Video Isaiah 64
1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
5 You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
8 But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautiful house,
where our fathers praised you,
has been burned by fire,
and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12 Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD?
Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?
Judgment and Salvation
Video Isaiah 65 1 I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that was not called by my name.
2 I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3 a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and making offerings on bricks;
4 who sit in tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat pig’s flesh,
and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;
5 who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all the day.
6 Behold, it is written before me:
“I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their lap
7 both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together,
says the LORD;
because they made offerings on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills,
I will measure into their lap
payment for their former deeds.”
8 Thus says the LORD:
“As the new wine is found in the cluster,
and they say, ‘Do not destroy it,
for there is a blessing in it,’
so I will do for my servants’ sake,
and not destroy them all.
9 I will bring forth offspring from Jacob,
and from Judah possessors of my mountains;
my chosen shall possess it,
and my servants shall dwell there.
10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks,
and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down,
for my people who have sought me.
11 But you who forsake the LORD,
who forget my holy mountain,
who set a table for Fortune
and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you to the sword,
and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter,
because, when I called, you did not answer;
when I spoke, you did not listen,
but you did what was evil in my eyes
and chose what I did not delight in.”
13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
“Behold, my servants shall eat,
but you shall be hungry;
behold, my servants shall drink,
but you shall be thirsty;
behold, my servants shall rejoice,
but you shall be put to shame;
14 behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart,
but you shall cry out for pain of heart
and shall wail for breaking of spirit.
15 You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse,
and the Lord GOD will put you to death,
but his servants he will call by another name,
16 so that he who blesses himself in the land
shall bless himself by the God of truth,
and he who takes an oath in the land
shall swear by the God of truth;
because the former troubles are forgotten
and are hidden from my eyes.
New Heavens and a New Earth
17 “For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD,
and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD.
The Humble and Contrite in Spirit
Video Isaiah 66 1 Thus says the LORD:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
2 All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the LORD.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.
3 “He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man;
he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood;
he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol.
These have chosen their own ways,
and their soul delights in their abominations;
4 I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them,
because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, they did not listen;
but they did what was evil in my eyes
and chose that in which I did not delight.”
5 Hear the word of the LORD,
you who tremble at his word:
“Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified,
that we may see your joy’;
but it is they who shall be put to shame.
6 “The sound of an uproar from the city!
A sound from the temple!
The sound of the LORD,
rendering recompense to his enemies!
Rejoice with Jerusalem
7 “Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
8 Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her children.
9 Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”
says the LORD;
“shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”
says your God.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
11 that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.”
12 For thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.
Final Judgment and Glory of the LORD
15 “For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many.
18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD.
22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the LORD,
so shall your offspring and your name remain.
23 From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the LORD.
English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha
What I'm Reading
Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospel Attributed to John?
By J. Warner Wallace 10/9/2017
The Gospel of John is a reliable addition to the New Testament Canon, but this ancient document isn’t the only text attributed to this disciple of Jesus. Another slightly less ancient text called the The Apocryphon of John claims to have been written by the same man who wrote the gospel we accept as reliable. But is this non-canonical text reliable? Was it really written by John? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first characteristic requires that any alleged eyewitness be present to see what he or she reports. The Apocryphon of John was written too late in history to have been written by the Apostle John, and like other late non-canonical texts, this fraudulent document was rejected by early Christians who knew that it was unreliable. In spite of this, The Apocryphon of John contains nuggets of truth related to Jesus. It is a legendary and elaborate fabrication written by an author who was motivated to change the history of Jesus to suit his own purposes. It is an alternative narrative twisted from the truths offered in the original Gospels. Much can be learned about the historic Jesus from this late fabrication:
The Apocryphon of John (120-180AD) | The Apocryphon of John is a Sethian Gnostic text (Sethians were named for their reverent adoration of the Seth, the son of Adam and Eve, who they described as a divine incarnation and the ancestor of a superior race of humans). Like others Sethian texts, it was first discovered as part of the Nag Hammadi Library collection in Egypt in 1945. Three copies were discovered at that time, and another copy was later discovered in Egypt. All of these copies date to the 4th century, but scholars place the writing of the text in the 2nd century. The Apocryphon of John describes an appearance of Jesus to the Apostle John (after Jesus’ ascension) in which Jesus provides John with secret knowledge, much like other narratives in the tradition of Gnosticism.
Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable? | The early Church leader, Irenaeus refers to The Apocryphon of John in his defense of the faith entitled “Against Heresies” (written in approximately 185AD). From a very early date, this book was identified as a Sethian Gnostic fabrication and late document with no Apostolic eyewitness connection to the Apostle John. As Irenaeus wrote, the text was one of “an indescribable number of secret and illegitimate writings, which they themselves have forged, to bewilder the minds of foolish people, who are ignorant of the true scriptures.”
How Does It Corroborate the Life of Jesus? | The Apocryphon of John presumes the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. It also affirms John was the brother of James and the son of Zebedee, and an important disciple of Jesus (who is described as a Nazarene). Jesus is also given the title “Savior” (although the meaning of this term is different in Sethianism).
Where (and Why) Does It Differ from the Reliable Accounts? | The Apocryphon of John is concerned primarily with an account of the creation of the world. The text was discovered in the Nag Hammadi library as the first document in a series of Sethian Gnostic texts and it includes the most detailed Sethian creation mythology. The role and position of Jesus in the Godhead is very different from orthodox canonical descriptions as a result of the presuppositions of Sethians who wrote this text. Sethian believers appear to have accepted the historicity of Jesus but attempted to place Him within their preconceived Sethian beliefs.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
The Mystery of Iniquity
By R.C. Sproul
It has been called the Achilles’ heel of the Christian faith. Of course, I’m referring to the classical problem of the existence of evil. Philosophers such as John Stuart Mill have argued that the existence of evil demonstrates that God is either not omnipotent or not good and loving — the reasoning being that if evil exists apart from the sovereign power of God, then by resistless logic, God cannot be deemed omnipotent. On the other hand, if God does have the power to prevent evil but fails to do it, then this would reflect upon His character, indicating that He is neither good nor loving. Because of the persistence of this problem, the church has seen countless attempts at what is called theodicy. The term theodicy involves the combining of two Greek words: the word for God, theos, and the word for justification, dikaios. Hence, a theodicy is an attempt to justify God for the existence of evil (as seen, for instance, in John Milton’s Paradise Lost). Such theodicies have covered the gauntlet between a simple explanation that evil comes as a direct result of human free will or to more complex philosophical attempts such as that offered by the philosopher Leibniz. In his theodicy, which was satired by Voltaire’s Candide, Leibniz distinguished among three types of evil: natural evil, metaphysical evil, and moral evil. In this three-fold schema, Leibniz argued that moral evil is an inevitable and necessary consequence of finitude, which is a metaphysical lack of complete being. Because every creature falls short of infinite being, that shortfall must necessarily yield defects such as we see in moral evil. The problem with this theodicy is that it fails to take into account the biblical ideal of evil. If evil is a metaphysical necessity for creatures, then obviously Adam and Eve had to have been evil before the fall and would have to continue to be evil even after glorification in heaven.
