Hezekiah’s Sickness and RecoveryVideo Isaiah 38:1 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.” 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 and said, “Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.
7 “This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he has promised: 8 Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.
9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:
10 I said, In the middle of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years.
11 I said, I shall not see the LORD,
the LORD in the land of the living;
I shall look on man no more
among the inhabitants of the world.
12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;
13 I calmed myself until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from day to night you bring me to an end.
14 Like a swallow or a crane I chirp;
I moan like a dove.
My eyes are weary with looking upward.
O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety!
15 What shall I say? For he has spoken to me,
and he himself has done it.
I walk slowly all my years
because of the bitterness of my soul.
16 O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.
18 For Sheol does not thank you;
death does not praise you;
those who go down to the pit do not hope
for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living, he thanks you,
as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children
20 The LORD will save me,
and we will play my music on stringed instruments
all the days of our lives,
at the house of the LORD.
Envoys from BabylonVideo Isaiah 39:1 At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. 2 And Hezekiah welcomed them gladly. And he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. 3 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?” Hezekiah said, “They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.” 4 He said, “What have they seen in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house. There is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”
5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: 6 Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD. 7 And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” 8 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”
Who Can Stand Before You?
76 TO THE CHOIRMASTER: WITH STRINGED INSTRUMENTS. A PSALM OF ASAPH. A SONG.
Video Psalm 76:1 In Judah God is known;
his name is great in Israel.
2 His abode has been established in Salem,
his dwelling place in Zion.
3 There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah
4 Glorious are you, more majestic
than the mountains full of prey.
5 The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil;
they sank into sleep;
all the men of war
were unable to use their hands.
6 At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
both rider and horse lay stunned.
7 But you, you are to be feared!
Who can stand before you
when once your anger is roused?
8 From the heavens you uttered judgment;
the earth feared and was still,
9 when God arose to establish judgment,
to save all the humble of the earth. Selah
10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise you;
the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.
11 Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them;
let all around him bring gifts
to him who is to be feared,
12 who cuts off the spirit of princes,
who is to be feared by the kings of the earth.
English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha
What I'm Reading
Yes, We Can Make the Case for Christianity with Music
By J. Warner Wallace 10/2/2017
At the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, we often talk about the importance of worldview. Each of us, as Christians, ought to allow our Christian beliefs to shape the way we think about every aspect of life, including the way we consider notions of beauty and artistic expression. That’s why I was delighted to hear about a new concept album from Aryn Michelle, a Christian pop and alternative rock artist. Aryn just released a series of songs (in a collection called The Realist Thing) inspired by William Lane Craig’s book, Reasonable Faith. That’s right, an apologetics album of sorts, walking through “several philosophical arguments for the existence of God and the primary evidences for Jesus Christ as his son.” Sounds interesting, right? Aryn agreed to let me interview her about this groundbreaking effort:
J. Warner: |Aryn, I will confess that I was not familiar with your work prior to this collection of songs. I was incredibly impressed with the creativity and quality of the effort, can you tell us something about your musical journey?
Aryn: | I began writing songs when I was fifteen years old. Initially I had hoped that God would use me as a “light in the darkness” in that I would be a believer writing and working in the secular music industry while always maintaining artistry from a Christian perspective. I pursued this goal for almost ten years (and two albums) before I had the revelation that perhaps working within the secular music industry was how I wanted God to use me, but was not necessarily how God had gifted and equipped me. It took me that long to realize that I needed to approach God and ask him how HE wanted to use my life and the giftedness he had given me. I could see that God had brought me up in a background of church music (I’m the daughter of a music minister), and he has given me a heart for the church and for encouraging the people of God. Even when I was not making “Christian” music, followers of Jesus tended to be the ones who responded to my music. About 5 years ago I turned my attention to write explicitly faith-based music in order to encourage believers, dig deep into God’s truth and follow in obedience in using my gifts for God’s calling.
J. Warner: | In your video you mention being in a place in your life as a Christian where you had many questions. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how Christian apologetics literature helped you to answer some of those questions?
Aryn: | Several years ago I approached one of our pastors and asked to meet with him to talk about some struggles I was having. I told him that while I felt confident in my heart about my belief in Jesus, I felt like my head had not caught up with where my heart was. I felt like I had been neglecting the life of the mind in regards to my faith. I didn’t often have intellectual conversations with other believers about difficult questions where philosophy and theology converged. I was frustrated that it felt like no one around me was expressing an interest to seek out the answer to hard questions. He gave me the wise counsel that if I had a thirst for knowledge then I needed to ask God to reveal to me answers and also to seek out that knowledge. To read books, to dig deeper, to go out searching. He suggested a few books to start with and from that point I kept reading and eventually decided to tackle Dr. Craig’s book Reasonable Faith. This book was very helpful on my journey into a deeper life of the mind because it comprehensively covered a good deal of what I was hoping to learn. I want to clearly state that I believe the testimony of the Holy Spirit is the greatest witness one can give, but I was thankful to be able to also articulate philosophical arguments for the existence of God and evidences for Jesus Christ as God’s son after reading that book in particular
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Is It Harmful to Date in High School?
By John Piper 10/2/2017
Before I say anything about dating in high school today, let me say a couple of things about the older generations that he may be talking about. Once upon a time, young people married much more commonly at age seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen, or even earlier in some cultures. My parents were nineteen and eighteen when they married.
There was a time when the cultural expectations and the cultural supports were in place, partly to prepare young people to marry that early and partly to provide the structures and help after they got married. That’s not as true today in America as it once was. That’s the first thing.
The second thing I want to say about the older generation (my generation perhaps) is that many parents today who did marry quite early would still counsel young people today not to pair off in dating relationships during high school. In other words, it doesn’t follow that because godly people you know married early, that dating early is a good idea. That needs to be decided on other grounds. Whether you see dating at age fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen as wise will depend partly on your view of sexual relations, partly on your view of the meaning of dating, and partly on your view of the relative maturity of teenagers. I think the Bible settles the question of sexual relations for us clearly — namely, sexual relations are for marriage.
The Proper Place for Sex | Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:2, “Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” In other words, sexual relations are for the marriage covenant, not for the engaged couple and not for casual dating relationships.
That view will, of course, set a Christian young person wonderfully and wildly apart from the view that is pervasive in culture and in media — namely, that it is perfectly acceptable to have sex outside marriage with one provision: that it be consensual. That’s not what the Bible teaches, and it’s not what God’s design for man and woman is. It will bear tragic fruit in your life.
