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2 Corinthians 1-4
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2 Corinthians 1:1     Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

     To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Thanksgiving after Affliction

     3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4 who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

     … who consoles us that we might console others … We are blessed that we might be a blessing to others. We are supposed to be a conduit from God to others, an extension cord if you will. We are supposed to be an extension of God's life and an expression of God's love. Then we can be an exhibition of God's power. Jesus said our purpose for being here is to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourself. He made it clear the Torah, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, everything rests on these two precepts. What better evangelism is there?

     We must learn that we are not the source and we are not the goal. Life is not about us, or our stuff. Life is about others. We are for connecting.

     5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. 6 If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

     8 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, 11 as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

The Postponement of Paul’s Visit

     12 Indeed, this is our boast, the testimony of our conscience: we have behaved in the world with frankness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God—and all the more toward you. 13 For we write you nothing other than what you can read and also understand; I hope you will understand until the end— 14 as you have already understood us in part—that on the day of the Lord Jesus we are your boast even as you are our boast.

     15 Since I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double favor; 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been “Yes and No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” 20 For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason
it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. 21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, 22 by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

     Referring to 1:21 above, "But it is God who has established us with you [together] in Christ, and has anointed us; and he has sealed us and given us the earnest of the Spirit." See (Hengel, M. (2004). Studies in Early Christology (Academic Paperback)

     23 But I call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth. 24 I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.

2 Corinthians 2:1     So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. 4 For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

Forgiveness for the Offender

     5 But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent—not to exaggerate it—to all of you. 6 This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; 7 so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. 11 And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

Paul’s Anxiety in Troas

     12 When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; 13 but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said farewell to them and went on to Macedonia.

     14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.

Ministers of the New Covenant (Cp Jer 31.31—34)

2 Corinthians 3:1     Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; 3 and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

     4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

     Yet even if we do all the particular things God wants and explicitly commands us to do, we might still not be the person God would have us be. It is always true that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). An obsession merely with doing all God commands may be the very thing that rules out being the kind of person that he calls us to be.
     Jesus told a parable to make clear what God treasures in those who intend to serve him:
     Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” (Lk 17:7-10; cf. Mt 5:20)
     The watchword of the worthy servant is not mere obedience but love, from which appropriate obedience naturally flows.
   Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

     7 Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, 8 how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! 10 Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; 11 for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory! How I wish people who claim to be followers of Christ would actually read the Bible for themselves, instead of just repeating what they hear someone else say. Reread this paragraph. Don't you see it is not necessary to turn to the Sermon on the Mount to understand that Christians are NOT supposed to go around threatening others with hell. We are supposed to be an extension of God's life. Live THAT and the Spirit of Christ will do what God promised.

     12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Treasure in Clay Jars

2 Corinthians 4:1     Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

     7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

     13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Living by Faith

     16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

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

What I'm Reading

Are You Chasing Happiness or Holiness?

By Tony Reinke 8/7/2017

     Such a question actually reveals a common mistake of pitting holiness and happiness against each other. “God is more interested in you being holy than happy,” so the line goes.

     Some of my favorite theologians fall prey to this subtle dichotomy. And this includes one of the best thinkers I love (David Wells). In charity, and in much gratitude for everything I have learned from his writings, I’ll post a few paragraphs from his 2014 book where this tension arises, and I’ll make a friendly amendment later.

     In attempting to criticize the therapeutic definition of the faith in so many pulpits, he writes:

     In this psychological world, the God of love is a God of love precisely and only because he offers us inward balm. Empty, distracted, meandering, and dissatisfied, we come to him for help. Fill us, we ask, with a sense of completeness! Fill our emptiness! Give us a sense of direction amid the mass of competing ways and voices in the modern world! Fill the aching emptiness within!

     This is how many in the church today, especially in the evangelical church, are thinking. It is how they are praying. They are yearning for something more real within themselves than what they currently have. This is true of adults and of teenagers as well. Yes, we say earnestly, hopefully, maybe even a little wistfully, be to us the God of love!

Click here to read all of the article

     Tony Reinke is senior writer for Desiring God and author of three books. He hosts the Ask Pastor John podcast and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and three children.

Tony Reinke Books:

The Trinity in the Destruction of Sodom (Or, the Weirdest Argument for Consubstantiality of the Son)

By Derek Rishmawy 9/4/2017

     Reading the Church Fathers on Scripture can be illuminating, surprising, and sometimes weird. This is part of what’s so fun about reading them. They come to the text of Scripture from a different time and place, with slightly different questions, exegetical instincts, and theological approaches, which present a question and a challenge to our own. I was reminded of this when diving into a little of Cyril of Alexandria’s work on the Gospel of John.

     The Patriarch Cyril is best-known for his polemic against Nestorius and the central role he played in Christological controversies which leading up to the Council of Chalcedon (at which point Cyril was dead). Many will have read his little work On the Unity of Christ, which is what I have. I was not aware, though, that his commentary on the Gospel of John was translated until recently (Brandon Crowe quotes it in his excellent book The Last Adam: A Theology of the Obedient Life of Jesus in the Gospels). On a whim I looked it up and found online for free because, well, Cyril of Alexandria. Anyways, I started poking around and stumbled on one of the oddest bits of trinitarian reasoning I’ve read in one of the Fathers.

