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     Ephesians 1-3
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Ephesians 1     1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

     3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

     11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

     15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

By Grace Through Faith

Ephesians 2     1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

One in Christ

     11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed

Ephesians 3     1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

     7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Prayer for Spiritual Strength

     14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

     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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha

What I'm Reading

Unbelievable? Does Josephus’ Account of John the Baptist Invalidate the Gospels?

By J. Warner Wallace 8/18/2017

     In an interview on Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley, I spoke with two skeptics and discussed apparent contradictions in the history offered by the Gospel authors when compared to non-Christian historians. One skeptic offered an objection related to the account of the beheading of John the Baptist. Although I had difficulty hearing and understanding his words through the telephone connection and his accent, his argument can be summed up succinctly: Josephus records the death of John the Baptist at a time in history that appears to be around 36AD, six years after the date commonly accepted for the crucifixion of Jesus. If Josephus’ record is accurate, John was executed after the Resurrection of Jesus, and the gospel accounts are wrong. This objection, along with an objection about the role and dating of Quirinius in the Gospel of Luke, formed the basis for his skepticism toward the Gospel accounts.

     While I had difficulty hearing and understanding the precise dating elements the caller referenced in his objection, I was certainly familiar enough with the nature of the complaint and the overarching principles I would use to test the testimony of Josephus against the testimony of Matthew (14:1-12) and Mark (6:14-29). I’ve written about these concepts related to eyewitness reliability in my book, Cold-Case Christianity, and it’s important to employ these principles to avoid stumbling over apparently contradictory minutia:

     Principle One: Make Sure the Witnesses Were Present in the First Place

     While Mark and Matthew (or at least the authors of their Gospels if you’re inclined to deny the traditional attributions) lived during the time of John’s execution, Josephus did not. Most scholars place Josephus’ birth at 37AD and date his testimony related to John the Baptist (as it is recorded in Antiquities of the Jews) at 93-94AD. There is good reason to believe Mark’s Gospel is the earliest narrative of these events and was written within 20 years of John’s execution; the case for the early dating of Mark’s text is cumulative and compelling. Mark’s account was, therefore, available to the early Christian and non-Christian observers of the life of Jesus. The first consideration for eyewitness reliability is simply proximity to the event. Were the witnesses truly present to see what they said they saw? Just as importantly, was the account available early enough in history to be fact checked by other contemporaries? In this case, we are comparing two accounts from the time of the event to one account written one generation after the event.

     Principle Two: Try to Find Some Corroboration for the Claims of the Witnesses | Historical accounts (like accounts from cold-case homicide witnesses) can be verified in a variety of ways. Sometimes we use physical evidence external to the account (like archaeological discoveries) and sometimes we use the testimony of other witnesses. In this case, we have only three accounts from antiquity confirming the events surrounding John’s execution: the account from Mark, the account from Matthew and the account from Josephus. A careful reading of Matthew and Mark’s gospel reveals distinct idiosyncrasies in each account. Both authors reference the same set of facts (and are obviously familiar with each other’s claims), but express variations well within the range we would expect from two eyewitnesses. When skeptics favor Josephus’ lone account against the two accounts in the Biblical text, they simply expose their bias against the Christian narratives.

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

“I Loved Heresy…But the Holy Spirit Found Me” — Thomas C. Oden (1931-2016) and the Recovery of Christian Orthodoxy

By Albert Mohler 12/9/2016

     "I think the honest answer is that I loved the fantasies and I loved the revolutionary illusions. I truly loved them.... I was one of those who was way out on the far left edge of accommodating to modernity. And I don’t know how but the Holy Spirit found me."

     Thomas C. Oden, one of the most gracious and respected theologians of our times, died yesterday at age 85. Professor Oden made the pilgrimage from theological liberalism, and what he acknowledged as an infatuation with heresy, all the way to the orthodox affirmation of biblical Christianity. His story is one of the greatest theological testimonies of our age. The following is an edited transcript of my conversation for “Thinking in Public” with Dr. Oden about his life and times and the trajectory of his theological pilgrimage. The conversation, “The Remaking of a Modern Mind,” was released on March 16, 2015. I am thankful to God for the life and testimony of Professor Thomas C. Oden.

     Thomas Oden lived one of the most interesting lives of the 20th century and into the 21st. He was the General Editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Christian and the Ancient Christian Doctrine series. He was also the director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in Pennsylvania. For many years he was professor of theology at the graduate school of Drew University. His book A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir is one of the most moving Christian autobiographies I have ever read.

     Mohler: Dr. Oden, when you wrote your book A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir, you told a story that only you could tell. And that’s not just in terms of the fact that the particulars of your life are unique to yourself, but rather the theological trajectory you trace is one that was only possible in the 20th century. How did you come to decide this was the way to tell your story?

     Oden: I didn’t want to tell my story, I was asked by quite a few people to open a window into all of this. I really didn’t want to. I didn’t think I could write narrative, I just wasn’t prepared to do it. But now that I have worked through it and done it, I’m very pleased to have it out there. How did I decide to, or how do I understand my story in relationship to God’s story with us is the way I would put the issue. I think personal autobiography is rather unimportant in relation to the story of God with humanity, and especially his revelation of Jesus Christ. So I don’t have any pretenses about my story being my story being important, it’s just exactly what happened to me. I felt that I had, when I finally committed myself to doing this, I had to tell it exactly like it was. So that was the challenge for me. There’s a sense in which, you know, I’ve lived through the last 80 years, or 80 plus years, and so to tell the story is a little bit complicated.

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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:

Bondage of the Will

By John Piper 4/13/2016

     At the heart of Martin Luther’s theology was the conviction that human beings are totally dependent on God’s omnipotent grace to rescue us from the bondage of the will by creating and decisively fulfilling every inclination to believe and obey God. The debates of the sixteenth century about the freedom of the will versus the bondage of the will were not peripheral to the Reformation. They were at the heart of the issue. At least Luther believed they were.