John Piper Books:
- Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture
- Don't Waste Your Life
- Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
- When I Don't Desire God (Redesign): How to Fight for Joy
- A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness
- Future Grace, Revised Edition: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God
- When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God--and Joy
- This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence
- Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God's Grace
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Revised Edition)
- Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power
- The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God
- Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor
- Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions
- God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself
- Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ
- The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin
- Doctrine Matters: Ten Theological Trademarks From a Lifetime of Preaching
- A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- The Dangerous Duty of Delight: The Glorified God and the Satisfied Soul
- Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure
- Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, Updated and Expanded Edition
- The Supremacy of God in Preaching
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Redesign): A Response to Evangelical Feminism
- Risk Is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It
- Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (The Swans Are Not Silent)
- A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You
- The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce
- Don't Waste Your Cancer
- Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian
- The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd
- Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis
- Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
- Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
- The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23
- Finally Alive
- A Godward Life: Seeing the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- Spectacular Sins (Redesign): And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ
- Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul
- God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World)
- Life as a Vapor: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Faith
- Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
- 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood
- What Jesus Demands from the World (Paperback Edition)
- What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible
- Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen
- Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged
- John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God
- A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- Does God Desire All to Be Saved?
- Preparing for Marriage: Help for Christian Couples
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent
- The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright
- The Satisfied Soul: Showing the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind
- A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- Quest for Joy (Pack of 25) (Proclaiming the Gospel)
- Ruth: Under the Wings of God
- Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth
Is the Late First-Century Too Late for Eyewitnesses of Jesus to Have Lived?
By Brian Chilton 5/2/2017
The more I study the New Testament documents, the more I am convinced that the documents, particularly the Synoptic Gospels, are earlier than expected. Scholars like W. F. Albright and John A. T. Robinson—both who are not necessarily conservative in their approach but respected in their field—date the NT texts much earlier than even most conservative scholars do. Norman Geisler notes,
“Known for his role in launching the “Death of God” movement, Robinson wrote a revolutionary book titled Redating the New Testament, in which he posited revised dates for the New Testament books that place them earlier than the most conservative scholars ever held. Robinson places Matthew at 40 to after 60, Mark at about 45 to 60, Luke at before 57 to after 60, and John at from before 40 to after 65. This would mean that one or two Gospels could have been written as early as seven years after the crucifixion. At the latest they were all composed within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses and contemporaries of the events. Assuming the basic integrity and reasonable accuracy of the writers, this would place the reliability of the New Testament documents beyond reasonable doubt.”
Even so, most conservative scholars would date the Gospel of John, the Letters of John, and the Apocalypse (i.e., Revelation) to the latter quarter of the first-century. Is this too late for eyewitnesses to have survived? Can we legitimately expect that eyewitnesses of Jesus in the 30s lived into the 80s and 90s? Actually, the answer is a surprising and resounding, yes! New Testament scholar, Craig Blomberg, explains,
“Many babies, children, and young adults in the ancient world died because of rampant disease without modern medicine. An ‘average’ is not a maximum upper limit; it is a figure arrived at by adding a group of numbers together and dividing by the number of elements in the group. Records from all over the ancient world describe a considerable number of people living into their fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, and occasionally beyond 100 [Pirke Aboth 5.24]. The percentage of the population in any given place and time that did so was noticeably smaller than it was in developed countries today, and that percentage shrank even faster from one decade of life to the next than it does today. But nothing precludes Matthew, Mark, and Luke from having lived into their seventies.”
Scholars unanimously agree that the New Testament was completed by the end of the first-century. Therefore, even if it is true that a large portion of the New Testament was completed in the late first-century, it is completely possible that a large body of Jesus’s eyewitnesses were still alive to check the veracity of the documents. Consider this: if the apostle John was 20 when Jesus died and resurrected in AD 33, then he would have been a mere 72-years-old in AD 85, the date when most scholars hold that the Fourth Gospel was written. With Blomberg’s research, it is completely feasible to accept that John could have lived to that age. Thus, we have further reasons for accepting the New Testament’s reliability as eyewitnesses could have lived even towards the end of the New Testament’s completion.
Praying for a Breakthrough
By Jon Bloom 10/2/2015
A breakthrough is a military concept. When one army is able to weaken its enemy’s forces to the point of collapse, a breakthrough occurs allowing that army to invade and take its enemy’s territory.
But in war a breakthrough only really matters if it occurs at a strategic location. And the evidence that a location is strategic is almost always revealed by the amount of enemy forces amassed to protect it. An enemy led by skilled generals plans to ferociously protect what it prizes highly.
This means that an invading army can expect its attempt to achieve a breakthrough to be met by a barrier of fierce enemy opposition. Increasingly intense fighting always precedes strategic breakthroughs. Strategic ground is not yielded easily.
Our Breakthroughs Are Opposed by Powerful Forces | This is as true for spiritual warfare as it is for terrestrial warfare. In the spiritual realm, as opposed to the terrestrial, the church is an invading force. Though we can easily slip into a defensive, circle-the-wagons mindset, Jesus clearly intends for us to be aggressors, not merely defenders. The Great Commission is to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). In a world that “lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), that’s militant language. Our mission: to liberate those the devil has taken captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26).
But we must keep in mind that strategic ground is not yielded easily. Whether we’re battling for breakthroughs against our own stubborn sin or the unbelief of a loved one or breakthroughs in the missional advance of our local church, reaching unreached peoples, rescuing persecuted believers, orphans, sex slaves, or the unborn, we are up against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We don’t know exactly what that means, except that these forces are very strong.
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:
How to Talk about the Afterlife (if you must) 2
By D. C. Cramer 7/14/2011
The following are some theses—in no particular order—that I believe should help guide discussions of the afterlife, especially those debates currently raging over universalism and hell. These thoughts are purely my own (and even I’m not sure what I think of all of them). By stating these theses, I am not advocating or endorsing any of the views of the afterlife discussed.