     It comes in his comments on John 1:1, “and the Word was with God”, in his chapter arguing that the Son is consubstantial with the Father and therefore God in his own person. The trouble he’s dealing with specifically is the oddity of thinking of the Son as properly God but somehow also being “with God”, alongside him. Cyril proceeds to explain how this is so by commenting on various relevant Scriptures you might expect him to. For example, see this entirely unsurprising bit on John 14:

     Consubstantial is the Son with the Father and the Father with the Son, wherefore They arrive at an unchangeable Likeness, so that the Father is seen in the Son, the Son in the Father, and Each flashes forth in the Other, even as the Saviour Himself says, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and again, I in the Father and the Father in Me. But even though He be in the Father, and have again the Father in Him, Himself full well, as has been already said, perfectly exact unto the Form of Him Who begat Him, and depicting again in Himself without any shortcome, the Father whence He is:—-not therefore will He be deprived of His separate existence, nor will the Father lose His own special Being; but neither will the surpassing Likeness and Resemblance work any confusion of Persons, so that the Father Who begat and the Son Who is Begotten of Him should be considered as one in number. But sameness of Nature will be confessed of Both, yet the Individual Existence of Each will surely follow, so that both the Father should be conceived of as indeed Father, and the Son as Son. For thus, the Holy Ghost being numbered with them and counted as God, the Holy and Adorable Trinity will have Its Proper Fullness.

     Alright, so far so classic Trinitarian. It doesn’t get more basic than Jesus’ discourses in the Gospel of John.

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     Derek Rishmawy | Orange, CA | I’m a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School attempting to study Systematic Theology. Adopted by the Triune God. Husband of McKenna. Former college pastor. Beyond that, I am an admitted cliche: books, beer, beard, and a blog that takes too much of my time. I'm a regular contributor to sites like The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, The Local Church, Mere Orthodoxy, and Christianity Today. I also co-host a podcast called Mere Fidelity.

Three Scripture passages to help you fight porn

By Robert D. Jones

(Ge 39:9) 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” ESV

     Contract an STI? Risk an unwanted pregnancy? Jeopardize my seminary status or my marriage or my church ministry? Disappoint my mentors? While these are legitimate concerns, nothing is higher than Joseph’s answer: “ … and sin against God?”

(1 Th 4:5) 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; ESV

     Jones: Sexual sin for Paul is functional atheism, living like a pagan who does acknowledge God’s presence, fear God’s judgment, or love him for sending his Son to die for me.

(2 Co 5:14–15) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. ESV

     Jones: There must be a conscious belief in God’s constant presence with you. No one would view porn if Jesus were standing next to him, so to view porn one must either ignore or marginalize the Lord’s presence or devalue pleasing him.

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     Robert D. Jones | Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling | Prior to coming to Southern, Jones served for 19 years as a pastor in West Virginia and then 12 years as a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem and Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts, along with seven mini-books (Angry at God?, Forgiveness, Bad Memories, Restoring Your Broken Marriage, Single Parenting, Freedom from Resentment, and When Trouble Shows Up). Jones is a certified counselor, fellow, and speaker with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors; a certified Christian conciliator, adjunct instructor, and church reconciliation trainer with the Institute for Christian Conciliation (a division of Peacemaker Ministries); a founding member of the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition; and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Mothering in a World of Better Moms

By Stacy Reaoch 9/13/2017

     It was Mother’s Day. My sweet husband and children took me out for lunch after church. Then they gave me a blank slate. We could do (or I could do) whatever I wanted. This particular Mother’s Day, I was feeling especially exhausted. The children’s packed spring schedules, along with having an intense month of ministry commitments, left me drained.

     What did I really want to do? Go home and take a 2-hour nap. But the feelings of mom-guilt attacked me. Any good mother would choose to spend the afternoon with her children, not sleeping in the other room. We went for a family walk after lunch and I confided my dilemma to my husband. He graciously encouraged me to go home and take a nap, free from guilt!

     Mommy Guilt | But why is that so hard to do?

     I know I’m far from being alone in the battle with mommy guilt. That same day a friend of mine with a child with special needs told me of her similar dilemma. She also wanted to just go home and sleep, but it was Mother’s Day. So she would push through the exhaustion to do something fun with her kids. Never mind if she could hardly keep her eyes open while she did it.

     A while back I noticed a post from a young mom on social media, pouring out her feelings of despair over not being a good enough mom. She sent a plea out into the cyber abyss sharing how she always felt like she wasn’t giving her kids enough — enough time, energy, fun experiences, and more. My heart went out to her. I could identify with the feelings she honestly expressed. She was searching for validation in her mothering skills. And as the responses rolled in, she was affirmed in what a good mother she actually was.

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     Stacy Reaoch is a pastor’s wife and mother of four. She is passionate about studying the Bible and helping women apply God’s life-changing truths to their daily lives. Stacy and her husband, Ben, serve Three Rivers Grace Church in Pittsburgh, PA. Her first book will be released this fall. You can find more of her writing on Facebook.

