Judgment on Ephraim and Jerusalem
video Isaiah 28:1 Ah, the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim,
and the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
which is on the head of the rich valley of those overcome with wine!
2 Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong;
like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest,
like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters,
he casts down to the earth with his hand.
3 The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim
will be trodden underfoot;
4 and the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
which is on the head of the rich valley,
will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer:
when someone sees it, he swallows it
as soon as it is in his hand.
5 In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory,
and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people,
6 and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment,
and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
7 These also reel with wine
and stagger with strong drink;
the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,
they are swallowed by wine,
they stagger with strong drink,
they reel in vision,
they stumble in giving judgment.
8 For all tables are full of filthy vomit,
with no space left.
9 “To whom will he teach knowledge,
and to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from the milk,
those taken from the breast?
10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little.”
11 For by people of strange lips
and with a foreign tongue
the LORD will speak to this people,
12 to whom he has said,
“This is rest;
give rest to the weary;
and this is repose”;
yet they would not hear.
13 And the word of the LORD will be to them
precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little,
that they may go, and fall backward,
and be broken, and snared, and taken.
A Cornerstone in Zion
14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers,
who rule this people in Jerusalem!
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
17 And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
18 Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through,
you will be beaten down by it.
19 As often as it passes through it will take you;
for morning by morning it will pass through,
by day and by night;
and it will be sheer terror to understand the message.
20 For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on,
and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in.
21 For the LORD will rise up as on Mount Perazim;
as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused;
to do his deed—strange is his deed!
and to work his work—alien is his work!
22 Now therefore do not scoff,
lest your bonds be made strong;
for I have heard a decree of destruction
from the Lord GOD of hosts against the whole land.
23 Give ear, and hear my voice;
give attention, and hear my speech.
24 Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?
Does he continually open and harrow his ground?
25 When he has leveled its surface,
does he not scatter dill, sow cumin,
and put in wheat in rows
and barley in its proper place,
and emmer as the border?
26 For he is rightly instructed;
his God teaches him.
27 Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick,
and cumin with a rod.
28 Does one crush grain for bread?
No, he does not thresh it forever;
when he drives his cart wheel over it
with his horses, he does not crush it.
29 This also comes from the LORD of hosts;
he is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in wisdom.
The Siege of Jerusalem
video Isaiah 29:1 Ah, Ariel, Ariel,
the city where David encamped!
Add year to year;
let the feasts run their round.
2 Yet I will distress Ariel,
and there shall be moaning and lamentation,
and she shall be to me like an Ariel.
3 And I will encamp against you all around,
and will besiege you with towers
and I will raise siegeworks against you.
4 And you will be brought low; from the earth you shall speak,
and from the dust your speech will be bowed down;
your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost,
and from the dust your speech shall whisper.
5 But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust,
and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff.
And in an instant, suddenly,
6 you will be visited by the LORD of hosts
with thunder and with earthquake and great noise,
with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.
7 And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel,
all that fight against her and her stronghold and distress her,
shall be like a dream, a vision of the night.
8 As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating,
and awakes with his hunger not satisfied,
or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking,
and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched,
so shall the multitude of all the nations be
that fight against Mount Zion.
9 Astonish yourselves and be astonished;
blind yourselves and be blind!
Be drunk, but not with wine;
stagger, but not with strong drink!
10 For the LORD has poured out upon you
a spirit of deep sleep,
and has closed your eyes (the prophets),
and covered your heads (the seers).
13 And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
14 therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
15 Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel,
whose deeds are in the dark,
and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
16 You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
“He has no understanding”?
17 Is it not yet a very little while
until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nothing
and the scoffer cease,
and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender,
and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate,
and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who murmur will accept instruction.”
Do Not Go Down to Egypt
video Isaiah 30:1 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
that they may add sin to sin;
2 who set out to go down to Egypt,
without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
3 Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
4 For though his officials are at Zoan
and his envoys reach Hanes,
5 everyone comes to shame
through a people that cannot profit them,
that brings neither help nor profit,
but shame and disgrace.”
Through a land of trouble and anguish,
from where come the lioness and the lion,
the adder and the flying fiery serpent,
they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys,
and their treasures on the humps of camels,
to a people that cannot profit them.
7 Egypt’s help is worthless and empty;
therefore I have called her
“Rahab who sits still.”
A Rebellious People
8 And now, go, write it before them on a tablet
and inscribe it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
as a witness forever.
9 For they are a rebellious people,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the LORD;
10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
11 leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel,
“Because you despise this word
and trust in oppression and perverseness
and rely on them,
13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you
like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse,
whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant;
14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel
that is smashed so ruthlessly
that among its fragments not a shard is found
with which to take fire from the hearth,
or to dip up water out of the cistern.”
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
But you were unwilling, 16 and you said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”;
therefore you shall flee away;
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”;
therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one;
at the threat of five you shall flee,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
like a signal on a hill.
The LORD Will Be Gracious
18 Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.
27 Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar,
burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke;
his lips are full of fury,
and his tongue is like a devouring fire;
28 his breath is like an overflowing stream
that reaches up to the neck;
to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction,
and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray.
