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9/22/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     1 Chronicles  25 - 27


1 Chronicles 25

David Organizes the Musicians

1 Chronicles 25 1 David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was: 2 Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah, sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king. 3 Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the LORD. 4 Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth. 5 All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him, for God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. 6 They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king. 7 The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the LORD, all who were skillful, was 288. 8 And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.

9 The first lot fell for Asaph to Joseph; the second to Gedaliah, to him and his brothers and his sons, twelve; 10 the third to Zaccur, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 11 the fourth to Izri, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 12 the fifth to Nethaniah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 13 the sixth to Bukkiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 14 the seventh to Jesharelah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 15 the eighth to Jeshaiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 16 the ninth to Mattaniah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 17 the tenth to Shimei, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 18 the eleventh to Azarel, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 19 the twelfth to Hashabiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 20 to the thirteenth, Shubael, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 21 to the fourteenth, Mattithiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 22 to the fifteenth, to Jeremoth, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 23 to the sixteenth, to Hananiah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 24 to the seventeenth, to Joshbekashah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 25 to the eighteenth, to Hanani, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 26 to the nineteenth, to Mallothi, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 27 to the twentieth, to Eliathah, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 28 to the twenty-first, to Hothir, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 29 to the twenty-second, to Giddalti, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 30 to the twenty-third, to Mahazioth, his sons and his brothers, twelve; 31 to the twenty-fourth, to Romamti-ezer, his sons and his brothers, twelve.


1 Chronicles 26

Divisions of the Gatekeepers

1 Chronicles 26 1 As for the divisions of the gatekeepers: of the Korahites, Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. 2 And Meshelemiah had sons: Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, 3 Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Eliehoenai the seventh. 4 And Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sachar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, 5 Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peullethai the eighth, for God blessed him. 6 Also to his son Shemaiah were sons born who were rulers in their fathers’ houses, for they were men of great ability. 7 The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, Rephael, Obed and Elzabad, whose brothers were able men, Elihu and Semachiah. 8 All these were of the sons of Obed-edom with their sons and brothers, able men qualified for the service; sixty-two of Obed-edom. 9 And Meshelemiah had sons and brothers, able men, eighteen. 10 And Hosah, of the sons of Merari, had sons: Shimri the chief (for though he was not the firstborn, his father made him chief), 11 Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth: all the sons and brothers of Hosah were thirteen.

12 These divisions of the gatekeepers, corresponding to their chief men, had duties, just as their brothers did, ministering in the house of the LORD. 13 And they cast lots by fathers’ houses, small and great alike, for their gates. 14 The lot for the east fell to Shelemiah. They cast lots also for his son Zechariah, a shrewd counselor, and his lot came out for the north. 15 Obed-edom’s came out for the south, and to his sons was allotted the gatehouse. 16 For Shuppim and Hosah it came out for the west, at the gate of Shallecheth on the road that goes up. Watch corresponded to watch. 17 On the east there were six each day, on the north four each day, on the south four each day, as well as two and two at the gatehouse. 18 And for the colonnade on the west there were four at the road and two at the colonnade. 19 These were the divisions of the gatekeepers among the Korahites and the sons of Merari.

Treasurers and Other Officials

20 And of the Levites, Ahijah had charge of the treasuries of the house of God and the treasuries of the dedicated gifts. 21 The sons of Ladan, the sons of the Gershonites belonging to Ladan, the heads of the fathers’ houses belonging to Ladan the Gershonite: Jehieli.

22 The sons of Jehieli, Zetham, and Joel his brother, were in charge of the treasuries of the house of the LORD. 23 Of the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites— 24 and Shebuel the son of Gershom, son of Moses, was chief officer in charge of the treasuries. 25 His brothers: from Eliezer were his son Rehabiah, and his son Jeshaiah, and his son Joram, and his son Zichri, and his son Shelomoth. 26 This Shelomoth and his brothers were in charge of all the treasuries of the dedicated gifts that David the king and the heads of the fathers’ houses and the officers of the thousands and the hundreds and the commanders of the army had dedicated. 27 From spoil won in battles they dedicated gifts for the maintenance of the house of the LORD. 28 Also all that Samuel the seer and Saul the son of Kish and Abner the son of Ner and Joab the son of Zeruiah had dedicated—all dedicated gifts were in the care of Shelomoth and his brothers.

29 Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons were appointed to external duties for Israel, as officers and judges. 30 Of the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his brothers, 1,700 men of ability, had the oversight of Israel westward of the Jordan for all the work of the LORD and for the service of the king. 31 Of the Hebronites, Jerijah was chief of the Hebronites of whatever genealogy or fathers’ houses. (In the fortieth year of David’s reign search was made and men of great ability among them were found at Jazer in Gilead.) 32 King David appointed him and his brothers, 2,700 men of ability, heads of fathers’ houses, to have the oversight of the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of the Manassites for everything pertaining to God and for the affairs of the king.


1 Chronicles 27

Military Divisions

1 Chronicles 27 1 This is the number of the people of Israel, the heads of fathers’ houses, the commanders of thousands and hundreds, and their officers who served the king in all matters concerning the divisions that came and went, month after month throughout the year, each division numbering 24,000: 2 Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel was in charge of the first division in the first month; in his division were 24,000. 3 He was a descendant of Perez and was chief of all the commanders. He served for the first month. 4 Dodai the Ahohite was in charge of the division of the second month; in his division were 24,000. 5 The third commander, for the third month, was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the chief priest; in his division were 24,000. 6 This is the Benaiah who was a mighty man of the thirty and in command of the thirty; Ammizabad his son was in charge of his division. 7 Asahel the brother of Joab was fourth, for the fourth month, and his son Zebadiah after him; in his division were 24,000. 8 The fifth commander, for the fifth month, was Shamhuth the Izrahite; in his division were 24,000. 9 Sixth, for the sixth month, was Ira, the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite; in his division were 24,000. 10 Seventh, for the seventh month, was Helez the Pelonite, of the sons of Ephraim; in his division were 24,000. 11 Eighth, for the eighth month, was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zerahites; in his division were 24,000. 12 Ninth, for the ninth month, was Abiezer of Anathoth, a Benjaminite; in his division were 24,000. 13 Tenth, for the tenth month, was Maharai of Netophah, of the Zerahites; in his division were 24,000. 14 Eleventh, for the eleventh month, was Benaiah of Pirathon, of the sons of Ephraim; in his division were 24,000. 15 Twelfth, for the twelfth month, was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel; in his division were 24,000.

Leaders of Tribes

16 Over the tribes of Israel, for the Reubenites, Eliezer the son of Zichri was chief officer; for the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maacah; 17 for Levi, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel; for Aaron, Zadok; 18 for Judah, Elihu, one of David’s brothers; for Issachar, Omri the son of Michael; 19 for Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah; for Naphtali, Jeremoth the son of Azriel; 20 for the Ephraimites, Hoshea the son of Azaziah; for the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah; 21 for the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah; for Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner; 22 for Dan, Azarel the son of Jeroham. These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel. 23 David did not count those below twenty years of age, for the LORD had promised to make Israel as many as the stars of heaven. 24 Joab the son of Zeruiah began to count, but did not finish. Yet wrath came upon Israel for this, and the number was not entered in the chronicles of King David.

