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11/4/2017
2 Kings 24 & 25
2 Chronicles 36
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Judah Overrun by Enemies

2 Kings 24:1     In his days King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up; Jehoiakim became his servant for three years; then he turned and rebelled against him. 2 The Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, bands of the Arameans, bands of the Moabites, and bands of the Ammonites; he sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, for all that he had committed, 4 and also for the innocent blood that he had shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to pardon. 5 Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? 6 So Jehoiakim slept with his ancestors; then his son Jehoiachin succeeded him. 7 The king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for the king of Babylon had taken over all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Wadi of Egypt to the River Euphrates.

Reign and Captivity of Jehoiachin (2 Chr 36.9—10)

     8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. 9 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his father had done.

     10 At that time the servants of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. 11 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it; 12 King Jehoiachin of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself, his mother, his servants, his officers, and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign.

Capture of Jerusalem

     13 He carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which King Solomon of Israel had made, all this as the Lord had foretold. 14 He carried away all Jerusalem, all the officials, all the warriors, ten thousand captives, all the artisans and the smiths; no one remained, except the poorest people of the land. 15 He carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon; the king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the elite of the land, he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, seven thousand, the artisans and the smiths, one thousand, all of them strong and fit for war. 17 The king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

Zedekiah Reigns over Judah (2 Chr 36.11—14; Jer 52.1—3a)

     18 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. 19 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. 20 Indeed, Jerusalem and Judah so angered the Lord that he expelled them from his presence.


The Fall and Captivity of Judah (2 Chr 36.15—21; Jer 52.3b—30)

     Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

2 Kings 25:1     And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it; they built siegeworks against it all around. 2 So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. 3 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. 4 Then a breach was made in the city wall; the king with all the soldiers fled 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. 5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; all his army was scattered, deserting him. 6 Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence on him. 7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah; they bound him in fetters and took him to Babylon.

     8 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 10 All the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon—all the rest of the population. 12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest people of the land to be vinedressers and tillers of the soil.

     13 The bronze pillars that were in the house of the Lord, as well as the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the dishes for incense, and all the bronze vessels used in the temple service, 15 as well as the firepans and the basins. What was made of gold the captain of the guard took away for the gold, and what was made of silver, for the silver. 16 As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands, which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weighing. 17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and on it was a bronze capital; the height of the capital was three cubits; latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were on the capital all around. The second pillar had the same, with the latticework.

     18 The captain of the guard took the chief priest Seraiah, the second priest Zephaniah, and the three guardians of the threshold; 19 from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the soldiers, and five men of the king’s council who were found in the city; the secretary who was the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 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.

Gedaliah Made Governor of Judah (Jer 40.5—41.18)

     22 He appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan as governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had left. 23 Now when all the captains of the forces and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite. 24 Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials; live in the land, serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.” 25 But in the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men; they struck down Gedaliah so that he died, along with the Judeans and Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. 26 Then all the people, high and low, and the captains of the forces set out and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.

Jehoiachin Released from Prison (Jer 52.31—34)

     27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, King Evil-merodach of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison; 28 he spoke kindly to him, and gave him a seat above the other seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes. Every day of his life he dined regularly in the king’s presence. 30 For his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion every day, as long as he lived.


Reign of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23.31—33)

2 Chronicles 36:1     The people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king to succeed his father in Jerusalem. 2 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign; he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3 Then the king of Egypt deposed him in Jerusalem and laid on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and one talent of gold. 4 The king of Egypt made his brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim; but Neco took his brother Jehoahaz and carried him to Egypt.

Reign and Captivity of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23.34—24.7)

     5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. 6 Against him King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up, and bound him with fetters to take him to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar also carried some of the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon and put them in his palace in Babylon. 8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and the abominations that he did, and what was found against him, are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah; and his son Jehoiachin succeeded him.

Reign and Captivity of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24.8—17)

     9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 10 In the spring of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon, along with the precious vessels of the house of the Lord, and made his brother Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.

Reign of Zedekiah (2 Kings 24.18—20; Jer 52.1—3a)

     11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the Lord that he had consecrated in Jerusalem.

The Fall of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25.1—21; Jer 52.3b—30)

     15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; 16 but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord against his people became so great that there was no remedy.

     17 Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their youths with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or young woman, the aged or the feeble; he gave them all into his hand. 18 All the vessels of the house of God, large and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officials, all these he brought to Babylon. 19 They burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious vessels. 20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had made up for its sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

Cyrus Proclaims Liberty for the Exiles (Ezra 1.1—4)

     22 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom and also declared in a written edict: 23 “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up.”

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


Biblical Topics

Rapid Response: “We Don’t Need God to Explain the Existence of Free Agency”

By J. Warner Wallace 10/31/2016

     In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone said, “Christians describe God as a Divine Mind who creates humans in his own image with consciousness and free will. But you don’t need God to account for the kind of free agency Christians describe. Free will can be explained from an atheistic perspective.” How would you respond to such a claim? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

     “Several years ago, when I was serving on a police surveillance team, I arrested a guy who we followed for several days. We watched him burglarize a home. He walked through the neighborhoods, knocking on doors. If a resident responded, he’d ask, ‘Is so and so here?’ The resident would say, ‘No,’ and he would answer, ‘Sorry to bother you,’ and move on to the next house. Well, eventually he found a house where no one answered his knocking. He entered the backyard, and I jumped over walls to watch him from the house behind the victim’s residence. As I watched over the backyard fence, I could see him standing by the back door. He seemed to hesitate as he was thinking about what he was going to do next. From researching this man, I knew he was a committed drug addict and came from a family history of addiction and crime. His father and brother were also burglars. Now, as I watched him think about his next move, I could see he was struggling with his decision. He sat down and smoked a cigarette. He eventually stood up and kicked the door in; he committed the burglary.