(6) The practical differences between these views shouldn’t be overestimated. Whether an unbeliever suffers forever, is completely destroyed, or suffers for a really long time, it is not a state of affairs that one would desire. So if our evangelism is going to be predicated on the fate of those who don’t accept Christ (which I’m not sure should be our primary motivation, but that’s another discussion), then there shouldn’t be a practical difference between the major evangelical views of the afterlife. Even if one believes—as universalists do—that ultimately all will be saved, one would still want to save people from all the unnecessary suffering they would face in the penultimate afterlife. And as Christians, we would hopefully want all to experience the fullness of Kingdom living now, which should be motivation enough for evangelism regardless of our views of the afterlife.
(7) The theological differences between these views shouldn’t be underestimated. Most of us believe that God loves everyone and that God is perfectly just. But clearly, what one who believes in eternal conscious torment and one who believes in ultimate universal reconciliation mean by terms like “love” and “justice” are going to radically differ. On the eternal conscious torment view, one has to reconcile one’s definition of love and justice with the notion that God torments (or allows to be tormented) unbelievers eternally (that is, after all, the very definition of the term “eternal conscious torment”). Other views of God necessarily follow from eternal conscious torment, for example, that God doesn’t ultimately get everything he desires: minimally, that all should be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Of course, one might say that God desires some things more than he desires all to be saved, but then that too is saying something about God and his character. On the annihilationist view, one has to reconcile one’s view of love and justice with the notion that God destroys (or allows to cease existing) unbelievers after death. One also has to deal with some of the same theological ramifications as the eternal conscious torment view discussed above. On the universalist view, one has to reconcile one’s definition of love and justice with the notion that God will give second (and possibly third, fourth, fifth . . .) chances to those who die in utter defiance toward God and utter hatred toward fellow human beings. Even if these postmortem chances include much suffering (see (6) above), this view is clearly working with a different notion of love and justice than the other views. The question then becomes: Which notion of love and justice is most consistent with the whole scope and tenor of Scripture (as well as those nitty-gritty details of Scripture that the exegetes deal with)?
(8) Each of these positions has both subtle, scholarly articulations and shallow, popular descriptions; care should be taken to distinguish the two. It is always best to take on the best form of an argument and try to refute it than to merely refute popular forms of an argument. However, since popular forms are so, well, popular, it is okay to discuss and refute those too, as long as one specifies that in so doing one isn’t taking on the best version of the argument. So, if popular formulations of eternal conscious torment suggest a sadistic view of God, it is okay to point out the flaws in that view of God. And if popular formulations of universalism suggest a lax view of God, it is okay to point out the flaws in that view of God too. But the most subtle forms of eternal conscious torment try to avoid divine sadism, and the most subtle forms of universalism try to avoid divine laxity; and in debating these issues eventually one will have to deal with these more sophisticated views head on.
(9) We all have motivations for holding the views we hold, but unless someone explicitly states his or her motivation for holding a view, it is best to leave discussion of motivations out of it. Sure, some universalists probably grew up in oppressive fundamentalist churches from which they are trying desperately to break away. Sure, some who hold to eternal conscious torment can’t stand the idea of someday worshiping next to Osama bin Laden in heaven. But not everyone who holds to these views does so for the same reasons or with the same motivations. Speculating on one’s motivations, then, is just another form of the old ad hominem fallacy, and fallacies are generally best to avoid.
Confessions of a Functional Cessationist
By Jason Meyer 10/2/2017
This article is more about aspirations than answers. I am describing the start of a journey more than documenting how to arrive at a destination. I begin with a confession: I have always been a theoretical continuationist. That is, I have always believed that the gifts of the Spirit continue to this very day.
I have never adopted the cessationist viewpoint that certain spiritual gifts ceased when the apostolic age came to an end. Paul’s argument that tongues and prophecy will end “when the perfect comes” (1 Corinthians 13:8–10) is a reference to the second coming of Christ, not the close of the biblical canon. I tell my cessationist friends that there is a day coming when I too will be a cessationist: the second coming.
Even though I have always been a theoretical continuationist, I am far too often a functional cessationist. In other words, I am a continuationist in theory, but I look a lot like a cessationist in practice. This gap between theory and practice pricks my conscience.
Test Everything — Including Attitudes | Recently, I have been convicted by clear differences between the way the Bible speaks and the way I speak about spiritual gifts. I have said things like “I am open, but cautious” when it comes to sign gifts like prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. That statement about caution rightly stresses the need to “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Every experience must be examined by the searchlight of Scripture.
However, in practice, I can take this caution so far that it turns into suspicion and fear. Instead of “open, but cautious,” I am more like “open, but overly suspicious.” I have discovered that Scripture tests our attitudes and not just our experiences. It was a little shocking to see how much my attitude is actually rebuked by Scripture. Paul commands Christians, “Earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1). He characterizes the Corinthians as “eager for manifestations of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:12).
I Don’t Take The Bible Literally, And Neither Does Anyone Else
By Glenn T. Stanton 5/1/2017
Literally no one takes the Bible literally. But otherwise intelligent pollsters and journalists continue to ask the question as a gauge for who takes the Bible seriously—or too seriously.
A recent report from Pew tells us that only 39 percent of Christians take the Bible literally. This is very bad news for believers’ fidelity to Scripture, but not for the reason you might think. It’s also a poor reflection on the good folks at Pew.
Why? It’s quite simple: Literally no one takes the Bible literally. NO ONE. But otherwise intelligent pollsters and journalists continue to ask the question as a gauge for who really takes the Bible seriously—or too seriously. And Christians continue to play along.
Here, here and here are just a few examples of this. It all shows an embarrassing ignorance of how billions of Christians and Jews approach this important and world-changing book hermeneutically. This is unacceptable.
I’ll Prove It in Ten Seconds | All one need do is open a Bible to any random page. I’ve just slipped my thumb into my closed Bible as I write this and aimlessly opened to Ecclesiastes 10:2, where we read: “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.”
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Treat your enemy with kindness
(Oct 3) Bob Gass
‘You will heap coals of fire on his head.’
(Pr 25:22) 22 for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. ESV
It’s not enough to simply leave your enemies alone; you must demonstrate God’s love towards them. ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you’ (vv. 21-22 NKJV). What does it mean to ‘heap coals of fire on his head’? Charles Swindoll explains that in ancient days, homes were heated and meals were fixed on a small portable stove, somewhat like our outside barbecue grills. Frequently, a person would run low on hot coals and need to replenish his or her supply. The container was commonly carried on the head. So, as the individual passed beneath second-storey windows, thoughtful people who had extra hot coals in their possession would reach out the window and place them in the container atop their head. Thanks to the thoughtful generosity of a few folks, they would arrive at the site with a pile of burning coals on their head, and a ready-made fire for cooking and keeping warm. ‘Heaping burning coals on someone’s head’ came to be a popular expression for a spontaneous and courteous act one person would voluntarily do for another. When you treat an enemy this way, the Bible promises, ‘The LORD will reward you.’ You have a choice. You can experience the short-term satisfaction of retaliating and get into trouble with God for doing it, or show mercy and kindness and be rewarded by God for doing it. So, the word for you today is - treat your enemy with kindness.
