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10/31/2017
Jeremiah 32-33-34
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Jeremiah Buys a Field During the Siege

Jeremiah 32:1     The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, 3 where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him. Zedekiah had said, “Why do you prophesy and say: Thus says the Lord: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; 4 King Zedekiah of Judah shall not escape out of the hands of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye; 5 and he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I attend to him, says the Lord; though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed?”

     6 Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” 8 Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.

     9 And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; 12 and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13 In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, 14 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. 15 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.

Jeremiah Prays for Understanding

     16 After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord, saying: 17 Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show steadfast love to the thousandth generation, but repay the guilt of parents into the laps of their children after them, O great and mighty God whose name is the Lord of hosts, 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of mortals, rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings. 20 You showed signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all humankind, and have made yourself a name that continues to this very day. 21 You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror; 22 and you gave them this land, which you swore to their ancestors to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; 23 and they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or follow your law; of all you commanded them to do, they did nothing. Therefore you have made all these disasters come upon them. 24 See, the siege ramps have been cast up against the city to take it, and the city, faced with sword, famine, and pestilence, has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. What you spoke has happened, as you yourself can see. 25 Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans.

God’s Assurance of the People’s Return

     

26 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 See, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? 28 Therefore, thus says the Lord: I am going to give this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, and he shall take it. 29 The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come, set it on fire, and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and libations have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30 For the people of Israel and the people of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; the people of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, says the Lord. 31 This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built until this day, so that I will remove it from my sight 32 because of all the evil of the people of Israel and the people of Judah that they did to provoke me to anger—they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets, the citizens of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

     Scripture has several ways of drawing attention to God’s self-consistency, and in particular of emphasizing that when he is obliged to judge sinners, he does it because he must, if he is to remain true to himself.
     The first example is the language of provocation. Yahweh is described (and indeed describes himself) as ‘provoked’ by Israel’s idolatry to anger or jealousy or both. For example, ‘they made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols’. ( Deut. 32:16, 21. Cf. Judg. 2:12; 1 Kgs 15:30; 21:22; 2 Kgs 17:17; 22:17; Ps. 78:58. ) The exilic prophets, such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel, were constantly employing this vocabulary. ( E.g. Jer. 32:30–32; Ezek. 8:17; Hos. 12:14. ) They did not mean that Yahweh was irritated or exasperated, or that Israel’s behaviour had been so ‘provocative’ that his patience had run out. No, the language of provocation expresses the inevitable reaction of God’s perfect nature to evil. It indicates that there is within God a holy intolerance of idolatry, immorality and injustice. Wherever these occur, they act as stimuli to trigger his response of anger or indignation. He is never provoked without reason. It is evil alone which provokes him, and necessarily so since God must be (and behave like) God. If evil did not provoke him to anger he would forfeit our respect, for he would no longer be God.
   ( The Cross of Christ )



33 They have turned their backs to me, not their faces; though I have taught them persistently, they would not listen and accept correction. 34 They set up their abominations in the house that bears my name, and defiled it. 35 They built the high places of Baal in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter my mind that they should do this abomination, causing Judah to sin.

     36 Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, “It is being given into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence”: 37 See, I am going to gather them from all the lands to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation; I will bring them back to this place, and I will settle them in safety. 38 They shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them, never to draw back from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, so that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

     42 For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good fortune that I now promise them. 43 Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, It is a desolation, without human beings or animals; it has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans. 44 Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, of the hill country, of the Shephelah, and of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, says the Lord.

Healing after Punishment

Jeremiah 33:1     The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still confined in the court of the guard: 2 Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: 3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. 4 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege ramps and before the sword: 5 The Chaldeans are coming in to fight and to fill them with the dead bodies of those whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their wickedness. 6 I am going to bring it recovery and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. 7 I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. 8 I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. 9 And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them; they shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.

     10 Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, “It is a waste without human beings or animals,” in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without inhabitants, human or animal, there shall once more be heard 11 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:

“Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
for the Lord is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!”

     For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.

     12 Thus says the Lord of hosts: In this place that is waste, without human beings or animals, and in all its towns there shall again be pasture for shepherds resting their flocks. 13 In the towns of the hill country, of the Shephelah, and of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places around Jerusalem, and in the towns of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the Lord.

The Righteous Branch and the Covenant with David

     14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

     17 For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 and the levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to make grain offerings, and to make sacrifices for all time.

     19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 Thus says the Lord: If any of you could break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night would not come at their appointed time, 21 only then could my covenant with my servant David be broken, so that he would not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with my ministers the Levites. 22 Just as the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will increase the offspring of my servant David, and the Levites who minister to me.

     23 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 24 Have you not observed how these people say, “The two families that the Lord chose have been rejected by him,” and how they hold my people in such contempt that they no longer regard them as a nation? 25 Thus says the Lord: Only if I had not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26 would I reject the offspring of Jacob and of my servant David and not choose any of his descendants as rulers over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes, and will have mercy upon them.


Death in Captivity Predicted for Zedekiah

Jeremiah 34:1     The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth and all the peoples under his dominion were fighting against Jerusalem and all its cities: 2 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Go and speak to King Zedekiah of Judah and say to him: Thus says the Lord: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. 3 And you yourself shall not escape from his hand, but shall surely be captured and handed over to him; you shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak with him face to face; and you shall go to Babylon. 4 Yet hear the word of the Lord, O King Zedekiah of Judah! Thus says the Lord concerning you: You shall not die by the sword; 5 you shall die in peace. And as spices were burned for your ancestors, the earlier kings who preceded you, so they shall burn spices for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!” For I have spoken the word, says the Lord.

     6 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, 7 when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, Lachish and Azekah; for these were the only fortified cities of Judah that remained.

Treacherous Treatment of Slaves

     8 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them— 9 that all should set free their Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should hold another Judean in slavery. 10 And they obeyed, all the officials and all the people who had entered into the covenant that all would set free their slaves, male or female, so that they would not be enslaved again; they obeyed and set them free. 11 But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free, and brought them again into subjection as slaves. 12 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 13 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, 14 “Every seventh year each of you must set free any Hebrews who have been sold to you and have served you six years; you must set them free from your service.” But your ancestors did not listen to me or incline their ears to me. 15 You yourselves recently repented and did what was right in my sight by proclaiming liberty to one another, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name; 16 but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back your male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them again into subjection to be your slaves. 17 Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by granting a release to your neighbors and friends; I am going to grant a release to you, says the Lord—a release to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 And those who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make like the calf when they cut it in two and passed between its parts: 19 the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf 20 shall be handed over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives. Their corpses shall become food for the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth. 21 And as for King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials, I will hand them over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. 22 I am going to command, says the Lord, and will bring them back to this city; and they will fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire. The towns of Judah I will make a desolation without inhabitant.

