I change not.” --- Malachi 3:6.

     It is well for us that, amidst all the variableness of life, there is One whom change cannot affect; One whose heart can never alter, and on whose brow mutability can make no furrows. All things else have changed—all things are changing. The sun itself grows dim with age; the world is waxing old; the folding up of the worn-out vesture has commenced; the heavens and earth must soon pass away; they shall perish, they shall wax old as doth a garment; but there is One who only hath immortality, of whose years there is no end, and in whose person there is no change. The delight which the mariner feels, when, after having been tossed about for many a day, he steps again upon the solid shore, is the satisfaction of a Christian when, amidst all the changes of this troublous life, he rests the foot of his faith upon this truth—“I am the Lord, I change not.”

     The stability which the anchor gives the ship when it has at last obtained a hold-fast, is like that which the Christian’s hope affords him when it fixes itself upon this glorious truth. With God “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” What ever his attributes were of old, they are now; his power, his wisdom, his justice, his truth, are alike unchanged. He has ever been the refuge of his people, their stronghold in the day of trouble, and he is their sure Helper still. He is unchanged in his love. He has loved his people with “an everlasting love”; he loves them now as much as ever he did, and when all earthly things shall have melted in the last conflagration, his love will still wear the dew of its youth. Precious is the assurance that he changes not! The wheel of providence revolves, but its axle is eternal love.

     “Death and change are busy ever,
     Man decays, and ages move;
     But his mercy waneth never;
     God is wisdom, God is love.”

          Evening - November 2

     “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.” --- Psalm 119:53.

     My soul, feelest thou this holy shuddering at the sins of others? for otherwise thou lackest inward holiness. David’s cheeks were wet with rivers of waters because of prevailing unholiness; Jeremiah desired eyes like fountains that he might lament the iniquities of Israel, and Lot was vexed with the conversation of the men of Sodom. Those upon whom the mark was set in Ezekiel’s vision, were those who sighed and cried for the abominations of Jerusalem. It cannot but grieve gracious souls to see what pains men take to go to hell. They know the evil of sin experimentally, and they are alarmed to see others flying like moths into its blaze. Sin makes the righteous shudder, because it violates a holy law, which it is to every man’s highest interest to keep; it pulls down the pillars of the commonwealth. Sin in others horrifies a believer, because it puts him in mind of the baseness of his own heart: when he sees a transgressor he cries with the saint mentioned by Bernard, “He fell to-day, and I may fall to-morrow.” Sin to a believer is horrible, because it crucified the Saviour; he sees in every iniquity the nails and spear. How can a saved soul behold that cursed kill-Christ sin without abhorrence? Say, my heart, dost thou sensibly join in all this? It is an awful thing to insult God to his face. The good God deserves better treatment, the great God claims it, the just God will have it, or repay his adversary to his face. An awakened heart trembles at the audacity of sin, and stands alarmed at the contemplation of its punishment. How monstrous a thing is rebellion! How direful a doom is prepared for the ungodly! My soul, never laugh at sin’s fooleries, lest thou come to smile at sin itself. It is thine enemy, and thy Lord’s enemy—view it with detestation, for so only canst thou evidence the possession of holiness, without which no man can see the Lord.

     How marvellous the general apathy! they were all eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, till the awful Morning dawned. There was not one wise man upon earth out of the ark. Folly duped the whole race, folly as to self-preservation—the most foolish of all follies. Folly in doubting the most true God—the most malignant of fooleries. Strange, my soul, is it not? All men are negligent of their souls till grace gives them reason, then they leave their madness and act like rational beings, but not till then.

     All, blessed be God, were safe in the ark, no ruin entered there. From the huge elephant down to the tiny mouse all were safe. The timid hare was equally secure with the courageous lion, the helpless cony as safe as the laborious ox. All are safe in Jesus. My soul, art thou in him?

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

Amazing Grace
     November 2


     From the Te Deum, c. 4th century, Attributed to Ignace Franz, 1719–1790
     English Translation by Clarence Walworth, 1820–1900

     In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise Your name forever. (Psalm 44:8)

     Much of the origin of this noble expression of praise and worship is lost in obscurity. Through the centuries the “Te Deum” has been one of the supreme triumphal expressions of praise used by the Christian Church.

     The original setting of “Te Deum Laudamus” was likely composed by Bishop Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Italy, in A.D. 387, and an important leader in the development of early church music. Paraphrases of this fourth century “Te Deum” have been written in many languages, including this text in German, from which it was later translated into English by an American Catholic priest, Clarence A. Walworth. The hymn is still an important part of the Morning service liturgy in Anglican churches and it is sung frequently in all Protestant churches.

     The fourth stanza is one of the strongest hymn affirmations of the doctrine of the Triune Godhead. The Trinity was an important controversy in the early church. Arius, c. A.D. 250–336, was a proponent of the doctrine of Arianism, which maintained that “if the Father was God, then the Son was a creature of the Father”—a middle Being between God and the world—a divine Being but not to be worshiped as God. At the Council of Alexandria (A.D. 321) and later at the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), this teaching was thoroughly branded as heresy. However, this controversy on the person and deity of Christ has continued even to the present time in the teachings of various cults.