     His book The Bondage of the Will was an answer to Erasmus’s book Erasmus and the Age of Reformation. In 1537, nine years before his death, he wrote to Wolfgang Capito,

     Regarding [the plan] to collect my writings in volumes, I am quite cool and not at all eager about it because, roused by a Saturnian hunger, I would rather see them all devoured. For I acknowledge none of them to be really a book of mine, except perhaps the one On the Bondage of the Will and the Catechism. (Luther Werke, 50:172–173; Luther compares himself to Saturn, a figure from Ancient Greek mythology who devoured most of his children)

     It is remarkable that of all he had written, Luther saw his defense of the bondage of the will, and his demolition of Erasmus’s view of free will, as so crucial he wanted it (along with his catechism) preserved more than anything he had written. Why was the issue so important for Luther?

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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:

Reformed Theology Resurgence

By Warren Nozaki

     Many young evangelicals today are embracing Reformed theology, to the extent that Time magazine has ranked it number three on its list of ten ideas that are changing the world. Igniting the new passion for Calvinism are notable Christian leaders such as John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Albert Mohler. Signs of this Reformed revival include the first printings of the Calvinist-flavored ESV Study Bible—completely sold out— and the increased popularity of Calvinist blogs such as “Between Two Worlds.”

     The following will offer a general definition of terms and reasons behind the resurgence of Calvinism among today’s Christian youth.

     CALVIN, CALVINISM, AND REFORMED THEOLOGY | Reformed theology emphasizes the teachings of John Calvin (1509–1564) and Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531).2 Calvin’s own theological viewpoints are expressed in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Doctrinal creeds such as the Heidelberg Confession, the Belgic Confession, and the Westminster Confession represent the major tenets of Reformed theology.3 The Reformed tradition has also given Christianity many great teachers, preachers, and theologians such as Louis Berkhoff, Jonathan Edwards, Abraham Kuyper, John Owen, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, and George Whitefield.

     An extremely controversial aspect of Reformed theology is its understanding of divine election. Drawing on various passages (e.g., John 6:35–40, 44, 65; Rom. 8:28–30; 9:6–24; Eph. 1:3–6), they believe “God in eternity past chose a number of fallen creatures to be reconciled to himself. In time Christ came to save the chosen. The Holy Spirit enlightens the elect ones so that they can believe the Gospel and receive salvation. The elect can never resist the work of the Spirit nor fall away after receiving salvation. Salvation can be summarized by the Five Points of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (TULIP).”

     It is necessary to note, moreover, that the Five Points of Calvinism are understood by many to be an interrelated, harmonious, self-contained system; thus, rejecting one point is tantamount to rejecting every point, and the falsity of one point falsifies the whole system.5 There are, however, Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike who believe one can still maintain a logically coherent theology while affirming some of the points but rejecting others. Seventeenth century French theologian Moise Amyraut, for example, postulated the atonement was “sufficient for all, but because of universal human depravity, in practice it was efficient only for the elect.”6 Norman Geisler identifies himself as a moderate Calvinist and contends for a nuanced understanding of each point.7 The debate is complex, centering upon questions related to exegesis (what does a specific passage teach?), theology (what do the Scriptures on the whole teach on the topic of divine sovereignty and human freedom?), and philosophy (does an internally coherent theological system— Calvinist, Arminian, or a mediating position—correspond to ultimate truth? How can this be known?), and volumes can be written on each of these questions.

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     Warren Nozaki holds an M.A. in theology from the Talbot School of Theology and is a researcher for the Christian Research Institute.

The First Tremor

By Jon Bloom

     More than three hundred years before Martin Luther was born, an unlikely reformer suddenly appeared in the city of Lyon in southeast France. His protests against doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church were strong tremors foretelling the coming spiritual earthquake called the Reformation. And the movement he launched survived to join the great Reformation. He is known to history as Peter Waldo.

     Many details about Waldo are not known, including his name. We don’t know if Peter was his real first name, since it doesn’t appear in any document until 150 years after his death. His last name was most likely something like Valdès or Vaudès — Valdo (Waldo) was the Italian adaptation. We also don’t know the year Peter was born or the precise year he died — historians disagree over whether he died between 1205 and 1207 or between 1215 and 1218.

     But we do know a few earthshaking things.

     A Rich Ruler Repents | In 1170, Waldo was a very wealthy, well-known merchant in the city of Lyon. He had a wife, two daughters, and lots of property. But something happened — some say he witnessed the sudden death of a friend, others say he heard a spiritual song of a traveling minstrel — and Waldo became deeply troubled over the spiritual state of his soul and desperate to know how he could be saved.

     The first thing he resolved was to read the Bible. But since it only existed in the Latin Vulgate, and his Latin was poor, he hired two scholars to translate it into the vernacular so he could study it.

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

Jon Bloom Books:

Autumn: Dying Beautifully

By Joseph Rhea 10/17/2015

     The leaves of Indianapolis die richly. They turn through glory as they go: empyrean yellow, atonement red. A carnival of color over the streets. The blessing is sudden, a shock.

     We know about cholorophyll: the science behind the magic. But behind the science, there’s more magic. Why the gratuitous color? Why make dying so spectacular? In a world charged with the grandeur of God, this riotous change of scene can teach us. God puts on the mystery play of autumn and speaks:

     1. Autumn wakes us up to wonder. | When spring regenerates the world, I notice the bright new green for maybe a week. I celebrate the leaves’ birth, the world’s fresh clothes. But by August, it’s all just background. These delicate, intricate, innumerable fluttering treefingers are a green wash.