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


What I'm Reading

Four Ways to Come Alongside Your Kids to Strengthen Their Faith

By J. Warner Wallace 10/23/2017

     If you’re paying attention to what’s happening in America today, you’re probably aware of the challenges facing young Christians in their teens and twenties. It’s a simple fact: most young Christians will walk away from the Church during (or before) their college years. Like other Christian parents, I’m animated to work as hard as I can to address this dilemma, for my own kids and for the next generation of believers. I’ve authored books, written blogs, recorded podcasts and videos in an attempt to help young people evaluate the evidence for Christianity. I also speak to local congregations. Following a recent church presentation, I was approached by a mother who was concerned for her high school children. We began discussing several ways parents can prepare their kids before sending them off to college. Here are four simple guiding strategies:

     Learn Alongside Your Kids | What would you say if your son or daughter asked you the following question: “If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why is there so much evil in the world? Is God unable to stop it? Is He unwilling?” Or, how about this question: “If God is the creator of everything, who created God?” These are common questions asked by skeptics and believers alike. Are you ready to answer them in a meaningful, reasonable way? If not, don’t feel bad, most Christian parents feel under-equipped to answer difficult objections to Christianity.

     Let that kind of anxiety motivate you to learn alongside your kids. You don’t have to be an expert to lead your kids to the truth. In fact, you only need to be a few steps ahead of them. Cold-Case Christianity for Kids and God’s Crime Scene for Kids were written for children, with their parents in mind. You can learn from these books as your kids examine the evidence for God’s existence and the truth of Christianity. If you want to learn more, the adult versions of these books parallel the kid’s books chapter by chapter. Investigate about the evidence for Christianity, learn how to make the case for what is true, and do it alongside your kids.

     Share Alongside Your Kids | If you’re like me, your friends and family already know what your passionate about. Why? Because I bet you talk about it whenever you get the chance. All of us do this; our conversations at dinner, while driving in the car, or even while walking the dog, give away what really matters to us. If you’ve passionately adopted a reasoned, rational approach to your faith, odds are good you’ll start sharing this interest with your kids during these moments of conversation. You can’t force this; it just happens.

     So, if you really want to help your kids develop a strong, confident faith, you can be intentional and create opportunities, especially as your kids approach their teen years. My friend, Natasha Crain, has written a number of books to help you engage your kids in conversations about God. They are fantastic. Be passionate, take advantage of opportunities and resources like these, and speak up. Talk with your kids about the stuff that matters most.

Natasha Crain Books:

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

Battling Unbelief Together

By John Piper 9/18/1988

     I survive and thrive in the ministry because God has surrounded me with people who pray for me and exhort me to press on in the fight of faith. If you don’t feel supported like this in your faith and work, we want to help change that. The Bible teaches that surviving and thriving in a life of faith and love depends on Christians intentionally building each other in faith and stirring each other up to love. Without intentional faith-building togetherness we lose our zeal, drift from God, become hardened in the deceitfulness of sin, and if someone doesn’t snatch us (James 5:19; Jude 23), we make shipwreck of our so-called faith and perish in unbelief.

     I got a post card from a brother in the ministry a week or so ago that built my faith and gave me hope and encouragement to press on. It was not addressed to me. It was addressed to Christ. It was prayer.

     Dear Lord, | Glorify yourself, our Savior, by moving us as a family of believers to pray as never before. May we find delight and enrichment in new intimacy of conversation with you. May our churches experience new health and vitality. And grant to us, by a fuller liberation of your power through mighty, multiplied intercession, to capture the strongholds of darkness in our country and around the world. That your name will everywhere be esteemed and revered. Give special guidance to your servant, John, as he wrestles with the discernment of urgent issues for Bethlehem’s future. Even in uncertainty provide such inner confidence of your ultimate leading that his peace will be unshakable. | Your servant Bill

     It can happen through the mail. God means it to happen in person even more often. That’s what we want to look at this morning.

     Battling Unbelief and Fighting the Fight of Faith | Last week we saw from Romans 4:20 that belief — belief that glorifies God — is future-oriented. It is a banking on the promises of God. All the promises of God were purchased for believing sinners by an act that happened in the past, namely, by the death and resurrection of Jesus. But God-glorifying belief doesn’t merely stare at those acts; it stands on them, and then looks forward to all the promises Jesus bought for us, and banks its hope on the promises, and moves out in a life of faith. Faith is future-oriented. It is heartfelt hope in the promises of God.

(Jas 5:19–20) 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. ESV

(Jud 23) 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. ESV

(Ro 4:20) 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,ESV

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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:

The Gospel of James Open Letter to Martin Luther

By David Mathis 3/16/2017

     Dear Brother Martin, | Five hundred years ago this year, you nailed your 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. I am a happy twenty-first-century Protestant and thankful for the vital part you played in God’s good providence.

     By all accounts, the medieval church was in desperate need of reform. The shining gem of justification by faith alone was obscured everywhere, and lost altogether in most quarters. And with it we could name dozens of other deceptions, lapses, and syncretistic missteps.

     Under God, you were a spark that set ablaze the kindling of centuries of error and abuse.

     You plainly were not afraid, unlike so many in our day, to express, without apology, deeply held differences in opinion, not just with your foes, but even friends. Many of us today who think of ourselves squarely as your friends take exception to some of your views — some in greater measure than others — and I expect you, of all people, would be least surprised to hear of it and receive it.

     Epistle of Straw? | Not most troubling, but perhaps most in need of clarification today among some Lutherans and Reformed types, is what you said about the epistle of our Lord’s brother, James. You wrote in 1522, in the preface of your German translation of the New Testament, “St. James’s epistle is really a right strawy epistle, compared to these others [Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 Peter, and 1 John], for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it.”

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

What Is the Greatest of All Protestant “Heresies”?

By Sinclair Ferguson 10/30/2017

     Let us begin with a church history exam question. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) was a figure not to be taken lightly. He was Pope Clement VIII’s personal theologian and one of the most able figures in the Counter-Reformation movement within sixteenth-century Roman Catholicism. On one occasion, he wrote: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is _______ .” Complete, explain, and discuss Bellarmine’s statement.

     How would you answer? What is the greatest of all Protestant heresies? Perhaps justification by faith? Perhaps Scripture alone, or one of the other Reformation watchwords?

     Those answers make logical sense. But none of them completes Bellarmine’s sentence. What he wrote was: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is assurance.”

     A moment’s reflection explains why. If justification is not by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone — if faith needs to be completed by works; if Christ’s work is somehow repeated; if grace is not free and sovereign, then something always needs to be done, to be “added” for final justification to be ours. That is exactly the problem. If final justification is dependent on something we have to complete it is not possible to enjoy assurance of salvation. For then, theologically, final justification is contingent and uncertain, and it is impossible for anyone (apart from special revelation, Rome conceded) to be sure of salvation. But if Christ has done everything, if justification is by grace, without contributory works; it is received by faith’s empty hands — then assurance, even “full assurance” is possible for every believer.

     No wonder Bellarmine thought full, free, unfettered grace was dangerous! No wonder the Reformers loved the letter to the Hebrews!

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     Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His many books include The Whole Christ.

Sinclair Ferguson Books:

Best Friends Make the Worst Enemies

By Marshall Segal 10/25/2017

     Our best friends always make the worst enemies. Opposition of any kind can make life miserable, but opposition of a particular kind multiplies the misery.

     We rarely give our enemies enough latitude to really hurt us. They can hurl insults, stand in our way, and even inflict pain, but we always have our guard up. But with our friends and family, we let them through the gates, inside locked doors, to the most vulnerable places. And too often, those we let near in love leverage precious trust to serve themselves at our expense — to betray us.