     Months later, when we went to trial, an important question was raised: ‘Did the defendant commit the crime of his own free will?’ He was, after all, coming off a heroin high, so one might wonder, ‘Did he commit the crime because his mind was altered by the drug?’ We might also ask, ‘Was he genetically predisposed to do this, given his family behavior?’ The defendant raised both defenses at his trial. The jury and judge were quick to answer, however: they found him guilty, and at his sentencing hearing, the judge said, in essence, ‘Despite these influences and circumstances, you had a choice; you chose to do this.”

     But if atheism is true, we live in a purely material universe, consisting of nothing more than space, time, and matter, governed by nothing more than the laws of physics and chemistry. If that’s the case, everything in our purely physical universe is determined by prior physical causes. The neurons in your physical brain are firing based on the prior firing of neurons. These events are like dominoes that fall because they were struck by prior falling dominoes; you don’t have any control of this sequence of events. That’s why atheists like Sam Harris (trained as a neuroscientist) deny the existence of human free agency altogether. Atheists such as Harris claim free agency is an illusion.

     But we have good evidence to demonstrate that the universe is not how atheists describe it. All of us experience free agency on a daily basis. In fact, authors like Harris expect us to use our free agency to assess what he’s writing in his books. We require free will to reason freely between two ideas, to choose between two claims, to show true empathy and compassion and to create artistically. Perhaps more importantly, we believe people are culpable for their free actions. This kind of culpability is impossible unless people have the freedom to act rightly (or wrongly). Where does this kind of free agency come from, if we’re living in a purely physical, deterministic universe, as atheists describe?

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

Marriage Isn’t Meant to Meet Your Needs

By Christopher Ash 11/3/2016

     One of my favorite cartoons shows a group of cavemen standing on top of a cliff, watching one of their own fall over the edge. But he hasn’t fallen—he’s been thrown. As he falls, the group’s leader looks angrily at the others. “Well, is there anyone else here whose needs are not being met?”

     This is a mischievous but timely critique of a culture in which we expect everything—including our marriages—to meet our needs.

     When we approach marriage expecting our needs to be met, we fail to understand the real nature of love, and we sow seeds of marital destruction. God hasn’t designed marriage as a means to meet our personal needs. Assuming marriage is about meeting needs is dangerous for at least two reasons.

     1. BECAUSE IT’S NOT REAL LOVE. | Inward-looking marriage isn’t real love because it encourages us to view sex and marriage selfishly. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?” Jesus asked (Luke 6:32). Any love that merely gazes adoringly into the eyes of another who adores us isn’t really love at all.

     One of the most frightening things about Jesus’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) is that the rich man seems to have been a good family man. Even in the place of the dead he’s concerned for his brothers. But his so-called love isn’t really love at all, for it never extends to Lazarus, the poor man lying at his gate. He cares for his family, but his care doesn’t overflow to needy people outside.

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     Christopher Ash is a pastor and writer in residence at Tyndale House in Cambridge. From 2004 to 2015 he served as director of the Proclamation Trust’s Cornhill Training Course in London. Christopher Ash Books:

Jesus Calling How Well Are You Listening?

By J.A. Medders 11/1/2017

     In middle school, my parents diagnosed me with a common disorder: selective hearing.

     I couldn’t hear my dad telling me to do the dishes or take out the trash, but I could hear him whispering about my upcoming birthday presents. I don’t think I’m the only one with this problem. Selective hearing, also known as disobedience, is banned in the kingdom of Christ. Disciples must always be dialed in to the voice of our Lord.

     Listening to Jesus is vital to the Christian life. Discipleship demands non-selective hearing from Jesus. I’ve never heard his voice with my ears, but the risen Christ does speak to me: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). He speaks via the Scriptures.

     Hear His Voice | Today, we can hear Jesus speak with our eyeballs. In the red letters? Yes — and in all the black ones, too. We hear and behold his glory from Genesis to Revelation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

     As Puritan John Owen says, “To behold it [the glory of Christ] is not a work of fancy or imagination; it is not conversing with an image framed by the art of men without, or that of our own fancy within, but of faith exercised on divine revelations. This direction he gives us himself, John 5:39, ‘Search the Scriptures; for they are that which testify of me.’”

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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.

Author Interview: Obbie Tyler Todd

By Matthew Everhard 12/8/2016

     Greetings Obbie, tell us about yourself!

     I serve as Associate Pastor of Students at Zoar Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Previously I pastored a small rural church outside of Bardstown, Kentucky for over a year. As I was finishing up my Th.M. at Southern Seminary, Kelly and I felt the Lord calling us to Cajun country. Not long ago I also began my PhD work at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Currently I’m studying 18th century South Carolina Baptist Richard Furman and his influences (e.g. Jonathan Edwards). Tom Nettles at Southern greatly aided me in exploring the Edwardsean influence on Furman and other 18th-19th century Baptists. I had Dr. Nettles for both Th.M. and PhD-level courses in Edwards studies, and I owe much of my initial research of Edwards to him. It was after one of these courses that I was inspired to compose my blog “The Edwardsian” (https://edwardsianblog.wordpress.com). Just about every month I’m writing on Edwards, and I don’t see that habit ceasing any time soon.

     How did you become interested in Edwards?

     I suppose my first step into the world of Jonathan Edwards was reading Iain Murray’s ISBN-13: 978-0851517049 the Summer between my M.Div. and Th.M. at Southern Seminary. It was a bit hagiographic, but its devotional and pastoral elements grabbed me instantly. From there I started reading primary sources and then Marsden and so on. Dr. Tom Nettles was of course very influential in my introduction to Edwards. For my Th.M. paper I wrote on Edwards’ psychology of conversion and it’s during this time that I discovered the ISBN-13: 978-0486491028. Dr. Michael Harkin was also influential for me. His Andrew Fuller course also spawned the essay that I submitted for this book. As years have gone by, my Edwards collection has grown exponentially and I find myself going back to him time after time. He’s an ocean.

