GreetingWatch Video Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
No Other Gospel6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Paul Called by God11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
Paul Accepted by the ApostlesWatch Video Galatians 2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Paul Opposes Peter11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Justified by Faith15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
By Faith, or by Works of the Law? (Cp Rom 4.1—25)Watch Video Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Nevertheless, we need to be alert to the dangers of law-language and to the inadequacy of likening God’s moral law either to the civil laws of the country or to the physical laws of the universe. True, a part of the glory of a constitutional monarchy is that even the monarch is not above the law but under it, being required to obey its provisions and (if in breach of them) to bear its penalties. ... We cannot think of God as caught in a technical legal muddle of this kind. Nor is it wise to liken God’s moral laws to his physical laws and then declare them equally inflexible. For example, ‘if you put your hand in the fire it will be burnt, and if you break the ten commandments you will be punished’. There is truth in the analogy, but the concept of mechanical penalties is misleading. It may be true of the laws of nature, even though strictly they are not ‘laws’ which bind God’s action but a description of the normal uniformity of his action which human beings have observed. The real reason why disobedience of God’s moral laws brings condemnation is not that God is their prisoner, but that he is their creator.
As R. W. Dale put it, God’s connection with the law is ‘not a relation of subjection but of identity...In God the law is alive; it reigns on his throne, sways his sceptre, is crowned with his glory’. ( The Atonement: The Congregational Union Lecture for 1875 (Classic Reprint) ) For the law is the expression of his own moral being, and his moral being is always self-consistent. Nathaniel Dimock captures this truth well in the following words:
There can be nothing...in the demands of the law, and the severity of the law, and the condemnation of the law, and the death of the law, and the curse of the law, which is not a reflection (in part) of the perfections of God. Whatever is due to the law is due to the law because it is the law of God, and is due therefore to God himself. ( The Doctrine Of The Death Of Christ... ) ( The Cross of Christ )
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
The Law and the Promise15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
... what are the effects of our justification? I think we can deduce them from another, and sometimes neglected, Pauline expression, namely that we are justified in Christ. (Gal. 2:17. Cf. Rom. 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:6.) To say that we are justified ‘through Christ’ points to his historical death; to say that we are justified ‘in Christ’ points to the personal relationship with him which by faith we now enjoy. This simple fact makes it impossible for us to think of justification as a purely external transaction; it cannot be isolated from our union with Christ and all the benefits which this brings. The first is membership of the Messianic community of Jesus. If we are in Christ and therefore justified, we are also the children of God and the true (spiritual) descendants of Abraham. Further, no racial, social or sexual barrier can come between us. This is the theme of Galatians 3:26–29. Tom Wright is surely correct in his emphasis that ‘justification is not an individualist’s charter, but God’s declaration that we belong to the covenant community’. (Great Acquittal) Secondly, this new community, to create which Christ gave himself on the cross, is to be ‘eager to do what is good’, and its members are to devote themselves to good works. (Titus 2:14; 3:8) So there is no ultimate conflict between Paul and James. They may have been using the verb ‘justify’ in different senses. They were certainly writing against different heresies, Paul against the self-righteous legalism of the Judaizers and James against the dead orthodoxy of the intellectualizers. Yet both teach that an authentic faith works, Paul stressing the faith that issues in works, and James the works that issue from faith. (E.g. Gal. 5:6; 1 Thess. 1:3; Jas 2:14–26.) ( The Cross of Christ )
English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Learn to be content
(Sept 26) Bob Gass
‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.’
(Php 4:1) Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. ESV
Discontentment is a trap that can ensnare you and rob you of joy and fulfilment. That’s why the Bible says you must learn to be content ‘whatever the circumstances’. The notion that a bigger car or a bigger house or a bigger salary will bring you contentment is a myth. There will always be something ‘bigger and better’ out there. There will always be people who have more than you, so you’ll never be able to get off the treadmill. That’s not to imply you should be satisfied with being enslaved to debt or destructive habits, or settle for complacency and mediocrity and not fulfil the call of God on your life. Not at all! You must keep working to improve yourself, while remaining totally dependent on God to bless you, promote you, and meet your needs. Contentment means not coveting another person’s position, possessions, or personality. Your security and self-worth should be based on who you are in Christ, not what you have in material assets. What a great way to live! Paul lived like that. He said, ‘I’ve learned…to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am’ (vv. 11-13 MSG). Each day you have a choice to make regarding your attitude. So, the word for you today is: learn to be content.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
The board of the oldest institution of higher learning in America, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, declared its purpose was to “train a literate clergy.” Ten of its twelve presidents prior to the Revolution were ministers, and over fifty percent of the seventeenth-century graduates became ministers. The Rules and Precepts for the students, which were adopted this day, September, 26, 1642, stated: “Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life.” The name of the College was Harvard.