English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha
What I'm Reading
The Self-Evident Nature of Objective Moral Truths
By J. Warner Wallace 5/31/2017
I occasionally encounter someone who rejects the existence of objective, transcendent moral truths. For many people, all moral truth is merely perspectival; a matter of flexible, cultural convention. Yet there appear to be a number of moral absolutes that transcend culture and history. These objective truths beckon us to seek justification when we attempt to circumvent their prescriptions. “Did you steal the hammer from that man?” “Yes, dad, but he was going to hit me with it!” We intuitively know that it’s never acceptable to steal “for the fun of it”. This action requires proper justification before any of us would find it tolerable or morally appropriate. Still, some folks are unconvinced that such a transcendent Law exists at all.
I’ve talked to people who refuse to accept some of the transcendent moral principles I’ve proposed. In one recent conversation, a female graduate student said she could imagine a culture that might accept (as virtuous) the moral principles I typically offer as transcendent moral taboos:
It’s never OK to steal “for the fun of it”
It’s never OK to lie “for the fun of it”
It’s never OK to kill “for the fun of it”
When people seek to reject the transcendent nature of these claims, I take the following approach. First, I ask them for an historical example. While there are many cultures that have justified their actions with rationalizations we might reject as insufficient, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a culture that used “for the fun of it” as a justification. Secondly, it’s sometimes important to “super-size” an issue to illustrate the point. That’s why I occasionally ask the question, “Is it ever OK to torture babies for fun?” If it isn’t, we’ve just identified a transcendent moral principle we can agree on. You’d be surprised, however, to discover how many people will still reject this “extreme” moral truth claim. The aforementioned graduate student told me, “Well, I would never so such a thing and I would never say it was OK, but I don’t think there’s necessarily an objective truth about it.” Really? I asked her, “So, are you saying there’s a scenario in which it might be appropriate to torture a baby for fun?” She still hesitated. “So, you’re saying that there could be a scenario in which it is morally acceptable to torture babies merely for the fun of it? Do you see how that sounds?”
When people still refuse to affirm something as self-evident as, “It’s never OK to torture babies for fun,” it’s time to offer them an additional piece of advice: “Get some help!” When your intuitive ability to recognize self-evident truth is inoperative, it’s time to get some counseling. Or, at least, start asking what it is that is causing you to hesitate in the first place. As this graduate student became more and more uncomfortable with her position, she began to recognize the weight of the moral truth she was trying to deny. She intuitively understood the need for proper justification because she felt the gravity of the transcendent claim. If there are such transcendent truths, I think we owe it to ourselves to attribute them to a proper and foundationally reasonable source.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
By Albert Mohler 4/14/2017
The Christian faith is not a mere collection of doctrines — a bag of truths. Christianity is a comprehensive truth claim that encompasses every aspect of revealed doctrine, but is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, as the apostolic preaching makes clear, the gospel is the priority.
The Apostle Paul affirms this priority when he writes to the Christians in Corinth. In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul sets out his case:
(1 Co 15:1–11) 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ESV
Paul points directly to the events of the cross and resurrection of Christ. He is not concerned with just any gospel, but with the only gospel that saves. This is “the gospel I preached to you,” Paul reminds the Corinthians. The same Paul who so forcefully warned the Galatians against accepting any false gospel reminds the church at Corinth that the very “gospel I preached to you” is the gospel “by which you are being saved.” Their stewardship of the gospel is underlined in Paul’s words, “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.”
Paul’s statement of priority is a vital corrective for our confused times. Without hesitation, Paul writes with urgency about the truths that are “as of first importance.” All revealed truth is vital, invaluable, life-changing truth to which every disciple of Christ is fully accountable. But certain truths are of highest importance, and that is the language Paul uses without qualification.
And what is of first importance? “That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” and “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The cross and the empty tomb stand at the center of the Christian faith. Without these, there is no good news — no salvation.
- 1 God and the Transgender Debate
- 2 The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
- 3 Live Smart: Preparing for the Future God Wants for You
- 4 God's Word Alone---The Authority of Scripture: ...and Why It Still Matters
- 5 Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America
- 6 Echoes of the Reformation
- 7 The Call to Ministry
- 8 A Guide to Church Revitalization
- 9 Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism
- 10 Living The Cross Centered Life Keeping The Gospel The Main Thing
- 11 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 12 Essential Reading on Preaching (Volume 1)
- 13 Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy
- 14 The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
- 15 Unashamed of the Gospel
- 16 Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance
- 17 Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America
- 18 Gods of This Age Or... God of the Ages?
- 19 Acts 1-12: The Church is Born
- 20 More Faithful Service
- 21 The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness
- 22 Preaching: The Centrality of Scripture
- 23 Theological Education in the Evangelical Tradition
- 24 More Faithful Service
Why Didn’t God Heal Nabeel Qureshi?
By Frank Turek 9/18/2017
How does a man facing his own premature death exude an uplifting combination of grace, love and truth? My friend Nabeel Qureshi, who has done that for more than a year, died at age 34 on Saturday. In case you don’t know, Nabeel was a former devout Muslim who became a powerful defender of Christianity after a seven-year process of evaluating the evidence for Christianity with his friend David Wood. His first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity is an international best seller. He also wrote No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity and Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward and Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus : A Former Muslim Shares the Evidence that Led Him from Islam to Christianity (Study Guide) and Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity.
Since being diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer last year, Nabeel has shared his thoughts, concerns and prayers through 43 video blogs on his YouTube channel. His last video, recorded from his hospital bed just seven days before his death, is a request for us to use his work and example to love others to the truth.