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     Dr. Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brookville, Florida (EPC). He is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (D.Min.), Malone University (BA, Bible and Theology); Ashland Theological Seminary (MA, Practical Theology). His dissertation was entitled "A Theology of Joy: Jonathan Edwards and Eternal Happiness in the Holy Trinity." He is the author of several books including Unknown: The Extraordinary Influence of Ordinary Christians and Hold Fast the Faith: A Devotional Commentary on the Westminster Confession of 1647. Matthew has been married to Kelly for fifteen years, and has three children: Soriah, Elijah, and Simone.

Matthew Everhard Books:

A Case for Holy Living

By John MacArthur

     Despite many technological advancements, the twenty-first century has entered frighteningly dark waters. Look at the headlines — the threat of global terrorism, the chaos of unthinkable criminal activity, the defilement of pornography, the confusion of gender roles, the future of the economy, the "lostness" of our children, etc., etc. People are helplessly buckled up, strapped in, and holding on to a world careening out of control into a future of even greater fear, confusion, frustration, uncertainty, and isolation.

     As a Christian, a true Christians, you are quite a contrast. Anchored in Jesus Christ, you are immoveable, steadfast, and strong. Your eyes are fixed on the Word of God, a beacon that stands out like a "lamp shining in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19). As you move toward that light, God changes your life by the power of the Holy Spirit. The message you proclaim and the life you live guarantees you will stand out in the culture.

     Holy, righteous lives are the backbone of the gospel we preach. The apostle Paul understood that. In the midst of a pagan society that did all it could to persecute Christians and discredit the Christian faith, he wrote to Titus telling him how to instruct the Cretans "to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12).

     As I've reflected on what Paul told Titus, I can see three compelling reasons we ought to live holy lives. And each reason has little to do with benefits that come from godly living, though there are benefits (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6). Rather, Paul sets forth evangelism as the motive for holy living.

     Holy Living Honors God's Word | In chapter two, Paul instructs Titus regarding different age groups in the church. The young women, he says, are to act in such a way "so that the word of God may not be dishonored" (Titus 2:5). The Greek word translated "dishonored" literally means "blasphemed." We can't allow unbelievers to mock, ignore, or totally reject God's Word. Yet, how we live will directly affect how people feel about it.

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     John MacArthur is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley , California , author, conference speaker, president of The Master's College and Seminary, and featured teacher with Grace to You.

     From 1964 to 1966 Dr. MacArthur served as an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank , California and from 1966 to 1969 as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated with honors.

     In 1969, John came to Grace Community Church . The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage.Under John's leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,000-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members also participate each week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, led by members of the pastoral staff and lay leaders. These groups are dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.

     In 1985, John became president of The Master's College (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College ), an accredited, four-year, liberal arts Christian college in Santa Clarita , California . In 1986, John founded The Master's Seminary, a graduate school dedicated to training men for full-time pastoral roles and missionary work. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, John regularly teaches Expository Preaching at the seminary and frequently speaks in chapel.

     John is also president and featured teacher with Grace to You. Founded in 1969, Grace to You is the nonprofit organization responsible for developing, producing, and distributing John's books, audiocassettes, free sermons (MP3s) and the Grace to You, Portraits of Grace, and Grace to You Weekend radio programs. Grace to You airs thousands of times daily throughout the English speaking world reaching all major population centers in the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Europe, India, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa. It also airs more than 450 times daily in Spanish reaching 23 countries, including Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia.

     Since completing his first best-selling book The Gospel According to Jesus, in 1988, John has written over 100 books and, through Grace to You and retail bookstores, distributed millions of copies worldwide.Many of John's books are available on CD-ROM and many titles have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and several other major languages.

     John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda.They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their eleven grandchildren--Johnny, Ty, Jessy, KD, Olivia, Susannah, Gracie, Kylee, Andrew, Brooke and Elizabeth.

     "MacArthur calls himself a "leaky dispensationalist"--meaning he rejects any and all "dispensational" soteriological innovations, holding to classic Reformed (i.e., Protestant, not "covenantal") soteriology. MacArthur's "dispensationalism" is eschatological and ecclesiological only. And given the fact that soteriology is central to our whole understanding of Christianity, whereas eschatology and ecclesiology deal primarily with secondary doctrines, it would be my assessment that MacArthur has far less in common with Ryrie than he would have with anyone who believes 1) that God's grace is efficacious for regeneration and sanctification as well as for justification, and 2) that God graciously guarantees the perseverance of all true believers." - Phil Johnson
John MacArthur Books:

Why American Evangelicals are a huge base of support for Israel

By Christopher Connelly 10/24/2016

     However the election in November turns out, there is one certainly: Support for Israel will remain strong in both Congress and the White House.

     The reason for that has a lot to do with the strength of a pro-Israeli religious community with a strong grassroots political organization and fundraising arm — it just may not be the religious community that first comes to mind.

     “Supporting Israel is not a political issue ... it is a bible issue,” pastor John Hagee, the founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, said in a speech last year.

     Hagee, who heads the massive Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, founded Christians United for Israel a decade ago. It steadily became one of the strongest pro-Israel evangelical groups in the country, with more than three million members and 14 regional directors to help steer operations in different parts of the country.

     The group’s organizational prowess is visible at its annual Washington Summit, where attendees do more than just listen to speeches.

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     Christopher Connelly is a Fort Worth-based reporter for the North Texas public radio station KERA.

     Before moving to Texas, Christopher covered the Maryland legislature for WYPR, the NPR member station in Baltimore and spent a year as a Joan B. Kroc Fellow at NPR – one of three post-graduates who spend a year working as a reporter, show producer and digital producer at network HQ in Washington, D.C.

     Christopher grew up in Akron, Ohio and is a graduate of Antioch College in Ohio – he got his first taste of public radio there at WYSO. He earned a master’s in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. His thesis was a radio documentary about heroin addiction and recovery on the East African island of Zanzibar.

