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Jeremiah 26 thru Jeremiah 29
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Jeremiah’s Prophecies in the Temple (Cp Jer 7.1—15)

Jeremiah 26:1     At the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, this word came from the Lord: 2 Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord; speak to them all the words that I command you; do not hold back a word. 3 It may be that they will listen, all of them, and will turn from their evil way, that I may change my mind about the disaster that I intend to bring on them because of their evil doings. 4 You shall say to them: Thus says the Lord: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, 5 and to heed the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently—though you have not heeded— 6 then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth. 7 The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. 8 And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die! 9 Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

     10 When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of the Lord and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the Lord. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.”

     12 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “It is the Lord who sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. 13 Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you. 14 But as for me, here I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. 15 Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the Lord sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”

     16 Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.” 17 And some of the elders of the land arose and said to all the assembled people, 18 “Micah of Moresheth, who prophesied during the days of King Hezekiah of Judah, said to all the people of Judah: ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts,

Zion shall be plowed as a field;
Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,
and the mountain of the house a wooded height.’

     19 Did King Hezekiah of Judah and all Judah actually put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and did not the Lord change his mind about the disaster that he had pronounced against them? But we are about to bring great disaster on ourselves!

     20 There was another man prophesying in the name of the Lord, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied against this city and against this land in words exactly like those of Jeremiah. 21 And when King Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the officials, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and escaped to Egypt. 22 Then King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Achbor and men with him to Egypt, 23 and they took Uriah from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who struck him down with the sword and threw his dead body into the burial place of the common people.

     24 But the hand of Ahikam son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah so that he was not given over into the hands of the people to be put to death.

The Sign of the Yoke

Jeremiah 26:1     In the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. 2 Thus the Lord said to me: Make yourself a yoke of straps and bars, and put them on your neck. 3 Send word to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon by the hand of the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to King Zedekiah of Judah. 4 Give them this charge for their masters: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: This is what you shall say to your masters: 5 It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the people and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever I please. 6 Now I have given all these lands into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him even the wild animals of the field to serve him. 7 All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave.

     8 But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this king, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, then I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, says the Lord, until I have completed its destruction by his hand. 9 “You, therefore, must not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.” 10 For they are prophesying a lie to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land; I will drive you out, and you will perish. 11 But any nation that will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will leave on its own land, says the Lord, to till it and live there.

     12 I spoke to King Zedekiah of Judah in the same way: Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live. 13 Why should you and your people die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, as the Lord has spoken concerning any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? 14 Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are telling you not to serve the king of Babylon, for they are prophesying a lie to you. 15 I have not sent them, says the Lord, but they are prophesying falsely in my name, with the result that I will drive you out and you will perish, you and the prophets who are prophesying to you.

     16 Then I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus says the Lord: Do not listen to the words of your prophets who are prophesying to you, saying, “The vessels of the Lord’s house will soon be brought back from Babylon,” for they are prophesying a lie to you. 17 Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon and live. Why should this city become a desolation? 18 If indeed they are prophets, and if the word of the Lord is with them, then let them intercede with the Lord of hosts, that the vessels left in the house of the Lord, in the house of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem may not go to Babylon. 19 For thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, the sea, the stands, and the rest of the vessels that are left in this city, 20 which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did not take away when he took into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem— 21 thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels left in the house of the Lord, in the house of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem: 22 They shall be carried to Babylon, and there they shall stay, until the day when I give attention to them, says the Lord. Then I will bring them up and restore them to this place.

Hananiah Opposes Jeremiah and Dies

Jeremiah 28:1     In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. 4 I will also bring back to this place King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”

     5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; 6 and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7 But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

     10 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, and broke it. 11 And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: This is how I will break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” At this, the prophet Jeremiah went his way.

     12 Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 Go, tell Hananiah, Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars only to forge iron bars in place of them! 14 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put an iron yoke on the neck of all these nations so that they may serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and they shall indeed serve him; I have even given him the wild animals. 15 And the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you made this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the Lord: I am going to send you off the face of the earth. Within this year you will be dead, because you have spoken rebellion against the Lord.”

     17 In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.

Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles in Babylon

Jeremiah 29:1     These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah, and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah sent to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It said: 4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.

     10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

     15 Because you have said, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,”— 16 Thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who live in this city, your kinsfolk who did not go out with you into exile: 17 Thus says the Lord of hosts, I am going to let loose on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like rotten figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be an object of cursing, and horror, and hissing, and a derision among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they did not heed my words, says the Lord, when I persistently sent to you my servants the prophets, but they would not listen, says the Lord. 20 But now, all you exiles whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon, hear the word of the Lord: 21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying a lie to you in my name: I am going to deliver them into the hand of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, and he shall kill them before your eyes. 22 And on account of them this curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: “The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire,” 23 because they have perpetrated outrage in Israel and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them; I am the one who knows and bears witness, says the Lord.

The Letter of Shemaiah

     24 To Shemaiah of Nehelam you shall say: 25 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: In your own name you sent a letter to all the people who are in Jerusalem, and to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, and to all the priests, saying, 26 The Lord himself has made you priest instead of the priest Jehoiada, so that there may be officers in the house of the Lord to control any madman who plays the prophet, to put him in the stocks and the collar. 27 So now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who plays the prophet for you? 28 For he has actually sent to us in Babylon, saying, “It will be a long time; build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat what they produce.”

     29 The priest Zephaniah read this letter in the hearing of the prophet Jeremiah. 30 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 31 Send to all the exiles, saying, Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah of Nehelam: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, though I did not send him, and has led you to trust in a lie, 32 therefore thus says the Lord: I am going to punish Shemaiah of Nehelam and his descendants; he shall not have anyone living among this people to see the good that I am going to do to my people, says the Lord, for he has spoken rebellion against the Lord.