To this date, I have yet to find a satisfying explanation for what theologians call the mystery of iniquity. Please don’t send me letters giving your explanations, usually focusing on some dimension of human free will. I’m afraid that many people fail to feel the serious weight of this burden of explanation. The simple presence of free will is not enough to explain the origin of evil, in as much as we still must ask how a good being would be inclined freely to choose evil. The inclination for the will to act in an immoral manner is already a signal of sin.
One of the most important approaches to the problem of evil is that set forth originally by Augustine and then later by Aquinas, in which they argued that evil has no independent being. Evil cannot be defined as a thing or as a substance or as some kind of being. Rather, evil is always defined as an action, an action that fails to meet a standard of goodness. In this regard, evil has been defined in terms of its being either a negation (negatio) of the good, or a privation (privatio) of the good. In both cases, the very definition of evil depends upon a prior understanding of the good. In this regard, as Augustine argued, evil is parasitic — that is, it depends upon the good for its very definition. We think of sin as something that is unrighteous, involving disobedience, immorality, and the like. All of these definitions depend upon the positive substance of the good for their very definition. Augustine argues that though Christians face the difficulty of explaining the presence of evil in the universe, the pagan has a problem that is twice as difficult. Before one can even have a problem of evil, one must first have an antecedent existence of the good. Those who complain about the problem of evil now also have the problem of defining the existence of the good. Without God there is no ultimate standard for the good.
In contemporary days, this problem has been resolved by simply denying both evil and good. Such a problem, however, faces enormous difficulties, particularly when one suffers at the hands of someone who inflicts evil upon them. It is easy for us to deny the existence of evil until we ourselves are victims of someone’s wicked action.
- 1 The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World
- 2 The Holiness of God
- 3 Chosen by God
- 4 Essential Truths of the Christian Faith
- 5 What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics
- 6 Knowing Scripture
- 7 The Donkey Who Carried a King
- 8 Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Romans
- 11 Everyone's A Theologian
- 12 John (St. Andrew's Expositional Commentary)
- 13 Classic Teachings on the Nature of God: The Holiness of God; Chosen by God; Pleasing God—Three Books in One
- 14 The Priest with Dirty Clothes
- 15 Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism
- 16 The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus' Life Mean for You
- 17 The Barber Who Wanted to Pray
- 18 God's Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children (Classic Theology)
- 19 The Prince's Poison Cup
- 20 Mark: St. Andrews Expositional Commentary
- 21 The Mystery of the Holy Spirit
- 22 Does Prayer Change Things? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 23 The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version Hardcover w/Maps
- 24 Now, That's a Good Question!
- 25 The Intimate Marriage: A Practical Guide to Building a Great Marriage (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 26 O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God
- 27 The Prayer of the Lord
- 28 After Darkness, Light: Distinctives of Reformed Theology: Essays in Honor of R. C. Sproul
- 29 The Last Days according to Jesus: When Did Jesus Say He Would Return?
- 30 The Lightlings
- 31 Who Is the Holy Spirit? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 32 Classical Apologetics
- 33 Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life
- 34 Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification
- 35 What is the Trinity? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 36 The King Without a Shadow
- 37 Reason to Believe: A Response to Common Objections to Christianity
- 38 Unseen Realities: Heaven, Hell, Angels and Demons
- 39 Ultimate Issues (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 40 Can I Be Sure I'm Saved? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 41 How Should I Think about Money? (Crucial Questions)
- 42 What is Repentance? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 43 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
- 44 Does God Control Everything? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 45 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 46 Can I Know God's Will? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 47 Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together
- 48 Who Is Jesus? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 49 Can I Trust the Bible? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 50 Holy Bible: New Geneva Study Bible, New King James Version
- 51 Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible
- 52 What is Baptism? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 53 A Walk With God: Luke
- 54 Cómo defender su fe (Una Introduccion a La Apologetica) (Spanish Edition)
- 55 Saved from What?
- 56 What Is Faith? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 57 Lifeviews
- 58 What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 59 Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology
- 60 The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good? (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 61 Can I Have Joy in My Life? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 62 By R. C. Sproul - Knowing Scripture (First) (1/26/09)
Why Bethlehem Uses the ESV
By John Piper 1/2/2004
Why I would like to see the English Standard Version become the most common Bible of the English-speaking church, for preaching, teaching, memorizing, and study. The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O LORD,
my rock and my redeemer.
--Psalm 19:7-14 ESV
I praise God that we have the Bible in English. What a gift! What a treasure! We cannot begin to estimate what this is worth to Christians and churches, and even to the unbelievers and the cultures of the English-speaking world. Ten thousand benefits flow from the influence of this book that we are not even aware of. And the preaching of this Word in tens of thousands of pulpits across America is more important than every media outlet in the nation.
I would rather have people read any translation of the Bible—no matter how weak—than to read no translation of the Bible. If there could be only one translation in English, I would rather it be my least favorite than that there be none. God uses every version to bless people and save people.
But the issue before the church in the English-speaking world today is not "no translation vs. a weak translation." It is between many precious English Bibles. A Bible does not cease to be precious and powerful because its translators overuse paraphrase and put way too much of their own interpretation into the Bible. That's the way God's Word is! It breaks free from poor translations and poor preaching—for which I am very thankful. But even though the weakest translation is precious, and is used by God to save and strengthen sinful people, better translations would be a great blessing to the church and an honor to Christ.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.
John Piper Books:
- Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture
- Don't Waste Your Life
- Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
- When I Don't Desire God (Redesign): How to Fight for Joy
- A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness
- Future Grace, Revised Edition: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God
- When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God--and Joy
- This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence
- Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God's Grace
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Revised Edition)
- Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power
- The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God
- Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor
- Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions
- God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself
- Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ
- The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin
- Doctrine Matters: Ten Theological Trademarks From a Lifetime of Preaching
- A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- The Dangerous Duty of Delight: The Glorified God and the Satisfied Soul
- Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure
- Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, Updated and Expanded Edition
- The Supremacy of God in Preaching
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Redesign): A Response to Evangelical Feminism
- Risk Is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It
- Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (The Swans Are Not Silent)
- A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You
- The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce
- Don't Waste Your Cancer
- Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian
- The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd
- Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis
- Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
- Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
- The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23
- Finally Alive
- A Godward Life: Seeing the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- Spectacular Sins (Redesign): And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ
- Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul
- God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World)
- Life as a Vapor: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Faith
- Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
- 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood
- What Jesus Demands from the World (Paperback Edition)
- What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible
- Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen
- Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged
- John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God
- A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- Does God Desire All to Be Saved?
- Preparing for Marriage: Help for Christian Couples
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent
- The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright
- The Satisfied Soul: Showing the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind
- A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- Quest for Joy (Pack of 25) (Proclaiming the Gospel)
- Ruth: Under the Wings of God
- Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth
The 95 Theses (Stephen Nichols: The First and Second Theses)
By Martin Luther 10/31/1517
Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
- When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ``Repent'' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
- This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
- Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
- The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
- The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
- The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
- God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
- The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
- Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
- Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
- Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
- In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
- The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
- Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
- This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
- Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
- It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
- Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
- Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
- Therefore the pope, when he uses the words ``plenary remission of all penalties,'' does not actually mean ``all penalties,'' but only those imposed by himself.
- Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
- As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
- If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
- For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
- That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
- The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
- They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
- It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
- Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
- No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
- The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
- Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
- Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
- For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.
- They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
- Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
- Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
- Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
- It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
- A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them -- at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
- Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
- Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
- Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
- Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God's wrath.
- Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
- Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
- Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
- Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
- It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
- They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
- Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
- It is certainly the pope's sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
- The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
- That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
- Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
- St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
- Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
- For it is clear that the pope's power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
- The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
- But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).
- On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
- Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
- The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
- The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
- They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
- Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
- But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
- Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
- But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
- Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
- Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
- To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
- We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
- To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
- We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])
- To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
- The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.
- This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
- Such as: ``Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?'' The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
- Again, ``Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?''
- Again, ``What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, beca use of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love's sake?''
- Again, ``Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?''
- Again, ``Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?''
- Again, ``What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?''
- Again, ``What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?''
- ``Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?''
- To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.
- If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
- Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, ``Peace, peace,'' and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
- Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, ``Cross, cross,'' and there is no cross!
- Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
- And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).
John Calvin On The Use Of Goods And Money
By Steven Wedgeworth 8/10/2017
Some of our friends are arguing about Capitalism and Marxism, so I thought we would do what we usually do– turn to the archives! What did the stuffy dead guys say about this? That’s a big task, though (and one that we have been doing piece by piece over time), and so, true to form, I’ll here focus on Calvin. For non-Calvin lovers, you may cease reading now. For others, you should want to pay attention because so many of today’s economic arguments are actually larger philosophical arguments, grounded on human nature as such, as well as universal ethical laws and the claims of justice. Calvin may have been incorrect about particulars, but it is unlikely that he was wildly off-base on these architectonic principles.
So what did Calvin think about economics?
As far as we know, Calvin did not write any sort of treatise on economic theory. Further, standing at the intersection of the Renaissance and early modernity, he was prior to either “capitalism” or “Marxism” as we know them today. Thus his work reacts to neither. Andre Bieler has written ISBN-13: 978-2825414453 the definitive work on Calvin’s economic thought. Due to its publisher, however, many Evangelicals have never heard of it. Its size will also repel a broad readership, and so an introductory treatment is necessary. This post will draw heavily from Bieler’s work, though other sources have also been consulted.
We will begin by laying out Calvin’s general philosophy of the social nature of humanity and property, then we will examine what Calvin thought about the uniquely Christian duties of charity. We will conclude with Calvin’s recommendations for how the church and civil magistrate ought to order these ideals in ecclesiastical and political life.
A Social Animal With Natural Dues | Calvin held to a classical Christian philosophy, and as such he believed that man was a social animal by nature. This means that he rejected individualism as not only undesirable but unnatural. “Man was formed to be a social animal” (comment. Gen. 2:18). The seed form of this society was marriage and the family, but it extends to all mankind. Calvin puts it this way:
By Steven Wedgeworth 7/31/2017
Pastor Tim Keller has posted a follow-up to the ideas and concepts that Mark Jones highlighted a few days ago concerning Christ’s cry of abandon from the cross. There’s a lot that could be said, but so far it’s simply worth notting that it is a very good conversation that opens up lots of avenues for further discussion. In his most recent post, Pastor Keller cites Calvin for explanation and context, and he embraces many important distinctions. As I was reading along, I decided to cross-reference Calvin and ended up going down a fun sort of rabbit hole. As it turns out, Calvin wrote quite a lot on this particular topic. It’s fascinating. Calvin treats the whole matter with biblical integrity and careful attention to dogmatic theology, and the whole excursion serves a sort of theological education.
In what follows, I would like to give this all more exposure. I will list Calvin’s most significant statements on Christ’s cry of despair on the Cross and give a brief commentary on each, noticing his comment affirmations, denials, and emphases. I may not have found every relevant passage in Calvin’s writings, but I have tried to catalog the major ones. If readers find others, they may feel free to pass them along.
1538 Catechism Of The Church Of Geneva | John Hesselink has published an edition of the catechism Calvin wrote in 1538. This was a summary form of the first edition of his Institutes, and it served as the city confession of faith for a time. It can now be found in Hesselink’s Calvin’s First Catechism: A Commentary (Louisville: WJK, 1997). The 20th chapter of that catechism explains the Apostles’ Creed, a creed which Calvin says “contains nothing merely human but has been assembled from very sure testimonies of Scripture.” When Calvin gets to the part of the creed that says Christ “descended into hell,” he makes these remarks:
It is said that he descended into hell. This means that he had been afflicted by God, and felt the dread and severity of divine judgment, in order to intercede with God’s wrath and make satisfaction to his justice in our name, thus paying our debts and lifting our penalties, not for his own iniquity (which never existed) but for ours.
Yet it is not to be understood that the Father was ever angry toward him. For how could he be angry toward his beloved Son, “in whom he was well pleased”? Or how could he appease the Father by his intercession, if the Father regarded him as an enemy? But it is in this sense that he is said to have borne the weight of divine severity, since he was “stricken and afflicted” by God’s hand, and experienced all the signs of a wrathful and avenging God, so as to be compelled to cry out in deep anguish: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
“He Descended Into Hell” Tim Keller
By Tim Keller
Is it right for preachers to speak of Jesus experiencing the loss of the Father’s love on the cross? After all, orthodox Trinitarian theology teaches that at the ultimate level, ontologically, the Father did not ever hate the Son. The Trinity remains completely unbroken. Indeed, when the Son was dying for us he was offering the Father a ‘pleasing sacrifice’ and a ‘satisfaction’ for sin.
But then what was the “forsakenness” that Jesus experienced on the cross? If in the ultimate sense he did not lose the Father’s love, what did he lose? Is it wrong to say that when Jesus was on the cross he experienced estrangement from God? Is it wrong to say that he lost any sense and even assurance of God’s love?
Preachers will do well to read Calvin closely when he expounds the line in the Apostles’ Creed, “He descended into hell.” (Institutes II. 16. 8-12)
Calvin argues this Jesus ‘descent into hell’ was not merely descending into physical death and the grave. He believes it represents biblical teaching that Jesus suffered not just bodily pain but all the torments that a soul in hell, cut off from God’s presence, would experience. He “bore all the punishments [evildoers] ought to have sustained” with only one exception, that those torments could not keep hold of him forever. He “suffered the death that God in his wrath had inflicted upon the wicked.” (II.16.10). Calvin does not mince words here. “Not only that Christ’s body was given as the price of our redemption, but that he paid a greater and more excellent price in suffering in his soul the terrible torments of a condemned and forsaken man.” (II.16.10) And he says: “Surely no more terrible abyss can be conceived than to feel yourself forsaken and estranged from God; and when you call upon him, not to be heard. It is as if God himself had plotted your ruin.” (II.16.11)
That is what Jesus experienced on the cross. As far as Christ’s experience was concerned, he lost everything he had with the Father, just as a damned soul would. He lost God’s presence, favor, communication, and therefore any feeling sense of God’s love.