1 Thess 2
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
On October 3, 1789, from the capital of New York City, President George Washington issued the first Proclamation of a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer. There was reason to rejoice as just one week earlier, the first session of the United States Congress approved the First Ten Amendments, better known as the Bill of Rights, thereby limiting the power and scope of the Federal Government. Washington wrote: “Now, therefore, I do recommend… the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
Here, too, we acquire that spiritual veracity which we so constantly tend to lose; because we are in contact with the living and eternal reality. Our very love is preserved from dissimulation, which is a great danger when we love men and court their love. Prayer is a greater school and discipline of divine love than the service of man is. But not if it is cut off from it.
And no less also is it the school of repentance, which so easily can grow morbid. We are taught to be not only true to reality, but sincere with ourselves. We cannot touch God thus without having a light no less searching than saving shed upon our own hearts; and we are thus protected from Pharisaism in our judgment of either self or friend or foe—especially at present of our foe. No companion of God can war in His name against man without much self-searching and self-humiliation, however reserved. But here humility turns into moral strength.
Here we are also regathered in soul from the fancies that bewilder us and the distractions that dissolve us into the dust of the world. We are collected into peace and power and sound judgment, and we have a heart for any fate, because we rest in the Lord whose judgments are salvation. What gives us our true stay gives us our true self; and it protects us from the elations and despairs which alternate in ourselves by bringing home to us a Saviour who is more to us than we are to ourselves. We become patient with ourselves because we realize the patience of God. We get rid of illusions about ourselves and the world because our intimacy is with the real God, and we know that we truly are just what we are before Him. We thus have a great peace, because in prayer, as the crowning act of faith, we lay hold of the grace of God the Saviour. Prayer alone prevents our receiving God’s grace in vain. Which means that it establishes the soul of a man or a people, creates the moral personality day by day, spreads outward the new heart through society, and goes to make a new ethos in mankind. We come out with a courage and a humanity we had not when we went in, even though our old earth remove, and our familiar hills are cast into the depth of the sea. The true Church is thus co-extensive with the community of true prayer.
It is another paradox that combines the vast power of prayer both on the lone soul and on the moral life, personal and social, with the soul’s shyness and aloofness in prayer. Kant (whose genius in this respect reflected his race) has had an influence upon scientific thought and its efficiency far greater than upon religion, though he is well named the philosopher of Protestantism. He represent (again like his race) intellectual power and a certain stiff moral insight, but not spiritual atmosphere, delicacy, or flexibility, which is rather the Catholic tradition. Intellectualism always tends to more force than finish, and always starves or perverts ethic. And nowhere in Kant’s work does this limitation find such expression as in his treatment of prayer, unless it be in his lack of any misgivings about treating it at all with his equipment or the equipment of his age. Even his successors know better now—just as we in England have learned to find in Milton powers and harmonies hidden from the too great sagacity of Dr. Johnson or his time. Kant, then, speaks of prayer thus. If we found a man (he says) given to talking to himself we should begin to suspect him of some tendency to mental aberration. Yet the personality of such a man is a very real thing. It is a thing we can be more sure of than we can of the personality of God, who, if He is more than a conclusion for intellectual thought, is not more than a postulate for moral. No doubt in time of crisis it is an instinct to pray which even cultivated people do not, and need not, lose. But if any such person were surprised even in the attitude of private prayer, to say nothing of its exercise, he would be ashamed. He would think he had been discovered doing something unworthy of his intelligence, and would feel about it as educated people do when found out to be yielding to a superstition about the number thirteen.
A thinker of more sympathy and delicacy would have spoken less bluntly. Practical experience would have taught him discrimination. He would have realized the difference between shame and shyness, between confusion at an unworthy thing and confusion at a thing too fine and sacred for exposure. And had his age allowed him to have more knowledge and taste in history, and especially the history of religion, he would have gone, not to the cowardice of the ordinary cultivated man, but to the power and thoroughness of the great saints or captains of the race—to Paul, to Thomas a Kempis, to Cromwell with his troops, or Gustavus Adolphus with his. I do but humbly allude to Gethsemane. But Kant belonged to a time which had not realized, as even our science does now, the final power of the subtler forces, and the overwhelming effect in the long run of the impalpable and elusive influences of life. Much might be written about the effect of prayer on the great history of the world.
Tomorrow begins CHAPTER IV, The Timeliness of Prayer.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
America: Why I love her:
"If we want to keep these freedoms,
we may have to fight again.
but if we do,
let's always fight to win…
Face the flag, son…
and thank God it's still there.
--- John Wayne
Helping a person in need is good in itself. But the degree of goodness is hugely affected by the attitude with which it is done. If you show resentment because you are helping the person out of a reluctant sense of duty, then the person may recieve your help but may feel awkward and embarrassed. This is because he will feel beholden to you. If,on the other hand, you help the person in a spirit of joy, then the help will be received joyfully. The person will feel neither demeaned nor humiliated by your help, but rather will feel glad to have caused you pleasure by receiving your help. And joy is the appropriate attitude with which to help others because acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver. --- John Chrysostom
Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardour of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old.
--- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
4. While Josephus was making this exhortation to the Jews, many of them jested upon him from the wall, and many reproached him; nay, some threw their darts at him: but when he could not himself persuade them by such open good advice, he betook himself to the histories belonging to their own nation, and cried out aloud, "O miserable creatures! are you so unmindful of those that used to assist you, that you will fight by your weapons and by your hands against the Romans? When did we ever conquer any other nation by such means? and when was it that God, who is the Creator of the Jewish people, did not avenge them when they had been injured? Will not you turn again, and look back, and consider whence it is that you fight with such violence, and how great a Supporter you have profanely abused? Will not you recall to mind the prodigious things done for your forefathers and this holy place, and how great enemies of yours were by him subdued under you? I even tremble myself in declaring the works of God before your ears, that are unworthy to hear them; however, hearken to me, that you may be informed how you fight not only against the Romans, but against God himself. In old times there was one Necao, king of Egypt, who was also called Pharaoh; he came with a prodigious army of soldiers, and seized queen Sarah, the mother of our nation. What did Abraham our progenitor then do? Did he defend himself from this injurious person by war, although he had three hundred and eighteen captains under him, and an immense army under each of them? Indeed he deemed them to be no number at all without God's assistance, and only spread out his hands towards this holy place, 16 which you have now polluted, and reckoned upon him as upon his invincible supporter, instead of his own army. Was not our queen sent back, without any defilement, to her husband, the very next Evening?—while the king of Egypt fled away, adoring this place which you have defiled by shedding thereon the blood of your own countrymen; and he also trembled at those visions which he saw in the night season, and bestowed both silver and gold on the Hebrews, as on a people beloved by God. Shall I say nothing, or shall I mention the removal of our fathers into Egypt, who, when they were used tyrannically, and were fallen under the power of foreign kings for four hundred years together, and might have defended themselves by war and by fighting, did yet do nothing but commit themselves to God! Who is there that does not know that Egypt was overrun with all sorts of wild beasts, and consumed by all sorts of distempers? how their land did not bring forth its fruit? how the Nile failed of water? how the ten plagues of Egypt followed one upon another? and how by those means our fathers were sent away under a guard, without any bloodshed, and without running any dangers, because God conducted them as his peculiar servants? Moreover, did not Palestine groan 17 under the ravage the Assyrians made, when they carried away our sacred ark? as did their idol Dagon, and as also did that entire nation of those that carried it away, how they were smitten with a loathsome distemper in the secret parts of their bodies, when their very bowels came down together with what they had eaten, till those hands that stole it away were obliged to bring it back again, and that with the sound of cymbals and timbrels, and other oblations, in order to appease the anger of God for their violation of his holy ark. It was God who then became our General, and accomplished these great things for our fathers, and this because they did not meddle with war and fighting, but committed it to him to judge about their affairs. When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, brought along with him all Asia, and encompassed this city round with his army, did he fall by the hands of men? were not those hands lifted up to God in prayers, without meddling with their arms, when an angel of God destroyed that prodigious army in one night? when the Assyrian king, as he rose the next day, found a hundred fourscore and five thousand dead bodies, and when he, with the remainder of his army, fled away from the Hebrews, though they were unarmed, and did not pursue them. You are also acquainted with the slavery we were under at Babylon, where the people were captives for seventy years; yet were they not delivered into freedom again before God made Cyrus his gracious instrument in bringing it about; accordingly they were set free by him, and did again restore the worship of their Deliverer at his temple. And, to speak in general, we can produce no example wherein our fathers got any success by war, or failed of success when without war they committed themselves to God. When they staid at home, they conquered, as pleased their Judge; but when they went out to fight, they were always disappointed: for example, when the king of Babylon besieged this very city, and our king Zedekiah fought against him, contrary to what predictions were made to him by Jeremiah the prophet, he was at once taken prisoner, and saw the city and the temple demolished. Yet how much greater was the moderation of that king, than is that of your present governors, and that of the people then under him, than is that of you at this time! for when Jeremiah cried out aloud, how very angry God was at them, because of their transgressions, and told them they should be taken prisoners, unless they would surrender up their city, neither did the king nor the people put him to death; but for you, [to pass over what you have done within the city, which I am not able to describe as your wickedness deserves,] you abuse me, and throw darts at me, who only exhort you to save yourselves, as being provoked when you are put in mind of your sins, and cannot bear the very mention of those crimes which you every day perpetrate. For another example, when Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, lay before this city, and had been guilty of many indignities against God, and our forefathers met him in arms, they then were slain in the battle, this city was plundered by our enemies, and our sanctuary made desolate for three years and six months. And what need I bring any more examples? Indeed what can it be that hath stirred up an army of the Romans against our nation? Is it not the impiety of the inhabitants? Whence did our servitude commence? Was it not derived from the seditions that were among our forefathers, when the madness of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, and our mutual quarrels, brought Pompey upon this city, and when God reduced those under subjection to the Romans who were unworthy of the liberty they had enjoyed? After a siege, therefore, of three months, they were forced to surrender themselves, although they had not been guilty of such offenses, with regard to our sanctuary and our laws, as you have; and this while they had much greater advantages to go to war than you have. Do not we know what end Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, came to, under whose reign God provided that this city should be taken again upon account of the people's offenses? When Herod, the son of Antipater, brought upon us Sosius, and Sosius brought upon us the Roman army, they were then encompassed and besieged for six months, till, as a punishment for their sins, they were taken, and the city was plundered by the enemy. Thus it appears that arms were never given to our nation, but that we are always given up to be fought against, and to be taken; for I suppose that such as inhabit this holy place ought to commit the disposal of all things to God, and then only to disregard the assistance of men when they resign themselves up to their Arbitrator, who is above. As for you, what have you done of those things that are recommended by our legislator? and what have you not done of those things that he hath condemned? How much more impious are you than those who were so quickly taken! You have not avoided so much as those sins that are usually done in secret; I mean thefts, and treacherous plots against men, and adulteries. You are quarrelling about rapines and murders, and invent strange ways of wickedness. Nay, the temple itself is become the receptacle of all, and this Divine place is polluted by the hands of those of our own country; which place hath yet been reverenced by the Romans when it was at a distance from them, when they have suffered many of their own customs to give place to our law. And, after all this, do you expect Him whom you have so impiously abused to be your supporter? To be sure then you have a right to be petitioners, and to call upon Him to assist you, so pure are your hands! Did your king [Hezekiah] lift up such hands in prayer to God against the king of Assyria, when he destroyed that great army in one night? And do the Romans commit such wickedness as did the king of Assyria, that you may have reason to hope for the like vengeance upon them? Did not that king accept of