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

What I'm Reading

Is There Life Out There? (Interview with Jeff Zweerink)

By J. Warner Wallace 10/24/2017

     Between novels, movies and television series, some of the most popular story lines involve extra-terrestrial beings living on exotic planets somewhere in the universe. The notion of alien life in the cosmos has captured our creative imagination and our scientific focus. If you’re like me, you’ve probably given the possibility of extra-terrestrial beings some serious thought. You may also have wondered if the existence of such beings would significantly impact the claims of Christianity. If aliens do live somewhere in the universe, would their existence disprove the Christian worldview? Well, Jeff Zweerink, an astrophysicist and Senior Research Scholar at Reasons to Believe, has written a new book that will inform and help Christians think clearly about the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Is There Life Out There? is a fascinating and informative book, so I asked Jeff to answer a few questions:

     J. Warner: | Jeff, can you tell our audience a little bit about your professional background and your ministry experience?

     Jeff: | From my earliest memories, I have loved understanding how things work. Growing up, I planned to follow in my dad’s footsteps and pursue a chemistry career. While I find chemistry fascinating, I loved my first physics class in high school. So, I went to Iowa State University and received a BS in physics with minors in astronomy and mathematics. In graduate school, my focus shifted slightly to high-energy astrophysics where I investigated objects that emit gamma rays with millions of times more energy than those that produced the Incredible Hulk. I now work for Reasons to Believe (RTB)—an organization seeking to bring the gospel to those people interested in science. A large part of my job at RTB entails speaking and writing about intriguing topics where science and theology overlap, like my most recent book    Is There Life Out There?   ?

     J. Warner: |This is a very interesting topic, but not one I’ve seen addressed in many books. Can you tell me why you decided to write an entire book about it?

     Jeff: | Two things conspired to bring this topic to my attention. First, astronomers started finding planets outside the solar system just over two decades ago. Since the initial discovery in 1992, they have found thousands of planets orbiting distant suns. These advances bring us closer (from a scientific perspective) to having actual data regarding how unique life on Earth is. Second, it seems like the topic of life in the universe fascinates lots of people. I noted a common theme in many of those discussions. Many Christians and non-Christians seem to think that the discovery of life “out there” would seriously undermine the truth of Christianity. To my knowledge, there are no books that describe the incredible advances in the search for planets beyond the solar system and how those discoveries impact the Christian faith.

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

Is God a Megalomaniac?

By John Piper 10/25/2017

     We have an email here from a mom named Coleen who is writing in on behalf of her son. And for the sake of anonymity of him, as a minor, I am not going to use his name here. Coleen, his mother, writes in to ask this. “Dear Pastor John, I am hoping you can help us with regards to the topic of God being a megalomaniac, which is what our fifteen-year-old son currently believes. We’ve talked about this, and he has said that you may be the only person who can change his thinking. Because of the Westminster Catechism’s answer to the chief end of man, he now believes that God is somehow weak and has an enormous ego, that he created human beings so they will worship him. That God is too ‘needy.’ My son wants to enjoy other things more than God and thinks ‘programming’ people to find their greatest happiness in worshiping him is coercive, mean, manipulative, and wrong.”

     I don’t know Coleen’s son’s name, but for convenience sake, I’m going to call him Joe, and speak directly to him. According to his mom, Joe believes six things. What she doesn’t say, and if I were having a conversation with Joe, the first thing I would ask is probably, what are you basing your view of God on? Are you making it up? Are you trusting some human teacher? Are you deducing it from nature, and the logical use of nature? Or are you basing it on God’s word in Scripture? And how he answers that question would probably affect how I answer.

     But, since I don’t know, I’m just going to rest my case with God’s word, since I regard all those other sources as very unlikely sources of reliable information about infinite reality, especially the source of my own head. I think if we are going to know anything about God for sure, God has to tell us. There’s no other way to know. We need both the word and the Spirit’s opening our hearts to see what’s really there. So let me say a word about the six things that I see Joe apparently believes about God.

     Strong God | First, he believes God is somehow weak. According to Scripture, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5). Job says, “The Almighty — we cannot find him; he is great in power” (Job 37:23). In fact, Job comes to the end of his book with this overriding conviction: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

     In Isaiah 46:9–10, God himself puts it like this, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’”

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     John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

John Piper Books:

For the Bible Tells Me So: Biblical Authority Denied … Again

By Albert Mohler 9/26/2016

     “Jesus loves me — this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” This is a childish error?

     Evangelical Christianity has a big problem, says Andy Stanley, and that problem is a reliance on the Bible that is both unwarranted and unhelpful. In a recent message delivered at North Point Community Church and posted online, Stanley identifies the evangelical impulse to turn to the Bible in our defense and presentation of Christianity as a huge blunder that must be corrected.

     Some years ago, in light of another message Stanley preached at North Point, I argued that his apologetic ambition was, as we saw with Protestant liberalism a century ago, a road that will lead to disaster. No doubt, many Christians might be surprised to see an apologetic ambition identified as an entry point for theological liberalism, but this has held constant since Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of modern theological liberalism, issued his book, Schleiermacher: On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) in 1799.

     In the wake of the Enlightenment, Schleiermacher understood that the intellectual elites in Germany were already turning a skeptical eye to Christianity, if not dismissing it altogether. The Enlightenment worldview was hostile to supernatural claims, suspicious of any claims to absolute truth beyond empirical science, and dismissive of any verbal form of divine revelation.

     No problem, Schleiermacher responded — we can still salvage spiritual and moral value out of Christianity while jettisoning its troublesome doctrinal claims, supernatural structure, and dependence upon the Bible. He was certain that his strategy would “save” Christianity from irrelevance.

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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:

What is Lordship Salvation, and what do you think of it?