25 Over the king’s treasuries was Azmaveth the son of Adiel; and over the treasuries in the country, in the cities, in the villages, and in the towers, was Jonathan the son of Uzziah; 26 and over those who did the work of the field for tilling the soil was Ezri the son of Chelub; 27 and over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite; and over the produce of the vineyards for the wine cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite. 28 Over the olive and sycamore trees in the Shephelah was Baal-hanan the Gederite; and over the stores of oil was Joash. 29 Over the herds that pastured in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite; over the herds in the valleys was Shaphat the son of Adlai. 30 Over the camels was Obil the Ishmaelite; and over the donkeys was Jehdeiah the Meronothite. Over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagrite. 31 All these were stewards of King David’s property. 32 Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, being a man of understanding and a scribe. He and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni attended the king’s sons. 33 Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend. 34 Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar. Joab was commander of the king’s army.

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

Why Would God Punish Finite, Temporal Crimes in an Eternal Hell?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/7/2017

     I was interviewed recently on a large Los Angeles radio station about the existence of Hell. One caller objected to the duration of punishment in Hell. From his perspective, the idea our temporal, finite sin on earth warrants an eternal punishment of infinite torment in Hell was troubling, at the very least. The punishment does not seem to fit the crime; in fact, the disproportionate penalty makes God seem petty and vindictive, doesn’t it? Why would God torture infinitely those who have only sinned finitely? I think it’s important to define the nature of Hell and sin before our discussion of the eternal nature of punishment can have any meaning or significance. Objections related to the eternal nature of Hell result from a misunderstanding of four principles and terms:

     We Fail to Understand the Meaning of Spiritual “Torment”

     The Bible says those who are delivered into Hell will be tormented, and the degree to which they will suffer is described in dramatic, illustrative language. But, the scripture never describes Hell as a place where God or His angels are actively “torturing” the souls of the rebellious. “Torture” is the sadistic activity that is often perpetrated for the mere joy of it. “Torment” results from a choice on the part of the person who finds himself (or herself) suffering the consequences. One can be in constant torment over a decision made in the past, without being actively tortured by anyone.

     We Fail to Understand the Insignificance of Sin’s “Duration”

     If someone embezzles $5.00 a week from their employer’s cash register they will have stolen $260.00 over the course of a year. If they’re caught at the end of this time, they would still only be guilty of a misdemeanor in the State of California (based on the total amount of loss). Although the crime took a year to commit, the perpetrator wouldn’t spend much (if any) time in jail. On the other hand, a murder can take place in the blink of an eye and the resulting punishment will be life in prison (or perhaps the death penalty). The duration of the crime clearly has little or nothing to do with the duration of the penalty.

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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

False Gospels Deserve True Fury

By John Piper 9/21/2017

     “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one that you received, let him accursed.” In other words, let him be anathema, let him be damned. So what you see immediately is that in this chapter, in this letter, in this conference based on this letter, in the Reformation that exploded from this letter, in the Christian faith that stands or falls with the message of this letter — what you see is that all these deal with things on which your eternal destiny hangs.

     “Let them be damned if they come preaching another gospel.” If you get the gospel wrong, you perish. Therefore, this letter, and this conference, and the Reformation, and Christianity should cause there to echo in your heart an unparalleled seriousness about life and worship. Unparalleled seriousness.

     Unparalleled seriousness of joy that grace and peace is ours in Galatians 1:3.

     Joy that deliverance from this present evil age and its destruction is yours in Christ Jesus.

     Unparalleled seriousness of astonishment that people you know, people in your church, people in your family are walking away from the gospel of grace and perishing because somebody has held out to them an alternative that for some insane reasons seems superior.

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False Gospels Deserve True Fury
John Piper   Desiring God



     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:

Open Letter to My Daughter About Her Body

By Allison Burr

     To my sweet daughter,

     As you begin junior high this month, the atmosphere about you is crackling with excitement. So many new doors are opening, and I am rejoicing with you. But now is also the time when we have to revisit a topic that may seem a bit awkward: your body.

     I want you to think of this letter as the culmination of the many conversations we’ve had over the last decade. This is simply another step in helping you see our fallen world from God’s perspective: a sea of lost creatures in rebellion against their Creator, entirely deceived in their (failing) efforts to find love, acceptance, and beauty in all the wrong places.

     For the sake of your heart and your soul, I want to share five truths to help anchor your identity in Christ and crystallize the purpose for which he created your body.

     1. Your body is a gift to be treasured, not sold for a trifle. | Culturally speaking, we have moved from casting scorn on public sexualized behavior to distributing accolades and demanding encores. The lewder, the bawdier, and the wider the audience, the better.

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     Allison Burr writes about theology and domesticity at TruthBeautyGoodness, teaches at New College Franklin, is shopkeeper at Sword & Trowel, and is pursuing an M.A. in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. She lives with her husband and four young children in Franklin, TN.

Liberty under law was always rooted in biblical principles

By Daniel L. Dreisbach 9/20/2017

     This week marks the 230th anniversary of the day when delegates at the Constitutional Convention ended nearly four months of contentious debate and signed a proposed constitution for the United States.

     On this anniversary, it is worth reflecting on a key, yet often overlooked, influence on this great charter: The Bible.

     We cannot adequately appreciate the nation’s constitutional experiment in republican self-government without acknowledging the Bible’s contributions.

     Most American founders regarded the Bible as a great handbook for nurturing morality and ethics; and even many who doubted the Bible’s divine origins appealed to Scripture. To be sure, the founders drew on and synthesized diverse intellectual traditions. Among them were British constitutionalism, Enlightenment liberalism, and classical and civic republicanism.

     But the Bible was the most accessible, authoritative, and venerated text in 18th Century America. It was, by far, the most cited work in the political discourse of the age, referenced more frequently than the great political theorists John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu. The Constitution, as well as two dozen or so state constitutions framed in the wake of independence, was shaped by a legal culture and constitutional tradition influenced by Christianity and its sacred text. This includes measures separating and checking government powers in the hands of “fallen” public officials, mandating oaths of offices, and prohibiting double jeopardy.

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     Daniel L. Dreisbach is a scholar adviser to the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center coming to Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and the author of “Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers” (Oxford, 2017). You can follow him on Twitter @d3bach.

Five Ways Historic Christianity Relates Faith to Reason

By Kenneth R. Samples 9/19/2017

     Many people view faith and reason as being at odds with one another. For example, some differentiate faith from reason by asserting that faith merely involves hoping something is true, whereas reason involves affirming something to be true based upon justifying evidence. According to this model, faith is equivalent to wishful thinking and is thus incompatible with reason. But historic Christianity’s view of faith and reason is very different from this popular stereotypical definition.

     In defining the relationship between faith and reason, historic Christianity draws upon both Scripture and sustained logical analysis. Here are five ways that historic Christianity relates faith to reason:

     1. Faith’s Definition Involves Reason | In a biblical context, having faith (Greek: the verb, pisteúō, “believe”; the noun, pístis, “faith”) means confident trust in a credible source (God, Christ, or the truth). So the root word for faith in the New Testament is “trust,” but that confidence must be placed in a credible (reasonable and/or reliable) source. Thus, faith’s very definition includes a necessary rational element.

     2. Faith Involves Knowledge | In Scripture, faith often involves knowledge. For example, saving faith by necessity includes knowledge, for having faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior involves knowing certain historical facts about his life, death, and resurrection. So in historic Christianity, faith is connected to the rational knowing process.

     3. Faith Is Compatible with Reason | The scholarly consensus of historic Christianity (reflected in such influential thinkers as AugustineAnselm, and Aquinas) is that faith should seek understanding. Thus, Christians should be interested in the rational foundations of their faith. And in conjunction, the Christian apologetics enterprise works to show that there are good reasons (facts, evidence, arguments) to believe in the truth claims of Christianity.

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Kenneth R. Samples bio.

Kenneth R. Samples Books:

Are Christians Arrogant?