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
If there must be in the Church a communion of belief, there must be there also a communion of prayer. For the communion of prayer is the very first form the communion of belief takes. It is in this direction that Church unity lies. It lies behind prayer, in something to which prayer gives effect, in that which is the source and soul of prayer—in our relation with God in Christ, in our new creation. Prayer for Church unity will not bring that unity; but that which stirs, and founds, and wings prayer will. And prayer is its chief exercise. The true Church is just as wide as the community of Christian prayer, i.e. of due response to the Gospel of our reconcilement and communion with God. And it is a thing almost dreadful that Christians who pray to the same God, Christ, and Saviour should refuse to unite in prayer because of institutional differences.
A prayer is also a promise. Every true prayer carries with it a vow. If it do not, it is not in earnest. It is not of a piece with life. Can we pray in earnest if we do not in the act commit ourselves to do our best to bring about the answer? Can we escape some king of hypocrisy? This is especially so with intercession. What is the value of praying for the poor if all the rest of our time and interest is given only to becoming rich? Where is the honesty of praying for our country if in our most active hours we are chiefly occupied in making something out of it, if we are strange to all sacrifice for it? Prayer is one form of sacrifice, but if it is the only form it is vain oblation. If we pray for our child that he may have God’s blessing, we are really promising that nothing shall be lacking on our part to be a divine blessing to him. And if we have no kind of religious relation to him (as plenty of Christian parents have none), our prayer is quite unreal, and its failure should not be a surprise. To pray for God’s kingdom is also so engage ourselves to service and sacrifice for it. To begin our prayer with a petition for the hallowing of God’s name and to have no real and prime place for holiness in our life or faith is not sincere. The prayer of the vindictive for forgiveness is mockery, like the prayer for daily bread from a wheat-cornerer. No such man could say the Lord’s Prayer but to his judgment. What would happen to the Church if the Lord’s Prayer became a test for membership as thoroughly as the Creeds have been? The Lord’s Prayer is also a vow to the Lord. None but a Christian can pray it, or should. Great worship of God is also a great engagement of ourselves, a great committal of our action. To begin the day with prayer is but a formality unless it go on in prayer, unless for the rest of it we pray in deed what we began in word. One has said that while prayer is the day’s best beginning it must not be like the handsome title-page of a worthless book.
“Thy will be done.” Unless that were the spirit of all our prayer, how should we have courage to pray if we know ourselves at all, or if we have come to a time when we can have some retrospect on our prayers and their fate? Without this committal to the wisdom of God, prayer would be a very dangerous weapon in proportion as it was effective. No true God could promise us an answer to our every prayer. No Father of mankind could. The rain that saved my crop might ruin my neighbour’s. It would paralyse prayer to be sure that it would prevail as it is offered, certainly and at once. We should be terrified at the power put into our foolish hands. Nothing would do more to cure us of a belief in our own wisdom than the granting of some of our eager prayers. And nothing could humiliate us more than to have God say when the fulfilment of our desire brought leanness to our souls. “Well, you have it.” It is what He has said to many. But He said more, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Faith is the whole being
and coming to rest
in the eternal certainties.
--- George H. Morrison
Faith is a quickening spirit,
it has insight;
and religious density betrays its absence,
being often the victim of the sermon
instead of the alumnus of the Gospel.
--- P.T. Forsyth The Soul of Prayer
Peace is more than just the absence of war. True peace is justice. True peace is freedom. And true peace dictates the recognition of human rights.
--- Ronald Reagan
Now we can stop lying to ourselves. We are saved from our own self-deception the moment we say with the tax collector, God be merciful to me, a sinner (Luke 18:13)
--- James Bryan Smith Embracing the Love of God: The Path and Promise of Christian Life
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
A Description Of The Temple.
