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Jeremiah 4 thru 6
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Jeremiah 4:1     If you return, O Israel,
says the Lord,
if you return to me,
if you remove your abominations from my presence,
and do not waver,
2     and if you swear, “As the Lord lives!”
in truth, in justice, and in uprightness,
then nations shall be blessed by him,
and by him they shall boast.
3 For thus says the Lord to the people of Judah
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
Break up your fallow ground,
and do not sow among thorns.
4     Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
and burn with no one to quench it,
because of the evil of your doings.

Invasion and Desolation of Judah Threatened

5 Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:
Blow the trumpet through the land;
shout aloud and say,
“Gather together, and let us go
into the fortified cities!”
6     Raise a standard toward Zion,
flee for safety, do not delay,
for I am bringing evil from the north,
and a great destruction.
7     A lion has gone up from its thicket,
a destroyer of nations has set out;
he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
your cities will be ruins
without inhabitant.
8     Because of this put on sackcloth,
lament and wail:
“The fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us.”

     9 On that day, says the Lord, courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded. 10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God, how utterly you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ even while the sword is at the throat!”

     11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— 12 a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.

13     Look! He comes up like clouds,
his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
woe to us, for we are ruined!
14     O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness
so that you may be saved.
How long shall your evil schemes
lodge within you?
15     For a voice declares from Dan
and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim.
16     Tell the nations, “Here they are!”
Proclaim against Jerusalem,
“Besiegers come from a distant land;
they shout against the cities of Judah.
17     They have closed in around her like watchers of a field,
because she has rebelled against me,
says the Lord.
18     Your ways and your doings
have brought this upon you.
This is your doom; how bitter it is!
It has reached your very heart.”

Sorrow for a Doomed Nation

19     My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent;
for I hear the sound of the trumpet,
the alarm of war.
20     Disaster overtakes disaster,
the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
my curtains in a moment.
21     How long must I see the standard,
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22     “For my people are foolish,
they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
but do not know how to do good.”

23     I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24     I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
25     I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
26     I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
27 For thus says the Lord:
The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.
28     Because of this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above grow black;
for I have spoken, I have purposed;
I have not relented nor will I turn back.

29     At the noise of horseman and archer
every town takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
all the towns are forsaken,
and no one lives in them.
30     And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in crimson,
that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold,
that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
Your lovers despise you;
they seek your life.
31     For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,
the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!”

The Utter Corruption of God’s People

Jeremiah 5:1     Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
look around and take note!
Search its squares and see
if you can find one person
who acts justly
and seeks truth—
so that I may pardon Jerusalem.
2     Although they say, “As the Lord lives,”
yet they swear falsely.
3     O Lord, do your eyes not look for truth?
You have struck them,
but they felt no anguish;
you have consumed them,
but they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
they have refused to turn back.

     Do the verses above touch your heart? Is discipline not a form of mercy? Discipline, like a two edged sword brings repentance or stubborness. It is not the sword, it is us. Do we react in stubbornness or respond in repentance?

4     Then I said, “These are only the poor,
they have no sense;
for they do not know the way of the Lord,
the law of their God.
5     Let me go to the rich
and speak to them;
surely they know the way of the Lord,
the law of their God.”
But they all alike had broken the yoke,
they had burst the bonds.

6     Therefore a lion from the forest shall kill them,
a wolf from the desert shall destroy them.
A leopard is watching against their cities;
everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces—
because their transgressions are many,
their apostasies are great.

7     How can I pardon you?
Your children have forsaken me,
and have sworn by those who are no gods.
When I fed them to the full,
they committed adultery
and trooped to the houses of prostitutes.
8     They were well-fed lusty stallions,
each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
9     Shall I not punish them for these things?
says the Lord;
and shall I not bring retribution
on a nation such as this?

10     Go up through her vine-rows and destroy,
but do not make a full end;
strip away her branches,
for they are not the Lord’s.
11     For the house of Israel and the house of Judah
have been utterly faithless to me,
says the Lord.
12     They have spoken falsely of the Lord,
and have said, “He will do nothing.
No evil will come upon us,
and we shall not see sword or famine.”
13     The prophets are nothing but wind,
for the word is not in them.
Thus shall it be done to them!

14     Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts:
Because they have spoken this word,
I am now making my words in your mouth a fire,
and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them.

     Is it, then, healthy or unhealthy to insist on the gravity of sin and the necessity of atonement, to hold people responsible for their actions, to warn them of the peril of divine judgment, and to urge them to confess, repent and turn to Christ? It is healthy. For if there is ‘false guilt’ (feeling bad about evil we have not done), there is also ‘false innocence’ (feeling good about the evil we have done). If false contrition is unhealthy (an ungrounded weeping over guilt), so is false assurance (an ungrounded rejoicing over forgiveness). It may be, therefore, that it is not we who exaggerate, when we stress the seriousness of sin, but our critics, who underestimate it. God said of the false prophets in Old Testament days: ‘They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.’ Superficial remedies are always due to a faulty diagnosis. Those who prescribe them have fallen victim to the deceiving spirit of modernity which denies the gravity of sin. To make a true diagnosis of our condition, however, grave as it is, could never be unhealthy, provided that we go on immediately to the remedy. So the law which condemns us is nevertheless God’s good gift, because it sends us to Christ to be justified. And the Holy Spirit came to ‘convict the world of guilt’, but only in order that he might more effectively bear witness to Christ as the Saviour from guilt (John 16:8; 15:26–27). There is no joy comparable to the joy of the forgiven.The Cross of Christ

15     I am going to bring upon you
a nation from far away, O house of Israel,
says the Lord.
It is an enduring nation,
it is an ancient nation,
a nation whose language you do not know,
nor can you understand what they say.
16     Their quiver is like an open tomb;
all of them are mighty warriors.
17     They shall eat up your harvest and your food;
they shall eat up your sons and your daughters;
they shall eat up your flocks and your herds;
they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;
they shall destroy with the sword
your fortified cities in which you trust.

     18 But even in those days, says the Lord, I will not make a full end of you. 19 And when your people say, “Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?” you shall say to them, “As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours.”

20     Declare this in the house of Jacob,
proclaim it in Judah:
21     Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes, but do not see,
who have ears, but do not hear.
22     Do you not fear me? says the Lord;
Do you not tremble before me?
I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;
though the waves toss, they cannot prevail,
though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
23     But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
they have turned aside and gone away.
24     They do not say in their hearts,
“Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.”
25     Your iniquities have turned these away,
and your sins have deprived you of good.
26     For scoundrels are found among my people;
they take over the goods of others.
Like fowlers they set a trap;
they catch human beings.
27     Like a cage full of birds,
their houses are full of treachery;
therefore they have become great and rich,
28     they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no limits in deeds of wickedness;
they do not judge with justice
the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
29     Shall I not punish them for these things?
says the Lord,
and shall I not bring retribution
on a nation such as this?