Not just about sex: throughout our bodies, thousands of genes act differently in men and women

By Jenny Graves 10/31/2017

     Most of us are familiar with the genetic differences between men and women.

     Men have X and Y sex chromosomes, and women have two X chromosomes. We know that genes on these chromosomes may act differently in men and women.

     But a recent paper claims that beyond just genes on X and Y, a full third of our genome is behaving very differently in men and women.

     These new data pose challenges for science, medicine and maybe even gender equity.

     Final paragraph in article What do these new insights mean for our progress toward gender equity? A bad outcome could be appeals to return to outdated sexual stereotypes. A good outcome will be recognition of sex differences in medicine and treatment.

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     Jenny Graves is an evolutionary geneticist whose research exploits the genetic diversity of Australia's unique mammals as a source of genetic variation to study the organisation, function and evolution of mammalian genomes. This has lead to new theories of the origin and evolution of human sex chromosomes and sex determining genes.

     Jenny is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and served on the Executive for eight years, first as Foreign Secretary, then as Secretary for Education and Public Affairs. She is Distinguished Professor at La Trobe University, Professor Emeritus at ANU and Thinker-in-Residence at the University of Canberra. Jenny is an international L'Oreal-UNESCO Laureate (2006) and was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2009. She won the Prime Minister's Prize for Science in 2017.


  • World in Conflict
  • Christ’s Return 1
  • Christ’s Return 2


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Be a Shamgar (3)
     (Nov 4)    Bob Gass

     ‘Shamgar…saved Israel.’

(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

     If Shamgar had focused on the fact that he was going up against six hundred Philistines, he would probably have given up before he even started. Understand this: Satan will try to discourage and defeat you by making you feel overwhelmed by the problem. That’s when you need to counterpunch, by breaking down your goals into smaller steps. You may not be able to overcome your addiction, anxiety, or anorexia for the rest of your life, but with God’s help you can win the battle today. Don’t worry about next week or next year. Live in day-tight compartments. Can you resist temptation for twenty-four hours? Can you win the battle for one day? You know you can. And so does the enemy. So take it one day at a time. We spend far too much energy focusing on the very thing we can’t control – the outcome. You say, ‘What if I fall back into my bad habit? What if my romantic efforts aren’t reciprocated? What if I don’t hit my target weight or get my dream job?’ Jesus said, ‘Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time’ (Matthew 6:34 TLB). The manna the Israelites received in the wilderness arrived daily, not weekly or monthly. Why? Because God wanted them to live in total dependence on Him. God’s grace, not your own works, is the key to victory. The word for you today is: ‘His compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day…therefore I will hope in him’ (Lamentations 3:21-24 TLB).

Ezek 8-10
Heb 8

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Charles Carroll was unique. He was the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence and he outlived all the other signers. At his death, he was considered the wealthiest citizen in America. On this day, November 4, 1800, Charles Carroll penned a letter to James McHenry, the signer of the Constitution for whom Fort McHenry was named. Charles Carroll wrote: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure,… are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”

American Minute

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


     First, it keeps me in touch with "sound doctrine." Left to oneself, one could easily slide away from "the faith once given" into a phantom called "my religion."

     Secondly, it reminds me "what things I ought to ask" (perhaps especially when I am praying for other people). The crisis of the present moment, like the nearest telegraph­ post, will always loom largest. Isn't there a danger that our great, permanent, objective necessities-often more important-may get crowded out? By the way, that's another thing to be avoided in a revised Prayer Book. "Contemporary problems" may claim an undue share.

     And the more "up to date" the book is, the sooner it will be dated.

     Finally, they provide an element of the ceremonial. On your view, that is just what we don't want. On mine, it is part of what we want. I see what you mean when you say that using ready-made prayers would be like "making love to your own wife out of Petrarch or Donne." (Incidentally might you not quote them-to such a literary wife as Betty?) The parallel won't do.

     I fully agree that the relationship between God and a man is more private and intimate than any possible relation between two fellow creatures. Yes, but at the same time there is, in another way, a greater distance between the participants. We are approaching-well I won't say "the Wholly Other," for I suspect that is meaningless, but the Unimaginably and Insupportably Other. We ought to be-sometimes I hope one is-simultaneously aware of closest proximity and infinite distance. You make things far too snug and confiding. Your erotic analogy needs to be supplemented by "I fell at His feet as one dead."

     I think the "low" church milieu that I grew up in did tend to be too cosily at ease in Sion. My grandfather, I'm told, used to say that he "looked forward to having some very interesting conversations with St. Paul when he got to heaven." Two clerical gentlemen talking at ease in a club! It never seemed to cross his mind that an encounter with St. Paul might be rather an overwhelming experience even for an Evangelical clergyman of good family. But when Dante saw the great apostles in heaven they affected him like mountains. There's lots to be said against devotions to saints; but at least they keep on reminding us that we are very small people compared with them. How much smaller before their Master?

     A few formal, ready-made, prayers serve me as a corrective of-well, let's call it "cheek." They keep one side of the paradox alive. Of course it is only one side. It would be better not to be reverent at all than to have a reverence which denied the proximity.


Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 8.

     Concerning Masada And Those Sicarii Who Kept It; And How Silva Betook Himself To Form The Siege Of That Citadel.

     Eleazar's Speeches To The Besieged.

