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Zephaniah 1 - Zephaniah 3
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Zephaniah 1:1     The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah.

The Coming Judgment on Judah

2     I will utterly sweep away everything
from the face of the earth, says the Lord.
3     I will sweep away humans and animals;
I will sweep away the birds of the air
and the fish of the sea.
I will make the wicked stumble.
I will cut off humanity
from the face of the earth, says the Lord.
4     I will stretch out my hand against Judah,
and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal
and the name of the idolatrous priests;
5     those who bow down on the roofs
to the host of the heavens;
those who bow down and swear to the Lord,
but also swear by Milcom;
6     those who have turned back from following the Lord,
who have not sought the Lord or inquired of him.

7     Be silent before the Lord God!
For the day of the Lord is at hand;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice,
he has consecrated his guests.
8     And on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
I will punish the officials and the king’s sons
and all who dress themselves in foreign attire.
9     On that day I will punish
all who leap over the threshold,
who fill their master’s house
with violence and fraud.

10     On that day, says the Lord,
a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate,
a wail from the Second Quarter,
a loud crash from the hills.
11     The inhabitants of the Mortar wail,
for all the traders have perished;
all who weigh out silver are cut off.
12     At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
and I will punish the people
who rest complacently on their dregs,
those who say in their hearts,
“The Lord will not do good,
nor will he do harm.”
13     Their wealth shall be plundered,
and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
they shall not drink wine from them.

The Great Day of the Lord (Cp Am 5.18—20)

14     The great day of the Lord is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter,
the warrior cries aloud there.
15     That day will be a day of wrath,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
16     a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the lofty battlements.

17     I will bring such distress upon people
that they shall walk like the blind;
because they have sinned against the Lord,
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
and their flesh like dung.
18     Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the Lord’s wrath;
in the fire of his passion
the whole earth shall be consumed;
for a full, a terrible end
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Judgment on Israel’s Enemies

Zephaniah 2:1     Gather together, gather,
O shameless nation,
2     before you are driven away
like the drifting chaff,
before there comes upon you
the fierce anger of the Lord,
before there comes upon you
the day of the Lord’s wrath.
3     Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
who do his commands;
seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you may be hidden
on the day of the Lord’s wrath.
4     For Gaza shall be deserted,
and Ashkelon shall become a desolation;
Ashdod’s people shall be driven out at noon,
and Ekron shall be uprooted.

5     Ah, inhabitants of the seacoast,
you nation of the Cherethites!
The word of the Lord is against you,
O Canaan, land of the Philistines;
and I will destroy you until no inhabitant is left.
6     And you, O seacoast, shall be pastures,
meadows for shepherds
and folds for flocks.
7     The seacoast shall become the possession
of the remnant of the house of Judah,
on which they shall pasture,
and in the houses of Ashkelon
they shall lie down at Evening.
For the Lord their God will be mindful of them
and restore their fortunes.

8     I have heard the taunts of Moab
and the revilings of the Ammonites,
how they have taunted my people
and made boasts against their territory.
9     Therefore, as I live, says the Lord of hosts,
the God of Israel,
Moab shall become like Sodom
and the Ammonites like Gomorrah,
a land possessed by nettles and salt pits,
and a waste forever.
The remnant of my people shall plunder them,
and the survivors of my nation shall possess them.
10     This shall be their lot in return for their pride,
because they scoffed and boasted
against the people of the Lord of hosts.
11     The Lord will be terrible against them;
he will shrivel all the gods of the earth,
and to him shall bow down,
each in its place,
all the coasts and islands of the nations.

12     You also, O Ethiopians,
shall be killed by my sword.

13     And he will stretch out his hand against the north,
and destroy Assyria;
and he will make Nineveh a desolation,
a dry waste like the desert.
14     Herds shall lie down in it,
every wild animal;
the desert owl and the screech owl
shall lodge on its capitals;
the owl shall hoot at the window,
the raven croak on the threshold;
for its cedar work will be laid bare.
15     Is this the exultant city
that lived secure,
that said to itself,
“I am, and there is no one else”?
What a desolation it has become,
a lair for wild animals!
Everyone who passes by it
hisses and shakes the fist.