money from our king on this condition, that he should not destroy the city, and yet, contrary to the oath he had taken, he came down to burn the temple? while the Romans do demand no more than that accustomed tribute which our fathers paid to their fathers; and if they may but once obtain that, they neither aim to destroy this city, nor to touch this sanctuary; nay, they will grant you besides, that your posterity shall be free, and your possessions secured to you, and will preserve our holy laws inviolate to you. And it is plain madness to expect that God should appear as well disposed towards the wicked as towards the righteous, since he knows when it is proper to punish men for their sins immediately; accordingly he brake the power of the Assyrians the very first night that they pitched their camp. Wherefore, had he judged that our nation was worthy of freedom, or the Romans of punishment, he had immediately inflicted punishment upon those Romans, as he did upon the Assyrians, when Pompey began to meddle with our nation, or when after him Sosius came up against us, or when Vespasian laid waste Galilee, or, lastly, when Titus came first of all near to this city; although Magnus and Sosius did not only suffer nothing, but took the city by force; as did Vespasian go from the war he made against you to receive the empire; and as for Titus, those springs that were formerly almost dried up when they were under your power 18 since he is come, run more plentifully than they did before; accordingly, you know that Siloam, as well as all the other springs that were without the city, did so far fail, that water was sold by distinct measures; whereas they now have such a great quantity of water for your enemies, as is sufficient not only for drink both for themselves and their cattle, but for watering their gardens also. The same wonderful sign you had also experience of formerly, when the forementioned king of Babylon made war against us, and when he took the city, and burnt the temple; while yet I believe the Jews of that age were not so impious as you are. Wherefore I cannot but suppose that God is fled out of his sanctuary, and stands on the side of those against whom you fight. Now even a man, if he be but a good man, will fly from an impure house, and will hate those that are in it; and do you persuade yourselves that God will abide with you in your iniquities, who sees all secret things, and hears what is kept most private? Now what crime is there, I pray you, that is so much as kept secret among you, or is concealed by you? nay, what is there that is not open to your very enemies? for you show your transgressions after a pompous manner, and contend one with another which of you shall be more wicked than another; and you make a public demonstration of your injustice, as if it were virtue. However, there is a place left for your preservation, if you be willing to accept of it; and God is easily reconciled to those that confess their faults, and repent of them. O hard-hearted wretches as you are! cast away all your arms, and take pity of your country already going to ruin; return from your wicked ways, and have regard to the excellency of that city which you are going to betray, to that excellent temple with the donations of so many countries in it. Who could bear to be the first that should set that temple on fire? who could be willing that these things should be no more? and what is there that can better deserve to be preserved? O insensible creatures, and more stupid than are the stones themselves! And if you cannot look at these things with discerning eyes, yet, however, have pity upon your families, and set before every one of your eyes your children, and wives, and parents, who will be gradually consumed either by famine or by war. I am sensible that this danger will extend to my mother, and wife, and to that family of mine who have been by no means ignoble, and indeed to one that hath been very eminent in old time; and perhaps you may imagine that it is on their account only that I give you this advice; if that be all, kill them; nay, take my own blood as a reward, if it may but procure your preservation; for I am ready to die, in case you will but return to a sound mind after my death."
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
and a rod for the back of fools.
4 Don’t answer a fool in terms of his folly,
or you will be descending to his level;
5 but answer a fool as his folly deserves,
so that he won’t think he is wise.
6 Telling a message to a fool and sending him out
is like cutting off one’s feet and drinking violence.
7 The legs of the disabled hang limp and useless;
likewise a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
8 Like one who ties his stone to the sling
is he who gives honor to a fool.
9 Like a thorn branch in the hand of a drunk
is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 A master can make anything,
but hiring a fool is like hiring some passer-by.
11 Just as a dog returns to his vomit,
a fool repeats his folly.
12 Do you see someone who thinks himself wise?
There is more hope for a fool than for him!
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The sphere of ministration
This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. --- Mark 9:29.
“Why could not we cast him out?” The answer lies in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. This kind can come forth by nothing but by concentration and redoubled concentration on Him. We can ever remain powerless, as were the disciples, by trying to do God’s work not in concentration on His power, but by ideas drawn from our own temperament. We slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him.
You are brought face to face with a difficult case and nothing happens externally, and yet you know that emancipation will be given because you are concentrated on Jesus Christ. This is your line of service—to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself. Is there? If there is, you must get through it, not by ignoring it in irritation, or by mounting up, but by facing it and getting through it into the presence of Jesus Christ. Then that very thing, and all you have been through in connection with it, will glorify Jesus Christ in a way you will never know till you see Him face to face.
We must be able to mount up with wings as eagles; but we must also know how to come down. The power of the saint lies in the coming down and the living down. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” said Paul, and the things he referred to were mostly humiliating things. It is in our power to refuse to be humiliated and to say—‘No, thank you, I much prefer to be on the mountain top with God.’ Can I face things as they actually are in the light of the reality of Jesus Christ, or do things as they are efface altogether my faith in Him, and put me into a panic?
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of RS Thomas
They made the grey stone
Blossom, setting it on a branch
Of the mind; airy cathedrals
Grew, trembling at the tip
Of their breathing; delicate palaces
Hung motionless in the gold,
Unbelievable sunrise. They praised
With rapt forms such as the blind hand
Dreamed, journeying to its sad
Nuptials. We come too late
On the scene, pelted with the stone
Flowers' bitter confetti.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Biblical counseling for today
Born into an influential Israelite family, Isaiah had grown up rubbing shoulders with royalty. Unimpressed with earthly monarchs, Isaiah envisioned a coming king: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.… For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.… A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what He hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge” (Isa. 7:14; 9:6–7; 11:1–4).
Imagine. Eight centuries before Bethlehem, Isaiah offered up brilliant foreign policy advice: National security begins with God. Just as Judah’s northern neighbors had been scourged by the Assyrians, so their southern counterparts were headed toward defeat at the hands of Babylon. Unless they repented, the people of Judah were staring down the barrel of trouble (Isa. 1–39).
In the end, blessed comfort would come (Isa. 40–66), but it would come only through a right relationship with the Davidic offshoot, a virgin-born King, rich with exquisite qualities and an unending reign. Among His attributes, the predicted Savior would be a Wonderful Counselor (9:6). Imbued with the very wisdom of God, Jesus Christ would not be fooled by appearances or mere words; to the contrary, He would always make the correct appraisal in His dealings with people (11:2–4).
Although mere mortals can never expect to have Christ’s x-ray vision for the soul (1 Sam. 16:7; John 2:24), we who are growing in Christ’s likeness (Rom. 8:28–30; Phil. 1:6) can count on the help of the Lord, the One who will one day permit us to know as we are known. In the meantime even those with gifts in counseling only “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12, KJV).