By John Hendryx 10/19/2017

     I have read some critical remarks of Lordship salvation which have some validity. These criticisms have indeed been true with some erroneous presentations of Lordship that appear to be nothing more than a works-based based gospel which give the impression that salvation, at least partly, has to do with our commitment every bit as much as Christ's cross. However, just like any doctrine, things tend to go awry when humans are involved... but if understood rightly, biblically I believe that it actually conforms to the Reformed confessions and, more importantly, to the Bible's central message of salvation by grace alone in Christ alone. Because of this I wish to write a very short piece to bring some clarity to the issue.

     What is Lordship? | When the Holy Spirit touches or quickens a person's heart, they recognize immediately that because of their sinful rebellion against a Holy God, that they justly deserve the His wrath and know sin to be their greatest burden and enemy. Yet being in captivity and bondage to it, they despair of all hope in their flesh (Phil 3:3), knowing there is nothing they can do to save themselves. So they appeal to Christ Jesus as their only hope to deliver them from both the guilt and power of sin. They know only He can save them from God's wrath and sin's captivity. That is why he is called the Savior.

     The sinner whom the Spirit applies Christ's redemption does not say, "Jesus, forgive my sin but leave me in the grip of its power." That is a sure sign of a spurious conversion. No, a regenerate person who is united to Christ wants to be rid of that which breaks God's heart but know he is utterly helpless in himself to free himself. He knows Jesus alone has the power to free the captives. By the very calling on Jesus to deliver him from sin's tyranny, the quickened man reveals a renewed heart that no longer has allegiance to sin, but to Christ. Sin is no longer Lord, Jesus is Lord! In fact he will continually come to God in prayer knowing he has no strength in himself to fight sin, but appeals to Jesus to deliver him from it.

     If a person simply wants their guilt removed so they can escape from hell but does not want to be rid of the sin which is what put them there in the first place, and this is the pattern of their life, it reveals an uncircumcised heart (Deut 29:4). The regenerate believer, who a new heart, loves God so will fight against sin and mourn over the breaking of God's law for the rest of his life (Deut 30:6). He will stumble, and know himself to daily woefully fall short of God's holy standard, but will never fall away altogether (Psalm 37:24) for the Spirit works in him a desire to confess sin and do that which is pleasing to God. (1 Cor 11:31-32) It is not the perfection of his life which determines that he yields to Christ as Lord, but the Spirit driven direction of his life. He trusts in Christ alone for his standing before God and trusts in Christ alone to enable him to fight sin. Jesus has conscripted you in His army against it, first in your own heart and then in the world.

     So, in short, Lordship salvation is not our commitment that saves us but Christ who grants me a renewed heart which wants to be delivered from sin in all its forms. Where people tend to go wrong on this issue is when they have a low view of the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration on the one hand (no Lordship,antinomianism) or too high a view of the fallen sinners native ability to follow Christ (Moralism, Legalism). The opposite of "easy believism" is not "hard believism" but "impossible believism" (1 Cor 12:3, 1 Cor 2:14). But thanks be to God, "what is impossible with man is possible with God."(Luke 18:27) A regenerate man recognizes his own spiritual impotence but also that the power of the resurrected Christ in him gives him the the only resource to overcome sin.

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     John Hendryx

20 Great ‘Protestant’ Films

By Brett McCracken 10/27/2017

     The legacy of the Protestant Reformation—marking its 500th anniversary this month—has echoed down through the centuries in almost every area of life. But what about the movies? Where has the story and spirit of Protestantism been seen on screen?

     Though there have been countless films with Protestant characters (sadly, often villains), a handful of movies about Martin Luther, and at least one recent documentary on Calvinism, what films have captured well, if less directly, the best parts of Protestantism? 

     I asked a handful of Christian film writers and scholars to consider this question and suggest films that seem either overtly Protestant or that provide a compelling picture of a Protestant principle, particularly sola gratia—the notion that salvation comes not by works but through the unmerited gift of grace. 

     Here are 20 we came up with: films that may not be “religious” but nevertheless spark theological reflection and speak to the Reformation’s big ideas:

     Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955): Shot in a slow, minimalist visual style that echoes the spare landscape, stern piety, and repressed emotions of its rural Denmark setting, Dreyer’s film is demanding but worth the effort. Ordet (Danish for “The Word”) visualizes the central Protestant idea that salvation consists in having a personal relationship with Jesus, not merely being a member of the “right” religious institution. Every Christian individual is called to devote his or her entire life to the radical pursuit of Christ, and Dreyer reminds us just how “insane”—indeed, how miraculous—such scandalous personal faith is bound to appear, even in a so-called “Christian culture.” [Watch on Filmstruck] — John McAteer (Ashford University)

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     Brett McCracken is a senior editor at The Gospel Coalition and author of Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian CommunityGray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism and Liberty, and Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide. Brett and his wife, Kira, live in Santa Ana, California. They belong to Southlands Church, where Brett serves as an elder. You can follow him on Twitter.

If Only

By Jon Bloom 10/27/2017

     If only I could find my soulmate to marry. If only my mate felt like my soulmate. If only I could find that friend who really understands and accepts me for who I am. If only I could pursue the career I really want. If only my church were more [fill in the blank]. If only I weren’t so [fill in the blank]. If only I lived [fill in the blank]. If only I had [fill in the blank]. If only my family [fill in the blank]. If only [fill in the blank] hadn’t happened to me.

     What are your if only’s? We all have them, because if only’s are a form of regret, and regrets are simply unavoidable in our experience — though not all of them are unavoidable. Some are nothing more than delusions.

     Either way, we must take care with our regrets, because, whether based on something real or fantastic, they can erode our faith in God by subtly shifting our faith from God to our regrets — and that is truly regrettable.

     Real Regrets | When I say that some of our regrets are unavoidable, here’s what I mean:

     1. We are sinners who, even as regenerate believers in Jesus, are committing or omitting sin in greater or lesser degrees all the time, and this scorns God and damages ourselves and others to greater or lesser degrees.