     There’s nothing wrong with the leaves. It’s me: repetition inoculates me against wonder. Like G. K. Chesterton says, I don’t have God’s capacity to delight again and again at each new leaf. He keeps unfurling them—they even wave to get my attention!—but the eyes of my soul glaze over.

     In autumn, the creativity of God hollers. Look at these things! These paper-thin solar cells that convert sunlight into acorns! They’re everywhere, and they’re made by a God who, as N. D. Wilson reminds us, doesn’t know how to stop creating. Autumn reminds us that there’s a world of wonder.

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     Joseph Rhea is director of ministries for the downtown congregation of Soma Church in Indianapolis, where he lives with his wife and two children. He has a master in divinity from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. Joseph blogs at Borrowed Rays; you can also follow him on Twitter.

Children, Heirs, and Fellow Sufferers

By John Piper 4/21/2002

(Ro 8:13–18)     14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.ESV

Today we move into the spectacular and scary promise of verse 17. Spectacular because it says that all the children of God are his heirs — we will receive the inheritance of God, and there is no greater inheritance in the universe. And scary because verse 17 says that we will have to suffer in order to receive it. “If children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

     How the Spirit Testifies that We Are Children of God | But first let’s review the main point of the previous verses. Verse 16 says, “The [Holy] Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” If you belong to Jesus Christ, as verse 9 says, you have the Spirit of Christ. And what does he do in you? He testifies that you are the child of God. How does he do that? We saw at least two ways from last Sunday’s text.

     First, we saw the connection between verses 13 and 14. “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” So we concluded that one of the things the Spirit does to show that you are the child of God is lead you, that is, lead you into war with sin so that by his power you put to death the deeds of the body.

     Second, we saw from verse 15 that the Spirit gives rise to the cry “Abba, Father!” Verse 15b: “You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!’” Notice the words “by which.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit. When believers in Jesus find rising in our hearts the cry, “Abba! Father!” this is the testimony of the Spirit that we are the children of God.

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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:

  • 1 Cor 15:20-28
  • 1 Cor 15:29-34
  • 1 Cor 15:35-49

  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Stop worrying about it
     (Oct 4)    Bob Gass

     ‘Let him have all your worries and cares.’

(1 Pe 5:7) 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ESV

     Author John Mason writes: ‘I couldn’t feel at peace. Unless I had everything figured out, I became anxious, restless, nervous, worried, and grouchy… similar to a drug addict who needs a fix. The severity wasn’t the same but the symptoms were. I was a Christian and supposedly walked by faith. I trusted Jesus for salvation, but in other areas I trusted myself.’ Are you living that way? Inspirational author William Ward wrote: ‘Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster, and belief in defeat. It’s a magnet that attracts negative conditions. Faith is a more powerful force that creates positive circumstances. Worry is wasting today’s time, and cluttering up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.’ When an old man was asked what had robbed him of joy in his life, he replied, ‘Things that never happened.’ Do you remember the things you worried about a year ago? Didn’t you expend a lot of energy on them? And didn’t most of them turn out to be fine after all? Almost 99 per cent of the things we worry about don’t happen. Did you know that a dense fog covering seven city blocks one hundred feet deep, is composed of less than one glass of water? Just one glass! But it can blot out practically all vision. And a cupful of worry can do the same thing. The Bible says, ‘Mere mortals can’t run their own lives… men and women don’t have what it takes’ (Jeremiah 10:23 MSG). Stop trying to control every possible outcome. Life goes better when you decide to stand on God’s Word and trust Him to take care of you.

Is 65-66
1 Thess 3

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     A Joint Resolution of the 97th Congress, signed by Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil and President of the Senate Strom Thurmond, declared A Year of the Bible. President Reagan signed it into law on this day October 4, 1982, stating: “Now, therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, in recognition of the contributions and influence of the Bible on our Republic and our people, do hereby proclaim 1983 the Year of the Bible in the United States. I encourage all citizens, each in his or her own way, to reexamine and rediscover its priceless and timeless message.”

American Minute

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

     CHAPTER IV - The Timeliness of Prayer

     Let him pray now that never prayed before,
     And him that prayed before but pray the more.

     The nearer we are driven to the God of Christ, the more we are forced on paradox when we begin to speak. I have been led to allude to this more than once. The magnalia dei are not those great simplicities of life on which some orders of genius lay a touch so tender and sure; but they are the great reconciliations in which life’s tragic collisions come to lie “quiet, happy and supprest.” Such are the peaceful paradoxes (the paradox at last of grace and nature in the Cross) which make the world of prayer such a strange and difficult land to the lucid and rational interpreters of life. It is as miraculous as it is real that the holy and the guilty should live together in such habitual communion as the life of prayer. And it is another paradox that combines the vast power of prayer for the active soul, whether single or social, with the same soul’s shyness and aloofness in prayer.

     There is a tendency to lose the true balance and adjustment here. When all goes well we are apt to overdo the aloofness that goes with spiritual engagement, and so to sacrifice some of its power and blessing for the soul. Prayer which becomes too private may become too remote, and is apt to become weak. (Just as when it is too intimate it becomes really unworthy, and may become absurd even to spiritual men; it does so in the trivialities associated sometimes with the answer to prayer.) It is neither seemly nor healthy to be nothing but shy about the greatest powers in life. If we felt them as we should, and if we had their true vitality in us, we could not be so reserved about them. Some churches suffer much from extempore prayer, but perhaps those suffer more that exclude it. It at least gives a public consecration to prayer private and personal, which prayer, from the nature of it, must be extempore and “occasional.” The bane of extempore prayer is that it is confused with prayer unprepared; and the greatest preparation for prayer is to pray. The leader of prayer should be a man of prayer—so long as prayer does not become for him a luxury which really unfits him for liturgy, and private devotion does not indispose him for public worship. Delicacy and propriety in prayer are too dearly bought if they are there at the cost of its ruling power in life, private and public, and of its prevailing power with God.

