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9/1/2017
2 Kings 1-4
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Elijah Denounces Ahaziah

2 Kings 1:1     After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel.

     2 Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay injured; so he sent messengers, telling them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.” 3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Get up, go to meet the messengers of the king of Samaraia, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Now therefore thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not leave the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.’ ” So Elijah went.

     5 The messengers returned to the king, who said to them, “Why have you returned?” 6 They answered him, “There came a man to meet us, who said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him: Thus says the Lord: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not leave the bed to which you have gone, but shall surely die.’ ” 7 He said to them, “What sort of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?” 8 They answered him, “A hairy man, with a leather belt around his waist.” He said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

     9 Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty men. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’ ” 10 But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

     11 Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. He went up and said to him, “O man of God, this is the king’s order: Come down quickly!” 12 But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

     13 Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. So the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and entreated him, “O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. 14 Look, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.” 15 Then the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he set out and went down with him to the king, 16 and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron,—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?—therefore you shall not leave the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.”

Death of Ahaziah

     17 So he died according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken. His brother, Jehoram succeeded him as king in the second year of King Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat of Judah, because Ahaziah had no son. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel?


Elijah Ascends to Heaven

2 Kings 2:1     Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”

     4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”

     6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

     9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Elisha Succeeds Elijah

     13 He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

     15 When the company of prophets who were at Jericho saw him at a distance, they declared, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” They came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 They said to him, “See now, we have fifty strong men among your servants; please let them go and seek your master; it may be that the spirit of the Lord has caught him up and thrown him down on some mountain or into some valley.” He responded, “No, do not send them.” 17 But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, “Send them.” So they sent fifty men who searched for three days but did not find him. 18 When they came back to him (he had remained at Jericho), he said to them, “Did I not say to you, Do not go?”

Elisha Performs Miracles

     19 Now the people of the city said to Elisha, “The location of this city is good, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw the salt into it, and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have made this water wholesome; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” 22 So the water has been wholesome to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.

     23 He went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” 24 When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria.


Jehoram Reigns over Israel

2 Kings 3:1     In the eighteenth year of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, Jehoram son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria; he reigned twelve years. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and mother, for he removed the pillar of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he clung to the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to commit; he did not depart from it.

War with Moab

     4 Now King Mesha of Moab was a sheep breeder, who used to deliver to the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs, and the wool of one hundred thousand rams. 5 But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. 7 As he went he sent word to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me; will you go with me to battle against Moab?” He answered, “I will; I am with you, my people are your people, my horses are your horses.” 8 Then he asked, “By which way shall we march?” Jehoram answered, “By the way of the wilderness of Edom.”

     9 So the king of Israel, the king of Judah, and the king of Edom set out; and when they had made a roundabout march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals that were with them. 10 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! The Lord has summoned us, three kings, only to be handed over to Moab.” 11 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” Then one of the servants of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah, is here.” 12 Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

     13 Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to your father’s prophets or to your mother’s.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No; it is the Lord who has summoned us, three kings, only to be handed over to Moab.” 14 Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, whom I serve, were it not that I have regard for King Jehoshaphat of Judah, I would give you neither a look nor a glance. 15 But get me a musician.” And then, while the musician was playing, the power of the Lord came on him. 16 And he said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will make this wadi full of pools.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall see neither wind nor rain, but the wadi shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your cattle, and your animals.’ 18 This is only a trifle in the sight of the Lord, for he will also hand Moab over to you. 19 You shall conquer every fortified city and every choice city; every good tree you shall fell, all springs of water you shall stop up, and every good piece of land you shall ruin with stones.” 20 The next day, about the time of the Morning offering, suddenly water began to flow from the direction of Edom, until the country was filled with water.

     21 When all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, were called out and were drawn up at the frontier. 22 When they rose early in the Morning, and the sun shone upon the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood. 23 They said, “This is blood; the kings must have fought together, and killed one another. Now then, Moab, to the spoil!” 24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and attacked the Moabites, who fled before them; as they entered Moab they continued the attack. 25 The cities they overturned, and on every good piece of land everyone threw a stone, until it was covered; every spring of water they stopped up, and every good tree they felled. Only at Kir-hareseth did the stone walls remain, until the slingers surrounded and attacked it. 26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom; but they could not. 27 Then he took his firstborn son who was to succeed him, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall. And great wrath came upon Israel, so they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.


Elisha and the Widow’s Oil (Cp 1 Kings 17.14—16)

2 Kings 4:1     Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.” 2 Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She answered, “Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil.” 3 He said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not just a few. 4 Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside.” 5 So she left him and shut the door behind her and her children; they kept bringing vessels to her, and she kept pouring. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” But he said to her, “There are no more.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your children can live on the rest.”

Elisha Raises the Shunammite’s Son (Cp 1 Kings 17.17—24)

     8 One day Elisha was passing through Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to have a meal. So whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for a meal. 9 She said to her husband, “Look, I am sure that this man who regularly passes our way is a holy man of God. 10 Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”

     11 One day when he came there, he went up to the chamber and lay down there. 12 He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite woman.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 He said to him, “Say to her, Since you have taken all this trouble for us, what may be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?” She answered, “I live among my own people.” 14 He said, “What then may be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 He said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood at the door. 16 He said, “At this season, in due time, you shall embrace a son.” She replied, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not deceive your servant.”

     17 The woman conceived and bore a son at that season, in due time, as Elisha had declared to her.

     18 When the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. 19 He complained to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. 21 She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, closed the door on him, and left. 22 Then she called to her husband, and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” 23 He said, “Why go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.” She said, “It will be all right.” 24 Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

     When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite woman; 26 run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?” She answered, “It is all right.” 27 When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child.” 30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave without you.” So he rose up and followed her. 31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. He came back to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”

     32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. 33 So he went in and closed the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he got up on the bed and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. 35 He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite woman.” So he called her. When she came to him, he said, “Take your son.” 37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left.

