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Amos 6-9
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Complacent Self-Indulgence Will Be Punished

Amos 6:1     Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel resorts!
2     Cross over to Calneh, and see;
from there go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is your territory greater than their territory,
3     O you that put far away the evil day,
and bring near a reign of violence?

4     Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall;
5     who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David improvise on instruments of music;
6     who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
7     Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

8     The Lord God has sworn by himself
(says the Lord, the God of hosts):
I abhor the pride of Jacob
and hate his strongholds;
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.

     9 If ten people remain in one house, they shall die. 10 And if a relative, one who burns the dead, shall take up the body to bring it out of the house, and shall say to someone in the innermost parts of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” the answer will come, “No.” Then the relative shall say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.”

11     See, the Lord commands,
and the great house shall be shattered to bits,
and the little house to pieces.
12     Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plow the sea with oxen?
But you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood—
13     you who rejoice in Lo-debar,
who say, “Have we not by our own strength
taken Karnaim for ourselves?”
14     Indeed, I am raising up against you a nation,
O house of Israel, says the Lord, the God of hosts,
and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath
to the Wadi Arabah.

Locusts, Fire, and a Plumb Line

Amos 7:1      This is what the Lord God showed me: he was forming locusts at the time the latter growth began to sprout (it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings). 2 When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,

“O Lord God, forgive, I beg you!
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!”
3     The Lord relented concerning this;
“It shall not be,” said the Lord.

     4 This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord God was calling for a shower of fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. 5 Then I said,

“O Lord God, cease, I beg you!
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!”
6     The Lord relented concerning this;
“This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.

     7 This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,

“See, I am setting a plumb line
in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass them by;
9     the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

Amaziah Complains to the King

     10 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said,"

‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
and Israel must go into exile
away from his land.’

     12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”

     14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my
people Israel.’

16     “Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.
You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’
17     Therefore thus says the Lord:
‘Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
and your land shall be parceled out by line;
you yourself shall die in an unclean land,
and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’ ”

The Basket of Fruit

Amos 8:1     This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. 2 He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me,

“The end has come upon my people Israel;
I will never again pass them by.
3     The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,”
says the Lord God;
“the dead bodies shall be many,
cast out in every place. Be silent!”

4     Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
5     saying, “When will the new moon be over
so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
so that we may offer wheat for sale?
We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
and practice deceit with false balances,
6     buying the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

7     The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
8     Shall not the land tremble on this account,
and everyone mourn who lives in it,
and all of it rise like the Nile,
and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?

9     On that day, says the Lord God,
I will make the sun go down at noon,
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10     I will turn your feasts into mourning,
and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on all loins,
and baldness on every head;
I will make it like the mourning for an only son,
and the end of it like a bitter day.

11     The time is surely coming, says the Lord God,
when I will send a famine on the land;
not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
12     They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it.

13     In that day the beautiful young women and the young men
shall faint for thirst.
14     Those who swear by Ashimah of Samaria,
and say, “As your god lives, O Dan,”
and, “As the way of Beer-sheba lives”—
they shall fall, and never rise again.

The Destruction of Israel

Amos 9:1     I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said:
Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake,
and shatter them on the heads of all the people;
and those who are left I will kill with the sword;
not one of them shall flee away,
not one of them shall escape.

2     Though they dig into Sheol,
from there shall my hand take them;
though they climb up to heaven,
from there I will bring them down.
3     Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
from there I will search out and take them;
and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the sea-serpent, and it shall bite them.
4     And though they go into captivity in front of their enemies,
there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
and I will fix my eyes on them
for harm and not for good.

5     The Lord, God of hosts,
he who touches the earth and it melts,
and all who live in it mourn,
and all of it rises like the Nile,
and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt;
6     who builds his upper chambers in the heavens,
and founds his vault upon the earth;
who calls for the waters of the sea,
and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—
the Lord is his name.

7     Are you not like the Ethiopians to me,
O people of Israel? says the Lord.
Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt,
and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?
8     The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom,
and I will destroy it from the face of the earth
—except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,
says the Lord.

9     For lo, I will command,
and shake the house of Israel among all the nations
as one shakes with a sieve,
but no pebble shall fall to the ground.
10     All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
who say, “Evil shall not overtake or meet us.”

The Restoration of David’s Kingdom (Cp Acts 15:16–17)

11     On that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen,
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old;
12     in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,
says the Lord who does this.

13     The time is surely coming, says the Lord,
when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps,
and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.
14     I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
15     I will plant them upon their land,
and they shall never again be plucked up
out of the land that I have given them,
says the Lord your God.

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

What I'm Reading

Why Would God Send Good People to Hell?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/13/2017

     I’ve been blogging recently on the existence and nature of Hell and, unsurprisingly, I’ve received tremendous response from Christians and non-Christians alike (much of it hostile). The topic polarizes believers and unbelievers. Many Christians struggle to correlate God’s mercy with a place of permanent justice, while others prefer to believe God would annihilate rebellious souls rather than assign them to Hell eternally. Non-believers often point to the apparent unfairness of God related to those who either reject Jesus or haven’t heard of Him. After all, there are millions of good people in the world who are not Christians. Is it fair for God to penalize people who are otherwise good? A good God would not send good people to Hell, would He?