   The husband who leaves for another woman.
   The wife who gossips about her husband’s weaknesses.
   The son who walks away from the faith.
   The daughter who keeps making destructive decisions.
   The father who over-works to avoid the family.
   The mother who relentlessly demands and condemns.
   The friend who disappears when we need them most.

     Have you been betrayed by the ones you love most? When we have, we can retreat for a season — to process, to recover, to repair, and to prepare to forgive. God has given us a safe place to hide and find the strength and hope we need to press on in love.

     Our Worst Enemies | King David knew the bitter flavor of betrayal.

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Marshall Segal is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife Faye have a son and live in Minneapolis.

Here We Stand

By Albert Mohler 10/30/2017

     Martin Luther’s great moment of theological clarification came at the climax of a command performance. Facing the threat of martyrdom and execution, Luther appeared on trial at the Diet of Worms before the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Asked on what authority he dared to defy the Pope and the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, Luther famously replied:

     “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves–I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.”

     To those words were added: “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me.”

     The Diet of Worms was held in 1521. At the conclusion of his defense, Luther simply said, “I am finished.” There was good reason to believe that he was quite finished. He would be excommunicated from the church and he would live with the threat of martyrdom for the rest of his life. But now, 500 years after Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, the faith of the Reformation is still very much alive.

     That moment of exquisite clarification came when Luther had nowhere to stand but on the authority of Scripture alone. Standing on biblical authority would not have been controversial, but the addition of that little sola changed everything. There is an infinite chasm between the authority of Scripture and the authority of Scripture alone.

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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:

When Jesus Haunts Your Halloween

By David Mathis 10/28/2017

     Unclean spirits stir. Demonic thrones and dominions gather. Cosmic powers over this present darkness come to attention. And the devil himself, ready to devour and destroy, ignites his fiery darts and stretches his legs for the lion’s prowl.

     As All Hallows’ Eve draws nigh, the spiritual forces of evil align, and Satan prepares his hordes for the party of the year — that grand harvest festival, celebration of darkness and death, when they pretend to be their strongest.

     Halloween is almost here. And so is their final defeat. Jesus haunts their Halloween.

     One Little Word | As the demonic rulers and authorities make ready, the one who sits in the heavens laughs (Psalm 2:4). The devil is no threat, with all his orcs and goblins and the wickedest of witches. This is no evenly matched bout. If the incarnate Christ, in his humblest state, commands unclean spirits and they obey him (Mark 1:27) — how much more the risen and glorified Lord? It is Jesus who does the real haunting.

     Even as his adversaries marshal their best, they can’t escape serving his purposes. It is all through him and for him. “By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth . . . whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). Jesus haunts their Halloween.

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

Difference Between Happiness and Pleasure

By R.C. Sproul

     A big problem I had in my youth was that I did not quite understand the difference between happiness and pleasure. I would like to report to you that since I have become a man I have put away all childish things. Unhappily, that is not the case. There are still childish things that cling to my adult life. I still struggle with the difference between happiness and pleasure. I know the difference in my head but it has not yet reached my bloodstream.

     I have committed many sins in my life. Not one of my sins has ever made me happy. None has ever added a single ounce of happiness to my life. On the other hand, sin has added an abundance of unhappiness to my life. I stand amazed at those famous personalities who in the course of television or magazine interviews declare that if they had their lives to live over they would do nothing differently. Such foolishness staggers my imagination. There are multitudes of things I would love to have the chance to do over. Now it is quite possible that with a second chance I would make the same foolish mistakes, but I’d still like the chance to try.

     My sins have not brought me happiness. But my sins have brought me pleasure. I like pleasure. I am still very much attracted to pleasure. Pleasure can be great fun. And not all pleasures are sins. There is much pleasure to be found in righteousness. But the difference is still there. Sin can be pleasurable but it never brings happiness.

     Now if I understand all this, why would I ever be tempted to sin? It seems silly that anyone who knows the difference between happiness and pleasure would continue to trade happiness for pleasure. It seems utterly stupid for a person to do something that he knows will rob him of his happiness. Yet we do it. The mystery of sin is not only that it is wicked and destructive but that it is so downright stupid.

     I smoked cigarettes for years. I never really kept count, but my guess is that in that time hundreds of people called my attention to the fact that smoking was not a good thing for me to be doing. They were merely pointing out to me the obvious, telling me what every smoker in America already knows. Before I was ever converted to Christianity I knew full well that smoking was harmful to me. I knew it before the surgeon general ever put his warning label on cigarette packages. I knew it from the first cigarette I ever smoked. Yet I continued to do it. Sheer madness. That is what sin is.

     Have you ever done anything that you felt like doing even though your head told you it was wrong? If you answer no to that question you are lying, deluded, or you have just qualified to be the savior of the world. We all fall into this trap. We do what we feel like doing rather than what we know we ought to do. No wonder we cry like Paul, “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?”

     Our problem is that we have been called to be holy, and we are not holy. Yet again the question arises, if we are not holy why does the Bible call us “saints”?

     The Bible calls us “holy ones” for two reasons: First we are holy because we have been consecrated to God. We have been set apart. We have been called to a life that is “different.” The Christian life is a life of nonconformity. The idea of nonconformity is expressed in Romans:

     (Ro 12:1–2) 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ESV

     In the Old Testament, worship centered around the altar with the presentations of sacrifices offered to God. For the most part these sacrifices of animals and various grains were made as sin offerings. In themselves the animal sacrifices had no power to atone for sins. They were symbols that pointed forward to the one great sacrifice that would be made on the cross. After the perfect Lamb was slain, the altar sacrifices ceased. The Christian church has no provision for animal sacrifices anymore because it has no need for such sacrifices. To offer them now would be to insult the perfection of the sacrifice of Christ.

     Because the days of animal sacrifices are over, many assume that all sacrifices offered to God are abhorrent to Him. That is simply not true. Here the apostle Paul calls for a new kind of sacrifice, a living sacrifice of our bodies. We are to give not our grains or our animals, but we are to give ourselves to God. This new sacrifice is not an act of atonement: Neither is it a sin offering. The sacrifice of our bodies to God is a thank offering. It follows upon Paul’s word therefore.

     When we see the word therefore in the text of Scripture, we are immediately alerted that a conclusion is coming. The word therefore links what has been previously said to what is about to be concluded. In Romans 12 the “therefore” harks back to all the apostle has set down in the previous chapters that spell out the saving work of Christ in our behalf. It drives us forward to the only proper conclusion we can draw from His work. In light of the gracious justification that Christ has achieved for us the only reasonable conclusion we can reach is that we ought to present ourselves totally to God as walking, breathing, living sacrifices.

     What does the living sacrifice look like? Paul first describes it in terms of nonconformity. “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world.” Here is the point where many Christians have gone astray. It is clear that we are to be nonconformists. But it is difficult to understand precisely what kind of nonconformity is called for. Nonconformity is a tricky matter and can easily be reduced to superficiality.

     It is a tragedy that the matter of nonconformity has been treated by Christians at a shallow level. The simplistic way of being nonconforming is to see what is in style in our culture and then do the opposite. If short hair is in vogue, the nonconformist wears long hair. If moviegoing is popular, then Christians avoid movies as “worldly.” The extreme case of this may be seen in sects that refuse to wear buttons or use electricity because such things too are worldly.