Elisha Purifies the Pot of Stew

     38 When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. As the company of prophets was sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Put the large pot on, and make some stew for the company of prophets.” 39 One of them went out into the field to gather herbs; he found a wild vine and gathered from it a lapful of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. 40 They served some for the men to eat. But while they were eating the stew, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” They could not eat it. 41 He said, “Then bring some flour.” He threw it into the pot, and said, “Serve the people and let them eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.

Elisha Feeds One Hundred Men (Cp Mt 14.13—21; 15.32—39)

     42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” 43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’ ” 44 He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.

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



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The Christian Difference Is the Foundation of Our Christian Duty

By J. Warner Wallace 8/28/2017

     Christianity is distinct in the nature of its claims and the value it places on reason, intelligence, and evidence. Some religious systems are based purely on the doctrinal, proverbial statements of their founders. The wisdom statements of Buddha, for example, lay the foundation for Buddhism. Hinduism is based on the revelations of the ancient sages as revealed in the Vedas and the Upanishads. Confucianism is established from the wisdom statements of Confucius. In all these examples, the statements of these religious leaders exist independently of any event in history. In other words, these systems rise or fall on the basis of ideas and concepts rather than on claims about a particular historical event.

     Although Christianity makes its own ideological and philosophical claims, these proposals are intrinsically connected to a singular validating event: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why should anyone believe what Jesus said rather than what Buddha, the Hindu sages, or Confucius said? The authority of Jesus is grounded in more than the strength of an idea; it’s established by the verifiability of an event. When Jesus rose from the dead, He established His authority as God, and His Resurrection provides us with an important Christian distinctive. The Resurrection can be examined for its reliability, and the evidential verifiability of Christianity separates it from every other religious system.

     Let me offer an analogy to make the point clearer.

     If I told you I had a private vision from God yesterday in which He revealed a number of important truths He wanted me to share with you, how could you ever verify (or falsify) my claim? Personal visions and pietistic wisdom statements are difficult to validate evidentially. You have to either accept my story or reject it, but in either case, you’ll have to do so without the ability to investigate my claims evidentially. You can’t, after all, get into my head to see if I am lying about this very personal “revelation.” What if, on the other hand, I told you I had been visited by God physically? God came to me in the form of a man and, in the presence of my friends, had lunch with me in my backyard. While He was here, He helped me dig a trench for my irrigation line and even put some finishing touches on a treehouse for my kids. Can you see how this kind of public claim is categorically different from private claims about visions and divine wisdom? The public claims are about historical events that occurred (or didn’t occur) in my backyard in front of witnesses. As such, they can be investigated forensically and historically. My friends could be interviewed. The irrigation trench could be examined for attributes of “Divine Digging.” The treehouse could be examined for evidence of a “Heavenly Helper.” My claim about a divine public visitation could be examined evidentially and verified in a way private revelatory claims cannot.

     This short article was excerpted from Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith. For more information about this third book in my Christian Case Making trilogy, please visit www.ForensicFaithBook.com.

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

     

J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism Is Wrong

By Gavin Ortlund 10/7/2015

     The doctrine of hell is the most difficult aspect of the Christian faith for many people. It is for me. I feel acutely the unremitting sadness of this doctrine. But to be a Christian is—at the very least—to confess Christ the Son of God, and to confess Christ the Son of God is—at the very least—to submit to his teaching. And this includes his teaching on hell (which was quite copious and colorful).

     Saint Anselm once said we should give thanks for whatever of the Christian faith we can understand with our minds; but when we come to something we don’t understand, we should “bow our heads in reverent submission.” That seems like godly and wise advice to me. We simply don’t have the option to pick and choose from what the Bible teaches: we are called to submit to its authority over us.

     The traditional doctrine of hell is currently undergoing significant challenges from both within and without the church. Many question the reality of hell outright, while many others opt toward annihiliationism—the belief that the damned won’t suffer eternally but will instead have their consciousness extinguished at some point. In 1997 J. I. Packer wrote a brief article in Reformation and Revival magazine reviewing the debate over annihilationism among evangelicals. In his historical summary, he defines annihilationism as follows:

     What is at issue? The question is essentially exegetical, though with theological and pastoral implications. It boils down to whether, when Jesus said that those banished at the final judgment will “go away into eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46), he envisaged a state of penal pain that is endless, or an ending of conscious existence that is irrevocable: that is (for this is how the question is put), a punishment that is eternal in its length or in its effect.

     Packer then describes some current variations within annihilationism in light of its 19th-century origins, and offers two pastoral caveats:

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     Gavin Ortlund (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a husband, father, minister, and writer, currently working as a research fellow at the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of Ascending Toward the Beatific Vision: Heaven as the Climax of Anselm’s Proslogion (Brill). Gavin blogs regularly at Soliloquium. You can follow him on Twitter.

The Uncomfortable Subject Jesus Addressed More than Anyone Else

By Leslie Schmucker 5/11/2017

     Some months ago, R. C. Sproul was asked which doctrine he struggles with most. He replied: “Hell.”

     It’s comforting to know a theological giant like Sproul still wrestles with something I’ve struggled with my whole Christian life.

     The doctrine of hell is uncomfortable for most of us. However, our understanding of hell shapes our view of the gospel, God’s holiness, and our depravity. If we don’t accept the reality of hell, we won’t rightly understand the glory of the gospel.

     Reality of Hell | A friend once challenged me to show her where Jesus talks about hell in the Gospels. Even a cursory read-through shows Jesus talked about it plenty. In fact, Jesus talked about hell more than any other person in the Bible. In Luke 16, he describes a great chasm over which “none may cross from there to us.” In Matthew 25, Jesus tells of a time when people will be separated into two groups, one entering into his presence, the other banished to “eternal fire.”