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     Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.

Jon Bloom Books:

A gracious God and a neurotic monk

By Stephen J. Nichols 10/28/2017

     One classic fable tells of a competition between the north wind and the sun: Who is stronger? Who can make a passing traveler remove his cloak? The north wind blows hard, but the traveler only wraps his cloak tighter around him. When the sun shines, though, the traveler takes off his cloak. Moral of the story: Persuasion is better than pressure, which is often true when humans are concerned. But Martin Luther knew that God uses both. Stephen J. Nichols, in The Legacy of Luther by R.C. Sproul (2016-10-03), a book he co-edited with R.C. Sproul (Reformation Trust, 2016), describes Luther as neurotically fearful and God as omnisciently gracious. God knew what pressure would get Luther’s attention, and make him understand that our problem is sin, not “sins in the plural. … If sin is quantified, then we look to merits or graces as the remedy.” Why is that so? Please read on. —Marvin Olasky

     Erfurt: Becoming a Monk | During the course of his early studies, young Martin excelled, distinguishing himself from his classmates. These accomplishments opened the door for him to study at Erfurt. By the time Luther started there, the university was already more than a century old. The town, with a population hovering around twenty thousand, had industry, trade, and an extensive network of monasteries and churches. By 1502, Martin had earned his bachelor’s degree. Three years later, he took his master’s degree. He also took a Latinized form of his last name. He was now Martin Luther. He stayed in Erfurt, preparing for his doctorate in law.

     Amid all of these academic accomplishments, Luther experienced intense struggles in his soul. No matter how much he experienced success, he could not escape the anxiety he felt. The German word for this anxiety is Anfechtung. It could be translated as “trial” or “affliction.” Roland Bainton expresses the difficulty in grasping this word when he observes, “There is no English equivalent.” Anfechtung refers to a deeply seated soul struggle. Bainton adds, “It may be a trial sent by God to test man, or an assault by the Devil to destroy man.”1 For Luther, we need to use the plural, Anfechtungen, as these crises of the soul came often. As his contemporaries did, Luther looked at spirituality and salvation as a contest between sins and merits. And it was a contest he nearly always lost.

     In the summer of 1505, Luther traveled to his family’s home in Mansfeld for an extended visit. On his way back to Erfurt, he got caught in a violent thunderstorm. He presumed the storm to be God’s judgment on his soul. While at his family’s home, he more than likely spent time before the family altar, the shrine to St. Anne. Now, in the clutches of the storm, he cried out to her, “Help me, St. Anne, and I will become a monk!” She was the only mediator he knew.

     A stone to the east of Stotternheim marks the place. Luther’s appeal to St. Anne is carved in the face of the granite. When Luther survived the storm and made his way back to Erfurt, he kept the words of promise. He turned his back on the law and became a monk.

Click here to read all of the article

     Dr. Stephen J. Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College, chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and a Ligonier teaching fellow. He is on Twitter @DrSteveNichols

Dr. Stephen J. Nichols Books (some):

  • Messiah’s Mission
  • Resurrection Believers
  • Rapture Resurrection

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Words to Live By in Troubled Times (1)
     (Oct 29)    Bob Gass

     ‘The word of our God stands forever.’

(Is 40:8) 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. ESV

     For the next few days let’s renew our minds with some of the wonderful promises God has given to us through His Word. Let’s not just read them casually, but process them slowly, deeply, prayerfully and repeatedly, letting the truth of them change our thinking and strengthen our faith. 1) ‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD’ (Isaiah 54:17 NKJV). 2) ‘The LORD…is with you; never again will you fear any harm…he is mighty to save. He will…deal with all who oppressed you’ (Zephaniah 3:15-19< NIV 1984 Edition). 3) ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king…With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us…fight our battles’ (2 Chronicles 32:7-8 NIV 2011 Edition). 4) ‘My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my…fortress, I shall never be shaken’ (Psalm 62:1-2 NIV 1984 Edition). 5) ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand’ (Philippians 4:6-7 TLB). 6) ‘For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV).

Luke 20:27-47
Ps 110-112

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     October 29, 1929, the New York Stock Exchange crashed, panic selling ensued and America plunged into the Great Depression. President Herbert Hoover, in a nation-wide drive to aid the private relief agencies, stated: “Time and time again the American people have demonstrated a spiritual quality… of generosity… This is the occasion when we must arouse that idealism… This civilization… which we call American life, is builded and can alone survive upon the translation into individual action of that fundamental philosophy announced by the Savior nineteen centuries ago… Modern society can not survive with the defense of Cain, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ ”

American Minute

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

     Chapter 1

     I am all in favor of your idea that we should go back to our old plan of having a more or less set subject – an agendum – for our letters. When we were last separated the correspondence languished for lack of it. How much better we did in our undergraduate days with our interminable letters on the Republic, and classical matters, and what was then the “new” psychology! Nothing makes an absent friend so present as disagreement.

     Prayer, which you suggest, is a subject that is a good deal in my mind. I mean, private prayer. If you were thinking of corporate prayer, I won’t play. There is no subject in the world (always excepting sport) on which I have less to say than liturgiology. And the almost nothing which I have to say may as well be disposed of in this letter.

     I think our business as laymen is to take what we are given and make the best of it. And I think we should find this a great deal easier if what we were given was always and everywhere the same.

     To judge from their practice, very few Anglican clergy­ men take this view. It looks as if they believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favor of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain-many give up churchgoing altogether-merely endure.

     Is this simply because the majority are hide-bound? I think not. They have a good reason for their conservatism. Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value. And they don't go to church to be entertained. They go to use the service, or, if you prefer, to enact it. Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best-if you like, it "works" best - when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

It were better to have no opinion of God at all,
than such an opinion as is unworthy of him.
--- Francis Bacon

What God does, He does well.
--- Jean de La Fontaine

But I always think
that the best way to know God
is to love many things.
--- Vincent van Gogh     Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 4.