     Here’s the good news: God will not send good people to Hell; of this we can be sure. But, here’s the bad news: “good” people are far rarer than most skeptics (and many Christians) are willing to admit. The Christian worldview describes the true nature of humans and the incredible sovereignty of God, and once these truths are understood, no one will expect their own “goodness” to merit Heaven:

     People (By Their Very Nature) Are Not “Good” | We don’t have to teach our infants to be selfish, impatient, rude and self-serving; infants must be taught just the opposite. We don’t come into the world equipped automatically with sacrificial “goodness”. We must be taught how to love, how to think beyond our own needs and desires, how to share and how to appreciate others. The daily news headlines are filled with examples of young men and women who were not taught how to love and respect the law. When young people are not nurtured and trained in this way, they default back to their innate nature. And if we are honest with ourselves, each of us must admit we often have difficulty controlling our anger, our lust, or our pride. We are inherently fallen creatures, trying our best to constrain our fallen nature. The Bible simply recognizes the innately fallen nature of humans (as described in Romans 3:10-18).

(Ro 3:10–18) 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ESV

     Heaven (By Its Very Nature) Is “Perfect | If there is a God, He is responsible for creating everything in the Universe. This means that God created matter from non-matter and life from non-life. If this is true, God has incredible, infinite, and unspeakable power. With muscle like that, God surely has the power to eliminate imperfection. This is why, as Christians, we believe that God is perfect; He has the ability to eliminate imperfection. The Christian God is not a “good God” after all. He is a “perfect God”. His standard is not “goodness”, it is “perfection”. The real question that each of us has to ask ourselves is not “Are we good?”, but “Are we perfect?” Can any of us answer in the affirmative here? Even if we reject the teaching of the Bible, but accept the possibility that there may be an all-powerful God, we must acknowledge that His standard will be perfection and that we will ultimately fall short of this standard.

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

God Didn’t Write a Book

By Tim Challies 9/14/2017

     The Bible is a book—God’s book. Even a child knows this, right? Except that the Bible isn’t a book. Not really.

     The Bible was at first oral transmission passed from person to person, events and conversations observed, remembered, and shared. But it was still the Bible.

     Then the Bible was a collection of scrolls, each containing a single letter or history or group of psalms. But it was still the Bible.

     Then the Bible was a series of codices, large sheets of vellum folded in half and tied together along the fold. But it was still the Bible.

     Then, at last, the Bible was printed on paper and bound between two covers. And only now was the Bible a book. It took the printing press to make the Bible a book, but it didn’t take the printing press to make the Bible the Bible.

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     Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:

     I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.

Tim Challies Books:

Four Changes That Will Win the Heart of Generation Z Students

By Tim Elmore

     Ours is a world where students are savvy and aware—and very difficult to “wow.” Many are well-informed, well-entertained and have already traveled to places we never traveled until we were well into our adult lives. They scroll through their phones looking for something that will capture their interest. Due to over-exposure to information some have become jaded. Teachers today compete for their attention against the likes of YouTube, Instagram, Netflix and Snapchat. “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention,” writes Herbert Simon.

     So how do we lead a kid who is so difficult to impress?

     My advice? Don’t try to wow them. Try to win them.

     I believe educators and parents can play a unique role in the lives of students. While Hollywood can capture their attention for a few moments, caring adults can engage them in a way that’s personal and meaningful. Recently, I had a conversation with a faculty member who said he’s taken on the challenge to “win” the hearts of his students. His report card? Just like students will binge-watch a series on Netflix, he’s working to get students to want to “binge watch” his classes and other science programs on YouTube or TV.

     Question: Would students want to binge watch your class?

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     Amazon says, Dr. Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders (www.GrowingLeaders.com), an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization created to develop emerging leaders. Since founding Growing Leaders, Elmore has spoken to more than 500,000 students, faculty, and staff on hundreds of campuses across the country, including the University of Oklahoma, Stanford University, Duke University, Rutgers University, the University of South Carolina, and Louisiana State University. Elmore has also provided leadership training and resources for multiple athletic programs, including the University of Texas, the University of Miami, the University of Alabama, The Ohio State University, and the Kansas City Royals Baseball Club. In addition, a number of government offices in Washington, D.C. have utilized Dr. Elmore's curriculum and training.

     From the classroom to the boardroom, Elmore is a dynamic communicator who uses principles, images, and stories to strengthen leaders. He has taught leadership to Delta Global Services, Chick-fil-A, Inc., The Home Depot, The John Maxwell Co., HomeBanc, and Gold Kist, Inc., among others. He has also taught courses on leadership and mentoring at nine universities and graduate schools across the U.S. Committed to developing young leaders on every continent of the world, Elmore also has shared his insights in more than thirty countries--including India, Russia, China, and Australia.

     Tim's expertise on emerging generations and generational diversity in the workplace has led to media coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, Investor's Business Daily, Huffington Post, MSNBC.com, The Washington Post, WorkingMother.com, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, and Portfolio.com. Tim has appeared on CNN's Headline News and FOX & Friends discussing parenting trends and advice.
Tim Elmore Books:

Seven Reasons You Owe Everything to Suffering

By John Piper 7/11/2017

     Now let me draw this to a close with a quick summary of seven statements. They go by real fast, showing you that every grace, every blessing, every good thing you ever dreamed about having now or in eternity comes to you through suffering, and only through suffering; namely, the suffering of Jesus. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was the name of the book before the foundation of the world, and it was the ground of grace before the foundation of the world. I want you to feel, I owe everything I ever dreamed of having to suffering.

     1. Christ absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf and he did it by suffering.

(Ga 3:13) 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— ESV

     Your deliverance from God’s curse came through suffering.