1. Now this temple, as I have already said, was built upon a strong hill. At first the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the altar, for the ground about it was very uneven, and like a precipice; but when king Solomon, who was the person that built the temple, had built a wall to it on its east side, there was then added one cloister founded on a bank cast up for it, and on the other parts the holy house stood naked. But in future ages the people added new banks, 12 and the hill became a larger plain. They then broke down the wall on the north side, and took in as much as sufficed afterward for the compass of the entire temple. And when they had built walls on three sides of the temple round about, from the bottom of the hill, and had performed a work that was greater than could be hoped for, [in which work long ages were spent by them, as well as all their sacred treasures were exhausted, which were still replenished by those tributes which were sent to God from the whole habitable earth,] they then encompassed their upper courts with cloisters, as well as they [afterward] did the lowest [court of the] temple. The lowest part of this was erected to the height of three hundred cubits, and in some places more; yet did not the entire depth of the foundations appear, for they brought earth, and filled up the valleys, as being desirous to make them on a level with the narrow streets of the city; wherein they made use of stones of forty cubits in magnitude; for the great plenty of money they then had, and the liberality of the people, made this attempt of theirs to succeed to an incredible degree; and what could not be so much as hoped for as ever to be accomplished, was, by perseverance and length of time, brought to perfection.
2. Now for the works that were above these foundations, these were not unworthy of such foundations; for all the cloisters were double, and the pillars to them belonging were twenty-five cubits in height, and supported the cloisters. These pillars were of one entire stone each of them, and that stone was white marble; and the roofs were adorned with cedar, curiously graven. The natural magnificence, and excellent polish, and the harmony of the joints in these cloisters, afforded a prospect that was very remarkable; nor was it on the outside adorned with any work of the painter or engraver. The cloisters [of the outmost court] were in breadth thirty cubits, while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs, including the tower of Antonia; those entire courts that were exposed to the air were laid with stones of all sorts. When you go through these [first] cloisters, unto the second [court of the] temple, there was a partition made of stone all round, whose height was three cubits: its construction was very elegant; upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another, declaring the law of purity, some in Greek, and some in Roman letters, that "no foreigner should go within that sanctuary" for that second [court of the] temple was called "the Sanctuary," and was ascended to by fourteen steps from the first court. This court was four-square, and had a wall about it peculiar to itself; the height of its buildings, although it were on the outside forty cubits, 13 was hidden by the steps, and on the inside that height was but twenty-five cubits; for it being built over against a higher part of the hill with steps, it was no further to be entirely discerned within, being covered by the hill itself. Beyond these thirteen steps there was the distance of ten cubits; this was all plain; whence there were other steps, each of five cubits a-piece, that led to the gates, which gates on the north and south sides were eight, on each of those sides four, and of necessity two on the east. For since there was a partition built for the women on that side, as the proper place wherein they were to worship, there was a necessity for a second gate for them: this gate was cut out of its wall, over against the first gate. There was also on the other sides one southern and one northern gate, through which was a passage into the court of the women; for as to the other gates, the women were not allowed to pass through them; nor when they went through their own gate could they go beyond their own wall. This place was allotted to the women of our own country, and of other countries, provided they were of the same nation, and that equally. The western part of this court had no gate at all, but the wall was built entire on that side. But then the cloisters which were betwixt the gates extended from the wall inward, before the chambers; for they were supported by very fine and large pillars. These cloisters were single, and, excepting their magnitude, were no way inferior to those of the lower court.
3. Now nine of these gates were on every side covered over with gold and silver, as were the jambs of their doors and their lintels; but there was one gate that was without the [inward court of the] holy house, which was of Corinthian brass, and greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold. Each gate had two doors, whose height was severally thirty cubits, and their breadth fifteen. However, they had large spaces within of thirty cubits, and had on each side rooms, and those, both in breadth and in length, built like towers, and their height was above forty cubits. Two pillars did also support these rooms, and were in circumference twelve cubits. Now the magnitudes of the other gates were equal one to another; but that over the Corinthian gate, which opened on the east over against the gate of the holy house itself, was much larger; for its height was fifty cubits; and its doors were forty cubits; and it was adorned after a most costly manner, as having much richer and thicker plates of silver and gold upon them than the other. These nine gates had that silver and gold poured upon them by Alexander, the father of Tiberius. Now there were fifteen steps, which led away from the wall of the court of the women to this greater gate; whereas those that led thither from the other gates were five steps shorter.