     How Vespasian Was Received At Rome; As Also How The Germans Revolted From The Romans, But Were Subdued. That The Sarmatians Overran Mysia, But Were Compelled To Retire To Their Own Country Again.

     1. And now Titus Caesar, upon the news that was brought him concerning his father, that his coming was much desired by all the Italian cities, and that Rome especially received him with great alacrity and splendor, betook himself to rejoicing and pleasures to a great degree, as now freed from the solicitude he had been under, after the most agreeable manner. For all men that were in Italy showed their respects to him in their minds before he came thither, as if he were already come, as esteeming the very expectation they had of him to be his real presence, on account of the great desires they had to see him, and because the good-will they bore him was entirely free and unconstrained; for it was, desirable thing to the senate, who well remembered the calamities they had undergone in the late changes of their governors, to receive a governor who was adorned with the gravity of old age, and with the highest skill in the actions of war, whose advancement would be, as they knew, for nothing else but for the preservation of those that were to be governed. Moreover, the people had been so harassed by their civil miseries, that they were still more earnest for his coming immediately, as supposing they should then be firmly delivered from their calamities, and believed they should then recover their secure tranquillity and prosperity; and for the soldiery, they had the principal regard to him, for they were chiefly apprized of his great exploits in war; and since they had experienced the want of skill and want of courage in other commanders, they were very desirous to be free from that great shame they had undergone by their means, and heartily wished to receive such a prince as might be a security and an ornament to them. And as this good-will to Vespasian was universal, those that enjoyed any remarkable dignities could not have patience enough to stay in Rome, but made haste to meet him at a very great distance from it; nay, indeed, none of the rest could endure the delay of seeing him, but did all pour out of the city in such crowds, and were so universally possessed with the opinion that it was easier and better for them to go out than to stay there, that this was the very first time that the city joyfully perceived itself almost empty of its citizens; for those that staid within were fewer than those that went out. But as soon as the news was come that he was hard by, and those that had met him at first related with what good humor he received every one that came to him, then it was that the whole multitude that had remained in the city, with their wives and children, came into the road, and waited for him there; and for those whom he passed by, they made all sorts of acclamations, on account of the joy they had to see him, and the pleasantness of his countenance, and styled him their Benefactor and Savior, and the only person who was worthy to be ruler of the city of Rome. And now the city was like a temple, full of garlands and sweet odors; nor was it easy for him to come to the royal palace, for the multitude of the people that stood about him, where yet at last he performed his sacrifices of thanksgiving to his household gods for his safe return to the city. The multitude did also betake themselves to feasting; which feasts and drink-offerings they celebrated by their tribes, and their families, and their neighborhoods, and still prayed God to grant that Vespasian, his sons, and all their posterity, might continue in the Roman government for a very long time, and that his dominion might be preserved from all opposition. And this was the manner in which Rome so joyfully received Vespasian, and thence grew immediately into a state of great prosperity.

     2. But before this time, and while Vespasian was about Alexandria, and Titus was lying at the siege of Jerusalem, a great multitude of the Germans were in commotion, and tended to rebellion; and as the Gauls in their neighborhood joined with them, they conspired together, and had thereby great hopes of success, and that they should free themselves from the dominion of the Romans. The motives that induced the Germans to this attempt for a revolt, and for beginning the war, were these: In the first place, the nature [of the people], which was destitute of just reasonings, and ready to throw themselves rashly into danger, upon small hopes; in the next place, the hatred they bore to those that were their governors, while their nation had never been conscious of subjection to any but to the Romans, and that by compulsion only. Besides these motives, it was the opportunity that now offered itself, which above all the rest prevailed with them so to do; for when they saw the Roman government in a great internal disorder, by the continual changes of its rulers, and understood that every part of the habitable earth under them was in an unsettled and tottering condition, they thought this was the best opportunity that could afford itself for themselves to make a sedition, when the state of the Romans was so ill. Classicus 6 also, and Vitellius, two of their commanders, puffed them up with such hopes. These had for a long time been openly desirous of such an innovation, and were induced by the present opportunity to venture upon the declaration of their sentiments; the multitude was also ready; and when these men told them of what they intended to attempt, that news was gladly received by them. So when a great part of the Germans had agreed to rebel, and the rest were no better disposed, Vespasian, as guided by Divine Providence, sent letters to Petilius Cerealis, who had formerly had the command of Germany, whereby he declared him to have the dignity of consul, and commanded him to take upon him the government of Britain; so he went whither he was ordered to go, and when he was informed of the revolt of the Germans, he fell upon them as soon as they were gotten together, and put his army in battle-array, and slew a great number of them in the fight, and forced them to leave off their madness, and to grow wiser; nay, had he not fallen thus suddenly upon them on the place, it had not been long ere they would however have been brought to punishment; for as soon as ever the news of their revolt was come to Rome, and Caesar Domitian was made acquainted with it, he made no delay, even at that his age, when he was exceeding young, but undertook this weighty affair. He had a courageous mind from his father, and had made greater improvements than belonged to such an age: accordingly he marched against the barbarians immediately; whereupon their hearts failed them at the very rumor of his approach, and they submitted themselves to him with fear, and thought it a happy thing that they were brought under their old yoke again without suffering any further mischiefs. When therefore Domitian had settled all the affairs of Gaul in such good order, that it would not be easily put into disorder any more, he returned to Rome with honor and glory, as having performed such exploits as were above his own age, but worthy of so great a father.