By Joel Furches 9/8/2017

     The complaint goes something like this: “The problem with Christianity is that too many people who claim to be Christians automatically dismiss anyone who thinks in any way different from them as wrong.

     It’s arrogant and hypocritical. Didn’t Jesus say ‘Judge not’?”

     Decades ago, when two people had a disagreement, they had three options: continue to disagree, adopt the opponents view, or mutually agree on some third viewpoint.

     In modern times a fourth option has been invented and become practically mandatory: everybody’s viewpoint is correct. It is not a problem if the two ideas contradict one another because truth is like ice cream: it’s a matter of opinion. Your taste in truth is as valid as mine.

     Alternately, people now believe that no one can really know what is true. Everyone operates off of the limited information they have, but can’t say with any confidence that they are right and someone else is wrong.

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     Joel Furches | As a writer and artist, Joel Furches has primarily served the Christian Community by engaging in Apologetics and Christian ministry by engaging with issues, speaking and writing reviews. Joel is an accomplished journalist, author and editor, having written for both Christian publications - like Christian Media Magazine - and journalistic organizations - like CBS. Joel also edits academic research papers for universities.

     As far as art goes - Joel mostly does that for himself.

     Joel does professional editing and reviews for all communities, including the science community.

     Joel currently has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Education. Joel has worked for a number of years with neglected, abused and troubled youth. This has given him some uncomfortable but valuable insights into the human condition.

     Joel Furches is on The Mentionables speaking team.

What Does It Mean to ‘Abide in Christ’?

By John Piper 9/22/2017

     Happy Friday to everyone. Today’s question comes from Kasey in Oregon. “Dear Pastor John, I have been a Christian, a Bible student, and a Bible teacher for many years. But I sometimes find myself a little puzzled and — if I’m honest — a bit disquieted by John’s teaching on ‘abiding.’ In particular, I think of the opening of John 15 and much of the material in the letter of 1 John. It provokes many questions for me. For example: How does this relate to the doctrine of perseverance? And does this mean that, in some sense, it is up to ME to keep me in God’s family? Could you give a brief, APJ-length overview of John’s theology of abiding in Christ?”

     This is huge. I mean the challenge to give a theology of abiding in ten minutes. Let’s see what we can do. I’m going to sum it up from John 15. Let’s just go there with six points.

     “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:1–4)

     Future Grace | First, I think the essential meaning of our active abiding is the act of receiving and trusting all that God is for us in Christ. If a branch remains or abides attached to the vine in such a way that it is receiving all that the branch has to give, then that is a picture of what John means by believing or trusting Jesus. He says in John 1:12, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

     Believing is a receiving of Christ into the soul, welcoming him, trusting him, as it were, drinking and eating and savoring him. This is what he says in John 6:35: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

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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:

Imitate Me

By Jon Bloom 9/22/2017

     Are you humble enough to point to your own life as an example to others of godly living?

     I think most of us consider self-effacement and self-deprecation — admitting our sin and brokenness and pointing to others who excel us in holiness — as marks of humility. And they certainly are, when they are true.

     But what are we to do with statements in the Bible like Philippians 4:9?

     What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

     Have you ever told someone in so many words, “If you want to know how to ‘walk in a manner worthy of the Lord’ (Colossians 1:10), listen to what I say and look at what I do and follow my example”? If not, why?

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     Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.

Jon Bloom Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 105

Tell of All His Wondrous Works
105

12 When they were few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”

16 When he summoned a famine on the land
and broke all supply of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the LORD tested him.
20 The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free;
21 he made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to bind his princes at his pleasure
and to teach his elders wisdom.

ESV Study Bible

  • Machiavelli's Modernism
  • Divine Revelation
  • Pastoral Constitution

#1 Michael Gillespie  Catholic University

 

#2 Hellen Mardaga   Catholic University

 

#3 John Grabowski   Catholic University

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Understanding Satan’s role (2)
     (Sept 22)    Bob Gass

     ‘A messenger of Satan, to torment me.’

(2 Co 12:7) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. ESV

     Satan’s attack can drive you closer to God. That was true in Paul’s life. Think of Paul’s CV: a personal audience with the resurrected Christ, a participant in heavenly visions, an apostle chosen by God, an author of the Bible. He healed the sick, travelled the world, and penned some of history’s greatest documents. Few could rival his achievements. And maybe he knew it. But God loved Paul too much to allow pride to destroy him. ‘To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.’ We aren’t told the nature of the thorn, but we’re told its purpose - to keep Paul humble. We are also told its origin - a messenger of Satan. The messenger could have been a pain, a problem, or a person who was a pain. We don’t know. But we do know that the messenger was under God’s control. Note what Paul says next: ‘Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (vv. 8-10 NIV 2011 Edition). Here’s a truth that can transform every test into a potential triumph: Satan and his forces are simply a tool in the hand of God to strengthen you.

Is 39-40
Philip 1

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” These were the last words of American patriot Nathan Hale, who was hanged by the British, without a trial, this day, September 22, 1776. A Yale graduate and school teacher, he fought in the siege of Boston. He captured a boat full of provisions from under the gun of a British man-of-war. On Long Island, he penetrated the British line to spy for information, but was captured as he returned. His nephew, Edward Everett Hale, a well-known author, wrote: “We are God’s children… you and I, and we have our duties… Thank God I come from men who are not afraid in battle.”

American Minute
The Soul of Prayer
     by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)


               CHAPTER I / The Inwardness of Prayer

     But this is not Christian idea, it is only a crude stage of it (if the New Testament is to guide us). We are there taught that only those things are perfected in God which He begins, that we seek only because He found, we beseech Him because He first besought us (
2 Cor. v. 20). If our prayer reach or move Him it is because He first reached and moved us to pray. The prayer that reached and moved us to pray. The prayer that reached heaven began there, when Christ went forth. It began when God turned to beseech us in Christ—in the appealing Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. The Spirit went out with the power and function in it to return with our soul. Our prayer is the answer to God’s. Herein is prayer, not that we prayed Him, but that He first prayed us, in giving His Son to be a propitiation for us. The heart of the Atonement is prayer—Christ’s great self-offering to God in the Eternal Spirit. The whole rhythm of Christ’s soul, so to say, was Godhead going out and returning on itself. And so God stirs and inspires all prayer which finds and moves Him. His love provokes our sacred forwardness. He does not compel us, but we cannot help it after that look, that tone, that turn of His. All say, “I am yours if you will”; and when we will it is prayer. Any final glory of human success or destiny rises from man being God’s continual creation, and destined by Him for Him. So we pray because we were made for prayer, and God draws us out by breathing Himself in.

     We feel this especially as prayer passes upwards into praise. When the mercy we besought comes home to us its movement is reversed in us, and it returns upon itself as thanksgiving. “Great blessings which we won with prayer are worn with thankfulness.” Praise is the converted consecration of the egoism that may have moved our prayer. Prayer may spring from self-love, and be so far natural; for nature is all of the craving and taking kind. But praise is supernatural. It is of pure grace. And it is a sign that the prayer was more than natural at heart. Spare some leisure, therefore, from petition for thanksgiving. If the Spirit move conspicuously to praise, it shows that He also moved latently the prayer, and that within nature is that which is above it. “Prayer and thanks are like the double motion of the lungs; the air that is drawn in by prayer is breathed forth again by thanks.”