4. As to the holy house itself, which was placed in the midst [of the inmost court], that most sacred part of the temple, it was ascended to by twelve steps; and in front its height and its breadth were equal, and each a hundred cubits, though it was behind forty cubits narrower; for on its front it had what may be styled shoulders on each side, that passed twenty cubits further. Its first gate was seventy cubits high, and twenty-five cubits broad; but this gate had no doors; for it represented the universal visibility of heaven, and that it cannot be excluded from any place. Its front was covered with gold all over, and through it the first part of the house, that was more inward, did all of it appear; which, as it was very large, so did all the parts about the more inward gate appear to shine to those that saw them; but then, as the entire house was divided into two parts within, it was only the first part of it that was open to our view. Its height extended all along to ninety cubits in height, and its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty. But that gate which was at this end of the first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all over covered with gold, as was its whole wall about it; it had also golden vines above it, from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man's height. But then this house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
than to share the house with a nagging wife.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The unblameable attitude
If … thou rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee … --- Matthew 5:23.
If when you come to the altar, there you remember that your brother has anything against you, not—If you rake up something by a morbid sensitiveness, but—“If thou rememberest,” that is, it is brought to your conscious mind by the Spirit of God: “first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Never object to the intense sensitiveness of the Spirit of God in you when He is educating you down to the scruple.
“First be reconciled to thy brother …” Our Lord’s direction is simple—“first be reconciled.” Go back the way you came, go the way indicated to you by the conviction given at the altar; have an attitude of mind and a temper of soul to the one who has something against you that makes reconciliation as natural as breathing. Jesus does not mention the other person, He says—you go. There is no question of your rights. The stamp of the saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.
“And then come and offer thy gift.” The process is clearly marked. First, the heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, then the sudden checking by the sensitiveness of the Holy Spirit, and the stoppage at the point of conviction; then the way of obedience to the word of God, constructing an unblameable attitude of mind and temper to the one with whom you have been in the wrong; then the glad, simple, unhindered offering of your gift to God.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
to the Galatians
In order, in conclusion, to emphasize the pervasive influence of the cross, namely that we cannot eliminate it from any area of our thinking or living, we shall look through Paul’s letter to the Galatians. There are two main reasons for this choice. First, it is arguably his first letter. This is not the place to assess the pros and cons of the ‘South Galatian’ and ‘North Galatian’ theories. The similarity of the contents with the letter to the Romans may suggest the later date, but the situation presupposed in Galatians fits the Acts chronology much better and strongly favours the earlier date. In this case the letter was written about AD 48, within fifteen years of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Secondly, the gospel according to Paul in Galatians (which he defends, along with his apostolic authority, as coming from God, not man) focuses on the cross. Indeed the letter contains seven striking affirmations about the death of Jesus, each of which illumines a different facet of it. When we put them together, we have an amazingly comprehensive grasp of the pervasive influence of the cross.
The Cross of Christ
the Poetry of RS Thomas
After The Lecture
I am asking the difficult question. I need help.
I'm not asking from ill will.
I have no desire to see you coping
Or not coping with the unmanageable coils
Of a problem frivolously called up.
I've read your books, had glimpses of a climate
That is rigorous, though not too hard
For the spirit. I may have grown
Since reading them; there is no scale
To judge by, neither is the soul
Measurable. I know all the tropes
Of religion, how God is not there
To go to; how time is what we buy
With his absence, and how we look
Through the near end of the binocular at pain,
Evil, deformity, I have tried
Bandaging my sharp eyes
With humility, but still the hearing
Of the ear holds; from as far off as Tibet
The cries come.
From one not to be penned
In a concept, and differing in kind
From the human; whose attributes are the negations
Of thought; who holds us at bay with
His symbols, the opposed emblems
Of hawk and dove, what can my prayers win
For the kindred souls brought close to the bone
To be tortured, and burning, burning
Through history with their own strange light?
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The Teacher's Commentary
It was early when the apostle rolled over on his pallet and saw the shafts of Morning sunlight sifting through the shutters.
The confrontation over Peter’s sudden unwillingness to eat with Gentile converts (Gal. 2:12) had heightened Paul’s awareness of the dangers facing the young church. Then messengers had come, reporting that delegations of Christian Pharisees had visited the cities where churches had been planted. They taught that the Gentile Christians must place themselves under the Law of Israel, and many were obeying them.
Deeply burdened, Paul had called a number of the brothers together and prayed with them through most of the night.