     3. At the very same time with the forementioned revolt of the Germans did the bold attempt of the Scythians against the Romans occur; for those Scythians who are called Sarmatians, being a very numerous people, transported themselves over the Danube into Mysia, without being perceived; after which, by their violence, and entirely unexpected assault, they slew a great many of the Romans that guarded the frontiers; and as the consular legate Fonteius Agrippa came to meet them, and fought courageously against them, he was slain by them. They then overran all the region that had been subject to him, tearing and rending every thing that fell in their way. But when Vespasian was informed of what had happened, and how Mysia was laid waste, he sent away Rubrius Gallus to punish these Sarmatians; by whose means many of them perished in the battles he fought against them, and that part which escaped fled with fear to their own country. So when this general had put an end to the war, he provided for the future security of the country also; for he placed more and more numerous garrisons in the place, till he made it altogether impossible for the barbarians to pass over the river any more. And thus had this war in Mysia a sudden conclusion.

     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 27:21
     by D.H. Stern

21     The crucible [tests] silver, and the furnace [tests] gold,
but a person [is tested] by [his reaction to] praise.

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


     He hath made Him to be sin for us, … that we might be made the righteousness of God. --- 2 Cor. 5:21.

     The modern view of the death of Jesus is that He died for our sins out of sympathy. The New Testament view is that He bore our sin not by sympathy, but by identification. He was made to be sin. Our sins are removed because of the death of Jesus, and the explanation of His death is His obedience to His Father, not His sympathy with us. We are acceptable with God not because we have obeyed, or because we have promised to give up things, but because of the death of Christ, and in no other way. We say that Jesus Christ came to reveal the Fatherhood of God, the loving-kindness of God; the New Testament says He came to bear away the sin of the world. The revelation of His Father is to those to whom He has been introduced as Saviour: Jesus Christ never spoke of Himself to the world as one Who revealed the Father, but as a stumbling-block (see
John 15:22–24 ). John 14:9 was spoken to His disciples.

     That Christ died for me, therefore I go scot free, is never taught in the New Testament. What is taught in the New Testament is that “He died for all” (not—He died my death), and that by identification with His death I can be freed from sin, and have imparted to me His very righteousness. The substitution taught in the New Testament is twofold: “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” It is not Christ for me unless I am determined to have Christ formed in me.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Small Country
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

The Small Country

Did I confuse the categories?
  Was I blind?
  Was I afraid of hubris
  in identifying this land
  with the kingdom? Those stories
  about the far journeys, when it was here
  at my door; the object
  of my contempt that became
  the toad with the jewel in its head!
  Was a population so small
  enough to be called, too many
  to be chosen? I called it
  an old man, ignoring the April
  message proclaiming: Behold,
  I make all things new.

  The dinosaurs have gone their way
  into the dark. The time-span
  of their human counterparts
  is shortened; everything
  on this shrinking planet favours the survival
  of the small people, whose horizons
  are large only because
          they are content to look at them
  from their own hills.
          I grow old,
  bending to enter the promised
  land that was here all the time,
  happy to eat the bread that was baked
  in the poets' oven, breaking my speech
  from the perennial tree
  of my people and holding it in my blind hand.


     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     After exhibiting concern that the prophet’s authority be accepted and followed at all costs, Maimonides qualifies his opinion by reference to an apparently trivial detail of Halakhah. The community is at war. Because of the command of the prophet, its members are plundering, killing, and being killed. Yet, within this context, Maimonides cautions one not to tie a permanent knot on the Sabbath unless it is necessary, for this act is prohibited by the Halakhah. Concern for this minute detail of religious ritual within the context of war appears absolutely absurd. The concern, however, expresses Maimonides’ feeling that obedience to the authority of the prophet must be circumscribed even in situations of stress. Obedience to the political authority of the prophet, under the conditions presented, could become total and lead to the reaction that everything else is permitted. In the situation described, a natural and human response to expect from the community would be the feeling that if some aspects of life are upset, everything, therefore, is permitted. But Maimonides insists that one must never relax one’s ability to discriminate. One obeys the prophet only to whatever degree is necessary. Beyond that, other obligations remain intact.

     Though the authority given to the prophet is enormous, the prophet is powerless regarding issues not in his domain. His authority ceases when he participates in rational discourse with scholars. As a prophet, he may initiate a war, but he may not decide whether the Sabbath limit is to be one cubit more or less. The juxtaposition of minute details of Halakhah with the life-and-death command to war focuses attention on a crucial principle: Prophecy has a role in Judaism, yet this role is not limitless. Even if the limits of prophetic authority are manifested in seemingly trivial minutiae of Halakhah, one must conscientiously ensure that these limits are not overstepped.

     Maimonides insists that the Jew must be aware of the exact scope of obedience to authority. He must not only discriminate among all the grounds of different norms, but he must also act on the basis of his discrimination. The security of routine or of a single type of response to religious norms is absent from the mind of the Halakhic Jew, according to Maimonides. The crux of his response is meticulous selectivity. He approaches Halakhah with principles for discriminating the scope and type of various commandments. Halakhic observance that is grounded in routine and uncritical obedience could not sustain the upsetting changes introduced by the prophet; people either would resist his demands or they would accept his disruptive demands in a manner which would destroy existing values. Only a reflective person could live with change in his religious life and still maintain an approach of discrimination as opposed to the all-or-nothing response of the uncritically obedient.

     From Maimonides’ first major legal work, we recognize the Jew which he believed emerged from Halakhah. In comparing Halakhic man to philosophic man it is not correct to claim that the former reflects the virtue of unthinking obedience and the latter the value of critical reflection.42 The Halakhah itself develops a disciplined, discriminating approach. A person who follows the prophet to war yet who refuses to unnecessarily tie a knot on the Sabbath, or who refuses prophetic authority for halakhic laws which are open to human reasoning, is the type of person who critically evaluates the claims of authority. The personality which Halakhah cultivates, according to Maimonides, is the same as that which emerges when the Jew is exposed to philosophy. The same critical discrimination characterizes the Jew’s attitude toward beliefs. We can now analyze Maimonides’ approach to beliefs and show how the anthropology which emerges from Halakhah is also manifested in the cognitive claims of Judaism.

