Isaiah 1:1 The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
The Wickedness of Judah
2 Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib;
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.
4 Ah, sinful nation,
people laden with iniquity,
offspring who do evil,
children who deal corruptly,
who have forsaken the Lord,
who have despised the Holy One of Israel,
who are utterly estranged!
5 Why do you seek further beatings?
Why do you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and bleeding wounds;
they have not been drained, or bound up,
or softened with oil.
7 Your country lies desolate,
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
aliens devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
8 And daughter Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a shelter in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.
9 If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we would have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
who asked this from your hand?
Trample my courts no more;
13 bringing offerings is futile;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—
I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.
14 Your new moons and your appointed festivals
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me,
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you stretch out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good;
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.
18 Come now, let us argue it out,
says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be devoured by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
The Degenerate City
21 How the faithful city
has become a whore!
She that was full of justice,
righteousness lodged in her—
but now murderers!
22 Your silver has become dross,
your wine is mixed with water.
23 Your princes are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not defend the orphan,
and the widow’s cause does not come before them.
24 Therefore says the Sovereign,
the Lord of hosts,
the Mighty One of Israel:
Ah, I will pour out my wrath on my enemies,
and avenge myself on my foes!
25 I will turn my hand against you;
I will smelt away your dross as with lye
and remove all your alloy.
26 And I will restore your judges as at the first,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,
the faithful city.
27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
28 But rebels and sinners shall be destroyed together,
and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
29 For you shall be ashamed of the oaks
in which you delighted;
and you shall blush for the gardens
that you have chosen.
30 For you shall be like an oak
whose leaf withers,
and like a garden without water.
31 The strong shall become like tinder,
and their work like a spark;
they and their work shall burn together,
with no one to quench them.
The Future House of God (Mic 4.1—5)
2 In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
3 Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
Judgment Pronounced on Arrogance
5 O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!
6 For you have forsaken the ways of your people,
O house of Jacob.
Indeed they are full of diviners from the east
and of soothsayers like the Philistines,
and they clasp hands with foreigners.
7 Their land is filled with silver and gold,
and there is no end to their treasures;
their land is filled with horses,
and there is no end to their chariots.
8 Their land is filled with idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their own fingers have made.
9 And so people are humbled,
and everyone is brought low—
do not forgive them!
10 Enter into the rock,
and hide in the dust
from the terror of the Lord,
and from the glory of his majesty.
11 The haughty eyes of people shall be brought low,
and the pride of everyone shall be humbled;
and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.
12 For the Lord of hosts has a day
against all that is proud and lofty,
against all that is lifted up and high;
13 against all the cedars of Lebanon,
lofty and lifted up;
and against all the oaks of Bashan;
14 against all the high mountains,
and against all the lofty hills;
15 against every high tower,
and against every fortified wall;
16 against all the ships of Tarshish,
and against all the beautiful craft.
17 The haughtiness of people shall be humbled,
and the pride of everyone shall be brought low;
and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.
18 The idols shall utterly pass away.
19 Enter the caves of the rocks
and the holes of the ground,
from the terror of the Lord,
and from the glory of his majesty,
when he rises to terrify the earth.
20 On that day people will throw away
to the moles and to the bats
their idols of silver and their idols of gold,
which they made for themselves to worship,
21 to enter the caverns of the rocks
and the clefts in the crags,
from the terror of the Lord,
and from the glory of his majesty,
when he rises to terrify the earth.
22 Turn away from mortals,
who have only breath in their nostrils,
for of what account are they?
Isaiah 3:1 For now the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts,
is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah
support and staff—
all support of bread,
and all support of water—
2 warrior and soldier,
judge and prophet,
diviner and elder,
3 captain of fifty
counselor and skillful magician
and expert enchanter.
4 And I will make boys their princes,
and babes shall rule over them.
5 The people will be oppressed,
everyone by another
and everyone by a neighbor;
the youth will be insolent to the elder,
and the base to the honorable.
6 Someone will even seize a relative,
a member of the clan, saying,
“You have a cloak;
you shall be our leader,
and this heap of ruins
shall be under your rule.”
7 But the other will cry out on that day, saying,
“I will not be a healer;
in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;
you shall not make me
leader of the people.”
8 For Jerusalem has stumbled
and Judah has fallen,
because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord,
defying his glorious presence.
9 The look on their faces bears witness against them;
they proclaim their sin like Sodom,
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
For they have brought evil on themselves.
10 Tell the innocent how fortunate they are,
for they shall eat the fruit of their labors.
