Salutation1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example2 We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our message of the Gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. 9 For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica (Cp Acts 17.1—9)1 Thessalonians 2:1 You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the Gospel of God in spite of great opposition. 3 For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the Gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; 6 nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, 7 though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. 8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
9 You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. 11 As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, 12 urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
13 We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God’s wrath has overtaken them at last.
Paul’s Desire to Visit the Thessalonians Again17 As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you— in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 Yes, you are our glory and joy!
1 Thessalonians 3:1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, 3 so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for.
4 In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor had been in vain.
Timothy’s Encouraging Report6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us—just as we long to see you. 7 For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. 8 For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
A Life Pleasing to God1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, 5 not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9 Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, 11 to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, 12 so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.
The Coming of the Lord13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. I absolutely love the Scripture that says that God is a God of the living, not the dead. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 5:1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4 But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5 for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7 for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
Final Exhortations, Greetings, and Benediction12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13 esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]
What I'm Reading
Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospels Attributed to Matthew?
By J. Warner Wallace 10/3/2017
The Gospel of Matthew is a reliable New Testament record of the life and ministry of Jesus, but this ancient document isn’t the only text attributed to the ex-tax collector formerly known as Levi. Other slightly less ancient texts also claim to have been written by the same man who wrote the gospel we accept as canon. But are these non-biblical texts reliable? Were they really written by Matthew? There are four characteristics of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first attribute requires that an alleged eyewitness account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. None of the following texts described in this article were written early enough to have been written by the Apostle Matthew, and like other late non-canonical texts, these errant documents were rejected by early Church leaders. In spite of this, these ancient fabrications were constructed around nuggets of truth. Although they were written by authors who altered the story of Jesus to suit the purposes of their religious communities, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus:
The Gospel of the Hebrews (100-150AD)
The Gospel According to the Hebrews no longer exists, but is mentioned in the writings of Jerome, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius and Cyril of Jerusalem. I’m including it in this list of non-canonical texts attributed to Matthew because several of these early Church leaders describe the text as being attributed in this way. Scholars believe it was composed in Egypt in the 2nd century and originally written in Hebrew. It is the most quoted of several “Judeo-Christian” gospels that were used by Jewish-Christian communities. Scholars are uncertain just how many Gospels were used in these Judeo-Christian communities; several have been mentioned by early Church leaders, including The Gospel of the Ebionites, The Gospel of the Nazoreans, and The Gospel of Cerinthus. These may be separate gospels or just different names used to identify the same gospel, based on which community used the text (for purposes of our investigation, we will examine all four texts independently).
Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable?
Although several early Church Fathers described the book as being attributed to Matthew (written in the Hebrew language for use by Hebrew Christians), the quotations available to us from The Gospel of the Hebrews seem to show little or no dependence on the canonical Gospel of Matthew. Eusebius and Origen listed the text among the “disputed writings” that were rejected by some (although accepted by others). From the few quotes available to us, we can see that The Gospel of the Hebrews reflects a theological perspective that would resonate with Jewish believers committed to retaining their deep-seated Jewish beliefs. It is possible that these communities re-shaped the original text to fit their Jewish presuppositions. In addition, the text appears to have shared a verse with The Gospel of Thomas (saying 2), a text that was rejected as heretical by the early Church.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
How (Other) People Change
By Josh Squires 10/12/2017
Am I helping or hurting? Aiding or enabling?
Parents, friends, and church family often find themselves in this precarious position. Someone we know and love is in sin’s grip. We agonize over whether the help we might offer will help them find freedom, or just drive them further away.
We know that love will not allow us to simply ignore the situation. Scripture calls Christians to bear one another’s burdens through the chaos and mess of life, especially the darkest seasons (see Galatians 6:2, Colossians 3:13, 1 Peter 4:10, and others). We are called to do so with caution and care, in such a way that we are not pulled down into temptation ourselves (Galatians 6:1), but also persistently calling others to change (Galatians 6:5).
But what does that mean practically? Can we even tell when our words or actions are likely to help in the fight against sin or unintentionally enable it somehow?
What You Cannot Do | First, some caveats. While you will not find the phrase “Stages of Change” anywhere in Scripture, I want to introduce you to a tested and popular paradigm used among counselors around the world, because it has been helpful to me personally as a pastor, counselor, and Christian. It’s called “Prochaska & DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model (1983).”
8 Ways The Protestant Reformation Continues To Shape Evangelism
By R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Martin Luther’s great moment of theological clarification came at the climax of a command performance. Facing the threat of martyrdom and execution, Luther appeared on trial at the Diet of Worms before the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Asked on what authority he dared to defy the Pope and the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, Luther famously replied:
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves–I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.”
To those words were added: “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me.”
The Diet of Worms was held in 1521. At the conclusion of his defense, Luther simply said, “I am finished.” There was good reason to believe that he was quite finished. He would be excommunicated from the church and he would live with the threat of martyrdom for the rest of his life. But now, 500 years after Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, the faith of the Reformation is still very much alive.
That moment of exquisite clarification came when Luther had nowhere to stand but on the authority of Scripture alone. Standing on biblical authority would not have been controversial, but the addition of that little sola changed everything. There is an infinite chasm between the authority of Scripture and the authority of Scripture alone.