As you will see in his videos, Nabeel exhibited the love of Christ to the end. He never wavered in his confidence that God could heal him, but recognized that He might not. Nabeel understood that we live in a fallen world, and that God doesn’t promise any of us a long, trouble free life. In fact, Jesus promised more of the opposite. He said that we “will have trouble in this world, but take heart, I’ve overcome the world.”
Nevertheless, while it seems insensitive to ask this while we grieve, people are wondering why didn’t God heal Nabeel. After all, he was a brilliant and charismatic young man taken away from his wife Michelle and daughter Ayah, and the rest of us, far too early. Nabeel had so much more to give to his family and the Kingdom of God that his death seems senseless.
So why didn’t God heal Nabeel?
Does the OT Predict Jesus’ Resurrection?
By Carey Bryant 9/27/2017
Part of Paul’s Gospel message in 1 Corinthians 15 is the phrase “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” Have you ever wondered what Scriptures Paul had in mind?
When it comes to Jesus’ death, many rightly think of OT passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. But when you look for OT references about Jesus’ resurrection, they are much more scarce and obscure. The first two passages that we will look at are debated among theologians as to whether or not they speak of Jesus’ resurrection, but the next three are much clearer. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Two Debatable Passages | On the Third Day | “After two days he will Revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before Him” (Hosea 6:2).
Here Hosea is praying that God would restore Israel as a nation. The phrases “after two days” and “on the third day” simply denote a short period of time. For many Christians, the phrase “on the third day he will raise us up” seems to be a near perfect parallel to Jesus’ resurrection.
But many commentators seemed to be divided on this. Some think this refers to Jesus’ resurrection while others take this as dealing solely with Israel. The original context of the passage doesn’t seem to be Messianic, but the biggest problem I have is that no one references this passage in the NT. If Hosea was speaking about the Resurrection, I would think that the NT writers would be quoting this passage all over the place!
I am a follower of Christ and I seek to live out God’s Word as revealed to us in the Bible. God has given me a passion to study His Word and this blog is an outcome of this passion.
What is intellectual doubt?
By Travis Dickinson
More than one way to doubt | There are a variety of ways to doubt. The two most talk about forms of doubt are emotional doubt and intellectual doubt.
We can sometimes have every intellectual reason in the world to believe something is true, and yet we doubt. This form of doubt, and we’ve all faced it to greater or lesser degree, is emotional doubt (or sometimes called psychological doubt). An extreme example of this form of doubting is one who has a phobia of flying. The person may know everything there is to know about flight safety, and know (intellectually) that flying on an airplane is, by almost every metric, safer than, say, driving in a car, and yet the person will dramatically doubt the reasonableness of getting on the plane.
When it comes to Christian faith, we can sometimes be in a very good position intellectually in believing the truths of Christianity, and yet there is a kind of emotional inability to take the plunge.
This is a real battle. It’s a battle that, as a philosopher, I’m frankly not well equipped to engage (I wouldn’t suggest me for marriage counseling either!). I would however recommend that you read Gary Habermas on this issue. He has two books on emotional doubt and he’s graciously published these on his website here and here.
Making this distinction is not to say that there are no intellectual considerations when it comes to emotional doubt. It is also not to say that there are no emotions involved when we doubt intellectually. Like most things, it gets messy. But I’m primarily focused on (and much better equipped to think about) intellectual doubt.
I LOVE to dialogue about big ideas, especially with those with whom I disagree. But the tone of most discussions are, let’s call it, unproductive. I’m really interested in helping people with the art of dialoguing well.
No one likes to doubt deeply cherished beliefs. However, I want to suggest that there is great value in our doubts. When handled properly, they lead to truth and knowledge, and even deeper faith.
I’m convinced that Christianity is true, good and beautiful. I’m convinced that Jesus is peerless. Though faith is often disparaged, caricatured and deeply misunderstood, I’m convinced that Christian faith is the primary way to flourish as a human being.
I am the author of Everyday Apologetics and co-author of Stand Firm: Apologetics and the Brilliance of the Gospel (B&H, forthcoming). He blogs at www.travisdickinson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Be passionate, proactive, and persistent
(Sept 28) Bob Gass
'Do not merely listen to the word… Do what it says.’
(Jas 1:22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. ESV
When Nehemiah first saw the ruins of Jerusalem, he wept. Then he rolled up his sleeves and went to work. In the face of overwhelming odds and relentless opposition, he rebuilt the walls in just fifty-two days. How? Because it was his vision and his passion! Question: Are you afraid to say, ‘Lord, I’ll do anything You want me to do,’ in case He sends you somewhere you don’t want to go, or asks you to do something you don’t feel ready or qualified to do? You’ve got it wrong! The Bible says God’s will is ‘good, and acceptable, and perfect’ (Romans 12:2 KJV). Now, while God’s will is ‘good’, it’s not necessarily easy. But He will give you a passion for it. When Jeremiah tried to stop speaking about the Lord, he said God’s Word became ‘like a burning fire shut up in my bones’ (Jeremiah 20:9 NASB). A God-given vision sets your heart on fire. You begin to see things you never saw before and get excited about them. You may have failed in the past, but God can take your chapters of failure and write a story of success. But it won’t happen if you’re just sitting on the side-lines. The Bible says, ‘Do not merely listen to the word… Do what it says.’ You’ll get a passion for God’s will once you start doing it! And when it happens, you will say, ‘This is what I was made for.’ When you have a compelling reason for doing something, and you know God is watching and smiling on you, it makes all the difference in the world. So, the word for you today is: be passionate, proactive, and persistent!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He developed the vaccines for rabies and anthrax.. He revolutionized the medical field by establishing the germ theory of disease, laying the foundation for the control of tuberculosis, cholera, diphtheria, and tetanus. He was appointed dean of the faculty of sciences at Lille University in France. He developed the process of “Pasteurization ” of milk. His name: Louis Pasteur, and he died this day, September 28, 1895. Louis Pasteur stated: “Science brings man nearer to God… There is something in the depths of our souls which tells us that the world may be more than a mere combination of events.”