The Wickedness of Jerusalem

Zephaniah 3:1     Ah, soiled, defiled,
oppressing city!
2     It has listened to no voice;
it has accepted no correction.
It has not trusted in the Lord;
it has not drawn near to its God.

3     The officials within it
are roaring lions;
its judges are Evening wolves
that leave nothing until the Morning.
4     Its prophets are reckless,
faithless persons;
its priests have profaned what is sacred,
they have done violence to the law.
5     The Lord within it is righteous;
he does no wrong.
Every Morning he renders his judgment,
each dawn without fail;
but the unjust knows no shame.

6     I have cut off nations;
their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
without people, without inhabitants.
7     I said, “Surely the city will fear me,
it will accept correction;
it will not lose sight
of all that I have brought upon it.”
But they were the more eager
to make all their deeds corrupt.

Punishment and Conversion of the Nations
(Cp Gen 11.1—9; Acts 2.1—11)

8     Therefore wait for me, says the Lord,
for the day when I arise as a witness.
For my decision is to gather nations,
to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
all the heat of my anger;
for in the fire of my passion
all the earth shall be consumed.

9     At that time I will change the speech of the peoples
to a pure speech,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
and serve him with one accord.
10     From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
my suppliants, my scattered ones,
shall bring my offering.

11     On that day you shall not be put to shame
because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
in my holy mountain.
12     For I will leave in the midst of you
a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord—
13     the remnant of Israel;
they shall do no wrong
and utter no lies,
nor shall a deceitful tongue
be found in their mouths.
Then they will pasture and lie down,
and no one shall make them afraid.

A Song of Joy

14     Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
15     The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
16     On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
17     The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
18     as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19     I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20     At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord.

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

  • Startling Claim 1 John 5:17–20
  • Pt 2
  • Dead Will Hear Christ

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     If it’s God’s will - you can have it
     (Oct 18)    Bob Gass

     ‘If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.’

(1 Jn 5:14) 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. ESV

     The story is told of three men marooned on a desert island with little hope of being rescued. One day they were walking around the island when one of them picked up an old, tarnished lamp. When he rubbed it, a genie appeared and offered to grant each man one wish. The first man said, ‘I wish I was back in my office in Boston.’ Puff! He was there. The second said, ‘I wish I was home with my family in London.’ Puff! He was there. The third man looked around and said, ‘It’s so lonely here, I wish my friends were back with me.’ The problem with wishing is that genies and magic lamps don’t exist. But God does! And since He is in control of your life and He’s more powerful than any genie, when your wishes become prayers that line up with His will, they can become a reality. ‘Does the Bible teach that?’ you ask. Yes; it says: ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God…if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him’ (1 Jn 5:14). But even when your wish is in line with God’s will, you need one more thing - faith. Faith does two things: a) It opens your eyes to see that God’s promises are for you personally. b) It acts like a magnet, drawing the fulfilment of His promise into your life. So, what are you wishing for? If it’s God’s will - you can have it.

Jer 30-31
2 Tim 1

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow was born this day, October 18, 1595. He was an English agent for the Plymouth Colony and served as their Governor three separate terms, successfully making friendship with Indian chief, Massasoit. He later returned to England and served Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War. In writing of the Pilgrims’ experiences, Edward Winslow recounted: “Drought and the like… moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before Him, but also to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer.”

American Minute

The Soul of Prayer
     by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)

     The concentration, moreover, should correspond to the positivity of the Gospel and the Bible. Prayer should rise more out of God’s Word and concern for His kingdom than even out of our personal needs, trials, or desires. That is implied in prayer in Christ’s name or for Christ’s sake, prayer from His place in the midst of the Kingdom. Our Prayer-book, the Bible, does not prescribe prayer, but it does more—it inspires it. And prayer in Christ’s name is prayer inspired by His first interest—the Gospel. Do not use Christ simply to countersign your egoist petition by a closing formula, but to create, inspire, and glorify it. Prayer in Christ’s name is prayer for Christ’s object—for His Kingdom, and His promise of the Holy Ghost.