- 1 God and the Transgender Debate
- 2 The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
- 3 Live Smart: Preparing for the Future God Wants for You
- 4 God's Word Alone---The Authority of Scripture: ...and Why It Still Matters
- 5 Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America
- 6 Echoes of the Reformation
- 7 The Call to Ministry
- 8 A Guide to Church Revitalization
- 9 Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism
- 10 Living The Cross Centered Life Keeping The Gospel The Main Thing
- 11 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 12 Essential Reading on Preaching (Volume 1)
- 13 Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy
- 14 The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
- 15 Unashamed of the Gospel
- 16 Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance
- 17 Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America
- 18 Gods of This Age Or... God of the Ages?
- 19 Acts 1-12: The Church is Born
- 20 More Faithful Service
- 21 The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness
- 22 Preaching: The Centrality of Scripture
- 23 Theological Education in the Evangelical Tradition
- 24 More Faithful Service
Knowing Our God
By Nathan Pitchford 10/2/2017Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD" Jeremiah 9:23-24
Introduction | Of all the possible pursuits, activities, or studies that are practically relevant and positively beneficial which we might spend our time pursuing, there is none, however profitable or necessary, that is as needful and uplifting and valuable as the subject matter of this study. As Christians, there is nothing more practical for us than to know our God. As created beings, there is nothing we need more than to understand our Creator. As desperate and wandering souls searching for significance, longing for something that is infinitely satisfying, seeking pleasure from finite things when God "œhas set eternity in [our] heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11), there is nothing that can even begin to answer to the depths of our vast needs, desires, and longings, except for one thing. That one thing is knowing our God. And that one thing is what we are hoping by his grace to pursue in this study. I hope that all of us can resonate with the truth A. W. Pink once observed, that "œa spiritual and saving knowledge of God is the greatest need of every human creature," and furthermore, that "œthe foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture." As we turn to the scriptures, it is with the hope and prayer that God will " shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6).
But how do we even begin to undertake a task so enormous? Our first and guiding principle is that, if we would learn about God aright, we must do so only from the pages of his word. The cause of man's first rebellion, and all the chaos and misery that ensued, was only this, that he failed to take his understanding of God's character at his own word, and instead listened to the whispered lies of the serpent. If we would regain the position from which we fell, it can only be by listening once more to God's word, and letting his own self-revelation shape our ideas of who he is.
However, as we embark on the process, we quickly realize that the task is overwhelming: there are thousands of passages that speak of the nature of God, and they are not laid out like a systematic theology: they are occasional, revealing the truths of God's nature as he takes opportunity to enter the world of mankind for a specific purpose, and show himself to his people. If we would learn about who he is, we must be able to take all of those truths which he reveals on specific occasions, and organize them in such a way that we do not emphasize any set of attributes to the exclusion of any other. We must be able to frame them in simple, accurate and memorable ways. This is the task of the systematic theologian; and like it or not, all Christians, as they pursue a deeper knowledge of God, must play the role of the systematic theologian to some degree.
So how might we best organize the characteristics of God as he reveals himself in his word, in order to understand who he is as intimately and accurately as possible? Theologians have come up with several organizing principles, speaking of God's communicable and incommunicable attributes, his absolute and immanent attributes, his moral and non-moral attributes, and other such classifications. For the purposes of this study, the following categories will be employed:
In reality, this is an overarching category, that affects every category which follows. The most foundational and non-negotiable truth of the Christian religion is that God is triune. Every other attribute that can be considered "“ God's sovereignty, his love, his justice, etc. "“ is an attribute of a triune God. In this study, we will consider the ontological trinity, that is, the inter-relationship of the persons of the Godhead that has existed from all eternity; and the economical trinity, that is, the way in which the eternal inter-relationships of the persons of the Godhead show up in the work of redemption which the triune God has undertaken to accomplish.
The Red Sea in Front of Me
By Sarah Walton 10/19/2017
There is no escaping the painful realities that surround my family. Our own Red Sea looms before us while the relentless enemies of physical and mental illness, financial strain, layered losses, and temptations to lose heart, pursue us from all sides.
While crushing circumstances involving physical and mental health, finances, marital pressures, and loss have been sufficient to defeat us; it’s the inner turmoil and constant temptation to sin against God by doubting his goodness and wisdom that make me plead most for my heavenly home.
In recent suffering, the Lord brought to mind the Israelites, who I imagine felt similarly as they stood before the Red Sea. Not long after the Lord had miraculously delivered them from Egypt they found themselves facing imminent death, walled in by an impassable Sea and enemies closing in behind them. I resonate all too much with their response to Moses:
Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?” For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. (Exodus 14:11–12)
Though their response was irrational, portraying a distorted view of the reality of slavery, they spoke out of a very real sense of fear and helplessness. They wondered, Why would God free us from Egypt, only to lead us to our deaths? At that point, even slavery sounded better.
Sarah is a stay-at-home mom with 4 kids under the age of 9. When she isn't wearing her mommy hat, her passion is writing and speaking on what the Lord is teaching her through His word and through the suffering that He has allowed in her life. She writes at Setapart.net and has been writing for Unlocking the Bible’s blog (Pastor Colin Smith’s teaching ministry) on a monthly basis. She has also been featured on The Gospel Coalition, Revive Our Hearts, Crosswalk, and Challies.com.