11 Woe to the guilty! How unfortunate they are,
for what their hands have done shall be done to them.
12 My people—children are their oppressors,
and women rule over them.
O my people, your leaders mislead you,
and confuse the course of your paths.
13 The Lord rises to argue his case;
he stands to judge the peoples.
14 The Lord enters into judgment
with the elders and princes of his people:
It is you who have devoured the vineyard;
the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people,
by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts.
16 The Lord said:
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty
and walk with outstretched necks,
glancing wantonly with their eyes,
mincing along as they go,
tinkling with their feet;
17 the Lord will afflict with scabs
the heads of the daughters of Zion,
and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away
the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents;
19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs;
20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes,
the perfume boxes, and the amulets;
21 the signet rings and nose rings;
22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags;
23 the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.
24 Instead of perfume there will be a stench;
and instead of a sash, a rope;
and instead of well-set hair, baldness;
and instead of a rich robe, a binding of sackcloth;
instead of beauty, shame.
25 Your men shall fall by the sword
and your warriors in battle.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn;
ravaged, she shall sit upon the ground.
“We will eat our own bread
and wear our own clothes;
just let us be called by your name;
take away our disgrace.”
The Future Glory of the Survivors in Zion
The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
(Sept 11) Bob Gass
God said, ‘Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord…For I will drive out nations before you…enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land’ (vv. 23-24 NASB). Three times a year the men of Israel were to go on a spiritual retreat and seek God’s guidance. And God promised to protect their families and their possessions while they were gone, and even to ‘enlarge [their] borders’. So, if you’re a husband who wants God to protect your family and bless your endeavours, you must take the time to submit your thoughts, actions, and decisions to His leadership. You’ll never function successfully as the head of your family until you’re under the headship of Christ. The best thing you can do in leading your home and building a great marriage is to ask the question, ‘What is the mind of Christ in this matter?’ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16). And then follow it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have your wife’s full attention and cooperation. Why? Because she’s no longer arguing with you and your opinions. Now you’ve brought Christ and His Word into the equation. It may take time for your wife to trust your leadership and respect your thinking, but as she sees you walk with God and practise His principles, she’ll come to trust you and feel secure. When a woman says to her husband, ‘I need you to hold me,’ she’s not necessarily talking about physical intimacy. She’s talking about her God-given need for security. She needs a husband she can love and trust. And God can make you such a husband.
(Ex 34:23) 23 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. ESV
(1 Co 2:16) 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. ESV
Gal 4 UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
The date, September 11, 1777. The Continental Congress was being forced to evacuate Philadelphia, as the British had just won the Battle of Brandywine, forcing Washington’s 10,000 troops to retreat. In this desperate situation, Congress was made aware that there was a shortage of Bibles due to the interruption of trade with the King’s printers. Congress voted to import Bibles from Scotland or Holland into different parts of the Union, stating: “The use of the Bible is so universal and its importance so great… it was resolved accordingly to direct said Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 copies of the Bible.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
If I discover within myself a desire
which no experience in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation
is that I was made for another world.
--- C.S. Lewis
One prays for life,
life means free choice
and freedom is mystery.
If one knew the truth
how could there be freedom.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer
... from here, there and everywhere
Have you forgotten?
“This is a war between good and evil”. We heard those words within hours of the attack on America. The country stood united, and there was no doubt that the wickedness of what had been done had pierced the conscience of the vast majority of people. Journalists and politicians were driven to tears. Something that defied reason had taken place. Sadness, like a cloud, enveloped our emotions.
And then we began to hear and see reactions from around the world. While most grieved at the horror, the camera showed others dancing in the streets. (How quickly this was removed from television, but I remember seeing it.) To them, the destruction was a feast for the eyes, and they distributed sweets to celebrate this disorienting blow to Americas tranquility. It was but a few days before the words broke from one reporters lips, “One man's terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”
How do we make sense of all this? Politics took over center stage, and suddenly it seemed as though this was payback time for us. The politicization of morality is not a new thing; it has always been a safe haven for any kind of act or behavior. If I am able to find political justification for anything I think or do, my thoughts or actions can be deemed morally right.
We are all tempted to justify our proclivities with political arguments. On the one hand, those of us who are privileged to live in democracies have convinced ourselves that morality is purely a private matter, and we allow no one to invade that territory. Sit in on the lectures of some intellectual arguing from the liberal side of any issue and it becomes clear that relativism is the guide writ large on our cultural belief. We hear it said that there is no such thing as an absolute and that each one must decide his or her moral lifestyle. Anyone who holds to absolutes is mocked and derided.