30     An appalling and horrible thing
has happened in the land:
31     the prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests rule as the prophets direct;
my people love to have it so,
but what will you do when the end comes?

The Imminence and Horror of the Invasion

Jeremiah 6:1     Flee for safety, O children of Benjamin,
from the midst of Jerusalem!
Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,
and raise a signal on Beth-haccherem;
for evil looms out of the north,
and great destruction.
2     I have likened daughter Zion
to the loveliest pasture.
3     Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her.
They shall pitch their tents around her;
they shall pasture, all in their places.
4     “Prepare war against her;
up, and let us attack at noon!”
“Woe to us, for the day declines,
the shadows of Evening lengthen!”
5     “Up, and let us attack by night,
and destroy her palaces!”
6     For thus says the Lord of hosts:
Cut down her trees;
cast up a siege ramp against Jerusalem.
This is the city that must be punished;
there is nothing but oppression within her.
7     As a well keeps its water fresh,
so she keeps fresh her wickedness;
violence and destruction are heard within her;
sickness and wounds are ever before me.
8     Take warning, O Jerusalem,
or I shall turn from you in disgust,
and make you a desolation,
an uninhabited land.

9     Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Glean thoroughly as a vine
the remnant of Israel;
like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again
over its branches.

10     To whom shall I speak and give warning,
that they may hear?
See, their ears are closed,
they cannot listen.
The word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn;
they take no pleasure in it.
11     But I am full of the wrath of the Lord;
I am weary of holding it in.

Pour it out on the children in the street,
and on the gatherings of young men as well;
both husband and wife shall be taken,
the old folk and the very aged.
12     Their houses shall be turned over to others,
their fields and wives together;
for I will stretch out my hand
against the inhabitants of the land,
says the Lord.

13     For from the least to the greatest of them,
everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest,
everyone deals falsely.
14     They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
saying, “Peace, peace,”
when there is no peace.
15     They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;
yet they were not ashamed,
they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,
says the Lord.
16     Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, “We will not walk in it.”
17     Also I raised up sentinels for you:
“Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!”
But they said, “We will not give heed.”
18     Therefore hear, O nations,
and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
19     Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people,
the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not given heed to my words;
and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.
20     Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,
or sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,
nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.
21     Therefore thus says the Lord:
See, I am laying before this people
stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble;
parents and children together,
neighbor and friend shall perish.

22     Thus says the Lord:
See, a people is coming from the land of the north,
a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.
23     They grasp the bow and the javelin,
they are cruel and have no mercy,
their sound is like the roaring sea;
they ride on horses,
equipped like a warrior for battle,
against you, O daughter Zion!

24     “We have heard news of them,
our hands fall helpless;
anguish has taken hold of us,
pain as of a woman in labor.
25     Do not go out into the field,
or walk on the road;
for the enemy has a sword,
terror is on every side.”

26     O my poor people, put on sackcloth,
and roll in ashes;
make mourning as for an only child,
most bitter lamentation:
for suddenly the destroyer
will come upon us.

27     I have made you a tester and a refiner among my people
so that you may know and test their ways.
28     They are all stubbornly rebellious,
going about with slanders;
they are bronze and iron,
all of them act corruptly.
29     The bellows blow fiercely,
the lead is consumed by the fire;
in vain the refining goes on,
for the wicked are not removed.
30     They are called “rejected silver,”
for the Lord has rejected them.

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

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Updated: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

By J. Warner Wallace 10/20/2017

     Much has been written about both the Biblical illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself. I’m going to organize the recent findings in a way that illuminates the problem:

     Research Related to Spiritual Life of Teenagers: | Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press, 2005

     Book Findings: | The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’: A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and good people go to heaven when they die.

     Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
Kenda Creasy Dean, Oxford University Press, 2010

     Book Findings: | Dean affirms what Soul Searching called ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”

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

Hope for the weary preacher

By Matt McCullough 6/10/2015

     Joe thought he’d be a better preacher. Did you?

     I don’t mean he had pretensions to glory, necessarily. Just that of the range of things he knew he’d have to do once he started ministry, he figured preaching would come easiest. It’s what drew him to ministry in the first place, after all. He loves study, organization, communication. He listens to Keller and Piper when he jogs. He’s got bios of Spurgeon and Whitefield on his night stand.

     Coming out of seminary, he knew counseling would be a challenge, that administration would take on-the-job training, that he knew little about effective marketing, that managing staff or volunteers wouldn’t be natural at first. But he figured if there’s one thing he can do well, it’s understanding and explaining the Bible in an engaging way.

     And good thing too, he thought, because biblical preaching is the lifeblood of the church. He believes that if everything else has to fail so preaching can go well it’s a worthy cost. It’s a cost Joe’s paying. Balls are dropping all around him so he can spend his 20 hours prepping.

     All of this amounts to a huge existential burden that each sermon has to carry. Joe feels like he’s got to hit a home run to justify mediocrity in every other area of his job. But his sermons rarely feel like home runs.

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     Matt McCullough has been the pastor of Trinity Church since we began in 2010. He and his wife Lindsey first moved to Nashville for graduate school at Vanderbilt, where he completed a PhD in American religious history. He has also done some writing on the side, first as an academic and now on occasion for 9Marks and The Gospel Coalition. Matt and Lindsey are the parents of three little boys.

The Wrath of God Was Satisfied: Substitutionary Atonement and the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention

By Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. 8/12/2013

     Current controversy over the nature of Christ’s atonement for sin points to a truth many younger evangelicals may not know, i.e., the substitutionary nature of Christ’s death on the cross was a major issue in the Conservative Resurgence that took place within the Southern Baptist Convention in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

     The issue of biblical inerrancy stood at the forefront of Southern Baptist debates during those years of conflict and controversy, but other issues drew major concern. Moderates and conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention were divided over controversial issues, including abortion rights, the exclusivity of the Gospel, and the nature of the atonement. As might be expected, most of these debates followed the same or very similar lines of division. As in the Reformation of the sixteenth century, to be divided over the formal principle of the authority of the Bible was, inevitably, to be divided over the material principles of doctrine as well.

     In its earliest phase, modern theological liberalism developed open antipathy to the substitutionary nature of the atonement. Theologians such as Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of theological liberalism, rejected the claim that the death of Christ is substitutionary or vicarious. Christ did not die in the place of sinners, bearing the wrath of a righteous God, Schleiermacher insisted. Instead, Christ’s death and resurrection demonstrated God’s love so that human beings might rightly love him. Albrecht Ritschl proposed a similar form of the moral influence theory of the atonement—Christ died as a revelation of the depth of God’s love toward sinners.