     Prayer is turning our will on God either in the way of resignation or of impertration. We yield to His Will or He to ours. Hence religion is above all things prayer, according as it is a religion of will and conscience, as it is an ethical religion. It is will and Will. To be religious is to pray. Bad prayer is false religion. Not to pray is to be irreligious. “The battle for religion is the battle for prayer; the theory of religion is the philosophy of prayer.” In prayer we do not think out God; we draw Him out. Prayer is where our thought of God passes into action, and becomes more certain than thought. In all thought which is not mere dreaming or brooding there is an element of will; and in earnest (which is intelligent) prayer we give this element the upper hand. We do not simply spread our thought our before God, but we offer it to Him, turn it on Him, bring it to bear on Him, press it on Him. This is our great and first sacrifice, and it becomes pressure on God. We can offer God nothing so great and effective as our obedient acceptance of the mind and purpose and work of Christ. It is not easy. It is harder than any idealism. But then it is very mighty. And it is a power that grows by exercise. At first it groans, at last it glides. And it comes to this, that, as there are thoughts that seem to think themselves in us, so there are prayers that pray themselves in us. And, as those are the best thoughts, these are the best prayers. For it is the Christ at prayer who lives in us, and we are conduits of the Eternal Intercession.

     Prayer is often represented as the great means of the Christian life. But it is no mere means, it is the great end of that life. It is, of course, not untrue to call it a means. It is so, especially at first. But at last it is truer to say that we live the Christian life in order to pray than that we pray in order to live the Christian life. It is at least as true. Our prayer prepares for our work and sacrifice, but all our work and sacrifice still more prepare for prayer. And we are, perhaps, oftener wrong in our work, or even our sacrifice, than we are in our prayer—and that for want of its guidance. But to reach this height, to make of prayer our great end, and to order life always in view of such a solemnity, in this sense to pray without ceasing and without pedantry—it is a slow matter. We cannot move fast to such a fine product of piety and feeling. It is a growth in grace. And the whole history of the world shows that nothing grows so slowly as grace, nothing costs as much as free grace; a fact which drives us to all kinds of apologies to explain what seems the absence of God from His world, and especially from His world of souls. If God, to our grief, seems to us far absent from history, how does He view the distance, the absence, of history from Him?

     A chief object of all prayer is to bring us to God. But we may attain His presence and come closer to Him by the way we ask Him for other things, concrete things or things of the Kingdom, than by direct prayer for union with Him. The prayer for deliverance from personal trouble or national calamity may bring us nearer Him than mere devout aspiration to be lost in Him. The poor woman’s prayer to find her lost sovereign may mean more than the prayer of many a cloister. Such distress is often meant by God as the initial means and exercise to His constant end of reunion with Him. His patience is so long and kind that He is willing to begin with us when we are no farther on than to use Him as a means of escape or relief. The holy Father can turn to His own account at last even the exploiting egoism of youth. And He gives us some answer, though the relief does not come, if He keep us praying, and ever more instant and purified in prayer. Prayer is never rejected so long as we do not cease to pray. The chief failure of prayer is its cessation. Our importunity is a part of God’s answer, both of His answer to us and ours to Him. He is sublimating our idea of prayer, and realizing the final purpose in all trouble of driving us farther in on Himself. A homely image has been used. The joiner, when he glues together two boards, keeps them tightly clamped till the cement sets, and the outward pressure is no more needed; then he unscrews. So with the calamities, depressions, and disappointments that crush us into close contact with God. The pressure on us is kept up till the soul’s union with God is set. Instant relief would not establish the habit of prayer, though it might make us believe in it with a promptitude too shallow to last or to make it the principle of our soul’s life at any depth. A faith which is based chiefly on impetration might become more of a faith in prayer than a faith in God. If we got all we asked for we should soon come to treat Him as a convenience, or the request as a magic. The reason of much bewilderment about prayer is that we are less occupied about faith in God than about faith in prayer. In a like way we are misled about the question of immortality because we become more occupied with the soul than with God, and with its endless duration more than its eternal life, asking if we shall be in eternity more than eternity in us.


--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).

The Soul of Prayer
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


God hears no more than the heart speaks;
and if the heart be dumb,
God will certainly be deaf.
--- Thomas Brooks

Poverty is the worst form of violence.
--- Mohandas Gandhi

It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
--- Wendell Berry

Though there is not always grace where there is the fear of hell, yet, to be sure, there is no grace where there is no fear of God.
--- John Bunyan

... from here, there and everywhere
History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 3.

     How The Sedition Was Again Revived Within Jerusalem And Yet The Jews Contrived Snares For The Romans. How Titus Also Threatened His Soldiers For Their Ungovernable Rashness.

     1. As now the war abroad ceased for a while, the sedition within was revived; and on the feast of unleavened bread, which was now come, it being the fourteenth day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan,] when it is believed the Jews were first freed from the Egyptians, Eleazar and his party opened the gates of this [inmost court of the] temple, and admitted such of the people as were desirous to worship God into it. 9 But John made use of this festival as a cloak for his treacherous designs, and armed the most inconsiderable of his own party, the greater part of whom were not purified, with weapons concealed under their garments, and sent them with great zeal into the temple, in order to seize upon it; which armed men, when they were gotten in, threw their garments away, and presently appeared in their armor. Upon which there was a very great disorder and disturbance about the holy house; while the people, who had no concern in the sedition, supposed that this assault was made against all without distinction, as the zealots thought it was made against themselves only. So these left off guarding the gates any longer, and leaped down from their battlements before they came to an engagement, and fled away into the subterranean caverns of the temple; while the people that stood trembling at the altar, and about the holy house, were rolled on heaps together, and trampled upon, and were beaten both with wooden and with iron weapons without mercy. Such also as had differences with others slew many persons that were quiet, out of their own private enmity and hatred, as if they were opposite to the seditious; and all those that had formerly offended any of these plotters were now known, and were now led away to the slaughter; and when they had done abundance of horrid mischief to the guiltless, they granted a truce to the guilty, and let those go off that came out of the caverns. These followers of John also did now seize upon this inner temple, and upon all the warlike engines therein, and then ventured to oppose Simon. And thus that sedition, which had been divided into three factions, was now reduced to two.

     2. But Titus, intending to pitch his camp nearer to the city than Scopus, placed as many of his choice horsemen and footmen as he thought sufficient opposite to the Jews, to prevent their sallying out upon them, while he gave orders for the whole army to level the distance, as far as the wall of the city. So they threw down all the hedges and walls which the inhabitants had made about their gardens and groves of trees, and cut down all the fruit trees that lay between them and the wall of the city, and filled up all the hollow places and the chasms, and demolished the rocky precipices with iron instruments; and thereby made all the place level from Scopus to Herod's monuments, which adjoined to the pool called the Serpent's Pool.

     3. Now at this very time the Jews contrived the following stratagem against the Romans. The bolder sort of the seditious went out at the towers, called the Women's Towers, as if they had been ejected out of the city by those who were for peace, and rambled about as if they were afraid of being assaulted by the Romans, and were in fear of one another; while those that stood upon the wall, and seemed to be of the people's side, cried out aloud for peace, and entreated they might have security for their lives given them, and called for the Romans, promising to open the gates to them; and as they cried out after that manner, they threw stones at their own people, as though they would drive them away from the gates. These also pretended that they were excluded by force, and that they petitioned those that were within to let them in; and rushing upon the Romans perpetually, with violence, they then came back, and seemed to be in great disorder. Now the Roman soldiers thought this cunning stratagem of theirs was to be believed real, and thinking they had the one party under their power, and could punish them as they pleased, and hoping that the other party would open their gates to them, set to the execution of their designs accordingly. But for Titus himself, he had this surprising conduct of the Jews in suspicion; for whereas he had invited them to come to terms of accommodation, by Josephus, but one day before, he could then receive no civil answer from them; so he ordered the soldiers to stay where they were. However, some of them that were set in the front of the works prevented him, and catching up their arms ran to the gates; whereupon those that seemed to have been ejected at the first retired; but as soon as the soldiers were gotten between the towers on each side of the gate, the Jews ran out and encompassed them round, and fell upon them behind, while that multitude which stood upon the wall threw a heap of stones and darts of all kinds at them, insomuch that they slew a considerable number, and wounded many more; for it was not easy for the Romans to escape, by reason those behind them pressed them forward; besides which, the shame they were under for being mistaken, and the fear they were in of their commanders, engaged them to persevere in their mistake; wherefore they fought with their spears a great while, and received many blows from the Jews, though indeed they gave them as many blows again, and at last repelled those that had encompassed them about, while the Jews pursued them as they retired, and followed them, and threw darts at them as far as the monuments of queen Helena.