     Jesus doesn’t only reference hell, he describes it in great detail. He says it is a place of eternal torment (Luke 16:23), of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43), where the worm does not die (Mark 9:48), where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret (Matt. 13:42), and from which there is no return, even to warn loved ones (Luke 16:19–31). He calls hell a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30), comparing it to “Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28), which was a trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem where rubbish was burned and maggots abounded. Jesus talks about hell more than he talks about heaven, and describes it more vividly. There’s no denying that Jesus knew, believed, and warned against the absolute reality of hell.

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     Leslie Schmucker retired from public school teaching to create a special education program at Dayspring Christian Academy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She and her husband, Steve, have three grown children and three grandchildren. She blogs at leslieschmucker.com, and you can follow her on Twitter.

What Is the Doctrine of Divine Election?

By Steven Lawson 6/28/2017

     The idea that God does what He wants, and that what He does is true and right because He does it, is foundational to our understanding of everything in Scripture, including the doctrine of election.

     In the broad sense, election refers to the fact that God chooses (or elects) to do everything that He does in whatever way He sees fit. When He acts, He does so only because He willfully and independently chooses to act. According to His own nature, predetermined plan, and good pleasure, He decides to do whatever He desires, without pressure or constraint from any outside influence.

     The Bible makes this point repeatedly. In the act of Creation, God made precisely what He wanted to create in the way He wanted to create it (cf. Gen. 1:31). And ever since Creation, He has sovereignly prescribed or permitted everything in human history, in order that He might accomplish the redemptive plan that He previously had designed (cf. Isa. 25:146:1055:11Rom. 9:17Eph. 3:8–11).

     In the Old Testament, He chose a nation for Himself. Out of all the nations in the world, He selected Israel (Deut. 7:6; 14:2; Pss. 105:43; 135:4). He chose the Israelites not because they were better or more desirable than any other people, but simply because He decided to choose them. In the words of Richard Wolf, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” It might not have rhymed as well, but the same would have been true of any other people God might have selected. God chooses whomever He chooses for reasons that are wholly His.

     The nation of Israel was not the only recipient in Scripture of God’s electing choice. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is called “‘My Chosen One’” (Luke 9:35). The holy angels also are referred to as “elect angels” (1 Tim. 5:21). And New Testament believers are called “God’s chosen ones” (Col. 3:12; cf. 1 Cor. 1:272 Thess. 2:132 Tim. 2:10Titus 1:11 Peter 1:12:95:13Rev. 17:14), meaning that the church is a community of those who were chosen, or “elect” (Eph. 1:4).

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     Steven J. Lawson is president of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to bring about biblical reformation in the church today, as well as the Professor of Preaching in the masters and doctoral programs at The Master's Seminary, Sun Valley, California. Steven J. Lawson Books:

Worship in Your Waiting

By Kristin Tabb 6/11/2017

     Our daughter, like many sons and daughters, loves Christmas. One December, when she was three, she asked us if Christmas was here yet . . . every. single. day. “Just wait,” my husband and I would say. “It’s coming.”

     To her delight, we assembled and lit our Christmas tree early in the month. She went to bed eagerly that night. The next morning she ran downstairs, full of expectation and hope. The tree was dark and empty. Her face crumpled, and she turned to me with a wail, “I have waited and waited and Christmas is not coming!” I smiled, but she had my full sympathy. I have waited many a day, sometimes with hope, and sometimes not.

     Waiting for What We’ll Be | All of us spend most of our lives waiting, whether for “big” things like a job, a spouse, a baby, or healing, or something that feels “smaller,” like summer vacation or for little ones to grow to maturity. Waiting can be good, and hard, and it isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Often when we’ve received something big that we’ve waited for expectantly, we assume happiness will follow, and our desires will be permanently satisfied. Instead, we quickly find ourselves waiting for something else — and sometimes several things at once.

     Waiting is a standard part of life in a finite world. Regardless of whether our waiting feels easy or hard at the moment, how we wait is shaping the people we are becoming. Worship is essential to that wait because a Godward perspective helps us to persevere with patience and hope. Endurance, Paul tells us, “produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:4–5).

     Worshipful Waiting | If we long for the endurance that produces character and leads us to hope, we must be fueled by Godward worship. Psalm 27 illustrates this principle in action so beautifully. Though the psalm opens with the confident question, “Whom shall I fear?” we find that the psalmist actually has much to fear, as he waits in a seemingly endless season for deliverance. He faces evildoers, adversaries, and foes (Psalm 27:2), an army encamped against him in a rising battle (Psalm 27:3), and enemies all around him (Psalm 27:6).

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     Kristin Tabb lives and serves with her husband, Brian, and their three children in the Twin Cities, where her husband teaches at Bethlehem College and Seminary.

How Long Have You Been Waiting? The Gift of Unanswered Prayer

By Ann Swindell 7/12/2017

     I have been praying the same prayer for healing for more than twenty years.

     If you’ve been praying for one particular thing over months or years or decades, then you know how exhausting and difficult it can feel to keep returning to God with the same petition.

     I was just a child when I developed trichotillomania — a hair-pulling condition — and while it’s not a life-threatening condition, it has been life-altering for me. Imagine not being able to stop pulling out your own hair, even though you hate how it makes you look — and feel. That’s been my daily experience for more than half of my life.

     I’ve been asking God to do what no doctor, therapy, or medication can: heal me. I have tried various therapies and supplements, and I continue to seek to walk in healing, but there’s no clear “cure” for trichotillomania. I know that if I’m going to be healed, I will need a gift of grace from God himself. And while I wholeheartedly believe in God’s ability to heal me, I also know that he hasn’t healed me over these last two decades. Not yet.

     Therefore, I wait.

Click here to read all of the article

Ann Swindell is an author and speaker who teaches Christ-centered writing courses at WritingwithGrace.com(registration is open now!). Her newest book is ISBN-13: 978-1496410764.

Living Under Authority

By R.C. Sproul 6/21/2017

     As I read the scriptures, particularly the New Testament, there is a theme that recurs again and again regarding the Christian’s willingness to be in submission to various types of authority. Given the rebellious spirit of our age, that frightens me. It’s all too easy for us to get caught up in an attitude that will bring us into open defiance of the authority of God.