     It is one of the uses of our present dreadful adversity4 that we are driven to bring the great two-handed engine of prayer frankly to the fore. There is probably a greater volume of personal prayer to-day than for generations we have had in this somewhat silent people, and there is less embarrassment in owning it. One hears tales of the humour in the trenches, but not so much of the prayer which appears, from accounts, to be at least equally and visibly there. And it is not the prayer of fear, either at home or abroad, but of seriousness, of a new moral exaltation, or at least deepening, a new sense of realities which are clouded by the sunshine of normal life. How can we but pray when we send, or our hearts go out to those who send, the dearest to the noble peril, or lose them in a noble death; or when we melt to those who are cast into unspeakable anxiety by the indirect effects of such a war upon mind or estate? We are helpless then unless we can pray. Or how can we but pray as we regain, under the very hand and pressure of God, the sense of judgment which was slipping from our easy and amiable creed? Above the aircraft we hear the wings of the judgment angel; their wind is on our faces; how should we not pray? We now discuss with each other our prayers as we have seldom done before; and we do it for our practical guidance, and not merely our theological satisfaction. We ask our neighbours’ judgment if we may pray for victory when we can be so little sure as we are in the increased complexity of modern issues that all the right is on one side; or when our enemy is a great nation to which the Christianity and the culture of the world owe an unspeakable debt, whether for reformation or illumination. And if Christian faith and prayer is a supernatural, and therefore an international rivalries and tutelary gods?

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

The Soul of Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

There are many things
that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind,
and one of the most important is faith,
which cannot be acquired without prayer.
--- John Wooden

Wonder rather than doubt
is the root of all knowledge.
--- Abraham Joshua Heschel

Jesus wants you to lean on Him and hand over your burdens, all of them. When you do, you’ll experience a lightness of spirit that knows no bounds.
--- Charles Stanley     Seeking His Face

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 10.

     How A Great Many Of The People Earnestly Endeavored To Desert To The Romans; As Also What Intolerable Things Those That Staid Behind Suffered By Famine, And The Sad Consequences Thereof.

     1. As Josephus was speaking thus with a loud voice, the seditious would neither yield to what he said, nor did they deem it safe for them to alter their conduct; but as for the people, they had a great inclination to desert to the Romans; accordingly, some of them sold what they had, and even the most precious things that had been laid up as treasures by them, for every small matter, and swallowed down pieces of gold, that they might not be found out by the robbers; and when they had escaped to the Romans, went to stool, and had wherewithal to provide plentifully for themselves; for Titus let a great number of them go away into the country, whither they pleased. And the main reasons why they were so ready to desert were these: That now they should be freed from those miseries which they had endured in that city, and yet should not be in slavery to the Romans: however, John and Simon, with their factions, did more carefully watch these men's going out than they did the coming in of the Romans; and if any one did but afford the least shadow of suspicion of such an intention, his throat was cut immediately.

     2. But as for the richer sort, it proved all one to them whether they staid in the city, or attempted to get out of it; for they were equally destroyed in both cases; for every such person was put to death under this pretense, that they were going to desert, but in reality that the robbers might get what they had. The madness of the seditious did also increase together with their famine, and both those miseries were every day inflamed more and more; for there was no corn which any where appeared publicly, but the robbers came running into, and searched men's private houses; and then, if they found any, they tormented them, because they had denied they had any; and if they found none, they tormented them worse, because they supposed they had more carefully concealed it. The indication they made use of whether they had any or not was taken from the bodies of these miserable wretches; which, if they were in good case, they supposed they were in no want at all of food; but if they were wasted away, they walked off without searching any further; nor did they think it proper to kill such as these, because they saw they would very soon die of themselves for want of food. Many there were indeed who sold what they had for one measure; it was of wheat, if they were of the richer sort; but of barley, if they were poorer. When these had so done, they shut themselves up in the inmost rooms of their houses, and ate the corn they had gotten; some did it without grinding it, by reason of the extremity of the want they were in, and others baked bread of it, according as necessity and fear dictated to them: a table was no where laid for a distinct meal, but they snatched the bread out of the fire, half-baked, and ate it very hastily.

     3. It was now a miserable case, and a sight that would justly bring tears into our eyes, how men stood as to their food, while the more powerful had more than enough, and the weaker were lamenting [for want of it.] But the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it is destructive to nothing so much as to modesty; for what was otherwise worthy of reverence was in this case despised; insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants; and when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives: and while they ate after this manner, yet were they not concealed in so doing; but the seditious every where came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor. But still they were more barbarously cruel to those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed down what they were going to seize upon, as if they had been unjustly defrauded of their right. They also invented terrible methods of torments to discover where any food was, and they were these to stop up the passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp stakes up their fundaments; and a man was forced to bear what it is terrible even to hear, in order to make him confess that he had but one loaf of bread, or that he might discover a handful of barley-meal that was concealed; and this was done when these tormentors were not themselves hungry; for the thing had been less barbarous had necessity forced them to it; but this was done to keep their madness in exercise, and as making preparation of provisions for themselves for the following days. These men went also to meet those that had crept out of the city by night, as far as the Roman guards, to gather some plants and herbs that grew wild; and when those people thought they had got clear of the enemy, they snatched from them what they had brought with them, even while they had frequently entreated them, and that by calling upon the tremendous name of God, to give them back some part of what they had brought; though these would not give them the least crumb, and they were to be well contented that they were only spoiled, and not slain at the same time.