     1. When Bassus was dead in Judea, Flavius Silva succeeded him as procurator there; who, when he saw that all the rest of the country was subdued in this war, and that there was but one only strong hold that was still in rebellion, he got all his army together that lay in different places, and made an expedition against it. This fortress was called Masada. It was one Eleazar, a potent man, and the commander of these Sicarii, that had seized upon it. He was a descendant from that Judas who had persuaded abundance of the Jews, as we have formerly related, not to submit to the taxation when Cyrenius was sent into Judea to make one; for then it was that the Sicarii got together against those that were willing to submit to the Romans, and treated them in all respects as if they had been their enemies, both by plundering them of what they had, by driving away their cattle, and by setting fire to their houses; for they said that they differed not at all from foreigners, by betraying, in so cowardly a manner, that freedom which Jews thought worthy to be contended for to the utmost, and by owning that they preferred slavery under the Romans before such a contention. Now this was in reality no better than a pretense and a cloak for the barbarity which was made use of by them, and to color over their own avarice, which they afterwards made evident by their own actions; for those that were partners with them in their rebellion joined also with them in the war against the Romans, and went further lengths with them in their impudent undertakings against them; and when they were again convicted of dissembling in such their pretenses, they still more abused those that justly reproached them for their wickedness. And indeed that was a time most fertile in all manner of wicked practices, insomuch that no kind of evil deeds were then left undone; nor could any one so much as devise any bad thing that was new, so deeply were they all infected, and strove with one another in their single capacity, and in their communities, who should run the greatest lengths in impiety towards God, and in unjust actions towards their neighbors; the men of power oppressing the multitude, and the multitude earnestly laboring to destroy the men of power. The one part were desirous of tyrannizing over others, and the rest of offering violence to others, and of plundering such as were richer than themselves. They were the Sicarii who first began these transgressions, and first became barbarous towards those allied to them, and left no words of reproach unsaid, and no works of perdition untried, in order to destroy those whom their contrivances affected. Yet did John demonstrate by his actions that these Sicarii were more moderate than he was himself, for he not only slew all such as gave him good counsel to do what was right, but treated them worst of all, as the most bitter enemies that he had among all the Citizens; nay, he filled his entire country with ten thousand instances of wickedness, such as a man who was already hardened sufficiently in his impiety towards God would naturally do; for the food was unlawful that was set upon his table, and he rejected those purifications that the law of his country had ordained; so that it was no longer a wonder if he, who was so mad in his impiety towards God, did not observe any rules of gentleness and common affection towards men. Again, therefore, what mischief was there which Simon the son of Gioras did not do? or what kind of abuses did he abstain from as to those very free-men who had set him up for a tyrant? What friendship or kindred were there that did not make him more bold in his daily murders? for they looked upon the doing of mischief to strangers only as a work beneath their courage, but thought their barbarity towards their nearest relations would be a glorious demonstration thereof. The Idumeans also strove with these men who should be guilty of the greatest madness! for they [all], vile wretches as they were, cut the throats of the high priests, that so no part of a religious regard to God might be preserved; they thence proceeded to destroy utterly the least remains of a political government, and introduced the most complete scene of iniquity in all instances that were practicable; under which scene that sort of people that were called zealots grew up, and who indeed corresponded to the name; for they imitated every wicked work; nor, if their memory suggested any evil thing that had formerly been done, did they avoid zealously to pursue the same; and although they gave themselves that name from their zeal for what was good, yet did it agree to them only by way of irony, on account of those they had unjustly treated by their wild and brutish disposition, or as thinking the greatest mischiefs to be the greatest good. Accordingly, they all met with such ends as God deservedly brought upon them in way of punishment; for all such miseries have been sent upon them as man's nature is capable of undergoing, till the utmost period of their lives, and till death came upon them in various ways of torment; yet might one say justly that they suffered less than they had done, because it was impossible they could be punished according to their deserving. But to make a lamentation according to the deserts of those who fell under these men's barbarity, this is not a proper place for it;—I therefore now return again to the remaining part of the present narration.

     2. For now it was that the Roman general came, and led his army against Eleazar and those Sicarii who held the fortress Masada together with him; and for the whole country adjoining, he presently gained it, and put garrisons into the most proper places of it; he also built a wall quite round the entire fortress, that none of the besieged might easily escape; he also set his men to guard the several parts of it; he also pitched his camp in such an agreeable place as he had chosen for the siege, and at which place the rock belonging to the fortress did make the nearest approach to the neighboring mountain, which yet was a place of difficulty for getting plenty of provisions; for it was not only food that was to be brought from a great distance [to the army], and this with a great deal of pain to those Jews who were appointed for that purpose, but water was also to be brought to the camp, because the place afforded no fountain that was near it. When therefore Silva had ordered these affairs beforehand, he fell to besieging the place; which siege was likely to stand in need of a great deal of skill and pains, by reason of the strength of the fortress, the nature of which I will now describe.

     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)

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


[Jesus] matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping daily with their surroundings. He promises wholeness for their lives. In sharing our weaknesses he gives us strength and imparts through his companionship a life that has the quality of eternity.
--- Dallas Willard     The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God


     In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they're the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer     Facilitator's Manual For The Class Of Nonviolence


The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.
--- Lao Tsu     A Toolbox for Humanity: More than 9000 Years of Thought


We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
--- Albert Einstein     Getting Unstuck: Using Leadership Paradox to Execute with Confidence

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 28:6
     by D.H. Stern

6     Better to be poor and live an honest life
than be crooked in one’s ways, though rich.

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 authority of reality

     Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.
--- James 4:8.

     It is essential to give people a chance of acting on the truth of God. The responsibility must be left with the individual, you cannot act for him, it must be his own deliberate act, but the evangelical message ought always to lead a man to act. The paralysis of refusing to act leaves a man exactly where he was before; when once he acts, he is never the same. It is the foolishness of it that stands in the way of hundreds who have been convicted by the Spirit of God. Immediately I precipitate myself over into an act, that second I live; all the rest is existence. The moments when I truly live are the moments when I act with my whole will.