Biblical Counseling For Today
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. --- Romans 12:3.
After saying, “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy,” here [Paul] says again, “by the grace.” (A SELECT LIBRARY OF THE NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH Volume XI: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans.) Observe the teacher’s lowliness of mind. He means to say that he is in no respect worthy to be trusted in such an exhortation and counsel. But at one time he takes the mercies of God along with him, at another his grace. It is not my word, he would say, that I am speaking, but one from God. “To every one of you.” Not to this person and to that merely, but to the governor and to the governed, to the slave and to the free, to the unlearned and to the wise, to the woman and to the man, to the young and to the old. And by this he also makes his language inoffensive, setting the lessons he gives to all, even to such as do not come under them, that those who do come under them may with more willingness accept such a reproof and correction. And what do you say? Let me hear. “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” Here he is bringing before us the mother of good deeds, which is lowliness of mind, in imitation of his own Master. For as Jesus, when he went up into the mountain and was going to give a teaching of moral precepts, took this for his first beginning and made this the foundation, in the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), so Paul too, as he has now passed from the doctrinal parts to those of a more practical kind, has taught us virtue in general terms by requiring of us the admirable sacrifice. And being on the point of giving a more particular portrait of it, he begins from lowliness of mind as from the head and tells us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think but to think of ourselves with sober judgment. We have received wisdom not that we should use it to make us arrogant but to make us sober-minded. And he does not say in order to be lowly in mind, but in order to sobriety, meaning by sobriety here not that virtue which contrasts with lewdness nor the being free from intemperance, but being sensible and healthful in mind. And the Greek name of it means keeping the mind safe.
--- John Chrysostom
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
One Woman’s Crusade
Was the first Thanksgiving really held by the pilgrims shortly after the Mayflower anchored at Plymouth? Texans claim the first Thanksgiving in America was proclaimed in Palo Duro Canyon by Padre Juan De Cadilla for Coronado’s troops in 1541, 79 years before the Pilgrims.
At any rate, Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday was slow in coming. Throughout early American history, some leaders issued Thanksgiving proclamations; some did not. Many were against it for various reasons, and Thanksgiving was an on-again, off-again affair … until Sarah Hale got hold of it. Sarah was a young widow with five children and a millinery shop. She used spare moments for writing, and in 1823 her first book appeared. She was soon hired as editor of a small magazine; then, in 1837, she was named editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, the nation’s foremost women’s magazine. Circulation mushroomed. Godey’s wasn’t a Christian magazine, but Sarah, an Episcopalian, was a devout Christian who injected religious issues into her editorials. In 1846 she launched a crusade to establish Thanksgiving as a holiday. She wrote stirring editorials about it, and November issues featured Thanksgiving poetry, stories, and turkey recipes. She pelted politicians with personal letters on the subject, and by 1859 30 governors had agreed to a common day of Thanksgiving.
Still, no national holiday emerged. As America lurched toward civil war, Sarah tried a new tactic. Disunion, she wrote in 1859, could be averted by Thanksgiving: If every State would join in union Thanksgiving on the 24th of this month, would it not be a renewed pledge of love and loyalty to the Constitution!
But war erupted in 1861. In 1863 she wrote President Lincoln, laying before you a subject of deep interest … the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a national and fixed union festival. The beleaguered president finally agreed, and on October 3, 1863 he established Thanksgiving as a national holiday for the last Thursday of November. Even in war, Lincoln said, we can count our blessings: “They are gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
Tell the LORD how thankful you are,
Because he is kind and always merciful.
Tell the LORD how thankful you are,
Because he is kind and always merciful.
--- Psalm 118:1,29.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 3
“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” --- Hebrews 1:14.
Angels are the unseen attendants of the saints of God; they bear us up in their hands, lest we dash our foot against a stone. Loyalty to their Lord leads them to take a deep interest in the children of his love; they rejoice over the return of the prodigal to his father’s house below, and they welcome the advent of the believer to the King’s palace above. In olden times the sons of God were favoured with their visible appearance, and at this day, although unseen by us, heaven is still opened, and the angels of God ascend and descend upon the Son of man, that they may visit the heirs of salvation. Seraphim still fly with live coals from off the altar to touch the lips of men greatly beloved. If our eyes could be opened, we should see horses of fire and chariots of fire about the servants of the Lord; for we have come to an innumerable company of angels, who are all watchers and protectors of the seed-royal. Spenser’s line is no poetic fiction, where he sings ---
“How oft do they with golden pinions cleave
The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant
Against foul fiends to aid us militant!”
To what dignity are the chosen elevated when the brilliant courtiers of heaven become their willing servitors! Into what communion are we raised since we have intercourse with spotless celestials! How well are we defended since all the twenty- thousand chariots of God are armed for our deliverance! To whom do we owe all this? Let the Lord Jesus Christ be for ever endeared to us, for through him we are made to sit in heavenly places far above principalities and powers. He it is whose camp is round about them that fear him; he is the true Michael whose foot is upon the dragon. All hail, Jesus! thou Angel of Jehovah’s presence, to thee this family offers its Morning vows.
Evening - October 3
“He himself hath suffered being tempted.” --- Hebrews 2:18.
It is a common-place thought, and yet it tastes like nectar to the weary heart—Jesus was tempted as I am. You have heard that truth many times: have you grasped it? He was tempted to the very same sins into which we fall. Do not dissociate Jesus from our common manhood. It is a dark room which you are going through, but Jesus went through it before. It is a sharp fight which you are waging, but Jesus has stood foot to foot with the same enemy. Let us be of good cheer, Christ has borne the load before us, and the blood-stained footsteps of the King of glory may be seen along the road which we traverse at this hour. There is something sweeter yet—Jesus was tempted, but Jesus never sinned. Then, my soul, it is not needful for thee to sin, for Jesus was a man, and if one man endured these temptations and sinned not, then in his power his members may also cease from sin. Some beginners in the divine life think that they cannot be tempted without sinning, but they mistake; there is no sin in being tempted, but there is sin in yielding to temptation. Herein is comfort for the sorely tempted ones. There is still more to encourage them if they reflect that the Lord Jesus, though tempted, gloriously triumphed, and as he overcame, so surely shall his followers also, for Jesus is the representative man for his people; the Head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. Fears are needless, for Christ is with us, armed for our defence. Our place of safety is the bosom of the Saviour. Perhaps we are tempted just now, in order to drive us nearer to him. Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our Saviour’s love! Happy wounds, which make us seek the beloved Physician. Ye tempted ones, come to your tempted Saviour, for he can be touched with a feeling of your infirmities, and will succour every tried and tempted one.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
YE SERVANTS OF GOD, YOUR MASTER PROCLAIM
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
… salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. (Revelation 7:10)
The proclamation of the Gospel requires a devoted, zealous spirit. The real purpose of this proclamation is to affect a personal conversion in the hearer, and this experience implies a radical change of lifestyle. The Bible speaks of this change as becoming a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It involves the convert in at least three new and conscious relationships: To Christ, to the church, and to the world. Conversion means nothing if it does not result in a change from self-centered living to devotion to God and a life of sacrificial service for Him.