     A superficial style of nonconformity is the classical pharisaical trap. The kingdom of God is not about buttons, movies, or dancing. The concern of God is not focused on what we eat or what we drink. The call of nonconformity is a call to a deeper level of righteousness that goes beyond externals. When piety is defined exclusively in terms of externals, the whole point of the teaching of the apostle has been lost. Somehow we have failed to hear the words of Jesus that it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of his mouth. We still want to make the kingdom a matter of eating and drinking.

     Why are such distortions rampant in Christian circles? The only answer I can give is sin. Our marks of piety can actually be evidences of impiety. When we major in minors and blow insignificant trifles out of proportion, we imitate the Pharisees. When we make dancing and movies the test of spirituality, we are guilty of substituting a cheap morality for a genuine one. We do these things to obscure the deeper issues of righteousness. Anyone can avoid dancing or going to movies. These require no great effort of moral courage. What is difficult is to control the tongue, to act with integrity, to show forth the fruit of the Spirit.

     I have never heard a sermon on coveting in my life. I have heard plenty of sermons about the evils of whiskey, but none on the evils of covetousness. Strange. To be sure, the Bible declares that drunkenness is sin, but it never made the top ten. The prohibition against coveting is one of the Ten Commandments! A true nonconformist is a person who stops coveting; he stops gossiping; he stops slandering; he stops hating and feeling bitter; he starts to practice the fruit of the Spirit.

     Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their preoccupation with external matters:

     (Mt 23:23–24) 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! ESV

The Holiness of God

Dr. R.C. Sproul is copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and chancellor of Reformation Bible College. He is the author of more than one hundred books.

R.C. Sproul Books:

Who was Rufus?

By Lydia McGrew

     Most Christians are familiar with the part of the crucifixion story in which Simon of Cyrene is forced by the Roman soldiers to carry Jesus’ cross on the way to Golgotha. The incident emphasizes Jesus’ exhaustion and weakness as well as the conditions of life under Roman rule. It can hardly have been pleasant to be Simon, who presumably would have preferred to mind his own business and who seems to have been grabbed at random and coerced to participate in the brutal scene.

     All three Synoptic Gospels mention Simon of Cyrene; Mark’s Gospel contains a unique detail.

     (Mk 15:20–21) 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. 21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. ESV

     If one reads this carefully, the question immediately springs to mind, “Who are Rufus and Alexander, and why are they mentioned here?”

     Richard Bauckham argues that Mark’s reference to Rufus and Alexander presupposes that these people were known to Mark’s audience. 16 I consider this conclusion defensible since these names come up in Mark’s Gospel “out of the blue” without further explanation and are attached to a person (Simon) who has no other role to play in the Gospel. This is not merely a matter of leaving out some particular, which might be merely the natural way in which witnesses talk without filling in explanatory details. It is a matter of including the names of people who have no role otherwise in the narrative, as if these names were meaningful in some special way. A valuable point in Bauckham’s discussion is that the phrase “of Cyrene” would presumably have been sufficient to distinguish this Simon from others, so that is not a likely explanation for Mark’s using the lengthier reference to Simon’s sons.

     Bauckham’s points are well-taken, but here I want to note the coincidence between this passage and one of the greetings at the end of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.” (Rom 16.13)

     (Ro 16:13) 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. ESV

     By itself, this might just be a coincidence of names. Why think that the “Rufus” of Romans 16 is the same as the “Rufus” of Mark 15? It’s important to keep in mind that multiple, unconnected people could have the same name in Biblical times as in our own. Bauckham points out two pertinent facts that point in opposite directions on this question. (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony) On the one hand, Paul’s reference to his close connection with Rufus’s mother as being in some sense (presumably metaphoric or spiritual) his own mother indicates that Rufus had gone to Rome from the eastern side of the Mediterranean (where Jerusalem was), since Paul had never been in Rome at the time that he wrote this epistle. While this would by no means necessitate the conclusion that the two are the same Rufus, it would slightly confirm it. On the other hand, Bauckham raises the caution that “Rufus” was not an uncommon name, being treated by the Jews as a Latin equivalent of “Reuben,” so the Rufus of Romans 16 could be a different person.

     The greeting from Paul to a Christian Rufus in Rome is worth considering in this context chiefly because of a longstanding patristic tradition that Mark’s Gospel was originally written in Rome with inhabitants of Rome as its first audience. (See John Wenham Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem (English and Ancient Greek Edition), for a summary of the patristic evidence.) With that fact in mind, we have three points of evidence coming together— the “out of nowhere” reference to Rufus and Alexander in Mark, as though perhaps they are known to the audience of the Gospel, the reference in Romans to a Rufus who was a Christian in Rome, and the tradition that Mark’s Gospel was written in Rome. In this way the reference to Rufus in Romans confirms, via a plausible conjecture, the unique reference to Rufus in Mark as the son of Simon of Cyrene and thereby confirms the historical reliability of Mark.

Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts

     Lydia McGrew


  • Church Growth
  • Sovereign Gospel Explanation
  • Amazing Unbelief


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Words to Live By in Troubled Times (3)
     (Oct 31)    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

     Here are some more wonderful promises from the Bible that you can rely on when trouble comes: 1) ‘Because you have made the LORD…your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways’ (Psalm 91:9-11 NKJV). 2) ‘The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them’ (Psalm 34:7 NIV 2011 Edition). 3) ‘I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed’ (Psalm 57:1 NIV 2011 Edition). 4) ‘The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18 NIV 2011 Edition). 5) ‘The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer’ (1 Peter 3:12 NIV 2011 Edition). 6) ‘He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me…he rescued me because he delighted in me’ (Psalm 18:16-19 NIV 2011 Edition). 7) ‘Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light’ (Micah 7:8 NIV 2011 Edition). 8) ‘You will have courage because you will have hope. You will take your time and rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help’ (Job 11:18-19 TLB). 9) ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20 NIV 2011 Edition).

(Ps 91:9–11) 9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. ESV

(Ps 34:7) 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. ESV

(Ps 57:1) Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. ESV

(Ps 34:18) 18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. ESV

(1 Pe 3:12) 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” ESV

(Ps 18:16–19) 16 He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. 17 He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. 19 He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. ESV

(Mic 7:8) 8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. ESV

(Job 11:18–19) 18 And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. 19 You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will court your favor. ESV

(Eph 3:20) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, ESV

Lam 3-5
Heb 4

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this day, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the door of the Wittenberg Palace Church, thus beginning the Reformation. He was summoned to stand trial before the twenty-one year old Emperor Charles V and was declared an outlaw. Luther was protected by Frederick of Saxony in the Wartburg castle, where he translated the New Testament into German. Among his works, Martin Luther wrote: “I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth.”

American Minute

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


     As to the words of the service-liturgy in the narrower sense-the question is rather different. If you have a vernacular liturgy you must have a changing liturgy: otherwise it will finally be vernacular only in name. The ideal of "time­ less English" is sheer nonsense. No living language can be timeless. You might as well ask for a motionless river.