He is also Chairman of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and publishes books and resources for faith in an urban culture. In over ten years they have helped to launch over 250 churches in 48 cities. More recently, Dr. Keller’s books, including the New York Times bestselling The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, have sold over 1 million copies and been translated into 15 languages.
Christianity Today has said, “Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians.
Dr. Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. He previously served as the pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Virginia, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and Director of Mercy Ministries for the Presbyterian Church in America. Tim Keller Books:
- 1 The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
- 2 The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
- 3 Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical
- 4 Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work
- 5 Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
- 6 The Prodigal God
- 7 God's Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs
- 8 The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy
- 9 Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters
- 10 Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City
- 11 Walking with God through Pain and Suffering
- 12 Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God
- 13 Galatians For You
- 14 Romans 1-7 For You
- 13 Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions
- 14 Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just
- 13 Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism
- 14 90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, James: Wisdom for the Christian life
- 14 Judges For You: For Reading, For Feeding, For Leading (God's Word for You)
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Stop being intimidated
(Oct 11) Bob Gass
‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity.’
(2 Ti 1:7) for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ESV
The Bible says, ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Hebrews 11:6 NIV 2011 Edition). So, don’t get involved in anything that doesn’t require you to use your faith. The key to momentum is always having something to look forward to and believe God for. You either venture, or you vegetate. Jesus deliberately sent His disciples into a storm. Why? To develop their faith, and show them that with Him on board you can get through anything! God will keep exposing you to difficult situations because He knows it’s the only way your faith will grow. Nineteenth-century American preacher and abolitionist Phillips Brooks wrote, ‘Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your power, pray for power equal to your tasks.’ You don’t tap into God’s resources until you attempt something that seems humanly impossible. That’s when you discover: ‘I can do everything God asks me to do with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power’ (Philippians 4:13 TLB). All progress involves risk. In baseball, you can’t steal second base while your foot’s still on first base. And progress involves overcoming fear. One day when David was tending his sheep, ‘there came a lion’ (1 Samuel 17:34 KJV). But in God’s strength he defeated it - plus a bear, and later a giant called Goliath. That lion was just an opportunity in disguise. If David had wavered or run away, he’d have missed his chance to become king of Israel. So, when a lion of fear comes into your life, recognise it for what it is: an opportunity from God to rise up in faith and conquer it.
1 Tim 1
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
On October 11, 1798, President John Adams addressed the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts in a letter: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
Go into your chamber, shut the door, and cultivate the habit of praying audibly. Write prayers and burn them. Formulate your soul. Pay no attention to literary form, only to spiritual reality. Read a passage of Scripture and then sit down and turn it into prayer, written or spoken. Learn to be particular, specific, and detailed in your prayer so long as you are not trivial. General prayers, literary prayers, and stately phrases are, for private prayer, traps and sops to the soul. To formulate your soul is one valuable means to escape formalizing it. This is the best, the wholesome, kind of self-examination. Speaking with God discovers us safely to ourselves We “find” ourselves, come to ourselves, in the Spirit. Face your special weaknesses and sins before God. Force yourself to say to God exactly where you are wrong. When anything goes wrong, do not ask to have it set right, without asking in prayer what is was in you that made it go wrong. It is somewhat fruitless to ask for a general grace to help specific flaws, sins, trials, and griefs. Let prayer be concrete, actual, a direct product of life’s real experiences. Pray as your actual self, not as some fancied saint. Let it be closely relevant to your real situation. Pray without ceasing in this sense. Pray without a break between your prayer and your life. Pray so that there is a real continuity between your prayer and your whole actual life. But I will bear round upon this point again immediately.
Meantime, let me say this. Do not allow your practice in prayer to be arrested by scientific or philosophic considerations as to how answer is possible. That is a valuable subject for discussion, but it is not entitled to control our practice. Faith is at least as essential to the soul as science, and it has a foundation more independent. And prayer is not only a necessity of faith, it is faith itself in action.
Criticism of prayer dissolves in the experience of it. When the soul is at close quarters with God it becomes enlarged enough to hold together in harmony things that oppose, and to have room for harmonious contraries. For instance: God, of course, is always working for His Will and Kingdom. But man is bound to pray for its coming, while it is coming all the time. Christ laid stress on prayer as a necessary means of bringing the Kingdom to pass. And it cannot come without our praying. Why? Because its coming is the prayerful frame of soul. So again with God’s freedom. It is absolute. But it reckons on ours. Our prayer does not force His hand; it answers His freedom in kind. We are never so active and free as in prayer to an absolutely free God. We share His freedom when we are “in Christ.”
If I must choose between Christ, who bids me pray for everything, and the servant, who tells me certain answers are physically and rationally impossible, must I not choose Christ? Because, while the savant knows much about nature and its action (and much more than Christ did), Christ knew everything about the God of nature and His reality. He knew more of what is possible to God than anybody has ever known about what is possible in nature. On such a subject as prayer, anyone is a greater authority who wholly knows the will of God than he who only knows God’s methods, and knows them but in part. Prayer is not an act of knowledge but of faith. It is not a matter of calculation but of confidence—“that our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Which means that in this region we are not to be regulated by science, but by God’s self-revelation. Do not be so timid about praying wrongly if you pray humbly. If God is really the Father that Christ revealed, then the principle is—take everything to Him that exercises you. Apart from frivolity, such as praying to find the stud you lost, or the knife, or the umbrella, there is really no limitation in the New Testament on the contents of petition. Any regulation is as to the spirit of the prayer, the faith it springs from. In all distress which mars your peace, petition must be the form your faith takes—petition for rescue. Keep close to the New Testament Christ, and then ask for anything you desire in that contact. Ask for everything you can ask in Christ’s name, i.e. everything desirable by a man who is in Christ’s kingdom of God, by a man who lives for it at heart, everything in tune with the purpose and work of the kingdom in Christ. If you are in that kingdom, then pray freely for whatever you need or wish to keep you active and effective for it, from daily bread upwards and outwards. In all things make your requests known. At least you have laid them on God’s heart; and faith means confidences between you and not only favours. And there is not confidence if you keep back what is hot or heavy on your heart. If prayer is not a play of the religious fantasy, or a routine task, it must be the application of faith to a concrete actual and urgent situation. Only remember that prayer does not work by magic, and that stormy desire is not fervent, effectual prayer. You may be but exploiting a mighty power; whereas you must be in real contact with the real God. It is the man that most really has God that most really seeks God.