Plunge Your Mind into the Ocean of God’s Sovereignty

By John Piper 12/1/2015

     Sometimes we need to plunge our minds into the ocean of God’s sovereignty. We need to feel the weight of it, like deep and heavy water pressing in against every pore, the deeper we go. A billion rivers of providence pour into this ocean. And God himself gathers up all his countless deeds — from eternity to eternity — and pours them into the currents of his infallible revelation. He speaks, and explains, and promises, and makes his awesome, sovereign providence the place we feel most reverent, most secure, most free.

     Sometimes we need to be reminded by God himself that there are no limits to his rule. We need to hear from him that he is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it. We need his own reminder that he is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. We need his assurance that he reigns over ISIS, terrorism, Syria, Russia, China, India, Nigeria, France, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and the United States of America — every nation, every people, every language, every tribe, every chief, president, king, premier, prime minister, politician, great or small.

     Sometimes we need to hear specific statements from God himself about his own authority. We need God’s own words. It is the very words of God that have unusual power to settle our nerves, and make us stable, wise, and courageous.

     On the one hand hearing the voice of God is like a frightened child who hears the voice downstairs, and realizes that daddy’s home. Whatever those other sounds were, it’s okay. Daddy’s home.

     On the other hand it feels like the seasoned troops, dug in at the front line of battle, and about to be overrun by the enemy. But then they get word that a thousand impenetrable tanks are rushing to their aid. They are only one mile away. You will be saved and the enemy will not stand.

Click here to read all of the article

     John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

John Piper Books:

Paul - Conversion Experience

By James S. Stewart

     "We cannot really speak of God," says Eckhardt; "when we would speak of Him we do but stammer." "We are like young children learning to speak," exclaims Luther, "and can use only half words and quarter words." So Paul felt, whenever he tried to set down in words the great decisive experience of his life. All the resources of language could not communicate it. Strive as he might to express it, the inmost secret remained inexpressible. Once he falls back on the word "unspeakable," "God's unspeakable gift," and the adjective there was no mere vague hyperbole, as often in our modern usage: it was the literal conclusion to which the failure of all attempts to capture in words the glory of the fact had driven him. The thing could not be spoken; and the apostle, like the poet, was always conscious of

     "Thoughts hardly to be pack'd
     Into a narrow act,
     Fancies that broke through language and escaped."

     Secretum meum mihi, as the mystics love to say.

     But Paul has one description of his conversion which does suggest something of the splendour of the new life into which that experience ushered him. Writing to the Corinthians, he declares:" God who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' has shone within my heart."

     In other words, something had happened comparable only to the great Fiat Lux of creation's dawn. That the sublime passage in the Genesis prologue was actually in the apostle's mind seems beyond doubt. "The earth was without form and void" —had not his own soul known that chaos? "And darkness was upon the face of the deep" —was not that a very picture of his experience before Christ came? "But the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters"—and looking back, Paul could see how true it was that from his very birth Providence had set him apart, and that, through all his blindness and rebellion, the Spirit of God had been brooding over him and guiding his destiny. "And God said, 'Let there be light': and there was light." To me, says Paul in effect, it was just like that—sheer miracle, a word proceeding out of the mouth of God, a creative act of omnipotence. To me, it was the birth of light and order and purpose and beauty, the ending of chaos and ancient night. And to me, as at that first creation, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. God who said, "Let there be light," has shone within my heart; He has scorched me with His splendour, and remade me by His strength; and I now walk for ever in a marvellous light—the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

     This conversion experience was far and away the most vital and formative influence of Paul's life. Compared with this, everything else—his Jewish ancestry, his Rabbinic training, his Hellenistic contacts, every factor of heredity and environment—was completely secondary. To see the decisive event aright, however, and to understand the consequences that flowed from it, we must approach it along the line of the religious experience of his pre-Christian days. And here at once we meet the striking fact that for years before the call came the dominating note of Paul's inner life had been one of utter failure and frustration and defeat.

     We have seen above how zealously and wholeheartedly Paul had embraced the religion of his fathers. Judaism never had a better champion. No one could rival him in enthusiasm for the spiritual heritage of his people. He plunged eagerly into the life to which law and tradition seemed beckoning him. He flung himself into the observance of their commands with unmatched ardour. But that boundless enthusiasm of the young devotee was doomed to receive a check. He found that the more keenly he pursued his ideal, the Jurthex it receded. The righteousness on which his heart was set stood afar off, mocking his endeavour. Feelings of doubt and disillusionment began to creep in. Was he perhaps on the wrong track after all? Had he accepted a challenge that was beyond his strength? He was missing the mark, and he knew it, and he was unhappy. But it was an unhappiness of the kind which, as Carlyle knew and proclaimed, springs from a man's greatness. It was the disillusionment which is one of the surest proofs that the human clay has the divine fire mingled with it. Already into the secret mind of the Pharisee the thought was stealing, which later the Christian apostle was to shout from the housetops, that the religion of Mount Sinai, "Jerusalem which now is," was a yoke of bitter bondage: already the first faint yearnings for release had entered the man's soul, the first dim far-off vision of the "Jerusalem which is above," which "is free, the mother of us all."