     Let’s turn our attention to 1 Peter 2:11–16:

     Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.      Peter is speaking to people who were subjected to brutal, fierce, and violent persecution—the kind of activity that can incite within us the worst possible responses, including anger, resentment, and hatred. But Peter pleads with those people who were the victims of the hatred of their culture to behave in an honorable manner before the watching world. Paul gives a similar plea time and time again that we’re to try to live at peace with all men as much as possible.

     The “therefore” of verse 13 introduces a key manifestation of living honorably before the watching world. We’re to submit ourselves to the ordinances of man. Why? I find the answer startling and fascinating. The Apostle’s admonition is that we’re to submit for the Lord’s sake. But how is obedience to human ordinances done for the Lord’s sake? How does my obedience to my professors, my boss, or the government in any way benefit Christ?

     To understand this, we have to understand the deeper problem that all of Scripture is dealing with—the problem of sin. At the most fundamental level, sin is an act of rebellion and disobedience to a higher law and Lawgiver. The biggest problem with the world is lawlessness. The reason people are violated, killed, and maimed in battle, the reason there are murders, robberies, and so forth is that we’re lawless. We disobey, first of all, the law of God. The root problem in all of creation is disobedience to law, defiance of authority. And the ultimate authority of the universe is God Himself.

Click here to read all of the article

Amazon says, "Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He is also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. He can be heard on the radio program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and around the world. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books, including The Holiness of God, Faith Alone, and Everyone’s a Theologian. He also serves as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible."

R.C. Sproul Books:




  • Age Of Pluralism
  • Rav Rev Forgiveness
  • Rav Rev Biography

#1 Mark Heim Judson  Andover Newton Theological School

 

#2 Nick Carter & Daniel Lehmann   Andover Newton Theological School

 

#3 Nick Carter & Daniel Lehmann   Andover Newton Theological School

 


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The British invaded Washington, D.C. The Capitol was burned. President James and Dolly Madison fled the White House. On this day, September 1, 1814, President Madison wrote: “The enemy by a sudden incursion has succeeded in invading the capitol of the nation… During their possession… though for a single day only, they wantonly destroyed the public edifices…. An occasion which appeals so forcibly to the … patriotic devotion of the American people, none will forget… Independence… is now to be maintained… with the strength and resources which… Heaven has blessed.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Life is a journey, not a home;
a road, not a city of habitation;
and the enjoyments and blessings we have
are but little inns on the roadside of life,
where we may be refreshed for a moment,
that we may with new strength press on to the end -
to the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
--- Horatius Bonar


I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.
--- author disputed http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Stephen_Grellet


Self is the great antichrist and anti-God in the world, that sets up itself above all else.
--- Stephen Charnock


One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we've developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.
--- Malcolm Muggeridge

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     6. Now the people were come to that degree of meanness and fear, and these robbers to that degree of madness, that these last took upon them to appoint high priests. 4 So when they had disannulled the succession, according to those families out of which the high priests used to be made, they ordained certain unknown and ignoble persons for that office, that they might have their assistance in their wicked undertakings; for such as obtained this highest of all honors, without any desert, were forced to comply with those that bestowed it on them. They also set the principal men at variance one with another, by several sorts of contrivances and tricks, and gained the opportunity of doing what they pleased, by the mutual quarrels of those who might have obstructed their measures; till at length, when they were satiated with the unjust actions they had done towards men, they transferred their contumelious behavior to God himself, and came into the sanctuary with polluted feet.

     7. And now the multitude were going to rise against them already; for Ananus, the ancientest of the high priests, persuaded them to it. He was a very prudent man, and had perhaps saved the city if he could but have escaped the hands of those that plotted against him. These men made the temple of God a strong hold for them, and a place whither they might resort, in order to avoid the troubles they feared from the people; the sanctuary was now become a refuge, and a shop of tyranny. They also mixed jesting among the miseries they introduced, which was more intolerable than what they did; for in order to try what surprise the people would be under, and how far their own power extended, they undertook to dispose of the high priesthood by casting lots for it, whereas, as we have said already, it was to descend by succession in a family. The pretense they made for this strange attempt was an ancient practice, while they said that of old it was determined by lot; but in truth, it was no better than a dissolution of an undeniable law, and a cunning contrivance to seize upon the government, derived from those that presumed to appoint governors as they themselves pleased.

     8. Hereupon they sent for one of the pontifical tribes, which is called Eniachim, 5and cast lots which of it should be the high priest. By fortune the lot so fell as to demonstrate their iniquity after the plainest manner, for it fell upon one whose name was Phannias, the son of Samuel, of the village Aphtha. He was a man not only unworthy of the high priesthood, but that did not well know what the high priesthood was, such a mere rustic was he! yet did they hail this man, without his own consent, out of the country, as if they were acting a play upon the stage, and adorned him with a counterfeit tree; they also put upon him the sacred garments, and upon every occasion instructed him what he was to do. This horrid piece of wickedness was sport and pastime with them, but occasioned the other priests, who at a distance saw their law made a jest of, to shed tears, and sorely lament the dissolution of such a sacred dignity.

     9. And now the people could no longer bear the insolence of this procedure, but did all together run zealously, in order to overthrow that tyranny; and indeed they were Gorion the son of Josephus, and Symeon the son of Gamaliel, 6 who encouraged them, by going up and down when they were assembled together in crowds, and as they saw them alone, to bear no longer, but to inflict punishment upon these pests and plagues of their freedom, and to purge the temple of these bloody polluters of it. The best esteemed also of the high priests, Jesus the son of Gamalas, and Ananus the son of Ananus when they were at their assemblies, bitterly reproached the people for their sloth, and excited them against the zealots; for that was the name they went by, as if they were zealous in good undertakings, and were not rather zealous in the worst actions, and extravagant in them beyond the example of others.