     I think it would have been best, if it were possible, that necessary change should have occurred gradually and (to most people) imperceptibly; here a little and there a little; one obsolete word replaced in a century-like the gradual change of spelling in successive editions of Shakespeare. As things are, we must reconcile ourselves, if we can also reconcile government, to a new Book.

     If we were-if thank my stars I'm not-in a position to give its authors advice, would you have any advice to give them? Mine could hardly go beyond unhelpful cautions: "Take care. It is so easy to break eggs without making omelets."

     Already our liturgy is one of the very few remaining elements of unity in our hideously divided Church. The good to be done by revision needs to be very great and very certain before we throw that away. Can you imagine any new Book which will not be a source of new schism?

     Most of those who press for revision seem to wish that it should serve two purposes: that of modernizing the language in the interests of intelligibility, and that of doctrinal improvement. Ought the two operations-each painful and each dangerous-to be carried out at the same time? Will the patient survive?

     What are the agreed doctrines which are to be embodied in the new Book and how long will agreement on them continue? I ask with trepidation• because I read a man the other day who seemed to wish that everything in the old book which was inconsistent with orthodox Freudianism should be deleted.


Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


I discovered later,
and I'm still discovering right up to this moment,
that it is only by living completely in this world
that one learns to have faith.
By this-worldliness
I mean living unreservedly in life's duties,
     problems, successes and failures.
In so doing
we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God,
taking seriously,
not our own sufferings,
but those of God in the world.

That, I think, is faith.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer     The Cost of Discipleship, Revised Edition


Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
--- William James

The world is a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell "God" with the wrong blocks.
--- Edwin Arlington Robinson     Robinson: Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets Series)

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     4. Now all the soldiery marched out beforehand by companies, and in their several ranks, under their several commanders, in the night time, and were about the gates, not of the upper palaces, but those near the temple of Isis; for there it was that the emperors had rested the foregoing night. And as soon as ever it was day, Vespasian and Titus came out crowned with laurel, and clothed in those ancient purple habits which were proper to their family, and then went as far as Octavian's Walks; for there it was that the senate, and the principal rulers, and those that had been recorded as of the equestrian order, waited for them. Now a tribunal had been erected before the cloisters, and ivory chairs had been set upon it, when they came and sat down upon them. Whereupon the soldiery made an acclamation of joy to them immediately, and all gave them attestations of their valor; while they were themselves without their arms, and only in their silken garments, and crowned with laurel: then Vespasian accepted of these shouts of theirs; but while they were still disposed to go on in such acclamations, he gave them a signal of silence. And when every body entirely held their peace, he stood up, and covering the greatest part of his head with his cloak, he put up the accustomed solemn prayers; the like prayers did Titus put up also; after which prayers Vespasian made a short speech to all the people, and then sent away the soldiers to a dinner prepared for them by the emperors. Then did he retire to that gate which was called the Gate of the Pomp, because pompous shows do always go through that gate; there it was that they tasted some food, and when they had put on their triumphal garments, and had offered sacrifices to the gods that were placed at the gate, they sent the triumph forward, and marched through the theatres, that they might be the more easily seen by the multitudes.

     5. Now it is impossible to describe the multitude of the shows as they deserve, and the magnificence of them all; such indeed as a man could not easily think of as performed, either by the labor of workmen, or the variety of riches, or the rarities of nature; for almost all such curiosities as the most happy men ever get by piece-meal were here one heaped on another, and those both admirable and costly in their nature; and all brought together on that day demonstrated the vastness of the dominions of the Romans; for there was here to be seen a mighty quantity of silver, and gold, and ivory, contrived into all sorts of things, and did not appear as carried along in pompous show only, but, as a man may say, running along like a river. Some parts were composed of the rarest purple hangings, and so carried along; and others accurately represented to the life what was embroidered by the arts of the Babylonians. There were also precious stones that were transparent, some set in crowns of gold, and some in other places, as the workmen pleased; and of these such a vast number were brought, that we could not but thence learn how vainly we imagined any of them to be rarities. The images of the gods were also carried, being as well wonderful for their largeness, as made very artificially, and with great skill of the workmen; nor were any of these images of any other than very costly materials; and many species of animals were brought, every one in their own natural ornaments. The men also who brought every one of these shows were great multitudes, and adorned with purple garments, all over interwoven with gold; those that were chosen for carrying these pompous shows having also about them such magnificent ornaments as were both extraordinary and surprising. Besides these, one might see that even the great number of the captives was not unadorned, while the variety that was in their garments, and their fine texture, concealed from the sight the deformity of their bodies. But what afforded the greatest surprise of all was the structure of the pageants that were borne along; for indeed he that met them could not but be afraid that the bearers would not be able firmly enough to support them, such was their magnitude; for many of them were so made, that they were on three or even four stories, one above another. The magnificence also of their structure afforded one both pleasure and surprise; for upon many of them were laid carpets of gold. There was also wrought gold and ivory fastened about them all; and many resemblances of the war, and those in several ways, and variety of contrivances, affording a most lively portraiture of itself. For there was to be seen a happy country laid waste, and entire squadrons of enemies slain; while some of them ran away, and some were carried into captivity; with walls of great altitude and magnitude overthrown and ruined by machines; with the strongest fortifications taken, and the walls of most populous cities upon the tops of hills seized on, and an army pouring itself within the walls; as also every place full of slaughter, and supplications of the enemies, when they were no longer able to lift up their hands in way of opposition. Fire also sent upon temples was here represented, and houses overthrown, and falling upon their owners: rivers also, after they came out of a large and melancholy desert, ran down, not into a land cultivated, nor as drink for men, or for cattle, but through a land still on fire upon every side; for the Jews related that such a thing they had undergone during this war. Now the workmanship of these representations was so magnificent and lively in the construction of the things, that it exhibited what had been done to such as did not see it, as if they had been there really present. On the top of every one of these pageants was placed the commander of the city that was taken, and the manner wherein he was taken. Moreover, there followed those pageants a great number of ships; and for the other spoils, they were carried in great plenty. But for those that were taken in the temple of Jerusalem, 9 they made the greatest figure of them all; that is, the golden table, of the weight of many talents; the candlestick also, that was made of gold, though its construction were now changed from that which we made use of; for its middle shaft was fixed upon a basis, and the small branches were produced out of it to a great length, having the likeness of a trident in their position, and had every one a socket made of brass for a lamp at the tops of them. These lamps were in number seven, and represented the dignity of the number seven among the Jews; and the last of all the spoils, was carried the Law of the Jews. After these spoils passed by a great many men, carrying the images of Victory, whose structure was entirely either of ivory or of gold. After which Vespasian marched in the first place, and Titus followed him; Domitian also rode along with them, and made a glorious appearance, and rode on a horse that was worthy of admiration.

     6. Now the last part of this pompous show was at the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, whither when they were come, they stood still; for it was the Romans' ancient custom to stay till somebody brought the news that the general of the enemy was slain. This general was Simon, the son of Gioras, who had then been led in this triumph among the captives; a rope had also been put upon his head, and he had been drawn into a proper place in the forum, and had withal been tormented by those that drew him along; and the law of the Romans required that malefactors condemned to die should be slain there. Accordingly, when it was related that there was an end of him, and all the people had set up a shout for joy, they then began to offer those sacrifices which they had consecrated, in the prayers used in such solemnities; which when they had finished, they went away to the palace. And as for some of the spectators, the emperors entertained them at their own feast; and for all the rest there were noble preparations made for feasting at home; for this was a festival day to the city of Rome, as celebrated for the victory obtained by their army over their enemies, for the end that was now put to their civil miseries, and for the commencement of their hopes of future prosperity and happiness.