Now, fully awake, Paul decided to act. Filled with a deep sense of urgency, he found a pen and papyrus sheets and attacked the task he had set himself. His pen raced; passionate phrases appeared. All the churches in southern Galatia must receive a copy of this, his first letter of instruction and his first attempt to set down a theology for the new Christian movement.
“Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ” (1:1). These Judaizers claimed to be authorized by the Jerusalem church. As if man’s authorization counted!
The Teacher's Commentary
A hundred deaths but not one bit of envy!
BIBLE TEXT / Deuteronomy 31:14 / The Lord said to Moses: The time is drawing near for you to die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the Tent of Meeting, that I may instruct him. Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the Tent of Meeting.
MIDRASH TEXT / Deuteronomy Rabbah 9, 9 / Call Joshua. He said to Him, “Master of the World, let Joshua take my position, so I can live.” The Holy One, praised is He, said, “Do to him what he does to you.” Moses immediately arose and went to Joshua’s house. Joshua was afraid and said, “Moses, my master come to me.” They went out for a walk, Moses walking to the left of Joshua. They entered the Tent of Meeting, the pillar of cloud came down and separated them. When the pillar of cloud left, Moses went to Joshua and said, “What did the Word say to you?” Joshua said to him, “When the Word used to reveal itself to you, did I know what it spoke to you?” At that moment Moses cried out, saying, “A hundred deaths but not one bit of envy!” And Solomon has explained it, “For love is as fierce as death, jealousy as severe as Sheol” (Song of Songs 8:6, authors’ translation)—the love that Moses had for Joshua [was as fierce as death], and the jealousy Moses had for Joshua [was as severe as Sheol]. When he [Moses] accepted that he would die, the Holy One, praised is He, began to appease him. He [God] said to him, “I swear [lit., by your life]! In this world you led My children, so too in the world to come, through you I will lead them.” From where [is the proof]? As it says, “Then his people will remember the ancient days, and Moses” (Isaiah 63:11, authors’ translation).
CONTEXT / How does a human being act when he or she knows death is near? For Moses, according to the Torah, it was with quiet acceptance. In the Midrash, however, the Rabbis imagine a very different reaction. They picture Moses trying to save his life by making a deal with God: “Master of the World, let Joshua take my position, so I can live. I’ll give up my job as leader of the people, and in return, let me not die.”
God agrees to the suggestion. Moses and Joshua will switch positions. Following accepted protocol, Moses immediately arose and went to Joshua’s house, and not vice versa. Joshua at first has great difficulty treating his former master as his disciple: Joshua was afraid and said, “Moses, my master, come to me.” Moses even walks to the left of Joshua, in accordance with proper etiquette. But when God, through the pillar of cloud, reveals a divine message (“the Word”) only to Joshua, Moses feels left out. He asks Joshua, “What did the Word say to you?” And Moses is put in his place. Joshua, it seems, has quickly gotten accustomed to his new superior role and isn’t about to share the privileges of his office with anyone.
Moses is terribly hurt. “A hundred deaths but not one bit of envy! I would rather die a hundred times than experience even one taste of envy!” Moses retracts the deal with God and prepares for death. The prooftext for how hurt Moses is comes from Song of Songs: “For love is as fierce as death, jealousy as severe as Sheol.” Sheol is, in biblical thought, the dark place beneath the earth where all souls go for eternal repose after death.
God consoles Moses. Note God’s opening word: He [God] said to him, “I swear [lit., by your life]! The word חַיֶיךָ/ḥayyekha, “by your life,” is an idiomatic expression used when someone is about to swear an oath. How ironic: We humans usually swear using God as the ultimate reference point. God swears using Moses. This expression has both a positive and a negative side. How painful it must have been for Moses to hear God say, at the moment he accepts death, that his life is so fleeting. At the same time, by making Moses the point of reference—“by your life!”—God is saying, in essence, “You will be around in the future.” Though he must die, he will live again and serve as leader of the people. The basis for that promise comes from the Rabbis’ noticing that the verb in Isaiah is in the future tense: וַיִּזְכֹּר/va-yizkor, “Then his people will remember the ancient days, and Moses.”
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
How great is God—beyond our understanding!
--- Job 36:26.
I cannot read the Bible without seeing that God has moved his believers in the direction of courage and sacrifice. (Preaching Through the Bible)
In the direction of courage, this is not mere animal courage, for then the argument might be matched by many gods whose names are spelled without capitals. No, this is moral courage, noble heroism, fierce rebuke of personal and national corruption, lofty and inspiring judgment of all good and all evil.