I said a little while ago that to pray without ceasing also meant to pray without a breach with your actual life and the whole situation in which you are. This is the point at which to dwell on that. If you may not come to God with the occasions of your private life and affairs, then there is some unreality in the relation between you and Him. If some private crisis absorbs you, some business or family anxiety of little moment to others but of much to you, and if you may not bring that to God in prayer, then one of two things. Either it is not you, in your actual reality, that came to God, but it is you in a pose—you in some role which you are trying with poor success to play before Him. You are trying to pray as another person than you are,—a better person, perhaps, as some great apostle, who should have on his worshipping mind nothing but the grand affairs of the Church and Kingdom, and not be worried by common cares. You are praying in court-dress. You are trying to pray as you imagine one should pray to God, i.e. as another person than you are, and in other circumstances. You are creating a self and a situation to place before God. Either that or you are not praying to a God who loves, helps, and delivers you in every pinch of life, but only to one who uses you as a pawn for the victory of His great kingdom. You are not praying to Christ’s God. You are praying to a God who cares only for the great actions in His kingdom, for the heroic people who cherish nothing but the grand style, or for the calm people who do not deeply feel life’s trials. The reality of prayer is bound up with the reality and intimacy of life.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Wonder is involuntary praise.
--- Edward Young
When I was young,
I admired clever people.
Now that I am old,
I admire kind people.
--- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The feeling remains
that God is on the journey, too.
--- Teresa of Avila
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
4. When this accident had unexpectedly happened, the minds of both parties were variously affected; for though one would expect that the Jews would be discouraged, because this fall of their wall was unexpected by them, and they had made no provision in that case, yet did they pull up their courage, because the tower of Antonia itself was still standing; as was the unexpected joy of the Romans at this fall of the wall soon quenched by the sight they had of another wall, which John and his party had built within it. However, the attack of this second wall appeared to be easier than that of the former, because it seemed a thing of greater facility to get up to it through the parts of the former wall that were now thrown down. This new wall appeared also to be much weaker than the tower of Antonia, and accordingly the Romans imagined that it had been erected so much on the sudden, that they should soon overthrow it: yet did not any body venture now to go up to this wall; for that such as first ventured so to do must certainly be killed.
5. And now Titus, upon consideration that the alacrity of soldiers in war is chiefly excited by hopes and by good words, and that exhortations and promises do frequently make men to forget the hazards they run, nay, sometimes to despise death itself, got together the most courageous part of his army, and tried what he could do with his men by these methods. "O fellow soldiers," said he, "to make an exhortation to men to do what hath no peril in it, is on that very account inglorious to such to whom that exhortation is made; and indeed so it is in him that makes the exhortation, an argument of his own cowardice also. I therefore think that such exhortations ought then only to be made use of when affairs are in a dangerous condition, and yet are worthy of being attempted by every one themselves; accordingly, I am fully of the same opinion with you, that it is a difficult task to go up this wall; but that it is proper for those that desire reputation for their valor to struggle with difficulties in such cases as will then appear, when I have particularly shown that it is a brave thing to die with glory, and that the courage here necessary shall not go unrewarded in those that first begin the attempt. And let my first argument to move you to it be taken from what probably some would think reasonable to dissuade you, I mean the constancy and patience of these Jews, even under their ill successes; for it is unbecoming you, who are Romans and my soldiers, who have in peace been taught how to make wars, and who have also been used to conquer in those wars, to be inferior to Jews, either in action of the hand, or in courage of the soul, and this especially when you are at the conclusion of your victory, and are assisted by God himself; for as to our misfortunes, they have been owing to the madness of the Jews, while their sufferings have been owing to your valor, and to the assistance God hath afforded you; for as to the seditions they have been in, and the famine they are under, and the siege they now endure, and the fall of their walls without our engines, what can they all be but demonstrations of God's anger against them, and of his assistance afforded us? It will not therefore be proper for you, either to show yourselves inferior to those to whom you are really superior, or to betray that Divine assistance which is afforded you. And, indeed, how can it be esteemed otherwise than a base and unworthy thing, that while the Jews, who need not be much ashamed if they be deserted, because they have long learned to be slaves to others, do yet despise death, that they may be so no longer; and do make sallies into the very midst of us frequently, not in hopes of conquering us, but merely for a demonstration of their courage; we, who have gotten possession of almost all the world that belongs to either land or sea, to whom it will be a great shame if we do not conquer them, do not once undertake any attempt against our enemies wherein there is much danger, but sit still idle, with such brave arms as we have, and only wait till the famine and fortune do our business themselves, and this when we have it in our power, with some small hazard, to gain all that we desire! For if we go up to this tower of Antonia, we gain the city; for if there should be any more occasion for fighting against those within the city, which I do not suppose there will, since we shall then be upon the top of the hill 1 and be upon our enemies before they can have taken breath, these advantages promise us no less than a certain and sudden victory. As for myself, I shall at present wave any commendation of those who die in war, 2 and omit to speak of the immortality of those men who are slain in the midst of their martial bravery; yet cannot I forbear to imprecate upon those who are of a contrary disposition, that they may die in time of peace, by some distemper or other, since their souls are condemned to the grave, together with their bodies. For what man of virtue is there who does not know, that those souls which are severed from their fleshly bodies in battles by the sword are received by the ether, that purest of elements, and joined to that company which are placed among the stars; that they become good demons, and propitious heroes, and show themselves as such to their posterity afterwards? while upon those souls that wear away in and with their distempered bodies comes a subterranean night to dissolve them to nothing, and a deep oblivion to take away all the remembrance of them, and this notwithstanding they be clean from all spots and defilements of this world; so that, in this ease, the soul at the same time comes to the utmost bounds of its life, and of its body, and of its memorial also. But since he hath determined that death is to come of necessity upon all men, a sword is a better instrument for that purpose than any disease whatsoever. Why is it not then a very mean thing for us not to yield up that to the public benefit which we must yield up to fate? And this discourse have I made, upon the supposition that those who at first attempt to go upon this wall must needs be killed in the attempt, though still men of true courage have a chance to escape even in the most hazardous undertakings. For, in the first place, that part of the former wall that is thrown down is easily to be ascended; and for the new-built wall, it is easily destroyed. Do you, therefore, many of you, pull up your courage, and set about this work, and do you mutually encourage and assist one another; and this your bravery will soon break the hearts of your enemies; and perhaps such a glorious undertaking as yours is may be accomplished without bloodshed. For although it be justly to be supposed that the Jews will try to hinder you at your first beginning to go up to them; yet when you have once concealed yourselves from them, and driven them away by force, they will not be able to sustain your efforts against them any longer, though but a few of you prevent them, and get over the wall. As for that person who first mounts the wall, I should blush for shame if I did not make him to be envied of others, by those rewards I would bestow upon him. If such a one escape with his life, he shall have the command of others that are now but his equals; although it be true also that the greatest rewards will accrue to such as die in the attempt."