     Never allow a truth of God that is brought home to your soul to pass without acting on it, not necessarily physically, but in will. Record it, with ink or with blood. The feeblest saint who transacts business with Jesus Christ is emancipated the second he acts; all the almighty power of God is on his behalf. We come up to the truth of God, we confess we are wrong, but go back again; then we come up to it again, and go back; until we learn that we have no business to go back. We have to go clean over on some word of our redeeming Lord and transact business with Him. His word ‘come’ means ‘transact.’ “Come unto Me.” The last thing we do is to come; but everyone who does come knows that that second the supernatural life of God invades him instantly. The dominating power of the world, the flesh and the devil is paralysed, not by your act, but because your act has linked you on to God and His redemptive power.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Shadows
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


                Shadows

  I close my eyes.
The darkness implies your presence,
the shadow of your steep mind
on my world. I shiver in it.
It is not your light that
can blind us; it is the splendour
of your darkness.
And so I listen
instead and hear the language
of silence, the sentence
without an end. Is it I, then,
who am being addressed? A God's words
are for their own sake; we hear
at our peril. Many of us have gone
mad in the mastering
of your medium.
I will open
my eyes on a world where the problems,
remain but our doctrines
protect us. The shadow of the bent cross
is warmer than yours. I see how the sinners
of history run in and out
at its dark doors and are not confounded.


Frequencies

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

     The preceding chapter on Maimonides’ epistemology indicated the extent to which he went to make the community aware of the universality of demonstrative truth. As Shlomo Pines wrote, “[Maimonides] evidently considered that philosophy transcended religious or national distinction.” It is this understanding of the universality and importance of philosophy which led to Maimonides’ attempt to integrate philosophic knowledge with his own tradition. Maimonides was convinced that his own tradition recognized the possibility of an approach to God which was not exclusive to Jews. His demonstration of the existence, unity, and noncorporeality of God on the basis of premises which do not presuppose creation can be viewed as an expression of this fundamental conviction. By proving the reality of God independent of premises which are the presuppositions of the Jewish world view, Maimonides was not simply fortifying the certainty of specific theological claims. He was also implying that there is a way to God independent of the particular traditions of community.

     Given this understanding of God, we should recognize that the major spiritual problem facing the believing Jew is how simultaneously to accept the halakhic way to God specific to his community while believing in the possibility of a spiritual way that does not presuppose membership in Israel. What makes Maimonidean philosophy perennially significant is his attempt to explain Jewish particularity in the light of his acceptance of the universal way of reason.

     Membership within the covenant-community is fundamental to the spiritual life of a believing Jew. His daily relationship to God is structured by the religious forms of the community. Heresy not only involves denying God’s existence, but is expressed as well by the individual’s willful separation from the historical and political realities of his community. The wicked son of the Passover liturgy is considered a heretic because he dissociates himself from the historical experience of the community in Egypt. ( Israel Passover Haggadah - Hebrew/English ) The three pilgrimage festivals—Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot—are all based on the relationship of God to a particular people.

     The yearning for atonement, which one would assume to be the expression of an individual’s relationship to God, also has a significant connection with community. Maimonides writes in the Mishneh Torah:

     Although repentance and supplication are always good, they are particularly so and are immediately accepted during the ten days intervening between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, as it is said, “Seek you the Lord while He may be found” (
Is. 55:6). This only applies, however, to an individual. But as for a community, whenever its members repent and offer supplications with sincere hearts, they are answered, as it is said, “For what great nation is there that has a god so close at hand, as is the Lord our God whenever we call upon Him” (Deut. 4:7).

     It should therefore be clear why Maimonides, in his Iggeret Hashmad, places the importance of community above that of the prophets, and why, in Iggeret Teman, he endangers his life for the welfare of community.

     Attempts to explain Maimonides’ attachment to Judaism solely on the accident of heredity are contradicted both by what he wrote and by the way he lived. ( Maimonides and Halevi: a study in typical Jewish attitudes towards Greek philosophy in the Middles Ages ) Professor Pines writes of the significance of community for Maimonides’ political thought:

     It is even more significant that he propounded a perhaps at least partly original theoretical legitimation for the actvity of the legislator and the statesman by regarding it as a kind of imitation of God. (In this he possibly went beyond the Plato of the Republic, who required the philosopher to return to the “cave,” but did not attempt to mitigate the regret that they must feel at being torn from the pure contemplation of the eternal truths and obliged to govern the polis.)

     This feature of Maimonides’ philosophy is understandable if we remember the significance that the God of Israel has for Jewish spirituality. Within the framework of Plato and Aristotle to which the philosopher is drawn by the contemplative ideal, or within the framework of religious traditions which remove God from relatedness to a specific political community, there exists the ground for a detachment of the individual from community. The concept of Israel, however, does not merely refer to a collectivity of faithful individuals, but involves the notion of community—a convert to Judaism must identify himself with the political destiny of the people of Israel and not only with its god. Before one can stand at Sinai with the covenant-community, he must participate with pagan slaves in their political struggle for freedom in Egypt.

     Because of these essential and characteristic features of Judaism, we believe that the way of integration is the most appropriate model for understanding Maimonides. Since community defined his spiritual consciousness so deeply, it is mistaken to presume that he separated his individual quest for God from communal forms of spirituality. The crux of Maimonides’ approach is how the individual rethinks the communal way based upon tradition after he has discovered the universal way of reason.

     Gershom Scholem in his work Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism interprets Maimonides’ historical approach to biblical law as supporting a position opposed to our own understanding of Maimonides. He writes:

     The whole world of religious law remained outside the orbit of philosophical inquiry, which means of course, too, that it was not subjected to philosophical criticism. It is not as if the philosopher denied or defied this world. He, too, lived in it and bowed to it, but it never became part and parcel of his work as a philosopher. It furnished no material for his thoughts. This fact, which is indeed undeniable, is particularly glaring in the case of thinkers like Maimonides and Saadia in whom the converging streams meet. They fail entirely to establish a true synthesis of the two elements, Halakhah and philosophy, a fact which has already been pointed out by Samuel David Luzzatto. Maimonides, for instance, begins the Mishneh Torah, his great codification of the Halakhah, with a philosophical chapter which has no relation whatever to the Halakhah itself. The synthesis of the spheres remains sterile, and the genius of the man whose spirit molded them into a semblance of union cannot obscure their intrinsic disparity.