On the other hand, demagogues such as Osama bin Laden believe that morality is a totally public matter, interwoven with religion, and that their followers are doing the world a favor by ridding it of any culture that privatizes religion and morality. I can just picture bin Ladens diatribes as he speaks to his suicide squads. Every word must drip with conviction that their mission is necessary to “save the world.” Anything and everything is justified by his ultimate goal of killing those who stand in the way of the greater good of a totalitarian religion.
Yet, if we pierce the armor of both extremes, we find very quickly what lies beneath. The relativist who argues for the absence of absolutes smuggles absolutes into his arguments all the time, while shouting loudly that all morality is private belief. Alan Dershowitz, professor at Harvard Law School, spares no vitriol in his pronouncements that there are no absolutes and that thats the way it is. “I do not know what is right,” he contends. It all sounds very honest and real, until he points his finger at his audience and says, “And you know what? Neither do you.” So it is not just that he does not know what is right. It is also that he knows the impossibility of knowing what is right so well that he is absolutely certain that nobody else can know what is right either. There is his absolute. One need only observe his tirades and his views on numerous issues, including his vociferous defense of O. J. Simpson during his murder trial, to see how relativism works itself into society’s ethics.
Then you go to the other extreme. On the night before Mohammed Atta and his band of murderers brought the world to a screaming halt with their suicide mission to “rid the world of American values/’ these specimens of “moral rectitude” were parked in nude dance clubs, in search of the services of a prostitute. What hypocrisy littered their moral pronouncements! Lies, deceit, sensuality, illegal acts, fake passports, mass murder— all in defense of absolutes.
In the face of such duplicity, how do we recognize right and wrong? In the rubble of human failure and destruction, how do we connect with a helping hand to rescue us from falsehood?
Light in the Shadow of Jihad: The Struggle for Truth
Thanks to Meir Yona
How Vespasian Upon Hearing Of Some Commotions In Gall, 12 Made Haste To Finish The Jewish War. A Description Of Jericho, And Of The Great Plain; With An Account Besides Of The Lake Asphaltites.
1. In the mean time, an account came that there were commotions in Gall, and that Vindex, together with the men of power in that country, had revolted from Nero; which affair is more accurately described elsewhere. This report, thus related to Vespasian, excited him to go on briskly with the war; for he foresaw already the civil wars which were coming upon them, nay, that the very government was in danger; and he thought, if he could first reduce the eastern parts of the empire to peace, he should make the fears for Italy the lighter; while therefore the winter was his hinderance [from going into the field], he put garrisons into the villages and smaller cities for their security; he put decurions also into the villages, and centurions into the cities: he besides this rebuilt many of the cities that had been laid waste; but at the beginning of the spring he took the greatest part of his army, and led it from Cesarea to Antipatris, where he spent two days in settling the affairs of that city, and then, on the third day, he marched on, laying waste and burning all the neighboring villages. And when he had laid waste all the places about the toparchy of Thamnas, he passed on to Lydda and Jamnia; and when both these cities had come over to him, he placed a great many of those that had come over to him [from other places] as inhabitants therein, and then came to Emmaus, where he seized upon the passage which led thence to their metropolis, and fortified his camp, and leaving the fifth legion therein, he came to the toparchy of Bethletephon. He then destroyed that place, and the neighboring places, by fire, and fortified, at proper places, the strong holds all about Idumea; and when he had seized upon two villages, which were in the very midst of Idumea, Betaris and Caphartobas, he slew above ten thousand of the people, and carried into captivity above a thousand, and drove away the rest of the multitude, and placed no small part of his own forces in them, who overran and laid waste the whole mountainous country; while he, with the rest of his forces, returned to Emmaus, whence he came down through the country of Samaria, and hard by the city, by others called Neapolis, [or Sichem,] but by the people of that country Mabortha, to Corea, where he pitched his camp, on the second day of the month Desius [Sivan]; and on the day following he came to Jericho; on which day Trajan, one of his commanders, joined him with the forces he brought out of Perea, all the places beyond Jordan being subdued already.