6. Upon this speech of Titus, the rest of the multitude were afrighted at so great a danger. But there was one, whose name was Sabinus, a soldier that served among the cohorts, and a Syrian by birth, who appeared to be of very great fortitude, both in the actions he had done, and the courage of his soul he had shown; although any body would have thought, before he came to his work, that he was of such a weak constitution of body, that he was not fit to be a soldier; for his color was black, his flesh was lean and thin, and lay close together; but there was a certain heroic soul that dwelt in this small body, which body was indeed much too narrow for that peculiar courage which was in him. Accordingly he was the first that rose up, when he thus spake: "I readily surrender up myself to thee, O Caesar; I first ascend the wall, and I heartily wish that my fortune may follow my courage and my resolution And if some ill fortune grudge me the success of my undertaking, take notice that my ill success will not be unexpected, but that I choose death voluntarily for thy sake." When he had said this, and had spread out his shield over his head with his left hand, and had, with his right hand, drawn his sword, he marched up to the wall, just about the sixth hour of the day. There followed him eleven others, and no more, that resolved to imitate his bravery; but still this was the principal person of them all, and went first, as excited by a divine fury. Now those that guarded the wall shot at them from thence, and cast innumerable darts upon them from every side; they also rolled very large stones upon them, which overthrew some of those eleven that were with him. But as for Sabinus himself, he met the darts that were cast at him and though he was overwhelmed with them, yet did he not leave off the violence of his attack before he had gotten up on the top of the wall, and had put the enemy to flight. For as the Jews were astonished at his great strength, and the bravery of his soul, and as, withal, they imagined more of them had got upon the wall than really had, they were put to flight. And now one cannot but complain here of fortune, as still envious at virtue, and always hindering the performance of glorious achievements: this was the case of the man before us, when he had just obtained his purpose; for he then stumbled at a certain large stone, and fell down upon it headlong, with a very great noise. Upon which the Jews turned back, and when they saw him to be alone, and fallen down also, they threw darts at him from every side. However, he got upon his knee, and covered himself with his shield, and at the first defended himself against them, and wounded many of those that came near him; but he was soon forced to relax his right hand, by the multitude of the wounds that had been given him, till at length he was quite covered over with darts before he gave up the ghost. He was one who deserved a better fate, by reason of his bravery; but, as might be expected, he fell under so vast an attempt. As for the rest of his partners, the Jews dashed three of them to pieces with stones, and slew them as they were gotten up to the top of the wall; the other eight being wounded, were pulled down, and carried back to the camp. These things were done upon the third day of the month Panemus [Tamuz].
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
for you don’t know what the day may bring.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
After God’s silence—what?
When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days in the same place where He was. --- John 11:6.
Has God trusted you with a silence—a silence that is big with meaning? God’s silences are His answers. Think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything analogous to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking for a visible answer? God will give you the blessings you ask if you will not go any further without them; but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into a marvellous understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? You will find that God has trusted you in the most intimate way possible, with an absolute silence, not of despair, but of pleasure, because He saw that you could stand a bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, praise Him, He is bringing you into the great run of His purposes. The manifestation of the answer in time is a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you say—‘I asked God to give me bread, and He gave me a stone.’ He did not, and to-day you find He gave you the bread of life.
A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that the contagion of His stillness gets into you and you become perfectly confident—‘I know God has heard me.’ His silence is the proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, He will give you the first sign of His intimacy—silence.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
It was a hand. God looked at it
and looked away. There was a coldness
about his heart, as though the hand
clasped it. As at the end
of a dark tunnel, he saw cities
the hand would build, engines
that it would raze them with. His sight
dimmed. Tempted to undo the joints
of the fingers, he picked it up.
But the hand wrestled with him. 'Tell
me your name,' it cried, 'and I will write it
in bright gold. Are there not deeds
to be done, children to make, poems
to be written? The world
is without meaning, awaiting
my coming.' But God, feeling the nails
in his side, the unnerving warmth
of the contact, fought on in
silence. This was the long war with himself
always foreseen, the question not
to be answered. What is the hand
for? The immaculate conception
preceding the delivery
of the first tool? 'I let you go,'
he said, 'but without blessing.
Messenger to the mixed things
of your making, tell them I am.'
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
In his introduction to The guide for the perplexed
explicitly states that he wrote the work for individuals perplexed by the apparent conflict between talmudic Judaism and philosophic inquiry. (1) Elsewhere he states that his legal works were addressed to the general community of halakhic Jews. (Introduction to Commentary to the Mishnah, J. Kafiḥ, trans. (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 1963), p. 48 (hereafter cited as C.M.); The Book of Knowledge: Mishneh Torah, M. Hyamson, trans. (Jerusalem: Boys’ Town, 1965), p. 46 (hereafter cited as M.T.); Treatise on Resurrection, J. Finkel, ed. (New York: PAAJR, 1939), IV, p. 4.) Husik and Strauss claim that Maimonides protected his halakhic reader from the disturbing influences of philosophy. (The philosophy of Maimonides, (Maimonides octocentennial series)) But as we shall see, Maimonides did not totally insulate the audience of his legal works from the importance and significance of philosophy. Although one recognizes that Maimonides’ Guide and his legal works were addressed to different audiences, one may yet reject the approach which would understand these two audiences as reflecting two incompatible spiritual outlooks. Maimonides, who placed a high value on philosophy, did not restrict himself to communicating his philosophic understanding of Judaism to perplexed students alone, but also attempted to lead the traditional halakhic Jew toward a philosophic orientation to Jewish spirituality. An examination of Maimonides’ treatment of philosophy in his legal works will enable us to judge whether he was aiming at a unification of philosophy and Halakhah or whether, in the legal writings, he was articulating the views of a tradition which had no use for philosophy.
Maimonides’ first major legal work was his Commentary to the Mishnah. Saul Lieberman and Joseph Kafiḥ have shown that Maimonides did not cease reediting and correcting this work after its completion in 1168. One cannot claim, therefore, that it represents an early phase in the development of Maimonides’ thinking. Also, it must be clear that a medieval Jew’s commentary on a rabbinic work represents his personal understanding of Judaism. Revelation as expressed in the Bible was not the only basis upon which the traditional Jew organized his spiritual life; he accepted the Bible as understood and developed by the talmudic tradition.
In the introduction to his Commentary to the Mishnah Maimonides divides the subject matter of the Talmud into four categories:
a) explanation of the Mishnah;
b) legal decisions in situations of conflict either in the
Mishnah itself or in interpretations of the Mishnah;
c) matters relating to new legislation which was introduced
after the redaction of the Mishnah;
d) derashot—non-legal writing (subsequently referred to as
Although the greater part of the Talmud deals with legal issues, Maimonides is quick to warn his reader not to undervalue the last category, Aggadah:
One must not think that it is of slight importance, or that it is of little use since it serves a very great purpose in that it includes deep allusions and marvelous issues, for if one engages in a deep examination of those derashot he will gain from them understanding of the absolute good regarding which there is none greater and from which will be revealed Divine matters and true matters, all of which were concealed by men of science and with which philosophers consumed a whole lifetime.
This statement clearly articulates an approach to the Talmud and thus to traditional Judaism which not only rejects the view that Judaism is exclusively a legal system concerned with normative behavior, but emphasizes the primacy of Aggadah. To appreciate fully the implications of this position in terms of Maimonides’ understanding of Judaism, we should clarify the epistemology involved. Although one’s epistemology is not sufficient to explain a way of life, it is a key factor which makes certain options possible while it excludes others. This is especially true when the various world views involve such concepts as revelation and human reason.
The two modes of discourse, Halakhah and Aggadah, are not identical. The normative legal framework is an elaboration of the revelation of the law which is specific to the Jewish community. Other nations do not share in this legal system and are not bound to recognize its normative appeal. This particularity, however, does not obtain to the teaching of truths contained in Aggadah.