     For a purely historical understanding of religion, Maimonides’ analysis of the origin of the mitzvot, the religious commandments, is of great importance, but he would be a bold man who would maintain that his theory of the mitzvot was likely to increase the enthusiasm of the faithful for their actual practice, likely to augment their immediate appeal to religious feeling. If the prohibition against seething a kid in its mother’s milk and many similar irrational commandments are explicable as polemics against long-forgotten pagan rites, if the offering of sacrifice is a concession to the primitive mind, if other mitzvot carry with them antiquated moral and philosophical ideas—how can one expect the community to remain faithful to practices of which the antecedents have long since disappeared or of which the aims can be attained directly through philosophical reasoning? To the philosopher, the Halakhah either had no significance at all, or one that was calculated to diminish rather than to enhance its prestige in his eyes. ( Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism )


Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     November 4



     God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. --- John 4:24

     Why should we worship God?  
John A. Broadus, “Worship,” in Sermons of John A. Broadus, downloaded from the Web site of Blessed Hope Ministries of Shiloh Baptist Church, Gainesville, Ga., at members.aol.com/blesshope, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.  [First,] because it is due to him.

     Robert Hall said that the idea of God subordinates to itself all that is great, borrows splendor from all that is fair, and sits enthroned on the riches of the universe. More than that is true. All that exalts our souls ought to lift them up toward God.

     Especially we ought to adore the holiness of God. There is not a human heart that does not somehow, sometimes, love goodness. Find the most wicked in your city, and there are times when they admire goodness. I imagine there are times when they hope that they may yet be good themselves. When someone we love has died, we are prone to exaggerate in our funeral discourse, in our inscriptions on tombstones. We seldom exaggerate in speaking of a person’s talents or learning or possessions or influence, but we are ready to exaggerate her or his goodness. We feel that goodness is the great thing for someone who has gone into the unseen world. Long ago, a prophet saw the Lord seated high on a throne in the temple, with flowing robes of majesty, and on either side adoring seraphs bent and worshiped, and what was the theme of their worship?: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3). And there do come times when we want to adore the holiness of God.

     Then think of his love and mercy! He hates sin. And yet he loves sinners! How he yearns over the sinful! How he longs to save them! God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever will have it so, might through him be saved.

     Holiness and redemption! We ought to adore if we had nothing to do with it, for we have a moral nature to appreciate it. And are we uninvolved spectators? That most wonderful demonstration of God’s mercy and love has been made toward us. And if the angels find their highest theme of praise in what the gracious God has done for us, how should we feel about it? Yes, there is a sense in which, amid the infirmities of earth, we can pay God a worship that the angels cannot offer.

     And sinful beings out of grateful hearts for sins forgiven may strike a note of praise to God that will pierce through all the high anthems of the skies and enter into the ear of the Lord God Almighty.
--- John A. Broadus


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

On This Day   November 4
     Rock of Ages


     On November 4, 1740 a baby in Farnham, England, was given the formidable name of Augustus Montague Toplady. His father died in a war, his mother spoiled him, his friends thought him “sick and neurotic,” and his relatives disliked him.

     But Augustus was interested in the Lord. “I am now arrived at the age of eleven years,” he wrote on his birthday. “I praise God I can remember no dreadful crime; to the Lord be the glory.” By age 12 he was preaching sermons to whoever would listen. At 14 he began writing hymns. At 16 he was soundly converted to Christ while attending a service in a barn. And at 22 he was ordained an Anglican priest.

     As a staunch Calvinist he despised John Wesley’s Arminian theology. He accused Wesley of “lying and forgery.” “I believe him to be the most rancorous hater of the Gospel-system that ever appeared on this island,” Augustus wrote. “Wesley is guilty of satanic shamelessness,” he said on another occasion, “of acting the ignoble part of a lurking, shy assassin.” He described the evangelist as a prizefighter and a chimney sweep.

     In 1776 Augustus wrote an article about God’s forgiveness, intending it as a slap at Wesley. He ended his article with an original poem:

  Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

     Augustus Toplady died at age 38, but his poem outlived him and has been called “the best known, best loved, and most widely useful” hymn in the English language. Oddly, it is remarkably similar to something Wesley had written 30 years before in the preface of a book of hymns for the Lord’s Supper:

  O Rock of Salvation,
Rock struck and cleft for me,
let those two Streams of Blood and Water
which gushed from thy side,
bring down Pardon and Holiness into my soul.

     Perhaps the two men were not as incompatible as they thought.

  I love you, LORD God, and you make me strong.
You are my mighty rock, my fortress, my protector,
The rock where I am safe. …
--- Psalm 18:1,2a.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - November 4

     “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” --- 2 Corinthians 12:9.

     A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness. When God’s warrior marches forth to battle, strong in his own might, when he boasts, “I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall get unto me the victory,” defeat is not far distant. God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength. He who reckoneth on victory thus has reckoned wrongly, for “it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess, shall return with their gay banners trailed in the dust, and their armour stained with disgrace. Those who serve God must serve him in his own way, and in his strength, or he will never accept their service. That which man doth, unaided by divine strength, God can never own. The mere fruits of the earth he casteth away; he will only reap that corn, the seed of which was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of divine love. God will empty out all that thou hast before he will put his own into thee; he will first clean out thy granaries before he will fill them with the finest of the wheat. The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in his battles but the strength which he himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.

     “When I am weak then am I strong,
     Grace is my shield and Christ my song.”


          Evening - November 4

     “In thy light shall we see light.” --- Psalm 36:9.