     4. These were the afflictions which the lower sort of people suffered from these tyrants' guards; but for the men that were in dignity, and withal were rich, they were carried before the tyrants themselves; some of whom were falsely accused of laying treacherous plots, and so were destroyed; others of them were charged with designs of betraying the city to the Romans; but the readiest way of all was this, to suborn somebody to affirm that they were resolved to desert to the enemy. And he who was utterly despoiled of what he had by Simon was sent back again to John, as of those who had been already plundered by Jotre, Simon got what remained; insomuch that they drank the blood of the populace to one another, and divided the dead bodies of the poor creatures between them; so that although, on account of their ambition after dominion, they contended with each other, yet did they very well agree in their wicked practices; for he that did not communicate what he got by the miseries of others to the other tyrant seemed to be too little guilty, and in one respect only; and he that did not partake of what was so communicated to him grieved at this, as at the loss of what was a valuable thing, that he had no share in such barbarity.

     5. It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men's iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly:—That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world. Finally, they brought the Hebrew nation into contempt, that they might themselves appear comparatively less impious with regard to strangers. They confessed what was true, that they were the slaves, the scum, and the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation, while they overthrew the city themselves, and forced the Romans, whether they would or no, to gain a melancholy reputation, by acting gloriously against them, and did almost draw that fire upon the temple, which they seemed to think came too slowly; and indeed when they saw that temple burning from the upper city, they were neither troubled at it, nor did they shed any tears on that account, while yet these passions were discovered among the Romans themselves; which circumstances we shall speak of hereafter in their proper place, when we come to treat of such matters.

          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 26:13-16
     by D.H. Stern

13     The lazy person says, “There’s a lion in the streets!
     A lion is roaming loose out there!”
14     The door turns on its hinges,
     and the lazy man on his bed.
15     The lazy person buries his hand in the dish
     but is too tired to return it to his mouth.
16     A lazy man is wiser in his own view
     than seven who can answer with sense.

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

The vision and the verity

     Called to be saints. ---
1 Cor. 1:2.

     Thank God for the sight of all you have never yet been. You have had the vision, but you are not there yet by any means. It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the blows which must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to have the vision “batter’d to shape and use” by God? The batterings always come in commonplace ways and through commonplace people.

     There are times when we do know what God’s purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends upon us, not upon God. If we prefer to loll on the mount and live in the memory of the vision, we will be of no use actually in the ordinary stuff of which human life is made up. We have to learn to live in reliance on what we saw in the vision, not in ecstasies and conscious contemplation of God, but to live in actualities in the light of the vision until we get to the veritable reality. Every bit of our training is in that direction. Learn to thank God for making known His demands.

     The little ‘I am’ always sulks when God says do. Let the little ‘I am’ be shrivelled up in God’s indignation—“I AM THAT I AM hath sent thee.” He must dominate. Is it not penetrating to realize that God knows where we live, and the kennels we crawl into! He will hunt us up like a lightning flash. No human being knows human beings as God does.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Small Window
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                The Small Window

In Wales there are jewels
  To gather, but with the eye
  Only. A hill lights up
  Suddenly; a field trembles
  With colour and goes out
  In its turn; in one day
  You can witness the extent
  Of the spectrum and grow rich

With looking. Have a care;
  This wealth is for the few
  And chosen. Those who crowd
  A small window dirty it
  With their breathing, though sublime
  And inexhaustible the view.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

     Biblical counseling for today

     The Bible, noble partner to our noun, is so dynamic that it permanently altered the life of a young man. Pen in hand, Paul addressed Timothy. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.… But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14–17).

     Like a baby guzzling milk from a bottle, Timothy had nursed on the Old Testament Scriptures. Even before the Light had banished darkness from his soul, a godly mother and grandmother were pointing him toward the sunrise of truth. Apparently in this three-generation Jewish family, there had been a genuine reverence for the Old Testament. And Jesus had declared that much “is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). By piling the kindling of Scripture around young Timothy’s heart, his family had readied him for the Holy Spirit to light the flame of evangelical understanding.

     If a time line were created for this regenerate family, it would show at least three stages to their redemptive history. (1) For years the family saturated itself with the words of the Old Testament. (2) Then Lois and Eunice, through the preaching of Paul, met their Messiah, foretold, now crucified and risen. (3) Then Timothy, beloved son and grandson, became a child of God, a brother in the Lord, as Lois, Eunice, and Paul tag-teamed him for the Gospel.

     If any skeptics were prone to imagine that the Bible might be good enough to make Timothy “wise” about salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) but not good enough to make him “wise” about the world (1 Cor. 2:1–5; 3:19; James 3:13–18), hold on. Timothy was instructed to pass on to others the same truths Paul had shared with Timothy. These “others” would, in turn, pass them on to “others also” (2 Tim. 2:2, KJV). Using the analogy of spiritual kinship, what Paul (the father) was teaching Timothy (the son) was to be taught to others (the grandchildren), who would teach others also (the great-grandchildren). The same scriptural re-creation that had brought Timothy into the world would sustain him throughout his lifetime in the world. That repository of the Old and New Testaments would be useful in a fourfold way, potentially answering for Timothy and his spiritual offspring the most essential questions they could ever ask of God: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching [What is right?], rebuking [What is wrong?], correcting [How do I get right?], and training [How do I stay right?].”

     Timothy’s written scriptures were so intimately connected to God that Paul described them as “God-breathed” (3:16). As Lois, Eunice, Timothy, or Paul would read the Scriptures, they knew they were reading the very words of God. And still today God talks to His people through His Word, “teaching … rebuking … correcting … and training” them.

     Why did God choose to give us a never-erring library of truth? Why did God communicate to us, using more than forty authors in three languages over fifteen centuries? God did this so His people “may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (3:17).

     And this rich treasury of truth is not void of interpersonal wisdom. In the presence of God, who models “truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), Paul commissioned Timothy with a flexible range of interpersonal responsibilities: “I give you this charge: preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:1–2).