In The Commentary to the Mishnah, Ḥagigah, Maimonides identifies the esoteric teachings of Judaism, Ma’aseh Bereshit (the Account of Creation) and Ma’aseh Merkavah (the Account of the Chariot), with the universal cognitive disciplines of physics and metaphysics. This identification denies any intrinsic mystery to the hidden teachings. In principle, these teachings are capable of being understood by all men of reason because, according to Maimonides, the criteria upon which they are based are universal criteria of knowledge. The caution with which such teachings were handled by the tradition was due not to the fact of their requiring initiation into some unique esoteric logic, but rather to an awareness of the difficult and extensive intellectual training in logic and mathematics which such disciplines demanded.
The point of this discussion is Maimonides’ assertion that the epistemology of Aggadah is not unique and exclusive to Jews. One may question this position by pointing out that Aggadah does not speak in the explicit style of philosophic treatises. One may also indicate that many aggadic statements appear to contradict the claims of reason. Maimonides must defend his position by explaining such counter-evidence. Also, Maimonides’ epistemology upsets a prevalent approach to Judaism which insists on the unintelligibility of Aggadah to the non-Jew. Certain norms of the Halakhah which are laughed at by the nations of the world (e.g., the ritually forbidden linsey-woolsey, the red heifer, the scapegoat), have trained the Jew to carry the burden of isolation from the rest of the world. Similarly, one may argue, the Jew must carry the burden of accepting aggadot which are laughed at by non-Jewish scholars. The spiritual and political isolation of the Jewish people can reinforce and support Jewish insulation, both with regard to the practice of Halakhah and the acceptance of Aggadah. Maimonides deals with these problems in his introduction to The Commentary to the Mishnah and in his commentary to Ḥelek.
In Helek, Maimonides describes two approaches to Aggadah which cognitively isolate the Jewish community from the universal world of rational discourse:
The first class is, as far as I have seen, the largest in point of their numbers and of the numbers of their composition; and it is of them that I have heard most. The members of this class adopt the words of the Sages literally, and give no kind of interpretation whatsoever. With them all impossibilities are necessary occurrences. This is owing to their being ignorant of science and far away from knowledge.… They think that in all their emphatic and precise remarks the Sages only wished to convey the ideas which they themselves comprehend, and that they intended them to be taken in their literalness. And this, in spite of the fact that in their literal significance some of the words of the Sages would savor of absurdity. And so much so that were they manifested to the ordinary folk, leave alone the educated, in their literalness, they would reflect upon them in amazement and would exclaim: “How can there exist anyone who would seriously think in this way and regard such statements as the correct view of things much less approve of them?” This class of men are poor, and their folly deserves our pity.
Maimonides does not question the pious motive inspiring this group’s literal acceptance of Aggadah. He shares the absolute allegiance to rabbinic authority that this group proclaims:
Three classes are deniers of the Torah. He who says that the Torah is not of Divine origin—even if he says of one verse, or of a single word, that Moses said it, of himself—is a denier of the Torah; likewise, he who denies its interpretation, that is, the Oral Law, and repudiates its reporters, as Zadok and Boethius did; and he who says that the Creator changed one commandment or another, and that this Torah, although of Divine origin is now obsolete, as the Nazarenes and Moslems assert. Everyone belonging to any of these classes is a denier of the Torah.
Yet while Maimonides would define this allegiance in terms of legal matters, this group expands the idea of rabbinic authority to include Aggadah as well. Torah, as a unity of Halakhah and Aggadah, would argue against separating thought from action. Why discriminate between what the rabbis legislate in Halakhah and what they preach in Aggadah?
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” --- Luke 1:46–47.
He loves to hear us sing when we sing his praises from our hearts. Spurgeon's Sermons on Old Testament Women, Vol. 1: (C. H. Spurgeon Sermon Series) Don’t you delight to hear your own children sing, and is there anything sweeter than a song from a child? And God loves to hear his children sing. Even your discords, so long as they do not affect your heart but are only of sound and not of soul, will please him. What a beautiful simile is used in Psalm 22: “O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (KJV)! Just as God’s ancient people, during the feast of tabernacles, dwelt under booths made from the boughs of trees, so Jehovah is represented as having made for himself a tabernacle out of the praises of his people. They are only like fading boughs that soon turn brown, yet the great Lord of all condescends to sit beneath them, and as we each bring a new bough plucked from the tree of mercy, we help to make a new tabernacle for the Most High to dwell in.
Mary praised God with personal devotion. Notice how intensely personal her song is. We should join with other Christians in their songs of praise, but always mind that your personal note is not omitted, “My soul glorifies the Lord.” Don’t you think that some of you too often forget this? You come to hear sermons, and sometimes you do not come to the assembly as much as you ought for the purpose of directly and distinctly praising God in your own personality and individuality. The music is delightful to us as it rises from thousands of voices, but to God it can be pleasant only as it comes from each heart. “My soul”—for I have a personal indebtedness to you, my God, and there is a personal union between you and me; I love you, and you love me; therefore, even if all other souls are dumb, my soul glorifies the Lord. In this fashion, have a song to yourself, and mind that it is thoroughly your own.
In Mary’s song we see great spirituality. She is far from being content with mere lip service. Her language is poetic, but she is not satisfied with her language. But she speaks of “my soul” and “my spirit.” Let us never be satisfied with any kind of worship that does not take up the whole of the inner and higher nature. It is what you are within that you really are before the living God. It is quite a secondary matter how loud the chant may be or how sweet the tone of your hymn or how delightfully you join in it, unless your spirit, your soul, truly praises the Lord.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Battle of Tours
In 570 the woman Amina bore a son who, according to eastern storytellers, cried out immediately at birth, “There is no god but Allah, and I am his prophet!” He was Mohammed, the “Promised One,” and it was he who gave the Arabs their religion. The ensuing years saw Mohammed’s followers leap from conquest to conquest until the Middle East and North Africa were under their feet. Then they moved like a swarm of locusts across Spain before climbing the southern slopes of the Pyrenees and gazing lustfully into France.
Europe had fallen into its Dark Ages just as the Arabs were coming into their Golden Age; and in the early 700s the Muslims were threatening to pounce on the remnants of the old Roman Empire. Across Europe echoed the cry: “The Arabs are coming!” They were coming, and they seemed unstoppable. In the streets of Paris men and women trembled; and from their midst came a strong, young, long-haired Frank—Charles, son of Pepin. Charles Martel, he was called. Charles the Hammer.
Charles gathered his Franks and a few allies on the plain between Tours and Poitiers. It wasn’t much of an army—just a motley crew of miscellaneous, frightened barbarians. Charles told them just to stand firm, to hold their ground, to die if necessary, to do anything but break lines.
On October 11, 732 the two forces met—two cultures, two languages, two creeds, two civilizations battling for the fate of western civilization. The Muslims charged toward the amassed Franks, the thundering roar of their hoofbeats and shouts heard miles away. The defenders held firm. A second charge came, but Charles’s soldiers stood spread-eagled over their dead. A third charge failed, then a fourth. Charles galloped among his men, shouting orders, closing gaps. For five days the attacks came in waves. On the sixth day the Arabs cut through the lines only to find themselves surrounded and trapped. Their morale was spent and the surviving invaders fled.