The God idea made mean people valiant soldier-prophets; it broadened the piping voice of the timid inquirer into the thunder of the national teacher and leader. For brass it brought gold; for iron, silver; for wood, brass; and for stones, iron. Instead of the thorn it brought up the fir tree and instead of the brier the myrtle tree, and it made the bush burn with fire.
Wherever the God idea took complete possession of the mind, every faculty was lifted up to a new capacity and borne on to heroic attempts and conquests. The saints who received it conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames. Their weakness was turned to strength, they became powerful in battle, they routed foreign armies.
Any idea that inspired life and hope in humankind is to be examined with reverent care. The quality of the courage determines its value and the value of the idea that excited and sustained it.
What is true of the courage is true also of the sacrifice, which has ever followed the acceptance of the God idea. This is not the showy and fanatical sacrifice of mere bloodletting. Many a juggernaut, great and small, drinks the blood of its devotees.
But spiritual discipline, self-renunciation, the esteeming of others better than one’s self, the suppression of selfishness—these are the practical uses of the God idea. It is not a barren sentiment.
It arouses courage. It necessitates self-sacrifice. It touches the imagination as with fire. It deepens every thought. It sanctifies the universe. It makes heaven possible. Unknown, unknowable. Yes, but not therefore unusable or unprofitable.
--- Joseph Parker
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
How One Sermon Killed Another
At age 18, while studying in a city near his home, Aeneas Sylvius de’ Piccolomini heard a friar preaching. He was impressed and entered church life, but without giving up his vices. Aeneas worked his way up the religious ladder, and was elected as Pope Pius II at age 53. He understood world politics as few did, and he was brilliant. He was a grammarian, geographer, historian, novelist, and orator. But he wasn’t pious. He wrote explicit love stories, fathered children here and there, and instructed young men in ways to “indulge” themselves.
He also had something to say to princes. On September 26, 1460 Pius called European leaders together in Mantua to discuss his life’s dream—a new crusade against the Turks. He preached three hours at the opening session, telling the princes they must emulate Stephen, Peter, and Andrew who were willing to lay down their lives in holy warfare. The Turks have robbed Christianity of its greatest treasures, he said—Jerusalem, where Christ lived; Bethlehem, where he was born; the Jordan River, where he was baptized; Calvary, where he was crucified; Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians. Joshua had fought for this land. So had Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. Earlier crusaders had demolished Muslim strongholds and liberated Christian sites. “O! That Godfrey were once more present, and Baldwin and the other mighty men who broke through the ranks of the Turks and regained Jerusalem!”
His message greatly stirred the assembly, and for a moment the princes appeared ready to rush from the room to undertake a new crusade. But the pope was followed by another preacher, Cardinal Bessarion, who spoke for another three hours. By the end of the day, the princes were so worn out by the preaching they had no passion for the cause.
The congress became mired in political rivalry, and the promises made there were never kept; the days of the crusades were over. Yet Pope Pius continued dreaming of one, and his dying words were, “Pray for me, for I am a sinner. Bid my brethren continue this holy expedition.”
It takes strong winds to move a large sailing ship, but the captain uses only a small rudder to make it go in any direction. Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things.
--- James 3:4,5a.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 26
“The myrtle trees that were in the bottom.” --- Zechariah 1:8.
The vision in this chapter describes the condition of Israel in Zechariah’s day; but being interpreted in its aspect towards us, it describes the Church of God as we find it now in the world. The Church is compared to a myrtle grove flourishing in a valley. It is hidden, unobserved, secreted; courting no honour and attracting no observation from the careless gazer. The Church, like her head, has a glory, but it is concealed from carnal eyes, for the time of her breaking forth in all her splendour is not yet come. The idea of tranquil security is also suggested to us: for the myrtle grove in the valley is still and calm, while the storm sweeps over the mountain summits. Tempests spend their force upon the craggy peaks of the Alps, but down yonder where flows the stream which maketh glad the city of our God, the myrtles flourish by the still waters, all unshaken by the impetuous wind. How great is the inward tranquility of God’s Church! Even when opposed and persecuted, she has a peace which the world gives not, and which, therefore, it cannot take away: the peace of God which passeth all understanding keeps the hearts and minds of God’s people. Does not the metaphor forcibly picture the peaceful, perpetual growth of the saints? The myrtle sheds not her leaves, she is always green; and the Church in her worst time still hath a blessed verdure of grace about her; nay, she has sometimes exhibited most verdure when her winter has been sharpest. She has prospered most when her adversities have been most severe. Hence the text hints at victory. The myrtle is the emblem of peace, and a significant token of triumph. The brows of conquerors were bound with myrtle and with laurel; and is not the Church ever victorious? Is not every Christian more than a conqueror through him that loved him? Living in peace, do not the saints fall asleep in the arms of victory?