     As theological liberalism spread to the United States, the Protestant liberals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries adopted the German model, rejecting any substitutionary or vicarious understanding of the atonement and proposing variations of the moral influence theory. Others, following the pattern set by Rudolf Bultmann, proposed existentialist understandings of the cross and resurrection. Most of the adherents to these theories denied the wrath of God against sinners at the cross, which was presented as a political act with a great moral lesson. Many of them denied as mere myth the historical reality of the bodily resurrection of Christ.

     While the vast majority of Southern Baptists resisted the temptation to revise the faith in order to meet the demands of the modern liberal worldview, some within the Southern Baptist academy were doing their best to shift the denomination to a more liberal position. Ground zero for this effort was New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The seminary in New Orleans was by no means the most liberal of the Southern Baptist seminaries at the time, and it would not tolerate such teaching now, but its faculty once included a trio of professors who attempted to shift Southern Baptists away from the advocacy of penal substitutionary atonement. These three men, over the course of three successive generations, influenced a host of young seminarians and many pastors beyond the seminary’s campus.

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

Albert Mohler Books:

Answers to 9 Questions About the Devil and His Demons: 1

By Mark Driscoll 10/16/2017

     Have you ever used this one, “the devil made me do it”?

     If we are honest, many of us have, even if half joking.

     But did he? Did the devil make you do whatever it is?

     In a day when science on one hand often dismisses the supernatural altogether, and cultural pluralism tells us that all spirituality is equally desirable it is increasingly harder to find anyone who believes both in the spirit world and evil.

     Anyone who opens the Bible with any integrity must admit that it is a book that consistently presents a worldview in which there is a very real war between the real God and his holy angels verses the fallen angel Satan the Devil and unholy demons. Sinners, including you and me, are taken as captives in this spiritual war (e.g. Col. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:25–26).

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     Mark Driscoll

How to remember the Bible passages you memorize

By Scott Slayton

     The discipline of memorizing Bible verses pays great dividends in the life of a Christian. Having Scripture stored up in our hearts helps us to remember God’s promises in tough times, flee from sin in moments of temptation, possess greater confidence in sharing the gospel, and give fresh words of encouragement to struggling Christians.

     The problem for us is that while memorizing a verse presents a challenge, remembering it in three months is a great difficulty. We often find ourselves wanting to quote something we spent two days memorizing but cannot remember the exact wording of the verse or the precise reference to save our lives.

     How can we remember the Bible verses that we memorized a week, a month, or a year ago?

     FOR THE LONG HAUL | We often fail to learn Bible verses well the first time we memorize them. We can’t remember them a month later because we never really got them into our minds and hearts.

     When you memorize a Bible verse, make sure that you are learning the precise wording of the verse and the exact reference. Do not be content with forgetting whether the verse says “so that” or “in order to.” The scholars who worked on the translation that you use made the choices they did for good reasons, so learn it as it is printed on the page.

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     Scott Slayton (M.Div., SBTS) serves as Lead Pastor at Chelsea Village Baptist Church in Chelsea, Alabama. Scott and his wife Beth have four children: Hannah, Sarah Kate, Leah, and Matt.  He regularly writes at his personal blog One Degree to Another.

6 reasons church is not optional for seminary students

By Hershael York

     Whenever I hire a staff member, I will always get around to asking what he did in seminary. Where did he go to church? How did he serve when no one was paying him to do the job? If the Holy Spirit and a man’s calling don’t compel him to love and serve the church, he won’t do it well for a paycheck either.

     One could probably enumerate dozens of reasons why a seminary student’s faithfulness to a church during his years of training matter, but I offer six that stand out.

     1. OBEDIENCE | Many of God’s commands can only be fulfilled in a local church. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10:24-25). “Obey your elders and submit to them for they are keeping watch over your souls . . . ” (Heb. 13:17). “Unto Him be glory in the church . . . ” (Eph. 3:21). Church membership and participation are not optional for followers of Christ. The church is God’s Plan A for teaching, training, accountability, correction, and a host of other essential activities in a Christian’s life.

     2. WORSHIP | While I enjoy and delight in private worship or in small groups, nothing can supplant the corporate worship of the saints assembled together to exalt the name of Jesus in psalms and hymns and to hear the Word preached. The angels watch in eager wonder when the church is assembled, but surely they must scratch their angelic heads in disdainful amazement at anyone who claims to be redeemed and even called to ministry who thinks so lightly of Christ and his bride that he considers church attendance optional. Corporate worship establishes a mental soundtrack for my week as the gospel songs we sing continue to play in my head. The Holy Spirit uses the preached Word to effect change toward Christlikeness. I need weekly worship to make the rhythm of the new creation beat smoothly.

     3. EXPERIENCE | The first week I was in seminary, I visited local church pastors, introduced myself and learned about them and their congregations. One pastor in particular resonated with my heart. We placed our membership in that church and Tanya and I volunteered for any jobs in the church that we could do.

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     Victor and Louise Lester Professor of Christian Preaching | Hershael W. York serves as Victor and Louise Lester Professor of Christian Preaching at Southern Seminary. He is also senior pastor at Buck Run Baptist Church.

Renowned Chemist Says Evolutionists Do Not Understand the Origin of Life

By Garrett Haley 10/13/2014

     HOUSTON – A prominent chemist who was recognized this year as one of the 50 most influential scientists in the world says most scientists do not understand how evolution could explain the existence of life.

     Dr. James Tour is a well-known professor at Rice University, specializing in chemistry, nanoengineering, and computer science. Over the last 30 years, Tour has authored over 500 research publications, and he was recognized as one of “The 50 Most Influential Scientists in the World Today” by TheBestSchools.org. Tour has also received awards and recognitions from the American Chemical Society, Thomson Reuters, Honda, NASA, and others.

     In a video released in late 2012, Tour explained that he has had extensive experience studying the origin of life.

     “I will tell you as a scientist and a synthetic chemist,” Tour said, “if anybody should be able to understand evolution, it is me, because I make molecules for a living, and I don’t just buy a kit, and mix this and mix this, and get that. I mean, ab initio, I make molecules. I understand how hard it is to make molecules.”

     Despite his experiences and expertise, Tour admits that he does not understand how evolution could account for life’s existence.

Click here to go to source

     Garrett Haley is a freelance writer living in Lubbock, Texas. He contributes weekly news articles to Christian News Network and biweekly blog posts to Come Awake.

  • Preaching 1 Acts 2:22
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  • John 9:35-41

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UCB The Word For Today
     Learning to lead (1)
     (Oct 21)    Bob Gass

     ‘You cannot handle it alone.’