          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 25:19
     by D.H. Stern

19     Relying on an untrustworthy person in a time of trouble
     is like [relying on] a broken tooth or an unsteady leg.


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 missionary’s Master

     Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
--- John 13:13.

     To have a master and to be mastered is not the same thing. To have a master means that there is one who knows me better than I know myself, one who is closer than a friend, one who fathoms the remotest abyss of my heart and satisfies it, one who has brought me into the secure sense that he has met and solved every perplexity and problem of my mind. To have a master is this and nothing less—“One is your Master, even Christ.”

     Our Lord never enforces obedience; He does not take means to make me do what He wants. At certain times I wish God would master me and make me do the thing, but He will not; in other moods I wish He would leave me alone, but He does not.

     Ye call me Master and Lord” —but is He? Master and Lord have little place in our vocabulary, we prefer the words Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer. The only word to describe mastership in experience is love, and we know very little about love as God reveals it. This is proved by the way we use the word obey. In the Bible obedience is based on the relationship of equals, that of a son with his father. Our Lord was not God’s servant, He was His son. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience …” If our idea is that we are being mastered, it is a proof that we have no master; if that is our attitude to Jesus, we are far away from the relationship He wants. He wants us in the relationship in which He is easily Master without our conscious knowledge of it, all we know is that we are His to obey.

My Utmost for His Highest
St Julian and the Leper
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                St Julian and the Leper

Though all ran from him, he did not
  Run, but awaited
  Him with his arms
  Out, his ears stopped
  To his bell, his alarmed
  Crying. He lay down
  With him there, sharing his sores'
  Stench, the quarantine
  Of his soul; contaminating
  Himself with a kiss,
  With the love that
  Our science has disinfected.

Selected poems, 1946-1968
Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Deuteronomy 6:13–16


     It is easy to go up to the stage but difficult to go down.

     BIBLE TEXT /
Deuteronomy 6:13–16 / Revere only the Lord your God and worship Him alone, and swear only by His name. Do not follow other gods, any gods of the peoples about you—for the Lord your God in your midst is an impassioned God—lest the anger of the Lord your God blaze forth against you and He wipe you off the face of the earth. Do not try the Lord your God, as you did at Massah.

     MIDRASH TEXT / Yalkut Shimoni, Va-etḥannan 845 / Do not try the Lord your God. It is easy to acquire an enemy but difficult to acquire a friend. It is easy to go up to the stage but difficult to go down. But a person’s eye is more difficult than anything else.

     A parable: What is this similar to? To a woman who performed witchcraft on herself so she would not give birth. The doctors came to heal her. She said, “You cannot do it, for I have done it to myself!” As it says, “My eyes have brought me grief [over all the maidens of my city]” (
Lamentations 3:51).

     David said, “I have done it to myself for I said to God, ‘Death was created because of the wife of Adam; match me up with it and I will uproot it, for it causes young men to fall, and grooms to be disturbed, and kings to pass away. Abraham our father was given over into its hand, and so were the patriarchs, and the [twelve sons of Jacob who became the] tribes.’ ‘Probe me, O Lord, and try me, test my heart and mind’ (
Psalm 26:2), for I am not among the earlier ones. Adam did not stand up to his wife; but I will stand.”

     CONTEXT

     Shortly after having left Egypt and crossed the Sea of Reeds, but before reaching Mount Sinai, the Israelites encamped at Rephidim. There was no water to drink, so the people quarreled with Moses. The place was renamed Massah and Meribah, “Trial and Quarreling,” as a reminder of the rebellious behavior of the Israelites (
Exodus 16:1–7).

     In
Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the people of their lack of faith in God and warns them not to “try” or test God again. Our Midrash makes a connection between the verse in Deuteronomy—“Do not try the Lord your God”—and a verse in Psalms, attributed to David—“try me, test my heart” (26:2). A passage in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 107a) may help us understand what David, in the midrashic story, had in mind:

     A person should never bring himself to be tested, for David, king of Israel, brought himself to be tested and he failed. He said before the Master of the World, “Why do they say [in the Amidah] ‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob’ but they do not say ‘God of David?’ ” He [God] said, “They have been tested by Me; you haven’t been tested by Me.” He [David] said, “Master of the World! ‘Probe me and try me.’ ” He [God] answered, “I will test you and give you an advantage that I did not give them; I will inform you that I will test you in the matter of adultery.”

     This, of course, points to the story of David and Bathsheba. David arrogantly boasted that he was mightier and stronger than any of the great men who had come before him. Yet, in the end, David failed the test by committing adultery.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Take Heart
     September 22

     How great is God—beyond our understanding!
---
Job 36:26.

     God is the unknown and the unknowable. (Preaching Through the Bible) What it is possible to know, it must be possible to explain—to put into words that sum themselves into the exact measure of the thing that is known.

     What can be known may, of course, be contained by the faculty that knows it. [For] whatever I can know is, by the very fact that I can know it, less than I am. The vessel is of necessity larger than its contents. If, then, any faculty of mine knows God, that faculty contains God and is in that sense larger than God, which is impossible and absurd.

     Say this God was dreamed by human genius. What then? The person who dreamed such a God must be the author of some other work of equal or approximate importance. Produce it! That is the sensible reply to so bold a blasphemy.

     A man says he kindled the sun, and when asked for his proof, he strikes a match that the wind blows out! Is the evidence sufficient? Or a woman says that she has covered the earth with all the green and gold of summer, and when challenged to prove it, she produces a wax flower that melts in her hand! Is the proof convincing? The God of the Bible calls for the production of other gods—gods wooden, gods stony, gods ill-bred, gods well-shaped and done up skillfully for market uses. From his heaven he laughs at them, and from his high throne he holds them in derision.

     He is not afraid of competitive gods. They try to climb to his grandeur but only get high enough to break their necks in a sharp fall. Again and again I demand that the second effort of human genius bear some obvious relation to the first. The sculptor accepts the challenge, so does the painter, so does the musician; why should the Jehovah-dreamer be an exception to the common rule of confirmation and proof?

     We wait for the evidence! We insist on having it. Then, so we don’t waste our time in idle expectancy, we can meanwhile call on God, saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will by done on earth as it is in heaven”! (Matt. 6:9–10).
--- Joseph Parker

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day
     The Polish Reformer


     The outward reform of the church is useless unless accompanied by spiritual reform of the inner life of the Christian. So taught Caspar Schwenckfeld, known today as the forgotten reformer. Caspar grew up on an estate in Poland. He gained a good education and became involved in civil affairs. About 1519 he experienced a “visitation of the divine,” as he called it, and thereafter began earnestly studying Scripture. His Bible, printed in Worms, Germany, by Anton Koberger, became underlined and well marked with extensive scribbles in the margins.

     In 1525 he journeyed one hundred miles by horseback to Wittenberg, and on December 1, he asked Martin Luther for an appointment. (As) Doctor Martin was accompanying us to the door, I drew him aside to a window and called his attention to the fact that I had previously written to him … and that I wished to speak with him. … He thereupon replied: Dear Caspar, I will be glad to confer with you, come tomorrow, as early as you wish, six, seven, or eight o’clock. Nothing shall hinder me. …

     Caspar arrived early the next Morning, about seven, but soon found himself at odds with “Doctor Martin.” Caspar feared that the tenant of justification by faith, if interpreted wrongly, would create moral danger; he was unable to accept Luther’s view of the Lord’s Supper; he believed that Christians feed on Christ’s celestial flesh by faith; he opposed participation in war and oath-taking; he rejected infant baptism; he opposed denominations.

     He thus became part of the Radical Reformation and found himself persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants. After much oppression from both church and state, he died on December 10, 1561. But his disciples multiplied through the years, and in 1734 a group of 180 of them sailed from Holland to America aboard the St. Andrews with brightly painted chests containing their belongings and books. They arrived in Philadelphia on September 22, 1734, calling themselves “Confessors of the Glory of Christ.” The Quakers welcomed them. The Confessors planted themselves in the Mennonite countryside, and five Schwenkfelder churches still exist today as part of the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage.

     Can anyone really harm you for being eager to do good deeds? Even if you have to suffer for doing good things, God will bless you. So stop being afraid and don’t worry about what people might do. Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. --- 1 Peter 3:13-15

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - September 22

     "Let Israel rejoice in him." --- Psalm 149:2.

     Be glad of heart, O believer, but take care that thy gladness has its spring in the Lord. Thou hast much cause for gladness in thy God, for thou canst sing with David, “God, my exceeding joy.” Be glad that the Lord reigneth, that Jehovah is King! Rejoice that he sits upon the throne, and ruleth all things! Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in the sunlight of our gladness. That he is wise should make us glad, knowing as we do our own foolishness. That he is mighty, should cause us to rejoice who tremble at our weakness. That he is everlasting, should always be a theme of joy when we know that we wither as the grass. That he is unchanging, should perpetually yield us a song, since we change every hour. That he is full of grace, that he is overflowing with it, and that this grace in covenant he has given to us; that it is ours to cleanse us, ours to keep us, ours to sanctify us, ours to perfect us, ours to bring us to glory—all this should tend to make us glad in him. This gladness in God is as a deep river; we have only as yet touched its brink, we know a little of its clear sweet, heavenly streams, but onward the depth is greater, and the current more impetuous in its joy. The Christian feels that he may delight himself not only in what God is, but also in all that God has done in the past. The Psalms show us that God’s people in olden times were wont to think much of God’s actions, and to have a song concerning each of them. So let God’s people now rehearse the deeds of the Lord! Let them tell of his mighty acts, and “sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.” Nor let them ever cease to sing, for as new mercies flow to them day by day, so should their gladness in the Lord’s loving acts in providence and in grace show itself in continued thanksgiving. Be glad ye children of Zion and rejoice in the Lord your God.


          Evening - September 22

     “When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” --- Psalm 61:2.

     Most of us know what it is to be overwhelmed in heart; emptied as when a man wipeth a dish and turneth it upside down; submerged and thrown on our beam ends like a vessel mastered by the storm. Discoveries of inward corruption will do this, if the Lord permits the great deep of our depravity to become troubled and cast up mire and dirt. Disappointments and heart-breaks will do this when billow after billow rolls over us, and we are like a broken shell hurled to and fro by the surf. Blessed be God, at such seasons we are not without an all-sufficient solace, our God is the harbour of weather-beaten sails, the hospice of forlorn pilgrims. Higher than we are is he, his mercy higher than our sins, his love higher than our thoughts. It is pitiful to see men putting their trust in something lower than themselves; but our confidence is fixed upon an exceeding high and glorious Lord. A Rock he is since he changes not, and a high Rock, because the tempests which overwhelm us roll far beneath at his feet; he is not disturbed by them, but rules them at his will. If we get under the shelter of this lofty Rock we may defy the hurricane; all is calm under the lee of that towering cliff. Alas! such is the confusion in which the troubled mind is often cast, that we need piloting to this divine shelter. Hence the prayer of the text. O Lord, our God, by thy Holy Spirit, teach us the way of faith, lead us into thy rest. The wind blows us out to sea, the helm answers not to our puny hand; thou, thou alone canst steer us over the bar between yon sunken rocks, safe into the fair haven. How dependent we are upon thee—we need thee to bring us to thee. To be wisely directed and steered into safety and peace is thy gift, and thine alone. This night be pleased to deal well with thy servants.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     September 22

          MAJESTIC SWEETNESS SITS ENTHRONED

     Samuel Stennett, 1727–1795

     But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9 RSV)

     The dominant theme of the beautifully expressed text in this hymn, “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned,” is the adoration of Jesus Christ. It is based on the descriptive passage found in the Song of Solomon 5:10–16. Here the awaiting maiden, anticipating the return of her lover, describes him with such terms as: “Chief among ten thousand,” “head of pure gold,” “body like polished ivory,” “altogether lovely …”

     The Bible often refers to believers as the bride of Christ. We too are awaiting the return of our lover, the One who is “fairer than all the fair.”

     This hymn text originally had nine stanzas and was titled “The Chief Among Ten Thousand” or “The Excellencies of Christ.” It first appeared in Rippon’s famous Baptist collection, A Selection of Hymns from the Best of Authors, published in 1787.

     The author, Samuel Stennett, was a well-known Baptist pastor in London, England, and was regarded as one of the outstanding evangelical preachers of his day. Dr. Stennett was also an influential writer on numerous theological subjects as well as the author of thirty-nine hymns. Despite his many accomplishments, however, he will always be best remembered for these beautiful words of adoration often used in communion services as well as for spiritual enrichment during times of personal devotions:

     Majestic sweetness sits enthroned upon the Savior’s brow; His head with radiant glories crowned, His lips with grace o’er flow; His lips with grace o’er flow.
     No mortal can with Him compare among the sons of men; fairer is He than all the fair who fill the heav’nly train, who fill the heav’nly train.
     He saw me plunged in deep distress and flew to my relief; for me He bore the shameful cross and carried all my grief, and carried all my grief.
     To Him I owe my life and breath and all the joys I have; He makes me triumph over death and saves me from the grave, and saves me from the grave.




     For Today: Song of Solomon 5:10–16; Colossians 1:15–20; Hebrews 1:1–3

     Express in your own words your feelings of love and adoration to your heavenly bridegroom for all that He means in your life and the anticipation of someday soon actually seeing Him. Allow these musical truths to help you during this time of personal devotions ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

          DISCOURSE VI - ON THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD

     4th. Though the will of God be immutable, yet it is not to be understood so, as that the things themselves so willed are immutable. Nor will the immutability of the things willed by him, follow upon the unchangeableness of his will in willing them; though God be firm in willing them, yet he doth not will that they should alway be. God did not perpetually will the doing those things which he once decreed to be done; he decreed that Christ should suffer, but he did not decree that Christ should alway suffer; so he willed the Mosaical rites for a time, but he did not will that they should alway continue; he willed that they should endure only for a time; and when the time came for their ceasing, God had been mutable if he had not put an end to them, because his will had fixed such a period. So that the changing of those things which he had once appointed to be practised, is so far from charging God with changeableness, that God would be mutable if he did not take them away; since he decreed as well their abolition at such a time, as their continuance till such a time; so that the removal of them was pursuant to his unchangeable will and decree. If God had decreed that such laws should alway continue, and afterwards changed that decree, and resolved the abrogation of them, then indeed God had been mutable; he had rescinded one decree by another; he had then seen an error in his first resolve, and there must be some weakness in the reason and wisdom whereon it was grounded. But it was not so here; for the change of those laws is so far from slurring God with any mutability, that the very, change of them is no other than the issue of his eternal decree; for from eternity he purposed in himself to change this or that dispensation, though he did decree to bring such a dispensation into the world. The decree itself was eternal and immutable, but the thing decreed was temporary and mutable. As a decree from eternity doth not make the thing decreed to be eternal, so neither doth the immutability of the decree render the thing so decreed to be immutable: as for example, God decreed from all eternity to create the world; the eternity of this decree did not make the world to be in being and actually created from eternity; so God decreed immutably that the world so created should continue for such a time; the decree is immutable if the world perish at that time, and would not be immutable if the world did endure beyond that time that God hath fixed for the duration of it: as when a prince orders a man’s remaining in prison for so many days; if he be prevailed with to give him a delivery before those days, or to continue him in custody for the same crime after those days, his order is changed; but if he orders the delivery of him just at that time, till which he had before decreed that he should continue in prison, the purpose and order of the prince remains firm, and the change in the state of the prisoner is the fruit of that firm and fixed resolution: so that we must distinguish between the person decreeing, the decree itself, and the thing decreed. The person decreeing, viz., God, is in himself immutable, and the decree is immutable; but the thing decreed may be mutable; and if it were not changed according to the first purpose, it would argue the decree itself to be changed; for while a man wills that this may be done now, and another thing done afterwards, the same will remains; and though there be a change in the effects, there is no change in the will.

     5th. The immutability of God’s will doth not infringe the liberty of it. The liberty of God’s will consists with the necessity of continuing his purpose. God is necessarily good, immutably good; yet he is freely so, and would not be otherwise than what he is. God was free in his first purpose; and purposing this or that by an infallible and unerring wisdom, it would be a weakness to change the purpose. But, indeed, the liberty of God’s will doth not seem so much to consist in an indifferericy to this or that, as in an independency on anything without himself: his will was free, because it did not depend upon the objects about which his will was conversant. To be immutably good is no point of imperfection, but the height of perfection.

     4. As God is unchangeable in regard of essence, knowledge, purpose, so he is unchangeable in regard of place. He cannot be changed in time, because he is eternity; so he cannot be changed in place, because he hath ubiquity: he is eternal, therefore cannot be changed in time; he is omnipresent, therefore cannot be changed in place he doth not begin to be in one place wherein he was not before, or cease to be in a place wherein he was before. He that fills every place in heaven and earth, cannot change place; he cannot leave one to possess another, that is equally, in regard of his essence, in all: “He fills heaven and earth” (Jer. 23:24). The heavens that are not subject to those changes to which sublunary bodies are subject, that are not diminished in quantity or quality; yet they are alway changing place in regard of their motion; no part of them doth alway continue in the same point: but God hath no change of his nature, because he is most inward in everything; he is substantially in all spaces, real and imaginary; there is no part of the world which he doth not fill; no place can be imagined wherein he doth not exist. Suppose a million of worlds above and about this, encircling one another; his essence would be in every part and point of those worlds; because it is indivisible, it cannot be divided; nor can it be contained within those created limits of millions of worlds, when the most soaring and best coining fancy hath run through all creatures to the highest sphere of the heavens, and imagined one world after another, till it can fancy no more: none of these, nor all of these, can contain God; for the “heaven of heavens cannot contain him” (1 Kings 8:27); “He is higher than heaven, deeper than hell” (Job 11:8), and possesses infinite imaginary spaces beyond created limits. He who hath no cause of being, can have no limits of being; and though by creation he began to be in the world, yet he did not begin to be where the world is, but was in the same imaginary space from all eternity; for he was alway in himself by his own eternal ubi. Therefore observe, that when God is said to draw near to us when we draw near to him (James 4:8), it is not by local motion or change of place, but by special and spiritual influences, by exciting and supporting grace. As we ordinarily say, the sun is come into the house when yet it remains in its place and order in the heavens, because the beams pierce through the windows and enlighten the room, so when God is said to come down or descend (Gen. 11:5; Exod. 34:5), it is not by a change of place, but a change of outward acts, when he puts forth himself in ways of fresh mercy or new judgments, in the effluxes of his love or the flames of his wrath.

     When good men feel the warm beams of his grace refreshing them, or wicked men feel the hot coals of his anger scorching them. God’s drawing near to us is not so much his coming to us, but his drawing us to him; as when watermen pull a rope that is in one end fastened to the shore, and the other end to the vessel; the shore is immovable, yet it seems to the eye to come to them, but they really move to the shore. God is an immovable rock; we are floating and uncertain creatures; while he seems to approach to us, he doth really make us to approach to him; he comes not to us by any change of place himself, but draws us to him by a change of mind, will, and affections in us.

     II. . The second thing propounded, is the reasons to prove God immutable. The heathens acknowledged God to be so: Plato and the Pythagoreans called God, or the stable good principle, ἀυιὸν, idem: the evil principle, ἓτερον, another thing, changeable; one thing one time, and another thing another time (Dan. 6:26): “He is the living God, and steadfast forever.”

     1. The name Jehovah signifies this attribute (Exod. 3:14): “I am that I am; I am hath sent me to you.” It signifies his immutability as well as eternity. I am, signifies his eternity; that, or the same that I am, his immutability: as it respects the essence of God, it signifies his unchangeable being from eternity to eternity; as it respects the creature, it signifies his constancy in his counsels and promises, which spring from no other cause but the unchangeableness of his nature. The reason why men stand not to their covenant, is because they are not always the same; I am, that is, I am the same, before the creation of the world, and since the creation of the world; before the entrance of sin, and since the entrance of sin; before their going into Egypt, and while they remain in Egypt. The very name Jehovah bears, according to the grammatical order, a mark of God’s unchangeableness; it never hath anything added to it nor anything taken from it; it hath no plural number, no affixes—a custom peculiar to the eastern languages; it never changes its letters as other words do. That only is a true being which hath not only an eternal existence, but stability in it: that is not truly a being, that never remains in the same state. All things that are changed cease to be what they were, and begin to be what they were not, and therefore cannot have the title truly applied to them, they are; they are, indeed, but like a river in a continual flux, that no man ever sees the same; let his eye be fixed upon one place of it, the water he sees, slides away, and that which he saw not succeeds in its place; let him take his eye off but for the least moment, and fix it there again, and he sees not the same that he saw before. All sensible things are in a perpetual stream; that which is sometimes this and sometimes that, is not, because it is not always the same; whatsoever is changed, is something now which it was not alway; but of God it is said, I am, which could not be if he were changeable; for it may be said of him, he is not, as well as be is, because he is not what he was; if we say not of him, he was, nor he will be, but only he is, whence should any change arrive? He must invincibly remain the same, of whose nature, perfections, knowledge and will, it cannot be said it was, as if it were not now in him; or it shall be, as if it were not yet in him; but he is, because he doth not only exist, but doth alway exist the same. I am, that is, I receive from no other what I am in myself; he depends upon no other in his essence, knowledge, purposes, and therefore hath no changing power over him.