2. Hereupon a great multitude prevented their approach, and came out of Jericho, and fled to those mountainous parts that lay over against Jerusalem, while that part which was left behind was in a great measure destroyed; they also found the city desolate. It is situated in a plain; but a naked and barren mountain, of a very great length, hangs over it, which extends itself to the land about Scythopolis northward, but as far as the country of Sodom, and the utmost limits of the lake Asphaltites, southward. This mountain is all of it very uneven and uninhabited, by reason of its barrenness: there is an opposite mountain that is situated over against it, on the other side of Jordan; this last begins at Julias, and the northern quarters, and extends itself southward as far as Somorrhon, 13 which is the bounds of Petra, in Arabia. In this ridge of mountains there is one called the Iron Mountain, that runs in length as far as Moab. Now the region that lies in the middle between these ridges of mountains is called the Great Plain; it reaches from the village Ginnabris, as far as the lake Asphaltites; its length is two hundred and thirty furlongs, and its breadth a hundred and twenty, and it is divided in the midst by Jordan. It hath two lakes in it, that of Asphaltites, and that of Tiberias, whose natures are opposite to each other; for the former is salt and unfruitful, but that of Tiberias is sweet and fruitful. This plain is much burnt up in summer time, and, by reason of the extraordinary heat, contains a very unwholesome air; it is all destitute of water excepting the river Jordan, which water of Jordan is the occasion why those plantations of palm trees that are near its banks are more flourishing, and much more fruitful, as are those that are remote from it not so flourishing, or fruitful.
3. Notwithstanding which, there is a fountain by Jericho, that runs plentifully, and is very fit for watering the ground; it arises near the old city, which Joshua, the son of Naue, the general of the Hebrews, took the first of all the cities of the land of Canaan, by right of war. The report is, that this fountain, at the beginning, caused not only the blasting of the earth and the trees, but of the children born of women, and that it was entirely of a sickly and corruptive nature to all things whatsoever; but that it was made gentle, and very wholesome and fruitful, by the prophet Elisha. This prophet was familiar with Elijah, and was his successor, who, when he once was the guest of the people at Jericho, and the men of the place had treated him very kindly, he both made them amends as well as the country, by a lasting favor; for he went out of the city to this fountain, and threw into the current an earthen vessel full of salt; after which he stretched out his righteous hand unto heaven, and, pouring out a mild drink-offering, he made this supplication, That the current might be mollified, and that the veins of fresh water might be opened; that God also would bring into the place a more temperate and fertile air for the current, and would bestow upon the people of that country plenty of the fruits of the earth, and a succession of children; and that this prolific water might never fail them, while they continued to be righteous. To these prayers Elisha 14 joined proper operations of his hands, after a skillful manner, and changed the fountain; and that water, which had been the occasion of barrenness and famine before, from that time did supply a numerous posterity, and afforded great abundance to the country. Accordingly, the power of it is so great in watering the ground, that if it do but once touch a country, it affords a sweeter nourishment than other waters do, when they lie so long upon them, till they are satiated with them. For which reason, the advantage gained from other waters, when they flow in great plenty, is but small, while that of this water is great when it flows even in little quantities. Accordingly, it waters a larger space of ground than any other waters do, and passes along a plain of seventy furlongs long, and twenty broad; wherein it affords nourishment to those most excellent gardens that are thick set with trees. There are in it many sorts of palm trees that are watered by it, different from each other in taste and name; the better sort of them, when they are pressed, yield an excellent kind of honey, not much inferior in sweetness to other honey. This country withal produces honey from bees; it also bears that balsam which is the most precious of all the fruits in that place, cypress trees also, and those that bear myrobalanum; so that he who should pronounce this place to be divine would not be mistaken, wherein is such plenty of trees produced as are very rare, and of the must excellent sort. And indeed, if we speak of those other fruits, it will not be easy to light on any climate in the habitable earth that can well be compared to it, what is here sown comes up in such clusters; the cause of which seems to me to be the warmth of the air, and the fertility of the waters; the warmth calling forth the sprouts, and making them spread, and the moisture making every one of them take root firmly, and supplying that virtue which it stands in need of in summer time. Now this country is then so sadly burnt up, that nobody cares to come at it; and if the water be drawn up before sun-rising, and after that exposed to the air, it becomes exceeding cold, and becomes of a nature quite contrary to the ambient air; as in winter again it becomes warm; and if you go into it, it appears very gentle. The ambient air is here also of so good a temperature, that the people of the country are clothed in linen-only, even when snow covers the rest of Judea. This place is one hundred and fifty furlongs from Jerusalem, and sixty from Jordan. The country, as far as Jerusalem, is desert and stony; but that as far as Jordan and the lake Asphaltites lies lower indeed, though it be equally desert and barren. But so much shall suffice to have said about Jericho, and of the great happiness of its situation.