     (2 Co 4:6) For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. NRSV

     (Ge 1:2–3) the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. NRSV

     (Ga 1:14) I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. NRSV

     (Ga 4:24–26) Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. NRSV

A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul's Religion (Classic Reprint)

  • A Third Way
  • Janel Curry Interview
  • Graduate Charge

#1 Jim Belcher  
Gordon College


#2 Michael Lindsay   
Gordon College


#3 Ivy George   
Gordon College


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     (Sept 14)    Bob Gass

(Ps 128:3) 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. ESV

     The psalmist writes: ‘Blessed are all who fear [respect, honour and obey] the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit [rewards] of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD’ (vv. 1-4 NIV 1984 Edition). In a favourable climate, grapevines need no coaxing to grow. They’ll produce grapes in abundance, from which comes wine. And wine in the Bible speaks of joy and celebration. It’s the same in your home. As a husband, God holds you responsible for creating a climate in which your wife and family can experience ‘blessings and prosperity’. That means you must spend enough time at home to create and maintain an ideal temperature. When you’re seldom present you can’t do that, because your absence just frustrates your wife and diminishes her sense of worth and self-confidence. When she has to take second place to your career, your sports activities, and your friends - not to mention your television watching - you’ll never build a great relationship with her. To know what your wife’s needs are, you must spend quality time with her. If you want to discover her true potential and know just how wonderful a person she is, create the right climate in your home. One woman joked, ‘I never knew what real happiness was until I married my husband - now it’s too late!’ That doesn’t have to be your story. You can create a climate in which you both thrive and enjoy life.

Is 23-25
Eph 1

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     He was the only US President to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was appointed by President McKinley as the first governor of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War and by President Theodore Roosevelt as Secretary of War. The largest President, weighing over 300 lbs, a bathtub was installed for him in the White House, big enough to hold four men. His name was William Howard Taft, and he was born this day September 15, 1857. President Taft stated: “A God-fearing nation, like ours, owes it to its inborn… sense of moral duty to testify… devout gratitude to the All-Giver for… countless benefits.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Through a woman we were sent to destruction;
through a woman salvation was restored to us.
Mankind is divided into two sorts:
such as live according to man,
and such as live according to God.
These we call the ‘two cities,’
the one predestined to reign eternally with God,
and the other condemned to perpetual torment with Satan.
--- Saint Augustine of Hippo Bishop

Of all the blessings bestowed on man, the greatest lies in the fact that God's face is forever hidden from him.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer

The spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who,
nearly two thousand years ago,
taught mankind the lesson it has never learned,
but has never quite forgotten--
that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be…
side by side with the greatest.
--- Judge Learned Hand

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     9. But now sedition and civil war prevailed, not only over Judea, but in Italy also; for now Galba was slain in the midst of the Roman market-place; then was Otho made emperor, and fought against Vitellius, who set up for emperor also; for the legions in Germany had chosen him. But when he gave battle to Valens and Cecinna, who were Vitellius's generals, at Betriacum, in Gaul, Otho gained the advantage on the first day, but on the second day Vitellius's soldiers had the victory; and after much slaughter Otho slew himself, when he had heard of this defeat at Brixia, and after he had managed the public affairs three months and two days. 18 Otho's army also came over to Vitellius's generals, and he came himself down to Rome with his army. But in the mean time Vespasian removed from Cesarea, on the fifth day of the month Desius, [Sivan,] and marched against those places of Judea which were not yet overthrown. So he went up to the mountainous country, and took those two toparchies that were called the Gophnitick and Acrabattene toparchies. After which he took Bethel and Ephraim, two small cities; and when he had put garrisons into them, he rode as far as Jerusalem, in which march he took many prisoners, and many captives; but Cerealis, one of his commanders, took a body of horsemen and footmen, and laid waste that part of Idumea which was called the Upper Idumea, and attacked Caphethra, which pretended to be a small city, and took it at the first onset, and burnt it down. He also attacked Caphatabira, and laid siege to it, for it had a very strong wall; and when he expected to spend a long time in that siege, those that were within opened their gates on the sudden, and came to beg pardon, and surrendered themselves up to him. When Cerealis had conquered them, he went to Hebron, another very ancient city. I have told you already that this city is situated in a mountainous country not far off Jerusalem; and when he had broken into the city by force, what multitude and young men were left therein he slew, and burnt down the city; so that as now all the places were taken, excepting Herodlum, and Masada, and Machaerus, which were in the possession of the robbers, so Jerusalem was what the Romans at present aimed at.