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
Those who feel prayer stifled by the organization of law do not consider that law itself, if we take a long enough sweep, keeps passing us on to prayer. Law rises from Nature, through history, to heaven. It is integrated historically, i.e. by Christ’s cross and the Church’s history, with the organization of love. But that is the organization of Eternity in God, and it involves the interaction of all souls in a communion of ascending prayer. Prayer is the native movement of the spiritual life that receives its meaning and its soul only in Eternity, that works in the style and scale of Eternity, owns its principles, and speaks its speech. It is the will’s congenial surrender to that Redemption and Reconciliation between loving wills which is God’s Eternity acting in time. We beseech God because He first besought us.
So not to pray on principle means that thought has got the better of the will. The question is whether thought includes will or will thought; and thought wins if prayer is suppressed. Thought and not personality is then in command of the universe. If will is but a function of the idea, then prayer is but a symptom, it is not a power. It belongs to the phenomenology of the Infinite, it is not among its controls.
Prayer is doing God’s will. It is letting Him pray in us. We look for answer because His fullness is completely equal to His own prayers. Father and Son are perfectly adequate to each other. That is the Holy Spirit and self-sufficiency of the Godhead.
If God’s will is to be done on earth as it is in heaven, prayer begins with adoration. Of course, it is thanks and petition; but before we give even our prayer we must first receive. The Answerer provides the very prayer. What we do here rests on what God has done. What we offer is drawn from us by what He offers. Our self-oblation stands on His; and the spirit of prayer flows from the gift of the Holy Ghost, the great Intercessor. Hence praise and adoration of His work in itself comes before even our thanksgiving for blessings to us. At the height of prayer, if not at its beginning, we are preoccupied with the great and glorious thing God has done for His own holy name in Redemption, apart from its immediate and particular blessing to us. We are blind for the time to ourselves. We cover our faces with our wings and cry “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts; the fullness of the earth is His glory.” Our full hearts glorify. We magnify His name. His perfections take precedence of our occasions. We pray for victory in the present was, for instance, and for deliverance from all war, for the sake of God’s kingdom—in a spirit of adoration for the deliverance there that is not destroyed, or foiled, even by a devilry like this. If the kingdom of God not only got over the murder of Christ, but made it its great lever, there is nothing that it cannot get over, and nothing it cannot turn to eternal blessing and to the glory of the holy name. But to the perspective of this faith, and to its vision of values so alien to human standards, we can rise only in prayer.
But it would be unreal prayer which was adoration only, with no reference to special boons or human needs. That would be as if God recognized no life but His own—which is very undivine egoism, and its collective form is the religion of mere nationalism. In true prayer we do two things. We go out of ourselves, being lost in wonder, love and praise; but also, and in the same act, we go in upon ourselves. We stir up all that is within us to bless and hallow God’s name. We examine ourselves keenly in that patient light, and we find ourselves even when our sin finds us out. Our nothingness is not burned and branded into us as if we had above only the starry irony of heaven. Our heart comes again. Our will is braced and purified. We not only recall our needs, but we discover new ones, of a more and more intimate and spiritual kind. The more spiritual we grow, the more we rise out of the subconscious or the unconscious. We never realize ourselves as we do when we forget ourselves after this godly sort in prayer. Prayer is not falling back upon the abyss below the soul; even as the secret of the Incarnation is sought in vain in that non-moral zone. Prayer is not what might be called the increased drone or boom of an unspeakable Om. But we rise in it to more conscious and positive relation with God the Holy—the God not abysmal but revealed, in whose revelation the thoughts of many hearts are revealed also, and whose fullness makes need almost as fast as it satisfies it.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
The Soul of Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Some stand on tiptoe
trying to reach God to talk to him –
you try too hard, friend –
drop to your knees and listen to him,
he’ll hear you better that way.
--- Ever Garrison
He who kneels before God
can stand before anyone.
--- Author Unknown
Forgiveness is based on the atoning work of the Cross, and not on anything we do. God’s forgiveness does not depend on our confession, nor does His fellowship. Confession is a means for releasing us from the tension and bondage of a guilty conscience.
--- Charles Stanley The Gift of Forgiveness
Evangelical agencies with ready funding may have too little depth and vision to cope with the current conflict. God's kingdom is built not on perpetual motion, one-liners, and flashbulbs but on Christ.
--- Carl F.H. Henry
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
Concerning The Tyrants Simon And John. How Also As Titus Was Going Round The Wall Of This City Nicanor Was Wounded By A Dart; Which Accident Provoked Titus To Press On The Siege.