4. The nature of the lake Asphaltites is also worth describing. It is, as I have said already, bitter and unfruitful. It is so light [or thick] that it bears up the heaviest things that are thrown into it; nor is it easy for any one to make things sink therein to the bottom, if he had a mind so to do. Accordingly, when Vespasian went to see it, he commanded that some who could not swim should have their hands tied behind them, and be thrown into the deep, when it so happened that they all swam as if a wind had forced them upwards. Moreover, the change of the color of this lake is wonderful, for it changes its appearance thrice every day; and as the rays of the sun fall differently upon it, the light is variously reflected. However, it casts up black clods of bitumen in many parts of it; these swim at the top of the water, and resemble both in shape and bigness headless bulls; and when the laborers that belong to the lake come to it, and catch hold of it as it hangs together, they draw it into their ships; but when the ship is full, it is not easy to cut off the rest, for it is so tenacious as to make the ship hang upon its clods till they set it loose with the menstrual blood of women, and with urine, to which alone it yields. This bitumen is not only useful for the caulking of ships, but for the cure of men's bodies; accordingly, it is mixed in a great many medicines. The length of this lake is five hundred and eighty furlongs, where it is extended as far as Zoar in Arabia; and its breadth is a hundred and fifty. The country of Sodom borders upon it. It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how, for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that Divine fire, and the traces [or shadows] of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits; which fruits have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes. And thus what is related of this land of Sodom hath these marks of credibility which our very sight affords us.
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)
by D.H. Stern
don’t be envious of the wicked.
20 For the evil person has no future—
the lamp of the wicked will go out.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Ministering as Opportunity Surrounds us. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. --- John 13:14.
Ministering as opportunity surrounds us does not mean selecting our surroundings, it means being very selectly God’s in any haphazard surroundings which He engineers for us. The characteristics we manifest in our immediate surroundings are indications of what we will be like in other surroundings.
The things that Jesus did were of the most menial and commonplace order, and this is an indication that it takes all God’s power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels and dishes and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty as it ought to be done.
“I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” Watch the kind of people God brings around you, and you will be humiliated to find that this is His way of revealing to you the kind of person you have been to Him. Now, He says, exhibit to that one exactly what I have shown to you.
‘Oh,’ you say, ‘I will do all that when I get out into the foreign field.’ To talk in this way is like trying to produce the munitions of war in the trenches—you will be killed while you are doing it.
We have to go the ‘second mile’ with God. Some of us get played out in the first ten yards, because God compels us to go where we cannot see the way, and we say—‘I will wait till I get nearer the big crisis.’ If we do not do the running steadily in the little ways, we shall do nothing in the crisis.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of RS Thomas
The Maker (Tares)
So he said then: I will make the poem,
I will make it now. He took pencil,
The mind's cartridge, and blank paper,
And drilled his thoughts to the slow beat
Of the blood's drum; and there it formed
On the white surface and went marching
Onward through time, while the spent cities
And dry hearts smoked in its wake.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
We might remember the ’60s comedian Flip Wilson whose character was often causing mischief, claiming, “The devil made me do it!” It’s not my fault when I do wrong. Some outside force, Satan, the devil, made me do it.
In ancient Jewish sources, Satan sometimes appears as an actual personality, the chief being who opposes God. The word Satan means “adversary,” that which obstructs, and it has come to symbolize the sum total of the evil forces in the world. Few still believe in Satan as an actual personality—the evil opponent of God—or a force—the symbolic power of evil in the world.
Thus, while the phrase “The devil made me do it” may have been funny in its time, few of us would say that we do wrong because some demon or force compelled us to sin. Quite the contrary: “Satan dances with him until he finishes the sin” seems to imply that the sinner is first dancing, enjoying the good feeling of sin. Only then does the devil join in the celebration.
In psychological terms, we would say, “My id, the internal seat of pleasure, found wrongdoing rewarding. My superego, that part of the personality which restrains my actions, was not strong enough to overcome the powerfully pleasurable feeling that ensued once I started misbehaving.” Therefore, Satan is less a force outside of us than a sense inside of us—the self-deceptive feeling that allows us to keep sinning and enjoying it.
Once we start down the path of doing wrong, it can be very hard to change. Our actions, as immoral and illegal as they may be, can also be quite rewarding and pleasing. This is a twofold reminder: to avoid wrongdoing in the first place so that Satan/the id has less to dance with, and to steer ourselves back to the right path as soon as we discover ourselves veering. In so doing, we will deny the Satan inside the chance to dance with us and to convince us that our misdeeds are a cause for celebration.