Biblical Counseling For Today

Take Heart
     October 4

     The summer has ended. --- Jeremiah 8:20.

     The soul of the intelligent Christian reflects the natural. (Old Wells dug Out) The year is a temple of praise on whose altar, as an offering, spring puts its blossoms and summer its grain and autumn its fruits, while winter stands at the altar praising God with psalm of snow and hail and tempest.

     Summer is the perfection of the year, the season of beauty. But that wave of summer beauty is receding. The sap of the tree is halting in its upward current. The night is fast conquering the day.

     In the latter part of October or the first of November is a season called Indian summer. It is the gem of the year—a haziness in the atmosphere, but everything pleasant and mild. And I see before me tonight some who have come to that season. A haziness is on their vision, but the sweetness of heaven has melted into their souls. I congratulate those who have come to the Indian summer of their lives. Their grandchildren climb on the back of the chair and run their fingers along the wrinkles that time has furrowed there. Blessed is old age, if found in the way of righteousness!

     But my text is appropriate for all those whose fortunes have perished. If you lose your property at thirty or forty years of age, it is only a sharp discipline, generally, by which later you come to larger success. It is folly to sit down in midlife discouraged. Though the meridian of life has passed with you, and you have been routed in many a conflict, do not give up in discouragement. There are victories yet for you to gain.

     But sometimes monetary disaster comes when there is something in your age or in your health or in your surroundings that makes you know that you will never get up again. Leaves of worldly property all scattered—the daybook, the ledger, and the money. But you have more remaining than you have lost.

     Sons and daughters of God, do not mourn when your property goes. The world is yours, and life, death, immortality, thrones of grandeur, rivers of gladness, and shining mansions are yours, and God is yours! The eternal God has sworn it, and every time you doubt it, you charge the King of heaven and earth with perjury. Instead of complaining how hard you have it, go home tonight, take up your Bible full of promises, get down on your knees before God, and thank him for what you have, instead of spending so much time complaining about what you do not have.

--- T. DeWitt Talmage

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

On This Day   October 4
     Pre-answers to Prayer

     Occasionally God answers our prayers before we offer them. William Tyndale put his life at risk when he decided to translate the Bible into the English language during the days of King Henry VIII. The church and government opposed him, but he told one clergyman, “If God spare my life, I will cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than thou dost.” On October 6, 1536 he was burned at the stake for his efforts. His last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”

     He perished without knowing the Lord had already answered his prayer—one year earlier, almost to the very day. The answer? Miles Coverdale. Born in 1488, Coverdale came under the influence of Robert Barnes at Cambridge who discussed ideas “out of Germany” with him. When Coverdale picked up the Bible and began reading it for himself, he fell in love with it. “Now I begyne to taste of Holy Schryptures; now (honour be to God) I am sett to the most swete smell with the godly savour of holy and awncyent Doctoures.”

     Soon he began preaching an evangelical message. It proved impossible for him in England, so he fled to the Continent where he spent seven years translating the Bible from Latin into English for his own people. It was published in 1535, the first complete edition of the Bible in English. He wisely dedicated it to King Henry VIII, who, being flattered, allowed it to become the first English rendering of Scripture to circulate without official hindrance—thus answering Tyndale’s prayer one year in advance.

     In his preface Coverdale said he had not coveted the task of translating Scripture, but “it greued (grieved) me yt other nacyons shulde be more plentously prouyded (provided) with ye scripture in theyr mother tongue than we. … ”

     Coverdale became rector of St. Magnus Church near London Bridge, and visitors today can read a memorial plaque on the east wall of the church: … he spent many years of his life preparing a translation of the Scriptures. On the 4th of October, 1535, the first complete printed English version of the Bible was published under his direction.

     I will answer their prayers before they finish praying.
--- Isaiah 65:24.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 4

     “At Evening time it shall be light.” --- Zechariah 14:7.

     Oftentimes we look forward with forebodings to the time of old age, forgetful that at eventide it shall be light. To many saints, old age is the choicest season in their lives. A balmier air fans the mariner’s cheek as he nears the shore of immortality, fewer waves ruffle his sea, quiet reigns, deep, still and solemn. From the altar of age the flashes of the fire of youth are gone, but the more real flame of earnest feeling remains. The pilgrims have reached the land Beulah, that happy country, whose days are as the days of heaven upon earth. Angels visit it, celestial gales blow over it, flowers of paradise grow in it, and the air is filled with seraphic music. Some dwell here for years, and others come to it but a few hours before their departure, but it is an Eden on earth. We may well long for the time when we shall recline in its shady groves and be satisfied with hope until the time of fruition comes. The setting sun seems larger than when aloft in the sky, and a splendour of glory tinges all the clouds which surround his going down. Pain breaks not the calm of the sweet twilight of age, for strength made perfect in weakness bears up with patience under it all. Ripe fruits of choice experience are gathered as the rare repast of life’s Evening, and the soul prepares itself for rest.
     The Lord’s people shall also enjoy light in the hour of death. Unbelief laments; the shadows fall, the night is coming, existence is ending. Ah no, crieth faith, the night is far spent, the true day is at hand. Light is come, the light of immortality, the light of a Father’s countenance. Gather up thy feet in the bed, see the waiting bands of spirits! Angels waft thee away. Farewell, beloved one, thou art gone, thou wavest thine hand. Ah, now it is light. The pearly gates are open, the golden streets shine in the jasper light. We cover our eyes, but thou beholdest the unseen; adieu, brother, thou hast light at even-tide, such as we have not yet.

          Evening - October 4

     “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” --- 1 John 2:1.