Sarah and her husband have been given a unique call to raise a son with a neurological/behavioral disorder, which they now have good reason to believe has been the devastating effect of Lyme’s Disease. After Sarah was first diagnosed with Lyme Disease after battling long-term struggles with chronic health problems, it was also discovered that the increasing health problems growing in all 4 of her children was the result of Lyme Disease being passed to each one of them. This awful disease has ravaged their family, physically, emotionally, and financially, and has left them fighting, sometimes clinging, for hope, joy, and strength with every breath they take. This has been a painful, heartbreaking, and even scary journey at times. Many days, survival is the only reasonable goal. It’s been an exhausting, wearing, confusing journey for them, which at times has even felt hopeless. While it has been a lonely road to travel, Sarah is confident that everyone knows pain, in one form or another. Therefore, Sarah's writing and speaking is rooted in the hope that God will use her current pain and heartache to encourage and lift another’s spirit and point them to hope, joy, and contentment in Christ. Her greatest desire is that Christ will speak through her to those who need to be reminded that there is a greater hope than anything this world can offer.
"My hope and prayer is that many will join me on this narrow road to find the treasures of the gospel in the brokenness of our lives, 'these jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us' (2 Cor.4:7)." ~ Sarah
The Silence We Desperately Need Today
By Ryan Hawkins 10/17/2017
I often hear about the benefits of silence in our world of sound. Many people — secular and religious — recommend taking time away from television, music, videos, news, and social media to sit in silence and just be.
This is all well and good, but it can get confusing as to why. What is the point of silence?
Three Types of Silence | Many people associate silence with hearing nothing audibly and thinking nothing. But we cannot just think nothing. Even when we are not saying or hearing anything, we will be thinking something. It’s how we work.
Since we cannot turn our minds off, we can take one of three routes. Three main sounds, if you will, can fill our times of silence.
First, we can hear our own thoughts. If we go into a room and try to be silent, we most likely will “hear” whatever is in our minds. And this may be why silence is not devotionally helpful to most people. When many of us take some time in silence, we often just end up spending more time with our own chaotic thoughts.
Use Anxiety to Your Advantage
By Vince Miller 10/19/2015
Anxiety is the most predominant form of mental illness in our country, plaguing both young and old, showing up as post-traumatic stress syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, even phobias and generalized anxiety disorder.
We all struggle from time to time, whether as a way of life or due to particular circumstances beyond our control. It brings about physical reactions like shaking, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, frustration, and anger. Even depression can be linked to a series of anxieties we experience in life.
Culturally, we are a nervous wreck, and no one is immune to it.
Jesus Heals Anxious Hearts | My struggle with anxiety started early. As a child, I experienced vivid dreams that made my heart race. Even thinking of them today brings on certain emotions. The night terrors came on suddenly and without escape. I was trapped for half an hour after waking, held captive in terror.
Eventually, a counselor helped me to break free from those dreams. But as an adult, anxiety returned in the form of insomnia. Some nights I wake up completely drenched in sweat. An average night’s sleep for me is about four hours. I wake up at two, three, four in the morning and never go back to sleep.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Confessing our sins
(Oct 20) Bob Gass
‘I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me!’
(Ps 32:5) I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah ESV
When you deliberately sin, you’re rebelling against God’s rule in your life - and you’ll feel bad about it. And feeling bad is evidence that you truly are a redeemed child of God; otherwise your sin wouldn’t bother you. Picture a teenager saying to his dad, ‘I’m truly sorry, but I took your credit card and bought beer for my mates with it.’ Now, the chances are his father may never have discovered it, especially if he wasn’t a good bookkeeper. But his son’s troubled conscience brought it to the surface and he said, ‘Dad, I shouldn’t have bought the beer; I shouldn’t have lied about my age; I shouldn’t have used your credit card to do it. You trusted me and I let you down. I’m sorry, and I won’t do it again.’ That’s confession. That’s what we must do in our prayers. The Greek word translated as confession means ‘to agree with God’. When we confess our sins, we are agreeing with God concerning the sin in our lives as revealed through His Word and by the Holy Spirit. When we confess, we verbalise our sin and receive cleansing and forgiveness. Yes, confession is often painful, but it keeps our fellowship with our Heavenly Father clear, open, and close. It’s not that God stops loving us, but that we no longer feel we can approach Him with confidence. Do you have a sin to confess? ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9 NKJV).
2 Tim 3
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Herbert Hoover died this day, October 20, 1964. He was America’s 31st President, guiding the country during the first part of the Great Depression. During World War II, in a joint statement signed by such individuals as the widows of Presidents Coolidge, Roosevelt, Taft, Harrison, Cleveland, Herbert Hoover stated: “Menaced by collectivist trends, we must seek revival of our strength in the spiritual foundations which are the bedrock of our republic. Democracy is the outgrowth of the religious conviction of the sacredness of every human life. On the religious side, its highest embodiment is The Bible; on the political side, the Constitution.”