     10. And now, when the multitude were gotten together to an assembly, and every one was in indignation at these men's seizing upon the sanctuary, at their rapine and murders, but had not yet begun their attacks upon them, [the reason of which was this, that they imagined it to be a difficult thing to suppress these zealots, as indeed the case was,] Ananus stood in the midst of them, and casting his eyes frequently at the temple, and having a flood of tears in his eyes, he said, "Certainly it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places, that ought not to be trodden upon at random, filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains; yet do I, who am clothed with the vestments of the high priesthood, and am called by that most venerable name [of high priest], still live, and am but too fond of living, and cannot endure to undergo a death which would be the glory of my old age; and if I were the only person concerned, and as it were in a desert, I would give up my life, and that alone for God's sake; for to what purpose is it to live among a people insensible of their calamities, and where there is no notion remaining of any remedy for the miseries that are upon them? for when you are seized upon, you bear it! and when you are beaten, you are silent! and when the people are murdered, nobody dare so much as send out a groan openly! O bitter tyranny that we are under! But why do I complain of the tyrants? Was it not you, and your sufferance of them, that have nourished them? Was it not you that overlooked those that first of all got together, for they were then but a few, and by your silence made them grow to be many; and by conniving at them when they took arms, in effect armed them against yourselves? You ought to have then prevented their first attempts, when they fell a reproaching your relations; but by neglecting that care in time, you have encouraged these wretches to plunder men. When houses were pillaged, nobody said a word, which was the occasion why they carried off the owners of those houses; and when they were drawn through the midst of the city, nobody came to their assistance. They then proceeded to put those whom you have betrayed into their hands into bonds. I do not say how many and of what characters those men were whom they thus served; but certainly they were such as were accused by none, and condemned by none; and since nobody succored them when they were put into bonds, the consequence was, that you saw the same persons slain. We have seen this also; so that still the best of the herd of brute animals, as it were, have been still led to be sacrificed, when yet nobody said one word, or moved his right hand for their preservation. Will you bear, therefore, will you bear to see your sanctuary trampled on? and will you lay steps for these profane wretches, upon which they may mount to higher degrees of insolence? Will not you pluck them down from their exaltation? for even by this time they had proceeded to higher enormities, if they had been able to overthrow any thing greater than the sanctuary. They have seized upon the strongest place of the whole city; you may call it the temple, if you please, though it be like a citadel or fortress. Now, while you have tyranny in so great a degree walled in, and see your enemies over your heads, to what purpose is it to take counsel? and what have you to support your minds withal? Perhaps you wait for the Romans, that they may protect our holy places: are our matters then brought to that pass? and are we come to that degree of misery, that our enemies themselves are expected to pity us? O wretched creatures! will not you rise up and turn upon those that strike you? which you may observe in wild beasts themselves, that they will avenge themselves on those that strike them. Will you not call to mind, every one of you, the calamities you yourselves have suffered? nor lay before your eyes what afflictions you yourselves have undergone? and will not such things sharpen your souls to revenge? Is therefore that most honorable and most natural of our passions utterly lost, I mean the desire of liberty? Truly we are in love with slavery, and in love with those that lord it over us, as if we had received that principle of subjection from our ancestors; yet did they undergo many and great wars for the sake of liberty, nor were they so far overcome by the power of the Egyptians, or the Medes, but that still they did what they thought fit, notwithstanding their commands to the contrary. And what occasion is there now for a war with the Romans? [I meddle not with determining whether it be an advantageous and profitable war or not.] What pretense is there for it? Is it not that we may enjoy our liberty? Besides, shall we not bear the lords of the habitable earth to be lords over us, and yet bear tyrants of our own country? Although I must say that submission to foreigners may be borne, because fortune hath already doomed us to it, while submission to wicked people of our own nation is too unmanly, and brought upon us by our own consent. However, since I have had occasion to mention the Romans, I will not conceal a thing that, as I am speaking, comes into my mind, and affects me considerably; it is this, that though we should be taken by them, [God forbid the event should be so!] yet can we undergo nothing that will be harder to be borne than what these men have already brought upon us. How then can we avoid shedding of tears, when we see the Roman donations in our temple, while we withal see those of our own nation taking our spoils, and plundering our glorious metropolis, and slaughtering our men, from which enormities those Romans themselves would have abstained? to see those Romans never going beyond the bounds allotted to profane persons, nor venturing to break in upon any of our sacred customs; nay, having a horror on their minds when they view at a distance those sacred walls; while some that have been born in this very country, and brought up in our customs, and called Jews, do walk about in the midst of the holy places, at the very time when their hands are still warm with the slaughter of their own countrymen. Besides, can any one be afraid of a war abroad, and that with such as will have comparatively much greater moderation than our own people have? For truly, if we may suit our words to the things they represent, it is probable one may hereafter find the Romans to be the supporters of our laws, and those within ourselves the subverters of them. And now I am persuaded that every one of you here comes satisfied before I speak that these overthrowers of our liberties deserve to be destroyed, and that nobody can so much as devise a punishment that they have not deserved by what they have done, and that you are all provoked against them by those their wicked actions, whence you have suffered so greatly. But perhaps many of you are affrighted at the multitude of those zealots, and at their audaciousness, as well as at the advantage they have over us in their being higher in place than we are; for these circumstances, as they have been occasioned by your negligence, so will they become still greater by being still longer neglected; for their multitude is every day augmented, by every ill man's running away to those that are like to themselves, and their audaciousness is therefore inflamed, because they meet with no obstruction to their designs. And for their higher place, they will make use of it for engines also, if we give them time to do so; but be assured of this, that if we go up to fight them, they will be made tamer by their own consciences, and what advantages they have in the height of their situation they will lose by the opposition of their reason; perhaps also God himself, who hath been affronted by them, will make what they throw at us return against themselves, and these impious wretches will be killed by their own darts: let us but make our appearance before them, and they will come to nothing. However, it is a right thing, if there should be any danger in the attempt, to die before these holy gates, and to spend our very lives, if not for the sake of our children and wives, yet for God's sake, and for the sake of his sanctuary. I will assist you both with my counsel and with my hand; nor shall any sagacity of ours be wanting for your support; nor shall you see that I will be sparing of my body neither."