     7. After these triumphs were over, and after the affairs of the Romans were settled on the surest foundations, Vespasian resolved to build a temple to Peace, which was finished in so short a time, and in so glorious a manner, as was beyond all human expectation and opinion: for he having now by Providence a vast quantity of wealth, besides what he had formerly gained in his other exploits, he had this temple adorned with pictures and statues; for in this temple were collected and deposited all such rarities as men aforetime used to wander all over the habitable world to see, when they had a desire to see one of them after another; he also laid up therein those golden vessels and instruments that were taken out of the Jewish temple, as ensigns of his glory. But still he gave order that they should lay up their Law, and the purple veils of the holy place, in the royal palace itself, and keep them there.

     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 27:23-27
     by D.H. Stern

23     Take care to know the condition of your flocks,
and pay attention to your herds.
24     For wealth doesn’t last forever,
neither does a crown through all generations.
25     When the hay has been mown, and the new grass appears,
and the mountain greens have been gathered;
26     the lambs will provide your clothing,
the goats will sell for enough to buy a field,
27     and there will be enough goat’s milk
to [buy] food for you and your household
and maintenance for your servant-girls.

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


Discernment of faith

     Faith as a grain of mustard seed.… --- Matthew 17:20.

     We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, it may be so in the initial stages; but we do not earn anything by faith. Faith brings us into right relationship with God and gives God His opportunity. God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience if you are a saint in order to get you into contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings. Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience that had as much of sense as of faith in it, full of light and sweetness; then God withdrew His conscious blessings in order to teach you to walk by faith. You are worth far more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight and thrilling testimony.

     Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life. Much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith in the Bible is faith in God against every thing that contradicts Him—‘I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.’ “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”—this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Hesitations
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


                Hesitations

I rubbed it
  and the spirit appeared
  (of history) : What you will,
  it said. Die, I said.
  But it would not.

Old gods are no good;
  they are smaller than
  they promise, or else they are large
  like mountains, leaning over
  the soul to admire themselves.

I put the bone back
  in its place and went on
  with my journey. History
  went at my right side
  hungry for the horizon.

Were there towns I came
  to? The sky over
  them was without expression.
  No God there. I would have
  passed on, but a music

detained me in one of
  blood flowing, where two
  people side by side
  under the arc lamps
  lay, from one to the other.


Frequencies

3 / REASON & TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY WITHIN HALAKHAH & PHILOSOPHY
     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     The categories of loyalty and disloyalty do not enter into disagreements based on reasoned argument.

     There is a common logic that unites Aggadah and Halakhah. The methods that the law student uses to understand when reason, in relation to authority, may apply in legal issues are similar to his approach to the speculative claims of his tradition.

     The Aggadah of Judaism can be found both in the Talmud and the Bible. The same biblical text that Maimonides uses to reject a fundamentalist approach to rabbinic Aggadah is used to justify a nonliteral understanding of prophetic Aggadah. All Aggadah, both rabbinic and prophetic, must take cognizance of universal criteria of truth. When one studies Aggadah susceptible to demonstrative certainty, loyalty is to reason not to authority. The certainties of demonstrative reason transcend the logic of communal authority.

     Maimonides’ attempt at reconciling the Aggadah of Judaism with Aristotle’s physics is not based upon his loyalty to Athens, but upon his commitment to truth. Once a truth has been established through demonstrative reason, it ceases to have any logically significant relationship to the one who established it. The acceptance of truths based upon demonstrative reason does not in any way reveal the cultural or historical loyalties of an individual. The approach of modern thinkers who view knowledge as being historically and culturally determined should not confuse our understanding of how Maimonides perceived the science of Athens. Not only in the Guide but also in the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides expresses this:

     As regards the logic for all these calculations—why we have to add a particular figure or deduct it, how all these rules originated, and how they were discovered and proved—all this is part of the sciences of astronomy and mathematics, about which many books have been composed by Greek sages—books that are still available to the scholars of our time. But the books which had been composed by the Sages of Israel, of the tribe of Issachar, who lived in the time of the Prophets, have not come down to us. But since all these rules have been established by sound and clear proofs, free from any flaw and irrefutable, we need not be concerned about the identity of their authors, whether they be Hebrew Prophets or Gentile sages. For when we have to do with rules and propositions which have been demonstrated by good reasons and have been verified to be true by sound and flawless proofs, we rely upon the author who has discovered them or transmitted them only because of his demonstrated proofs and verified reasoning. (   ASIN: B000PWBT9O   )

     Just as there is no “Jewish” astronomy so there is no “Greek” physics. Demonstrative truths claim assent on the basis of their content, and not by the appeal of their author. In his attempt at reconciling the science of his day with Torah, Maimonides did not see himself as attempting to merge two cultural loyalties. He was loyal to the Jewish tradition; he did not believe that this demanded the denial of universal truths. Maimonides was loyal to the authority of Moses and Abraham; he was intellectually open to the rational arguments of Aristotle and al-Farabi. From the perspective of his general position that demonstrative truths are not subject to arguments from authority, we can understand Maimonides’ astonishing claim that there always was an oral tradition of philosophic knowledge in Judaism:

     Know that the many sciences devoted to establishing the truth regarding these matters that have existed in our religious community have perished because of the length of the time that has passed, because of our being dominated by the pagan nations, and because, as we have made clear, it is not permitted to divulge these matters to all people.… Now if there was insistence that the legalistic science of law should not, in view of the harm that will be caused by such a procedure, be perpetuated in a written compilation accessible to all the people, all the more could none of the “mysteries of the Torah” have been set down in writing and be made accessible to the people. On the contrary, they were transmitted by a few men belonging to the elite to a few of the same kind, just as I made clear to you from their sayings: “The mysteries of the Torah may only be transmitted to a counselor, wise in crafts, and so on.” This was the cause that necessitated the disappearance of these great roots of knowledge from the nation.

     Maimonides is showing his student, who is concerned about the conflict of reason with authority, that just as there is—in Judaism—an oral legal tradition which claims his assent on the basis of authority, so, too, there is an oral tradition—in philosophy—which claims his assent on the basis of demonstrative argument. What appears as an exaggerated, provincialistic claim actually states that Judaism always recognized that philosophic truths transcended loyalty to authority. One shows allegiance to the tradition by refusing to allow for the possibility of a contradiction between teachings based upon authority, and demonstrative truths. By maintaining that Judaism from Sinai onward contained both a legal and philosophical oral tradition, Maimonides enables the student of the Guide to realize that one remains a traditional Jew by joining loyalty to the oral law with loyalty to reason. The unity of Halakhah and Aggadah, within the tradition, makes it possible for an individual to unite allegiance to community with respect for truth regardless of the source of the truth. Maimonides’ philosophic explanation of prophetic Aggadah is a traditional mode of explanation since the tradition always recognized the difference between arguments from authority and arguments from reason. Biblical Aggadah is not misinterpreted if it is understood from the perspective of universal criteria of knowledge: The Bible never intended to speak from authority when demonstrative reason was capable of establishing truth.