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
There are many plain obstacles to the deepening of spiritual life, amid which I desire to name here only one; it is prayer conceived merely, or chiefly, as submission, resignation, quietism. We say too soon, “Thy will be done”; and too ready acceptance of a situation as His will often means feebleness or sloth. It may be His will that we surmount His will. It may be His higher will that we resist His lower. Prayer is an act of will much more than of sentiment, and its triumph is more than acquiescence. Let us submit when we must, but let us keep the submission in reserve rather than in action, as a ground tone rather than the stole effort. Prayer with us has largely ceased to be wrestling. But is that not the dominant scriptural idea? It is not the sole idea, but is it not the dominant? And is not our subdued note often but superinduced and unreal?
I venture to enlarge on this last head, by way of meeting some who hesitate to speak of the power of prayer to alter God’s will. I offer two points:
I. Prayer may really change the will of God, or, if not His will, His intention.
II. It may, like other human energies of godly sort, take the form of resisting the will of God. Resisting His will may be doing His will.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Even in the darkness
of God's seeming absence,
trust rests the weight
of one's being absolutely in God.
--- M. Robert Mulholland Jr.
If you took money out of the equation,
most people won’t be interested in large crowds.
--- Damon Thompson
All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.
--- Adlai E. Stevenson
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
3. Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star 20 resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, 21 [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner 22 [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence." But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, 23 began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" And when Albinus [for he was then our procurator] asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, "Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!" And just as he added at the last, "Woe, woe to myself also!" there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.
4. Now if any one consider these things, he will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves; for the Jews, by demolishing the tower of Antonia, had made their temple four-square, while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles, "That then should their city be taken, as well as their holy house, when once their temple should become four-square." But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, "about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth." The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure, and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
who is also a friend of your father.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Is God’s will my will?
This is the will of God, even your sanctification.
--- 1 Thess. 4:3.
It is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me; is it my will? Am I willing to let God do in me all that has been made possible by the Atonement? Am I willing to let Jesus be made sanctification to me, and to let the life of Jesus be manifested in my mortal flesh? Beware of saying—‘Oh, I am longing to be sanctified.’ You are not, stop longing and make it a matter of transaction—“Nothing in my hands I bring.” Receive Jesus Christ to be made sanctification to you in implicit faith, and the great marvel of the Atonement will be made real in you. All that Jesus made possible is made mine by the free loving gift of God on the ground of what He performed. My attitude as a saved and sanctified soul is that of profound humble holiness (there is no such thing as proud holiness), a holiness based on agonizing repentance and a sense of unspeakable shame and degradation; and also on the amazing realization that the love of God commended itself to me in that while I cared nothing about Him, He completed everything for my salvation and sanctification
(see Rom. 5:8). No wonder Paul says nothing is “able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Sanctification makes me one with Jesus Christ, and in Him one with God, and it is done only through the superb Atonement of Christ. Never put the effect as the cause. The effect in me is obedience and service and prayer, and is the outcome of speechless thanks and adoration for the marvellous sanctification wrought out in me because of the Atonement.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Sometimes I go out with the small men
with dark faces and let my line
down quietly into the water, meditating
as they do for hours on end
on the nature and destiny of fish,
of how they are many and other and good
to eat, willing them by a sort of personal
magic to attach themselves to my hook.
The water is deep. Sometimes from far
down invisible messages arrive.
Often it seems it is for more than fish
that we seek; we wait for the
withheld answer to an insoluble
problem. Life is short. The sea starts
where the land ends; its surface
is all flowers, but within are the
grim inmates. The line trembles; mostly,
when we would reel in the catch, there
is nothing to see. The hook gleams, the
smooth face creases in an obscene
grin. But we fish on, and gradually
they accumulate, the bodies, in the torn
light that is about us and the air
echoes to their inaudible screaming.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
The world of philosophy, however, presents a different perception of religious life, one revolving around a conception of a God who inspires man’s love wholly on His perfection. The lover of God, in this context, transcends history and longs for an intellectual communion with God. From Maimonides’ perspective, Athens and Jerusalem would be incompatible if the tradition presented only messianism as the telos of halakhic observance. The fact that one can find statements in the tradition which place olam ha-ba above messianism was yet further proof to Maimonides that the philosophic ideal of contemplative love had an integral place in his tradition.
To Maimonides, the ideal of olam ha-ba reflects the telos of the religious life of a person who has transcended his immediate physical needs and instead delights in the pleasures which the intellect affords. Maimonides’ description of olam ha-ba in his legal works would be both unintelligible and undesirable to anyone who did not appreciate contemplative joy and disinterested love:
“In the world to come there will be no eating and no drinking, no washing and no anointing and no marriage; but only the righteous sitting with crowns on their heads enjoying the splendor of the Shekhinah.” By their remark, “their crowns on their heads,” is meant the preservation of the soul in the intellectual sphere, and the merging of the two into one as has been described by the illustrious philosophers in ways whose exposition would take too long here. By their remark, “enjoying the splendor of the Shekhinah,” is meant that those souls will reap bliss in what they comprehend of the Creator, just as the holy ḥayyot and the other ranks of angels enjoy felicity in what they understand of His existence. And so the felicity and the final goal consist in reaching to this exalted company and attaining to this high pitch. The continuation of the soul, as we have stated, is endless, like the continuation of the Creator, praised be He, who is the cause of its continuation in that it comprehends Him, as is explained in elementary philosophy. This is the great bliss with which no bliss is comparable and to which no pleasure can be likened.