     10. And now, as soon as Simon had set his wife free, and recovered her from the zealots, he returned back to the remainders of Idumea, and driving the nation all before him from all quarters, he compelled a great number of them to retire to Jerusalem; he followed them himself also to the city, and encompassed the wall all round again; and when he lighted upon any laborers that were coming thither out of the country, he slew them. Now this Simon, who was without the wall, was a greater terror to the people than the Romans themselves, as were the zealots who were within it more heavy upon them than both of the other; and during this time did the mischievous contrivances and courage [of John] corrupt the body of the Galileans; for these Galileans had advanced this John, and made him very potent, who made them suitable requital from the authority he had obtained by their means; for he permitted them to do all things that any of them desired to do, while their inclination to plunder was insatiable, as was their zeal in searching the houses of the rich; and for the murdering of the men, and abusing of the women, it was sport to them. They also devoured what spoils they had taken, together with their blood, and indulged themselves in feminine wantonness, without any disturbance, till they were satiated therewith; while they decked their hair, and put on women's garments, and were besmeared over with ointments; and that they might appear very comely, they had paints under their eyes, and imitated not only the ornaments, but also the lusts of women, and were guilty of such intolerable uncleanness, that they invented unlawful pleasures of that sort. And thus did they roll themselves up and down the city, as in a brothel-house, and defiled it entirely with their impure actions; nay, while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and when their gait was effeminate, they presently attacked men, and became warriors, and drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks, and ran every body through whom they alighted upon. However, Simon waited for such as ran away from John, and was the more bloody of the two; and he who had escaped the tyrant within the wall was destroyed by the other that lay before the gates, so that all attempts of flying and deserting to the Romans were cut off, as to those that had a mind so to do.

     11. Yet did the army that was under John raise a sedition against him, and all the Idumeans separated themselves from the tyrant, and attempted to destroy him, and this out of their envy at his power, and hatred of his cruelty; so they got together, and slew many of the zealots, and drove the rest before them into that royal palace that was built by Grapte, who was a relation of Izates, the king of Adiabene; the Idumeans fell in with them, and drove the zealots out thence into the temple, and betook themselves to plunder John's effects; for both he himself was in that palace, and therein had he laid up the spoils he had acquired by his tyranny. In the mean time, the multitude of those zealots that were dispersed over the city ran together to the temple unto those that fled thither, and John prepared to bring them down against the people and the Idumeans, who were not so much afraid of being attacked by them [because they were themselves better soldiers than they] as at their madness, lest they should privately sally out of the temple and get among them, and not only destroy them, but set the city on fire also. So they assembled themselves together, and the high priests with them, and took counsel after what manner they should avoid their assault. Now it was God who turned their opinions to the worst advice, and thence they devised such a remedy to get themselves free as was worse than the disease itself. Accordingly, in order to overthrow John, they determined to admit Simon, and earnestly to desire the introduction of a second tyrant into the city; which resolution they brought to perfection, and sent Matthias, the high priest, to beseech this Simon to come in to them, of whom they had so often been afraid. Those also that had fled from the zealots in Jerusalem joined in this request to him, out of the desire they had of preserving their houses and their effects. Accordingly he, in an arrogant manner, granted them his lordly protection, and came into the city, in order to deliver it from the zealots. The people also made joyful acclamations to him, as their savior and their preserver; but when he was come in, with his army, he took care to secure his own authority, and looked upon those that had invited him in to be no less his enemies than those against whom the invitation was intended.

     12. And thus did Simon get possession of Jerusalem, in the third year of the war, in the month Xanthicus [Nisan]; whereupon John, with his multitude of zealots, as being both prohibited from coming out of the temple, and having lost their power in the city, [for Simon and his party had plundered them of what they had,] were in despair of deliverance. Simon also made an assault upon the temple, with the assistance of the people, while the others stood upon the cloisters and the battlements, and defended themselves from their assaults. However, a considerable number of Simon's party fell, and many were carried off wounded; for the zealots threw their darts easily from a superior place, and seldom failed of hitting their enemies; but having the advantage of situation, and having withal erected four very large towers aforehand, that their darts might come from higher places, one at the north-east corner of the court, one above the Xystus, the third at another corner over against the lower city, and the last was erected above the top of the Pastophoria, where one of the priests stood of course, and gave a signal beforehand, with a trumpet 19 at the beginning of every seventh day, in the Evening twilight, as also at the Evening when that day was finished, as giving notice to the people when they were to leave off work, and when they were to go to work again. These men also set their engines to cast darts and stones withal, upon those towers, with their archers and slingers. And now Simon made his assault upon the temple more faintly, by reason that the greatest part of his men grew weary of that work; yet did he not leave off his opposition, because his army was superior to the others, although the darts which were thrown by the engines were carried a great way, and slew many of those that fought for him.

     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 24:26-27
     by D.H. Stern

26     Giving an honest answer
     is like giving a kiss.

27     Prepare your outside work,
     and get things ready for yourself on the land;
     after that, build your house.

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

                Imagination v. inspiration

     The simplicity that is in Christ. --- 2 Cor. 11:3.

     Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly for a long while, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool. If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ with regard to it and everything will become as clear as daylight. The reasoning capacity comes afterwards, but we never see along that line, we see like children; when we try to be wise we see nothing (Matthew 11:25.).

     The tiniest thing we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to account for spiritual muddle, and all the thinking we like to spend on it will never make it clear. Spiritual muddle is only made plain by obedience. Immediately we obey, we discern. This is humiliating, because when we are muddled we know the reason is in the temper of our mind. When the natural power of vision is devoted to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the power of perceiving God’s will and the whole life is kept in simplicity.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Souillac: Le Sacrifice d'Abraham
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Souillac: Le Sacrifice d'Abraham

And he grasps him by the hair
  With innocent savagery.
  And the son's face is calm;
  There is trust there.
And the beasts look on.