The battlefield was carpeted with the dead—but Europe was saved for Christianity.
Be smart, all you rulers, and pay close attention. Serve and honor the LORD; be glad and tremble. Show respect to his son because if you don’t, the LORD might become furious and suddenly destroy you. --- Psalm 2:10-12.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 11
“Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.” --- Lamentations 3:41.
The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favours without constraining us to pray for them we should never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust. Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life we acquire energy by the hallowed labour of prayer. Prayer plumes the wings of God’s young eaglets, that they may learn to mount above the clouds. Prayer girds the loins of God’s warriors, and sends them forth to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. An earnest pleader cometh out of his closet, even as the sun ariseth from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race. Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua; it is the arrow shot from the chamber of the prophet foreboding defeat to the Syrians. Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer cannot do! We thank thee, great God, for the mercy-seat, a choice proof of thy marvellous lovingkindness. Help us to use it aright throughout this day!
Evening - October 11
“Whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” --- Romans 8:30.
In the second epistle to Timothy, first chapter, and ninth verse, are these words—“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.” Now, here is a touchstone by which we may try our calling. It is “an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” This calling forbids all trust in our own doings, and conducts us to Christ alone for salvation, but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God. As he that hath called you is holy, so must you be holy. If you are living in sin, you are not called, but if you are truly Christ’s, you can say, “Nothing pains me so much as sin; I desire to be rid of it; Lord, help me to be holy.” Is this the panting of thy heart? Is this the tenor of thy life towards God, and his divine will? Again, in Philippians, 3:13, 14, we are told of “The high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Is then your calling a high calling? Has it ennobled your heart, and set it upon heavenly things? Has it elevated your hopes, your tastes, your desires? Has it upraised the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend it with God and for God? Another test we find in Hebrews 3:1—“Partakers of the heavenly calling.” Heavenly calling means a call from heaven. If man alone call thee, thou art uncalled. Is thy calling of God? Is it a call to heaven as well as from heaven? Unless thou art a stranger here, and heaven thy home, thou hast not been called with a heavenly calling; for those who have been so called, declare that they look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they themselves are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. Is thy calling thus holy, high, heavenly? Then, beloved, thou hast been called of God, for such is the calling wherewith God doth call his people.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
REVIVE US AGAIN
William P. Mackay, 1839–1885
Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? (Psalm 85:6)
The most desperate need of our day is a spiritual and moral renewal. This revival must begin with God’s people, you and me—the Church. It must be more than a mere increase in church membership and attendance. There must be an individual resurgence of God consciousness, moral righteousness, and Christ-like living. It must include the elements of humbling ourselves and turning from our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). Although spiritual renewal cannot be “worked up” by human effort, we can prayerfully desire and seek it. We can ask God sincerely for a fresh touch of His love and the desire to represent and serve Him more effectively.
Let none hear you idly saying, “There is nothing I can do,”
While the souls of men are dying, and the Master calls for you.
Take the task He gives you gladly. Let His work your pleasure be;
Answer quickly when He calleth, “Here am I, send me, send me!”
The author of this text, William Paton Mackay, was a Scottish Presbyterian minister. After his education at the University of Edinburgh, he practiced medicine for a number of years before being called to the Christian ministry in 1868. Written in 1863 but revised four years later, this hymn text was based on Habakkuk 3:2: “Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” The hymn was included in Ira Sankey’s Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs of 1875, under the title “O Lord, Revive Thy Work.”
We praise Thee, O God, for the Son of Thy love, for Jesus who died and is now gone above.
We praise Thee, O God, for Thy Spirit of light, who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night.
All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain, who has borne all our sins and has cleansed every stain.
Revive us again; fill each heart with Thy love; may each soul be rekindled with fire from above.
Chorus: Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Hallelujah, amen! Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Revive us again.
For Today: 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 85:6; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Titus 3:4–8
Ask God to show you the areas in life that need a spiritual renewal. Pray for a genuine revival in your local church. Be willing to pray, however, “Lord, let it begin in me.” Carry this musical prayer with you as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 22, Wednesday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 119:145–176
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 128, 129, 130
Old Testament 2 Kings 22:14–23:3
New Testament 1 Corinthians 11:23–34
Gospel Matthew 9:9–17
Index of Readings
145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD.
I will keep your statutes.
146 I cry to you; save me,
that I may observe your decrees.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I put my hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before each watch of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
149 In your steadfast love hear my voice;
O LORD, in your justice preserve my life.
150 Those who persecute me with evil purpose draw near;
they are far from your law.
151 Yet you are near, O LORD,
and all your commandments are true.
152 Long ago I learned from your decrees
that you have established them forever.
153 Look on my misery and rescue me,
for I do not forget your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
give me life according to your promise.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek your statutes.
156 Great is your mercy, O LORD;
give me life according to your justice.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
yet I do not swerve from your decrees.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep your commands.
159 Consider how I love your precepts;
preserve my life according to your steadfast love.
160 The sum of your word is truth;
and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.
161 Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162 I rejoice at your word
like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous ordinances.
165 Great peace have those who love your law;
nothing can make them stumble.
166 I hope for your salvation, O LORD,
and I fulfill your commandments.
167 My soul keeps your decrees;
I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep your precepts and decrees,
for all my ways are before you.
169 Let my cry come before you, O LORD;
give me understanding according to your word.
170 Let my supplication come before you;
deliver me according to your promise.
171 My lips will pour forth praise,
because you teach me your statutes.
172 My tongue will sing of your promise,
for all your commandments are right.
173 Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, O LORD,
and your law is my delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you,
and let your ordinances help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.
Psalm 128, 129, 130
A Song of Ascents.
1 Happy is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways.
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the LORD.
5 The LORD bless you from Zion.
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
6 May you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!
A Song of Ascents.
1 “Often have they attacked me from my youth”
—let Israel now say—
2 “often have they attacked me from my youth,
yet they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed on my back;
they made their furrows long.”
4 The LORD is righteous;
he has cut the cords of the wicked.
5 May all who hate Zion
be put to shame and turned backward.
6 Let them be like the grass on the housetops
that withers before it grows up,
7 with which reapers do not fill their hands
or binders of sheaves their arms,
8 while those who pass by do not say,
“The blessing of the LORD be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the LORD!”
A Song of Ascents.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.
2 Kings 22:14–23:3
14 So the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the prophetess Huldah the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; she resided in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter, where they consulted her. 15 She declared to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 Thus says the LORD, I will indeed bring disaster on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have abandoned me and have made offerings to other gods, so that they have provoked me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. 18 But as to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, 19 because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place, and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and because you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the LORD. 20 Therefore, I will gather you to your ancestors, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring on this place.” They took the message back to the king.
23 Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. 2 The king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD. 3 The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.
1 Corinthians 11:23–34
23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. 30 For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation. About the other things I will give instructions when I come.
9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church