The eschatological dreams of a community reflect their notions of happiness. Such dreams reflect what they consider to be the essence of human joy. Biblical descriptions of man’s longing for material benefits would appear unrelated to a conception of man whose focus is upon his intellectual faculties. The concept of olam ha-ba, the domain of pure spiritual joy, enables Maimonides to assert that the Jewish tradition believes, that in addition to the satisfaction of man’s everyday material needs, there is another satisfaction in the human joy of intellectual understanding. To Maimonides, olam ha-ba embodies the expectations of the man whose conception of joy involves more than the pleasures of physical self-interest.
The role of philosophy in transforming the individual’s worship of God from one based on self-interest to one of disinterested love is, in part, a function of its capacity to inculcate notions of joy which transcend the pleasures of the body. The activity of intellectual reasoning brings about a new man insofar as it alters man’s conception of what constitutes joy and happiness:
For we live in a material world and the only pleasure we can comprehend must be material. But the delights of the spirit are everlasting and uninterrupted, and there is no resemblance in any possible way between spiritual and bodily enjoyments. We are not sanctioned either by the Torah or by the divine philosophers to assert that the angels, the stars, and the spheres enjoy no delights. In truth they have exceeding great delight in respect of what they comprehend of the Creator, glorified be He. This to them is an everlasting felicity without a break.
They have no bodily pleasures, neither do they comprehend them, because they have no senses like ours, enabling them to have our sense experiences. And likewise will it be with us too. When after death the worthy from among us will reach that exalted stage they will experience no bodily pleasures, neither will they have any wish for them, any more than would a king of sovereign power wish to divest himself of his imperial sway and return to his boyhood’s games with a ball. At one time he would without doubt have set a higher worth upon a game with a ball than on kingly dominion, such being the case only when his years were few and he was totally ignorant of the real significance of either pursuit, just as we today rank the delights of the body above those of the soul.
Man is a complex being: he has a body which hungers for gratification and an intellect which seeks its own form of joy. These two conceptions of joy generate the different expectations which men bring to their religious life. The example of the king in the above quotation confirms what we have stated previously: The movement from a conception of religious life focusing on God’s promises of material well-being, to a religious orientation focusing on the joy of intellectual contemplation of God, is not the result of discovering that the former is based on false beliefs but rather reflects a further development in man. The king does not play with a ball because it is “false,” but because it is inappropriate to his new station. Different models of God become more appropriate to a person’s religious life, depending on his conception of happiness. The belief in divine reward and punishment, although accepted as true, may be surpassed as a motivating force in religious life by a person who is able to love God.
In an age when men believed God affected history, they sought God’s favor in order to alleviate their condition of material deprivation. The fact that the Jewish community at the time of Maimonides was subject to exile and political humiliation did not diminish their hopes that eventually God would respond to their needs. Maimonides’ rationalism expressed itself in his belief, that despite these historical conditions, he could nonetheless elevate members of the community from their preoccupation with expectations of material satisfaction to a longing for the spiritual joy of olam ha-ba. Olam ha-ba is a description not only of the future life of the disembodied intellect, but also of an individual’s evaluation of the significance of his everyday religious behavior.
The longing for olam ha-ba takes hold of an individual once he has experienced, in some way, the attraction and beauty of a non-reciprocal relationship with God. One who has not observed the law from the motive of love cannot fully grasp the significance of olam ha-ba. To desire God for His own sake, even temporarily, is a condition for understanding what Maimonides describes as the glorious joy awaiting an individual in the world to come. In traditional terms one may speak of olam ha-ba as a “reward.” Yet, were one to peel away the external meaning of “reward,” he would discover that the good which olam ha-ba promises becomes significant only to a person whose motivation for observing the Torah has transcended the categories of reward and punishment.
In many instances it may be difficult to distinguish the Halakhah of the person who obeys the Torah out of yirah from the Halakhah of one who follows Torah out of love. The observance of both may appear similar, but two distinct orientations to God are expressed. To Maimonides, yirah and the exclusive yearning for messianism place the human relationship to God within the circumference of human needs. Ahavah and the longing for olam ha-ba, however, shift the focus of man’s relationship to God. Worship becomes an act of self-transcendence, wherein man is drawn to God because of His perfection and not because of human deprivation and human crises. In worship based upon love, man enters the theocentric framework of cosmic intelligences. Man’s “significant others” are no longer other historical men, but pure intelligences whose sole interest is to know and to love God. An exclusive focus on one’s capacity to know and to love the most perfect Being can lead one to feel intellectually inadequate when comparing his own comprehension of and devotion to God with that of the pure intelligences.
If it is the theocentric cosmic reality which the religious man seeks to enter, how is he to interpret biblical concern with history and community? The individual who aspires toward this higher form of worship cannot but feel the emptiness of the biblical conception of God.