     The task of the Jewish philosopher, as understood by Maimonides, is to provide the believing Jew with epistemological guidelines which enable him to identify those beliefs which his community accepts on the basis of authority, and those beliefs his community shares with the universal community of rational men. The Jewish philosopher makes it possible for the Jew to believe that it can be compatible to be both a philosopher and a traditional Jew. To do this, he must establish and justify the legitimate place occupied by beliefs based on authority. Beliefs accepted on the basis of authority become legitimate when one realizes that the human intellect has limitations and that demonstrative reason alone is not a sufficient source of knowledge:

     Do not think that what we have said with regard to the insufficiency of the human intellect and its having a limit at which it stops is a statement made in order to conform to Law. For it is something that has already been said and truly grasped by the philosophers without their having concern for a particular doctrine or opinion. And it is a true thing that cannot be doubted except by an individual ignorant of what has already been demonstrated.


Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     October 31



     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

     Pilate [was] as pathetic a figure as [exists] in human history.    The Galilean Accent - Being Some Studies in the Christian Life    A Roman, with a Roman’s sense of justice, he knew at once that these charges against Christ were faked. With a question or two, he had the poor, bribed, muddled witnesses tripping over their own stories or contradicting one another at all points, quite evidently twisting innocent words into sinister meanings that they did not carry in the accused’s mouth. Tools, thought the man on the judgment seat, and looked contemptuously at the hot faces showing through the doors, shouting and bawling, half beside themselves with rage, though they would come no further into a Gentile court, these holy men on this holy day, lest they might be polluted! How he despised and hated them! Being quite clear that there was nothing against the strange, silent prisoner, he tried hard to get him off. And yet he signed the order for the crucifixion and goes down in history hooted and pelted with the infamy of every race. Why didn’t he leap to his feet and cry, “This is mere malice and not a substantial charge. The prisoner is acquitted! And as for you, be off with you, for fear that you stand in his place!” Why, like a noble creature caught in a trap, does he only snarl and show his teeth and struggle and long to hurl himself at his taunting enemies, yet cannot break free?

     They say old sins troubled him, past failures that made things difficult for him now. He had been too hectoring and domineering—at least these impossible people said so—though he himself denied it. At all events, protesting to Rome, they had won the emperor’s ear and humbled their governor. And that must not happen again. Ah, me! is not life a fearsome thing? Take care! take care! For if you sin a sin, be sure that somehow you will pay for it. And it may be a hideous price! So Pilate found in his day; so you, too, will find in ours.

     Our acts follow us from afar,
     And what we have been makes us what we are.

     Pilate was curt and domineering to the Jews one day. And because of that, months later, his unwilling hands set up the cross of Christ; unwilling—but they did it. Take care! For sin is merciless. If you have had the sweet, sin will see to it that you drink the bitter—to the very dregs. Think, think, and take care!
--- Arthur John Gossip


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

On This Day   October 31
     High Noon


     In 1517 Pope Leo X, empty-pocketed and needing funds to rebuild St. Peter’s basilica, issued a special “sale” of indulgences. The very word “indulgence” tends to convey dubious moral connotations, but these indulgences were particularly questionable. What was an “indulgence”? It was a special sort of forgiveness for sins issued by the pope in consideration of various acts of merit, in this case donations to Leo’s treasury. Indulgences could even be “purchased” on behalf of loved ones in purgatory.

     Dominican friar Johann Tetzel became the pontiff’s peddler, a P. T. Barnum traveling around with a brass-bound chest, a bag of printed receipts, and an enormous cross draped with a papal banner. Whenever Tetzel came to a town, church bells peeled, crowds gathered, and street performers kicked up their heels. Tetzel would set up shop in the nave of the local church, open his bags, and shout, “I have here the passports to lead the human soul to the celestial joys of Paradise. As soon as the coin rings in the bowl, the soul for whom it is paid will fly from purgatory and straight to heaven.”

     He usually exceeded his quota.

     But many were troubled, and when the hard eyes of Martin Luther fell on the indulgences purchased by fellow villagers in Wittenberg, he studied them carefully and pronounced them frauds. At high noon on October 31, 1517, Luther, a 33-year-old university professor, walked to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and tacked to it a document. The door served as the town bulletin board, and Martin Luther had an announcement to post. He called for a “disputation on the power and efficacy of indulgences.”

     A few curious passersby drew near and scanned the words: “Out of love for the faith and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg under the chairmanship of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology. … ” There followed a list of 95 items.

     Luther did not yet know what mighty blows he had struck.

     God is our mighty fortress, always ready to help in times of trouble. Nations rage! Kingdoms fall! But at the voice of God the earth itself melts. The LORD All-Powerful is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.
--- Psalm 46:1,6,7.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 31

     “Renew a right spirit within me.” --- Psalm 51:10.

     A backslider, if there be a spark of life left in him will groan after restoration. In this renewal the same exercise of grace is required as at our conversion. We needed repentance then; we certainly need it now. We wanted faith that we might come to Christ at first; only the like grace can bring us to Jesus now. We wanted a word from the Most High, a word from the lip of the loving One, to end our fears then; we shall soon discover, when under a sense of present sin, that we need it now. No man can be renewed without as real and true a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s energy as he felt at first, because the work is as great, and flesh and blood are as much in the way now as ever they were. Let thy personal weakness, O Christian, be an argument to make thee pray earnestly to thy God for help. Remember, David when he felt himself to be powerless, did not fold his arms or close his lips, but he hastened to the mercy-seat with “renew a right spirit within me.” Let not the doctrine that you, unaided, can do nothing, make you sleep; but let it be a goad in your side to drive you with an awful earnestness to Israel’s strong Helper. O that you may have grace to plead with God, as though you pleaded for your very life—“Lord, renew a right spirit within me.” He who sincerely prays to God to do this, will prove his honesty by using the means through which God works. Be much in prayer; live much upon the Word of God; kill the lusts which have driven your Lord from you; be careful to watch over the future uprisings of sin. The Lord has his own appointed ways; sit by the wayside and you will be ready when he passes by. Continue in all those blessed ordinances which will foster and nourish your dying graces; and, knowing that all the power must proceed from him, cease not to cry, “Renew a right spirit within me.”


          Evening - October 31

     “I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.” --- Hosea 13:5.

     Yes, Lord, thou didst indeed know me in my fallen state, and thou didst even then choose me for thyself. When I was loathsome and self-abhorred, thou didst receive me as thy child, and thou didst satisfy my craving wants. Blessed for ever be thy name for this free, rich, abounding mercy. Since then, my inward experience has often been a wilderness; but thou hast owned me still as thy beloved, and poured streams of love and grace into me to gladden me, and make me fruitful. Yea, when my outward circumstances have been at the worst, and I have wandered in a land of drought, thy sweet presence has solaced me. Men have not known me when scorn has awaited me, but thou hast known my soul in adversities, for no affliction dims the lustre of thy love. Most gracious Lord, I magnify thee for all thy faithfulness to me in trying circumstances, and I deplore that I should at any time have forgotten thee and been exalted in heart, when I have owed all to thy gentleness and love. Have mercy upon thy servant in this thing!