     2. Christ bore our sins and purchased our forgiveness, and he did it by suffering.

(1 Pe 2:24) 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. ESV

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Seven Reasons You Owe Everything To Suffering
John Piper

     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:

Are We Called to Thank God for Our Severest Suffering?

By John Piper 9/11/2017

     “My youngest son, Josiah, was diagnosed with bone cancer in July 2013 at the age of twelve. The period of his treatment was really hard, full of intense pain and sickness for him and anxiety for us all. But by the end of his treatment in September 2014, we thought he had come through it. However, at his first post-treatment check, we were told his cancer had returned, riddled his lungs, and he died in April 2015 at the age of fourteen. I am thankful that the Lord had given Josiah a faith that enabled him to face death without fear, and I have confidence that Josiah is now with Jesus. I hold on to the truth that in some way this is part of a plan that makes sense. But the grief has frequently felt unbearable, and now, just over two years later, it still comes crashing in waves that at times feel impossible to withstand."

     “My question comes from something I read recently in your book ‘Future Grace.’ At the end of chapter two you write, ‘When faith in God’s future grace is strong, the message is sent that this kind of God makes no mistakes, so that everything he has done in the past is part of a good plan and can be remembered with gratitude. . . . Only if we trust God to turn past calamities into future comfort can we look back with gratitude for all things.’ Gratitude for all things is my question. I can say, ‘Thank you, Lord, for being with us during Josiah’s suffering.’ But it’s difficult for me to say, ‘Thank you, Lord, for Josiah’s suffering.’ I cannot get there, certainly not on an emotional level. Can you help me see what it looks like, or feels like, to be able to say thank you for this deep suffering?”

     First, my heart, Kathy, is rising up in praise to God for your words “I am thankful that the Lord had given Josiah a faith that enabled him to face death without fear.” That is a staggering miracle. There are millions of professing Christians who claim to have walked with God for years who don’t come close to that kind of faith.

     In fact, it’s the horror of it that makes the faith so unspeakably amazing. That’s my first overflow of praise.

     My second one is for your words, Kathy, “I hold on to the truth that in some way this is part of a plan that makes sense.” Well, that holding on to God’s word is another amazing miracle of God’s grace, which I suppose in a mother’s heart is only a little less marvelous than her son’s own faith.

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

John Piper Books:

To My Daughter, Turning Ten

By Paul Beston 9/13/2017

     Beacon’s Riverfront Park looks different today, as if we’d been away for years, though it has only been a month or two since our last visit. They’ve erected a new sign in honor of Pete and Toshi Seeger, for whom the park is now named. The sign stands in front of the volleyball pits, which, today, have a full battalion of twentysomethings playing in them—the men shirtless, the women in tank tops and gym shorts, the laughter boisterous and the banter refreshingly unprofane. When you were younger and I took you here every summer weekend, you used the volleyball pits as a sandbox—you wanted to dig “bolt holes,” like you’d seen on Meerkat Manor—and were always disappointed if they were occupied. Today, you don’t seem to notice.

     “I want to check something, okay?” And you’re off, running, toward the river. You probably want to see whether it’s high or low tide—if low, a large bank of rocks will protrude above the surface, and you like stepping out onto them, at least before you get to the ones too slippery with river slime. I’m watching you run: long strides, arms swinging in symmetry, something confident about the way you move. On your way, you pass a group of toddlers, and I’m astonished at how you tower over them and by the contingencies that shadow their every step.

     Did you really move like that? You did. There is no more apt word for it than “toddle” (a drunk totters, a child toddles). These tiny people, even when moving on surfaces as flat as kitchen floors, jostle like pickups on potholed back roads. When you could toddle reliably, I’d let you run from the car to the play structures in the park’s center, while I followed. I’m seeing that little girl running away in my mind’s eye now; I’ll probably see her when my time comes.

     And the even smaller girl: When your overnights settled into a regular pattern, I started manning them. At 2 a.m., like a metronome, you needed a change and a bottle—reasonable demands. I’d sit with you in my lap until you had settled back off to sleep. Your room smelled like Burt’s Bees; your still-wiry hair felt like a texture from some other world. The only sound was the low ticking of a clock. These were the most peaceful moments of my life.

     Almost since you’ve been talking, you’ve been fascinated with the idea of the “older girl.” We spent slow winter afternoons at Jumpin’ Jakes, a play space filled with inflatable “bounce houses.” You were four years old when you emerged from one, breathless, eyes bright, and exclaimed: “Daddy! I played with an older girl!” The girl in question, still bouncing, looked back and smiled. She was about as old as you are now.

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     Paul Beston is managing editor of City Journal and author of The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Ruled the Ring. He and his family live in Beacon, New York.

The Unreasonableness of Secular Public Reason

By Matthew J. Franck 8/28/2015

     When voters and legislators act on religiously informed moral convictions in making the law, it may entail a blending of religion and politics that is disquieting to the secular liberal mind, but it closes no gap in the “separation of church and state.”

     Although it may come as a surprise to some, the Constitution does not enact Mr. John Rawls’s Political Liberalism. That is to say, it is a category error to attribute to the Constitution (via the establishment clause of the First Amendment) the Rawlsian concept that “public reason” and political discourse should exclude “comprehensive doctrines” such as religious belief systems.

     The accents of this argument could be heard in the Iowa supreme court’s marriage ruling in 2009, in which the court held that “religious opposition to same-sex marriage” was the real reason the state protected conjugal marriage in its law. Therefore, the judgment went, the law lacked a rational basis and was unconstitutional. Likewise, Judge Vaughn Walker of the federal district court that struck down California’s Proposition 8 claimed to “find” as a “fact” that “moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples” with respect to marriage. For Walker, “moral” was fungible with “religious,” and therefore Prop 8—you guessed it—lacked a rational basis.

     The granddaddy of this strange argument is the view of Justice John Paul Stevens in the 1989 abortion case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. Stevens preposterously argued that a Missouri abortion law lacked “any secular purpose for the legislative declarations that life begins at conception and that conception occurs at fertilization” (which happen to be two uncontroversial scientific facts); that he could perceive only theological propositions at work in such legislation; and that therefore it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

     This transparent attempt to cripple legislative efforts to regulate or prohibit abortions was predicated not only on a willful blindness about the character of the arguments employed by pro-life legislators, but on a tortured reading of the Establishment Clause. For even if it were the case that prohibition of abortion rested, in the final analysis for every one of its supporters, on a theological proposition about the sanctity of human life, such a prohibition would not violate any reasonable reading of the First Amendment.

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     Matthew J. Franck is the director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute. These remarks were prepared for a symposium on “Religion and Public Discourse” at Case Western Reserve University Law School on March 6, 2015.

Don’t Be Caught without a Confession

By Michael Reeves 9/2017

     hristians have always written and cherished summaries of their beliefs. The Bible records the earliest of these confessions of faith (1 Tim 3:16). Then, the early post-Apostolic church produced definitive statements of essential Christian belief, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, still considered benchmarks of orthodoxy. In the centuries that have followed, Christians have continued to produce confessions: the Augsburg Confession (1530), the Thirty-Nine Articles (1562), the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), and so on. The church has never been without a confession or creed.

     The Recipe And The Pudding | However, for all their defining importance in Christian history, confessions of faith have met with mixed reactions from Christians. While many believers have used confessions enthusiastically, others have claimed that confessions replace a vital relationship with God with a desiccated list of doctrine, replacing the Spirit with the letter, leaving only a husk of dead, dull orthodoxy. However, to understand confessions this way is to mistake the recipe for the pudding. Confessions, like recipes, are descriptions of the vital ingredients in the Christian life of faith, not to be confused with the reality itself. That does not mean the description is unimportant: different ingredients will make a different pudding. But, if you try to eat the recipe card rather than the pudding, you will be sadly disappointed.

     There is a deeper, more sinister reason for our distrust of confessions. It started in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve refused to listen to God. Ever since then, mankind pretends that God has not spoken to us. If we admit that God has spoken, we must also admit that we knowingly disobey Him—an admission that we are not the lords and gods we daily pretend to be. Vagueness about what the Bible teaches and a lack of specificity in matters of theology maintain this Edenic error. Without confessions of faith, we are speculating in the dark, denying that God has spoken His revealing light into the world (John 1:1–5). Undisturbed by the harsh light of divine revelation, we are free to dwell in the shadows, fashioning idols to our hearts’ content, crafting a self-made religion out of comforting experiences, moralism, or whatever we choose.

     History is replete with this tendency. Consider an example. In seventeenth-century England, a group of theologians called latitudinarians, tired of the never-ending theological debates that flowed from the Reformation, sought a Christianity shorn of most of its doctrine. Doctrine became a dirty word. For them, Christianity was essentially morality—the less doctrine it had, the more people could agree and unite. The problem was that this unity was built around the standards of morality rather than Christ.

     In many ways, the latitudinarians were heralds of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment skepticism toward all doctrine epitomized by Edward Gibbon. In his monumental Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon looks despairingly at the doctrinal disputes of the early post-Apostolic church as nothing but irrelevant bickering. For example, Gibbon dismisses the Arian controversy’s debate over whether Christ is truly God (homoousios) or merely an exalted creature (homoiousios) by saying, “The difference between the Homoousion and the Homoiousion is almost invisible to the nicest theological eye.”1 For Gibbon, it was an immaterial debate over the single letter i. Yet the argument was over far more essential matters. The controversy was about whether Christ is God, whether He is to be worshiped as God. That single i divided orthodoxy from heresy, with one side claiming Christ as Creator, while the other saw Him as nothing more than a created being. Gibbon’s blithe indifference to doctrine could just as easily argue that the difference between Christianity and Islam is merely one of numbers: one (Allah) or three (Father, Son, Spirit). We know, however, that doctrinal precision matters.

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     Dr. Michael Reeves is president and professor of theology at Union School of Theology in Oxford, England. He is the featured teacher on the Ligonier teaching series The English Reformation and the Puritans. Michael Reeves Books:

  • 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 15)    Bob Gass

(1 Jn 1:7–8) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ESV

     Going to church, doing your best, and subscribing to fuzzy notions about God won’t get you into heaven. Here’s the testimony of those already in heaven: ‘To him who loves us…freed us from our sins by his blood, and…made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…be glory and power for ever and ever!’ (Revelation 1:5-6 NIV 2011 Edition). There’s an interesting story behind a broken rope on display at the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt, Switzerland. Some climbers who scaled the Matterhorn used it to rope themselves together for the return descent. But one climber slipped and dragged three others with him into an abyss. The other team members braced for the shock on the rope linking them all together, expecting it to halt their companions’ fall. But the tug came, and to everyone’s horror the rope snapped, plunging them to their deaths. Nobody knows why an inferior rope was used. But they do know it wasn’t genuine Alpine rope, which is guaranteed and distinguished by a red strand running through it. There’s a lesson here. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible has a red strand running through it, and it represents the only thing that can save you - the blood of Jesus. Old Testament believers looked forward to the cross, and New Testament believers looked back to it. By trusting in Christ’s finished work, you’re accepted by God, and one day the door of heaven will open and you’ll live with Him forever. And it’s all based on this truth: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ…cleanses us from all sin.’ No more is required, and nothing less will get you through the door!

Is 26-27
Eph 2

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

     CHAPTER 10.

     How The Soldiers, Both In Judea And Egypt, Proclaimed Vespasian Emperor; And How Vespasian Released Josephus From His Bonds.

     1. Now about this very time it was that heavy calamities came about Rome on all sides; for Vitellius was come from Germany with his soldiery, and drew along with him a great multitude of other men besides. And when the spaces allotted for soldiers could not contain them, he made all Rome itself his camp, and filled all the houses with his armed men; which men, when they saw the riches of Rome with those eyes which had never seen such riches before, and found themselves shone round about on all sides with silver and gold, they had much ado to contain their covetous desires, and were ready to betake themselves to plunder, and to the slaughter of such as should stand in their way. And this was the state of affairs in Italy at that time.

     2. But when Vespasian had overthrown all the places that were near to Jerusalem, he returned to Cesarea, and heard of the troubles that were at Rome, and that Vitellius was emperor. This produced indignation in him, although he well knew how to be governed as well as to govern, and could not, with any satisfaction, own him for his lord who acted so madly, and seized upon the government as if it were absolutely destitute of a governor. And as this sorrow of his was violent, he was not able to support the torments he was under, nor to apply himself further in other wars, when his native country was laid waste; but then, as much as his passion excited him to avenge his country, so much was he restrained by the consideration of his distance therefrom; because fortune might prevent him, and do a world of mischief before he could himself sail over the sea to Italy, especially as it was still the winter season; so he restrained his anger, how vehement so ever it was at this time.

     3. But now his commanders and soldiers met in several companies, and consulted openly about changing the public affairs; and, out of their indignation, cried out, how "at Rome there are soldiers that live delicately, and when they have not ventured so much as to hear the fame of war, they ordain whom they please for our governors, and in hopes of gain make them emperors; while you, who have gone through so many labors, and are grown into years under your helmets, give leave to others to use such a power, when yet you have among yourselves one more worthy to rule than any whom they have set up. Now what juster opportunity shall they ever have of requiting their generals, if they do not make use of this that is now before them? while there is so much juster reasons for Vespasian's being emperor than for Vitellius; as they are themselves more deserving than those that made the other emperors; for that they have undergone as great wars as have the troops that come from Germany; nor are they inferior in war to those that have brought that tyrant to Rome, nor have they undergone smaller labors than they; for that neither will the Roman senate, nor people, bear such a lascivious emperor as Vitellius, if he be compared with their chaste Vespasian; nor will they endure a most barbarous tyrant, instead of a good governor, nor choose one that hath no child 20 to preside over them, instead of him that is a father; because the advancement of men's own children to dignities is certainly the greatest security kings can have for themselves. Whether, therefore, we estimate the capacity of governing from the skill of a person in years, we ought to have Vespasian, or whether from the strength of a young man, we ought to have Titus; for by this means we shall have the advantage of both their ages, for that they will afford strength to those that shall be made emperors, they having already three legions, besides other auxiliaries from the neighboring kings, and will have further all the armies in the east to support them, as also those in Europe, so they as they are out of the distance and dread of Vitellius, besides such auxiliaries as they may have in Italy itself; that is, Vespasian's brother, 21 and his other son [Domitian]; the one of whom will bring in a great many of those young men that are of dignity, while the other is intrusted with the government of the city, which office of his will be no small means of Vespasian's obtaining the government. Upon the whole, the case may be such, that if we ourselves make further delays, the senate may choose an emperor, whom the soldiers, who are the saviors of the empire, will have in contempt."

     4. These were the discourses the soldiers had in their several companies; after which they got together in a great body, and, encouraging one another, they declared Vespasian emperor, 22 and exhorted him to save the government, which was now in danger. Now Vespasian's concern had been for a considerable time about the public, yet did he not intend to set up for governor himself, though his actions showed him to deserve it, while he preferred that safety which is in a private life before the dangers in a state of such dignity; but when he refused the empire, the commanders insisted the more earnestly upon his acceptance; and the soldiers came about him, with their drawn swords in their hands, and threatened to kill him, unless he would now live according to his dignity. And when he had shown his reluctance a great while, and had endeavored to thrust away this dominion from him, he at length, being not able to persuade them, yielded to their solicitations that would salute him emperor.

     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 24:28-29
     by D.H. Stern

28     Don’t be a witness against your neighbor for no reason—
would you use your lips to deceive?

29     Don’t say, “I’ll do to him what he did to me,
I’ll pay him back what his deeds deserve.”

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

                What to renounce

     But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty. --- 2 Cor. 4:2.

     Have you “renounced the hidden things of dishonesty”—the things that your sense of honour will not allow to come to the light? You can easily hide them. Is there a thought in your heart about anyone which you would not like to be dragged into the light? Renounce it as soon as it springs up; renounce the whole thing until there is no hidden thing of dishonesty or craftiness about you. Envy, jealousy, strife—these things arise not necessarily from the disposition of sin, but from the make-up of your body which was used for this kind of thing in days gone by (see Romans 6:19 and 1 Peter 4:1–2): Maintain a continual watchfulness so that nothing of which you would be ashamed arises in your life.

     “Not walking in craftiness,” that is, resorting to what will carry your point. This is a great snare. You know that God will only let you work in one way, then be careful never to catch people the other way; God’s blight will be upon you if you do. Others are doing things which to you would be walking in craftiness, but it may not be so with them; God has given you another standpoint. Never blunt the sense of your Utmost for His Highest. For you to do a certain thing would mean the incoming of craftiness for an end other than the highest, and the blunting of the motive God has given you. Many have gone back because they are afraid of looking at things from God’s stand-point. The crisis comes spiritually when a man has to emerge a bit farther on than the creed he has accepted.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Kierkegaard (Pieta)
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Kierkegaard (Pieta)

And beyond the window Denmark
  Waited, but refused to adopt
  This family that wore itself out
  On its conscience, up and down
  In the one room.
              Meanwhile the acres
  Of the imagination grew
  Unhindered, though always they paused
  At that labourer, the indictment
  Of whose gesture was a warped
  Crucifix upon a hill
  In Jutland. The stern father
  Looked at it and a hard tear
  Formed, that the child's frightened
  Sympathy could not convert
  To a plaything.
              He lived on,
  Soren, with the deed's terrible lightning
  About him, as though a bone
  Had broken in the adored body
  Of his God. The streets emptied
  Of their people but for a girl
  Already beginning to feel
  The iron in her answering his magnet's
  Pull. Her hair was to be
  The moonlight towards which he leaned
  From darkness. The husband stared
  Through life's bars, venturing a hand
  To pluck her from the shrill fire
  Of his genius. The press sharpened
  Its rapier; wounded, he crawled
  To the monastery of his chaste thought
  To offer up his crumpled amen.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Searching For Meaning In Midrash

     Some people leave their mark on history, and their names become entries in the encyclopedia. A select few leave their mark on our language, and their names become entries in the cultural “dictionary.” To be an Einstein (Albert, 1879–1955) is to be a genius; to be a Rockefeller (John D., 1834–1937) is to be exceedingly rich. A Beau Brummel (George B., 1778–1840) is a fancy dresser. A Houdini (Harry, 1875–1926) makes an amazing escape or disappearance. A Mother Teresa (twentieth century) is a saintlike person who devotes herself to others. A Casanova (Giovanni, eighteenth century) is a prolific lover.

     There are other names that have become symbols of shame or evil. There’s Captain Bligh (William, 1754–1817), a cruel taskmaster; Machiavelli (Niccolo, 1469–1527) an amoral politician or schemer; and, of course, Benedict Arnold (1741–1801), a traitor.

     Then there’s the case of Vidkun Quisling (1887–1945), a Norwegian military officer. After the Nazis invaded Norway in April 1940, Quisling collaborated with the enemy and with their help assumed power. He ruled as a Nazi puppet and was known for his megalomania and cruelty. Following the war, he was arrested and tried for murder and treason and was executed by firing squad. His name became a part of the language: In the dictionary, quisling (with a lower case “q”) came to mean “a person who betrays his country by helping the enemy to invade and occupy.”

     Imagine the difficulty for members of Quisling’s family (or even people who are not related but have the same last name). Though they may not have done anything wrong, they carry a name that actually means traitor and that evokes suspicion, anger, or hatred in those who encounter it. Think of assassins or serial killers in America’s history and how their last names have been brands of shame for family members. There are no doubt many people in recent times who have had their last names changed in order to escape the very strong reactions that their surnames evoked.

     Adolf Hitler had a half-brother, Alois, who moved to England before the First World War. Alois’s son, William, eventually came to the United States, where he denounced the führer and later served in the U.S. Navy. William Hitler had three sons, each of whom changed his last name. They reside in New York’s Long Island, where they keep their infamous ancestry a family secret.

     A name is something very precious. We need to remember to carry it always with pride. We also need to keep in mind (even those of us who will never become famous or infamous) that when we act in such a way that tarnishes our name, we harm more than just ourselves; we hurt everyone else who also carries that name.


     “Pop, why do you always do that? Why do you always say ‘My father, zikhrono livrakhah’?”

     “What do ya mean? Why do I mention my father, zikhrono livrakhah, so often?”

     “Well, ya, that—and the fact that every time you talk about him—which is quite often—you add the words zikhrono livrakhah. ‘My father, zikhrono livrakhah.’ He died over sixty years ago!”

     “Sixty-two years ago. When I was eleven years old.”

     “I know. I know. You’ve told me the story often. ‘He worked in a factory, twelve, thirteen hours a day. One day, he came home and just collapsed into bed and never woke up again.’ But why, after all these years, do you still invoke his name with ‘zikhrono livrakhah’?”

     “Zikhrono livrakhah means ‘of blessed memory.’ When he died, the rabbi told me: ‘Young man, you will think about your father often. You will remember how he worked hard to support your family. You’ll remember how he was an honest and kind-hearted man,’ ”


     “ ‘And each time you recall him, you will say zikhrono livrakhah, of blessed memory.’ The rabbi explained how this is based on a verse from the Book of Proverbs: ‘The memory of the righteous is for a blessing.’ He told me that each time I think about my father and say zikhrono livrakhah, of blessed memory, I am keeping my father’s memory alive—and keeping him alive. Look, my father was too young when he died. He should have lived another twenty, thirty years at least. I figure that by talking about him and mentioning him often, I’m giving him another sixty-plus years of life.”

     “But, Pop, he’s not alive, really.”

     “Maybe not. But his memory is. And that’s a great source of comfort to me. And I know it would have been to him.”

     “It just seems kind of creepy, that’s all.”

     “Look, boychik, there are people in this world today—alive and breathing—who are as good as dead. No one notices them. They make no impact on the world. When they die, no one will miss them. They are ‘the living dead.’ My father, zikhrono livrakhah, had an influence on the world. I knew him only eleven years, but in that time, he taught me the values of hard work, concern for family, honest living. He loved me, and I loved him. So for me, he is still alive.”

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     September 15

     “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

     Did the sword of divine justice smite the Shepherd, and at the same time [remove] all his outward comforts? (Works of John Flavel (6 Vol. Set)) “Of the Manner of Christ’s Death, in Respect to the Solitariness Thereof,” sermon 28 in a series, The Fountain of Life Opened Up, from The Works of John Flavel , vol. 1 (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968) Then learn that the holiest people have no reason to despond though God should at once strip them of all their outward and inward comforts. In one day Christ loses both heavenly and earthly comforts. Now as God dealt with Christ, he may at one time or other deal with his people. You have your comforts from heaven; so had Christ. He had comforts from his little flock; you have your comforts from the society of the saints, comfortable relations, and so on. Yet none of these are so firmly settled on you that you may not be left destitute of them all in one day. God took all comfort from Christ, both outward and inward—and are we greater than he?

     Should the Lord deal thus with any of you, the following considerations will be seasonable and relieving.

     First, though the Lord deal thus with you, yet this is no new thing; he has so dealt with others, yes, with Jesus Christ who was his equal. How little reason have we to complain?

     Secondly, this befell Jesus Christ so that the similar condition might be sanctified to you when you are brought into it. Jesus Christ passed through such conditions on purpose that he might take away the curse and leave a blessing in those conditions, in preparation for the time that you would come into them.

     Thirdly, though inward and outward comforts were both removed from Christ in one day, yet he did not lack support: “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32)—with me by way of support when not by way of comfort. Your God can in like manner support you when all tangible comforts shrink away from your soul and body in one day.

     Remark that this comfortless, forsaken condition of Christ immediately preceded the day of his greatest glory and comfort. It was so with Christ, it may be so with you. Therefore act your faith on this, that the most glorious light usually follows the thickest darkness. The louder your groans are now, the louder your triumphs hereafter will be. The horror of your present will but add to the luster of your future state.
--- John Flavel

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

On This Day
     My Parish  September 15

     Antoinette Brown, born in a log cabin in New York, was moved by the ministry of Charles Finney at age six and joined the Congregational Church at age nine. She excelled in school. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1847, she created a stir among the faculty when she returned for graduate studies in theology. No woman had yet studied theology at Oberlin. Her family grew alarmed and stopped supporting her. At the end of her studies, she was given no part in the commencement exercises, and her name didn’t appear in the alumni catalog.

     When she attended the World’s Temperance Convention in New York City, she was not allowed to speak. This so incensed Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune that he reported: This convention has completed three of its four business sessions, and the results may be summed up as follows: First Day—Crowding a woman off the platform. Second Day—Gagging her. Third Day—Voting that she shall stay gagged. Having thus disposed of the main question, we presume the incidentals will be finished this Morning.

     Greeley’s words catapulted Antoinette Brown to prominence, and she was offered a preaching ministry at a large New York City church. But she felt too inexperienced for a large metropolitan pulpit, accepting a call instead to a small Congregational church, having “neither steeple or bell,” in South Butler, New York.

     There on September 15, 1853, Antoinette Brown became the first regularly ordained woman minister in America. Rev. Luther Lee preached the ordination message from
Galatians 3:28: Faith in Christ is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman.

     Brown wrote in her journal: This is a very poor and small church, ample I believe for my needs in this small community. My parish will be a miniature world in good and evil. To get humanity condensed into so small a compass that I can study each individual, opens a new chapter of experience. It is what I want.

     All of you are God’s children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes. Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman.
--- Galatians 3:26-28.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 15

     "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings." --- Psalm 112:7.

     Christian, you ought not to dread the arrival of evil tidings; because if you are distressed by them, what do you more than other men? Other men have not your God to fly to; they have never proved his faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear: but you profess to be of another spirit; you have been begotten again unto a lively hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things; now, if you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature which you claim to possess?

     Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless, be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God; they murmur, and think that God deals hardly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?

     Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” For if you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which nerves for duty, and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires, but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

          Evening - September 15

     “A people near unto him.” --- Psalm 148:14.

     The dispensation of the old covenant was that of distance. When God appeared even to his servant Moses, he said, “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet”; and when he manifested himself upon Mount Sinai, to his own chosen and separated people, one of the first commands was, “Thou shalt set bounds about the mount.” Both in the sacred worship of the tabernacle and the temple, the thought of distance was always prominent. The mass of the people did not even enter the outer court. Into the inner court none but the priests might dare to intrude; while into the innermost place, or the holy of holies, the high priest entered but once in the year. It was as if the Lord in those early ages would teach man that sin was so utterly loathsome to him, that he must treat men as lepers put without the camp; and when he came nearest to them, he yet made them feel the width of the separation between a holy God and an impure sinner. When the Gospel came, we were placed on quite another footing. The word “Go” was exchanged for “Come”; distance was made to give place to nearness, and we who aforetime were afar off, were made nigh by the blood of Jesus Christ. Incarnate Deity has no wall of fire about it. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” is the joyful proclamation of God as he appears in human flesh. Not now does he teach the leper his leprosy by setting him at a distance, but by himself suffering the penalty of his defilement. What a state of safety and privilege is this nearness to God through Jesus! Do you know it by experience? If you know it, are you living in the power of it? Marvellous is this nearness, yet it is to be followed by a dispensation of greater nearness still, when it shall be said, “The tabernacle of God is with men, and he doth dwell among them.” Hasten it, O Lord.

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

Amazing Grace
     September 15


     John Newton, 1725–1807

     Unto you therefore which believe He is precious. (1 Peter 2:7) KJV

     One of the important activities we need for our spiritual growth and maturity is to spend time daily in quiet meditation and communion with our Lord. Although Bible reading and prayer are absolutely necessary, it is still possible to engage in these pursuits without ever experiencing real communion with Christ Himself. We must learn to say --

     Once His gifts I wanted, now the Giver own;
     Once I sought for blessing, now Himself alone!

     --- A. B. Simpson

     John Newton has given believers an excellent text for extolling and meditating upon Christ. This worship of our Lord reaches its crescendo in the fourth stanza when Newton lists ten consecutive titles for Jesus: Shepherd, Brother, Friend, Prophet, Priest, King, Lord, Life, Way, End. In the fifth and sixth stanzas, Newton realizes that a Christian’s praise of Christ’s names will always be inadequate until He is finally viewed in heaven. But we must never cease trying.

     The story is told of this converted slave ship captain preaching one of his final RS Thomas before his home-going at the age of 82. His eyesight was nearly gone and his memory had become faulty. It was necessary for an assistant to stand in the pulpit to help him with his sermon. One Sunday Newton had twice read the words, “Jesus Christ is precious.” “You have already said that twice,” whispered his helper; “go on.” “I said that twice, and I am going to say it again,” replied Newton. Then the rafters rang as the old preacher shouted, “JESUS CHRIST IS PRECIOUS!”

     How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.

     Dear name! the Rock on which I build, my Shield and Hiding place, my never failing Treasury filled with boundless stores of grace.
     Jesus! my Shepherd, Brother, Friend, my Prophet, Priest and King, my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.
     Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought; but when I see Thee as Thou art I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
     Till then I would Thy love proclaim with ev’ry fleeting breath; and may the music of Thy name refresh my soul in death.

     For Today: Psalm 8:9; 104:34; Song of Solomon 1:3; Matthew 11:28

     Ask this question: “How often do I spend time in worship and adoration of Christ simply for who He is?” Begin now by singing this musical message ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday, September 15, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 18, Friday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 40, 54
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 51
Old Testament     1 Kings 18:20–40
New Testament     Philippians 3:1–16
Gospel     Matthew 3:1–12

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 40, 54

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Happy are those who make
the LORD their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after false gods.
5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.

6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Here I am;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.

11 Do not, O LORD, withhold
your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
keep me safe forever.
12 For evils have encompassed me
without number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
until I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
O LORD, make haste to help me.
14 Let all those be put to shame and confusion
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who desire my hurt.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God.

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, “David is in hiding among us.”

1 Save me, O God, by your name,
and vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For the insolent have risen against me,
the ruthless seek my life;
they do not set God before them.     Selah

4 But surely, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5 He will repay my enemies for their evil.
In your faithfulness, put an end to them.

6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
7 For he has delivered me from every trouble,
and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 51

To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5 Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6 You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Old Testament
1 Kings 18:20–40

20 So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. 23 Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the LORD; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.” All the people answered, “Well spoken!” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. 27 At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. 29 As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down; 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; 32 with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. 33 Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, 35 so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

36 At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God.” 40 Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.

New Testament
Philippians 3:1–16

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.

To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.

2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh— 4 even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

Matthew 3:1–12

3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

     “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
     ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
     make his paths straight.’ ”

4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

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

One Small Candle
Mark L. Sargent   Gordon College

Politics w Humility, Grace and Reason
Amy Black   Gordon College

Christians & Power
D. Michael Lindsay   Gordon College

Secular & Religious Political Exclusivism
Miroslav Volf   Gordon College

Liberty for Non-Religious
Anthony Gill   Gordon College

Godless Europe, Religious America
David Hempton   Gordon College

Scriptura Sola
Mark A. Noll   Gordon College

The Way of Wisdom
Greg Carmer   Gordon College

Red and Blue America
Tim Sherratt   Gordon College

A Major Choice
Stan Gaede   Gordon College

Blessed to Be a Blessing
D. Michael Lindsay   Gordon College

Whose Responsibility Is Opportunity?
Michael Gerson   Gordon College

Three Responses to Suffering
Michael Gerson   Gordon College

Responding to Christian Films
Darrell Bock & Naima Lett   
Dallas Theological Seminary

When God Shoots Down Your Plan
Ben Stuart   
Dallas Theological Seminary

Job, L9, Heaven Scene 1
Dr. John Walton

More Than you Can Imagine
Albert Mohler   SBTS

Did Jesus Claim to be God?
Dr. Michael L. Brown

The Story of Reality
Stand To Reason