In cartoons, a character struggling with a moral dilemma is often depicted as having two little figures on his shoulders, whispering into his ears—an angel on the one side, a devil on the other. “Satan” might be the name that the Rabbis gave to that devilish figure, or that inner voice, which eggs us on to do the wrong thing.
But Satan isn’t always perched on our shoulder or speaking to us from inside the heart. Satan can also appear before us, in the guise of another person, someone we may even recognize, someone who may even be a friend.
A couple of friends are at the mall, checking out the music store. Steve whispers to Howie, “They don’t have one of those electronic sensors at the door. And there’s no security guard. Slip this CD into your coat pocket and walk right out of the store. It’ll be a piece of cake. Nobody will ever know!” Howie is excited by the challenge of getting away with it, but he’s also afraid of what his parents will do if he gets caught. Mostly, he doesn’t want Steve to think he’s afraid. “Come on, let’s do it!” Watch Satan do his little dance.
At a party on a Saturday night, Lauren’s got a bottle of beer in her left hand and something hidden in her closed right one. “Melissa! Look what I got for us! It cost me thirty dollars a pill, one for you, and one for me. Here take it. Swallow it down with this beer. You won’t believe how this will make you feel!” Melissa is worried. “Is it safe?” “Of course it’s safe. I’ve done it a couple of times, and it was unbelievable. About half the people at the party are doing it. Stop worrying. It’ll be fine!” Watch Satan do her little dance.
A bunch of kids sit around in a car after midnight thinking of things to do. “Hey, why don’t we drive over to the high school and toss some rocks at the third-floor windows? One point for distance, two points for accuracy. Whaddya say?” “I don’t know … Don’t the cops drive in and out of there to check for vandals?” “We’ll leave the car around the corner and we’ll cut through the bushes by the basketball court.” “What if they have a security camera on the building?” “We can pull our T-shirts over our faces. They’ll never be able to identify us! Come on! It’ll be a blast!” Watch the Satans do their little dance.
And what about when Satan asks us to dance?
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. --- Romans 11:20.
Did the disciples forsake Christ, though they had such strong resolutions never to do it? (Works of John Flavel (6 Vol. Set)) Then we see that self-confidence is a sin too likely to the best of people. They little thought their hearts would have proved so cowardly when they were tried. “Even if all fall away,” said Peter, “I will not” (Mark 14:29). Good man; he resolved honestly, but he did not know what a feather he would be in the wind of temptation, if God once left him to his own fears.
Little reason have the best of saints to depend on their inherent grace, let their stock be as large as it will. Every merit without the prop of divine preservation is but a weight that tends to a fall. What becomes of the stream if the fountain supply it not? The best people will show themselves but human if God leave them. He who has set them up must also keep them. It is safer to be a humble worm than a proud angel. Adam had more favorable opportunity to maintain his station than any of you. For though he were left to the liberty of his own will and though he was created upright and had no inherent corruption to endanger him, yet he fell.
And shall we be self-confident, after such instances of human frailty! “Do not be arrogant, but be afraid,” when you have considered well the examples of Noah, Lot, David, and Hezekiah, men famous and renowned in their generations who all fell by temptations, and when you would think they had never been better provided to cope with them. Lot fell soon after the Lord had thrust him out of Sodom and his eyes had seen hell, as it were, rained on them out of heaven; Noah, immediately after God’s wonderful preservation of him in the ark when he saw a world of men and women perishing in the floods for their sins; David, after the Lord had settled the kingdom on him, which for sin he took from Saul, and given him rest in his house. Hezekiah was just up from a great sickness in which the Lord wrought a wonderful salvation for him. Did such people and at such times, when one would think no temptations should have prevailed, fall, and fall so dishonorably? Then, “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). O do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
--- John Flavel
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Spunk September 11
Isaac Watts faced criticism when he began writing hymns, for it was believed only Psalms should be sung in worship. But the little songwriter had inherited spunk from his grandfather and father.
Grandfather Thomas Watts, commander of a British warship, was attacked once by a tiger in India. Running into the river, he turned to see the tiger swimming after him. He faced the creature, gripped its head, and forced it under water until it drowned.