1. Now the warlike men that were in the city, and the multitude of the seditious that were with Simon, were ten thousand, besides the Idumeans. Those ten thousand had fifty commanders, over whom this Simon was supreme. The Idumeans that paid him homage were five thousand, and had eight commanders, among whom those of greatest fame were Jacob the son of Sosas, and Simon the son of Cathlas. Jotre, who had seized upon the temple, had six thousand armed men under twenty commanders; the zealots also that had come over to him, and left off their opposition, were two thousand four hundred, and had the same commander that they had formerly, Eleazar, together with Simon the son of Arinus. Now, while these factions fought one against another, the people were their prey on both sides, as we have said already; and that part of the people who would not join with them in their wicked practices were plundered by both factions. Simon held the upper city, and the great wall as far as Cedron, and as much of the old wall as bent from Siloam to the east, and which went down to the palace of Monobazus, who was king of the Adiabeni, beyond Euphrates; he also held that fountain, and the Acra, which was no other than the lower city; he also held all that reached to the palace of queen Helena, the mother of Monobazus. But John held the temple, and the parts thereto adjoining, for a great way, as also Ophla, and the valley called "the Valley of Cedron;" and when the parts that were interposed between their possessions were burnt by them, they left a space wherein they might fight with each other; for this internal sedition did not cease even when the Romans were encamped near their very wall. But although they had grown wiser at the first onset the Romans made upon them, this lasted but a while; for they returned to their former madness, and separated one from another, and fought it out, and did everything that the besiegers could desire them to do; for they never suffered any thing that was worse from the Romans than they made each other suffer; nor was there any misery endured by the city after these men's actions that could be esteemed new. But it was most of all unhappy before it was overthrown, while those that took it did it a greater kindness for I venture to affirm that the sedition destroyed the city, and the Romans destroyed the sedition, which it was a much harder thing to do than to destroy the walls; so that we may justly ascribe our misfortunes to our own people, and the just vengeance taken on them to the Romans; as to which matter let every one determine by the actions on both sides.
2. Now when affairs within the city were in this posture, Titus went round the city on the outside with some chosen horsemen, and looked about for a proper place where he might make an impression upon the walls; but as he was in doubt where he could possibly make an attack on any side, [for the place was no way accessible where the valleys were, and on the other side the first wall appeared too strong to be shaken by the engines,] he thereupon thought it best to make his assault upon the monument of John the high priest; for there it was that the first fortification was lower, and the second was not joined to it, the builders neglecting to build strong where the new city was not much inhabited; here also was an easy passage to the third wall, through which he thought to take the upper city, and, through the tower of Antonia, the temple itself But at this time, as he was going round about the city, one of his friends, whose name was Nicanor, was wounded with a dart on his left shoulder, as he approached, together with Josephus, too near the wall, and attempted to discourse to those that were upon the wall, about terms of peace; for he was a person known by them. On this account it was that Caesar, as soon as he knew their vehemence, that they would not hear even such as approached them to persuade them to what tended to their own preservation, was provoked to press on the siege. He also at the same time gave his soldiers leave to set the suburbs on fire, and ordered that they should bring timber together, and raise banks against the city; and when he had parted his army into three parts, in order to set about those works, he placed those that shot darts and the archers in the midst of the banks that were then raising; before whom he placed those engines that threw javelins, and darts, and stones, that he might prevent the enemy from sallying out upon their works, and might hinder those that were upon the wall from being able to obstruct them. So the trees were now cut down immediately, and the suburbs left naked. But now while the timber was carrying to raise the banks, and the whole army was earnestly engaged in their works, the Jews were not, however, quiet; and it happened that the people of Jerusalem, who had been hitherto plundered and murdered, were now of good courage, and supposed they should have a breathing time, while the others were very busy in opposing their enemies without the city, and that they should now be avenged on those that had been the authors of their miseries, in case the Romans did but get the victory.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
is a righteous person who gives way before the wicked.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The “go” of unconditional identification
One thing thou lackest.… come, take up the cross, and follow Me. --- Mark 10:21.)
The rich young ruler had the master passion to be perfect. When he saw Jesus Christ, he wanted to be like Him. Our Lord never puts personal holiness to the fore when He calls a disciple; He puts absolute annihilation of my right to myself and identification with Himself—a relationship with Himself in which there is no other relationship. Luke 14:26 has nothing to do with salvation or sanctification, but with unconditional identification with Jesus Christ. Very few of us know the absolute “go” of abandonment to Jesus.
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him.” The look of Jesus will mean a heart broken for ever from allegiance to any other person or thing. Has Jesus ever looked at you? The look of Jesus transforms and transfixes. Where you are ‘soft’ with God is where the Lord has looked at you. If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on your own way, certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, it is an indication that there are whole tracts of your nature that have never been transformed by His gaze.
“One thing thou lackest …” The only ‘good thing’ from Jesus Christ’s point of view is union with Himself and nothing in between.
“Sell whatsoever thou hast …” I must reduce myself until I am a mere conscious man, I must fundamentally renounce possessions of all kinds, not to save my soul, (only one thing saves a man—absolute reliance upon Jesus Christ) but in order to follow Jesus. “Come, and follow Me.” And the road is the way He went.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of RS Thomas
The priest picks his way
Through the parish. Eyes watch him
From windows, from the farms;
Hearts wanting him to come near.
The flesh rejects him.
Women, pouring from the black kettle,
Stir up the whirling tea-grounds
Of their thoughts; offer him a dark
Filling in their smiling sandwich.