This is what art could do,
  Interpreting faith
  With serene chisel.
  The resistant stone
  Is quiet as our breath,
  And is accepted.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Numbers 25:10–15

     Whoever tarnishes himself also tarnishes his family with him.

Numbers 25:10–15 / The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Phinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites by displaying among them his passion for Me, so that I did not wipe out the Israelite people in My passion. Say, therefore, ‘I grant him My pact of friendship. It shall be for him and his descendants after him a pact of priesthood for all time, because he took impassioned action for his God, thus making expiation for the Israelites.’ ”

     The name of the Israelite who was killed, the one who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri son of Salu, chiefiain of a Simeonite ancestral house. The name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi daughter of Zur; he was the tribal head of an ancestral house of Midian.

     MIDRASH TEXT / Numbers Rabbah 21, 3 / The name of the Israelite who was killed, the one who was killed with the Midianite woman. Just as the Holy One, praised is He, attends to the praise of the righteous, to publicize it [their deeds] in the world, so too He attends to the condemnation of the wicked, to publicize it in the world. He publicized [the deeds of] Phinehas for praise and Zimri for condemnation. Concerning them it says, “The name of the righteous is invoked in blessing, but the fame of the wicked rots” (
Proverbs 10:7).

     Chieftain of a Simeonite ancestral house. Whoever tarnishes himself also tarnishes his family with him. Zimri son of Salu. The text is astonished at this! “He who breaches a stone fence will be bitten by a snake” (
Ecclesiastes 10:8). His ancestor was originally zealous against immorality, “Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons … took …” (Genesis 34:25). This one [Zimri] breached the fence that his ancestor had made.


Numbers 25, we are told that “while Israel [the people] was staying at Shittim, the people profaned themselves by whoring [or: began to commit harlotry] with the Moabite women, who invited the people to sacrifice to their god.” This angered God greatly. But it also angered Phinehas, and when he saw an Israelite man bringing a Midianite woman to his tent, Phinehas followed them there and killed both of them. Phinehas’s action checked the plague that had started against the Israelites, apparently provoked by God’s anger at their sin. The Bible text, above, picks up the story at this point.

     The name of the Israelite who was killed by Phinehas, the one who was killed with the Midianite woman.… The Rabbis wonder: Why are the names of the Israelite man and the Midianite woman specified? Why not just say, “Phinehas killed the sinning couple and assuaged God’s anger, stopping the plague against the Israelites”? The answer that the Rabbis give is that the Holy One, praised is He, attends to the praise of the righteous by specifically mentioning the name of the hero, Phinehas. So too He, God, attends to the condemnation of the wicked, to publicize it in the world. This is why the biblical text indicates not only the sin, but also the sinners, Zimri and Cozbi. God is an “equal opportunity publicizer”: He publicized Phinehas for praise and Zimri for condemnation. A verse from Proverbs seems to speak directly to this situation: “The name of the righteous is invoked in blessing, but the fame of the wicked rots.”

     This answers the question why the names of Phinehas, Zimri, and Cozbi are mentioned in the text. But why are their ancestries also given? In each of the three cases, the person’s name, lineage, and ancestral house—as in “Zimri son of Salu, chieftain of a Simeonite ancestral house”—is mentioned. This lead the Rabbis to assert that whoever tarnishes himself also tarnishes his family with him. Why else mention the ancestry, unless there was an impact on the family? We are told that Zimri son of Salu was from the tribe of Simeon. Looking back at the history of Simeon, the Rabbis remembered the rape of Dinah (
Genesis 34). In this story, Shechem forces himself on Dinah, and her brothers Simeon and Levi avenge the deed by slaying all the males of Shechem’s city. The text is astonished at this, apparently at the change for the worse that has happened to the Simeonite line. In the days of Jacob, they were outraged at a sexual indiscretion; in the days of Moses, they are the perpetrators of a sexual impropriety. The Rabbis quote a verse from Ecclesiastes to prove that one who breaks boundaries will himself be punished. “He who breaches a stone fence, Zimri, who engaged in immorality, will be bitten by a snake,” that is, executed in a harsh manner for his sin. Just as Simeon used a sword to kill Shechem, Phinehas used a spear to kill Zimri.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     September 14

     “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”
Zechariah 13:7

     Was the sword drawn against the Shepherd, and he left alone to receive the mortal strokes of it? (Works of John Flavel (6 Vol. Set)) How should all adore both the justice and mercy of God so illustriously displayed in this! Here is the triumph of divine justice—and the highest triumph that it ever had—to single forth the chief Shepherd, the man that is God’s equal, and sheathe its sword in his breast for satisfaction. No wonder it is drawn and brandished with such a triumph: Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd! For in this blood shed by it is more glory than if the blood of all the men and women in the world had been shed.