(Ex 18:18) 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. ESV

     President Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.’ Bottom line: unless you learn to delegate, your leadership will deteriorate and your vision will stagnate. In Exodus, Moses was wearing himself out physically, emotionally, and spiritually trying to keep up with the demands of two million Israelites and be ‘the answer man’ for every problem. That’s when his father-in-law told him, ‘You cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice’ (vv. 18-19 NIV 2011 Edition). It takes wisdom, maturity, and humility to ask for help. And it’s a sign of strength, not weakness. That’s hard to come to terms with, for those of us who take pride in our ability to ‘do it all’. The truth is, what Moses was doing was neither good for him nor the people depending on him. As a leader, it’s easy to overestimate your own importance and competence. That’s why Paul cautions, ‘[Don’t] think you are better than you really are. Use good sense’ (Romans 12:3 CEV). God has placed people around you who have certain gifts and talents. When you recognise and involve these people, they’re fulfilled and the job gets done right. God created us to be interdependent, not independent. Delegating authority to the right people strengthened Moses for the task of leading as God intended. When you try to be ‘all things to all people’, you end up frustrated. You’re not called to do it all, but to get it done through others. That’s what leadership is about.

(Ex 18:19) Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, ESV

(Ro 12:3–8) 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. ESV

Jer 37-39
2 Tim 4

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this day, October 21, 1805, in one of the greatest naval battles in history, British Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the combined Spanish and French fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar off the coast of Spain. This ended Napoleon’s power on the sea. The cannonades and musket shot ripped apart the ships at point blank range, killing or wounding nearly ten thousand men. In the fighting that ensued, Admirable Nelson was fatally shot in the spine. He was carried below deck to the ship’s surgeon where he died. Admiral Horatio Nelson’s last words were: “Thank God I have done my duty.”

American Minute

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

I.     As to the first point. If this is not believed the earnestness goes out of prayer. It becomes either a ritual, or a soliloquy only overheard by God; just as thought with the will out of it degenerates into dreaming or brooding, where we are more passive than active. Prayer is not merely the meeting of two moods or two affections, the laying of the head on a divine bosom in trust and surrender. That may have its place in religion, but it is not the nerve and soul of prayer. Nor is it religious reverie. Prayer is an encounter of wills—till one will or the other give way. It is not a spiritual exercise merely, but in its maturity it is a cause acting on the course of God’s world.7 It is, indeed, by God’s grace that prayer is a real cause, but such it is. And of course there must be in us a faith corresponding to the grace. Of course also there is always, behind all, the readiness to accept God’s will without a murmur when it is perfectly evident and final. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Yes, but there is also the repeated effort to alter its form according to our sanctified needs and desires. You will notice that in Paul’s case the power to accept the sufficiency of God’s grace only came in the course of an importunate prayer aiming to turn God’s hand. Paul ended, rather than began, with “Thy will be done.” The peace of God is an end and not a beginning.

     “Thy will be done” was no utterance of mere resignation; thought it has mostly come to mean this in a Christianity which tends to canonize the weak instead of strengthening them. As prayer it was a piece of active cooperation with God’s will. It was a positive part of it. It is one thing to submit to a stronger will, it is another to be one with it. We submit because we cannot resist it; but when we are one with it we cannot succumb. It is not a power, but our power. But the natural will is not one with God’s; and so we come to use these words in a mere negative way, meaning that we cease to resist. Our will does not accept God’s, it just stops work. We give in and lie down. But is that the sense of the words in the Lord’s Prayer? Do they mean that we have no objection to God’s will being done? or that we do not withstand any more? or even that we accept it gladly? Do they not mean something far more positive—that we actively will God’s will and aid it, that it is the whole content of our own, that we put into it all the will that there can be in prayer, which is at last the great will power of the race? It is our heart’s passion that God’s will be done and His kingdom come. And can His kingdom come otherwise than as it is a passion with us? Can His will be done? God’s will was not Christ’s consent merely, nor His pleasure, but His meat and drink, the source of His energy and the substance of His work.

     Observe, nothing can alter God’s grace, His will in that sense, His large will and final purpose—our racial blessing, our salvation, our redemption in Jesus Christ. But for that will He is an infinite opportunist. His ways are very flexible. His intentions are amenable to us if His will is changeless. The steps of His process are variable according to our freedom and His.

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

The Soul of Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

There is no moral virtue in obedience
unless there is a recognition
of a higher authority
in the one who dictates.
--- Oswald Chambers

I know my own soul, how feeble and puny it is: I know the magnitude of this ministry, and the great difficulty of the work; for more stormy billows vex the soul of the priest than the gales which disturb the sea.
--- John Chrysostom

Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization.
--- Winston Churchill

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 6.

     How The Romans Carried Their Ensigns To The Temple, And Made Joyful Acclamations To Titus. The Speech That Titus Made To The Jews When They Made Supplication For Mercy. What Reply They Made Thereto; And How That Reply Moved Titus's Indignation Against Them.

     1. And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple 24 and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator 25 with the greatest acclamations of joy. And now all the soldiers had such vast quantities of the spoils which they had gotten by plunder, that in Syria a pound weight of gold was sold for half its former value. But as for those priests that kept themselves still upon the wall of the holy house,26 there was a boy that, out of the thirst he was in, desired some of the Roman guards to give him their right hands as a security for his life, and confessed he was very thirsty. These guards commiserated his age, and the distress he was in, and gave him their right hands accordingly. So he came down himself, and drank some water, and filled the vessel he had with him when he came to them with water, and then went off, and fled away to his own friends; nor could any of those guards overtake him; but still they reproached him for his perfidiousness. To which he made this answer: "I have not broken the agreement; for the security I had given me was not in order to my staying with you, but only in order to my coming down safely, and taking up some water; both which things I have performed, and thereupon think myself to have been faithful to my engagement." Hereupon those whom the child had imposed upon admired at his cunning, and that on account of his age. On the fifth day afterward, the priests that were pined with the famine came down, and when they were brought to Titus by the guards, they begged for their lives; but he replied, that the time of pardon was over as to them, and that this very holy house, on whose account only they could justly hope to be preserved, was destroyed; and that it was agreeable to their office that priests should perish with the house itself to which they belonged. So he ordered them to be put to death.