Priests have a long way to go.
The people wait for them to come
To them over the broken glass
Of their vows, making them pay
With their sweat's coinage for their correction.
He goes up a green lane
Through growing birches; lambs cushion
His vision. He comes slowly down
In the dark, feeling the cross warp
In his hands; hanging on it his thoughts icicles.
'Crippled soul', do you say? looking at him
From the mind's height; 'limping through life
On his prayers. There are other people
In the world, sitting at a table
Contented, though the broken body
And the shed blood are not on the menu'.
'Let it be so', I say. 'Amen and amen'..
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The Teacher's Commentary
We have now come to a series of divine declarations, or oracles, concerning surrounding nations. The great world powers of Isaiah’s day (and coming powers like that of Babylon) who have set themselves against God will be themselves set aside as God’s judgment brings them low. Only the righteous kingdom of the Messiah will remain.
God raised up these nations to be instruments of judgment against His people (5:26–30; 7:18–20). Now Isaiah identified these powers and exposed their sin. They had arrogantly gone beyond God’s boundaries in punishing Israel. Even Babylon, which would fulfill the course begun by Assyria, would be unable to stand. All worldly powers directed against God and His purposes will be cut off.
Those who deny the possibility of prophetic foreknowledge argue that the name Babylon was substituted for Assyria by some later scribe. Those who believe the prophet was inspired by God realize that Babylon would consummate the scattering of God’s people initiated by Assyria.
Two elements of this prophecy (13:1–14:23) have drawn much attention. Many have seen in the destruction of the boastful king (14:12–21) a portrait of Satan’s fall from heaven (Luke 10:18). Of one thing we can be sure. Every arrogant power, whether in Satan, in kings, or in you and me, that exalts itself against God … falls under sure judgment.
Another element deserving comment is the picture of a deserted Babylon:
She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there. But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses.… Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. Isaiah 13:20–22.
Today there is only an empty wilderness where Babylon once stood. The Lord is a great Judge, and His judgment is sure.
About Egypt (Isa. 19). God’s judgment is not only sure, it is purposive. After judgment, God brings restoration and healing.
In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt.… The Lord will make Himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the Lord.… They will turn to the Lord, and He will respond to their pleas and heal them. Isaiah 19:19, 21–22.
However stern the judgment of God seems, however terrible the vision of God as Judge, beyond the darkened clouds the sun of blessing still shines.
The Teacher's Commentary
Happy is one who dies this kind of death!
BIBLE TEXT / Deuteronomy 32:48–52 / That very day the Lord spoke to Moses: Ascend these heights of Abarim to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab facing Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving the Israelites as their holding. You shall die on the mountain that you are about to ascend, and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; for you both broke faith with Me among the Israelite people, at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to uphold My sanctity among the Israelite people. You shall view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelite people.
MIDRASH TEXT / Sifrei Ha’azinu 339 / As your brother Aaron died. The death that he longed for. How did Moses long to die as Aaron [died]? When the Holy One, praised is He, told him, “Take Aaron and his son Eleazar … strip Aaron of his vestments” (Numbers 20:25, 26). These are the priestly vestments that he dressed Eleazar in, and so [he did with] the second one [vestment] and the third one. He [God] told him [Aaron], “Enter the cave,” and he entered. “Get up on the bier,” and he got up. “Stretch out your hands,” and he stretched them out. “Stretch out your legs,” and he stretched them out. “Close your mouth,” and he closed it. “Shut your eyes,” and he shut them. At that very moment, Moses said, “Happy is one who dies this kind of death!” Thus it says, “As your brother Aaron died,” the death that he longed for.
CONTEXT / In the Deuteronomy text, God tells Moses to die “as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor.” The Rabbis seem puzzled by the Hebrew word כַּאֲשֶׁר/ka’asher, “as.” They interpret it to mean not “You too will die, just as Aaron died, as all people eventually die” but rather “You will die as Aaron died, in just the same way, in the manner that Aaron died.” The Rabbis also may have made a wordplay: כַּאֲשֶׁר/ka’asher may have triggered an association with the Hebrew word, אַשְׁרֵי/ashrei, “happy.” The Rabbis saw Aaron’s death as happy—peaceful and serene, one that anyone would long for:
Moses did as the Lord had commanded. They ascended Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. Moses stripped Aaron of his vestments and put them on his [Aaron’s] son Eleazar, and Aaron died there on the summit of the mountain. (Numbers 20:27–28).
Thus, the Rabbis say that “as your brother Aaron died” means the death that he, Moses, longed for. The Rabbis wonder: How did Moses long to die as Aaron [died]? That is, where would Moses have an experience with death that would be a model to him? It was when the Holy One, praised is He, told him, Moses, “Take Aaron and his son Eleazar.… Strip Aaron of his vestments.” These are the clothes that Aaron wore when officiating as Kohen, or priest. Moses himself, as leader of the people and God’s appointed representative, was to take his own brother to the top of the mountain, where Aaron would die. Moses stripped Aaron of the second one [vestment] and put it on Eleazar and the third one. He, God, told him, Aaron, “Enter the cave,” and he entered. The Rabbis assume that Aaron was buried in a cave upon the mountain. This explanation helps solve a problem in the biblical text. At the beginning of the section, we are told that “they ascended Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community” (20:27). But then, even though the events take place in plain sight, the Israelite community has no idea that Aaron has died, for the next verse tells us that “when Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, the whole community knew that Aaron had breathed his last” (20:28–29). How is it that they know only when Moses and Eleazar came down? The Rabbis solve this inconsistency by interpretation: A burial cave on top of the mountain obscured their view.