Isaac senior fought a different kind of tiger—persecution. He rejected the state Church of England and joined British Nonconformists. That was considered treasonous, and he was thrown into Southampton Jail, a huge, gloomy place where Dissenters languished in iron shackles. He emerged from prison in time to marry Sarah Tauton on September 11, 1673, but the new couple was under constant watch. The stress caused Sarah to prematurely give birth to a weak, stunted baby, Isaac junior. Within weeks, the senior Watts was jailed again. He found comfort in his pocket Bible, but his wife worried endlessly. Every day she crept to the prison, sat on a stone outside, nursed her baby, and wept.
Watts was released at last, and a few years passed. One Morning young Isaac “tittered” during family prayers. His father sternly demanded an explanation. “Because,” said the spunky boy, pointing to a bell rope, “I saw a mouse running up that; and the thought came into my mind, There was a mouse for want of stairs / Ran up a rope to say his prayers.” Isaac Senior, unimpressed, reached for the rod. The boy fell to his knees, begging and crying, “Oh father, father, pity take / And I will no more verses make.” But he did make more verses.
When sometime later he grumbled about the music in his church, his father told him to write his own songs if he thought he could do better than King David. So he wrote Joy to the World, O God Our Help in Ages Past, I Sing the Mighty Power of God, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, and 600 others.
He became the father of English hymns.
With thankful hearts,
sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
Whatever you say or do
should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.
--- Colossians 3:16b,17a.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 11
"Be ye separate." --- 2 Corinthians 6:17.
The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, “to live,” should be “Christ.” Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God’s glory. You may lay up treasure; but lay it up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, where thieves break not through nor steal. You may strive to be rich; but be it your ambition to be “rich in faith,” and good works. You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing Psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world. Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of his presence, delighting in communion with him, and seeking to know his will, you will prove that you are of heavenly race. And you should be separate from the world in your actions. If a thing be right, though you lose by it, it must be done; if it be wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master’s sake. You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity. Remember, O Christian, that thou art a son of the King of kings. Therefore, keep thyself unspotted from the world. Soil not the fingers which are soon to sweep celestial strings; let not these eyes become the windows of lust which are soon to see the King in his beauty—let not those feet be defiled in miry places, which are soon to walk the golden streets—let not those hearts be filled with pride and bitterness which are ere long to be filled with heaven, and to overflow with ecstatic joy.
Then rise my soul! and soar away,
Above the thoughtless crowd;
Above the pleasures of the gay,
And splendours of the proud;
Up where eternal beauties bloom,
And pleasures all divine;
Where wealth, that never can consume,
And endless glories shine.
Evening - September 11
“Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies.”
--- Psalms 5:8.
Very bitter is the enmity of the world against the people of Christ. Men will forgive a thousand faults in others, but they will magnify the most trivial offence in the followers of Jesus. Instead of vainly regretting this, let us turn it to account, and since so many are watching for our halting, let this be a special motive for walking very carefully before God. If we live carelessly, the lynx-eyed world will soon see it, and with its hundred tongues, it will spread the story, exaggerated and emblazoned by the zeal of slander. They will shout triumphantly. “Aha! So would we have it! See how these Christians act! They are hypocrites to a man.” Thus will much damage be done to the cause of Christ, and much insult offered to his name. The cross of Christ is in itself an offence to the world; let us take heed that we add no offence of our own. It is “to the Jews a stumblingblock”: let us mind that we put no stumblingblocks where there are enough already. “To the Greeks it is foolishness”: let us not add our folly to give point to the scorn with which the worldly-wise deride the Gospel. How jealous should we be of ourselves! How rigid with our consciences! In the presence of adversaries who will misrepresent our best deeds, and impugn our motives where they cannot censure our actions, how circumspect should we be! Pilgrims travel as suspected persons through Vanity Fair. Not only are we under surveillance, but there are more spies than we know of. The espionage is everywhere, at home and abroad. If we fall into the enemies’ hands we may sooner expect generosity from a wolf, or mercy from a fiend, than anything like patience with our infirmities from men who spice their infidelity towards God with scandals against his people. O Lord, lead us ever, lest our enemies trip us up!
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. --- Psalm 150:6
Soon after their graduation from Oxford University, John and Charles Wesley decided to sail to America, the new world, to try to minister to the rough colonists under General Oglethorpe in Georgia and to evangelize the Indians. The Wesleys soon became disillusioned with the situation there, however, and after a short time returned to England.
As they crossed the Atlantic, John and Charles were much impressed by a group of devout Moravians, who seemed to have such spiritual depth and vitality as well as genuine missionary zeal. After returning to London, the Wesleys met with a group of Moravians in the Aldersgate Hall. Here in May, 1738, both brothers had a spiritual “heart-warming experience,” realizing that even though they had been so zealous in religious activity, neither had ever personally known God’s forgiveness or real joy. From that time on their ministry displayed a new dimension of spiritual power.
