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9/22/2017
2 Corinthians 10-13
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Paul Defends His Ministry   Watch video

2 Corinthians 10:1     I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

     7 Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. 8 For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. 9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. 12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

     13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.


Paul and the False Apostles   Watch video

2 Corinthians 11:1     I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

     7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

     12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Paul’s Sufferings as an Apostle

     16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!

     But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

     30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.


Paul’s Visions and His Thorn   Watch video

2 Corinthians 12:1     I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Concern for the Corinthian Church

     11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

     14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

     19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha



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.

Click here to read all of the article

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

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.

Click here to read all of the article

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.”

Click here to read all of the article

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

John Piper Books:

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:




  • 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

... 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: Quality Paperback Edition

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

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

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, September 22, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 19, Friday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 69:1–21 (22–28) 29–36
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 73
Old Testament     2 Kings 1:2–17
New Testament     1 Corinthians 3:16–23
Gospel     Matthew 5:11–16

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 69:1–21 (22–28) 29–36

1 Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.

4 More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
many are those who would destroy me,
my enemies who accuse me falsely.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?
5 O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

6 Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me,
O Lord GOD of hosts;
do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me,
O God of Israel.
7 It is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that shame has covered my face.
8 I have become a stranger to my kindred,
an alien to my mother’s children.

9 It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
10 When I humbled my soul with fasting,
they insulted me for doing so.
11 When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
12 I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me.

13 But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.
With your faithful help 14 rescue me
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
15 Do not let the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the Pit close its mouth over me.

16 Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17 Do not hide your face from your servant,
for I am in distress—make haste to answer me.
18 Draw near to me, redeem me,
set me free because of my enemies.

19 You know the insults I receive,
and my shame and dishonor;
my foes are all known to you.
20 Insults have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none;
and for comforters, but I found none.
21 They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

22 Let their table be a trap for them,
a snare for their allies.
23 Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and make their loins tremble continually.
24 Pour out your indignation upon them,
and let your burning anger overtake them.
25 May their camp be a desolation;
let no one live in their tents.
26 For they persecute those whom you have struck down,
and those whom you have wounded, they attack still more.
27 Add guilt to their guilt;
may they have no acquittal from you.
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

29 But I am lowly and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, protect me.

30 I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the LORD more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
32 Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33 For the LORD hears the needy,
and does not despise his own that are in bonds.

34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them.
35 For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah;
and his servants shall live there and possess it;
36 the children of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall live in it.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 73

Psalm 73
A Psalm of Asaph.

1 Truly God is good to the upright,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For they have no pain;
their bodies are sound and sleek.
5 They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not plagued like other people.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them like a garment.
7 Their eyes swell out with fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8 They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues range over the earth.

10 Therefore the people turn and praise them,
and find no fault in them.
11 And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Such are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
13 All in vain I have kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all day long I have been plagued,
and am punished every morning.

15 If I had said, “I will talk on in this way,”
I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.
16 But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I perceived their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
on awaking you despise their phantoms.

21 When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was stupid and ignorant;
I was like a brute beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me with honor.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 Indeed, those who are far from you will perish;
you put an end to those who are false to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
to tell of all your works.

Old Testament
2 Kings 1:2–17

2 Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay injured; so he sent messengers, telling them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.” 3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Get up, go to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Now therefore thus says the LORD, ‘You shall not leave the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.’ ” So Elijah went.

5 The messengers returned to the king, who said to them, “Why have you returned?” 6 They answered him, “There came a man to meet us, who said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him: Thus says the LORD: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not leave the bed to which you have gone, but shall surely die.’ ” 7 He said to them, “What sort of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?” 8 They answered him, “A hairy man, with a leather belt around his waist.” He said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

9 Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty men. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’ ” 10 But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

11 Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. He went up and said to him, “O man of God, this is the king’s order: Come down quickly!” 12 But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

13 Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. So the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and entreated him, “O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. 14 Look, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.” 15 Then the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he set out and went down with him to the king, 16 and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron,—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?—therefore you shall not leave the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.”

17 So he died according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken. His brother, Jehoram succeeded him as king in the second year of King Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat of Judah, because Ahaziah had no son.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 3:16–23

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

“He catches the wise in their craftiness,”
20 and again,
“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are futile.”

21 So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Gospel
Matthew 5:11–16

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

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



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Thomas W. Merrill   Catholic University





Tocqueville's Alliance of Religion and Liberty
Harvey Mansfield   Catholic University






Leibniz: Modern or Pre-Modern Philosophy?
Nicholas Jolley   Catholic University





Spinoza and Toleration
Steven Nadler   Catholic University






Natural Law-Natural Rights John Locke
Michael Pakaluk   Catholic University





Kant, Autonomy, and Modernity
Paul Guyer   Catholic University






Descartes's Critique of Scholastic Teleology
Tad Schmaltz   Catholic University





Litigation and Religious Liberty
Drew Dickens   
Dallas Theological Seminary