Maimonides deals with this dilemma by explaining that the biblical model of divine-human reciprocity assumes another meaning once it is integrated with the eschatological scheme emphasizing the primacy of olam ha-ba:
As regards the promises and threats alluded to in the Torah, their interpretation is that which I shall now tell you. It says to you, “If you obey these precepts, I will help you to a further obedience of them and perfection in the performance of them. And I shall remove all hindrances from you.” For it is impossible for man to do the service of God when sick or hungry or thirsty or in trouble, and this is why the Torah promises the removal of all these disabilities and gives man also the promise of health and quietude until such a time as he shall have attained perfection of knowledge and be worthy of the life of the world to come. The final aim of the Torah is not that the earth should be fertile, that people should live long, and that bodies should be healthy. It simply helps us to the performance of its precepts by holding out the promises of all these things.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
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.
I will mention some [more] ways in which God answers these petitions. Charles G. Finney: Sermons From The Penny Pulpit
When people have nothing to try them, they are in great danger of deceiving themselves. Has injustice been done you—has someone refused you honest wages or refused to pay a just debt? Well, under these painful circumstances, what spirit did you manifest? Did you find the Spirit of Christ in you? Perhaps you have been misunderstood and misrepresented; well, how have you borne it? Perhaps you have been treated disrespectfully by those who are under particular obligations to you; well, how did you bear it? Did your indignation rise—did you manifest an un-Christlike spirit? Or did you find the Spirit of Christ was in you? You prayed to be searched, and in answer to your prayer, your children or employees or those related to you, who are under particular obligations to you, treated you in a very improper manner—directly the reverse of what you had a right to expect from them. Though all this was very wrong and very provoking, what has been the effect on you? What has it taught you? And what has it taught those who witnessed the demonstration? Has it brought out your state of mind? Doubtless it has, and if it was not outwardly shown, what were your feelings within? Someone, perhaps, has contradicted you! Can you bear contradiction? Do you bear it well? Were you patient under it? Did you act as Christ would have acted under the circumstances—or did you behave un-Christlike? These things never occur by accident; God designs that every one of them should demonstrate our characters—that they should try us and show what there is in us and reveal to us the springs of action in us. Now when these tests of your character and disposition have been applied, what has been the result? Did you find that you were nothing but the same old sinner yet? that instead of finding Christ in you and his temper demonstrating itself, you found the old self with its deceitful desires?
--- Charles G. Finney
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
By His Stripes
Peter Damian died on February 23, 1072, but not before beginning one of the strangest fads in Christian history. Damian, a Benedictine monk, advocated a life of extreme austerity. In denying worldly pleasures, he found it useful to whip himself, and he taught the practice to others. Monks began lashing themselves while reciting the Psalms. Each psalm was accompanied by 100 strokes with a leather strap to the bare back. The whole Psalter was good for an additional 1,500 strokes. It reenacted the suffering of Christ and of the martyrs, they thought, and served as an act of penance. Some monks flogged themselves to death for their own benefit and to release souls from purgatory.
Self-flagellation remained localized and limited to monasteries for two hundred years, but in the thirteenth century, it enflamed the masses. The Black Death was causing many people to believe the end of the world was near, and bands of flagellants appeared across Europe calling people to repentance. In the outbreak of 1259, great parades of thousands from all classes and of all ages marched through the streets stripped to their waists, carrying crosses and banners, singing hymns and scourging themselves.
The flagellant movement reignited repeatedly during the next two centuries, and the frenzy of 1349 exceeded all previous demonstrations. Bands of enthusiasts suddenly appeared in all areas of Europe. They marched from town to town, dressed in white, with red crosses on caps and mantles, singing hymns and carrying banners. They camped in public squares, and twice daily they bared themselves to the waist, fell to their knees and scourged themselves. Their whips with needle-pointed iron tips drew blood as they struck to the rhythmic music of hymns.
On October 20, 1349 self-flagellation was condemned by a papal bull, and rightly so. We can never pay for our sins by our own blood, however painfully shed. By his stripes we are healed. Our bodies are his temples to be guarded, not abused.
Flagellants were nevertheless seen in Rome as late as 1870, and even today there are isolated outbreaks.
He was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, he made us completely well. All of us were like sheep that had wandered off. We had each gone our own way, but the LORD gave him the punishment we deserved.
--- Isaiah 53:5,6.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 20
“Grow up into him in all things.” --- Ephesians 4:15.
Many Christians remain stunted and dwarfed in spiritual things, so as to present the same appearance year after year. No up-springing of advanced and refined feeling is manifest in them. They exist but do not “grow up into him in all things.” But should we rest content with being in the “green blade,” when we might advance to “the ear,” and eventually ripen into the “full corn in the ear?” Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, “I am safe,” without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fulness which is to be found in him? It should not be so; we should, as good traders in heaven’s market, covet to be enriched in the knowledge of Jesus. It is all very well to keep other men’s vineyards, but we must not neglect our own spiritual growth and ripening. Why should it always be winter time in our hearts? We must have our seed time, it is true, but O for a spring time—yea, a summer season, which shall give promise of an early harvest. If we would ripen in grace, we must live near to Jesus—in his presence—ripened by the sunshine of his smiles. We must hold sweet communion with him. We must leave the distant view of his face and come near, as John did, and pillow our head on his breast; then shall we find ourselves advancing in holiness, in love, in faith, in hope—yea, in every precious gift. As the sun rises first on mountain-tops and gilds them with his light, and presents one of the most charming sights to the eye of the traveller; so is it one of the most delightful contemplations in the world to mark the glow of the Spirit’s light on the head of some saint, who has risen up in spiritual stature, like Saul, above his fellows, till, like a mighty Alp, snow-capped, he reflects first among the chosen, the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and bears the sheen of his effulgence high aloft for all to see, and seeing it, to glorify his Father which is in heaven.