     It we really pray for that and yet do not feel we receive it, probably enough we have it; and we are looking for some special form of it not ours, or not ours yet. We may be mistaking the fruits of the Spirit for His presence. Fruits come late. They are different from signs. Buds are signs, and so are other things hard to see. It is the Spirit that keeps us praying for the Spirit, as it is grace that keeps us in grace. Remember the patience of the missionaries who waited in the Spirit fifteen years for their first convert. If God gave His Son unasked, how much more will He give His Holy Spirit to them that ask it! But let us not prescribe the form in which He comes.

     The true close of prayer is when the utterance expires in its own spiritual fullness. That is the true Amen. Such times there are. We feel we are at last laid open to God. We feel as though we “did see heaven opened, and the holy angels, and the great God Himself.” The prayer ends itself; we do not end it. It mounts to its heaven and renders its spirit up to God, saying, “It is finished.” It has its perfect consummation and bliss, its spiritually natural close and fruitation, whether it has answer or not.

     Tomorrow begins CHAPTER VII, The Insistency of Prayer.

--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).

The Soul of Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

True love of God is evident
in those whose only pleasure
is derived from drawing near to Him.
--- John Crowder

Life without commitment is not worth living.
--- Abraham Joshua Heschel

I am connected to the three generations that have gone before me, but I live my life in this world for the three generations who will come after me.
--- Dr. Richard Leo Twiss

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     4. Now it is true that on this day the Jews were so weary, and under such consternation, that they refrained from any attacks. But on the next day they gathered their whole force together, and ran upon those that guarded the outward court of the temple very boldly, through the east gate, and this about the second hour of the day. These guards received that their attack with great bravery, and by covering themselves with their shields before, as if it were with a wall, they drew their squadron close together; yet was it evident that they could not abide there very long, but would be overborne by the multitude of those that sallied out upon them, and by the heat of their passion. However, Caesar seeing, from the tower of Antonia, that this squadron was likely to give way, he sent some chosen horsemen to support them. Hereupon the Jews found themselves not able to sustain their onset, and upon the slaughter of those in the forefront, many of the rest were put to flight. But as the Romans were going off, the Jews turned upon them, and fought them; and as those Romans came back upon them, they retreated again, until about the fifth hour of the day they were overborne, and shut themselves up in the inner [court of the] temple.

     5. So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the temple the next day, early in the Morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the holy house. But as for that house, God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous, [Ab,] upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon; although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were occasioned by them; for upon Titus's retiring, the seditious lay still for a little while, and then attacked the Romans again, when those that guarded the holy house fought with those that quenched the fire that was burning the inner [court of the] temple; but these Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the holy house itself. At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it. As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered any thing to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it.

     6. And now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this fire, as he was resting himself in his tent after the last battle; whereupon he rose up in great haste, and, as he was, ran to the holy house, in order to have a stop put to the fire; after him followed all his commanders, and after them followed the several legions, in great astonishment; so there was a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly motion of so great an army. Then did Caesar, both by calling to the soldiers that were fighting, with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, order them to quench the fire. But they did not hear what he said, though he spake so loud, having their ears already dimmed by a greater noise another way; nor did they attend to the signal he made with his hand neither, as still some of them were distracted with fighting, and others with passion. But as for the legions that came running thither, neither any persuasions nor any threatenings could restrain their violence, but each one's own passion was his commander at this time; and as they were crowding into the temple together, many of them were trampled on by one another, while a great number fell among the ruins of the cloisters, which were still hot and smoking, and were destroyed in the same miserable way with those whom they had conquered; and when they were come near the holy house, they made as if they did not so much as hear Caesar's orders to the contrary; but they encouraged those that were before them to set it on fire. As for the seditious, they were in too great distress already to afford their assistance [towards quenching the fire]; they were every where slain, and every where beaten; and as for a great part of the people, they were weak and without arms, and had their throats cut wherever they were caught. Now round about the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another, as at the steps 16 going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood, whither also the dead bodies that were slain above [on the altar] fell down.

     7. And now, since Caesar was no way able to restrain the enthusiastic fury of the soldiers, and the fire proceeded on more and more, he went into the holy place of the temple, with his commanders, and saw it, with what was in it, which he found to be far superior to what the relations of foreigners contained, and not inferior to what we ourselves boasted of and believed about it. But as the flame had not as yet reached to its inward parts, but was still consuming the rooms that were about the holy house, and Titus supposing what the fact was, that the house itself might yet be saved, he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire, and gave order to Liberalius the centurion, and one of those spearmen that were about him, to beat the soldiers that were refractory with their staves, and to restrain them; yet were their passions too hard for the regards they had for Caesar, and the dread they had of him who forbade them, as was their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them, too hard for them also. Moreover, the hope of plunder induced many to go on, as having this opinion, that all the places within were full of money, and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold. And besides, one of those that went into the place prevented Caesar, when he ran so hastily out to restrain the soldiers, and threw the fire upon the hinges of the gate, in the dark; whereby the flame burst out from within the holy house itself immediately, when the commanders retired, and Caesar with them, and when nobody any longer forbade those that were without to set fire to it. And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar's approbation.

     8. Now although any one would justly lament the destruction of such a work as this was, since it was the most admirable of all the works that we have seen or heard of, both for its curious structure and its magnitude, and also for the vast wealth bestowed upon it, as well as for the glorious reputation it had for its holiness; yet might such a one comfort himself with this thought, that it was fate that decreed it so to be, which is inevitable, both as to living creatures, and as to works and places also. However, one cannot but wonder at the accuracy of this period thereto relating; for the same month and day were now observed, as I said before, wherein the holy house was burnt formerly by the Babylonians. Now the number of years that passed from its first foundation, which was laid by king Solomon, till this its destruction, which happened in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, are collected to be one thousand one hundred and thirty, besides seven months and fifteen days; and from the second building of it, which was done by Haggai, in the second year of Cyrus the king, till its destruction under Vespasian, there were six hundred and thirty-nine years and forty-five days.

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

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

Proverbs 27:8
     by D.H. Stern

8     Like a bird that strays from its nest
is a man who strays from his home.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The key to the missionary devotion

     For His name’s sake they went forth. --- 3 John 7.

     Our Lord has told us how love to Him is to manifest itself. “Lovest thou Me?” “Feed My sheep”—identify yourself with My interests in other people, not, identify Me with your interests in other people. 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 gives the character of this love, it is the love of God expressing itself. The test of my love for Jesus is the practical one, all the rest is sentimental jargon.

     Loyalty to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of Redemption wrought in me by the Holy Ghost Who sheds abroad the love of God in my heart, and that love works efficaciously through me in contact with everyone I meet. I remain loyal to His name although every commonsense fact gives the lie to Him, and declares that He has no more power than a Morning mist.

     The key to missionary devotion means being attached to nothing and no one saving Our Lord Himself, not being detached from things externally. Our Lord was amazingly in and out among ordinary things; His detachment was on the inside towards God. External detachment is often an indication of a secret vital attachment to the things we keep away from externally. The loyalty of a missionary is to keep his soul concentratedly open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women Our Lord sends out on His enterprises are the ordinary human stuff, plus dominating devotion to Himself wrought by the Holy Ghost.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


I engage with philosophy
  in the Morning, with the garden
  in the afternoon. Evenings I
  fish or coming home empty-handed
  put on the music of
  Cesar Franck. It is enough,
  this. I would be the mirror
  of a mirror, effortlessly repeating
  my reflections. But there is that
  one who will not leave me
  alone, writing to me
  of her fear; and the news from the city
  is not good. I am at the switchboard
  of the exchanges of the people
  of all time, receiving their messages
  whether I will or no. Do you
  love me? the voices cry.
  And there is no answer; there are
  only the treaties and take-overs,
  and the vision of clasped
  hands over the unquiet blood.


     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     Before presenting his interpretation of olam ha-ba, Maimonides, in what appears as a digression, presents an extended simile of the methods which a teacher uses to motivate his student. However protracted, this simile helps illuminate what Maimonides believes to be a correct understanding of Jewish spirituality:

     Now, O reader, understand the following simile of mine and then you will make it your aim to grasp my meaning throughout. Figure to yourself a child young in years brought to a teacher to be instructed by him in the Torah. This is the greatest good he can derive in respect of his attainment of perfection. But the child, on account of the fewness of his years and the weakness of his intellect, does not grasp the measure of that benefit, or the extent to which it leads him toward the attainment of [spiritual] perfection. The teacher, who is nearer to such perfection than the pupil, must therefore necessarily stimulate him to learning by means of things in which he delights by reason of his youth. Thus he says to him, “Read, and I shall give you nuts or figs, or a bit of sugar.” The child yields to this. He learns diligently, not indeed for the sake of the knowledge itself, as he does not know the importance of it, but merely to obtain that particular dainty—the eating of that dainty being more relished by him than study, and regarded as an unquestionably greater boon. And consequently he considers learning as a labor and a weariness to which he gives himself up in order, by its means, to gain his desired object which consists of a nut or a piece of sugar.

     When he grows older and his intelligence strengthens, he thinks lightly of the trifle in which he formerly found joy and begins to desire something new. He longs for this newly chosen object[ive] of his, and his teacher now says to him, “Read, and I shall buy you pretty shoes or a coat of this kind!” Accordingly he again exerts himself to learn, not for the sake of the knowledge, but to acquire that coat; for the garment ranks higher in his estimation than the learning and constitutes the final aim of his studies. When, however, he reaches a higher stage of mental development, this prize also ranks little with him, and he sets his heart upon something of greater moment. So that when his teacher bids him “learn this section, or that chapter, and I shall give you a dinar or two,” he learns with zest in order to obtain that money which to him is of more value than the learning, seeing that it constitutes the final aim of his studies.

     When, further, he reaches the age of greater discretion, this prize also loses its worth for him. He recognizes its paltry nature and sets his heart upon something more desirable. His teacher then says to him, “Learn, in order that you may become a Rabbi, or a Judge; the people will honor you and rise before you; they will be obedient to your authority, and your name will be great, both in life and after death, as in the case of so-and-so.” The pupil throws himself into ardent study, striving all the time to reach this stage of eminence. His aim is that of obtaining the honor of men, their esteem and commendation. But all these methods are blameworthy.

     The obvious point, and one Maimonides appears to labor, is that people are generally motivated to study Torah by the expectations of extraneous benefits. Why pursue the point with so many examples of extraneous rewards? Why discuss the motivating power of nuts and figs, of pretty shoes, of money, honor, power? Maimonides’ elaborate discussion of different forms of gratification corresponding to different levels of appreciation stresses the persistent self-interested motivation of human behavior. What changes with time is not the quality of motivation, but only the different forms which self-interest takes. One does not easily overcome the egocentric responses of the child. If one can accept the necessity to appeal to extraneous rewards he will understand the importance that people ascribe to biblical and talmudic materialistic promises.

     Maimonides’ method of integrating appeals to self-interest and disinterested philosophic worship is to treat them as two stages in a continuum of human development. There are no indications in the Bible that the blessings and curses of the covenant are related to a specific stage of religious worship. (  Torah and dogma / A New Sensitivity in Judiasm and the Christian Message (A Reprint from the Harvard Theological Review 61, April 1968)  ) The Bible does not reveal the difference between the rather usual man whose psychological makeup requires motivational appeals to material self-interest and the more uncommon man who has another orientation to worship. Maimonides, however, turns to the talmudic tradition for an understanding of levels of worship.

     The talmudic tradition is highly sensitive to the necessity to transcend self-interest for service to God:

     The Sages warned us against this also, i.e., against a man making the attainment of some worldly object the end of his service to God, and his obedience to His precepts. And this is the meaning of the dictum of that distinguished and perfect man who understood the fundamental truth of things—Antigonus of Soko—“Be not like servants who minister to their master upon the condition of receiving a reward; but be like servants who minister to their master without the condition of receiving a reward.” They really meant to tell us by this that a man should believe in truth for truth’s sake. And this is the sense they wish to convey by their expression oved me-ahavah, “serving from motives of love,” and by their comment on the phrase “that delight in His commandments.” Rabbi Eliezer said “in His commandments,” and not “in the reward for performance of His commandments.” How strong a proof we have here of the truth of our argument, and how decisive! It is a clear confirmation of the text we have previously quoted. And we possess a stronger proof still in their remark in Sifre: “Per adventure thou mayest say, Verily I will learn the Torah in order that I may become rich or that I may be called Rabbi, or that I may receive a recompense in the future world. Therefore does Holy Writ say ‘to love the Lord thy God.’ Let everything that thou doest be done out of pure love for Him.”15

     Although the rabbis disparaged the motive of self-interest, they recognized how rare the individual is who appreciates norms because of their intrinsic worth:

     But our Sages knew how difficult a thing this was and that not everyone could act up to it. They knew that even the man who reached it would not at once accord with it and think it a true article of faith. For man only does those actions which will either bring him advantage or ward off loss. All other actions he holds vain and worthless. Accordingly, how could it be said to one who is learned in the Law—“Do these things, but do them not out of fear of God’s punishment, nor out of hope for His reward”? This would be exceedingly hard, because it is not everyone that comprehends truth, and becomes like Abraham our father.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     October 18

     Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. --- Psalm 139:23–24.

     What is implied in the sincere petition contained in the text?  Charles G. Finney: Sermons From The Penny Pulpit

     First, it implies the realization of the omniscience of God. The psalmist was under a deep impression of the omnipresence and omniscience of God, that God understands our real hearts and is able to search us.

     Second, it implies a sense of the moral purity or holiness of God. Observe, he prays to be searched—that his whole being may be exposed—to see if there was any offense in him. It is plainly implied that he had such a sense of the purity of God as to be convinced that God is infinitely opposed to all iniquity.

     This petition implies a thorough wakefulness of mind to one’s moral or spiritual state. [The psalmist] is in an honest, searching state of mind—thoroughly in earnest to know all about himself; he is wide awake to his own spiritual condition and desires that all his errors may be rectified.

     It implies an intense anxiety to be perfect as God would have him to be—conformed to the holy will of God. Observe, he prays to be led in the way everlasting, which plainly implies that he was willing to be led to abandon all iniquity.

     Such a petition implies the assumption on the part of the petitioner that he or she needs to be deeply tried—penetrated with the light of truth to the deepest recesses of the soul. When we offer such a petition, we assume that there may be things about us that we have overlooked, and we ask for the scrutiny of God’s eye to search them out and to apply tests so that we may see them.

     Such a petition implies a willingness to be subjected to any process of searching that God may see to be needed. [The psalmist] does not point out any particular way in which he desires to be searched and tried, but he leaves that to the divine discretion—he only asks that it may be done. When we ask to be searched—without any real design to be searched—there is an inclination to dictate the way in which it will be done, but this is not an acceptable way of offering such a petition.

     An acceptable offering of such a petition implies of course that we are really willing to have it answered and will not resist any process through which God causes us to pass as the means by which it is answered.
--- Charles G. Finney

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

On This Day   October 18
     Come Before Winter

     Scottish Presbyterians cast long shadows. Catherine Robertson grew up in Scotland where her father owned the largest cotton factory in the world. She was refined, wealthy, passionately Christian, and strongly Presbyterian. She married a preacher-professor, and the two began ministry in rural Ohio. They had seven children, and the last one—Clarence Edward Noble Macartney—became one of the greatest Presbyterian leaders of the twentieth century.

     Clarence excelled in both studies and debating, but he wrestled with doubt and suffered serious bouts of shyness. He enrolled in Princeton Seminary, and studied under Archibald Hodge and B. B. Warfield. During his long and distinguished career, Clarence pastored three churches in Pennsylvania. He averaged six hours a day in study and, as a pastime, wrote books and delivered lectures on the Civil War. He was a lifelong bachelor.

     In 1924 he was named Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. He was described as dignified, eloquent, Napoleon-like, aloof. He wrote 57 books and was a staunch conservative in a liberal time. To those who denied the authority of Scripture, he thundered, “A deleted Bible results in a diluted Gospel. Protestantism, as it loses faith in the Bible, is losing its religion.” We can decaffeinate coffee, he said, and de-nicotine tobacco, but we can’t de-Christianize Christianity.

     The pulpit was his throne, and he preached well-crafted sermons without notes. His best known message, repeated many times around the country, was an evangelistic sermon entitled “Come Before Winter,” taken from 2 Timothy 4:21 and first preached in Philadelphia October 18, 1915. It emphasized the need to receive Christ now, not later: The Holy Spirit, when he invites men to come to Christ, never says, “Tomorrow” but always “Today.” If you can find me one place in the Bible where the Holy Spirit says, “Believe in Christ tomorrow” or “Repent and be saved tomorrow” I will come out of the pulpit and stay out of it—for I would have no Gospel to preach.

     Make good use of God’s kindness to you. In the Scriptures God says, “When the time came, I listened to you, and when you needed help, I came to save you.” That time has come. This is the day for you to be saved.
--- 2 Corinthians 6:1b,2.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 18

     “Thy paths drop fatness.” --- Psalm 65:11.

     Many are “the paths of the Lord” which “drop fatness,” but an especial one is the path of prayer. No believer, who is much in the closet, will have need to cry, “My leanness, my leanness; woe unto me.” Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy- seat, and become like the parched fields in times of drought. Prevalence with God in wrestling prayer is sure to make the believer strong—if not happy. The nearest place to the gate of heaven is the throne of the heavenly grace. Much alone, and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus, your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint; since no high attainments are required; since you are not bidden to come because you are an advanced saint, but freely invited if you be a saint at all; see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the way of private devotion. Be much on your knees, for so Elijah drew the rain upon famished Israel’s fields.

     There is another especial path dropping with fatness to those who walk therein, it is the secret walk of communion. Oh! the delights of fellowship with Jesus! Earth hath no words which can set forth the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus’ bosom. Few Christians understand it, they live in the lowlands and seldom climb to the top of Nebo: they live in the outer court, they enter not the holy place, they take not up the privilege of priesthood. At a distance they see the sacrifice, but they sit not down with the priest to eat thereof, and to enjoy the fat of the burnt offering. But, reader, sit thou ever under the shadow of Jesus; come up to that palm tree, and take hold of the branches thereof; let thy beloved be unto thee as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, and thou shalt be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. O Jesus, visit us with thy salvation!

          Evening - October 18

     “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” --- 1 Samuel 15:22.

     Saul had been commanded to slay utterly all the Amalekites and their cattle. Instead of doing so, he preserved the king, and suffered his people to take the best of the oxen and of the sheep. When called to account for this, he declared that he did it with a view of offering sacrifice to God; but Samuel met him at once with the assurance that sacrifices were no excuse for an act of direct rebellion. The sentence before us is worthy to be printed in letters of gold, and to be hung up before the eyes of the present idolatrous generation, who are very fond of the fineries of will-worship, but utterly neglect the laws of God. Be it ever in your remembrance, that to keep strictly in the path of your Saviour’s command is better than any outward form of religion; and to hearken to his precept with an attentive ear is better than to bring the fat of rams, or any other precious thing to lay upon his altar. If you are failing to keep the least of Christ’s commands to his disciples, I pray you be disobedient no longer. All the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the devout actions which you may perform, are no recompense for disobedience. “To obey,” even in the slightest and smallest thing, “is better than sacrifice,” however pompous. Talk not of Gregorian chants, sumptuous robes, incense, and banners; the first thing which God requires of his child is obedience; and though you should give your body to be burned, and all your goods to feed the poor, yet if you do not hearken to the Lord’s precepts, all your formalities shall profit you nothing. It is a blessed thing to be teachable as a little child, but it is a much more blessed thing when one has been taught the lesson, to carry it out to the letter. How many adorn their temples and decorate their priests, but refuse to obey the word of the Lord! My soul, come not thou into their secret.

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

Amazing Grace
     October 18


     Frances R. Havergal, 1836–1879

     … offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

     As Christians, we are to take our places in God’s army and not be ashamed to be counted as one of His. Believers are too often content to sit on the sidelines and merely observe the spectacle. The work of the Gospel, inviting individuals to be personally reconciled with God, is an urgent task, not a spectator sport. It demands our whole-hearted, zealous involvement.

     This militant hymn text by Frances Havergal was originally titled “Home Missions,” and was written in October, 1877. It was based on the Scripture setting in 1 Chronicles 12:1–18, where a very select group of soldiers was preparing to join King David in warfare against the enemy. The poem later appeared in Loyal Responses, published by the author in 1878. “Who Is on the Lord’s Side?” has been used for more than a century to challenge Christians to make a definite commitment to follow Christ in spiritual warfare.

     Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King? Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring? Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe? Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?

     Not for weight of glory, not for crown and palm, enter we the army, raise the warrior psalm; but for Love that claimeth lives for whom He died: He whom Jesus nameth must be on His side.

     Jesus, Thou hast bought us, not with gold or gem, but with Thine own life-blood, for Thy diadem. With Thy blessing filling each who comes to Thee. Thou has made us willing; Thou hast made us free.

     Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe, but the King’s own army none can overthrow. Round His standard ranging, vict’ry is secure, for His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.

1.     Refrain: By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
2.     By Thy love constraining, by Thy grace divine,
3.     By Thy grand redemption, by Thy grace divine,
4.     Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine,

     For Today: Joshua 24:15; 1 Chronicles 12:1–l8; Mark 8:24–38; 2 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Timothy 6:12

     Determine to do or say something to a non-Christian that publicly identifies you as a follower/soldier of Christ. Carry this musical truth as a help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Wednesday, October 18, 2017 | Holy Day

St. Luke
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: St. Like, Evening Prayer

Morning Prayer

Psalms     Psalm 103
Old Testament     Ezekiel 47:1–12
New Testament     Luke 1:1–4

Index of Readings

Psalm 103

Of David.

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion for his children,
so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for mortals, their days are like grass;
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.

19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
obedient to his spoken word.
21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers that do his will.
22 Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul.

Old Testament
Ezekiel 47:1–12

47 Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

3 Going on eastward with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the waist. 5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. 6 He said to me, “Mortal, have you seen this?”

Then he led me back along the bank of the river. 7 As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. 9 Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. 10 People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

New Testament
Luke 1:1–4

1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

Evening Prayer

Psalms     Psalm 67, 96
Old Testament     Isaiah 52:7–10
New Testament     Acts 1:1–8

Index of Readings

Psalm 67, 96

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,     Selah
2 that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

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

6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
7 May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.

1 O sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9 Worship the LORD in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations, “The LORD is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the LORD; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.

Old Testament
Isaiah 52:7–10

7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the LORD to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

New Testament
Acts 1:1–8

1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

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

Undermining the Headship of Christ
John MacArthur

Pastor as a Parent 1 Thes 2:7-12
John MacArthur

Jesus Superior to John John 3:31-36
John MacArthur

Humility 1st Law of Ministry John 3:22-30
John MacArthur

Usurping the Seat of Christ
John MacArthur

Resurrection Testimonies Mark 16:1-8
John MacArthur

Characteristics of a True Church 1
John MacArthur

Characteristics of a True Church 2
John MacArthur

Messiah Living Water 1 John 4:1-15
John MacArthur

Messiah Living Water 2 John 4:1-15
John MacArthur

Messiah Living Water 3 John 4:1-15
John MacArthur

Characteristics of a True Church 3
John MacArthur

Characteristics of a True Church 4
John MacArthur

Troubled World Security 1 Peter 3:13–17
John MacArthur

Contemplating Unbelief John 4:43-45
John MacArthur

Damning Power of False Religion John 5:1–16
John MacArthur

Saving Faith in Herodian Household John 4:46-54
John MacArthur

Praising God for Your Salvation 1 Pet 1:10–12
John MacArthur