     2. If God were changeable, he could not be the most perfect Being. God is the most perfect Being, and possesses in himself infinite and essential goodness (Matt. 5:48): “Y our heavenly Father is perfect.” If he could change from that perfection, he were not the highest exemplar and copy for us to write after. If God doth change, it must be either to a greater perfection than he had before, or to a less, mutatio perfectiva vel amissiva; if he changes to acquire a perfection he had not, then he was not before the most excellent being; necessarily, he was not what he might be; there was a defect in him, and a privation of that which is better than what he had and was; and then he was not alway the best, and so was not alway God; and being not alway God, could never be God; for to begin to be God is against the notion of God; not to a less perfection than he had; that were to change to imperfection, and to lose a perfection which he possessed before, and cease to be the best Being; for he would lose some good which he had, and acquire some evil which he was free from before. So that the sovereign perfection of God is an invincible bar to any change in him; for which way soever you cast it for a change, his supreme excellency is impaired and nulled by it: for in all change there is something from which a thing is changed, and something to which it is changed; so that on the one part there is a loss of what it had, and on the other part there is an acquisition of what it had not. If to the better, he was not perfect, and so was not God; if to the worse, he will not be perfect, and so be no longer God after that change. If God be changed, his change must be voluntary or necessary; if voluntary, he then intends the change for the better, and chose it to acquire a perfection by it; the will must be carried out to anything under the notion of some goodness in that which it desires. Since good is the object of the desire and will of the creature, evil cannot be the object of the desire and will of the Creator. And if he should be changed for the worse, when he did really intend the better, it would speak a defect of wisdom, and a mistake of that for good which was evil and imperfect in itself; and if it be for the better, it must be a motion or change for something without himself; that which he desireth is not possessed by himself, but by some other. There is, then, some good without him and above him, which is the end in this change; for nothing acts but for some end, and that end is within itself or without itself; if the end for which God changes be without himself, then there is something better than himself: besides, if he were voluntarily changed for the better, why did he not change before? If it were for want of power, he bad the imperfection of weakness; if for want of knowledge of what was the best good, he had the imperfection of wisdom, he was ignorant of his own happiness; if he had both wisdom to know it, and power to effect it, it must be for want of will; he then wanted that love to himself and his own glory, which is necessary in the Supreme Being. Voluntarily he could not be changed for the worse, he could not be such an enemy to his own glory; there is nothing but would hinder its own imperfection and becoming worse. Necessarily he could not be changed, for that necessity must arise from himself, and then the difficulties spoken of before will recur, or it must arise from another; he cannot be bettered by another, because nothing hath any good but what it hath received from the hands of his bounty, and that without loss to himself, nor made worse; if anything made him worse, it would be sin, but that cannot touch his essence or obscure his glory, but in the design and nature of the sin itself (Job 35:6, 7): “If thou sinnest, what dost thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what dost thou unto him? if thou be righteous, what givest thou him; or what receives he at thy hand?” He hath no addition by the service of man, no more than the sun hath of light by a multitude of torches kindled on the earth; nor any more impair bx the sins of men, than the light of the sun hath by men’s shooting arrows against it.

     3. God were not the most simple being if he were not immutable. There is in everything that is mutable a composition either essential or accidental; and in all changes, something of the thing changed remains, and something of it ceaseth and is done away; as for example, in an accidental change, if a white wall be made black, it loses its white color; but the wall itself, which was the subject of that color, remains and loses nothing of its substance: likewise in a substantial change, as when wood is burnt, the substantial part of wood is lost, the earthly part is changed into ashes, the airy part ascends in smoke, the watery part is changed into air by the fire: there is not an annihilation of it, but a resolution of it into those parts whereof it was compounded; and this change doth evidence that it was compounded of several parts distinct from one another. If there were any change in God, it is by separating something from him, or adding something to him; if by separating something from him, then he was compounded of something distinct from himself; for if it were not distinct from himself it could not be separated from him without loss of his being; if by adding anything to him, then it is a compounding of him, either substantially or accidentally. Mutability is absolutely inconsistent with simplicity, whether the change come from an internal or external principle. If a change be wrought by something without, it supposeth either contrary or various parts in the thing so changed, whereof it doth consist; if it be wrought by anything within, it supposeth that the thing so changed doth consist of one part that doth change it, and another part that is changed, and so it would not be a simple being. If God could be changed by anything within himself, all in God would not be God; his essence would depend upon some parts, whereof some would be superior to others; if one part were able to change or destroy another, that which doth change would be God, that which is changed would not be God; so God would be made up of a Deity and a non-Deity, and part of God would depend upon God; part would be dependent, and part would be independent; part would be mutable, part immutable: so that mutability is against the notion of God’s independency as well as his simplicity. God is the most simple being; for that which is first in nature, having nothing beyond it, cannot by any means be thought to be compounded; for whatsoever is so, depends upon the parts whereof it is compounded, and so is not the first being: now God being infinitely simple, hath nothing in himself which is not himself, and therefore cannot will any change in himself, he being his own essence and existence.

     4. God were not eternal if he were mutable. In all change there is something that perishes, either substantially or accidentally. All change is a kind of death, or imitation of death; that which was dies, and begins to be what it was not. The soul of man, though it ceaseth not to be and exist, yet when it ceaseth to be in quality what it was, is said to die. Adam died when he changed from integrity to corruption, though both his soul and body were in being (Gen. 2:17); and the soul of a regenerate man is said to “die to sin,” when it is changed from sin to grace (Rom. 6:11). In all change there is a resemblance of death; so the notion of mutability is against the eternity of God. If anything be acquired by a change, then that which is acquired was not from eternity, and so he was not wholly eternal; if anything be lost which was from eternity, he is not wholly everlasting; if he did decrease by the change, something in him which had no beginning would have an end; if he did increase by that change, something in him would have a beginning that might have no end. What is changed doth not remain, and what doth not remain is not eternal. Though God alway remains in regard of existence, he would be immortal, and live alway; yet if he should suffer any change, he could not properly be eternal, because he would not alway be the same, and would not in every part be eternal; for all change is finished in time, one moment precedin, another moment following; but that which is before time cannot be changed by time. God cannot be eternally what he was; that is, he cannot have a true eternity, if he had a new knowledge, a new purpose, a new essence; if he were sometimes this and sometimes that, sometimes know this and sometimes know that, sometimes purpose this and afterwards hath a new purpose; he would be partly temporary and partly eternal, not truly and universally eternal. He that hath anything of newness, hath not properly and truly an entire eternity.

     Again, by the same reason that God could in the least cease to be what he was, he might also cease wholly to be; and no reason can be rendered why God might not cease wholly to be, as well as cease to be entirely and uniformly what he was. All changeableness implies a corruptibility.

     5. If God were changeable, he were not infinite and almighty. All change ends in addition or diminution; if anything be added, he was not infinite before, if anything be diminished, he is not infinite after. All change implies bounds and limits to that which is changed; but God is infinite; “His greatness is unsearchable:” we can add number to number without any end, and can conceive an infinite number; yet the greatness of God is beyond all our conceptions. But if there could be any change in his greatness for the better, it would not be unsearchable before that change; if for the worse, it would not be unsearchable after that change. Whatsoever hath limits and is changeable, is conceivable and searchable; but God is not only not known, but impossible in his own nature to be known and searched out, and, therefore, impossible to have any diminution in his nature. All that which is changed arrives to something which it was not before, or ceaseth in part to be what it was before. He would not also be almighty. What is omnipotent cannot be made worse; for to be made worse, is in part to be ccrrupted. If he be made better, he was not almighty before; something of power was wanting to him. If there should be any change, it must proceed from himself or from another; if from himself, it would be an inability to preserve himself in the perfection of his nature; if from another, he would be inferior in strength, knowledge, and power, to that which changes him, either in his nature, knowledge, or will; in both an inability; an inability in him to continue the same, or an inability in him to resist the power of another.

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