     “If any man sin, we have an advocate.” Yes, though we sin, we have him still. John does not say, “If any man sin he has forfeited his advocate,” but “we have an advocate,” sinners though we are. All the sin that a believer ever did, or can be allowed to commit, cannot destroy his interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, as his advocate. The name here given to our Lord is suggestive. “Jesus.” Ah! then he is an advocate such as we need, for Jesus is the name of one whose business and delight it is to save. “They shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” His sweetest name implies his success. Next, it is “Jesus Christ”—Christos, the anointed. This shows his authority to plead. The Christ has a right to plead, for he is the Father’s own appointed advocate and elected priest. If he were of our choosing he might fail, but if God hath laid help upon one that is mighty, we may safely lay our trouble where God has laid his help. He is Christ, and therefore authorized; he is Christ, and therefore qualified, for the anointing has fully fitted him for his work. He can plead so as to move the heart of God and prevail. What words of tenderness, what sentences of persuasion will the anointed use when he stands up to plead for me! One more letter of his name remains, “Jesus Christ the righteous.” This is not only his character BUT his plea. It is his character, and if the Righteous One be my advocate, then my cause is good, or he would not have espoused it. It is his plea, for he meets the charge of unrighteousness against me by the plea that he is righteous. He declares himself my substitute and puts his obedience to my account. My soul, thou hast a friend well fitted to be thine advocate, he cannot but succeed; leave thyself entirely in his hands.

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

Amazing Grace
     October 4


     A. Catherine Hankey, 1834–1911

     The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)

     Soul-winning should be the normal product of our commitment to discipleship and a daily intimate relationship with the Lord. Soul-winning is not salesmanship, in which we try to manipulate or subdue lost individuals to a decision. It is simply taking a message, the objective historical truths of the Gospel, and then speaking with the authority of Jesus Christ in the power and love of the Holy Spirit.

     Sharing our personal faith should be a joyful and satisfying experience, just as it was with Kate Hankey, author of this hymn’s text. Although she was born into the home of a wealthy English banker and a member of the Anglican church, Kate early in life developed a fervent evangelical concern. She began organizing Sunday school classes for rich and poor throughout London. These classes had a strong influence in the city, with a large number of the young students in turn becoming zealous Christian workers.

     When Kate was only 30 years old, however, she experienced a serious illness. During a long period of recovery, she wrote a lengthy poem on the life of Christ. The poem consisted of two main sections, each containing 50 verses. The first section of the poem was titled “The Story Wanted,” later adapted for another of Catherine Hankey’s familiar hymn texts, “Tell Me the Old, Old Story,” still widely sung today. Later that same year while recovering from her illness, Kate completed the second part of her poem, titled “The Story Told,” which became the basic part of “I Love to Tell the Story.”

     I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love. I love to tell the story because I know ’tis true. It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
     I love to tell the story, more wonderful it seems than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams. I love to tell the story—It did so much for me, and that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.
     I love to tell the story, for those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest. And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song, ’twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.
     Refrain: I love to tell the story! ’Twill be my theme in glory to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

     For Today: Daniel 12:3; Matthew 4:19; Acts 4:12; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 John 4:9, 10

     Reflect seriously on this often quoted description of soul-winning—“It is proclaiming the good news just as one contented beggar tells a starving beggar friend where there is food.” Sing this musical testimony ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Tuesday, October 4, 2016 | After Pentecost

Proper 21, Wednesday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 101, 109:1–5 (6–20) 21–31
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 119:121–144
Old Testament     2 Kings 18:9–25
New Testament     1 Corinthians 8:1–13
Gospel     Matthew 7:13–21

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 101, 109:1–5 (6–20) 21–31

Of David. A Psalm.

1 I will sing of loyalty and of justice;
to you, O LORD, I will sing.
2 I will study the way that is blameless.
When shall I attain it?

I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
3 I will not set before my eyes
anything that is base.

I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
4 Perverseness of heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

5 One who secretly slanders a neighbor
I will destroy.
A haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not tolerate.

6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
so that they may live with me;
whoever walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.

7 No one who practices deceit
shall remain in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue in my presence.

8 Morning by morning I will destroy
all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all evildoers
from the city of the LORD.

1 Do not be silent, O God of my praise.
2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
3 They beset me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
4 In return for my love they accuse me,
even while I make prayer for them.
5 So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.

[     6 They say, “Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand on his right.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin.
8 May his days be few;
may another seize his position.
9 May his children be orphans,
and his wife a widow.
10 May his children wander about and beg;
may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit.
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil.
12 May there be no one to do him a kindness,
nor anyone to pity his orphaned children.
13 May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation.
14 May the iniquity of his father be remembered before the LORD,
and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
15 Let them be before the LORD continually,
and may his memory be cut off from the earth.
16 For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted to their death.
17 He loved to curse; let curses come on him.
He did not like blessing; may it be far from him.
18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat,
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones.
19 May it be like a garment that he wraps around himself,
like a belt that he wears every day.”

20 May that be the reward of my accusers from the LORD,
of those who speak evil against my life.     ]

21 But you, O LORD my Lord,
act on my behalf for your name’s sake;
because your steadfast love is good, deliver me.
22 For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is pierced within me.
23 I am gone like a shadow at evening;
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak through fasting;
my body has become gaunt.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they shake their heads.

26 Help me, O LORD my God!
Save me according to your steadfast love.
27 Let them know that this is your hand;
you, O LORD, have done it.
28 Let them curse, but you will bless.
Let my assailants be put to shame; may your servant be glad.
29 May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle.
30 With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save them from those who would condemn them to death.

Psalm 119:121–144

121 I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Guarantee your servant’s well-being;
do not let the godless oppress me.
123 My eyes fail from watching for your salvation,
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding,
so that I may know your decrees.
126 It is time for the LORD to act,
for your law has been broken.
127 Truly I love your commandments
more than gold, more than fine gold.
128 Truly I direct my steps by all your precepts;
I hate every false way.