     Holy God, we praise Thy name—Lord of all, we bow before Thee! All on earth Thy scepter claim; all in heav’n above adore Thee: Infinite Thy vast domain, everlasting is Thy reign.
     Hark, the loud celestial hymn angel choirs above are raising; cherubim and seraphim, in unceasing chorus praising, fill the heav’ns with sweet accord—Holy, holy, holy Lord!
     Lo, the apostolic train joins Thy sacred name to hallow; prophets swell the glad refrain and the white-robed martyrs follow; and, from morn to set of sun, thru the Church the song goes on.
     Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit, three we name Thee; while in essence only one, undivided God we claim Thee, and adoring bend the knee, while we sing our praise to Thee.

     For Today: Numbers 14:21; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Psalm 107:8; Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 15:3

     Take time to worship and praise the triune Godhead. Use these words to help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, November 2, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 25, Thursday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 50
Psalms (Evening)     (Psalm 59, 60) or Psalm 33
Old Testament     Nehemiah 1
New Testament     Revelation 5:11–6:11
Gospel     Matthew 13:18–23

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 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 and does not keep silence,
before him is a devouring fire,
and a mighty tempest all around him.
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

7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak,
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house,
or goats from your folds.
10 For every wild animal of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the air,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and all that is in it is mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

16 But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes,
or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
18 You make friends with a thief when you see one,
and you keep company with adulterers.

19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your kin;
you slander your own mother’s child.
21 These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.

22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver.
23 Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me;
to those who go the right way
I will show the salvation of God.”

Psalms (Evening)
Option A
(Psalm 59, 60)

[     To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David.
A Miktam, when Saul ordered his house to be watched in order to kill him.

1 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me.
2 Deliver me from those who work evil;
from the bloodthirsty save me.

3 Even now they lie in wait for my life;
the mighty stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O LORD,
4 for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.

Rouse yourself, come to my help and see!
5 You, LORD God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Awake to punish all the nations;
spare none of those who treacherously plot evil.     Selah

6 Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
7 There they are, bellowing with their mouths,
with sharp words on their lips—
for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”

8 But you laugh at them, O LORD;
you hold all the nations in derision.
9 O my strength, I will watch for you;
for you, O God, are my fortress.
10 My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
my God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.

11 Do not kill them, or my people may forget;
make them totter by your power, and bring them down,
O Lord, our shield.
12 For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips,
let them be trapped in their pride.
For the cursing and lies that they utter,
13 consume them in wrath;
consume them until they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
that God rules over Jacob.     Selah

14 Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
15 They roam about for food,
and growl if they do not get their fill.

16 But I will sing of your might;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been a fortress for me
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17 O my strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.

To the leader: according to the Lily of the Covenant. A Miktam of David; for instruction; when he struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
you have been angry; now restore us!
2 You have caused the land to quake; you have torn it open;
repair the cracks in it, for it is tottering.
3 You have made your people suffer hard things;
you have given us wine to drink that made us reel.

4 You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
to rally to it out of bowshot.     Selah
5 Give victory with your right hand, and answer us,
so that those whom you love may be rescued.

6 God has promised in his sanctuary:
“With exultation I will divide up Shechem,
and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
7 Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet;
Judah is my scepter.
8 Moab is my washbasin;
on Edom I hurl my shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

9 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
11 O grant us help against the foe,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.     ]

Option B
Psalm 33

1 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous.
Praise befits the upright.
2 Praise the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

4 For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
he put the deeps in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.

13 The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind.
14 From where he sits enthroned he watches
all the inhabitants of the earth—
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all,
and observes all their deeds.
16 A king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
and by its great might it cannot save.

18 Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 to deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and shield.
21 Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Old Testament
Nehemiah 1

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capital, 2 one of my brothers, Hanani, came with certain men from Judah; and I asked them about the Jews that survived, those who had escaped the captivity, and about Jerusalem. 3 They replied, “The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.”

4 When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments; 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. 7 We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man!”

At the time, I was cupbearer to the king.

New Testament
Revelation 5:11–6:11

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 singing with full voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth
and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
“To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!”

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

6 Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer.

3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword.

5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, “Come!” I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, 6 and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s pay, and three quarts of barley for a day’s pay, but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!”

7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, “Come!” 8 I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, “Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?” 11 They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.

Matthew 13:18–23

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church

A Diagnosis of the Soils 1 Mark 4:1-20
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The Trinity Part 7: Historical Survey (3) | Arianism
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The Trinity Part 8: Historical Survey (4) | Coherence of the Doctrine
William Lane Craig   Reasonable Faith

The Trinity Part 9: Three Divine Persons, One God
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The Trinity Part 10: The Relationship Between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
William Lane Craig   Reasonable Faith

The Trinity Part 11: A Plausibility Argument for the Trinity
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J.I. Packer   Trinity School for Ministry

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 4
    Samuel Zwemer Theological Seminary

Mark, the Restored Deserter Mark 1:1
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