Evening - September 26
“Howl, fir tree, for the cedar is fallen.” --- Zechariah 11:2.
When in the forest there is heard the crash of a falling oak, it is a sign that the woodman is abroad, and every tree in the whole company may tremble lest to-morrow the sharp edge of the axe should find it out. We are all like trees marked for the axe, and the fall of one should remind us that for every one, whether great as the cedar, or humble as the fir, the appointed hour is stealing on apace. I trust we do not, by often hearing of death, become callous to it. May we never be like the birds in the steeple, which build their nests when the bells are tolling, and sleep quietly when the solemn funeral peals are startling the air. May we regard death as the most weighty of all events, and be sobered by its approach. It ill behoves us to sport while our eternal destiny hangs on a thread. The sword is out of its scabbard—let us not trifle; it is furbished, and the edge is sharp—let us not play with it. He who does not prepare for death is more than an ordinary fool, he is a madman. When the voice of God is heard among the trees of the garden, let fig tree and sycamore, and elm and cedar, alike hear the sound thereof.
Be ready, servant of Christ, for thy Master comes on a sudden, when an ungodly world least expects him. See to it that thou be faithful in his work, for the grave shall soon be digged for thee. Be ready, parents, see that your children are brought up in the fear of God, for they must soon be orphans; be ready, men of business, take care that your affairs are correct, and that you serve God with all your hearts, for the days of your terrestrial service will soon be ended, and you will be called to give account for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be evil. May we all prepare for the tribunal of the great King with a care which shall be rewarded with the gracious commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant”
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
WHEN ALL THY MERCIES, O MY GOD
Joseph Addison, 1672–1719
Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. (1 Chronicles 16:11 KJV)
A reflection upon God’s blessings will always result in a response of worship and praise; a neglect of gratitude will eventually produce a lifestyle of self-centeredness.
Joseph Addison, the author of this hymn, wrote this introduction for his text:
If gratitude is due from man to man, how much more from man to his Maker. The Supreme being does not only confer upon us those bounties which proceed immediately from His hand, but even those benefits which are conveyed to us by others. Any blessing which we enjoy, by what means soever derived, is the gift of Him who is the great author of good and the Father of mercies.
Joseph Addison was recognized in his era as one of England’s literary greats. He was not only a writer and a moralist, but a man of affairs in his government. He was elected to Parliament and then appointed successively as Under Secretary, Secretary for Ireland, and finally Secretary of State.
These words are thought to have been written by Joseph Addison following his rescue from a shipwreck during a storm off the Coast of Genoa, Italy. The hymn originally had 13 stanzas. It was published on August 9, 1712, in a London daily paper, The Spectator, of which Addison served for a time as editor. The surviving four stanzas have since provided God’s people with a meaningful aid in expressing grateful worship to God for all of His enduring mercies:
When all Thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys, transported with the view I’m lost in wonder, love and praise.
Unnumbered comforts to my soul Thy tender care bestowed before my infant heart conceived from whom those comforts flowed.
When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou with health renewed my face; and, when in sins and sorrows bowed, revived my soul with grace.
Thru ev’ry period of my life Thy goodness I’ll pursue, and after death, in distant worlds, the glorious theme renew.
For Today: Psalm 63:1-5; 86:5–17; 89:1; 103:8–14; James 3:17
Reflect with this author upon God’s mercy of comfort, His mercy of physical and spiritual healing, His mercy of reviving grace—then, respond to Him with grateful expressions of worship and praise. Allow this hymn to help ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Tuesday, September 27, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 20, Tuesday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 78:1–39
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 78:40–72
Old Testament 2 Kings 5:19–27
New Testament 1 Corinthians 5:1–8
Gospel Matthew 5:27–37
Index of Readings
1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
5 He established a decree in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach to their children;
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and rise up and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their ancestors,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
9 The Ephraimites, armed with the bow,
turned back on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant,
but refused to walk according to his law.