Evening - October 20
“Keep not back.” --- Isaiah 43:6.
Although this message was sent to the south, and referred to the seed of Israel, it may profitably be a summons to ourselves. Backward we are naturally to all good things, and it is a lesson of grace to learn to go forward in the ways of God. Reader, are you unconverted, but do you desire to trust in the Lord Jesus? Then keep not back. Love invites you, the promises secure you success, the precious blood prepares the way. Let not sins or fears hinder you, but come to Jesus just as you are. Do you long to pray? Would you pour out your heart before the Lord? Keep not back. The mercy-seat is prepared for such as need mercy; a sinner’s cries will prevail with God. You are invited, nay, you are commanded to pray, come therefore with boldness to the throne of grace.
Dear friend, are you already saved? Then keep not back from union with the Lord’s people. Neglect not the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. You may be of a timid disposition, but you must strive against it, lest it lead you into disobedience. There is a sweet promise made to those who confess Christ—by no means miss it, lest you come under the condemnation of those who deny him. If you have talents keep not back from using them. Hoard not your wealth, waste not your time; let not your abilities rust or your influence be unused. Jesus kept not back, imitate him by being foremost in self-denials and self-sacrifices. Keep not back from close communion with God, from boldly appropriating covenant blessings, from advancing in the divine life, from prying into the precious mysteries of the love of Christ. Neither, beloved friend, be guilty of keeping others back by your coldness, harshness, or suspicions. For Jesus’ sake go forward yourself, and encourage others to do the like. Hell and the leaguered bands of superstition and infidelity are forward to the fight. O soldiers of the cross, keep not back.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
THE SON OF GOD GOES FORTH TO WAR
Reginald Heber, 1783–1826
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)
This text was written in 1812 by Reginald Heber, an important 19th century Anglican church hymn writer. Heber wrote it especially for use on St. Stephen’s Day, which occurs the first day after Christmas. On this day the liturgical churches honor the memory of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
The hymn’s first stanza portrays Christ as the leader of a great army going forth to win His kingly crown. The challenge is given: “Who follows in His train?” The response: Those who demonstrate that they can bear the cross patiently here below.
The second stanza reminds us of Stephen’s martyrdom. The scriptural account tells us that Stephen saw Jesus “standing at God’s right hand,” with Stephen praying for his murderers, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:54–60).
The third stanza refers to the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to “the chosen few.” The verse then reminds us of the twelve apostles and their martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel. The final stanza is a picture in heaven of the noble martyrs throughout the ages before God’s throne—men, boys, matrons, maids—dressed in robes of white.
The Son of God goes forth to war, a kingly crown to gain: His blood-red banner streams afar: Who follows in His train? Who best can drink His cup of woe, (Christ’s suffering on the cross) triumphant over pain? Who patient bears His cross below, he follows in His train.
The martyr first, whose eagle eye could pierce beyond the grave, who saw His Master in the sky and called on Him to save—Like Him, with pardon on his tongue in midst of mortal pain, he prayed for them that did the wrong: Who follows in his train?
A glorious band, the chosen few on whom the Spirit came, twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew, and mocked the cross and flame—They met the tyrant’s brandished steel, the lion’s gory mane. They bowed their necks the death to feel: Who follows in their train?
A noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid, around the Savior’s throne rejoice, in robes of light arrayed—They climbed the steep ascent of heav’n thru peril, toil and pain: O GOD, TO US MAY GRACE BE GIVEN TO FOLLOW IN THEIR TRAIN!
For Today: Ephesians 6:10–20; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3, 4
Let this musical statement be your response of faith ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Friday, October 20, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 23, Friday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 16, 17
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 22
Old Testament Jeremiah 38:14–28
New Testament 1 Corinthians 15:1–11
Gospel Matthew 11:1–6
Index of Readings
Psalm 16, 17
A Miktam of David.
1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.
4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.
7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.
11 You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
A Prayer of David.
1 Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
2 From you let my vindication come;
let your eyes see the right.
3 If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
my mouth does not transgress.
4 As for what others do, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5 My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.
6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
7 Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
8 Guard me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9 from the wicked who despoil me,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11 They track me down; now they surround me;
they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.
12 They are like a lion eager to tear,
like a young lion lurking in ambush.
13 Rise up, O LORD, confront them, overthrow them!
By your sword deliver my life from the wicked,
14 from mortals—by your hand, O LORD—
from mortals whose portion in life is in this world.
May their bellies be filled with what you have stored up for them;
may their children have more than enough;
may they leave something over to their little ones.
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
To the leader: according to The Deer of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8 “Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O LORD, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD.