     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 24:1-2
     by D.H. Stern

1     Don’t be envious of evil people,
and don’t desire to be with them.
2     For their minds are occupied with violence,
and their lips speak of making trouble.

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


                Destiny of holiness

     Ye shall be holy; for I am holy. --- 1 Peter 1:16 (R.V.).

     Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is. The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness. Nowadays we have far too many affinities, we are dissipated with them; right, good, noble affinities which will yet have their fulfilment, but in the meantime God has to atrophy them. The one thing that matters is whether a man will accept the God Who will make him holy. At all costs a man must be rightly related to God.

     Do I believe I need to be holy? Do I believe God can come into me and make me holy? If by your preaching you convince me that I am unholy, I resent your preaching. The preaching of the Gospel awakens an intense resentment because it must reveal that I am unholy; but it also awakens an intense craving. God has one destined end for mankind, viz., holiness. His one aim is the production of saints. God is not an eternal blessing-machine for men; He did not come to save men out of pity: He came to save men because He had created them to be holy. The Atonement means that God can put me back into perfect union with Himself, without a shadow between, through the Death of Jesus Christ.

     Never tolerate through sympathy with yourself or with others any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God. Holiness means unsullied walking with the feet, unsullied talking with the tongue, unsullied thinking with the mind—every detail of the life under the scrutiny of God. Holiness is not only what God gives me, but what I manifest that God has given me.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Sailor Poet
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Sailor Poet

His first ship; his last poem;
  And between them what turbulent acres
  Of sea or land with always the flesh ebbing
  In slow waves over the salt bones.

But don't be too hard; so to have written
  Even in smoke on such fierce skies,
  Or to have brought one poem safely to harbour
  From such horizons is not now to be scorned.


Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     D’RASH


     My apple trees will never get across
     And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
     He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

So wrote Robert Frost. He also wrote, in the same poem: (Mending Wall)

     Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
     What I was walling in or walling out.

     The laissez-faire attitude toward a neighbor, as projected by the protagonist in Frost’s poem, is antithetical to the Jewish value of community. Good fences do not make good neighbors, not only because community is a value, but also because (as the protagonist later acknowledges) we don’t necessarily know what we’re walling in, or out.

     In the case of the environment, we cannot build fences from our neighbors. What others do ultimately affects us, just as our own actions have a strong impact on those near us. If a local factory pollutes the air, there is no way that we will remain immune from its effects. If I pour antifreeze down the drain, my pollution will have an impact on the entire community. What each of us does affects the other. There is no wall, dam, or barrier that will perfectly protect us from harm.

     The Rabbis understood this as they wrote this Midrash:

     When the Holy One, praised is He, created the first human, He took him around to all the trees in the Garden of Eden, saying to him: “Look at how beautiful and splendid my creations are! All that I created—I created for you. Pay attention that you not ruin and destroy My world, for if you ruin it, there will be no one after you to repair it.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13)

     All human beings live on one planet, in one large community. We cannot close our eyes to the offenses of our neighbors, nor can we hope that our misdeeds will not harm others. We are all guarantors one for the other.

     ANOTHER D’RASH

     The line “All Israel are guarantors one for the other” has been invoked many times to emphasize the unity and solidarity of the Jewish people. In a pinch, we are there for one another, But what exactly does this adage require of us?

     The Hebrew word עֲרֵבִים/areivim, “guarantors,” signifies a financial obligation. When the poor lack food, clothing, or shelter, we have to give tzedakah and provide those things for them. When an orphan girl is ready to get married, the community must step forward and do the mitzvah of hakhnasat kallah and provide a dowry for the bride. When Jews are taken hostage and are being held for ransom, other Jews collect money for pidyon shevuyyim, the redeeming of the captives.

     In addition to the financial responsibility, the phrase also implies a moral obligation. As the Midrash teaches, one person’s sins could cause many others to stumble. Consequently, each member of the community has a stake in what every other member does.

     Several times during Yom Kippur, we recite the prayer Al Ḥet. It is a catalogue of sins, listed in alphabetical order. Each line begins with the formula, “For the sin that we have committed by …” and ends with a specific transgression. Most people read through the list and probably think “I didn’t do this one” or “I’m not guilty of that one.” But the instructions are not “Check those that apply.” Instead, every person is supposed to recite all the sins. Why is this so? Two reasons are offered. First, we don’t pray for ourselves alone. Virtually every Jewish prayer is written in the plural; if we didn’t commit this particular sin, or that one, then some other Jew did. And when we ask God to forgive us, it is not only for our individual sins; it is for all the collective sins of the Jewish people. As we say in the Al Ḥet prayer, “for the sins that we have committed.…”

     But there is a second reason. We are all responsible for each other. If a family member sinned, we are partially responsible. If a friend or neighbor did wrong, then some of the blame rests with us. It is our sin too, because we did not stop them. In
Leviticus 19:17 we read the following: “Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him.” This verse is interpreted by the Rabbis to mean that we cannot just sit back and watch as other people do wrong. We have a responsibility to prevent them from doing wrong, even if it takes a hundred warnings, even if they curse us, even if they strike us. In Jewish law, it is not “Every man for himself.” Rather, each of us is obligated to look out for the other—not only financially, but morally as well.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     September 1

     Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. --- Psalm 119:18.

     True wonder is never dispelled by what we know.
(The Afterglow Of God:
Sunday Evenings In A Glasgow Pulpit (1912)
)

     That alone is genuine wonder—the wonder not of ignorance but of knowledge, the wonder that does not vanish when we know but grows and deepens with everything we know. It was the wonder of the apostle Paul. It was the wonder in the heart of Jesus. And it is the wonder we will feel forever in the perfected knowledge of eternity.