     As a system which includes the notion of God’s revelation in history, Judaism is anchored, at least in part, on authoritarian claims. The belief in divine revelation—as well as numerous other principles which claim divine action in history—cannot be rationally demonstrated.43 Thus, among the fundamental principles of religion, there are those which must rely on the authority of tradition for their acceptance. Yet, according to Maimonides, other principles—such as God’s existence and non-corporeality—are capable of being demonstrated rationally.44

     In his introduction to Ḥelek, Maimonides does not distinguish between the logical status of those principles of Judaism which can be established by reason and those which rest on the authority of tradition. However, Maimonides must account for the acceptance of principles grounded in the authority of tradition if he is to maintain that Aggadah be included within a universal framework of truth. In The Guide of the Perplexed Maimonides does clarify the situation by offering definite criteria which justify one’s acceptance of beliefs based on the authority of tradition. Simply stated, Maimonides claims that appeals to authority are justified when it can be shown that demonstrative reason is not able to offer certainty. This is the method he uses when he argues with those who claim that the eternity of the world has been demonstrated by Aristotle:

     What I myself desire to make clear is that the world’s being created in time, according to the opinion of our Law—an opinion that I have already explained—is not impossible and that all those philosophic proofs from which it seems that the matter is different from what we have stated, all those arguments have a certain point through which they may be invalidated and the inference drawn from them against us shown to be incorrect. Now inasmuch as this is true in my opinion and inasmuch as this question—I mean to say that of the eternity of the world or its creation in time—becomes an open question, it should in my opinion be accepted without proof because of prophecy, which explains things to which it is not in the power of speculation to accede. For as we shall make clear, prophecy is not set at naught even in the opinion of those who believe in the eternity of the world.45

     Truths based upon demonstrative certainty, however, can never be contradicted by an appeal to prophetic authority:

     That the Deity is not a body has been demonstrated; from this it follows necessarily that everything that in its external meaning disagrees with this demonstration must be interpreted figuratively, for it is known that such texts are of necessity fit for figurative interpretation. However, the eternity of the world has not been demonstrated. Consequently, in this case, the texts ought not to be rejected and figuratively interpreted in order to make prevail an opinion whose contrary can be made to prevail by means of various sorts of arguments.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     October 29

     None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. --- 1 Corinthians 2:8

     In thinking of [Judas] we must start from this, that Christ loved Judas.   The Galilean Accent - Being Some Studies in the Christian Life   Christ believed in Judas, Christ chose Judas, with prayer and deliberation, as one of the Twelve whom he loved best to have beside him and of whom he hoped the most. Judas was a great soul—or had the makings. And when we come upon that horror, scarcely human, lying mangled there at the cliff foot, we look up and, with a shudder, see how high he once walked and from what he fell.

     The Gospel writers are, frankly, not fair to their fallen colleague. Always that ghastly end of his is there before their eyes, and from the very first they find it difficult to mention him without adding, “who betrayed him” (
Matt. 10:4).

     So doing, unconsciously they leave the impression that [Judas] was chosen for the traitor’s part, as an actor is cast to be the villain and is marked villain from the start. But it was far more terrible than that. It is a most noble nature that we watch crumble to ruin. How did it happen and Christ’s confident dreams and hopes for him go out in such a starless night?

     Some say that Judas’s sin was rather this—that Christ’s prolonged delay amazed him—set his mind arguing, “Isn’t there here a lack of nerve? Doesn’t he see the tide is at the full, and he must launch out now? That it is turning, that if anything is ever to be done, then it must be at once?” And still Christ let chance after chance, as Judas judged, go by and waited—and for what? Things were not growing better but much worse. The opposition of the leaders had been given time to harden. The people had lost much of that first passion of enthusiasm with which, had it been seized at once and rightly used, anything might have been done. Christ was drifting, Judas felt, straight on the rocks. But vigorous action even yet might save the situation, and he planned to bring Christ to a test that he could not evade, to place him in a position that would lay compulsion on him to take action. He had lost patience with Christ, thought his plans were bungling and crude and clumsy and by far too slow. Judas was looking for a shortcut; he thought that he had found it; he took it—and it ended in that horror and the cross!
--- Arthur John Gossip

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

On This Day   October 29
     The Archbishop’s Arrow

     Maurice Abbot was a clothier in a village 20 miles from London. One night his pregnant wife, Alice, dreamed that if she could catch a pike, her child would be a boy. She rushed to the nearby river and trapped a young pike in her pitcher. She cooked it, ate it, and on October 29, 1562, bore a son.

     The story spread through the superstitious town, and many people offered to finance the boy’s education. Consequently, George entered Oxford at age 16. The Abbots were staunch Protestants, and the young man entered the ministry. His powerful, Puritan-leaning sermons, though often dull, were always scholarly. When King James approved a new version of the Bible, George became a translator of the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation.

     In 1611, the year the King James Version was released, George became head of the Church of England, the archbishop of Canterbury—the only KJV translator to reach that office. When James died, it was Abbot who crowned the new king, Charles I. He thus became the only KJV translator to crown a monarch.

     But he was also the only translator and the only archbishop of Canterbury ever to kill a man. It happened when he joined friends in a hunting party, midsummer of 1621. Abbot was stout, stodgy, and unfamiliar with bows. When a buck came into sight, he drew back his arrow and let it fly. It flew right into poor Peter Harkins who quickly bled to death. All England was stunned, and many were critical of the archbishop, who was himself doubled over in grief. A special council absolved him of guilt, more or less; and the king issued a pardon. But many churchgoers whispered doubts about the holiness of a man who had killed another. Abbot soon became ill with “the stone and gravel,” and with gout. He began fasting every Tuesday in sorrow for his poor marksmanship. But he was never again well—or well-accepted by the people. Yet he still speaks to us every time we read the Gospels, Acts, or Revelation in the King James Version of the Bible.