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
28 For dominion belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.
29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
14 King Zedekiah sent for the prophet Jeremiah and received him at the third entrance of the temple of the LORD. The king said to Jeremiah, “I have something to ask you; do not hide anything from me.” 15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, you will put me to death, will you not? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.” 16 So King Zedekiah swore an oath in secret to Jeremiah, “As the LORD lives, who gave us our lives, I will not put you to death or hand you over to these men who seek your life.”
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, If you will only surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be handed over to the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand.” 19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, for I might be handed over to them and they would abuse me.” 20 Jeremiah said, “That will not happen. Just obey the voice of the LORD in what I say to you, and it shall go well with you, and your life shall be spared. 21 But if you are determined not to surrender, this is what the LORD has shown me— 22 a vision of all the women remaining in the house of the king of Judah being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and saying,
‘Your trusted friends have seduced you
and have overcome you;
Now that your feet are stuck in the mud,
they desert you.’
23 All your wives and your children shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon; and this city shall be burned with fire.”
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Do not let anyone else know of this conversation, or you will die. 25 If the officials should hear that I have spoken with you, and they should come and say to you, ‘Just tell us what you said to the king; do not conceal it from us, or we will put you to death. What did the king say to you?’ 26 then you shall say to them, ‘I was presenting my plea to the king not to send me back to the house of Jonathan to die there.’ ” 27 All the officials did come to Jeremiah and questioned him; and he answered them in the very words the king had commanded. So they stopped questioning him, for the conversation had not been overheard. 28 And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard until the day that Jerusalem was taken.
1 Corinthians 15:1–11
15 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.
3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.
2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church
Excerpt Fom Simply Christian
As the early Christians reflected on what God had done in Jesus, and on what God was doing in their own life and work by his Spirit, these two themes of God’s word and God’s wisdom played a vital role in their understanding.
When the first disciples were sent off by Jesus into the wider world to announce that he was Israel’s Messiah and hence the world’s true Lord, they knew that their message would make little or no sense to most of their hearers. It was an affront to Jewish people to tell them that Israel’s Messiah had arrived—and that the Romans had crucified him at least in part because the Jewish leaders hadn’t wanted to accept him! It was sheer madness, something to provoke sniggers or worse, to tell non-Jews that there was a single true God who was calling the whole world to account through a man whom he had sent and whom he had raised from the dead. And yet the early Christians discovered that telling this story carried a power which they regularly associated with the Spirit, but which they often referred to simply as “the word.” Note these references from Acts: “Filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke God’s word with boldness.” “The word of God continued to spread.” “The word of God continued to advance and gain adherents.” “The word of God grew mightily and prevailed” (Acts 4:31; 6:7; 12:24; 19:20).
Paul spoke this way, too. “When you received the word of God from us,” he wrote, “you accepted it not as a human word, but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.” This is “the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you…bearing fruit and growing in the whole world” (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Colossians 1:5–6). This last passage gives us another hint that the word is old as well as new: the phrase “bearing fruit and growing” is a direct allusion to the language of the first creation, of Genesis 1. “By the word of YHWH were the heavens made,” sang the Psalmist, “and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6). Yes, replied the early Christians, and this same word is now at work through the good news, the “gospel,” the message that declares Jesus as the risen Lord. “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart; because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:8–9). In other words, when you announce the good news that the risen Jesus is Lord, that very word is the word of God, a carrier or agent of God’s Spirit, a means by which, as Isaiah had predicted, new life from God’s dimension comes to bring new creation within ours (Isaiah 40:8; 55:10–13).
So, finally, with wisdom as well. Wisdom (personified) was already thought of within Judaism as God’s agent in creation, the one through whom the world was made. John, Paul, and the Letter to the Hebrews all draw on this idea to speak of Jesus himself as the one through whom God made the world. But it doesn’t stop there. Paul, like the book of Proverbs, goes on to speak of this wisdom (no longer personified) being accessible to humans through the power of God’s Spirit. As in Proverbs, part of the point about wisdom is that it’s what you need in order to live a fully, genuinely human life. It is not, he says, a wisdom “of this age”—that is, of the present world and the way this world sees things. It doesn’t conform to the kind of wisdom the rulers of the present world like to acknowledge. Instead, “we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7). God has given us access to a new kind of wisdom, through the Spirit. All God’s treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in the Messiah himself. This means that those who belong to the Messiah have this wisdom accessible to them, and hence the chance to grow toward mature human and Christian living: “It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in the Messiah” (Colossians 1:28; 2:2–3). At this point, too, those in whom the Spirit dwells are called to be people who live at, and by, the intersection of heaven and earth.
Please note: only those who subscribe to Option Two could ever think of someone being “so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly use.” For Option Three, the way to be truly of use on this earth is to be genuinely heavenly minded—and to live as one of the places where, and the means by which, heaven and earth overlap.
That’s how the church is to carry forward the work of Jesus. The book of Acts says that in the previous book (referring back to the author’s earlier volume—that is, the Gospel of Luke) the writer had described “all that Jesus began to do and teach.” The implication is clear: that the story of the church, led and energized by the power of the Spirit, is the story of Jesus continuing to do and to teach—through his Spirit-led people. Once more, that’s why we pray that God’s kingdom will come, and his will will be done, “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense