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1 Corinthians 6-9
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Lawsuits Among Believers

1 Corinthians 6:1     When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters? 4 If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, 6 but a believer goes to court against a believer—and before unbelievers at that?

     7 In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that.

     9 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Glorify God in Body and Spirit

     12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17 But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Directions concerning Marriage

1 Corinthians 7:1     Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.” 2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

     8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. 9 But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

     10 To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

     12 To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. We have all been called to peace.

     16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

The Life That the Lord Has Assigned

     17 However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. 20 Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

     21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. 22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. 24 In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

The Unmarried and the Widows

     25 Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. 29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

     32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

     36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37 But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancée, he will do well. 38 So then, he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

     39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my judgment she is more blessed if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

Food Offered to Idols

1 Corinthians 8:1     Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; 3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.

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

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

The Rights of an Apostle

1 Corinthians 9:1     Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.


     3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to our food and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who at any time pays the expenses for doing military service? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not get any of its milk?

     8 Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law also say the same? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, for whoever plows should plow in hope and whoever threshes should thresh in hope of a share in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we still more?

     Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the Gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is sacrificed on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the Gospel should get their living by the Gospel.

     15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this so that they may be applied in my case. Indeed, I would rather die than that—no one will deprive me of my ground for boasting! 16 If I proclaim the Gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the Gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the Gospel.

     19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

     24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. 26 So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27 but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

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

What I'm Reading

There’s a Difference Between Evidence and Proof

By J. Warner Wallace 8/30/2017

     Several years ago I presented a talk at the Apologetics Canada Conference in which I examined the reaction Bart Ehrman had related to the textual variants he found in the Biblical text. As he pursued his education over the years and poured over the manuscripts of the Bible, he evaluated the evidence and eventually decided that Christianity was false. Ehrman is clearly a very smart man, raised in the Church and well educated:

     Bart Ehrman | Studied at Moody Bible Institute, Graduated from Wheaton College, Received his PhD and MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, Former President of Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature

     After reviewing Ehrman’s academic credentials, one can’t help but think he might be right about his conclusions related to the evidence. How can someone this well-trained be mistaken? Part of the explanation, it seems to me, is found in the difference between evidence and proof. I never tell people I can prove the reliability of the New Testament; instead, I tell them I am happy to share the evidence that convinced me of the Bible’s reliability. While evidence is a matter of objective truth, proof is in the mind of the evaluator, and many of us resist the truth in spite of the evidence. I did this for many years.

     I understand now that before I can ever convince someone with evidence, God will have to do the work of regenerating the heart of my listener. It’s not up to me; God’s calling can only be done by God Himself. And that’s the difference between evidence and proof. We can offer evidence all day long: facts about eyewitness testimony, archeological verification and scientific harmony, but none of this will serve as proof unless God first changes a heart.

     Evidence | The facts we offer to support our claims of truth

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

Bruce Manning Metzger

By Michael W. Holmes

     Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, the internationally renowned textual critic, bible scholar, and biblical translator, New Testament professor emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary, and past President of the SBL (1971), died on February 13, 2007 at his home in Princeton at the age of 93.

     Born on February 9, 1914 in Middletown, Pennsylvania, Metzger attended Lebanon Valley College (AB, 1935), where he first studied Greek and textual criticism, and Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.B., 1938, Th.M., 1939), where his teachers included Henry. S. Gehman, W. A. Armstrong, Otto Piper, and Emil Brunner, prior to doctoral studies in classics and patristics at Princeton University (MA, 1940, Ph.D., 1942). He was ordained in 1939 by the Presbytery of New Brunswick (now PC[USA]).

     During a forty-six year career at Princeton Theological Seminary (1938-1984), which was capped by his appointment as George L. Collard Professor of New Testament Language and Literature (1964-1984; Emeritus, 1984-), Metzger taught more students than anyone else in the seminary's history (among them were David Noel Freedman, to mention one of the very first, and Bart Ehrman and myself, to mention two of the last). Metzger was also a visiting scholar or fellow at nine institutions (including Wolfson College, Oxford, Clare College, Cambridge, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), presented academic lectures at more than one hundred institutions on six continents, and delivered more than 2500 sermons or studies in churches belonging to a wide variety of denominations.

     Internationally recognized as a leading NT textual critic, Metzger was arguably the greatest textual specialist and biblical translator America has produced. Among his many publications, pride of place belongs to his trilogy on the text, versions, and canon of the NT. Most widely influential is his handbook on The Text of the New Testament (1964; translations include German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian, and Russian; 3d, enl. ed. 1992; 4th ed. with Bart Ehrman, 2005), from which multiple generations of textual critics learned their craft. It presented (in a genuinely balanced and pedagogically useful form) the essentials of what would later be termed "reasoned eclecticism," the dominant approach in the discipline today (his influence with regard to methodology was extended even more widely by A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament). Without rival in the field, and an outstanding example of Metzger's wide-ranging and encyclopedic knowledge, is his Early Versions of the New Testament (1977), which surveys not only the expected major versions, but also many minor ones (e.g., Thracian and Sogdian). The Canon of the New Testament (1987) combines careful and erudite attention to historical matters with a concern for theological questions and implications — another typically Metzgerian characteristic.

     Metzger's recognition as a leading NT textual critic is due also to his influential role as a member of the editorial committee responsible initially for The Greek New Testament and later for the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, and also his involvement in, and leadership of, the International Greek New Testament Project (1948-1984).

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     Michael Holmes

Parents Need To Get Serious About Saving The Next Generation From Internet Addiction

By Gracy Olmstead 8/9/2017

     Jean M. Twenge’s Atlantic article about American teens’ technology obsession, entitled “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”, examines the profound—and deleterious—impact that smartphones and social media have had on our nation’s youth.

     Twenge, who has worked in psychology for 20-plus years, chronicles her interactions with various members of the post-millennial set (which she refers to as iGen). These young people, born between 1995 and 2012, typically spend every waking (and often non-waking) moment with their phones, she reports: one girl she interviewed said “she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. ‘We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.’”

     Twenge’s past research into generational development has suggested that most generational trends and tendencies slowly grow with time: Millennials are extremely individualistic, in part because they inherited that trait from the Baby Boomers. “Characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum,” Twenge notes. “Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so.” But the iGens, she says, are radically different:

     Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

     At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

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     Gracy Olmstead is associate managing editor at The Federalist and the Thursday editor of BRIGHT, a weekly newsletter for women. Her writings can also be found at The American Conservative, The Week, Christianity Today, Acculturated, The University Bookman, and Catholic Rural Life.

Reformed Theologians Using Pagan Sources

By Mark Jones

     For Reformed Catholics, appreciation extends well beyond our Reformed heritage. It has to. For our appreciation of the Christian tradition to cease to move beyond our Reformed borders is in fact to cease to be Reformed. 1 But just how far can appreciation extend? Even to pagan sources? Yes, indeed.

     After Calvin, in the time of Protestant Scholasticism, all sorts of mistakes were made, according to the older scholarship. One such mistake was the rampant Aristotelianism that shackled the purer theology of Calvin and many of his contemporaries. This argument can only be made when one chooses to actually disregard what the primary sources say and also the fact that Aristotelian–like terms were used in the same way by Calvin and his “heirs.”

     The Reformation and Post–Reformation scholastic method was not indebted to any one thinker. To be sure, Aristotle (384–322 BCE) was helpful in relation to terms, distinctions, and logic. But the scholastic method was a great deal more than simply learning how to distinguish. Where Aristotle’s terms or distinctions could be used to explicate truth, both the Reformers and their successors made use of Aristotle. In 1554 Girolamo Zanchi lectured on Aristotle’s Physica. He published an edition of the Greek text with an introduction. 2 His own writings evince the type of help Aristotelian categories could offer for explicating the truth. 3 Aristotle has, perhaps more than any other pagan philosopher, impacted the Christian church in significant ways.

     Even before the Reformers, the medieval scholastics held to a fourfold schema of causality that is quite obviously Aristotelian. These are:

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     Rev. Dr. Mark Jones (PhD, Leiden Universiteit) has been the Minister at Faith Vancouver Church (PCA) since 2007. He is also Research Associate in the Faculty of Theology at University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. He lectures at various seminaries around the world and is currently writing a book titled, "God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God" (Crossway, 2017) and "Faith, Hope, and Love" (Crossway, 2017).

     Books by Mark Jones:

Knowing Christ
A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life
Antinomianism: Reformed Theology's Unwelcome Guest?
God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God
Faith. Hope. Love.: The Christ-Centered Way to Grow in Grace
A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ-Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin (Profiles in Reformed Spirituality)
A Christian's Pocket Guide to Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Christology by Mark Jones (20-May-2012) Paperback
Drawn into Controversie: Reformed Theological Diversity and Debates Within Seventeenth-century British Puritanism
The Ashgate Research Companion to John Owen's Theology (Ashgate Research Companions)
Why Heaven Kissed Earth: The Christology of the Puritan Reformed Orthodox Theologian, Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680) (Reformed Historical Theology)

God Gave Away the First Bride

By John Piper 8/3/2017

     Marriage is God’s doing because he personally took the dignity of being the first father to give away the bride. Genesis 2:22: “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man, he made into a woman, and brought her to the man.” He didn’t hide her and say, “find her.” He took her, perhaps in his arm — I don’t know how God did this, he’s God — and he brought her to the man.

     He had fathered her in the most profound sense. He had fathered this woman. Now his daughter is being given to a man, and he gives her. He doesn’t just leave her out there for something to happen. The majesty and beauty of marriage shines off of God, assuming the dignity himself of presenting his daughter that he specially made for this man to her himself.

     Marriage is God’s doing, not only because God created them with this design and God brought her to him, but God spoke the design of marriage into existence. The emphasis is falling here now on God speaking the design of marriage more fully than just his action reveals. Genesis 2:24: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

     Who’s talking in verse 24? The writer of Genesis is talking in verse 24. Who’s that? Jesus believes it was Moses. I have three texts written down here. What does Jesus believe about Moses writing of Scripture? Jesus believes that when Moses wrote Scripture, God spoke. Now, let me show you that so that I can go back to my point, that verse 24 is the voice of God designing marriage.

     Matthew 19:4-5 goes like this: “Jesus answered, ‘Have you not read that he, God, who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, “Therefore, man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”’”

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     John Piper Books:

Benjamin Franklin’s American Religion: A Conversation with Historian Thomas Kidd

By Albert Mohler 7/3/2017

     MOHLER: Now I want to ask you the easiest question in order to get to some things I want to really ask you and press you about, but why in the world should anyone in the year 2017 care at all what Benjamin Franklin thought about in terms of religion or held as religious beliefs?

     KIDD: Well for one thing, the question of whether America was founded as a Christian nation, our religious origins or secular origins, is one of the most hotly debated historical questions in America and American politics today. So any time we can take on the question of one of the major founders’ faith, I think it has immediate political-cultural resonance. I think that Franklin in particular presents a fascinating conundrum, because he on one hand is outspoken about his skepticism. I mean, he says in the autobiography that he’s a deist, so I mean we can take him at his word that he’s some sort of deist. But then as you go through the body of his writings, his letters, and publications, the Bible and religious concepts, theological concepts, is omnipresent in his work. And so whereas today we tend to want to say, you know, it’s either an evangelical founding where all the founding fathers are traditional believers, or it’s an entirely secular founding in which they’re all skeptical deists and almost atheists. Franklin is a perfect example of why that dichotomy is a false one.

     MOHLER: Yes, and always has been, and you know, the other thing I think, Americans often think about when someone is raised like Benjamin Franklin, is they think the Revolution and they think of history from the Revolution forward. I think one of the most interesting aspects of Benjamin Franklin is that he was a world famous man, certainly in the English speaking world, long before the Revolution was conceived, more or less, even before such thoughts seem to have emerged into public life. This was a very famous man, and in that sense an exemplar in many ways of the Enlightenment. So talk about that a bit.

     KIDD: That’s right. He is the oldest among the major revolutionaries, quite a bit older than some of the others like Madison and so forth. And he lives an enormously long life. He lives into his 80s when in the 19th century, that’s just very unusual to live that long for anyone. And so he sees a lot of changes. I mean, he grows up in a traditional Puritan family in Boston and then sees the growing diversity and public role of skepticism about traditional faith emerge. And then on a parallel track, he sees the enormous upswell of the Great Awakening in the late 1730s and 1740s and the coming of George Whitefield and the writings of Jonathan Edwards, and he’s able to observe and participate in all those trends. Now the question of the Enlightenment is just a hugely fraught topic of debate among historians about Was there an Enlightenment? What was the Enlightenment? Did Christians participate in the Enlightenment? And so forth. But I think that at least we can say that the public role of skepticism about traditional faith was more pronounced by, say, 1800 than it was in 1700, and there’s a trend towards more naturalistic understandings of various phenomenon whether, you know, a comet appears in the sky and do you intuitively say, “Well, this is a sign from God,” or “This is a meteorological phenomenon, an astronomical phenomenon.” What is your gut reaction towards those kinds of events? And Franklin is undoubtedly leading the charge in many ways towards a more naturalistic view of the world in which we inhabit. And yet Franklin almost reflexively is speaking about all these political and scientific developments that he participates in, in biblical, biblicist sorts of ways. And so it’s striking that it’s Franklin and Jefferson and Adams who are originally proposing that the National Seal of the United States be a scene from Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea. I mean, you know, we ended up with a much more, you know, not Christian kind of National Seal with e pluribus unum, but that just comes reflexively to these men of the Enlightenment because they grow up in such a deeply biblicist world and Franklin, I think, probably the most of all among the founders, does. He grow up in that deeply biblicist world of the Puritans.

     KIDD: Yes, that’s right. And and I think, you know, the story of him being asked after the Constitutional Convention, what kind of government have you created? and he says, “A republic, if you can keep it.” And if that story’s true, and it sounds like something Franklin would have said, I think part of what he has in mind there is that a republic must be sustained by morality and virtue. And this is, I mean, this is just widely assumed among of the founders that if you’re going to have a republic, that you have to have a virtuous people to sustain it or else the republic will degenerate and collapse. And so even the most skeptical among the founders—Jefferson probably is the most skeptical and strident, especially late in his life, anti-christian views and so forth; but he still says that Jesus’s moral teachings are the most sublime that the world has ever seen. And Franklin certainly shares that opinion. So I mean Franklin is over time more and more convinced, I think especially during the American Revolution, he’s so angry at the British. I mean he goes from being fairly moderate about whether America should declare independence to during the course of the Revolution he becomes just very angry at the way that the King of England is prosecuting the war and so forth and he says that for these reasons, there has to be justice, ultimately, if not in this life then in a future judgment. And so Franklin says at the end of his life very clearly that among the doctrines that he does believe in is a future judgment by God for the works that we’ve done in this life, for good or ill. And so I mean far from being this idea of an uninvolved God, God is really—and you’re right, not necessarily in a meticulous or recognizable way by providence—but that everything is going to be resolved by God in favor of divine justice.

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Albert Mohler Books:

In Praise of Cultural Christianity

By Stephen Wolfe 8/2/2017

     Cultural Christianity is frequently an object of scorn in American evangelical Christianity. Though elsewhere even atheists claim to be culturally Christian (e.g., Richard Dawkins), in the United States the term usually refers to those who identify with the Christian religion yet base their Christian identity solely on their civil and familial heritage. They are Christians only because their family, community, and nation are Christian, and their religious practices are merely social practices.

     This damning Christianity has come under fire by many prominent evangelicals, notably Russell Moore, the current president of the ERLC. At first glance, the criticism seems to be directed at the cultural phenomenon itself. That is, its direct purpose is to call cultural Christians to true faith.

     But something else is going on. The goal is not to make these social practices spiritual. Rather it is a repudiation of any political theology that could possibly produce such social practices and thereby produce such “fake” or “pretend” Christians.

     Though Moore rarely gives names or points to any particular theological tradition, he often employs the term against any form of Christian dominion over political order and cultural space. In one recording, in which he remarks on the government approval of new mosques, he says that the government privileging of Christianity makes people “pretend Christians, and sends them straight to hell.” He continued: “The answer to Islam is not government power; the answer is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The civil realm is not a proper object of Christian dominion.

     The Question of Cultural Power

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     Stephen Wolfe is a graduate student in the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University. His research interests include the American founding, modernity, aesthetics, and politics, and meaningful work. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America. You can find more of his work on his personal blog.

Oldest Biblical Text Reveals Amazing Reality About the Hebrew Bible

By Timothy W. Massaro 8/4/2017

     Biblical history has been in the news. From the genetic code of the Canaanites to ancient scrolls of the Hebrew Bible, everyone seems to be offering an evaluation of the Bible’s accuracy.

     The recent discovery of Lebanese genes descending from ancient Canaanites made headlines, as reporters misunderstood biblical texts referring to their extermination by the armies of ancient Israel. Some claimed science disproved the Bible in one fell swoop, but this interpretation of the genetic code came from people who misread the biblical story of Israel’s failure to remove the Canaanites from the Holy Land.

     However, thanks to a digital technology that was funded by Google and the U.S. National Science Foundation, another discovery bolstered scholars’ appreciation for the Hebrew Bible and its transmission.

     Using special imaging technology, an X-ray-based micro-computed tomography, a 3D version of a very old text was made readable for the first time. This scroll represents the oldest biblical text known to exist.

     The biblical scroll examined in the study was first discovered by archaeologists in 1970 at Ein Gedi, the site of an ancient Jewish community near the Dead Sea. Inside the ancient synagogue’s ark, archaeologists found lumps of scroll fragments (“Scientists Finally Read the Oldest Biblical Text Ever Found”)

Click here to read all of the article

     Timothy Massaro has lived on both coasts of the USA and many places in between. He enjoys reading, traveling, and getting away from the busyness of modern life. He has an affinity for all things J.R.R. Tolkien and currently lives in California, where he received his Master of Divinity. His biggest prayer is that the gospel in all its beauty might re-kindle a wonder and joy of God’s goodness in our hearts.

People Want a Story

By Timothy W. Massaro 7/10/2016

     Why do people like movies, shows, and a good story? There is always some blockbuster to see in the theaters. We all binge-watch a whole season on Netflix or Amazon Prime—myself included! The desire for a story in which we can lose ourselves is insatiable. Besides losing a night’s sleep to a season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is this desire for stories such a bad thing? Well, yes and no.

     The love of stories is merely human. We enjoy a good story because we inherently see meaning and value through the lens of stories. Yet, all stories are not created equal. Some stories empower the oppressors and continue the lies that harm others. Other stories are freeing and liberating, but untrue. Very rarely do we find a story that is true and good. When we do stumble upon such a story in the news or on Netflix, we often find it unbelievable. Yet, it is such a story that we all long for. We long for justice and mercy. We long for the true fairy-tale ending of “happy ever after.”

     Many people are beginning to recognize that programs and to-do lists are not enough in life. We all long for meaning and purpose to guide our callings and jobs. We want vocations that have meaning, that change lives, and that serve some higher purpose.

     People are often going through life just waiting to be told a different story. The question is: where do we go for such a story? If all stories are not equally good, true, or beautiful, what is our standard? Where do we look?

     Thankfully, God has not left us alone but has given us his Word and Spirit to guide us into the truth. We exist in the place where God’s story enmeshes our own, bursts from the pages of Scripture, and enfolds us into it. It is when we hear God’s unfolding story of grace that we are actually renewed. This true story is more dramatic than we could have imagined and yet more merciful and gracious than we could hope. This story of grace is not something that anyone could have made up, nor is it something that can be created on Wall Street or in the White House. It is truer than what we see on the news or read in our Buzzfeed.

Click here to read all of the article

     Timothy Massaro has lived on both coasts of the USA and many places in between. He enjoys reading, traveling, and getting away from the busyness of modern life. He has an affinity for all things J.R.R. Tolkien and currently lives in California, where he received his Master of Divinity. His biggest prayer is that the gospel in all its beauty might re-kindle a wonder and joy of God’s goodness in our hearts.

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#2 Nick Carter & Daniel Lehmann   Andover Newton Theological School


#3 Nick Carter & Daniel Lehmann   Andover Newton Theological School


  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The torpedo-bomber he flew was hit by anti-aircraft fire while making a run over Bonin Island, 600 miles south of Japan. He headed out to sea and ejected from his burning plane this day, September 2, 1944, and was rescued by a submarine. Receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, he graduated from Yale, became successful in the Texas oil industry and entered politics, eventually becoming America’s 41st President. His name: George Bush, who began his Inaugural Address: “My first act as President is a prayer. I ask you to bow your heads.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

     To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things.
     The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.
     But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depths of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge.
     To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.
--- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There are two great days in a person's life --
the day we are born
and the day we discover why.
--- William Barclay

The mark of the godly man is he likes to change. The mark of the godly man is he says, ‘Lord, show me where I should change, and I’ll do it. Show me where I should obey, even where it’s hard, and I’ll do it.
--- Timothy Keller

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     11. By these motives Ananus encouraged the multitude to go against the zealots, although he knew how difficult it would be to disperse them, because of their multitude, and their youth, and the courage of their souls; but chiefly because of their consciousness of what they had done, since they would not yield, as not so much as hoping for pardon at the last for those their enormities. However, Ananus resolved to undergo whatever sufferings might come upon him, rather than overlook things, now they were in such great confusion. So the multitude cried out to him, to lead them on against those whom he had described in his exhortation to them, and every one of them was most readily disposed to run any hazard whatsoever on that account.

     12. Now while Ananus was choosing out his men, and putting those that were proper for his purpose in array for fighting, the zealots got information of his undertaking, [for there were some who went to them, and told them all that the people were doing,] and were irritated at it, and leaping out of the temple in crowds, and by parties, spared none whom they met with. Upon this Ananus got the populace together on the sudden, who were more numerous indeed than the zealots, but inferior to them in arms, because they had not been regularly put into array for fighting; but the alacrity that every body showed supplied all their defects on both sides, the citizens taking up so great a passion as was stronger than arms, and deriving a degree of courage from the temple more forcible than any multitude whatsoever; and indeed these citizens thought it was not possible for them to dwell in the city, unless they could cut off the robbers that were in it. The zealots also thought that unless they prevailed, there would be no punishment so bad but it would be inflicted on them. So their conflicts were conducted by their passions; and at the first they only cast stones at each other in the city, and before the temple, and threw their javelins at a distance; but when either of them were too hard for the other, they made use of their swords; and great slaughter was made on both sides, and a great number were wounded. As for the dead bodies of the people, their relations carried them out to their own houses; but when any of the zealots were wounded, he went up into the temple, and defiled that sacred floor with his blood, insomuch that one may say it was their blood alone that polluted our sanctuary. Now in these conflicts the robbers always sallied out of the temple, and were too hard for their enemies; but the populace grew very angry, and became more and more numerous, and reproached those that gave back, and those behind would not afford room to those that were going off, but forced them on again, till at length they made their whole body to turn against their adversaries, and the robbers could no longer oppose them, but were forced gradually to retire into the temple; when Ananus and his party fell into it at the same time together with them. 7 This horribly affrighted the robbers, because it deprived them of the first court; so they fled into the inner court immediately, and shut the gates. Now Ananus did not think fit to make any attack against the holy gates, although the other threw their stones and darts at them from above. He also deemed it unlawful to introduce the multitude into that court before they were purified; he therefore chose out of them all by lot six thousand armed men, and placed them as guards in the cloisters; so there was a succession of such guards one after another, and every one was forced to attend in his course; although many of the chief of the city were dismissed by those that then took on them the government, upon their hiring some of the poorer sort, and sending them to keep the guard in their stead.

     13. Now it was John who, as we told you, ran away from Gischala, and was the occasion of all these being destroyed. He was a man of great craft, and bore about him in his soul a strong passion after tyranny, and at a distance was the adviser in these actions; and indeed at this time he pretended to be of the people's opinion, and went all about with Ananus when he consulted the great men every day, and in the night time also when he went round the watch; but he divulged their secrets to the zealots, and every thing that the people deliberated about was by his means known to their enemies, even before it had been well agreed upon by themselves. And by way of contrivance how he might not be brought into suspicion, he cultivated the greatest friendship possible with Ananus, and with the chief of the people; yet did this overdoing of his turn against him, for he flattered them so extravagantly, that he was but the more suspected; and his constant attendance every where, even when he was not invited to be present, made him strongly suspected of betraying their secrets to the enemy; for they plainly perceived that they understood all the resolutions taken against them at their consultations. Nor was there any one whom they had so much reason to suspect of that discovery as this John; yet was it not easy to get quit of him, so potent was he grown by his wicked practices. He was also supported by many of those eminent men, who were to be consulted upon all considerable affairs; it was therefore thought reasonable to oblige him to give them assurance of his good-will upon oath; accordingly John took such an oath readily, that he would be on the people's side, and would not betray any of their counsels or practices to their enemies, and would assist them in overthrowing those that attacked them, and that both by his hand and his advice. So Ananus and his party believed his oath, and did now receive him to their consultations without further suspicion; nay, so far did they believe him, that they sent him as their ambassador into the temple to the zealots, with proposals of accommodation; for they were very desirous to avoid the pollution of the temple as much as they possibly could, and that no one of their nation should be slain therein.

     14. But now this John, as if his oath had been made to the zealots, and for confirmation of his good-will to them, and not against them, went into the temple, and stood in the midst of them, and spake as follows: That he had run many hazards on their accounts, and in order to let them know of every thing that was secretly contrived against them by Ananus and his party; but that both he and they should be cast into the most imminent danger, unless some providential assistance were afforded them; for that Ananus made no longer delay, but had prevailed with the people to send ambassadors to Vespasian, to invite him to come presently and take the city; and that he had appointed a fast for the next day against them, that they might obtain admission into the temple on a religious account, or gain it by force, and fight with them there; that he did not see how long they could either endure a siege, or how they could fight against so many enemies. He added further, that it was by the providence of God he was himself sent as an ambassador to them for an accommodation; for that Artanus did therefore offer them such proposals, that he might come upon them when they were unarmed; that they ought to choose one of these two methods, either to intercede with those that guarded them, to save their lives, or to provide some foreign assistance for themselves; that if they fostered themselves with the hopes of pardon, in case they were subdued, they had forgotten what desperate things they had done, or could suppose, that as soon as the actors repented, those that had suffered by them must be presently reconciled to them; while those that have done injuries, though they pretend to repent of them, are frequently hated by the others for that sort of repentance; and that the sufferers, when they get the power into their hands, are usually still more severe upon the actors; that the friends and kindred of those that had been destroyed would always be laying plots against them; and that a large body of people were very angry on account of their gross breaches of their laws, and [illegal] judicatures, insomuch that although some part might commiserate them, those would be quite overborne by the majority.

     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 24:3-4
     by D.H. Stern

3     By wisdom a house is built,
     by understanding it is made secure,
4     and by knowledge its rooms are filled
     with all kinds of costly and pleasant possessions.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The sacrament of sacrifice

     He that believeth in Me, … out of him shall flow.…
--- John 7:38

     Jesus did not say—‘he that believeth in Me shall realize the blessing of the fullness of God,’ but—‘he that believeth in Me, out of him shall escape everything he receives.’ Our Lord’s teaching is always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a man; His purpose is to make a man exactly like Himself, and the characteristic of the Son of God is self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain, but what He pours through us that counts. It is not that God makes us beautifully rounded grapes, but that He squeezes the sweetness out of us. Spiritually, we cannot measure our life by success, but only by what God pours through us, and we cannot measure that at all.

     When Mary of Bethany broke the box of precious ointment and poured it on Jesus’ head, it was an act for which no one else saw any occasion; the disciples said it was a waste. But Jesus commended Mary for her extravagant act of devotion, and said that wherever His Gospel was preached
“this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Our Lord is carried beyond Himself with joy when He sees any of us doing what Mary did, not being set on this or that economy, but being abandoned to Him. God spilt the life of His Son that the world might be saved; are we prepared to spill out our lives for Him?

“He that believeth in Me out of him shall flow rivers of living water,” that is, hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. It is time now to break the life, to cease craving for satisfaction, and to spill the thing out. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him?

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Letter (Poetry for Supper)
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                The Letter (Poetry for Supper)

And to be able to put at the end
Of the letter Athens, Florence--
     some name
That the spirit recalls
     from earlier journeys
Through the dark wood,
     seeking the path
To the bright mansions;
     cities and towns
Where the soul
     added depth to its stature.

And not to worry about the date,
The words being timeless, concerned with truth,
Beauty, love, misery even,
Which has its seasons
     in the long growth
From seed to flesh, flesh to spirit.

And laying aside the pen, dipped
Not in tears' volatile liquid
But in black ink of the heart's well,
To read again
     what the hand has written
To the many voices' quiet dictation.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Divorce and Remarriage
     by Scott McKnight

     Let's look at some examples -- some of them quite messy -- and we will learn about the unstated principle of discernment at work in the church.

     Let me make five quick observations to get in our minds what we mean by discernment in divorce and remarriage. First, Jesus was against divorce, as is clear from Mark 10:11-12: "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

     Second, on another occasion Jesus "discerned" there is, in fact, an exception -- sexual immorality. Look at Matthew 5:32: "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to become an adulterous, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery" (emphasis added). Now we've got clarity: divorce is wrong except in the case of sexual immorality.

     Third, the apostle Paul encountered a new situation in which he had to discern how the teachings of Jesus could be lived out when a non-Christian spouse deserted a Christian Spouse. Was divorce also permissible for this situation? In I Corinthians 7, Paul discerned it was permissible. Paul knew precisely what he was doing -- adding to what Jesus had taught. In 7:12 he says: "To the rest I say this (1, not the Lord)." What did he discern? "But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace" (7:15).

     True to Jesus, Paul is not looking for exceptions. He prefers that husband and wife stay together because the Christian might "save" the partner (7:16). But, if the nonbeliever deserts, Paul discerns divorce is permissible, and he does so because we are called "to live in peace; which probably means Paul wants the Christians not to be disruptive in society.

     Now the fourth point: churches are called to enact similar discernments today, and long, hard, prayerful sessions have been directed at discerning whether abuse and desertion and immaturities are permissible grounds for divorce even among Christians. This is the messy part. No one says it is easy, but we have the following confidences: the guidance of the Spirit is promised us as we pray, as we study Scripture, and as we join in the conversation with church tradition. It would be much easier for God to have given us rules and regulations for everything. But God, in his wisdom, has chosen not to do that. Discernment is an element of what it means to walk by faith.

     Fifth, I believe our discernments should never become rules or laws. The moment we turn our discernments into rules or the moment we elevate them to the level of official positions, they are headed in the direction of fossilization, inflexibility, and the near impossibility of rethinking, renewing, and reforming. We'll soon have a Lucca wall around our Bible. Instead, we need to render discernments with all the wisdom we can muster and let them remain as discernments and judgments.

     In our discussion of examples below we will find some patterns at work in our discernment, but these are not rules we apply; rather, they are discernments. I am nervous about anyone who thinks we can find a mechanism that will guide our path. Instead, we need attentiveness to the Spirit as we read the Bible together and to the guiding of the Spirit.

     I accept the reality that churches already disagree over discernments. I also accept the reality that the process will be difficult. And I accept the reality that even within a church where a sensitive process of discernment has been followed, there will be folks who disagree. That's the way it is, and it is also the way the church has always read the Bible. Longing for a day of certainty in this life may propel us into deeper discussions and the search for greater unity, but certainty and unanimity in discernment are not the world in which we live.

     What the New Testament trajectory teaches us about divorce and remarriage is the need to remain firmly committed to marriage while permitting divorce in cases where the marital covenant has been destroyed. The pattern is to discern the underlying reason for the fractured relationship and then to judge if that reason is acceptable.

The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible

1 Cor 9:1-2

     This is such an interesting statement. Seal is such an important concept in Scripture. My hope and my confidence, for instance, is that God has sealed me not only with, but in the Holy Spirit, according to the words of Jesus. Note the relationship part, you in me as I am in the Father. Books have been written not only on the idea of validity and genuineness, but also the idea of relationship and intimacy. Now apply it to Paul and his audience and remember that we are part of that audience.

     This is powerful with powerful implications. I do not believe it is about keeping a list of do’s and don’ts because that means we are in control. As I keep saying, when all is said and done our choice is to react or respond to who and what we experience. We do not control the experiences we encounter except as a result of previous choices. There are some who say we don’t even have that, we are only biological and our choices have no eternal accountability. I don’t believe that, but can we at least agree that the choices our ancestors made affected future generations, just as our decisions will impact those who follow us; family, friends and strangers?

     God knows those who choose God despite their poor choices in relationships, career, life. God also knows those who do mighty works in God’s name, wear a pious countenance, keep the rules and damn those who don’t. Often these people have no relationship with God at all. David screwed up over and over, but the man loved God. He was in relationship.

     I am not promoting license, but relationship. It is not an either or choice. If we are in relationship our inner compass is set for God and as someone wrote, we lean into God, despite our mistakes. I believe God will bring us home; broken, burned, wounded and scarred if we make poor choices, but home none the less.

     I love the metaphor Randy Stevens explained to Lily and I one night in our home in Wennatchee, WA. He said we are tossed about in a storm at sea, but through the dark clouds we see a light. We are drawn to the light through the deep waves. It is our only hope. As we near land there are rocks, disaster all about us, but the light, the harbor light, the lighthouse guides us safely through every danger. As long as we keep our eyes on that light God will bring us home.

     If our eyes and hearts remain fixed on the Lord, God will wean us off those things that hurt us and hurt others. In as much as our understanding is opened to what Paul is saying and we respond, take heart and believe these words of Paul.

The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Pr 14:24–25). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Many young folks get this ..

     Why do so many young people seem to get this? Why have so many of us older folks lost our idealism, passion, perspective, and vision? Those of us who have failed to hold mercy and justice in tension; who have failed to stay in the middle of the path, who have wondered where we don't belong, carry the baggage, the wounds, the scars of our foolishness, arrogance and carelessness.

     Have you seen the commercial where the lady speaks through a hole in her throat and says, “This is because I smoked?” We may be forgiven, but the consequences of our actions will find us all. Why make it worse by throwing a rock at someone else.

     Before we look at the life style, tattoos, piercings of another we need to stop and look back at the path we’ve taken. Note the potholes we failed to avoid, the words we wished we’d never said, and the people we have hurt. Surely we have done enough.

     Love covers a multitude of sins and we have much that needs to be covered. Maybe we should see others as the people God wants them to be, instead of the people we think they are. Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” I need to remember that. God has given me and you a mandate, but God did NOT give me a measuring stick, a plumb line, a law book to judge others. Did God give these to you?

RickAdams7 The Jesus I Know

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Numbers 7:42–43

     A person lights one candle from another: The candle is lit while the other is not diminished.

Numbers 7:42–43 / On the sixth day, it was the chieftain of the Gadites, Eliasaph son of Deuel. His offering: one silver bowl weighing 130 shekels and one silver basin of 70 shekels by the sanctuary weight, both filled with choice flour with oil mixed in, for a meal offering.…

     MIDRASH TEXT / Numbers Rabbah 13, 20 / One silver basin. This is Moses who was thrown into the Nile. Another interpretation: He was thrown out of Egypt, as it says, “Moses fled …” [Exodus 2:15].

     70 shekels by the sanctuary weight. These are the seventy elders, all of whom Moses counted as prophets from what the Holy One, praised is He, said to him, “Then you shall go with the elders of Israel to the king …” [Exodus 3:18]. And it similarly says, “Gather for Me seventy of Israel’s elders …” [Numbers 11:16].

     Both filled with choice flour with oil mixed in for a meal offering. He and they were all filled with the holy spirit, and they were filled with the holy spirit from Moses, and Moses was not diminished at all. A person lights one candle from another: The candle is lit while the other is not diminished. A person who smells an etrog benefits and the etrog is not diminished at all.

     CONTEXT / The biblical text from
Numbers 7 describes the dedication of the mishkan, the portable sanctuary also called the Tabernacle, which the Israelites carried with them during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. On each day for twelve days, a chieftain of one of the twelve tribes brought gifts as part of the dedication ceremony. The chieftain from the tribe of Gad was Eliasaph son of Deuel. On the sixth day of the twelve-day dedication ceremony, his gift—like that of the other chieftains—was a silver bowl weighing 130 shekels (probably used for dry ingredients, such as flour) and one silver basin weighing 70 shekels (for holding liquid libations and blood). The Hebrew idiom that is translated as “by the sanctuary weight” literally means “by the holy shekel.” The shekel is a weight, and the “holy weight” would be the weight that was used for holy purposes in the Tabernacle. In modern Israel, a shekel is a coin. The word shekel comes from the Hebrew root ש־ק־ל/sh-k-l, meaning “to weigh.”

     This is Moses who was thrown into the Nile. Another interpretation: He was thrown out of Egypt.… What does one silver basin offered as a gift by the chieftain of the Gadites have to do with Moses being thrown into the Nile or banished from Egypt? This Midrash finds a connection between two similar Hebrew words: מִזְרָק/mizrak, “basin,” and זָרַק/zarak, “to throw.” (The word מִזְרָק/mizrak, “basin,” comes from the Hebrew root “to throw”; potters speak of “throwing” a clay vessel on the potter’s wheel.)

     Moses was thus presented with a gift that was reminiscent of his having been thrown into the Nile when he was an infant, since Pharaoh had ordered the death of every male Israelite baby. According to another interpretation, the basin was a reminder of when he was thrown out of Egypt. When Moses saved the life of an Israelite and killed the Egyptian taskmaster, Pharaoh sought to kill Moses, who fled, or was thrown out of, Egypt (Exodus 2:15).

     On a deeper level, the Rabbis seem to be providing an answer to the unasked question: What is the point of all the details that are mentioned in a particular ritual? In performing a religious act, can’t we just do as our hearts tell us? Why all the concern about the specific kind of material and the exact weight and measure of an offering?

     The answer of the Rabbis here seems to be: There is great significance in the details. They are each an allegorical reminder of some event in our history:

•     Silver (כֶּסֶף/kesef) connects us to the longing (כִּסּוּפִין/kisufin) of Moses’ parents for each other during the oppression.

•     130 shekels is an allusion to the number of years from the descent to Egypt by the Israelites until the birth of Moses, according to one reckoning.

•     One אַחַת/aḥat (silver basin) is a word-play reminder of Miriam, the אַחוֹת/aḥot (sister) who saved Moses.

•     70 is not just the weight of the basin, but also a hint of the 70 elders whom Moses was told by God to appoint over the Israelites (Numbers 11).

     Rituals are seen not simply as obligations we have to God, with a plethora of meaningless or arbitrary requirements. Rather, they are a means by which we focus on our history; rituals are a reminder of who we are as a people and where we have been. By paying careful attention to the details, we not only connect to God; we reconnect to our people and to our past.

     He and they were all filled with the holy spirit.… In Chapter 11 of the Book of Numbers, we read once again of the complaints of the Israelites concerning their conditions in the wilderness—this time over the manna. Moses cannot control his anger and tells God: “I cannot carry all this people by myself, for it is too much for me”
(Numbers 11:14). God responds by telling Moses to gather seventy elders from among the people: “… I will draw upon the spirit that is on you and put it upon them; they shall share the burden of the people with you, and you shall not bear it alone” (Numbers 11:17).

     The unarticulated question that the Rabbis are responding to is this: Did Moses lose any of his power, or any of his godly spirit, when God invested the seventy elders with that same spirit? The answer is a resounding “No!” But how did the Rabbis know this? From two sources. First, the literary one. The words both filled in the Torah text clearly refer to the bowl and the basin that the chieftain of the Gadites brought as a gift. But to the Rabbis, the words have a secondary meaning: Both Moses and the seventy elders were filled with the spirit of God. Moses lost nothing in sharing that spirit with the elders.

     A person lights one candle from another.… A person who smells an etrog [citron] benefits and the etrog is not diminished at all. The second proof comes from everyday experience: a candle that lights another retains its flame; an etrog gives off fragrance yet still maintains its pleasing smell.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     September 2

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

     In all the great experiences of the soul, none is greater than genuine conversion, and it recreates the faculty of wonder.(The Afterglow Of God:
Sunday Evenings In A Glasgow Pulpit (1912)
)That is how the rod of God is sometimes sweet and blessed as the dew. It touches the dusty lanes of life, and they sparkle as on a Morning in the May time. The world is never more beautiful or fresh, nor life more wonderful, nor loved ones dearer than after a season when the sky was darkened and we thought that everything was over.

     The Gospel, steadily and surely, has deepened the sense of wonder in humankind.

     Our Christian faith has added to the mystery of everything. There is not a common word that we can use—sin, life, death, love, or duty—but has become a thousand times more awful since Jesus moved across the fields of Galilee. For the pagan, life was a brief journey; for the Christian, it is the prelude to eternity. For the pagan, death was a forgetting; for the Christian, it is heaven or it is hell. For the old pagan, sin was folly; for the Christian, sin is an infinitely guilty thing in the eyes of a holy God. It is a religion of joy and peace and power. And yet at the heart of a peace too deep for words is a mystery that humankind can never fathom. In the presence of a mystery like that, one can only wonder. We must cease speaking, we must bow. We must say to our hearts, Keep silence before God. And that is what the faith of Christ has done and is doing. It has recreated wonder by the mystery that it has found in common words like sin and life and death and love and duty.

     Our Christian faith has shown us love at the heart of everything. And wherever love is, whether in heaven or earth, wonder is never far away. That little child asleep in its mother’s arms is an ordinary little mortal. But to its mother, it is a wonderful child because she loves it so. And so with Christ—once we have learned to love him and to experience his love to us, there falls a newness of wonder on everything. I know that God is power—but he may be power and still leave me cold. I know that God is justice—and yet infinite justice can never win my heart. God is love, the world is made in love, and every touch of his hand on me is love—and immediately I cry in adoration, “He will be called Wonderful!”
--- George H. Morrison

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

On This Day
     Find a Verse and Put Your Name in It
     September 2

     Educating missionary children is exciting and exacting. On one hand, few people are more fortunate than missionary kids. They grow up as internationals with the world their home. They roam across Europe or explore Africa as easily as other children go around the block. On the other hand, many missions settings do not offer adequate schooling or needed interaction with other youth.

     Ruth Bell Graham vividly remembers September 2, 1933. She was 13. Her father, a missionary surgeon in China, and her mother were sending her to boarding school in what is now Pyongyang, North Korea. For Ruth it was a brutal parting, and she earnestly prayed she would die before Morning. But dawn came, her prayers unanswered, she gripped her bags and trudged toward the riverfront. She was leaving all that was loved and familiar: her parents, her Chinese friends, the missionaries, her home, her memories. The Nagasaki Maru carried her down the Whangpoo River into the Yangtze River and on to the East China Sea.

     A week later waves of homesickness pounded her like a churning surf. Ruth kept busy by day, but Evenings were harder, and she would bury her head in her pillow and cry herself to sleep, night after night, week after week. She fell ill, and in the infirmary she read through the Psalms, finding comfort in Psalm 27:10—Even if my father and mother should desert me, you will take care of me.

     Still, the hurt and fear and doubt persisted. Finally, she went to her sister Rosa, also enrolled in Pyongyang. “I don’t know what to tell you to do,” Rosa replied matter-of-factly, “unless you take some verse and put your own name in it. See if that helps.” Ruth picked up her Bible and turned to a favorite chapter,Isaiah 53, and put her name in it: “He was wounded and crushed because of Ruth’s sins; by taking Ruth’s punishment, he made Ruth completely well.”

     Her heart leaped, and the healing began.

     Has anyone believed us or seen the mighty power
     Of the LORD in action?
     Like a young plant or a root that sprouts in dry ground,
     The servant grew up obeying the Lord.
     By taking our punishment, he made us completely well.
     Isaiah 53:1,2a,5b

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 2

     “But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.” --- Mark 1:30.

     Very interesting is this little peep into the house of the Apostolic Fisherman. We see at once that household joys and cares are no hindrance to the full exercise of ministry, nay, that since they furnish an opportunity for personally witnessing the Lord’s gracious work upon one’s own flesh and blood, they may even instruct the teacher better than any other earthly discipline. Papists and other sectaries may decry marriage, but true Christianity and household life agree well together. Peter’s house was probably a poor fisherman’s hut, but the Lord of Glory entered it, lodged in it, and wrought a miracle in it. Should our little book be read this Morning in some very humble cottage, let this fact encourage the inmates to seek the company of King Jesus. God is oftener in little huts than in rich palaces. Jesus is looking round your room now, and is waiting to be gracious to you. Into Simon’s house sickness had entered, fever in a deadly form had prostrated his mother-in-law, and as soon as Jesus came they told him of the sad affliction, and he hastened to the patient’s bed. Have you any sickness in the house this Morning? You will find Jesus by far the best physician, go to him at once and tell him all about the matter. Immediately lay the case before him. It concerns one of his people, and therefore will not be trivial to him. Observe, that at once the Saviour restored the sick woman; none can heal as he does. We may not make sure that the Lord will at once remove all disease from those we love, but we may know that believing prayer for the sick is far more likely to be followed by restoration than anything else in the world; and where this avails not, we must meekly bow to his will by whom life and death are determined. The tender heart of Jesus waits to hear our griefs, let us pour them into his patient ear.

          Evening - September 2

“Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”
--- John 4:48.

     A craving after marvels was a symptom of the sickly state of men’s minds in our Lord’s day; they refused solid nourishment, and pined after mere wonder. The Gospel which they so greatly needed they would not have; the miracles which Jesus did not always choose to give they eagerly demanded. Many nowadays must see signs and wonders, or they will not believe. Some have said in their heart, “I must feel deep horror of soul, or I never will believe in Jesus.” But what if you never should feel it, as probably you never may? Will you go to hell out of spite against God, because he will not treat you like another? One has said to himself, “If I had a dream, or if I could feel a sudden shock of I know not what, then I would believe.” Thus you undeserving mortals dream that my Lord is to be dictated to by you! You are beggars at his gate, asking for mercy, and you must needs draw up rules and regulations as to how he shall give that mercy.

     Think you that he will submit to this? My Master is of a generous spirit, but he has a right royal heart, he spurns all dictation, and maintains his sovereignty of action. Why, dear reader, if such be your case, do you crave for signs and wonders? Is not the Gospel its own sign and wonder? Is not this a miracle of miracles, that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish”? Surely that precious word, “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely” and that solemn promise, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out,” are better than signs and wonders! A truthful Saviour ought to be believed. He is truth itself. Why will you ask proof of the veracity of One who cannot lie? The devils themselves declared him to be the Son of God; will you mistrust him?

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

Amazing Grace
     September 2


     Timothy Dwight, 1752–1817

     And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24, 25)

     God honored the tears, prayers, and work of the distinguished president of Yale University, Timothy Dwight, to bring to that campus in 1795 a startling spiritual revival. It soon spread to other nearby universities as well. Prior to his administration, most of the students at Yale and other eastern schools had been infected with the “free thought” of Thomas Paine, Rousseau, and the French Revolution.

     Timothy Dwight, grandson of the brilliant and powerful American preacher, Jonathan Edwards, was an unusually successful and distinguished person in many areas. A graduate of Yale University at 17, he was a chaplain in the American Revolution, a Congregational minister, a prosperous farmer, a member of the Connecticut state legislature, a faculty member at Yale and eventually president of the university. Timothy Dwight also wrote a number of scholarly books, authored thirty-three hymn texts, and revised the hymnbook used by New England Congregational and Presbyterian churches for 30 years.

     In Dwight’s text, the term kingdom suggests three different levels of Christ’s church:

•     The Church Personal— “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
•     The Church Local— individual congregations (Matthew 11:28, 29)
•     The Church Universal— believers of every age, race and culture (Revelation 7:9)

     The kingdom of God is a living body, not merely an organization. Its purpose is to extend Christ’s influence, build up the members of His body, and glorify His name. The promise of Christ is that nothing, not even the gates of hell, will ever triumph over His Church (Matthew 16:18).

     I love Thy kingdom, Lord! The house of Thine abode—The Church our blest Redeemer saved with His own precious blood.
     I love Thy Church, O God! Her walls before Thee stand, dear as the apple of Thine eye and graven on Thy hand.
     Beyond my highest joy I prize her heav’nly ways—Her sweet communion, solemn vows, her hymns of love and praise.
     Sure as Thy truth shall last, to Zion shall be giv’n the brightest glories earth can yield, and brighter bliss of heav’n.

     For Today: Matthew 16:15–18; Ephesians 2:19, 21, 22; 5:23–27

     Ask yourself if you are as joyful and enthusiastic about Christ’s kingdom and its mission on earth as you should be. Allow this hymn to renew your vision ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, September 2, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 16, Saturday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 20, 21:1–7 (8–13)
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 110:1–5 (6–7) 116, 117
Old Testament     1 Kings 7:51–8:21
New Testament     Acts 28:17–31
Gospel     Mark 14:43–52

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 20, 21:1–7 (8–13)

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your offerings,
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices.     Selah

4 May he grant you your heart’s desire,
and fulfill all your plans.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory,
and in the name of our God set up our banners.
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with mighty victories by his right hand.
7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They will collapse and fall,
but we shall rise and stand upright.

9 Give victory to the king, O LORD;
answer us when we call.

1 In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD,
and in your help how greatly he exults!
2 You have given him his heart’s desire,
and have not withheld the request of his lips.     Selah
3 For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life; you gave it to him—
length of days forever and ever.
5 His glory is great through your help;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6 You bestow on him blessings forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

[     8 Your hand will find out all your enemies;
your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9 You will make them like a fiery furnace
when you appear.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their offspring from the earth,
and their children from among humankind.
11 If they plan evil against you,
if they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 For you will put them to flight;
you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!
We will sing and praise your power.     ]

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 110:1–5 (6–7) 116, 117

1 The LORD says to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The LORD sends out from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your foes.
3 Your people will offer themselves willingly
on the day you lead your forces
on the holy mountains.
From the womb of the morning,
like dew, your youth will come to you.
4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.

[     6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter heads
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the stream by the path;
therefore he will lift up his head.     ]

1 I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, save my life!”

5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6 The LORD protects the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest,
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9 I walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
10 I kept my faith, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my consternation,
“Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the LORD
for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
16 O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!

1 Praise the LORD, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
1 Kings 7:51–8:21

51 Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the LORD was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD.

8 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2 All the people of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests carried the ark. 4 So they brought up the ark of the LORD, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. 5 King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. 6 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 7 For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. 8 The poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

12 Then Solomon said,

     “The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.
13     I have built you an exalted house,
     a place for you to dwell in forever.”

14 Then the king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 15 He said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David, saying, 16 ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any of the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ 17 My father David had it in mind to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 18 But the LORD said to my father David, ‘You did well to consider building a house for my name; 19 nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 20 Now the LORD has upheld the promise that he made; for I have risen in the place of my father David; I sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 21 There I have provided a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

New Testament
Acts 28:17–31

17 Three days later he called together the local leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, yet I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, the Romans wanted to release me, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to the emperor—even though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason therefore I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is for the sake of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” 21 They replied, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken anything evil about you. 22 But we would like to hear from you what you think, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

23 After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets. 24 Some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe. 25 So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul made one further statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah,

26     ‘Go to this people and say,
     You will indeed listen, but never understand,
     and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
27     For this people’s heart has grown dull,
     and their ears are hard of hearing,
     and they have shut their eyes;
     so that they might not look with their eyes,
     and listen with their ears,
     and understand with their heart and turn—
     and I would heal them.’

28 Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Mark 14:43–52

43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48 Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 All of them deserted him and fled.

51 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

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

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Psalms, L24 Messianic Psalms, 16, Part 1
Dr. Bruce Waltke