Charles Wesley wrote this text in 1744, a year of unusually severe persecution for the Wesleys and their followers. During this trying year the Wesleys wrote several hymn pamphlets titled Hymns for Times of Trouble and Persecution. One of these booklets included “Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim.” The text was based on Psalm 93:1–4 and Revelation 7:9–12. The purpose of this text was to encourage their persecuted followers to concentrate on the One “whose kingdom is glorious—who rules over all.” As is generally true, Christians flourish best for God during times of persecution. This was certainly true of the Wesleys and the early Methodists. “God is on the throne; therefore let us cry aloud, and honor His Son and our Savior” became the battlecry. And the more severe the opposition, the stronger became their proclamation of the Gospel.
May our proclamation, too, always focus on Jesus Christ as the Savior, Lord, and Master of life and eternity. May we not become side-tracked with our own ideas, pet themes, or personal experiences.
Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim, and publish abroad His wonderful name; the name all victorious of Jesus extol: His kingdom is glorious; He rules over all.
“Salvation to God who sits on the throne,” let all cry aloud and honor the Son; the praises of Jesus the angels proclaim, fall down on their faces and worship the Lamb.
Then let us adore and give Him His right—all glory and pow’r, and wisdom and might, all honor and blessing, with angels above, and thanks never ceasing, and infinite love.
For Today: Psalm 93:1–4; 96:1–10; Mark 10:43, 45; Revelation 7:9–12
Ask God to keep your spirit consistently zealous for Him. Carry this musical reminder with you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 21, Tuesday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 97, 99 (100)
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 94 (95)
Old Testament 2 Chronicles 29:1–3, 30:1 (29:2–9) 10–27
New Testament 1 Corinthians 7:32–40
Gospel Matthew 7:1–12
Index of Readings
Psalm 97, 99 (100)
1 The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him,
and consumes his adversaries on every side.
4 His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
and all the peoples behold his glory.
7 All worshipers of images are put to shame,
those who make their boast in worthless idols;
all gods bow down before him.
8 Zion hears and is glad,
and the towns of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O God.
9 For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;
he guards the lives of his faithful;
he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light dawns for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
1 The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name.
Holy is he!
4 Mighty King, lover of justice,
you have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Extol the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool.
Holy is he!
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called on his name.
They cried to the LORD, and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;
they kept his decrees,
and the statutes that he gave them.
8 O LORD our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Extol the LORD our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the LORD our God is holy.
[ A Psalm of thanksgiving.
1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. ]
Psalm 94 (95)
1 O LORD, you God of vengeance,
you God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O judge of the earth;
give to the proud what they deserve!
3 O LORD, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O LORD,
and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the stranger,
they murder the orphan,
7 and they say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
8 Understand, O dullest of the people;
fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations,
he who teaches knowledge to humankind,
does he not chastise?
11 The LORD knows our thoughts,
that they are but an empty breath.
12 Happy are those whom you discipline, O LORD,
and whom you teach out of your law,
13 giving them respite from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the LORD will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17 If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18 When I thought, “My foot is slipping,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who contrive mischief by statute?
21 They band together against the life of the righteous,
and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the LORD has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He will repay them for their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will wipe them out.
[ 1 O come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
6 O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice!
8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your ancestors tested me,
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they do not regard my ways.”
11 Therefore in my anger I swore,
“They shall not enter my rest.” ]
2 Chronicles 29:1–3, 30:1 (29:2–9) 10–27
29 Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old; he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, just as his ancestor David had done.
3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.
30 Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover to the LORD the God of Israel.
[ 2 He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, just as his ancestor David had done.
3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east. 5 He said to them, “Listen to me, Levites! Sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and carry out the filth from the holy place. 6 For our ancestors have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the LORD our God; they have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the dwelling of the LORD, and turned their backs. 7 They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps, and have not offered incense or made burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore the wrath of the LORD came upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he has made them an object of horror, of astonishment, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes. 9 Our fathers have fallen by the sword and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. ]
10 Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger may turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not now be negligent, for the LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence to minister to him, and to be his ministers and make offerings to him.”
12 Then the Levites arose, Mahath son of Amasai, and Joel son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites; and of the sons of Merari, Kish son of Abdi, and Azariah son of Jehallelel; and of the Gershonites, Joah son of Zimmah, and Eden son of Joah; 13 and of the sons of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeuel; and of the sons of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah; 14 and of the sons of Heman, Jehuel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel. 15 They gathered their brothers, sanctified themselves, and went in as the king had commanded, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. 16 The priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and they brought out all the unclean things that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD; and the Levites took them and carried them out to the Wadi Kidron. 17 They began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD; then for eight days they sanctified the house of the LORD, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. 18 Then they went inside to King Hezekiah and said, “We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the rows of bread and all its utensils. 19 All the utensils that King Ahaz repudiated during his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and sanctified; see, they are in front of the altar of the LORD.”
20 Then King Hezekiah rose early, assembled the officials of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah. He commanded the priests the descendants of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD. 22 So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood and dashed it against the altar; they slaughtered the rams and their blood was dashed against the altar; they also slaughtered the lambs and their blood was dashed against the altar. 23 Then the male goats for the sin offering were brought to the king and the assembly; they laid their hands on them, 24 and the priests slaughtered them and made a sin offering with their blood at the altar, to make atonement for all Israel. For the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.
25 He stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of the prophet Nathan, for the commandment was from the LORD through his prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of King David of Israel.
1 Corinthians 7:32–40
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.
36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37 But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancée, he will do well. 38 So then, he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.
39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my judgment she is more blessed if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
7 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church