     2. But as for the tyrants themselves, and those that were with them, when they found that they were encompassed on every side, and, as it were, walled round, without any method of escaping, they desired to treat with Titus by word of mouth. Accordingly, such was the kindness of his nature, and his desire of preserving the city from destruction, joined to the advice of his friends, who now thought the robbers were come to a temper, that he placed himself on the western side of the outer [court of the] temple; for there were gates on that side above the Xystus, and a bridge that connected the upper city to the temple. This bridge it was that lay between the tyrants and Caesar, and parted them; while the multitude stood on each side; those of the Jewish nation about Sinran and John, with great hopes of pardon; and the Romans about Caesar, in great expectation how Titus would receive their supplication. So Titus charged his soldiers to restrain their rage, and to let their darts alone, and appointed an interpreter between them, which was a sign that he was the conqueror, and first began the discourse, and said, "I hope you, sirs, are now satiated with the miseries of your country, who have not had any just notions, either of our great power, or of your own great weakness, but have, like madmen, after a violent and inconsiderate manner, made such attempts, as have brought your people, your city, and your holy house to destruction. You have been the men that have never left off rebelling since Pompey first conquered you, and have, since that time, made open war with the Romans. Have you depended on your multitude, while a very small part of the Roman soldiery have been strong enough for you? Have you relied on the fidelity of your confederates? And what nations are there, out of the limits of our dominion, that would choose to assist the Jews before the Romans? Are your bodies stronger than ours? nay, you know that the [strong] Germans themselves are our servants. Have you stronger walls than we have? Pray, what greater obstacle is there than the wall of the ocean, with which the Britons are encompassed, and yet do adore the arms of the Romans. Do you exceed us in courage of soul, and in the sagacity of your commanders? Nay, indeed, you cannot but know that the very Carthaginians have been conquered by us. It can therefore be nothing certainly but the kindness of us Romans which hath excited you against us; who, in the first place, have given you this land to possess; and, in the next place, have set over you kings of your own nation; and, in the third place, have preserved the laws of your forefathers to you, and have withal permitted you to live, either by yourselves, or among others, as it should please you: and, what is our chief favor of all we have given you leave to gather up that tribute which is paid to God 27 with such other gifts that are dedicated to him; nor have we called those that carried these donations to account, nor prohibited them; till at length you became richer than we ourselves, even when you were our enemies; and you made preparations for war against us with our own money; nay, after all, when you were in the enjoyment of all these advantages, you turned your too great plenty against those that gave it you, and, like merciless serpents, have thrown out your poison against those that treated you kindly. I suppose, therefore, that you might despise the slothfulness of Nero, and, like limbs of the body that are broken or dislocated, you did then lie quiet, waiting for some other time, though still with a malicious intention, and have now showed your distemper to be greater than ever, and have extended your desires as far as your impudent and immense hopes would enable you to do it. At this time my father came into this country, not with a design to punish you for what you had done under Cestius, but to admonish you; for had he come to overthrow your nation, he had run directly to your fountain-head, and had immediately laid this city waste; whereas he went and burnt Galilee and the neighboring parts, and thereby gave you time for repentance; which instance of humanity you took for an argument of his weakness, and nourished up your impudence by our mildness. When Nero was gone out of the world, you did as the wickedest wretches would have done, and encouraged yourselves to act against us by our civil dissensions, and abused that time, when both I and my father were gone away to Egypt, to make preparations for this war. Nor were you ashamed to raise disturbances against us when we were made emperors, and this while you had experienced how mild we had been, when we were no more than generals of the army. But when the government was devolved upon us, and all other people did thereupon lie quiet, and even foreign nations sent embassies, and congratulated our access to the government, then did you Jews show yourselves to be our enemies. You sent embassies to those of your nation that are beyond Euphrates to assist you in your raising disturbances; new walls were built by you round your city, seditions arose, and one tyrant contended against another, and a civil war broke out among you; such indeed as became none but so wicked a people as you are. I then came to this city, as unwillingly sent by my father, and received melancholy injunctions from him. When I heard that the people were disposed to peace, I rejoiced at it; I exhorted you to leave off these proceedings before I began this war; I spared you even when you had fought against me a great while; I gave my right hand as security to the deserters; I observed what I had promised faithfully. When they fled to me, I had compassion on many of those that I had taken captive; I tortured those that were eager for war, in order to restrain them. It was unwillingly that I brought my engines of war against your walls; I always prohibited my soldiers, when they were set upon your slaughter, from their severity against you. After every victory I persuaded you to peace, as though I had been myself conquered. When I came near your temple, I again departed from the laws of war, and exhorted you to spare your own sanctuary, and to preserve your holy house to yourselves. I allowed you a quiet exit out of it, and security for your preservation; nay, if you had a mind, I gave you leave to fight in another place. Yet have you still despised every one of my proposals, and have set fire to your holy house with your own hands. And now, vile wretches, do you desire to treat with me by word of mouth? To what purpose is it that you would save such a holy house as this was, which is now destroyed? What preservation can you now desire after the destruction of your temple? Yet do you stand still at this very time in your armor; nor can you bring yourselves so much as to pretend to be supplicants even in this your utmost extremity. O miserable creatures! what is it you depend on? Are not your people dead? is not your holy house gone? is not your city in my power? and are not your own very lives in my hands? And do you still deem it a part of valor to die? However, I will not imitate your madness. If you throw down your arms, and deliver up your bodies to me, I grant you your lives; and I will act like a mild master of a family; what cannot be healed shall be punished, and the rest I will preserve for my own use."

     3. To that offer of Titus they made this reply: That they could not accept of it, because they had sworn never to do so; but they desired they might have leave to go through the wall that had been made about them, with their wives and children; for that they would go into the desert, and leave the city to him. At this Titus had great indignation, that when they were in the case of men already taken captives, they should pretend to make their own terms with him, as if they had been conquerors. So he ordered this proclamation to be made to them, That they should no more come out to him as deserters, nor hope for any further security; for that he would henceforth spare nobody, but fight them with his whole army; and that they must save themselves as well as they could; for that he would from henceforth treat them according to the laws of war. So he gave orders to the soldiers both to burn and to plunder the city; who did nothing indeed that day; but on the next day they set fire to the repository of the archives, to Acra, to the council-house, and to the place called Ophlas; at which time the fire proceeded as far as the palace of queen Helena, which was in the middle of Acra; the lanes also were burnt down, as were also those houses that were full of the dead bodies of such as were destroyed by famine.

     4. On the same day it was that the sons and brethren of Izates the king, together with many others of the eminent men of the populace, got together there, and besought Caesar to give them his right hand for their security; upon which, though he was very angry at all that were now remaining, yet did he not lay aside his old moderation, but received these men. At that time, indeed, he kept them all in custody, but still bound the king's sons and kinsmen, and led them with him to Rome, in order to make them hostages for their country's fidelity to the Romans.

     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 27:11
     by D.H. Stern

11     My son, become wise, and gladden my heart,
so that I can answer my critics.

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

                Direction by impulse

     Building up yourselves on your most holy faith.
--- Jude 20.