     It is not knowledge, then, that is the foe of wonder; it is something far more commonplace than that. The blight that wilts our faculty of wonder is the familiarity that begets contempt. Someone has said that if all the stars were to cease shining for a hundred years and then were suddenly to flash on again, there is not an eye on earth but would be lifted heavenward and not a heart but would break forth in praise to God. But the stars were there when we were little children, and they will be shining in the heavens tonight. And to us the spectacle is so familiar that we have lost the wonder of it all. Live forty years in such a world as this and a certain blindness falls on the eyes. And therefore the need that when the Evening falls, the Morning breaks, and the summer comes again, we should pray as the psalmist prayed so long ago, “Lord, open my eyes that I may see.”

     May I say in passing that all great experiences tend to recreate the sense of wonder? Sickness, sorrow, death, conversion have a way of bringing new wonder into everything. And I suggest that in the will of God, which is as merciful as it is wise, that recreating of the sense of wonder may be one purpose of many an hour of discipline.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day
     The Pagan Pontiff  September 1

     The history of the church tells lessons good and bad. Its heroes include the noblest saints who ever lived, but its rosters also record scoundrels who have blackened its name. For example …

     In 1460 29-year-old Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia of Spain fumed as he opened the letter from the reigning pope. Pius II was upset over news of another wild Borgia party. “None of the allurements of love was lacking,” the pope complained. He condemned Borgia’s orgies, warning him of “disgrace” and “contempt.”

     But Borgia, ever more unrestrained, advanced in office until he purchased the papacy itself in 1492. He called himself Pope Alexander VI. His sinful exploits increased with age, and he always kept a stable of women.

     But Pope Alexander was upstaged by his illegitimate daughter, Lucrezia Borgia. What we know of Lucrezia is sketchy but vivid. She was charming, shrewd, and bewitching. Her long, golden hair crowned her angelic face and reached almost to her feet. She inherited her father’s lustiness as a teenager.

     Her brother Caesar had become a cardinal who mixed church work with immorality and murder. And another Borgia brother, Juan, was equally immoral.

     In the 1490s Rome gossiped that Lucrezia was sleeping with her father and both her brothers—incest upon incest and that the brothers were violently jealous. On the Morning of June 15, 1497, Juan’s corpse was found in the Tiber, bearing nine dagger wounds. Caesar was suspected, though nothing was proven.

     Lucrezia became pregnant. The Vatican sought to hide her condition, but word filtered out. The child was named Giovanni. But who was his father? On September 1, 1501 Pope Alexander VI issued two extraordinary edicts. The first, which was made public, identified Giovanni as Caesar’s child. But the second, hidden in church vaults, identified Giovanni as the pope’s own son, making Pope Alexander both the child’s father and his grandfather.

     A young monk named Martin Luther was watching.

     I have heard terrible things about some of you. In fact, you are behaving worse than the Gentiles. A man is even sleeping with his own stepmother. Don’t you know how a little yeast can spread through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast!
--- 1 Corinthians 5:1,6,7a.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 1

     “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” --- Psalm 73:24.

     The Psalmist felt his need of divine guidance. He had just been discovering the foolishness of his own heart, and lest he should be constantly led astray by it, he resolved that God’s counsel should henceforth guide him. A sense of our own folly is a great step towards being wise, when it leads us to rely on the wisdom of the Lord. The blind man leans on his friend’s arm and reaches home in safety, and so would we give ourselves up implicitly to divine guidance, nothing doubting; assured that though we cannot see, it is always safe to trust the all-seeing God. “Thou shalt,” is a blessed expression of confidence. He was sure that the Lord would not decline the condescending task. There is a word for thee, O believer; rest thou in it. Be assured that thy God will be thy counsellor and friend; he shall guide thee; he will direct all thy ways. In his written Word thou hast this assurance in part fulfilled, for holy Scripture is his counsel to thee. Happy are we to have God’s Word always to guide us! What were the mariner without his compass? And what were the Christian without the Bible? This is the unerring chart, the map in which every shoal is described, and all the channels from the quicksands of destruction to the haven of salvation mapped and marked by one who knows all the way. Blessed be thou, O God, that we may trust thee to guide us now, and guide us even to the end! After this guidance through life, the Psalmist anticipates a divine reception at last—“and afterward receive me to glory.” What a thought for thee, believer! God himself will receive thee to glory—thee! Wandering, erring, straying, yet he will bring thee safe at last to glory! This is thy portion; live on it this day, and if perplexities should surround thee, go in the strength of this text straight to the throne.


          Evening - September 1

     “Trust in him at all times.”
--- Psalm 62:8.

     Faith is as much the rule of temporal as of spiritual life; we ought to have faith in God for our earthly affairs as well as for our heavenly business. It is only as we learn to trust in God for the supply of all our daily need that we shall live above the world. We are not to be idle, that would show we did not trust in God, who worketh hitherto, but in the devil, who is the father of idleness. We are not to be imprudent or rash; that were to trust chance, and not the living God, who is a God of economy and order. Acting in all prudence and uprightness, we are to rely simply and entirely upon the Lord at all times.

     Let me commend to you a life of trust in God in temporal things. Trusting in God, you will not be compelled to mourn because you have used sinful means to grow rich. Serve God with integrity, and if you achieve no success, at least no sin will lie upon your conscience. Trusting God, you will not be guilty of self-contradiction. He who trusts in craft, sails this way to-day, and that way the next, like a vessel tossed about by the fickle wind; but he that trusteth in the Lord is like a vessel propelled by steam, she cuts through the waves, defies the wind, and makes one bright silvery straightforward track to her destined haven. Be you a man with living principles within; never bow to the varying customs of worldly wisdom. Walk in your path of integrity with steadfast steps, and show that you are invincibly strong in the strength which confidence in God alone can confer. Thus you will be delivered from anxious care, you will not be troubled with evil tidings, your heart will be fixed, trusting in the Lord. How pleasant to float along the stream of providence! There is no more blessed way of living than a life of dependence upon a covenant-keeping God. We have no care, for he careth for us; we have no troubles, because we cast our burdens upon the Lord.