     And the mercy and goodness of God is no less shown in giving the sword a commission against his equal, rather than against us. Why did he not rather say, Awake, O sword, against the people who are my enemies; shed the blood of those who have sinned against me? Blessed be God, that the dreadful sword was not drawn and brandished against our souls, that God did not set it to our breasts, that he did not make it fat with our flesh and bathe it in our blood—that his friend was abused so that his enemies might be spared. O what manner of love was this! Blessed be God therefore for Jesus Christ, who received the fatal stroke himself and has now so sheathed that sword in its scabbard that it will never be drawn any more against any that believe in him.

     Were the sheep scattered when the Shepherd was beaten? Learn from this that the best of us do not know our own strength till we come to the trial. Little did these holy men imagine such a cowardly spirit had been in them till temptation put it to the proof. Let this therefore be a caution forever to the people of God. You resolve never to forsake Christ, you do well, but so did these and yet were scattered from him. You can never take a just measure of your own strength till temptation has tried it. It is said that God led the people so many years in the wilderness to prove them and to know them—that is, to make them know—what was in their hearts. Little did they think such unbelief, murmuring, discontent, and a spirit bent to backsliding had been in them, until their straits in the wilderness gave them the sad experience of these things.
--- John Flavel

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

On This Day
     Golden Mouthed  September 14

     For 15 centuries, this day in church history has belonged to John Chrysostom, who died on September 14, 407 at age 60. His powerful RS Thomas gave him the reputation as the greatest orator in Christian history. Indeed, the name Chrysostom means “Golden Mouthed.”

     John was born in Antioch, Syria. His father, a high-ranking Roman officer, died shortly after John’s birth. His mother Anthusa devoted herself to raising John in the nurture of the Lord. She placed him in the finest schools; and under the well-known orator Libanius, John mastered the art of rhetoric.

     John became a lawyer, well known for powerful speaking. His legal studies led him to reexamine Christianity’s beliefs, and he became so impressed with Scripture that he resigned the law, was baptized, and wanted to join a monastery. When his mother persuaded him to remain home and comfort her in her old age, John turned his home into a personal monastery, eating simply, making few purchases, and spending much time in study.

     After his mother’s death, Chrysostom studied and worked quietly as a monk for six years, followed by two more Elijah-like years in a hermit’s cave. Then he began preaching. His messages were practical, powerful, and sprinkled with humor. He effectively led his listeners through the Bible in exegetical fashion. His oratory was so powerful that his audiences frequently burst into spontaneous applause, a practice he disliked.

     In 398 John was elected patriarch of Constantinople, but when John’s plainspoken messages riled priests and politicians there, he was banished to a remote spot on the Black Sea. “The doctrine of Christ did not begin with me,” he told saddened parishioners, “and it shall not die with me.” His forced departure caused a riot in Constantinople, and on the night of the riot, a powerful earthquake shook the city. The public officials immediately sent for him and he returned in triumph. But John’s blunt, biblical RS Thomas continued to rankle the authorities, and he was again deposed and entered a period of ministry through letters and epistles before dying on this date in the year 407, his last words being, “Glory be to God for all things. Amen.”

     Ezekiel, I am sending you to the people of Israel. They are just like their ancestors who rebelled against me and refused to stop. They are stubborn and hardheaded. But I, the LORD God, have chosen you to tell them what I say. Those rebels may not even listen, but at least they will know that a prophet has come to them.
--- Ezekiel 2:3-5.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 14

     "There were also with him other little ships." --- Mark 4:36.

     Jesus was the Lord High Admiral of the sea that night, and his presence preserved the whole convoy. It is well to sail with Jesus, even though it be in a little ship. When we sail in Christ’s company, we may not make sure of fair weather, for great storms may toss the vessel which carries the Lord himself, and we must not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. If we go with Jesus we must be content to fare as he fares; and when the waves are rough to him, they will be rough to us. It is by tempest and tossing that we shall come to land, as he did before us.

     When the storm swept over Galilee’s dark lake all faces gathered blackness, and all hearts dreaded shipwreck. When all creature help was useless, the slumbering Saviour arose, and with a word, transformed the riot of the tempest into the deep quiet of a calm; then were the little vessels at rest as well as that which carried the Lord. Jesus is the star of the sea; and though there be sorrow upon the sea, when Jesus is on it there is joy too. May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their life-boat, and their harbour. His Church is the Admiral’s flagship, let us attend her movements, and cheer her officers with our presence. He himself is the great attraction; let us follow ever in his wake, mark his signals, steer by his chart, and never fear while he is within hail. Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will slip our cable for another day’s cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the centre of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours.

          Evening - September 14

     “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” --- Psalm 32:5.