     There was nothing either of the nature of impulse or of coldbloodedness about Our Lord, but only a calm strength that never got into panic. Most of us develop our Christianity along the line of our temperament, not along the line of God. Impulse is a trait in natural life, but Our Lord always ignores it, because it hinders the development of the life of a disciple. Watch how the Spirit of God checks impulse, His checks bring a rush of self-conscious foolishness which makes us instantly want to vindicate ourselves. Impulse is all right in a child, but it is disastrous in a man or woman; an impulsive man is always a petted man. Impulse has to be trained into intuition by discipline.

     Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on the water is easy to impulsive pluck, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he followed Him afar off on the land. We do not need the grace of God to stand crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Moving away is only to the boundaries
  of the self. Better to stay here,
  I said, leaving the horizons
  clear. The best journey to make
  is inward. It is the interior
  that calls. Eliot heard it.
  Wordsworth turned from the great hills
  of the north to the precipice
  of his own mind, and let himself
  down for the poetry stranded
  on the bare ledges.
          For some
  it is all darkness; for me, too,
  it is dark. But there are hands
  there I can take, voices to hear
  solider than the echoes
  without. And sometimes a strange light
  shines, purer than the moon,
  casting no shadow, that is
  the halo upon the bones
  of the pioneers who died for truth.


     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     Biblical eschatology is collective. Olam ha-ba as presented in the Mishnah is also formulated in communal terms: “All Israel have a share in the world to come.” To Maimonides, all of Israel could share in the perfection implicit in olam ha-ba, but only if historical conditions were such that men were not overly concerned and burdened with the basic problems of survival. An individual’s spiritual potential cannot be properly evaluated when the individual lives in social and economic hardship. This historical realism explains, for Maimonides, the biblical concern with man’s material condition. The biblical description of the God of history is therefore compatible with the theocentric world view of philosophic reason. The concern for messianism supports the ideal of intellectual love of God:

     The Sages and Prophets did not long for the days of the Messiah that Israel might exercise dominion over the world, or rule over the heathens, or be exalted by the nations, or that it might eat and drink and rejoice. Their aspiration was that Israel be free to devote itself to the Law and its wisdom, with no one to oppress or disturb it, and thus be worthy of life in the world to come.

     In that era there will be neither famine nor war, neither jealousy nor strife. Blessings will be abundant, comforts within the reach of all. The one preoccupation of the whole world will be to know the Lord. Hence Israelites will be very wise, they will know the things that are now concealed and will attain an understanding of their Creator to the utmost capacity of the human mind, as it is written: “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (
Is. 11:9).37

     As stated in chapter one, the way of Sinai does not emerge in competition to the way of Abraham, but as a support for it. Without the structure of Sinai, the way of Abraham could not be realized for the community. The Torah trains the community to withstand the seduction of pagan environments. The goal of Torah is not only the abolition of idolatry, but also the positive ideal of love of God.38 Law alone cannot bring about this ideal when the pressures of physical survival make it nearly impossible for a person to discover the joy of loving God for His own sake. One must alter the physical conditions of human history before one can hope for the liberating influence of reason to have any effect on community.

     The Bible reflects this realism in its account of the exodus from Egypt. The liberation from Egypt preceded the revelation at Sinai. God does not address and challenge the community to become a holy people until the chains of slavery are broken. One must first be concerned with the political and economic conditions of the oppressed before one can expose them to higher aspirations.

     Although singular individuals can realize their capacities despite adverse social conditions, Judaism did not construct a conception of what is possible based on what the elite few can achieve. To Maimonides, Torah was given to Moses despite the fact that the tribe of Levi was able to withstand the influences of Egyptian paganism.39 Similarly, the ideal of love of God and olam ha-ba are provided with the support of political and social conditions, i.e., messianism, which would make this ideal realizable for the community. Just as the “tribe of Levi” leaves Egypt with the entire community and stands before Mount Sinai, so too does it await the coming of the messianic age—as does all of Israel. All of Israel longs for messianism because all of Israel has a share in olam ha-ba.

     Maimonides’ allegiance to messianism reflects his refusal to restrict olam ha-ba to the elite.40 His conception of philosophical excellence was not insulated from his commitment to Torah and to community. Nowhere in Maimonides do we find anything parallel to the problem faced by the philosopher in Plato’s Republic who must decide whether to return to the cave of community.41

     Although community was central to Maimonides’ thinking this did not imply that either he or the teachers of the Talmud accepted that everyone can achieve the same level of spiritual excellence. There are levels of worship, just as there are levels of intellectuality. The unique individual does have a place within the Torah community since the understanding of man in the Talmud is not based only on what is possible for the community. The talmudic teachers did not evaluate the potential of a community by the standard of the elite few; nor did they ignore what such people could achieve when the talmudists established a way of life for community. The Lonely Man of Faith

     This is why messianism plays such a crucial role in Maimonides’ legal works, as distinct from The Guide of the Perplexed. The legal works are primarily addressed to those members of the community who are subject to the influences of material conditions of history. The Guide, however, is addressed to individuals capable of realizing the ideal of love of God despite the political conditions of their community. The Guide is an attempt to train the individual to achieve the essential telos of messianism, olam ha-ba, within a non-messianic world. As a unit, the Guide and the Mishneh Torah reflect how the pursuit of individual excellence was meant to be cultivated along with a deep commitment to community.

     We have shown how the talmudic models of love and fear and the eschatological categories of olam ha-ba and messianism were used by Maimonides. He developed an approach to Judaism capable of dynamically integrating two theological models which emerged from the study of nature and the study of Sinai. We are now prepared to examine how the halakhic observances of the am ha-areẓ and the ḥasid reflect these two models.

     Chapter one established, that according to Maimonides, the Halakhah and Aggadah of the Talmud reflect the tradition’s way of guiding the community and the individual toward God. One can claim, as Strauss does, that Halakhah, more than the Aggadah, reflects the true picture of the Jewish tradition. In emphasizing the primacy of Aggadah, therefore, Maimonides does not reflect the spirit of the tradition. However, the Aggadah was not Maimonides’ only basis for establishing the significance of philosophy for the tradition. There are differences between the community and the uncommon individual—both in their understanding of Aggadah and in their practice of Halakhah.

     Of course, there are many subtle distinctions within the internal system of halakhic obligation, but we will simply attempt to illustrate here two conceptions of Halakhah which reflect the practices of community and of the singular individual.