   I am about to collapse from constant pain.
   I told you my sins, and I am sorry for them.
   Many deadly and powerful enemies hate me,
   And they repay evil for good because I try to do right.
   You are the LORD God!
   Stay nearby and don’t desert me.
   --- Psalm 38:17-21.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 29

     “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, etc.” --- Matthew 6:9.

     This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise, and go unto my Father.” This child-like spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven,” and ascends to devout adoration, “Hallowed be thy name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father,” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure outgrowth of filial love and reverent adoration—“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God—“Give us this day our daily bread.” Being further illuminated by the Spirit, he discovers that he is not only dependent, but sinful, hence he entreats for mercy, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors:” and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly supplicates for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.” The man who is really forgiven, is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts,” that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms. As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.” We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of his dominion there shall be no end. Thus from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us thus to pray.

          Evening - October 29

     “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” --- Luke 24:16.

     The disciples ought to have known Jesus, they had heard his voice so often, and gazed upon that marred face so frequently, that it is wonderful they did not discover him. Yet is it not so with you also? You have not seen Jesus lately. You have been to his table, and you have not met him there. You are in a dark trouble this Evening, and though he plainly says, “It is I, be not afraid,” yet you cannot discern him. Alas! our eyes are holden. We know his voice; we have looked into his face; we have leaned our head upon his bosom, and yet, though Christ is very near us, we are saying “O that I knew where I might find him!” We should know Jesus, for we have the Scriptures to reflect his image, and yet how possible it is for us to open that precious book and have no glimpse of the Wellbeloved! Dear child of God, are you in that state? Jesus feedeth among the lilies of the word, and you walk among those lilies, and yet you behold him not. He is accustomed to walk through the glades of Scripture, and to commune with his people, as the Father did with Adam in the cool of the day, and yet you are in the garden of Scripture, but cannot see him, though he is always there. And why do we not see him? It must be ascribed in our case, as in the disciples’, to unbelief. They evidently did not expect to see Jesus, and therefore they did not know him. To a great extent in spiritual things we get what we expect of the Lord. Faith alone can bring us to see Jesus. Make it your prayer, “Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may see my Saviour present with me.” It is a blessed thing to want to see him; but oh! it is better far to gaze upon him. To those who seek him he is kind; but to those who find him, beyond expression is he dear!

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

Amazing Grace
     October 29


     Franklin Mason North, 1850–1935

     Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:3, 4)

     Henry David Thoreau, noted American writer, philosopher, and naturalist of the past 19th century, once described the large city as “a place where people are lonely together.” This loneliness is not the result of an absence of people; rather, it is due to a lack of genuine caring relationships.

     If Thoreau’s observation was true in the past, it has become increasingly true in the present, and the prediction is that it will become alarmingly more so in the near future. In 1950 there were only seven cities in the world with more than five million people. Only two of these were in the Third World. Today there are 34 cities with more than five million people, 22 of which are in the Third World. And by the middle of the 21st century, there will be nearly 100 cities with at least five million people, with 80 of these in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Twenty percent of the world’s population will be living in the slums and squatter settlements of Third World countries.

     The author of this text, Franklin North, was a Methodist minister in New York City. He wrote this hymn in response to a request from the Methodist hymnal committee for a hymn about big city life, which Pastor North knew well and to which he was most sympathetic. The hymn first appeared in 1903 in the publication The Christian City, of which North was the editor. God help us to be people with sensitivity and compassion.

     Where cross the crowded ways of life, where sound the cries of race and clan, above the noise of selfish strife, we hear Thy voice, O Son of man!
     The cup of water giv’n for Thee still holds the freshness of Thy grace; yet long these multitudes to see the sweet compassion of Thy face.
     O Master, from the mountain side, make haste to heal these hearts of pain; among these restless throngs abide; O tread the city streets again:
     Till sons of men shall learn Thy love and follow where Thy feet have trod; till glorious, from Thy heav’n above, shall come the city of our God.

     For Today: Zechariah 7:8; Matthew 10:42; 22:9; Luke 4:18; 1 Peter 2:21

     Determine to become better acquainted with a person from another culture or race. Perhaps invite him or her to your home for dinner. Ask God to help you think globally, to understand and accept a multicultural world. Reflect on these musical thoughts as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Sunday, October 29, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 25, Sunday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 63:1–8 (9–11) 98
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 103
Old Testament     Haggai 1:1–2:9
New Testament     Acts 18:24–19:7
Gospel     Luke 10:25–37

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 63:1–8 (9–11) 98

1 O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
6 when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

[     9 But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword,
they shall be prey for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.     ]

A Psalm.

1 O sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
2 The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody.
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD.

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who live in it.
8 Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
9 at the presence of the LORD, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 103

Of David.

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

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

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

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

Old Testament
Haggai 1:1–2:9

1 In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2 Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD’s house. 3 Then the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai, saying: 4 Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.

7 Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD. 9 You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of hosts. Because my house lies in ruins, while all of you hurry off to your own houses. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the soil produces, on human beings and animals, and on all their labors.

12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of the prophet Haggai, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the LORD. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, saying, I am with you, says the LORD. 14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month.

2 In the second year of King Darius, 1 in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai, saying: 2 Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, 3 Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? 4 Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the LORD; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the LORD; work, for I am with you, says the LORD of hosts, 5 according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. 6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; 7 and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the LORD of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of hosts. 9 The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.

New Testament
Acts 18:24–19:7

24 Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. On his arrival he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus.

19 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied— 7 altogether there were about twelve of them.

Luke 10:25–37

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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