11 They forgot what he had done,
and the miracles that he had shown them.
12 In the sight of their ancestors he worked marvels
in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all night long with a fiery light.
15 He split rocks open in the wilderness,
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16 He made streams come out of the rock,
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
17 Yet they sinned still more against him,
rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18 They tested God in their heart
by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
20 Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out
and torrents overflowed,
can he also give bread,
or provide meat for his people?”
21 Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of rage;
a fire was kindled against Jacob,
his anger mounted against Israel,
22 because they had no faith in God,
and did not trust his saving power.
23 Yet he commanded the skies above,
and opened the doors of heaven;
24 he rained down on them manna to eat,
and gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
he sent them food in abundance.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
and by his power he led out the south wind;
27 he rained flesh upon them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
28 he let them fall within their camp,
all around their dwellings.
29 And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.
30 But before they had satisfied their craving,
while the food was still in their mouths,
31 the anger of God rose against them
and he killed the strongest of them,
and laid low the flower of Israel.
32 In spite of all this they still sinned;
they did not believe in his wonders.
33 So he made their days vanish like a breath,
and their years in terror.
34 When he killed them, they sought for him;
they repented and sought God earnestly.
35 They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God their redeemer.
36 But they flattered him with their mouths;
they lied to him with their tongues.
37 Their heart was not steadfast toward him;
they were not true to his covenant.
38 Yet he, being compassionate,
forgave their iniquity,
and did not destroy them;
often he restrained his anger,
and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and does not come again.
40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the desert!
41 They tested God again and again,
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not keep in mind his power,
or the day when he redeemed them from the foe;
43 when he displayed his signs in Egypt,
and his miracles in the fields of Zoan.
44 He turned their rivers to blood,
so that they could not drink of their streams.
45 He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,
and frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave their crops to the caterpillar,
and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail,
and their sycamores with frost.
48 He gave over their cattle to the hail,
and their flocks to thunderbolts.
49 He let loose on them his fierce anger,
wrath, indignation, and distress,
a company of destroying angels.
50 He made a path for his anger;
he did not spare them from death,
but gave their lives over to the plague.
51 He struck all the firstborn in Egypt,
the first issue of their strength in the tents of Ham.
52 Then he led out his people like sheep,
and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid;
but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 And he brought them to his holy hill,
to the mountain that his right hand had won.
55 He drove out nations before them;
he apportioned them for a possession
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
56 Yet they tested the Most High God,
and rebelled against him.
They did not observe his decrees,
57 but turned away and were faithless like their ancestors;
they twisted like a treacherous bow.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places;
they moved him to jealousy with their idols.
59 When God heard, he was full of wrath,
and he utterly rejected Israel.
60 He abandoned his dwelling at Shiloh,
the tent where he dwelt among mortals,
61 and delivered his power to captivity,
his glory to the hand of the foe.
62 He gave his people to the sword,
and vented his wrath on his heritage.
63 Fire devoured their young men,
and their girls had no marriage song.
64 Their priests fell by the sword,
and their widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
like a warrior shouting because of wine.
66 He put his adversaries to rout;
he put them to everlasting disgrace.
67 He rejected the tent of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loves.
69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.
70 He chose his servant David,
and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 from tending the nursing ewes he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel, his inheritance.
72 With upright heart he tended them,
and guided them with skillful hand.
2 Kings 5:19–27
19 He said to him, “Go in peace.”
But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, thought, “My master has let that Aramean Naaman off too lightly by not accepting from him what he offered. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something out of him.” 21 So Gehazi went after Naaman. When Naaman saw someone running after him, he jumped down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is everything all right?” 22 He replied, “Yes, but my master has sent me to say, ‘Two members of a company of prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim; please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’ ” 23 Naaman said, “Please accept two talents.” He urged him, and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and gave them to two of his servants, who carried them in front of Gehazi. 24 When he came to the citadel, he took the bags from them, and stored them inside; he dismissed the men, and they left.
25 He went in and stood before his master; and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” He answered, “Your servant has not gone anywhere at all.” 26 But he said to him, “Did I not go with you in spirit when someone left his chariot to meet you? Is this a time to accept money and to accept clothing, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you, and to your descendants forever.” So he left his presence leprous, as white as snow.
1 Corinthians 5:1–8
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you?
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgment 4 in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church