     The concept of halakhic obligation in the tradition has both a collective and a singular meaning. Halakhah is a system of laws prescribing actions which every member of the community must follow. The obligatory character of the system is based upon the acceptance by Jews of the legislative authority of God and of those human authorities who are recognized as His legitimate agents. Obligations based on the legal authority of God do not exhaust the scope of the Halakhah. Besides the precise, detailed system of standards which obligates every individual in the community to specific actions, in Maimonides’ Hilkhot De’ot there is another description of the essence of halakhic life:

     A man should aim to maintain physical health and vigor, in order that his soul may be upright, in a condition to know God. For it is impossible for one to understand sciences and meditate upon them, when he is hungry or sick, or when any of his limbs is aching. And in cohabitation, one should set one’s heart on having a son who may become a Sage and a great man in Israel. Whoever throughout his life follows this course will be continually serving God, even while engaged in business and even during cohabitation, because his purpose in all that he does will be to satisfy his needs, so as to have a sound body with which to serve God. Even when he sleeps and seeks repose, to calm his mind and rest his body, so as not to fall sick and be incapacitated from serving God, his sleep is service of the Almighty. In thise sense, our wise men charged us, “Let all thy deeds be for the sake of God” (Avot 2:17). And Solomon, in his wisdom, said, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (
Prov. 3:6) ISBN-13: 978-9652233196

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     October 21

     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

     How often when individuals pray to be searched and tried, God gives them opportunities to prove if they love their neighbors as themselves—to see if they will share the profits where there is money to be made, or whether they will dip their hands into their neighbors’ pockets. These are golden opportunities for us to know ourselves and are designed to search us to the bottoms of our hearts.

     Often, God so arranges it that [you] can take advantage of others without danger to [your] own reputation. Now is the time of trial—see whether it is the love of God or the fear of society that motivates you. Suppose that someone has, at your store, paid too much, and it is never likely to be found out, or suppose you have found something in the street, and you can keep it or restore it as you please. These are searchings from God, and how completely such circumstances show your true character! Now suppose that instead of finding the Spirit of Christ exhibiting himself, you demonstrate the opposite spirit and resort to some selfish reasonings to quiet your conscience. Well, it is written upon you, Mene, Mene, Tekel—weighed on the scales and found wanting (see
Dan. 5:25, 27).

     God often allows people to accumulate property that they may have an opportunity to extend the cause of truth and righteousness in the earth. Those who profess Christianity acknowledge themselves to be only stewards for God—that everything they possess is his and, consequently, is at his disposal. Now [do] these people act in harmony with their professions? Well, God often tries them to see if they are acting the hypocrite or not.

     God in his providence often causes us to suffer losses by some means, just to see whether we will regard these losses as God’s or our own. Look at someone who once had large property to manage and by some means lost it all, and that person goes about saying, I have sustained such and such great losses. We may profess that it belongs to God and even deceive ourselves into the belief that we are sincere, but when a loss occurs, it often shows us that we did not regard it as God’s but our own.
--- Charles G. Finney

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

On This Day   October 21
     My God, I Am Thine

     James Hannington grew up peacefully enough near Brighton, England, working in his father’s countinghouse. But then he entered the ministry and offered himself to the Church Missionary Society. His first trip to Africa was interrupted by sickness. After recovering, he made a second attempt and arrived off the African coast July 23, 1884. He started inland toward Uganda, but he unwittingly chose the most dangerous path imaginable. Compatriots sent runners after him, but they arrived too late. Hannington was seized by warriors of the lawless Mwanga tribe. His small diary, crammed with tiny handwriting, is among the most moving missionary documents on record.

     October 21, 1885. About 20 ruffians set upon us. They violently threw me to the ground. Twice I nearly broke away from them, then grew faint from struggling and was dragged by the legs over the ground, my clothes torn to pieces, wet through, strained in every limb, expecting death.

     October 22. In a fair-sized hut, but with no ventilation, floor covered with rotting banana peel and leaves and lice, fearfully shaken, scarce power to hold a small Bible. Shall I live through it? My God, I am Thine.

     October 23. I woke full of pain and weak. I don’t see how I can stand all this, yet I don’t want to give in.

     October 27. I am very low; it looks so dark. I don’t know what to think, and would say from the heart, “Let the Lord do what seemeth Him good.”

     October 28. A terrible night, first with my drunken guard and secondly with insects, which have found my tent and swarm. I don’t think I got one hour’s sleep, and woke with fever fast developing. O Lord, do have mercy upon me and release me. I am quite broken down and brought low. Comforted by reading Psalm 27.

     October 29. I was held up by Psalm 30, which came with great power. A hyena howled near me last night, smelling a sick man, but I hope it is not to have me.

     That was his last entry. That day they killed him.

  You, LORD, are the light that keeps me safe.
  I am not afraid of anyone.
  You protect me, and I have no fears.
  Brutal people may attack and try to kill me,
  But they will stumble. …
  Armies may surround me, but I won’t be afraid;
  War may break out, but I will trust you.
  Psalm 27:1-3

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 21

     “The love of Christ constraineth us.” --- 2 Corinthians 5:14.

     How much owest thou unto my Lord? Has he ever done anything for thee? Has he forgiven thy sins? Has he covered thee with a robe of righteousness? Has he set thy feet upon a rock? Has he established thy goings? Has he prepared heaven for thee? Has he prepared thee for heaven? Has he written thy name in his book of life? Has he given thee countless blessings? Has he laid up for thee a store of mercies, which eye hath not seen nor ear heard? Then do something for Jesus worthy of his love. Give not a mere wordy offering to a dying Redeemer. How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for him, but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, neither flowing forth to his poor or to his work. Out on such love as that! What do men think of a love which never shows itself in action? Why, they say, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” Who will accept a love so weak that it does not actuate you to a single deed of self-denial, of generosity, of heroism, or zeal! Think how he has loved you, and given himself for you! Do you know the power of that love? Then let it be like a rushing mighty wind to your soul to sweep out the clouds of your worldliness, and clear away the mists of sin. “For Christ’s sake” be this the tongue of fire that shall sit upon you: “for Christ’s sake” be this the divine rapture, the heavenly afflatus to bear you aloft from earth, the divine spirit that shall make you bold as lions and swift as eagles in your Lord’s service. Love should give wings to the feet of service, and strength to the arms of labour. Fixed on God with a constancy that is not to be shaken, resolute to honour him with a determination that is not to be turned aside, and pressing on with an ardour never to be wearied, let us manifest the constraints of love to Jesus. May the divine loadstone draw us heavenward towards itself.

          Evening - October 21

     “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” --- Luke 24:38.