“Get up on the bier,” and he, Aaron, got up and prepared himself for the way in which he would lie there in death. “Stretch out your hands,” and he stretched them out. “Stretch out your legs,” and he stretched them out. “Close your mouth,” and he closed it. “Shut your eyes,” and he shut them. Moses saw a very peaceful and calm death, as Aaron went through the various steps to prepare for his own demise. At that very moment, Moses said, “Happy is one who dies this kind of death!” Thus it says, “As your brother Aaron died,” the death that he longed for. God, in an act of kindness, allowed Moses to die the same kind of death that his older brother had.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.
--- Genesis 22:14.
“The LORD Will Provide.” (Gen. 22:7), and Abraham, steadying his voice, said, “God himself will provide the lamb” (ISBN-13: 978-1246003727) Provide what? The lamb for the burnt offering that he has commanded. We see in the fact that God provided the ram that became the appointed sacrifice, through which Isaac’s life was preserved, a dim revelation of the great truth that the only sacrifice that God accepts for the world’s sin is the sacrifice that he himself has provided.
This is the meaning of all the sacrificial worship—God himself will provide a Lamb. The world had built altars, and Israel, by divine appointment, had its altar too. All these express the lack that none of them can satisfy. They show that humanity needed a sacrifice, and that sacrifice God has provided. He asked from Abraham less than he gives to us. Abraham’s devotion was sealed and certified because he did not withhold his son from God. And God’s love is sealed because he has not withheld his only-begotten Son from us.
So this name that came from Abraham’s grateful and wondering lips holds true in all regions of our wants. On the lowest level, the outward supply of outward needs; on a higher, the means of discharging hard duties and a path through sharp trials; and, on the highest of all, the spotless sacrifice that alone avails for the world’s sins—these are the things that God provides.
If we wish to have our outward needs supplied, our outward weaknesses strengthened, power and energy sufficient for duty, wisdom for perplexity, a share in the sacrifice that takes away the sins of the world, we receive them all on the condition that we are found in the place where all God’s provision is treasured. If someone chooses to sit outside the baker’s shop, that person may starve on its threshold. And if we will not ascend to the hill of the Lord and stand in his holy place by simple faith, God’s amplest provision is nothing to us, and we are empty in the midst of affluence.
Get near to God if you would partake of what he has prepared. If you would drink from his fullness, live in fellowship with him by simple love and often meditate on him,. And be sure of this, that however within his house the stores are heaped and the treasury full, you will have neither part nor lot in the matter unless you are children of the house.
--- Alexander Maclaren
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
We know of good King Wenceslas primarily because he happened to look out his window “on the feast of Stephen, while the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.”
Actually, we aren’t even certain of that.
Wenceslas was born in Bohemia, in modern Czechoslovakia, in the early 900s. His father, the Czech ruler, Duke Ratislav, gave him a good education supervised by his grandmother, Ludmilla. Ludmilla, a devout woman, did a good job.
He became a king. When his father died, Wenceslas, seeing his mother mishandle affairs of state, stepped in and seized the reins of government. But he took control on his terms. From the beginning, King Wenceslas was a different sort of king. He sought good relations with surrounding nations, particularly with Germany. He took steps to reform the judicial system, reducing the number of death sentences and the arbitrary power of judges. He reportedly encouraged the building of churches. Most of all, he showed heartfelt concern for the poor of the realm. He cut firewood for orphans and widows, it is said, often carrying the provisions on his own shoulders through the snow—thus inspiring J. M. Neale’s Christmas carol.
Wenceslas’s brief reign ended suddenly. His brother Boleslav, pagan and rebellious, invited him to a banquet, then murdered him the next Morning, September 28, 929, as he left for church. There is no direct evidence, apart from his virtuous reputation, that Wenceslas was a genuine Christian, for he left behind no written testimony. Much of our information about him comes from legend. But his people venerated him as a martyr, and today he is the patron saint of Czechoslovakia.
Therefore, Christian men be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.
Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.
--- James 1:27.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 28
“The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.” --- Psalm 33:13.
Perhaps no figure of speech represents God in a more gracious light than when he is spoken of as stooping from his throne, and coming down from heaven to attend to the wants and to behold the woes of mankind. We love him, who, when Sodom and Gomorrah were full of iniquity, would not destroy those cities until he had made a personal visitation of them. We cannot help pouring out our heart in affection for our Lord who inclines his ear from the highest glory, and puts it to the lip of the dying sinner, whose failing heart longs after reconciliation. How can we but love him when we know that he numbers the very hairs of our heads, marks our path, and orders our ways? Specially is this great truth brought near to our heart, when we recollect how attentive he is, not merely to the temporal interests of his creatures, but to their spiritual concerns. Though leagues of distance lie between the finite creature and the infinite Creator, yet there are links uniting both. When a tear is wept by thee, think not that God doth not behold; for, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Thy sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; thy whisper can incline his ear unto thee; thy prayer can stay his hand; thy faith can move his arm. Think not that God sits on high taking no account of thee. Remember that however poor and needy thou art, yet the Lord thinketh upon thee. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him.