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

Amazing Grace
     September 1

          THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION

     Samuel J. Stone, 1839–1900

     … Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Ephesians 5:23)

     During an especially heated period of theological controversy in England in 1866 when liberalism threatened to destroy the great cardinal doctrines of the Anglican church, this hymn was written by Pastor Samuel Stone. He was a strong supporter of the conservative faith and refused to compromise in any way the critical attacks on doctrinal orthodoxy.

     It was Stone’s desire to write a hymn that would reaffirm the Lordship of Christ as the foundation of the church. To combat the skeptical liberal scholarship, Samuel Stone wrote twelve hymn texts based on the Apostles’ Creed. This particular text refers to the ninth article: “The Holy Catholic (Universal) Church, the communion of saints: He is the Head of this body.”

     Described as the poor man’s pastor, Samuel Stone demonstrated his firm belief in the church as the instrument of Christ for meeting the needs of people. He spent much time ministering to the poor and underprivileged people in London’s East End. It was said that “he created a beautiful place of worship for the humble folk and made it a center of light in dark places.”

     This is what the local church was meant to be—a spiritual hospital for hurting humanity, never an exclusive private club for self-righteous Christians. Called out from the world by God for Himself, the church consists of people who meet regularly for worship, inspiration, instruction, and fellowship. After that, Christ our Head sends His own back into the world to represent Him and to model His love for all mankind.

     The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; She is His new creation by water and the Word: from heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.
     Elect from ev’ry nation, yet one o’er all the earth, her charter of salvation One Lord, one faith, one birth; one holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with ev’ry grace endued.
     Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One, and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won: O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we, like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with Thee.


     For Today: Matthew 16:15–18; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Colossians 1:18

     Give thanks to God for your local church as well as for fellow-believers of the church universal everywhere. Affirm your conviction in Christ as the head of the church as you carry this musical truth ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday, September 1, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 16, Friday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 16, 17
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 22
Old Testament     1 Kings 5:1–6:1, 6:7
New Testament     Acts 28:1–16
Gospel     Mark 14:27–42

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 16, 17

A Miktam of David.

1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.

4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.

5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.

7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.

11 You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

A Prayer of David.

1 Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
2 From you let my vindication come;
let your eyes see the right.

3 If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
my mouth does not transgress.
4 As for what others do, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5 My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.

6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
7 Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.

8 Guard me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9 from the wicked who despoil me,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11 They track me down; now they surround me;
they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.
12 They are like a lion eager to tear,
like a young lion lurking in ambush.

13 Rise up, O LORD, confront them, overthrow them!
By your sword deliver my life from the wicked,
14 from mortals—by your hand, O LORD—
from mortals whose portion in life is in this world.
May their bellies be filled with what you have stored up for them;
may their children have more than enough;
may they leave something over to their little ones.

15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 22

To the leader: according to The Deer of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8 “Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O LORD, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD.
May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
28 For dominion belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.

Old Testament
1 Kings 5:1–6:1, 6:7

5 Now King Hiram of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father; for Hiram had always been a friend to David. 2 Solomon sent word to Hiram, saying, 3 “You know that my father David could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. 4 But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. 5 So I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD said to my father David, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.’ 6 Therefore command that cedars from the Lebanon be cut for me. My servants will join your servants, and I will give you whatever wages you set for your servants; for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.”

7 When Hiram heard the words of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly, and said, “Blessed be the LORD today, who has given to David a wise son to be over this great people.” 8 Hiram sent word to Solomon, “I have heard the message that you have sent to me; I will fulfill all your needs in the matter of cedar and cypress timber. 9 My servants shall bring it down to the sea from the Lebanon; I will make it into rafts to go by sea to the place you indicate. I will have them broken up there for you to take away. And you shall meet my needs by providing food for my household.” 10 So Hiram supplied Solomon’s every need for timber of cedar and cypress. 11 Solomon in turn gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty cors of fine oil. Solomon gave this to Hiram year by year. 12 So the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty.

13 King Solomon conscripted forced labor out of all Israel; the levy numbered thirty thousand men. 14 He sent them to the Lebanon, ten thousand a month in shifts; they would be a month in the Lebanon and two months at home; Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. 15 Solomon also had seventy thousand laborers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hill country, 16 besides Solomon’s three thousand three hundred supervisors who were over the work, having charge of the people who did the work. 17 At the king’s command, they quarried out great, costly stones in order to lay the foundation of the house with dressed stones. 18 So Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders and the Gebalites did the stonecutting and prepared the timber and the stone to build the house.

6 In the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the LORD.

7 The house was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron was heard in the temple while it was being built.

New Testament
Acts 28:1–16

28 After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us around it. 3 Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. 8 It so happened that the father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him. 9 After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 They bestowed many honors on us, and when we were about to sail, they put on board all the provisions we needed.

11 Three months later we set sail on a ship that had wintered at the island, an Alexandrian ship with the Twin Brothers as its figurehead. 12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there for three days; 13 then we weighed anchor and came to Rhegium. After one day there a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found believers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 The believers from there, when they heard of us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.

16 When we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

Gospel
Mark 14:27–42

27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written,

     ‘I will strike the shepherd,
     and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” 30 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same.

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

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



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Interfaith Press Conference    
Andover Newton Theological School






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The Lure of the Numinous
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I Know What Love Is
Sarah Drummond   
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Arts and the Sensual in Renewing Worship
Don Saliers   
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The Gift Of Imagination
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Interfaith Education
Sarah Drummond   
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Faculty Reflections on Interfaith Education
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Psalm 130: Having Hope in God's Redemption
Michael Thigpen   Biola University





A Life Of Social Activisim
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Revelation in the Abrahamic Traditions
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My Neighbor's Faith
Jennifer Peace   
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Finding Strength in Surrender
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Shalom, the Peace of God
Terry McGonigal     Biola University