     “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest O Israel, my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?” The Lord cares for all things, and the meanest creatures share in his universal providence, but his particular providence is over his saints. “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him.” “Precious shall their blood be in his sight.” “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.” Let the fact that, while he is the Saviour of all men, he is specially the Saviour of them that believe, cheer and comfort you. You are his peculiar care; his regal treasure which he guards as the apple of his eye; his vineyard over which he watches day and night. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Let the thought of his special love to you be a spiritual pain-killer, a dear quietus to your woe: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God says that as much to you as to any saint of old. “Fear not, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” We lose much consolation by the habit of reading his promises for the whole church, instead of taking them directly home to ourselves. Believer, grasp the divine word with a personal, appropriating faith. Think that you hear Jesus say, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” Think you see him walking on the waters of thy trouble, for he is there, and he is saying, “Fear not, it is I; be not afraid.” Oh, those sweet words of Christ! May the Holy Ghost make you feel them as spoken to you; forget others for awhile—accept the voice of Jesus as addressed to you, and say, “Jesus whispers consolation; I cannot refuse it; I will sit under his shadow with great delight.”

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

Amazing Grace
     October 21


     John S. B. Monsell, 1811–1875

     Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)

     As Christians, one of our chief characteristics should be courage, especially when it involves our spiritual defense of the Gospel. How easily, however, our noble intentions for this kind of fortitude are changed into attitudes of despair and defeat because of annoying circumstances, the secular media, or disappointment in others. To avoid these courage-defeating forces, we must have our “inner man” renewed daily with spiritual nourishment. We cannot be truly strong if we do not gain the inner strength that comes from God.

     When John Monsell wrote this hymn text, he provided ten strong imperatives for a triumphant Christian life: 1) Fight the good fight; 2) Lay hold of life; 3) Run the straight race; 4) Lift up thine eyes; 5) Seek His face; 6) Cast care aside; 7) Lean on thy Guide; 8) Trust and prove; 9) Faint not nor fear; and 10) Only believe. Each of these is worthy of further pondering.

     John Monsell was an Anglican clergyman who published a hymnal in 1863 titled Love and Praise for the Church Year. In that song book this hymn first appeared under the title “The Fight for Faith.” This respected man of the pulpit was also known as a strong advocate of vigorous congregational singing, constantly persuading his people that congregational singing should be fervent and joyous. “We are too distant and reserved in our praises,” he would say. “We sing, but not as we should sing to Him who is the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely.” Perhaps there is a stronger relationship between our times of joyous praise and our ability to “fight the good fight” than we generally realize.

     Fight the good fight with all thy might! Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right; lay hold on life, and it shall be thy joy and crown eternally.
     Run the straight race through God’s good grace. Lift up thine eyes and seek His face; life with its way before us lies; Christ is the path and Christ the prize.
     Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide; His boundless mercy will provide; trust and thy trusting soul shall prove Christ is its life and Christ its love.
     Faint not nor fear; His arms are near; He changeth not, and thou art dear; only believe, and thou shalt see that Christ is all in all to thee.

     For Today: Deuteronomy 31:6; Romans 8:36–39; 1 Corinthians 16:13

     Allow God to renew your inner man through quiet meditation with His Word and a time of communion with Him. Reflect on these musical truths ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, October 21, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 23, Saturday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 20, 21:1–7 (8–13)
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 110:1–5 (6–7) 116, 117
Old Testament     2 Kings 25:8–12, 22–26
New Testament     1 Corinthians 15:12–29
Gospel     Matthew 11:7–15

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 20, 21:1–7 (8–13)

To the leader. A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your offerings,
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices.     Selah

4 May he grant you your heart’s desire,
and fulfill all your plans.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory,
and in the name of our God set up our banners.
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with mighty victories by his right hand.
7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They will collapse and fall,
but we shall rise and stand upright.

9 Give victory to the king, O LORD;
answer us when we call.

1 In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD,
and in your help how greatly he exults!
2 You have given him his heart’s desire,
and have not withheld the request of his lips.     Selah
3 For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life; you gave it to him—
length of days forever and ever.
5 His glory is great through your help;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6 You bestow on him blessings forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

[     8 Your hand will find out all your enemies;
your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9 You will make them like a fiery furnace
when you appear.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their offspring from the earth,
and their children from among humankind.
11 If they plan evil against you,
if they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 For you will put them to flight;
you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!
We will sing and praise your power.     ]

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 110:1–5 (6–7) 116, 117

1 The LORD says to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The LORD sends out from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your foes.
3 Your people will offer themselves willingly
on the day you lead your forces
on the holy mountains.
From the womb of the morning,
like dew, your youth will come to you.
4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.

[     6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter heads
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the stream by the path;
therefore he will lift up his head.     ]

1 I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, save my life!”

5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6 The LORD protects the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest,
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9 I walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
10 I kept my faith, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my consternation,
“Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the LORD
for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
16 O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!

1 Praise the LORD, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
2 Kings 25:8–12, 22–26

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

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

New Testament
1 Corinthians 15:12–29

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

Matthew 11:7–15

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,

  ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
       who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 Let anyone with ears listen!

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

I Am the Bread of Life John 6:32-59
John MacArthur

The Pathology of False Disciples 1 John 6
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The Pathology of False Disciples 2 John 6
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Continuing Christ’s Work 1 Acts 1:1-3
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The Pathology of False Disciples 3 John 6:60-71
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Keeping the Divine Timetable John 7:1-13
John MacArthur

Continuing Christ’s Work 2 Acts 1:4-11
John MacArthur

Shut Out of Heaven Forever John 7:25-36
John MacArthur

The Birth of the Church 1 Acts 2:1-3
John MacArthur

The Birth of the Church 2 Acts 2:4-5
John MacArthur

The Glorious Gospel Invitation John 7:37-52
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Embracing the Claims of Christ John 7:14-24
John MacArthur

Replacing Judas Acts 1:12-26
John MacArthur

A Plan for Dying in Your Sins John 8:21-25
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I Am the Light of the World John 8:12-21
John MacArthur

Birth of the Church 3 Acts 2:5-21
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Elements of a Living Sacrifice Rom 12:1-2
John MacArthur

Freedom of True Discipleship John 8:31-36
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God and Good vs. Evil
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God and the Presidency
John MacArthur

Same-Sex Marriage Ban?
John MacArthur

Willful Submission of Christian Wife Eph 5:22-24
John MacArthur

Blind for the Glory of God John 9:1-12
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Preaching Jesus of Nazareth 2 Acts 2:14-36
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Jesus Provokes His Enemies John 8:48-59
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Preaching Jesus of Nazareth 3 Acts 2:14-36
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Husbands, Love Your Wives Eph 5:25-33
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False Assurance of the Religious John 8:37-47
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When Unbelief Investigates a Miracle John 9:13-34
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The Ordinary Church Acts 2:42–47
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