Oh! then repeat the truth that never tires;
No God is like the God my soul desires;
He at whose voice heaven trembles, even he,
Great as he is, knows how to stoop to me.
Evening - September 28
“Go again seven times.” --- 1 Kings 18:43.
Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when his people are earnest in a matter which concerns his glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah’s courts. Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but “Go again.” We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel’s brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in prayer and watching. At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
O WORD OF GOD INCARNATE
William W. How, 1823–1897
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
Everyone has a basic premise for his life’s convictions. The Christian begins with Jesus Christ, who came to earth to reveal God to man. The Christian also believes in the absolute historicity of Jesus as recorded in the Scriptures, the only authentic record of our Lord’s life and works. For God’s people, then, the Bible is the most important book in life. Though written by forty different writers from Moses to John over a period of 1600 years, there is a perfect harmony throughout all 66 books. This is proof that the book is truly “God-breathed” and that the real author was the Holy Spirit.
The writer of this hymn text, William W. How, was a bishop of the Anglican church in London, England. He was known as an outstanding hymnist, the composer of sixty excellent hymns of which 25 are still in use.
In the first stanza of this hymn, Bishop How affirms that the Bible is God’s Truth revealed and is a light from one age to another. In the second stanza, he states that Christ has entrusted His Holy Word to the Church so that it might be revealed as a light to all the world. Then he describes the Bible in picturesque language in stanza three and closes the hymn with a prayer that the Church may always continue to bear God’s revealed truth to all people everywhere.
O Word of God Incarnate, O Wisdom from on high, O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky: We praise Thee for the radiance that from the hallowed page, a lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.
The Church from her dear Master, received the gift divine, and still that light she lifteth o’er all the earth to shine. It is the sacred casket, where gems of truth are stored; it is the heav’n-drawn picture of Thee, the living Word.
It floateth like a banner before God’s host unfurled; it shineth like a beacon above the dark’ning world. It is the chart and compass that o’er life’s surging sea, ’mid mists and rocks and quick sands, still guides, O Christ, to Thee.
O make Thy Church, dear Savior, a lamp of purest gold, to bear before the nations Thy true light as of old. O teach Thy wandering pilgrims by this their path to trace, till, clouds and darkness ended, they see Thee face to face.
For Today: Psalm 60:4; 119:l05, 130, 160 Mark 13:31; John 1:1, 2
Breathe a prayer of thanks to God for the Bible—our guide for this life and our road map for heaven. Reflect on this musical truth as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Thursday, September 28, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 20, Thursday
Psalms (Morning) (Psalm 83) or Psalm 146, 147
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 85, 86
Old Testament 2 Kings 9:1–16
New Testament 1 Corinthians 6:12–20
Gospel Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18
Index of Readings
A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
2 Even now your enemies are in tumult;
those who hate you have raised their heads.
3 They lay crafty plans against your people;
they consult together against those you protect.
4 They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
5 They conspire with one accord;
against you they make a covenant—
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Assyria also has joined them;
they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah
9 Do to them as you did to Midian,
as to Sisera and Jabin at the Wadi Kishon,
10 who were destroyed at En-dor,
who became dung for the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take the pastures of God
for our own possession.”
13 O my God, make them like whirling dust,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest,
as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your hurricane.
16 Fill their faces with shame,
so that they may seek your name, O LORD.
17 Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
let them perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you alone,
whose name is the LORD,
are the Most High over all the earth.
Psalm 146, 147
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD!
1 Praise the LORD!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds,
prepares rain for the earth,
makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the animals their food,
and to the young ravens when they cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He grants peace within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down hail like crumbs—
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 85, 86
To the leader. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.
1 LORD, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you pardoned all their sin. Selah
3 You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us.
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
so that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
and grant us your salvation.
8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12 The LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him,
and will make a path for his steps.
A Prayer of David.
1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 3 be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all day long.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my cry of supplication.
7 In the day of my trouble I call on you,
for you will answer me.
8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come
and bow down before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
14 O God, the insolent rise up against me;
a band of ruffians seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant;
save the child of your serving girl.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame,
because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.
2 Kings 9:1–16
9 Then the prophet Elisha called a member of the company of prophets and said to him, “Gird up your loins; take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 When you arrive, look there for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi; go in and get him to leave his companions, and take him into an inner chamber. 3 Then take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee; do not linger.”
4 So the young man, the young prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. 5 He arrived while the commanders of the army were in council, and he announced, “I have a message for you, commander.” “For which one of us?” asked Jehu. “For you, commander.” 6 So Jehu got up and went inside; the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, “Thus says the LORD the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel. 7 You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and no one shall bury her.” Then he opened the door and fled.
11 When Jehu came back to his master’s officers, they said to him, “Is everything all right? Why did that madman come to you?” He answered them, “You know the sort and how they babble.” 12 They said, “Liar! Come on, tell us!” So he said, “This is just what he said to me: ‘Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.’ ” 13 Then hurriedly they all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”
14 Thus Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. Joram with all Israel had been on guard at Ramoth-gilead against King Hazael of Aram; 15 but King Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Arameans had inflicted on him, when he fought against King Hazael of Aram. So Jehu said, “If this is your wish, then let no one slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.” 16 Then Jehu mounted his chariot and went to Jezreel, where Joram was lying ill. King Ahaziah of Judah had come down to visit Joram.
1 Corinthians 6:12–20
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17 But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18
6 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church