“O for a Thousand Tongues” was written by Charles in 1749 on the 11th anniversary of his Aldersgate conversion experience. It was inspired by a chance remark of an influential Moravian leader named Peter Bohler, who expressed his spiritual joy in this way: “Oh, Brother Wesley, the Lord has done so much for my life. Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ Jesus with every one of them!”
These words of personal testimony by Charles Wesley have provided a moving vehicle of worship for God’s people for more than two centuries:
O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.
My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread thru all the earth abroad the honors of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease, ’tis music in the sinner’s ears; ’tis life and health and peace.
He breaks the pow’r of canceled sin; He sets the pris’ner free. His blood can make the foulest clean … His blood availed for me.
Hear Him, ye deaf, His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ; ye blind, behold your Savior come and leap ye lame, for joy.
Glory to God and praise and love be ever, ever giv’n by saints below and saints above … the Church in earth and heav’n.
For Today: Psalm 96:1–4; 103:1–4; 145:2, 3; Romans 14:17
Let this hymn be the desire of your heart as you sing this message ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Monday, September 11, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 18, Monday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 41, 52
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 44
Old Testament 1 Kings 13:1–10
New Testament Philippians 1:1–11
Gospel Mark 15:40–47
Index of Readings
Psalm 41, 52
To the leader. A Psalm of David.
1 Happy are those who consider the poor;
the LORD delivers them in the day of trouble.
2 The LORD protects them and keeps them alive;
they are called happy in the land.
You do not give them up to the will of their enemies.
3 The LORD sustains them on their sickbed;
in their illness you heal all their infirmities.
4 As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 My enemies wonder in malice
when I will die, and my name perish.
6 And when they come to see me, they utter empty words,
while their hearts gather mischief;
when they go out, they tell it abroad.
7 All who hate me whisper together about me;
they imagine the worst for me.
8 They think that a deadly thing has fastened on me,
that I will not rise again from where I lie.
9 Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,
who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.
10 But you, O LORD, be gracious to me,
and raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 By this I know that you are pleased with me;
because my enemy has not triumphed over me.
12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
and set me in your presence forever.
13 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.
To the leader. A Maskil of David, when Doeg the Edomite came to Saul and said to him, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.”
1 Why do you boast, O mighty one,
of mischief done against the godly?
All day long 2 you are plotting destruction.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor,
you worker of treachery.
3 You love evil more than good,
and lying more than speaking the truth. Selah
4 You love all words that devour,
O deceitful tongue.
5 But God will break you down forever;
he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
6 The righteous will see, and fear,
and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,
7 “See the one who would not take
refuge in God,
but trusted in abundant riches,
and sought refuge in wealth!”
8 But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
9 I will thank you forever,
because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
I will proclaim your name, for it is good.
To the leader. Of the Korahites. A Maskil.
1 We have heard with our ears, O God,
our ancestors have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
2 you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
3 for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm give them victory;
but your right hand, and your arm,
and the light of your countenance,
for you delighted in them.
4 You are my King and my God;
you command victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down our assailants.
6 For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
7 But you have saved us from our foes,
and have put to confusion those who hate us.
8 In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah
9 Yet you have rejected us and abased us,
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You made us turn back from the foe,
and our enemies have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter,
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the words of the taunters and revilers,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
17 All this has come upon us,
yet we have not forgotten you,
or been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way,
19 yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals,
and covered us with deep darkness.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God,
or spread out our hands to a strange god,
21 would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Because of you we are being killed all day long,
and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
23 Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?
Awake, do not cast us off forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For we sink down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up, come to our help.
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.
1 Kings 13:1–10
13 While Jeroboam was standing by the altar to offer incense, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel 2 and proclaimed against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘A son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who offer incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’ ” 3 He gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: ‘The altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’ ” 4 When the king heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him!” But the hand that he stretched out against him withered so that he could not draw it back to himself. 5 The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. 6 The king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, so that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the LORD; and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as it was before. 7 Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and dine, and I will give you a gift.” 8 But the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your kingdom, I will not go in with you; nor will I eat food or drink water in this place. 9 For thus I was commanded by the word of the LORD: You shall not eat food, or drink water, or return by the way that you came.” 10 So he went another way, and did not return by the way that he had come to Bethel.
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church