129 Your decrees are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 With open mouth I pant,
because I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your custom toward those who love your name.
133 Keep my steps steady according to your promise,
and never let iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears
because your law is not kept.

137 You are righteous, O LORD,
and your judgments are right.
138 You have appointed your decrees in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
139 My zeal consumes me
because my foes forget your words.
140 Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
and your law is the truth.
143 Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
but your commandments are my delight.
144 Your decrees are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.

Old Testament
2 Kings 18:9–25

9 In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria came up against Samaria, besieged it, 10 and at the end of three years, took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of King Hoshea of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria, settled them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God but transgressed his covenant—all that Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded; they neither listened nor obeyed.

13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 King Hezekiah of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.” The king of Assyria demanded of King Hezekiah of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16 At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the doorposts that King Hezekiah of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria. 17 The king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway to the Fuller’s Field. 18 When they called for the king, there came out to them Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, and Shebnah the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the recorder.

19 The Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah: Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you base this confidence of yours? 20 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? On whom do you now rely, that you have rebelled against me? 21 See, you are relying now on Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of anyone who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him. 22 But if you say to me, ‘We rely on the LORD our God,’ is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’? 23 Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 24 How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 25 Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.”

New Testament
1 Corinthians 8:1–13

8 Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; 3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.

4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? 11 So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. 12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Matthew 7:13–21

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

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

God’s Spirit and God’s Future
     Excerpt From Simply Christian

     The Spirit is given to begin the work of making God’s future real in the present. That is the first, and perhaps the most important, point to grasp about the work of this strange personal power for which so many images are used. Just as the resurrection of Jesus opened up the unexpected world of God’s new creation, so the Spirit comes to us from that new world, the world waiting to be born, the world in which, according to the old prophets, peace and justice will flourish and the wolf and the lamb will lie down side by side. One key element of living as a Christian is learning to live with the life, and by the rules, of God’s future world, even as we are continuing to live within the present one (which Paul calls “the present evil age” and Jesus calls “this corrupt and sinful generation”).

     That is why St. Paul, our earliest Christian writer, speaks of the Spirit as the guarantee or the down-payment of what is to come. The Greek word he uses is arrabōn, which in modern Greek means an engagement ring, a sign in the present of what is to come in the future.

     Paul speaks of the Spirit as the guarantee of our “inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). He isn’t simply using an image taken from the ordinary human transaction whereby, when a person dies, someone else inherits his or her wealth—an “inheritance” from which one might perhaps receive something in advance, an early first installment. Nor is he simply speaking, as many Christians have supposed, of our “going to heaven,” as though celestial bliss were the full “inheritance” God had in mind for us. No. He is drawing on a major biblical theme and taking it in a striking new direction. To grasp this is to see why the Spirit is given in the first place, and indeed who the Spirit actually is.

     The theme upon which Paul is drawing when he speaks of the “inheritance” to come, of which the Spirit is given as a down payment, is our old friend the exodus story, in which Israel escapes from Egypt and goes off to the Promised Land. Canaan, the land we now call the Holy Land, was their promised “inheritance,” the place where they would live as God’s people. It was where—provided they maintained their side of the covenantal agreement—God would live with them and they with God. As both the foretaste of that promise, and the means by which they were led to inherit it, God went with them on the way, a strange holy Presence guiding and directing their wanderings and grieving over their rebellions.

     So when Paul speaks of the Spirit as the “guarantee of our inheritance,” he is evoking, as Jesus himself had done, this whole exodus tradition, the story which began with Passover and ended with the Promised Land. He is saying, in effect, You are now the people of the true exodus. You are now on your way to your inheritance.

     But if that “inheritance” isn’t a disembodied heaven, neither is it simply one small country among others. The whole world is now God’s holy land. At the moment the world appears as a place of suffering and sorrow as well as of power and beauty. But God is reclaiming it. That’s what Jesus’s death and resurrection were all about. And we are called to be part of that reclaiming. One day all creation will be rescued from slavery, from the corruption, decay, and death which deface its beauty, destroy its relationships, remove the sense of God’s presence from it, and make it a place of injustice, violence, and brutality. That is the message of rescue, of “salvation,” at the heart of one of the greatest chapters Paul ever wrote, the eighth chapter of his Letter to the Romans.

     So what does it mean to say that this future has begun to arrive in the present? What Paul means is that those who follow Jesus, those who find themselves believing that he is the world’s true Lord, that he rose from the dead—these people are given the Spirit as a fore-taste of what that new world will be like. If anyone is “in the Messiah” (one of Paul’s favorite ways of describing those who belong to Jesus), what they have and are is…new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Your own human self, your personality, your body, is being reclaimed, so that instead of being simply part of the old creation, a place of sorrow and injustice and ultimately the shame of death itself, you can be both part of the new creation in advance and someone through whom it begins to happen here and now.

     What does this say about the Holy Spirit? It says that the Spirit plays the same role in our pilgrimage from Passover to the Promised Land—from Jesus’s resurrection, in other words, to the final moment when all creation will be renewed—that was played in the old story by the pillar of cloud and fire. The Spirit is the strange, personal presence of the living God himself, leading, guiding, warning, rebuking, grieving over our failings, and celebrating our small steps toward the true inheritance.

     But if the Spirit is the personal presence of God himself, what does this say about us as Christians? Let Paul again give the answer. You, he says, are the Temple of the living God.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

Luke 10:30–37
John MacArthur

Christless Christianity, Q & A #1
MacArthur, Horton, Sproul   Ligonier

March 5 2004 Shepherds' Conference
Sproul, Mohler   John MacArthur

2016 Shepherds Conference
Duncan, Mohler and MacArthur   Ligonier

1 Corinthians 15:1-11
John MacArthur

1 Corinthians 15:12-20
John MacArthur