     David’s grief for sin was bitter. Its effects were visible upon his outward frame: “his bones waxed old”; “his moisture was turned into the drought of summer.” No remedy could he find, until he made a full confession before the throne of the heavenly grace. He tells us that for a time he kept silence, and his heart became more and more filled with grief: like a mountain tarn whose outlet is blocked up, his soul was swollen with torrents of sorrow. He fashioned excuses; he endeavoured to divert his thoughts, but it was all to no purpose; like a festering sore his anguish gathered, and as he would not use the lancet of confession, his spirit was full of torment, and knew no rest. At last it came to this, that he must return unto his God in humble penitence, or die outright; so he hastened to the mercy-seat, and there unrolled the volume of his iniquities before the all-seeing One, acknowledging all the evil of his ways in language such as you read in the fifty-first and other penitential Psalms. Having done this, a work so simple and yet so difficult to pride, he received at once the token of divine forgiveness; the bones which had been broken were made to rejoice, and he came forth from his closet to sing the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven. See the value of a grace-wrought confession of sin! It is to be prized above all price, for in every case where there is a genuine, gracious confession, mercy is freely given, not because the repentance and confession deserve mercy, but for Christ’s sake. Blessed be God, there is always healing for the broken heart; the fountain is ever flowing to cleanse us from our sins. Truly, O Lord, thou art a God “ready to pardon!” Therefore will we acknowledge our iniquities.

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

Amazing Grace
     September 14


     J. Wilbur Chapman, 1859–1918

     Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. --- Titus 2:13, 14

     To the artist, Christ is the one altogether lovely.
     To the builder, He is the sure foundation.
     To the doctor, He is the great physician.
     To the geologist, He is the Rock of Ages.
     To the sinner, He is the Lamb of God who cleanses and forgives sin.
     To the Christian, Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, our great Savior.

     --- Unknown

     Through the centuries, artists and poets who have been impressed with Christ have tried valiantly to present His portrait both with brush and pen. Yet even the noblest efforts of these dedicated men and women seem feeble and inadequate.

     Evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman has provided a worthy text extolling various attributes of Christ as they relate to our personal lives: “Friend of sinners,” “Lover of my soul,” “Strength in weakness,” “My victory, help in sorrow, comfort, guide, keeper, pilot.” Finally, after reviewing everything that Christ means to a believer, we can do no better than to respond with Chapman’s refrain: “Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah! what a Friend!”

     “Our Great Savior” first appeared in its present form in the hymnal Alexander’s Gospel Songs, No. 2, published in 1910.

     Jesus! what a Friend for sinners! Jesus! Lover of my soul. Friends may fail me, foes assail me; He, my Savior, makes me whole.
     Jesus! what a strength in weakness! Let me hide myself in Him; tempted, tried, and sometimes failing, He, my strength, my vict’ry wins.
     Jesus! what a help in sorrow! While the billows o’er me roll, even when my heart is breaking, He, my comfort, helps my soul.
     Jesus! what a guide and Keeper! While the tempest still is high, storms about me, night o’er-takes me, He, my Pilot, hears my cry.
     Jesus! I do now receive Him; more than all in Him I find; He hath granted me forgiveness; I am His, and He is mine.
     Chorus: Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah! what a Friend! Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end.

     For Today: Luke 7:34; Romans 3:24, 25; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:18; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 5:9

     Give Christ the praise of your heart for all that He really means in life—in your vocation, pursuits, personal relationships … Use this musical expression to carry your praise ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, September 14, 2017 | After Pentecost

Holy Cross Day
Morning Prayer
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: Holy Cross Day, Evening Prayer

Psalms     Psalm 66
Old Testament     Numbers 21:4–9
New Testament     John 3:11–17

Index of Readings

Psalm 66

Psalm 66
To the leader. A Song. A Psalm.

1 Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth worships you;
they sing praises to you,
sing praises to your name.”     Selah

5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let the rebellious not exalt themselves.     Selah

8 Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid burdens on our backs;
12 you let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay you my vows,
14 those that my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.     Selah

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for me.
17 I cried aloud to him,
and he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.

Old Testament
Numbers 21:4–9

4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. 5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” 6 Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

New Testament
John 3:11–17

11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Holy Cross Day
Evening Prayer
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: Holy Cross Day, Morning Prayer

Psalms     Psalm 118
Old Testament     Genesis 3:1–15
New Testament     1 Peter 3:17–22

Index of Readings

Psalm 118

Psalm 118

1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 With the LORD on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in mortals.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they blazed like a fire of thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the LORD does valiantly;
16 the right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.”
17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
18 The LORD has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.

20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

29 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Old Testament
Genesis 3:1–15

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent,

     “Because you have done this,
     cursed are you among all animals
     and among all wild creatures;
     upon your belly you shall go,
     and dust you shall eat
     all the days of your life.
15     I will put enmity between you and the woman,
     and between your offspring and hers;
     he will strike your head,
     and you will strike his heel.”

New Testament
1 Peter 3:17–22

17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

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

One can be good without God
Debate   Gordon College

What Am I Going To Do...Now?
Stan Gaede   Gordon College

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
Dana Smith   Gordon College

The World to Come:
The Afterlife in Christian Thought
Carol Zaleski   Gordon College

Last Lecture
Paul Brink   Gordon College

If Salt Loses Its Saltiness
Greg Carmer   Gordon College

A Covenant of Salt
Abram Kielsmeier-Jones   Gordon College

Blessings In Our Home
D.C. Choi   
Dallas Theological Seminary

Job, L6, Book Purpose
Dr. John Walton

Job, L7, Theological Foundation: Retribution Principle
Dr. John Walton

Job, L8, Scene on earth
Dr. John Walton