     No lips can tell the love of Christ to the heart till Jesus himself shall speak within. Descriptions all fall flat and tame unless the Holy Ghost fills them with life and power; till our Immanuel reveals himself within, the soul sees him not. If you would see the sun, would you gather together the common means of illumination, and seek in that way to behold the orb of day? No, the wise man knoweth that the sun must reveal itself, and only by its own blaze can that mighty lamp be seen. It is so with Christ. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona:” said he to Peter, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee.” Purify flesh and blood by any educational process you may select, elevate mental faculties to the highest degree of intellectual power, yet none of these can reveal Christ. The Spirit of God must come with power, and overshadow the man with his wings, and then in that mystic holy of holies the Lord Jesus must display himself to the sanctified eye, as he doth not unto the purblind sons of men. Christ must be his own mirror. The great mass of this blear-eyed world can see nothing of the ineffable glories of Immanuel. He stands before them without form or comeliness, a root out of a dry ground, rejected by the vain and despised by the proud. Only where the Spirit has touched the eye with eye-salve, quickened the heart with divine life, and educated the soul to a heavenly taste, only there is he understood. “To you that believe he is precious”; to you he is the chief corner-stone, the Rock of your salvation, your all in all; but to others he is “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.” Happy are those to whom our Lord manifests himself, for his promise to such is that he will make his abode with them. O Jesus, our Lord, our heart is open, come in, and go out no more for ever. Show thyself to us now! Favour us with a glimpse of thine all-conquering charms.


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

Amazing Grace
     November 4

          PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY

     Joachim Neander, 1650–1680
     Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1829–1878

     Let the people praise Thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee. (Psalm 67:3)

     Great expressions of praise to God have come from many different traditions and backgrounds. Throughout the centuries God has used the talents of people from various cultures to provide His church with hymns of praise so His people might be known as people of praise and thanksgiving.

     The author of this inspiring hymn text, Joachim Neander, has often been called the greatest of all German-Calvinist Reformed hymn writers. He wrote approximately 60 hymns and composed many tunes. Nearly all of his hymns are triumphant expressions of praise.

     This hymn is a free paraphrase of Psalm 103:1–6, which begins, “Bless [praise] the Lord, O my soul: And all that is within me, bless His holy name.” The translator of this text, Catherine Winkworth, is regarded as one of the finest translators of the German language. Her translations helped to make German hymns popular in England and America during the 19th century. The tune, “Lobe Den Herren” (“Praise to the Lord”), first appeared in a German hymnal in 1665. It is said that Neander personally chose this tune for his text, and the words have never been used with any other melody.

     Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; join me in glad adoration.
     Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth, shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?
     Praise to the Lord, who with marvelous wisdom hath made thee, decked thee with health, and with loving hand guided and stayed thee; How oft in grief hath not He brought thee relief, spreading His wings for to shade thee!
     Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him! Let the Amen sound from His people again: Gladly for aye we adore Him!


     For Today: Psalm 100; 103:1–6; 104; 150; Colossians 1:15–20

     It has been said that “he who sincerely praises God will soon discover within his soul an inclination to praise goodness in his fellow men.” Make this your day’s goal. Sing as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, November 4, 2017 | After Pentecost


Proper 25, Saturday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 55
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 138, 139:1–18 (19–24)
Old Testament     Nehemiah 4:1–23
New Testament     (Revelation 7:4–8) 9–17
Gospel     Matthew 13:31–35

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 55

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God;
do not hide yourself from my supplication.
2 Attend to me, and answer me;
I am troubled in my complaint.
I am distraught 3 by the noise of the enemy,
because of the clamor of the wicked.
For they bring trouble upon me,
and in anger they cherish enmity against me.

4 My heart is in anguish within me,
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6 And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7 truly, I would flee far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;     Selah
8 I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
from the raging wind and tempest.”

9 Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around it
on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11 ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
do not depart from its marketplace.

12 It is not enemies who taunt me—
I could bear that;
it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—
I could hide from them.
13 But it is you, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend,
14 with whom I kept pleasant company;
we walked in the house of God with the throng.
15 Let death come upon them;
let them go down alive to Sheol;
for evil is in their homes and in their hearts.

16 But I call upon God,
and the LORD will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he will hear my voice.
18 He will redeem me unharmed
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old,     Selah
will hear, and will humble them—
because they do not change,
and do not fear God.

20 My companion laid hands on a friend
and violated a covenant with me
21 with speech smoother than butter,
but with a heart set on war;
with words that were softer than oil,
but in fact were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

23 But you, O God, will cast them down
into the lowest pit;
the bloodthirsty and treacherous
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 138, 139:1–18 (19–24)

Of David.

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
above everything.
3 On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.

4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5 They shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O LORD, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.

[     19 O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
20 those who speak of you maliciously,
and lift themselves up against you for evil!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.     ]

Old Testament
Nehemiah 4:1–23

4 Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he mocked the Jews. 2 He said in the presence of his associates and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish it in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish—and burned ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “That stone wall they are building—any fox going up on it would break it down!” 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their taunt back on their own heads, and give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover their guilt, and do not let their sin be blotted out from your sight; for they have hurled insults in the face of the builders.

6 So we rebuilt the wall, and all the wall was joined together to half its height; for the people had a mind to work.

7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and the gaps were beginning to be closed, they were very angry, 8 and all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9 So we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

10 But Judah said, “The strength of the burden bearers is failing, and there is too much rubbish so that we are unable to work on the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see anything before we come upon them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times, “From all the places where they live they will come up against us.” 13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 After I looked these things over, I stood up and said to the nobles and the officials and the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the LORD, who is great and awesome, and fight for your kin, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

15 When our enemies heard that their plot was known to us, and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and body-armor; and the leaders posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building the wall. The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread out, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20 Rally to us wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet. Our God will fight for us.”

21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night inside Jerusalem, so that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me ever took off our clothes; each kept his weapon in his right hand.

New Testament
(Revelation 7:4–8) 9–17

[     4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel:

5 From the tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed.     ]

9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
17 for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Gospel
Matthew 13:31–35

31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:

     “I will open my mouth to speak in parables;
     I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”

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


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Cry of the Soul
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The Treasures of Darkness
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Facing the Darkness Together
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The Key to Hope in the Midst of Suffering
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The Church 1
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The Church 2
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Rediscovering Christian Friendship
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Persecution Endurance of Christians 1 Luke 21:12-19
John MacArthur