     My soul, if Jesus thus acknowledged thee in thy low estate, be sure that thou own both himself and his cause now that thou art in thy prosperity. Be not lifted up by thy worldly successes so as to be ashamed of the truth or of the poor church with which thou hast been associated. Follow Jesus into the wilderness: bear the cross with him when the heat of persecution grows hot. He owned thee, O my soul, in thy poverty and shame—never be so treacherous as to be ashamed of him. O for more shame at the thought of being ashamed of my best Beloved! Jesus, my soul cleaveth to thee.

     “I’ll turn to thee in days of light,
     As well as nights of care,
     Thou brightest amid all that’s bright!
     Thou fairest of the fair!”


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

Amazing Grace
     October 31

          A MIGHTY FORTRESS

     Words and Music by Martin Luther, 1483–1546
     English Translation by Frederick H. Hedge, 1805–1890

     God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46:1, 2)

     October 31, 1517, is perhaps the most important day in Protestant history. This was the day when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and a professor of theology, posted on the doors of the Cathedral of Wittenberg, Germany, his 95 theses (complaints) against the teachings and practices of the medieval Roman Church. With this event, the 16th century Protestant Reformation was formally born.

     The Protestant Reformation movement was built on three main tenets:

•     The re-establishment of the Scriptures.
•     Clarifying the means of salvation.
•     The restoration of congregational singing.

     “A Mighty Fortress” was written and composed by Martin Luther. The date of the hymn cannot be fixed with any exact certainty. It is generally believed, however, to have been written for the Diet of Spires in 1529 when the term “protestant” was first used. The hymn became the great rallying cry of the Reformation.

     A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe—His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.
     Did we in our own strength confide our striving would be losing, were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He—Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same—and He must win the battle.
     And tho this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thru us. The prince of darkness grim—we tremble not for Him; His rage we can endure; for lo! his doom is sure—One little word shall fell him.
     That word above all earthly pow’rs—no thanks to them—abideth; the Spirit and the gifts are ours thru Him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still—His kingdom is forever.


     For Today: Deuteronomy 33:27; 2 Samuel 22:2; Psalm 46; Isaiah 26:4

     Breathe a prayer of thanks to God for reformers such as Martin Luther, who laid the foundations for our evangelical faith. Praise Him on this Reformation Day for this truth ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Tuesday, October 31, 2017 | After Pentecost


Proper 25, Tuesday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 45
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 47, 48
Old Testament     Ezra 5:1–17
New Testament     Revelation 4:1–11
Gospel     Matthew 13:1–9

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 45

To the leader: according to Lilies.
Of the Korahites. A Maskil. A love song.

1 My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

2 You are the most handsome of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your glory and majesty.

4 In your majesty ride on victoriously
for the cause of truth and to defend the right;
let your right hand teach you dread deeds.
5 Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.

6 Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

10 Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear;
forget your people and your father’s house,
11 and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him;
12 the people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people 13 with all kinds of wealth.

The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
14 in many-colored robes she is led to the king;
behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.

16 In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations;
therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 47, 48

To the leader. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.
1 Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
2 For the LORD, the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
3 He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
4 He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves.     Selah

5 God has gone up with a shout,
the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the king of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm.

8 God is king over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
9 The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted.

A Song. A Psalm of the Korahites.

1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.
3 Within its citadels God
has shown himself a sure defense.

4 Then the kings assembled,
they came on together.
5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic, they took to flight;
6 trembling took hold of them there,
pains as of a woman in labor,
7 as when an east wind shatters
the ships of Tarshish.
8 As we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of the LORD of hosts,
in the city of our God,
which God establishes forever.     Selah

9 We ponder your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 Your name, O God, like your praise,
reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with victory.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad,
let the towns of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments.

12 Walk about Zion, go all around it,
count its towers,
13 consider well its ramparts;
go through its citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will be our guide forever.

Old Testament
Ezra 5:1–17

5 Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. 2 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set out to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, helping them.

3 At the same time Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus, “Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?” 4 They also asked them this, “What are the names of the men who are building this building?” 5 But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until a report reached Darius and then answer was returned by letter in reply to it.

6 The copy of the letter that Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his associates the envoys who were in the province Beyond the River sent to King Darius; 7 they sent him a report, in which was written as follows: “To Darius the king, all peace! 8 May it be known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built of hewn stone, and timber is laid in the walls; this work is being done diligently and prospers in their hands. 9 Then we spoke to those elders and asked them, ‘Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?’ 10 We also asked them their names, for your information, so that we might write down the names of the men at their head. 11 This was their reply to us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But because our ancestors had angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia. 13 However, King Cyrus of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, made a decree that this house of God should be rebuilt. 14 Moreover, the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem and had brought into the temple of Babylon, these King Cyrus took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. 15 He said to him, “Take these vessels; go and put them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its site.” 16 Then this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem; and from that time until now it has been under construction, and it is not yet finished.’ 17 And now, if it seems good to the king, have a search made in the royal archives there in Babylon, to see whether a decree was issued by King Cyrus for the rebuilding of this house of God in Jerusalem. Let the king send us his pleasure in this matter.”

New Testament
Revelation 4:1–11

4 After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! 3 And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. 4 Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; 6 and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.

Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,

     “Holy, holy, holy,
     the Lord God the Almighty,
     who was and is and is to come.”

9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,

11     “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
     to receive glory and honor and power,
     for you created all things,
     and by your will they existed and were created.”

GOSPEL
Matthew 13:1–9

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!”


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

Book Of Common Prayer
     On The Same Date | Vigil | Holy Day


Eve Of All Saints
Evening Prayer
Years 1 & 2

Psalms     Psalm 34
Old Testament     Wisdom of Solomon 3:1–9
New Testament     Revelation 19:1, 4–10

Index of Readings

Psalms
Psalm 34

Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD,
and was saved from every trouble.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.
9 O fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for those who fear him have no want.
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Which of you desires life,
and covets many days to enjoy good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,
and rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD rescues them from them all.
20 He keeps all their bones;
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil brings death to the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Old Testament
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1–9

3 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
3 and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
4 For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
6 like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them forever.
9 Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.

New Testament
Revelation 19:1, 4–10

19 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,

“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power to our God,

4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
5 And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
small and great.”

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready;
8 to her it has been granted to be clothed
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

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



The Geography of Christmas Prophecy
John MacArthur





Your Responsibility to the Church 1
John MacArthur






Your Responsibility to the Church 2
John MacArthur





Your Responsibility to the Church 3
John MacArthur






Your Responsibility to the Church 4
John MacArthur





Your Responsibility to the Church 5
John MacArthur






The Substance of Faith
John MacArthur





The Patriarchs: An Enduring Faith
John MacArthur






A Conquering, Courageous Faith 1
John MacArthur





A Conquering, Courageous Faith 2
John MacArthur






An Introduction to the Sovereign Gospel
John MacArthur





Christ, the Head of the Church
John MacArthur






The Power and Pity of Jesus Mark 5:21-34
John MacArthur